What to Expect from Yourself before you are Expecting
By Latha Krishnan
Having a Baby on your mind? Planning to start a family? As a Couple are you sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for the immense responsibility of bearing and caring for a new life?
First let us look at some of the wrong reasons why couples start a family:
- Family Pressure - In India, generally the in-laws start pestering the young couple to start a family soon after marriage. Personally I think they cannot tolerate the fact that the couple would like to enjoy each other's company and get to know each other and the new families well before venturing into parenthood. It is extremely important to be first comfortable in you new place and get to know the people you are residing with. Even if your mother in-law tells you “beta jaldi kar lo bachcha, hum haina….hum dekh lenge” (Dear plan for a baby, don’t worry we will take care of it). Always remember that no matter how strong your family support system is, you have to be 100% involved with your child and no one can replace you.
- Societal Pressure - As a newly married couple, especially in India, one is constantly pressurized and pestered by the society to extend their family and have children. If for some reason you have been married for more than a year and have not yet shared the “good news” that every aunty and uncle you have ever met for the briefest duration are literally dying to hear (for reasons unknown), then you would find it extremely difficult to attend any social gatherings without being questioned for the reason for not starting a family yet. Please do not bow down to such pressures.
- Boredom or Lack of Love between couples - You might think it is really stupid, but some people do advise couples who are not really attached to each other to start a family to improve their relationship as a couple. Can you imagine that? Parenting is not an experiment; it is all about bringing in a new life with love, care and togetherness. In fact even some couples think that aww our life is getting a bit stagnant and boring let’s have a kid. Frankly if you cannot find fun and excitement in your life you should work on yourselves first rather than having a kid and letting that poor soul suffer. Because kids best grow in an environment where there is lots of love, laughter, fun and excitement.
- Getting old - Age is just a number. In our great grandparent's time, people had kids even in their 50s. Although getting old with current sedentary lifestyle and junk food does pose some natural fertility issues in couples, but then again you should not have kids just because you are getting old! What do you think kids are, your life insurance? Please remember the kids are not your property to use as you please, they are a different individual with their own karma and goal in life. Plan kids with love and joy, not as an obligation.
So, no matter WHAT, you must always remember that bearing a child MUST always be an informed decision taken only by the couple and not for the above reasons. You need to be mentally prepared to take this step together. No one else, not even your parents, in-laws, closest friends or busybodies can make or force this decision on you because frankly it is the biggest responsibility. Just imagine, once you take the decision to embark on this extremely wonderful yet challenging role of parenting, everything you do will either positively or negatively impact the new life. The initial months are the most trying and crucial in this regard. Once your child starts taking external food, its dependency on you gradually starts decreasing; until then you are everything it needs whether they are happy, sad, cranky, hungry, sleepy or unwell.
Now if you say, OK we have thought through our decision and want to go ahead...now what?? Now you must realize that you have not only decided to bear your child but you are about to bring a brand new member into the next generation. So when you think about what kind of next generation you would like to see, I’m sure your answer would be something like: they should be in the pink of their health, brilliant, loving, smart etc… Sounds wonderful does’nt it.
Now answer these questions truthfully:
How is your lifestyle?
a) Is your lifestyle resulting in the pink of your health no backaches, sugar, BP, obesity etc., something you can boast about OR
b) are you actually a couch potato with a sedentary lifestyle and with the ailments that come along with it, resulting from poor eating habits of course?
OK now you might have loads of degrees ranging from Bachelors and Honors to Masters and maybe even PHD, but
a) are you brilliant, innovative, creative, lively, pursue your hobbies OR
b) have a mundane life with a 9 to 5 job and think that a kid may bring back some liveliness?
Let’s see, how are you as a couple?
a) Are you a team and always work in tandem to help each other out with household chores, buying groceries and also enjoy your quiet time together and know how to have fun? OR
b) Do you keep fighting, pushing blames for incomplete chores, keep your home messy and run away from each other to find peace, quiet and solitude or to have fun with friends rather than each other?
Well the above three questions are a kind of Couple Litmus test.
If you as a couple answered YES to the part a) of all the above questions, then Congratulations!! You are ready to bear, give birth to and up bring a spectacular child ready for a beautiful next generation.
Whereas if your answers were YES to the part b) of the above questions, then although you might think that you are ready for the crucial job of parenting but in reality you have a long way to go mate! Cuz it’s approximately a 20 year exciting project that needs all your time and energy to blossom. You need to be active and in the prime of your health to enjoy every phase and be fully involved in your child’s development.
Now I’m sure you understand “What to Expect from Yourself before you are Expecting.”