Before my husband, Bart, and I got married in August of 2005, I told him I wasn’t ready to have children right away. I knew he was really excited to have kids and would have been happy to have a honeymoon baby, if that’s what I wanted, so it was important to me that he knew I needed some time. I told him it might be up to five years before I was ready to have a baby.

Frankly, I didn’t anticipate it would be that long, but every year or so, when we’d discuss the possibility of trying to get pregnant, I felt completely unready and we’d postpone discussion of the topic for another six or twelve months. Our baby is due this July, one month and one day before our fifth wedding anniversary.

I certainly think that when to have children is an intensely personal decision and that there is no one right time for everyone (I am very grateful that my parents never said or insinuated or hinted at any preference about our decision to wait), but I feel strongly that waiting several years has been a very positive experience for us for the following reasons:

  • I am pretty ambitious and I think if I’d gotten pregnant right away and not had time to do more schooling or work for a while, I would have been fairly discontended about the whole situation. As it is, I’ve been able to complete both a bachelor and master’s degree and work full-time for several years since we got married. I think having had these experiences will help me feel happier about my new role in life since I won’t be feeling like I haven’t accomplished the things that have always been important to me.
  • I was only 19 when we got married (just a few weeks shy of 20), and while I (probably incorrectly) feel like I was plenty mature in many ways, I think I needed some time to grow up in other ways before throwing myself into motherhood. Not to mention that my biological clock wasn’t exactly ticking loudly at that point.
  • Bart and I are both very independent and fairly stubborn people. At this point in our marriage, we are far better adjusted to working together and compromising than we were five years ago. Our vision of our lives and family is far more similar than it was when we first got married.
  • Bart took a while to settle into his current career field (part of which included getting a master’s degree) and I’m unbelievably glad that he’s qualified and happy in his job now, a situation that simply didn’t exist for us two or three or four years ago.
  • When we finally made the big leap to start trying to get pregnant, I was able to be really actually excited about it. It has been such a fun and joyful experience so far; I just do not think I would have felt this whole-heartedly happy about it if we’d gotten pregnant before I really wanted to.
  • It has brought Bart and me closer together. Maybe this sounds funny, but there has been almost nothing Bart has done for me in the last five years of marriage that has meant as much to me as his absolute non-pushing on this issue. I knew, of course, that he was incredibly baby-hungry, and would have loved to have a baby a few years ago, but he has never made me feel like I was wrong to want to wait or that he was at all disappointed by my several years of resistence. Even when we finally agreed that we wanted to start trying, he assured me several times that if I wanted to change my mind and wait another year or two, he would be fine with that.

As I said, waiting or not waiting isn’t right for everyone – the timetable for your family is going to be different than mine and the reasons I wanted to wait and then not wait will hold no water with some of you. But for us, this was the right decision, and I couldn’t be happier that we’d waited or that we’ll have a baby daughter this summer.

(Cross-posted on That Wife while she enjoys her own newborn baby boy).

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  • Reply Heather April 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I like Bart more and more as you share about him.

  • Reply Melanie April 21, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks for posting your thoughts on this.

    My mom was 29 when she got married and got pregnant with me (not intentionally) after 4 months of marriage. She's always encouraged me to wait a while to have kids, no matter what my age is when I marry.

    But like you said, when to have children is an intensely personal decision and the factors that go in to making that choice are different for everyone.

  • Reply Science Teacher Mommy April 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    We were 24 when we married and just a year later we were both working full time with benefits. I think Plantboy would have happily waited a few more years. . . but I felt guilty. That's right. Not ready, but guilty. In retrospect, if we had waited just six months to have children, I could have worked another school year and we'd have either put a sizeable down payment on our house (which would have been very helpful a few years later), or gone to Australia (maybe around our 20th anniversary now). Do these reasons sound selfish? Well, after you have kids you have to spend the rest of your life being unselfish, so you better make sure you are finished with that particular emotion!

    Don't get me wrong: we have had a wonderful, turbulent ride with our little boys. Still, if anybody ever asks me my thoughts on having kids (You didn't? Oh, I'm sorry; you are going to hear anyway.) I tell them to just make sure they can go into motherhood without regrets. Kids need your love too much to ever feel your resentment. For every person, that no-looking-back moment is going to happen at a different time. And as women (maybe particularly as LDS women) we need to get better about respecting that in one another.

