#268: How do I talk to my partner about wanting to start a family soon?

Dear Captain Awkward:

Over the years, I have written any number of scripts to talk to my boyfriend about having children. The newest one, the one I came up with today goes like this: I want to have a child, and I need for us to make a plan that starts now and ends with me having a baby.

The problem is that I cannot remove this padlock that is on my tongue. I have written and not delivered so many scripts. Some of them I discarded because they were unfair, and because there is no reason to approach this with any kind of score keeping tally of just how patient I have been waiting for this, or which of our friends already have kids, or a list of facts about fertility or why now is a good time. I have set myself deadlines before. I have so many wasted opportunities, waiting it seems for the perfect setting and moment for this conversation to happen, or letting these moments pass while I try and fail to loosen my tongue.

The script once would have been: We need to think about having children before my dad loses his sight and can’t see them and my mom is too weak to pick them up.

Last September it was: I need for you to talk to me about making a family, or let me know that you are still far from ready so I can go home to take care of the one I already have.

Now it is too late for both those scripts; I lost my mom seven months ago. She was sick, but it was unexpected. I’ll never be able to have my mom in the delivery room, or staying with me the first few months, to call with all the little everyday questions that come up when learning how to take care of a new little person. I’ll have my dad, but I know it will also be hard for him to know how much she wanted this for me and that she is not here to see and experience it.

All this is not what I want to put on my boyfriend. This is the situation, and any part of me that would consider blaming him for taking all those things away from me by delaying this kids talk is too busy blaming myself for being selfish in general and leaving home in the first place. I don’t blame him. If things had happened differently, well then things would be different. And in the end, I know that this is the situation and I must live in this version of reality, not all the ones with paths I could have taken, or circumstances that could have turned out differently.

I know how hard it will be for me to be pregnant and have a child without my mom, but I am ready for it. I know all the ways in which I could improve my health, my relationship and my life before bringing the disruption of a child into it. I know that grief is a huge part of my life right now, and will not be forever. But, I also know more than ever now that there is no perfect world I can create. All we have is this, this imperfect world with these holes in it. I feel ready to try it, and I don’t want to wait any longer. I can make plans, and imagine the story and plan for a happy ending, but I can’t say the first words. I don’t know how to find the gumption to start. Can you help me?

I know by the way, I really do know, I need to call the counseling service whose number I’ve been carrying around for all these months. Maybe if I can send this letter, then maybe I can pick up the phone. And maybe then I can speak.

Dear Letter Writer,

I think the latest script you’ve developed is pretty great. And I’m so, so sorry about your mom.

Let the years you’ve waited to ask this question go. If you haven’t been talking with your partner about this the whole time, he doesn’t know about the missed opportunities and the times you bit your tongue. His part in the conversation starts now, and the less you carry those expectations and anxieties from the past with you into this conversation, the better. Don’t assume or say that you know he’s not ready, don’t apologize for maybe freaking him out, don’t make it about your loss or drown him in facts about fertility. You don’t need a perfectly-argued logic case or the perfect moment. You want it; that’s a good enough reason to ask for it.

Boyfriend, I know that I want to have kids, and I know that I want to do that with you, and I want to start on that within the next year or so.

I really want to know what you think and how you feel about that, and to talk about how we could make everything work out. But you don’t have to give me an answer right this second, in fact, I really want to give you some time to think everything through and be sure that if we do it it’s what you want, too.

Can we agree that we’ll both think really hard about this for the next three months, and then we’ll sit down and talk about how it could work for real and make some decisions?”

Boom. You can put it out there honestly and let him know how important it is to you. You can give him some time to think about it before he gives you an answer. You can give yourself a grace period from worrying about it while you’re still so deeply in the middle of grieving for your mom. You can take that three months to talk to that counselor you’ve been meaning to call and give yourself a safety net and take some of the pressure off both of you.

I know the stakes are high and that you really, really don’t want him to say no, but there is power and grace in speaking your heart’s desire out loud. The risk is worth it.

Readers who are parents, how did you make the decision to have kids? How did the talk go with your partner?




87 thoughts on “#268: How do I talk to my partner about wanting to start a family soon?

  1. Hi LW- First off, I am so, so sorry for the loss of your mother. I can see it is also a huge loss that you will not have her as a grandmother to your future child. I am sorry for that loss as well.

    As for the talk with your boyfriend, your letter raised so many questions in my head. Why are you hesitating to broach this topic? Does he even want children? Or, is it that he may not want them this soon? Are you changing your position and are you thus scared he will react negatively to your wish? Are you scared he may not be on the same page, so you will have to decide to break up if he disagrees? As your partner, and the future father of your child, why is it so hard to talk to him about something so fundamental and, obviously, something that looms so large in your mind? Shouldn’t your life partner be easy to talk to? What is the reaction that you are fearing?

    I guess you just need to be direct, bring it up, and see what he says. Then take it from there. There is no perfect script. You can mumble it, use the wrong words, whatever. If you guys can work this out, it won’t matter what words you use or how you say them. I suggest talking in person.

    The decision of if/when to procreate is something, I find, best discussed during the first/second/third date. And if ideas change (as they have in my own head over time), it’s something to be discussed openly and as often as needed with your partner, as wishes change and evolve. If you do not agree, it’s best to know as soon as possible so you can make smart decisions for the future.

    I have no idea if the following story relates to what you are going through, but it is kind of on topic. I have a friend who has always wanted children. She is with a boyfriend who has always been unsure/not wanting children. She knew this within months of dating him. She knew her position would not change. They are still together 3 years later, she is almost 40, and their positions are the same. She stayed with him, and she honestly seems sad and unsure in her relationship. I really feel for her.

    In the best relationships, a life partner is your “safe place” where you can talk honestly about life dreams and hopes and fears. Maybe you are building this up too much in your head, or maybe not (see above questions!). But there is no way to know unless you talk about it. The conversation may take time to discuss (i.e. it may be many conversations),

    If you really don’t share the same goals or dreams, is this the safest/best context for a new life form? Also, maybe think about whether your feelings are stemming from a recent loss and may change once you have grieved more.

    I wish you luck and I hope you get everything you want out of life.

    1. PS- I hope non-parents can weigh in too! The LW’s question seems more universal to me: How do I broach an important topic with my partner?

      Non-parents may have discussed stuff like:
      – I may not be able to have biological kids. How do you feel about fostering/adopting/surrogates/donor eggs or sperm?
      – Can you be happy if we never have kids?
      – What do you think about [insert important life topic HERE]?

