Before Patrick and I were married, we talked about a lot of things. How we would raise a child was something we talked about often, mainly because the world around us often provided us with many delightful examples of how (or how not) to raise children. We would often be sitting at a table in a restaurant and happen to observe various children spitting food on the table, throwing themselves to the floor, writhing in their seats screaming like banshees, or red-facedly demanding a second scoop of icecream (which was usually given them hurriedly and almost apologetically by their defeated and embarrassed parents). Upon observing such things one of us would turn and ask the other, “What would you do in that situation?” and then we would discuss the plan of action we would both take (If you were wondering, usually our plans involved a good whack across the bottom. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with that, but it just works. Sorry).
Many other questions came up frequently, but the question of when we would have children very simple one, and really only needed to be asked once. And it was only discussed once. My pre-marriage husband was not a keen baby lover, and though he knew that babies were “an inevitable part of the future” (those were his words, not mine), he was not keen on the idea of children coming along too early on in our marriage. He proposed that we should wait until we had been married five years before we had children.
I was all too happy to agree with him on this. Though I had had a lot more experience with babies than my husband (I have 5 younger siblings – my first occupation was babysitter) and loved children, I was definitely not in any rush to have children. Because of my experience I knew how much effort they took and how much would change after we would have children. I was thankful for the proposal, and we both agreed to wait five years before any little ones came along.
Fast forward five years.
Truthfully, five years of marriage just went by far too quickly, and, inevitably, as the 5 year anniversary began looming over us, the subject of having a baby became fresh in our minds. By this time I was very comfortable with our little family and how it was. Just hubby and I. Free to travel, go on dates, and pursue basically anything we wanted to on the spur of the moment. Free from the restrictions and distractions I knew a baby would bring into the mix.
I knew it was time, but I wasn’t ready. Unlike my husband, who was now more than ready to have a little bub, the idea had not grown to sound fonder to me over the 5 years, but rather more loathsome and inconvenient.
I had built up so many excuses.
“I don’t want to lose my body! I might get fat and get stretch marks.”
“I am just not mature enough. I don’t even have my own life in order! How can I be a mother? “
“I’m not ready to have my time so imposed upon. I like things the way they are.”
“I don’t want to have a child in a foreign country. The timing just isn’t convenient. “
“There are so many things I want to do.”
“I just don’t feel like I want to have a baby.”
My husband gently told me that all those reasons were selfish or unreasonable ones – and I was well aware of it. It was truly how I felt however. I didn’t want to have a baby. Not right now. In fact, I had never grown a strong desire to have one. Sure, I loved holding babies, thought they were adorable, and would certainly never do anything to hurt one – but I was more than happy to hold someone else’s baby, pass it back, and keep all my freedom.
I knew I was being unreasonable, so I agreed it was time to start.
A few months passed. Baby seemed to be taking a while to come (maybe one would never come?), so I started to go about my life like a baby wasn’t coming. After a long trip the the US, I dedicated my time to getting myself in order – complete with a new position as a personal trainer. I was pumped. Things were going well and I was ready to throw myself into my new career.
God had different plans though.
Less than a week after I started my job, I was expecting my monthlies. As I had begun pretending that a baby wasn’t going to come along, I didn’t even think I could be pregnant – yet I kept waiting, and waiting… and I begun to get suspicious.
Sure enough, for the first time my pregnancy test showed positive. And then I cried. And no, it was not tears of joy that I cried. Although we had been trying for this baby, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want this getting in the way of my life – ruining my body and taking up all my time. I was really enjoying life the way it was.
I was in fact, devastated.
The first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant I tried hard to be excited, but often failed. I complained and cried that I was going to get fat, I wanted to exercise, I wasn’t mature enough to have a baby, I wasn’t ready, and so on. I cried a lot (though that may have been the hormones).
I was in the throes of devastation when I wrote to one of my friends.
“I can’t believe it,” I said, “I’m just not ready.”
What she said to me made so much beautiful sense: “Oh, you’ll be fine. This is not a practical or logical decision at all, really. There’s nothing convenient about it. It just kind of has to be done. It’s a different dimension… but it’s definitely worth it.”
That made sense. The decision to have kids is never convenient. It’s never the right time. You just have to jump into it and trust.
Learning to accept comes down to trusting that despite all the inconveniences and challenges, motherhood is beautiful and rewarding. It’s a privilege to have a soul entrusted to your care. No matter how we may feel about it initially, it helps to realise that children are a blessing from God.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5)
I’m sharing all this, because I am absolutely certain that I am not the only one who has felt like this.
I used to wonder why Paul had to remind Titus to teach the older women to teach the younger women to “love their children” (Titus 2:4). I mean, doesn’t that just come naturally?
Apparently not, and certainly less and less in our society. Society at large is pushing baby-making to later and later times of life, and more often than not chooses career, beauty, financial success – and at times, simply convenience – over starting a family. Basically, life stops when you have a baby – that or you turn that baby over to caretakers in order to have a life of some kind. Because what kind of a life can you look forward to while taking care of your family? None, really.
Just think, when a mother becomes pregnant, what is she told by the majority of mums who think they know it all (and want someone to commiserate with their negative outlook they have created for themselves)?
“Enjoy your husband now, you won’t be getting much time with him after you get married!”
“Your body will never be the same again.”
“Forget sex. After you have a baby you’ll be far too tired.”
“You think that you could keep your children under control?! Just wait until you have your own!”
“Forget having a life. Soon your child will be your life.”
Why is it that we are so negative about all this? Why did I feel so negative about what I was going through?