  • Reply Jeanelle April 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    One of my favorite things about you is how wise beyond your years you are. I hope you spend the rest of your life working in the YW orgn because you have so many great things to teach them.

  • Reply Melissa April 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I waited three years to have a baby and it was the best decision I ever made! Not only was I able to get my B.S. degree, my husband was able to get his masters and we were able to travel and work. When Hannah came it was a delight and now I am in a new stage of life where I can just enjoy being a mommy and focus on that, rather than chasing dreams.

  • Reply emandtrev April 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Your story sounds quite similar to mine, actually! I got married at 22 and delivered my first baby four days after my 27th birthday. We both yearned for a child, but knew that the timing wasn't quite right just yet with schooling and finances. When she arrived–oh my gracious, how thrilled and happy and totally floored we were at having a newborn baby! Nothing can really quite prepare you… 🙂

    I finished my Masters degree about a month and a half after our first daughter was born. It was a pretty tender time around our household!

    P.S. I so love the jeans you crafted. I definitely want to try that trick!

  • Reply emandtrev April 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    The way I wrote that last sentence kind of made it sound like I'm pregnant now. Not now… 🙂

  • Reply Jess April 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I love this post. As you know, we are waiting right now for some similar reasons and I know we won't regret it, as baby-feverish as we both are. I am starting to think that the end of the waiting is in sight, and that is so so thrilling to me. But by the time we have a baby we will have been together for well over four years at the least, and married for over two. That seems good to me.

  • Reply Lisa April 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    We intentionally got pregnant when we did, even though we weren't yet married. We'd been together for several years and it really seemed like the right time to do it. Now, going into baby #3 at 35 and 40, I'm pretty happy that we didn't wiat longer.

  • Reply Life of a Doctor's Wife April 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Love this post. My parents AND my husband's parents each waited 10 years before having kids. That sounds about right for me. (Although we'll see if "baby fever" overtakes me before then!) But I have friends for whom it was "right" to have a baby immediately after marriage. Such a personal decision – as individual as each couple.

  • Reply Lonica April 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I felt much the same way as you–particularly about the first item in your list. It was really important for me to have some experiences with my education/career before I settled into "housewife". I'm glad I got those experiences. Now, it's starting to become somewhat important to me to find chill ways to continue those experiences as a "housewife"; I'm still trying to figure out how to do that.

    I also really liked the fact that Scott and I had so much time to make memories on our own. I look back very fondly at our month traveling around Southeast Asia–something that would be impossible with a baby in tow…

  • Reply Schmei April 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I followed you over from That Wife. Thanks for this post. We've been married 3.5 years and we are definitely not spiritually, financially or emotionally ready for a wee one yet, but my sister and a few of my hubs' cousins all just had babies in the past year and now everyone is kind of eyeing us like it's "our turn".

    The two best pieces of advice I've gotten about kids? From my older and wiser cousin who has two great kids: "Children are WONDERFUL… when you're ready for them." And from the hubs' grandma: "I would never pressure you in to having kids. Kids who come from pressure just have regretful parents."

    So you're very wise! Your husband sounds like he'll be a great dad, too. Congratulations to both of you.

  • Reply Carly Jane April 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Yes. So intensely personal. This is just one of those things you can't judge others about. As you know, I am so forever glad and grateful we didn't wait. It's funny though, because wait or don't wait, someone won't be happy with your decision (and they're bound to let you know). What can you do? Just let it go. When you feel good about what you're doing, don't worry about the rest!

  • Reply Nicole April 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Waiting to have children is important to me as well. My husband and I have been married for 6 1/2 years and are still childless. We have had time to grow together, finish education, and just basically get ready for that huge life change. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Many people don't feel the same way, and I always like finding people who agree.

  • Reply Meridith April 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I can really see the Lord guiding you and Bart in your decision to have children. Many times I've noticed that when I feel uneasy about something, that's an answer that it really is not the time.

    I love also that you didn't mention your need to be selfish when you first got married. You knew yourself, you knew what you could handle, and you followed your feelings.