      You don’t need to be a parent to have had the discussion! I know you were specifically asking parents about this, but is it okay if we open the discussion to others?

      1. Yeah, I’ve got to weigh in as a non-parent, too — but seconding the above comment as a caveat to what follows: as child-free by choice person, this topic is always on the table by date three, because I know where I stand on it.

        LW, there is a lot you wrote about and a whole lot you didn’t, as in any other letter. You don’t cite any reasons to be hesitant about broaching the subject with your partner, and I feel sort of sure there must be something — you’ve talked about it before, a long time ago, and he was discouraging? He doesn’t like any of your friends’ kids?

        But the most important thing I see in the Captain’s advice is to make this conversation a clean one. Try to leave as much of the baggage of years of not bringing this up outside, and don’t weigh down what you imply is your very first attempt to talk about procreating with your partner. In his defense (not that you’ve implied he needs one), you more or less say he doesn’t know how you feel. I’m just going to assume he doesn’t read minds.

        It’s an important conversation, but it’s not a one-time thing — this is an ongoing discussion, likely. That may help take the pressure off. You don’t have to get all the words out right the first time.

      2. I’ll jump in here as a non-parent who used pretty much this exact same script for a non-baby-related important life topic. In my case, the issue was living together with my partner of 2.5+ years, and it was a “make-or-break” issue for us because I’m leaving [current city] never to return, so the only way we could have an ongoing relationship is if we can live together part-time, or at least make plans to be together at some point in the future. He had given me an unequivocal ‘no’ 1 year prior, then had worked with a therapist on the issues keeping him from living together and had shown some signs of progress (giving me keys to his place, talking about living together in a year or two). Earlier this year I brought it up again using just this script – I want to discuss this issue again, please think about it and let’s talk in 2 months, ok? [change topic]. I spent the time figuring out how I’d respond if he said ‘no’.

        In my case, I didn’t get what I wanted. He still can’t/won’t live together or even consider living together in the future, and as a result we’re splitting up when I leave [current city] soon. It sucks, but I feel relieved to at least know, to no longer have this unresolved issue hanging over our heads.

        LW, your hesitancy to discuss this issue suggests to me that he also might have given you a ‘no’ at some point? Have you thought about what you’ll do if he gives you a ‘no’ (again)? I would spend some time (weeks, months, whatever you need) to figure out exactly what your response to a ‘no’ will be before having this discussion with him. Will you stay with him regardless? Will you leave and find someone else with whom you can have children? That will suck, but if children are more important to you, that may be what you need to do.

        Take it from me, you’re better off knowing one way or the other – even if you don’t get the answer that you want – than to leave this very important issue hanging over your head. I highly recommend that you figure out what you want and how you’ll respond, then use the Captain’s script.

        Best of luck, I hope you get everything you want and need!

        1. Also, I’m so, so sorry about your mom. I lost my father very suddenly last year, just before finishing my PhD. He was the one who’d inspired me to pursue my career and get my PhD, and I’d really wanted him to see me finish. So I know a bit of what you’re going through, and send lots of jedi hugs your way.

          1. Oh man. I’m so sorry for your loss. I am going to (finally) get my PhD this summer, and I keep thinking about how much my mom would love to see me called Doctor Sweet Machine. *jedi hugs*

    2. It worried me a little, too, that you feel a great barrier about asking for what you want, especially since wanting to have a baby is not exactly bizarre. I mean, yeah, I’m not saying that it’s not a big deal to *do* — but I wouldn’t think it would be that big a deal to even discuss doing. I couldn’t help wondering whether that barrier exists only in your mind, or whether there’s some kind of negative pressure coming from him, about you not deserving to have your wants count (which would make me think maybe he’s not great dad material), or not wanting children, or what the deal is. I definitely think your reason for not feeling comfortable discussing this subject matters enormously, and not just to “how should I raise this subject?”

      Are you afraid if you say you want a baby he’ll say “eek, no way, I’m outa here?” Even if you’re afraid he doesn’t want kids, that’s the only thing I could think of that would explain the hesitance to even mention the subject. If you think that’s what could happen, maybe the relationship isn’t solid enough to bring a kid into it, anyway. And maybe if that’s what he feels, and you definitely want the kid, you need to take the risk of putting it out there and seeing how things play out.

      Otherwise, maybe scripts aren’t the way to go. Maybe it’d be better to do it in a low-key way, like mentioning while washing dishes, ‘y’know, so-and-so’s baby is so cute…I’ve been thinking I’d really like to have a baby with you,” and seeing where that goes, without an expectation that the first conversation will involve timeline-setting (though you could be prepared to get there if he seems reasonably receptive).

      As for me and mine, I think we always both figured we’d probably like kids someday. When it got down to it, we had a little bit of Roo’s J’s dynamic: he wanted all ducks in a row, definitely had some anxiety about readiness. But what you said is true: if you wait ’til the perfect time, in the illusion that a time will come when having a baby won’t be a big deal, well that’s never going to come, so if you want one at some point you have to say “we’re solid enough (financially and relationship-wise), let’s go for it.” He was ready enough that when I said that, he said yeah he supposed that was true, so I stopped taking the BCP and got pregnant pretty soon.

      1. Actually, I have to add, though I know it sounds negative and I hate to add to a burden of grief when you’re already hurting, but this issue reminds me of the saying that if you’re not comfortable enough with your partner to discuss sex (and birth control and STIs) with them, you don’t belong having sex with them. Unless this is just an odd quirk, I’m not sure the same doesn’t apply to having kids.

        1. THIS, for sure. You really shouldn’t be having PiV sex with anyone if you haven’t discussed your respective stances on potential babies resultign from said activity.

          1. It’s not just that: it’s that kids are a joint project that is intensively hands-on for at least 17-18 years. And during that period, there’s a lot of parent-parent consulting going on! No two parents intuitively have the exact same ideas about how to raise kids, either in the broad generalities or in the day-to-day specifics, and you need to be able to talk to each other about how you’re going to handle stuff. Some of that stuff being very stressful! (I have two of the best kids in the world (14 and 16 now, so I do have some experience), and my husband’s close to the same page instinctively, and we still have an occasional wrangle, where one parent has their gut reaction and the other parent is like “nuh-uh, that’s not how I see it at all,” and we have to talk it through to something we’re both comfortable with). So not being able to talk reasonably about having them in the first place concerns me.

