There’s an old saying that there are three things you can’t hide in a relationship: money, sex, and kids. And while it’s easy to assume that when we talk about kids we’re talking about babies, the truth is you don’t need to wait for a child before couples start feeling the pressure to procreate.
What are some signs of readiness for having kids? It’s not always so easy to tell if your relationship is ready for a baby. If you have any doubts or uncertainties, here are some ways for couples to evaluate their relationship and decide if it’s time for them to start trying.
Can You Afford a Baby … and Do You Both Want to?
Right off the bat, when delving into this topic, you need to know how much babies cost. I don’t mean the weekly cost of diapers and formula — which add up, but they are the least of your worries. Your real concern needs to be how much it costs to have a child, as in, how much it costs to actually deliver the little thing.
The average hospital bill for delivering a baby in the United States is around $5,000 to $11,000, depending on your state and hospital. A birthing complication like requiring a C-section will bump that up to around $15,000.
This is just the beginning of your expenses, not all of which are for the baby either. Yes, there are some general items to buy like bunches of cute onesies, a stroller, a car seat, and so on. You also have to factor in maternal post-care, postnatal care, prenatal and postnatal vitamins for the mother, doctor’s appointments, you have no idea.
Once the mother’s maternity leave is up and you return to work? You’re looking at another >$800 per month for a childcare center. You are not Jay-Z and Beyonce to hire an army of nannies. Don’t return to work? Well, now you have a single-income household.
All in all, many middle-class couples end up spending around $25,000 minimum in the first year. Lower-income couples end up teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Look, I’ve had 3 children in the past 5 years, and it’s only this past year that finances are in the green again.
This is not a wake up in the morning and say “oh let’s have a baby!” decision. This is one of the biggest upfront investments of your lives, so if you don’t think you can afford to have a baby, don’t even talk about having one.
Are You Both Emotionally Mature Enough for a Baby?
I can only tell you other parents would already tell you – babies are a wonderful blessing, and utter nightmares at the same time. You will not sleep for the first month. You will sleep sporadically for the following months.
You will both be tired, stressed out, and it can even put a strain on your relationship. Around a fifth of couples break up in the year after having a baby – which is absolutely terrible, because now you’ve got a screaming baby on your hip and a divorce attorney on the phone.
This whole idea that if you can responsibly care for pets, you can care for a baby? Yeah, no. I’m sorry. It’s hogwash, it is complete apples and oranges. Fido will not wake you up at 3 am, and then again at 5 am, screaming at the top of his lungs because he’s sleeping in a puddle of pee, or because he needs to fart. All those baby lullaby things you buy? Worthless.
Parents will tell you that every baby is different, so it’s impossible to predict how a child will be when they’re born. But what matters is whether you’re both emotionally mature (and mentally stable) enough to handle these 4 am nuclear crises when, dear God, please just let me sleep.
This is reality – I’m not trying to scare you out of having a baby. I’m simply telling you it is a major life-altering decision with many potential outcomes. A decision that can destroy your relationship and quite literally drive you insane if you both can’t handle it.
It Does Get Better
Okay, now that I’m done scaring you – it does get better. Yes, the upfront costs are insane, and yes, you will go a little insane yourself for the first year. But there are plenty of little gemstones along the way that make it worth it (in hindsight).
Those little baby milestones like sleeping through the night, the first time they smile, crawling, walking, their first baby words, the funny faces they make trying to imitate you. These are incredible, affirmative moments that will make you both smile and acknowledge “Holy crap, we made a little person“.
Those are the precious moments to cherish, to keep your sanity, to keep from losing your mind over sleepless nights, and diapers that leak faster than your car did when you were 19.
And before you know it, they’re kissing you goodbye for the first time on the first day of school. And, like most couples, you’ll strangely start to miss those awful sleepless nights and leaky diapers and start planning for the next one. Because it turns out, humans are strangely masochistic.