    I felt the same when all my friends were getting married right out of high school. (Granted I still got married quite young, but I had finished college, which to some people seemed really old). I really was taught that each person needs to learn lessons at different times in life. Some of my friends needed to continue life married in order to learn things. I needed to learn certain things on my own.

    I think the point is not as much "waiting," but more or less listening to the Spirit.

  • Reply Lindsay April 21, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    You're right that waiting is not for everyone. It's not a secret that I was 19 and five months pregnant when I got married. Sure, it was unexpected, but it was NOT unwelcomed! Being a mom was something I had always wanted to be, and it is something I know I'm meant to do. We're still getting to do things that we want to do, it's just much harder than if we didn't have kids yet. It's good for you that you've waited for all of the reasons you said, but those reasons are not important to me.
    Congrats again on your pregnancy! You look so cute in those pictures in the previous post!!

  • Reply Kelly Shoroye April 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    When my husband and I were married he was still in school, after two months of marriage we knew we needed to have a baby…she is now 4 my husband is back in school getting his masters, and I have yet to finish my school, I wouldn't change it for the world…Being poor students with children is hard, but no matter how hard it gets it is always worth every second when you get to wake up to your beautiful children… for us personally we would not have it any other way. Being a mom has and always will be my biggest dream. Congratulation to you guys! You are looking super cute pregnant!

  • Reply Emily April 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    When we got married the plan was to wait 2 years. We didn't even start trying until that point. And then the way it worked out, Addie was born a little less than 2 months before our 4th anniversary. When we were trying to conceive and having trouble it was so hard. But in hindsight it was such a good experience for us and I treasure the 4 years we had together, just us. But like you said, our time line isn't right for everyone.

  • Reply The Liddells April 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I'm glad you wrote this. When me and Josh got married, I was 19 and Josh was 21. Josh was actually the one who wanted to wait until we had both finished school before we tried, and I was happy with that.

    We only knew each other for 8 months when we got married, so I think it has been good for us to really get to know each other and learn, like you said, to adjust and compromise.

    It has been a blessing to have these past four and a half years to get to know each other with just the two of us.

  • Reply Amy Sorensen April 21, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    These are the exact reasons I encourage the YW I teach to be thoughtful about when they have babies. I think far too often people have babies out of guilt (like STM said) or because of feeling obligated. I think, though, that birth control exists for a reason. It isn't selfish to not be ready. You're just not ready yet!

    I also think we are given our hopes, dream, ambitions and talents to use them (not that you can't use them as a mother) and it is OK to USE them for awhile before you become a mother.

    This is my long-ish way of saying: I think you made the exact right decisions. (Not that my opinion matters of course…but now you have it anyway!)

  • Reply Alyson April 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Congratulations on your upcoming little bundle of joy! You have a very selfless husband.

  • Reply Anonymous April 22, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Janssen your decision is your own and thanks to the agency we are given everyone has the opportunity to make that decision for themselves.
    I do have to say that teaching our young women to wait to have children until they have been married a while goes against the direct counsel and direction of the Prophet and Apostles,so if that is being taught in young women classes it isn't correct.

  • Reply Kimberly April 22, 2010 at 2:13 am

    I know people who have waited, not waited, been glad, learned to love it, couldn't have, accidentally had, you name it. What I enjoyed most and what I gathered as the point was how your relationship has been strengthened by learning to make those decisions and grow together…which is really great!

  • Reply preethi April 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I will be forever grateful for the unending support of both sets of parents in not once pressuring us, but being ecstatic when we did get pregnant. We'll have been married 2.5 years when our little one arrives, and for us, it was so wonderful to have that time together to solidify our relationship, and experience work, school, and the world together. I think it will make us much better parents in the end.

    Also, Anonymous – I don't think her point was to teach the YW to wait a while after marriage. I understood it to mean that she was grateful to have waited until she was personally prepared and it was right for them as a couple, which IS taught by the church leaders.

  • Reply Anonymous April 23, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    The anonymous person above ticks me off.UGH.

    You post was so nice to read- everyone has to make the choice that are right for them and their families, not what some judgmental poster thinks should be the decision for everyone.

  • Reply Jen - devourer of books May 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    What a lovely post! You have a great husband there.

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