            Also, if the issue is that the BF doesn’t think she deserves to have her wants considered, I don’t think he’s such life-partner material, either, regardless of the kid issue.

  2. It’s not selfish to want to have children. Even when your partner doesn’t. It’s just something you want. So, please start by changing the script that you’re using with yourself.

    I have to say that in my case it was “hey, I think we should start trying to have a kid” quickly followed by a “I think I’m not ready” which was too late because I was already knocked up. So, my advice there is not to do it my way.

    This is simply a conversation that you’re going to have. I know it’s an important one, but it’s just a beginning conversation. You’ll have more. Just start out easy….

  3. Oh, LW, I’m so sorry about your mom! Jedi hugs in abundance!

    Also not a parent, but definitely have talked with HusbandLogic about pretty heavy stuff, including the yea-nay-eh on kids.

    Of course, we’ve been talking about kids since pretty early on, though primarily in the “NOT RIGHT NOW” context. Here’s how the Logics work: once we started with the PiV sex, he and I are both on a team with my uterus, currently titled Team No-Babies. I let him know what’s going on in there, and we’re both relieved to know where we stand each month. (Sample gchat: “Just got a notification from the uterus that Team No Babies is babyless again. PERFECT RECORD TO DATE.”)

    But when we were talking about marriage (oh, did we ever talk about marriage before he proposed! A LOT.), being on Team No Babies, and having had three sentence (or longer) conversations about the possibility of babies monthly for a few years, made it easier to talk about someday becoming team Maybe Babies.

    LW, I sincerely hope that you have a true partner in your boyfriend, and that he’ll support you in your dreams. If parenthood is your dream, I want you to have it.

    Warmest regards and best love.

    1. Hahaha. Your sample gchat is so wonderful and so familiar! I do something similar, in that I send a monthly text or IM simply saying, “not pregnant” (usually exactly like that, no caps and no punctuation, which is not my usual style) and it both gives that relief of knowing where we stand as well as the warning of what’s going on with my body that he may care about. 😉

    2. I miss the days when I could say “no babies this month!” because stress and birth control weren’t fucking with my cycle.

      On the other hand, no-one in history has got pregnant on the implant, so I have a three year continuous no-babies in my arm. Science: it is magic.

    3. Love the gchat! My recent/current partner and I are both firmly on Team No-Babies. So firmly that he actually got a vasectomy a while back. So our early conversations on Babies went like this:

      Me: I’m on Team No-Babies.
      Him: Me too. That’s why I got surgery a couple years ago.
      Me: Hooray! I can get off this &*(% pill!!

    4. I have had gchats EERILY SIMILAR TO THAT ONE. We started doing them after a pregnancy scare early on, and never got around to stopping.

      After we started trying to get me knocked up, we continued to have similar gchats, except because I was not enjoying no-longer-on-the-Pill periods and the cramps and hormones were completely whackadoo, the gchats were slightly, uh, more like this: “Team Babies is officially no go this month; buy ALL THE VODKA for when I get home” or “Team Babies is still no go; be informed that I have left work early and purchased a PS3 and a bottle of rum. Yo ho ho.” I still haven’t lived down the PS3 thing.

  4. This talk about a script for a Conversation implies to me that maybe you’ve been dropping hints and offhand mentions, and that they haven’t gone over well.

    I honestly don’t remember the first time my husband I talked about having kids someday — I know we established it as a someday thing not long after we started dating, but we were still in our early 20s. It got more immediate when my niece was born, and later when we had a pregnancy scare and agreed that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. We got engaged not long after, firmed up the timetable during premarital counseling, and touched base with each other on the subject every so often. Unfortunately, biology sent our well-ordered plans screeching off the rails, and we had to negotiate our way through infertility treatment.

    We never had to have Conversation Scripts about whether to have children, because we were basically in agreement about if/when/how many. Infertility was much harder, because there was some fundamental discord about how to proceed (and also because infertility is stressful and awful). I did a lot of scripting, because I was trying to logic him into being as miserable and desperate and frustrated as I was, when he wasn’t as ready to go through the stresses and risks of IVF.

    So that’s what I see in your letter, especially the bit about how you’re ready now even though you could improve your health/relationship/life. To me, that sounds like a response to something that’s been said rather than a preemptive justification. Maybe it wasn’t part of an official talk, but casual comments are still a real expression of your partner’s feelings.

    You can’t Conversation him into being ready to have kids if he’s not, and it seems to me that the subtext for this letter is “How can I have this Conversation which I am pretty sure is not going to go well?” That’s a different situation than if he really doesn’t have any idea that kids are on your emotional radar.

    You’re totally justified in wanting kids now, just because you want them. And Partner’s totally justified in not wanting kids yet (or ever), for no better reason than that he doesn’t. It’s not about being right or wrong — it’s about telling each other where your hearts are, and figuring out how to handle it if you’re in different places.

  5. LW, I am so, so sorry for the loss of your mom and the pain and stress you find yourself with. Jedi hugs and love and light to you.

    All we have is this, this imperfect world with these holes in it. I feel ready to try it, and I don’t want to wait any longer.

    There is something so beautiful and so raw about this sentence, LW. This seems to be to be your true self speaking, and I think your husband deserves to hear this, and you deserve to be able to say it. You don’t need to be perfectly rational, you don’t need to logic your husband into this, as others have said. Take ownership for waiting until now to have this conversation, and just lay your cards on the table and go from there.

    I hope you get what you ultimately want, LW. You deserve it. We all do.

  6. Over the years, I have written any number of scripts to talk to my boyfriend about having children.

    As I read this, my immediate reaction was, “How many years?”

    Total agreement with the Captain’s script, which is built on complete honesty and respect for one another’s decisionmaking autonomy. But depending on the outcome of the process initiated by the script, how old the LW and her boyfriend are, and how long they’ve been together, and how long the LW has wanted children and wanted to talk about, could all become highly relevant to what happens next.

  7. I’m older than my partner, and sometime in the first 3 months of dating I said “I really want to have babies before I’m 30. What do you think?” He said “Maybe in 2 years? Definitely sometime and definitely not this year and definitely before you’re 30.” And I said “Okay then, we’ll talk about this in a few years.” I am a big fan of just laying those cards on the table.

    Can you just start your conversation with “I want to have a baby.” ? Then you aren’t assuming that he is on any side of the debate.

  8. My husband and I agreed before we were married that we wanted to have a child someday.

    Even though I’ve loved him since ever, I wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t. I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I would have tried to negotiate a different kind of relationship for us. I’m glad I didn’t have to.