I have done a lot of thinking, and I have come to realize something about the things that others tout as the “negative” effects and consequences of pregnancy and child-rearing. Though there may be a little truth to some of what they claim, the cold hard truth of the matter is that with some work, most of the things we fear can be avoided or changed. People who are negative about pregnancy and child-rearing have the wrong attitude. They are either caught up in selfishness or self-denial – the one wishing to have absolutely everything under their control, and the other unwilling to accept that many things still are.
People are very negative about young people’s high aspirations for child rearing and life after baby, rather than trying to give them the tools necessary to get through them – often because they themselves have failed, or they simply don’t think that it is something worth giving up all they have for. They either don’t want to accept responsibility for a mess they have created in their own lives and so discourage others from having high ideals – or fear losing the control and freedom that they currently enjoy, and so dwell on all the inconveniences that children bring with them (of which there are many).
I was there. I didn’t want to give up any control or freedom. I was afraid, because I was listening to those who either had the wrong outlook or worldview.
After doing some research, and thinking back upon my own observations, I realized I had nothing to fear.
1. Sure, my body is going to grow as my baby grows, but if I continue to exercise safely and eat well during my pregnancy, I can minimize the damage – and there will be time for leaning out later. Really, this should be the least of my worries, as my husband so often reminds me (he’s a gem!). Whether or not your husband reassures you, God spoke through the apostle Paul, reminding us that our appearance is not what is most important (1 Timothy 4:8).
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV).
2. I may not be mature enough now, but a child should lead me down a fast track to maturity. Besides, I may not have all the wisdom, but I know the one who does (James 1:5, 17). Though I cannot trust myself to raise my children so that they behave, I know that by observing the “winners” around me (Philippians 3:17), following the Lord’s instructions, and drawing upon my past observations and experiences, I can raise children that are obedient and pleasant to be around. I have seen the same children behave like an absolute angel under one person’s guidance and then do a complete 180 when placed back in their parent’s care. Respect and obedience are taught. With some hard work and a bit of foresight, it is possible to raise respectful children.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5 ESV).
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17 ESV).
3. Though I may not be completely comfortable with giving birth to and raising my child in a foreign country – simply because everything is different and takes further adaptation! – I know that my life circumstances will in fact never be perfect. It will never be the “ideal time” to have a child. If I am having a child in a foreign country, I can have a child in a foreign country. Whether it is that my lot seems too expensive, difficult, or inconvenient, I know that if it has fallen into my lap, I can make it work. God will never give me more than I can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV).
4. I may feel that there are so many things that I want to do before having children, but there is no reason why my life has to end with a baby. Sure, I’ll have to put my family before myself more than I might be naturally inclined to do, but I can still engage in the things I enjoy – as long as my family’s bodies and souls are not put in jeopardy, I can still keep my life in balance, and I make sure that I am the number one influence in my child’s life. Besides that fact, I will be choosing to take on the role that God created me for me. Raising children and taking care of a home is what God wants every woman to engage and thrive in (1 Timothy 5:8). This is a challenge in today’s society, yes – but I cannot ignore the fact that it is a God-given responsibility that only I can fill. This task should not fill me with dread and doubt, but rather with humility, determination, and a great sense of the privilege that has been given to me.
“Having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV).
5. I didn’t feel like having a baby, so when I found out I was pregnant, I kind of ignored the fact. This robbed me of my confidence and joy. I found however that as soon as I started accepting the fact that I was pregnant – and started acknowledging the presence of the baby growing inside me – my joy grew and my fear shrank. When I took the time to think about my baby, talk to God about my fears and insecurities, and research about my little one was growing and developing, I fell more in love with the little life growing inside of me. My love outgrew my fear. I became excited.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 ESV).
Here are some practical ways to change your attitude around about your pregnancy:
- Keep your mind focused on the right things. Yes, you are going to get a big belly – do your best and just let it go (1 Timothy 4:8). Focus on building a loving and nurturing environment for your little one.
- Face your fears, don’t let them fester. Talk to your husband about what you fear and find productive ways of helping your self get over them. Surround yourself with people that you know love you and your baby.
- Find out more about how you can bring up your child to be respectful. Talk to mothers whose children behave well. Ask them how they did it. Read good books (again, recommended by those who are “winning” at this) on the subject. The more you know, the more prepared, more confident, and less afraid you will be.
- Let your love outgrow your fear (1 John 4:18). Spend 15 minutes dwelling on your baby every day. Sit or lie down in a quiet place, hold your belly, and meditate on your baby. Talk to your baby about how much you love them, and are excited to meet them. Research what stage your baby is at – how they are growing and developing. Involve God in this and tell Him about all your fears and joys. Have a check up, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, and watch them squirm around – it really is incredible.
It really is the same with anything in life. If we allow ourselves to listen to the wrong people, they will steal our joy. If we focus on the wrong things, we will become negative. If we are not well-prepared, we will lack confidence.
Let’s do ourselves and those around us a favour. Let’s create for ourselves a culture of positivity, care, and well-guided knowledge and share it with others.
Nothing should ever be able to steal our joy.
Nothing should ever be able to make us afraid.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… Be [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4, 6-7).
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
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Happy pregnant lady. Sweet potato chips, 70% dark chocolate, cranberry fizz (unsweetened soda water and 100% cranberry juice), and a burning candle. This is my post preggy workout snack. Today I did squats, TRX pulls, supine hip extensions, and stretching. It was light, but felt tough on my preggy body. I didn't care though. This period is all about baby and learning to love my body despite the fact it's going to grow! 😅 Just so happy to be feeling well enough to move again! #paleo-ish #paleogram #glutenfree #grainfree #chocolate #chicksthatlift #preggypiggy #pregnant #afternoonsnack #foodstagram #foodie #food #jerf #fitness #womenliftweights #eat #singapore #bodylove #thinkpositive #thinkhappy #baby #babygram
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Question: Have you ever had any fears or misgivings about having children? How did you overcome your fears? What advice have you found most helpful?
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