The views expressed in this post are those of a Spoke contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Red Tricycle.
Dear potential future parents . . .
I always wanted to have kids, I always dreamed of being a mother and having a family one day, but the reality versus the vision of motherhood and family life are so drastically different it is kind of comical.
Here are a few pros and cons from my experience as a first time mom, so please read very carefully if you are thinking about venturing down this path of parenthood!
I would like to start by saying that my mom always used to tell me that God erases your “memory” of the pregnancy and the first years of having child, because if you remembered no one would ever expand their family or recommend it. I would always laugh at her and tell her she was crazy, but I now know that this is true. The conversation has come up in our family about having another child (not now, but just in the future), and I literally already think I have forgotten how hard the pregnancy was and how hard those first few months are, but am definitely still on the fence. (maybe he hasn’t erased mine yet)
Thankfully for this article, I remember enough to share some insight.
The reality of becoming a parent is that it is REALLY FREAKING HARD! So the “cons” or downsides are just realities that aren’t necessarily cons, just realities you must accept as a part of the process and be good to go with it. I will start with the cons and finish with the pros so we an end on a positive note.
I will be speaking from a women’s point of view, as many of the cons of becoming a mother simply come from just the physiological hardships of bearing a child.
For some pregnancy is bliss, you glow, you have infinite bounds of light and excitement in anticipation for your beloved baby. You relish in the anticipation and love the process of putting together the nursery, picking out names and watching your body transform.
The reality of pregnancy for many is pure exhaustion. I could barely function in the early months, my face broke out, my back felt like it broke, I gained 70 pounds (YES 70!!!) 40 in the first three months. I was an emotional wreck. No wine and really no wine for like a year cause the first three months are so exhausting having a glass of wine is just pointless. Did I say my back hurt? I mean the last month walking became unbearable and I was placed on bed rest.
Breastfeeding, one of the hardest things I have ever done! I support all women no matter what they choose – breastfeeding or formula, but I did give breastfeeding a try. The beautiful pictures you see of women breastfeeding their child and the connection and nutrition factors sold me, until every time I breastfed I sat there sobbing because of the excruciating pain I was in. My boobs had quadrupled in size and nipples were cracked and often times bleeding. About a month in I found out my daughter had an upper tongue tie, so I just ended up pumping for the next few months. Which again is another experience, I could have gone without.
Just reminiscing about how painful my c-section recovery was and how much pain my back and breasts were in makes me want to cringe. I can’t speak to actual labor, but I can imagine from what I have seen and heard that it is likely just as painful as the following days/weeks were for me since I had to have a cesarean. I think the hardest part about the pregnancy and preparing for parenthood is you can read up and plan, but sometimes things just happen differently. I prepared for natural labor, not a c-section, but I should have done some more research. Not going to lie when the Dr. said we were going to have to have a c-section after 32 hours of labor, I was relieved.
From my point of view as far as the pregnancy and the first few months are concerned there can’t be many cons from a man’s point of view. I mean besides the fact they have to support their wife throughout all of the above. Once the baby is born though, I would love to hear pros/cons from a man’s point of view, cause that is where your role as dad really kicks in high gear! Once you get through the physical hardships of pregnancy, breastfeeding woes and survive the first few months on literally ZERO sleep, you have a moment where you look down at your beautiful baby and you just sigh in awe. You and your partner have created a human being and it is the most amazing feeling that you will ever have in your whole entire life. There is nothing like it. Period.
Here are some of the Pros.
Once it becomes yours, your world just changes, your views change and everything that once mattered just honestly doesn’t matter as much as your son or daughter. As hard as everything was/is, I would still have another one, because having a child and literally birthing another human being is one of the most amazing and rewarding things anyone can do. Once the physical speed bumps of the pregnancy subside, be prepared to not sleep for likely the next five years (so I have heard), prepare to be spit up on, thrown up on, hit, bitten, hair pulled, pooped and peed on and the list of “cons” could continue, but the moment that child falls asleep on your chest or looks into your eyes all of those experiences all of a sudden become worth it.
Seeing the first smile, hearing the first laugh, watching your baby mold into a little human and seeing the facial features develop and seeing you or your partner in him or her, there is just nothing that you could have experienced previously to understand what that feels like.
I sometimes just stare at my daughter and it literally brings me to tears because she just makes living and life so much better. I had a purpose before in life, but now I REALLY have a purpose, I have someone counting on me. You honestly begin to hold yourself to a higher standard in life, the way you act or react becomes different because someone is watching you.
To me the reward of having a child and all the moments and life changing feelings and experiences you go through as a parent (mom and / or a dad) make the sacrifices / “cons” beyond worth it. My daughter is about to turn one this weekend. So I guess you would have to ask me in a few years if I feel the same! But my gut feeling says that the love and the bond will just continue to grow.
So my advice is the PROS definitely outweigh the CONS if you want to have a child, but make sure to ask lots of questions to other parents / Drs, talk with your partner and get on the same page with roles and responsibilities and support each other. At the end of the day, the hard part about parenting isn’t necessarily keeping your baby alive (although very important!) – it is the stress on your relationship, finding yourself and getting your life back together and re-creating a new life as a family. So I think if you can prepare not only for raising a child, but what you want your family dynamic to be – you will be GREAT!