    Still, neither of us was in a big rush. He had school to finish, we both had careers to work on. And we wanted to feel solid together just us, as a married couple, before changing our lives so drastically.

    Still, J was far more hesitant about having a baby than I was. At I certain point, I think you have to stop worrying about all the eventualities and possibilities and make the leap. But J really wanted to have everything perfectly in place– money, work, and most of all, himself. He seemed to think he needed to have everything he thought was wrong with him fixed before he could even think about becoming a father.

    Time was going by. Years. I passed my early thirties, and saw 35 looming– the year when fertility takes a nosedive. I’d had friends deal with infertility, and I didn’t want that– not to mention we could never afford it. I started to press the point more and more– told him my worries about age, asked if he thought we could start soon….

    “I’m just not ready yet.”

    When I turned 35, I told him that I was going off my birth control. I told him I was ready to try for a baby, and I understood he wasn’t, but that I resented having to buy and take drugs that did things to my body that I didn’t want. I told him that from there on in, contraception was his responsibility.

    About half a year after that, we realized we didn’t have condoms, and he told me he didn’t care.

    I think he needed the mental jujitzu of being in a situation where he could try for a baby without having to directly confront the choice he was making. Because he did make the choice. And when he found out we were having a baby, he was scared, but thrilled.

    Our baby boy is beautiful.

    I don’t know if there’s anything in this story that’s useful to you, LW–
    your story touched me. I hope I’ve been able to help.

    Good luck!

    1. Your story sounds exactly like how I expect(hope?) mine will turn out. The “having kids/not having kids” question was the one stumlbing block for me in committing to marry my husband. We’re not yet at a point where I’m ready to actually start trying to have a kid, but I have no doubt I’ll feel ready long before he does, and I’m already planning to hand of contraceptive responsibility to him when that happens.

      I’m so glad everything worked out for you 🙂

    2. Roo, your husband sounds like myself – wanting things in place as far as money and stability and personal self sorted out (all a work in progress for myself….). However, I have to say J is a far more reasonable man than I would be if faced with the kind of ultimatum you presented to him about leaving the contraception situation now solely in my control. For me, I would feel like I was being backed into a corner – that our relationship wasn’t a team effort anymore and it was very much you vs. me on the subject and frankly resentment would likely build on both fronts (no condoms? shit sorry guess not tonight – followed by sleeping on the couch). In my opinion, this strategy is a BAD one because it is confrontational and becomes you vs me and then bitterness happens. While I understand your position (I’m 36) on a) time ticking away and b) the drugs screwing with your system, if both partners aren’t on the same team on a subject like this then finding out why the one is holding back and addressing those concerns so they are comfortable is important. I’m really glad that things ended up working out favorably in your situation, but frankly I think that this approach would end up being more of a grenade to the relationship than a bridge.

      1. Let me just add that I in no way think that the contraception responsibility should be shouldered by the baby-bearer in the relationship – both partners should equally be taking precautions on preventing baby-making if that is what is agreed. But if the responsibility is left to just one partner, then that dynamic isn’t a “partnership” anymore – it is just one person doing all the work to prevent offspring from happening while the other is enjoying sexytimes yet getting ever more annoyed that reluctant partner isn’t onside with their change of mind. By announcing unilaterally that one partner isn’t going to participate in the non-baby-making sex so if other partner doesn’t want kids, then they better be sure that their end of the contraception equation is ready and always in play you are putting that person on the spot. What is missing from this is that no conversation is happening. One person has just decided and if the other isn’t on board, then they had better put up or parent up. Doesn’t sound to me like the recipe for a healthy and communicative situation to bring a new person into. Conversations are hard, and the crappy part is that you may not agree and then have to decide where to go from there. But I maintain that it is vital to “use your words” as CA often says. Sorry if this sounds “judgemental” – and as I said before Roo, I’m glad that your arrangement worked out. It just wigs me out as it seems like a form of blackmail.

        1. It sounds to me, though, like Roo was trying to have a conversation, and was getting consistently stonewalled. Sometimes, if your partner just flat-out won’t communicate, it’s necessary to force the situation. It has to be done with caution, lest it lead to the kind of adversarial situation you’re talking about, but Roo would know best with J whether it would backfire that way.

          I say this as someone who tries like hell to avoid the “So, how did he propose?” conversations, because the answer doesn’t come close to fitting that narrative. After about 3.5 years together, I decided that leaving it entirely in his court was stupid, so I asked if he’d ever thought about it. Turns out his thoughts on that were much like J’s on fatherhood — he felt like he needed to have everything figured out first re: where we’d live (we weren’t living together), would we buy a house or go with one of our apartments and if so which one, when would we actually have the wedding, etc. I told him that I thought that those were decisions we could and should make together along the way rather than trying to solve them all beforehand. So we decided, jointly, that we wanted to get married. (I liked that a lot more than I would have liked “elaborate proposal”, and way way more than “elaborate public proposal”.) In other words, he needed a bit of a nudge. It was a different kind of nudge than J needed, but it was a nudge all the same.

          (When I told my parents we were engaged, they made all the appropriate noises of happiness and congratulations. My dad later told me that, when I’d said “X and I are going to get married,” his first reaction was “Well, duh.”)

        2. A further thought on this — if Roo going off the pill meant there was no birth control going on, doesn’t that mean that, until that point, she’d had sole responsibility for birth control? Seems to me like turnabout is fair play.

        3. Blackmail? I don’t see how deciding to quit hormonal birth control, telling my partner what I was doing and why, and letting him make whatever choice he wanted about contraception from then on in was blackmail.

          Are condoms really so terrible?

          I guess it’s good I’m married to J, and not you.

          1. Condoms are not terrible, and if it was a case that in all that time only you had been carrying the burden of preventing a pregnancy, then as OtherBecky says, turnabout is fair play. How I approached your situation was on the assumption that BOTH of you were doing your part on the ‘safe-sex’ methods. What bothered me was that your decision (or at least how I read it) appeared to be a declaration that wasn’t up for discussion, and while you acknowledge that J wasn’t prepared to start a family, you no longer supported that position.

            I realize that for YEARS previous you’d broached the subject with the same answers returned to you, so I can only imagine how frustrated you must have been. You don’t say what the foundations behind J’s concerns were (it is always deeper than the surface answers in my experience) so I don’t know if those were broached or not. It is funny because as I read the lead-up to your taking a stand, all the decisions you made together are things that I too would want in a new marriage as well – wanting to feel solid together just as a couple, getting established and comfortable with career and life together. And you are right, at some point you just have to realize that you just have to take the leap and hope for the best.

            I cannot speak as to the foundation of J’s reservations, but I know that I would have the same feelings of wanting things to be “just right” as unrealistic as that might be. I think at the core of any mans concerns is that he is afraid that he will not be up to the task, and if something doesn’t work out the way it “should” (that being fairly arbitrary) or he doesn’t live up to a fictitious standard, he is a failure. Maybe this was what he was feeling, and that fear manifested as a list of rationals for not being ready to be a parent.

            I would hope that my partner would be able to convince me that although shit may happen, we’d be in it together no matter what and discuss my concerns and that if we take the leap together, things will work out. So, I apologize Roo for perhaps being accusatory in my remarks on your methods – my aim was to advise against what I saw as a strong-arm method where I believe communication on both sides is a must. I am really glad that things between you and your husband worked for the best and that he was able to come around and realize that he was ready to take that leap with you.

        4. Ah, I see the difficulty here.

          From the Back Seat wrote: ” What is missing from this is that no conversation is happening.”

          As I mentioned in my original post, we had many conversations. Many many many, from before we decided to get married, through the better part of a decade of marriage before we got pregnant, to this very day.

          We talk a lot. And we’re careful to listen to what each other is saying.

          You said yourself you feel contraception should be a shared responsibility between partners. So do we.

          And as you said, it worked out. I’m glad you’re happy for us.

          1. I also need to learn not to read these blogs late in the evening, especially after a stressful one.

  9. Babyless so far here, but this is how the talk with my boyfriend went, about a month in to us dating:

    Me: Boyfriend I’m going to want a baby in the future
    Boyfriend: I’m not sure that I want kids.
    Me: well I am definitely sure, if you don’t want kids, then this will be a problem.
    Boyfriend: I just think they cost so much money
    Me: That is true, They do cost a lot.

    We’ve been together for about four years now, and our most current discussion on the subject went like this*

    Me: Boyfriend the arrival of my little nephew makes me want to have a baby more and more
    Boyfriend: Babies are pretty awesome
    Me: I know that it is not really an option while I am studying, but I want to start trying in two years time
    Boyfriend: you know that I hate planning things, but ok sounds good

    So yeah, like the captain said, be honest, and have a timeframe for when you are going to start trying for a baby. Also understand that your boyfriend might be holding back, not just because he doesn’t want a baby but because he thinks he’ll make a lousy father, or he is worried about finances, talk about these things.

    *actually I lie, the most current conversation about babies went like this
    Me: Boyfriend Boyfriend look at this http://jezebel.com/5915709/prepare-to-be-amused-by-a-bunch-of-babies-tasting-lemons-for-the-first-time
    both of us: Laughing until our eyes water

  10. Our conversation about kids went from me saying ‘I’m not sure I want any at all’ at the beginning to, ‘I could have kids with you, but not right now’ just before we got married to ‘How about we start trying this year’ and now I’m pregnant. The difference with us is that I knew he always wanted kids so these were never difficult conversations to have.

    The only thing I can tell you is that if putting yourself out there about kids is what’s stopping you from speaking, how about asking him what he wants first? Say something like ‘What do you think about having children?’ or ‘Do you want kids?’ and let him answer. Then, the conversation is started and you can tell him what you want.

  11. I started a relationship with my now-husband at age 18. I didn’t decide I wanted kids myself until I was 24, and he was very ambivalent. (I am fairly sure that with an ambivalent or child-free partner, he would not have had any problem not having children.) So, we talked about it for some considerable time and essentially he agreed to take a leap into the unknown and I had our first and presently only child when I was not quite 29. He is 2 now.

    It is hard to say much more than that without, as other commenters have wondered about, more information about the relationship dynamic. But one thing I thought of that hasn’t come up so much so far is that this can be the start of a number of big conversations and decisions. To give a few examples:
    1. how active are you going to be about seeking pregnancy? more sex? more sex at ovulation times? same sex as before? (A lot of people find that this decision causes some friction — yeah yeah, that kind as well — in their relationship, suddenly having sex for a reason and on an externally imposed timetable.)
    2. what are you going to do if a pregnancy doesn’t happen that way?
    3. if it does happen, are you going to have prenatal screening for chromosomal disorders and similar? And what will you do if one is found?
    4. what will you do if pregnancy proves difficult and possibly disabling? who will be your caretaker? how will this impact your/their parenting leave? (I have high-risk pregnancies, so this came up for us more than it does for many other people.)
    5. once the baby is born, how is your household division of labour going to change? how about your finances?
    6. do either of you feel strongly about certain parenting styles?
    and so on.

    I’m posting those not because I think they should come up in The Conversation: I think they should not, unless LW and her boyfriend are both very into “let’s think about all the worst case scenarios and make plans”, in which case, fine. However, many people prefer to only discuss things that are actively worrying them right now (eg “let’s talk about infertility if it happens, yeah?” “if the ultrasound shows a problem, let’s talk about it then”) and that’s totally legit. But it’s another possibility for why The Conversation is so rough to have: it can feel like opening up a can of worms in which you then (at some later point) have to make All the Decisions and All the Changes, and that can be hard to do in some relationships.

    I can’t really turn this into advice: LW, I guess if this resonates it’s something for therapy, figuring out how you and your boyfriend can make Many Big Decisions in a way that is the least scary for both of you, because it is a skill parents (among others!) need.

    1. My story started similarly to Mary’s but ended differently. I got together with my (awesome) now-husband at 21 and we were both relatively ambivalent – although my position was ‘probably, one day’ and his was ‘maybe but I have no particular drive to have kids’. Over the years (we’ve been together 20+ years now) this ambivalence continued – I guess I’d expected that my position would harden into the sort of definite baby-hunger I’d seen amongst my friends and that would force a decision. It didn’t, and we kept having tentative conversations without resolution until I hit my mid 30s when it became clear that either we made a choice or the lack of decision would in itself be a decision.

      At that point I said I thought I did want to have kids, and he said he had no desire to have them (both completely reasonable positions but neither of them were absolutist). We kicked that around for a year or so until he said ‘listen, I have no desire for children, but if my choice is a) we have them or b) you leave me to try have them with someone else then I chose a)’.

      Reader, neither of those choices appealed – I didn’t have that all-encompassing need to have kids and I was frankly pretty scared about the idea of having kids, whether I’d be any good at it – all the usual fear of the unknown. If he’d said he was up for it, we’d have done it. But to force someone into such a huge thing when it, quite reasonably, truly wasn’t what he wanted to do; when I knew that there would definitely be times when it was really really hard and I’d know I alone was responsible for getting us into this – and when I knew I wanted to be with him – well, I chose to not have kids.

      And, mind you, I chose this despite being absolutely confident that if I’d chosen option a) he would have loved them and would have been a great and responsible dad, that he would have helped change nappies and worry about schools and all that other stuff because he’s that kind of good guy.

      LW the most important thing for us was to be really honest about what we felt without judging each other, and then to own the decision we came to without resentment. It wasn’t his choice that I’m not a mother – it was mine and I own it. It doesn’t make it less of a hard choice, and doesn’t mean that I don’t feel wistful or sad about it sometimes, but it’s not his fault. He’s allowed to feel what he feels. I’m allowed to feel what I feel. All we humans can do is put our cards on the table, deal with what is and make decisions based on that. Decisions made with love, trusting that we want the best for ourselves and for each other.

      The blessed Sugar had something on this recently – my other life is out there, waving at me from the deck of a ghost ship. My life would have been very different if I’d said, ok, let’s do it. Maybe in one of those alternate universes, down the bifurcated trouser-leg of time, we’d be happier, or maybe sadder or maybe I’d have been run over by a bus. But here and now I am alive and this is the life I’ve made with a man that I love, and I’m ok with that.

      LW I can only suggest you talk to your guy – tell him where you are. Listen without judgement to him when he tells you where he is. Talk to whoever you need to. And then make decisions you can live with. Make your life and then live it.

      (And I’m sorry for your loss).

      1. I must be in A MOOD or something, because that bifurcated trouser-leg of time paragraph was like a beautiful gut punch and I am getting a little tight in the throat. Man, what a turn of phrase.

    2. These are some really good points and probably shouldn’t be brought up in The Initial Conversation, but they have the potential to come up in the future if LW and partner decide to green light operation baby.

      LW, I don’t have any further advice on how you can approach the first conversation as the captain and commenters seem to have covered it, but I do think that Mary’s point of working on better communication for Big Decisions is really important. If you and your bf start trying for a baby then this will only be the beginning of a number of Difficult Potentially Conflicted Conversations, conversations that cannot be left to simmer for years. So maybe start with some one-on-one therapy and try to incorporate some couples therapy into the mix? If you do decide to become parents both you and your partner need to feel comfortable in clearly communicating your needs and desires without this build up of angst and fear.

      I really hope that you get what you want and your partner wants it too, and i’m so sorry for your loss.

    3. Oops, meant to come back and add some more info that I remembered.

      The longer timetable thing has worked for me, actually, but mostly because it matched my own timetable. Like “I’m thinking that because of [reasons] a child would fit into our life better a year from now, so, about three months from now, I want to talk together about dropping contraceptive use.” After our son was born I said “when he’s a year old, I think I will know enough to know whether I want a second child, so heads up that that is when I will want to talk about it.”

  12. LW, I feel for you so much and I’m so sorry for your loss. I think the Captain is right you must be direct and try to keep resentment out of it. I’m torn, though, about whether the 3-month timeframe is a good idea or not. That’s quite a long time. On the one hand I think it’s so important to give your boyfriend time to think properly about such a major decision. But if you’re at all like me, those 3 months wouldn’t feel like a grace period but like a horrible agonizing wait. I also worry that over 3 months the topic could slip away quietly and that you- who have struggled so much to voice this need – could lose your momentum to communicate and could fall back into your mind on this issue. So anyway, think about what you think will work for you. Perhaps you could ask for an initial reaction in a week or so… and then try to keep the conversation going from there, with a view to reaching a decision over a period of months. My partner and I recently decided that we will stop using contraception early next year, but we reached the point where we could make this decision through years of conversations about the kids thing – from the serious (“I’d like to have at 2 or 3 kids, which means starting fairly soon”), to the flippant (we have joke names for our imaginary hipster children). Many small conversations were needed to get us to that one big one.

  13. I never thought I wanted children until my mother died. Suddenly all I could picture was losing everyone over time and being left alone. This is nonsense, of course. You can be alone with all kinds of family, and you can also have no blood kin, but be surrounded by those who love you. I have no advice about talking to your boyfriend, but I also responded to grief with BABIES! Just keep in mind how much pressure your grief is putting on you. I am so very, very sorry about your loss.

    1. I’m seconding the grief-baby reaction. My mom passed away very recently after a long battle with cancer. I was lucky enough to be one of her caregivers and I can honestly say it forced me to take a long hard look at my life and realize that I want loved ones around when/if this happens to me. I think it’s a pretty natural reaction when you lose parents early on in adulthood.

      Noting the extra pressure the grief is putting on this decision is very smart too. You don’t realize it but it adds a whole extra dimension to everything you encounter. So taking the give-him-time-to-think approach is really good one.

      For anyone that’s come here and commented about their own losses I offer massive amounts of hugs and love.

      1. That is fascinating to me — caregiving for my mother was what moved me from Team No Kids to Team Really Really No Kids. But then, I have nieces/nephews, so I have kids in the family whom I adore and whom I can watch grow into awesome adults. For me, though, intense caregiving made me feel like a different person, one I didn’t know if I could be forever, and it made me want to reserve that for the people in my life already. Point being, I guess, similar intense life-changing reaction, just in the opposite direction.

        Love and sorrow to you, LW, and everyone else who’s grieving.

        1. “For me, though, intense caregiving made me feel like a different person, one I didn’t know if I could be forever”

          I cared for a relative who was dying of cancer, and that was my experience. It was unnerving, actually, how quickly my life and focus zeroed down to this person, their routines, their medications, their getting up and lying down, their meds… even when I had downtime, I kept an ear out in case they needed me. My time was never my own. And having infants and then toddlers many years before was very much like a dry run for that totally immersive caregiving.

          I found out that I could do it. I could do it fairly well. But, at least in the hospice case, it…rearranged me, and it took quite a while afterward to put myself right. There are few people I’d be willing to do that for again.

          Sorry, that’s a bit of a step away from the topic, isn’t it? Erm… I do think that in the long run, babies were easier, at least for me. Hormones kicked in and that tight focus became exactly what I wanted to do at the time. I don’t know if this is helpful or not. I’ll go ahead and post it, just in case.

  14. Having this conversation is always a little (or a lot) awkward. For me and my husband, we discussed it not to far into dating. I knew I wanted kids someday and told him at some moment. Something like, “I want you to know that I have always wanted to have kids, not now, but definitely in the future. How do you feel about kids?” and went from there. He was of the same mind, wanted kids, but not for awhile. Let it drop again until we got engaged and then we decided we wanted to wait at least 5 years before having kids (we got married at 23 & 22, so we had a lot of time biologically speaking) so we could get to know each other more and enjoy being a couple before bringing a baby into the mix. At about the 4 year mark, we talked again and weren’t quite ready yet, but soonish. Finally had a big talk after being married 7.5 years and once husband’s worries about making sure we were in a good financial situation were soothed we decided to start trying. We talked about a lot of other things too, maternity leave for me, breastfeeding, parenting styles, birth, etc. and one of the things that had spurned my husband to talk about it again was his Grandma passing away, deaths in the family often clarify things like that. We have a delightful 2.5 year old daughter and getting ready in the next month or so to try for a second child.

    So yeah, my only advice is to just get it out there ASAP. Next time the two of you are alone and there are no pressing obligations, just bring it up however you can. The Captain’s script is great, but don’t worry if you don’t get it quite right. It sounds like you have maybe never talked about this with your boyfriend and it is a conversation to have sooner rather than later because you want kids and he may or may not want kids and it is so important to know where each of you stands on that since while a person may change their own mind, you can’t change it for someone else. And I wanted to give an extra emphasis to the fact that you have been thinking about this on and off for years, your boyfriend may not have been thinking about it at all, so I definitely think you want to give him some time to respond as hard as that will be.

  15. People *plan* children? Really?

    All joking aside, I think CA’s answer is also spot on. At this point, if you have never discussed it with your boyfriend, all you can do is ask, right?

  16. LW, the part of your letter that really jumped out at me was this: “any part of me that would consider blaming him for taking all those things away from me by delaying this kids talk is too busy blaming myself for being selfish in general and leaving home in the first place.”

    That sentence is saying a whole lot of things. It’s saying that you think Boyfriend is responsible for you not having kids yet (maybe you *have* talked to him about this in the past and he wanted to put it off?). It’s saying that you’re really upset that you didn’t have children before your mother passed away. It’s saying that you do, to some extent, blame Boyfriend for the fact that your mother won’t be there when you have kids. It’s saying that you feel guilty for not living closer to your parents. It’s saying that you’re beating yourself up pretty badly right now.

    That is a lot of stuff to be dealing with and feeling and trying to process. As an only child who lives thousands of miles away from her (divorced, and both single) parents, I absolutely understand the guilt you feel about not being physically closer to your parents, particularly as their health declined. But you need to know that it is 100% okay that you moved away. It is 100% okay that you created a life for yourself somewhere else. Your love for your Mom shines through your letter, and I am guessing that she loved you too and more than anything wanted you to be happy, wherever you were.

    I know that the kids issue and your grief are intertwined right now, because some of what you’re grieving are the things that you won’t be able to share with your Mom. Those are very real and understandable feelings, and it’s clear how much they upset you, and I think it will probably take a little time for you to be… not okay with, but at peace with the way things have unfolded. But because those feelings are all mixed up together, I think it’s probably making it difficult for you to sort out how to deal with them and it’s resulting in you blaming both yourself (not your fault!) and your boyfriend (not his fault!) for things that are terribly sad but are no one’s fault. And although I agree that there’s never a perfect time to have kids, never a point at which you’re totally ready and life is 100% in order, I think that maybe the immediate thing you need to do is to deal with some of your pain and grief. Having kids can be wonderful and fulfilling, but they will not fill the Mom-shaped hole you are dealing with right now or make your grief go away.

    That doesn’t mean you need to wait forever, and particularly doesn’t mean you need to wait to broach the subject with Boyfriend. By all means, do as the Captain suggested and start the conversation by asking Boyfriend if he wants kids, and if so when he envisions that happening (I do think that three month window she suggested may be a bit too long — I’d suggest asking him to take a week or two to think about it, with the understanding that no one has to commit to anything RIGHT NOW but that you’re just looking for a temperature check on where you both stand). But please also talk to the counseling service, or find a support group that deals with loss, or whatever other avenue feels right, so that you can come to terms with your loss and your pain. When you do have kids, you want to be able to enjoy every moment of being pregnant and giving birth and watching your little one(s) grow up.

  17. Me and Mr MH were always kind of on the same page in re: offspring, that is “not now but someday”. I wanted to build up more savings so I didnt have to try to go back to work right away (I’m self-employed). Then I heard that our fearless leader, Stephen Harper, changed the EI rules so that self-employed people could pay in and get maternity benefits. So I told Mr MH and we agreed that I’d pay into EI for a year, then we’d start trying. So we did that, I got knocked up within a few months, and now we have a gorgeous 4-month old boy.

    I suppose I should vote Conservative out of gratitude now, but that ain’t happening!

    LW, it sounds like you don’t have a lot of space in your relationship to voice your desires. Maybe you can practice saying “I want X” over little things for a few weeks, then try the “Babies?” conversation. Seriously, just giving yourself the permission to say “No, I don’t feel like Thai, I’d rather have sushi” or “I find Mad Men incredibly depressing. How about Breaking Bad instead?” can be incredibly freeing.

    Anyway, however it shakes down, if your BF isn’t on board with baby-making, it doesn’t mean you are a bad or selfish person for bringing it up. It might mean that you need to move on and find a partner who is interested in children or consider taking on the unbelievable challenge of single parenthood. You can’t make him do what you want or feel what you want him to feel, but you can put your own needs first and do what is best for you.

  18. CA asks: “Readers who are parents, how did you make the decision to have kids? How did the talk go with your partner?”

    The two were somewhat simultaneous, and went something like this: “Honey, you know that doctor told you you were most likely sterile? Maybe not so much. And I think we need to go out and buy a pregnancy test…” Not recommended, though it did work out for us.

    The conversation with the second kid was similar. “You are getting on my last nerve. The baby is getting on my last nerve. The bugs are getting on my last nerve. The light is getting on my last nerve. I know I can be touchy, but this is over the top. We’d better go out and buy a pregnancy test…”

    We stopped after that, because two high-risk pregnancies seemed to be a big huge neon sign that another one would not be smart.

    We had discussed kids a bit in the abstract, but I can’t really say there was a conversation or a moment when we made a decision. To the extent I’d thought about it, I would’ve said I would never have nor want kids. And he *did* want kids, but was under the impression he couldn’t. Luckily, we were both pretty okay with the way it turned out. I can’t imagine what would have happened if one of us had decided it was a dealbreaker! (I say again, I do not recommend making babies without having a conversation, or a lot of conversations. We got lucky.)

    LW, I’m sorry for your recent losses. I have no advice to offer besides what’s already been given, but I hope things work out in the best possible way for you and Boyfriend. Oh, and I do think some counseling or grief support might help, to work through all the various stuff that’s happened to you in a relatively short time. Best of luck!

  19. When Mr. Boots and I had been dating for ~ 4 or 5 months, I blurted out, post-coitally, something along the lines of “I don’t ever want to have any children, I have never wanted to have children, there is nothing about the having of children that interests me, and in fact I am actively interested in permanent sterilization.”

    He was like, stunned. Because of course you would be, like, stunned, if someone blurted out all their feelings about a VERY SERIOUS ISSUE right after you just had your mutual spooge party. And I was kind of horrified, because I couldn’t believe I had just announced this thing, because what if Future Mr. Boots disagreed and I would have to be without him!?

    But if Future Mr. Boots had disagreed (instead, he expressed ambivalence), I would have had the most important information ever, which is that our ultimate life goals did not align, and as much as I might love this man, someone was going to have to change his or her mind or live with potential resentment if we pursued a forever-partnership.

    It was really scary to think that I might lose Future Mr. Boots; but what was even scarier was the thought that I might lose Future MYSELF in the name of hanging on to a relationship. Having kids is a big, big fucking deal. Pregnancy is dangerous. Kids are expensive. It’s not something you kind of do. It’s something you DO do. (I mean, ideally.) I am not willing to make that shift in my life/goals–and if I have a forever partner, that person has got to be on board, full stop.

    What I found after we’d talked about the kid-having issue later, as scary as it was to bring up initially, was relief. Relief that Future Mr. Boots heard my reasoning and decided for himself, after some consideration, that never having children was something he was completely comfortable with. And also relief that I wasn’t going around wondering if my relationship (or my sense of self, which is deeply tied to the not-having-kids idea) had an expiration date.

    Don’t walk that tightrope of not knowing! Ask your questions. Bring up the issue. It’s scary, but when you know where you both stand, it’s such a relief. Even if it’s a sad and heartbroken relief. You’ll have the tools you need to KNOW whether you want to stay or go, instead of living in hopeful-hopeless limbo. In my case, Future Mr. Boots became Mr. Boots and I feel like I have a co-partner who supports me in this very significant life choice–I’ll admit that I occasionally wonder if I’ll ever change my mind, or if he will, but what I am confident about is that we are people who can talk about the hard things with each other. (Even if it happens in an awkward post-coital outburst.)

    Planet But What If?! is not a place that can sustain happy human life for very long.

  20. Hi LW – I’m so sorry about your mom. From personal experience and from looking at the lives of my friends and family, it seems like sometimes the loss of a parent tends to trigger the desire to have kids. Not to get all Lion King here, but I think there’s something to that whole circle of life feeling, sometimes we crave a birth after a particularly difficult loss. I think that is a very natural instinct for many people.

    I was always deeply ambivalent about wanting kids of my own. As I got older, my deep ambivalence swayed toward a strong feeling that it probably wasn’t for me. When I met my husband, we talked about it early on and he said he was ambivalent too. A big part of this was that my now BIL had two little daughters and as toddlers and young girls, they were total terrors, and being around them made me want to put my ovaries in cold storage forever. I think one particular vacation with my nieces put me off getting pregnant for at least ten years (despite this, they have grown up into very sweet teenagers!)

    Husband is 12 years older than me, though, and after his father died and our dog got hit by a car in rapid succession, I think he started to think more seriously about wanting kids. He brought it up as a “maybe” a few times to me and I said, “eh, we’ll see”.

    Then my cousin and his wife had a baby. It was like a switch flipped for me. I think it was because I finally got a chance to watch people raising a child who were doing it in a way that resonated with me. It kind of gave me a window into the kind of parent I could be, if I wanted to. When I told husband this, he made a scared face but we started trying “just to see if we can even do it”. I happened to get pregnant quickly, and now we have two kids.

    I guess what I am trying to say here is that for us, it was an ongoing conversation. We were together for a really long time before we got married and had kids, and since there’s an age difference, I was in my early 30s and he was well into his 40s before we decided to go for it.

    When you bring it up with your partner, I would start off by stating your position. I think your scripts are pretty great, and so is the Captain’s. I know it’s hard to shrug off the pressure of years of expectation, but it will be easier for you both to be honest if he doesn’t feel like you’re asking a loaded question. Good luck to you, and Jedi hugs!

  21. This is my letter. Thank you Captain, and everyone for your advice and sympathy.

    It’s maybe not so terrible as my letter suggests. We did indeed talk about someday kids in the early days of dating. We talk a fair amount now about imaginary kids. I’m just can’t seem to get from someday and hypothetical to now and real. I really don’t want to get through to there with an angry, or blamey, or sad meltdown from me, so the advice to let the past go and start a conversation without assumptions is what I want.
    For whatever a timeline of the past is worth to you all, we have lived together for 7 years, and dated longer than that. At the start of our relationship, I had also just begun a PhD program, a program that I quit after 5 years. I would say that it is really only the last two years, off and on, that I have wanted to make immediate plans. We’re in our early thirties now.
    I know it is a bit ridiculous that I can have this long, close relationship and be incapable of this kind of conversation. I do guard my biggest and deepest emotions, but not usually from him. We can talk about all sorts of hard, complicated and emotional things, including things related to kids like Mary brings up above, what if chromosomal things, or what if infertility things. But it has difficult to talk about specific, real plans for the long term future. Some of this is from me, there are any number of future things I am non-committal about, and some of it is almost certainly left over the grad school, when some kinds of plans were impossible to make.
    I feel like I have always and increasingly talked about kids and kid related things, because I think about them a lot. I hope I have not done this in a hinting or please read my mind kind of way, but then again I know I have shielded myself behind abstractions, so I never push conversations into a concrete what is going on and can we make a plan. Maybe in a way none of this is really about kids at all, maybe it’s that I am afraid of prodding this thing that seems solid and finding it is not solid at all. Maybe this foundation I think I’m standing on is really over a sinkhole.

    I guess I’ll try to take some words of wisdom from you all, and take my courage in one hand and my vulnerability in the other and go for this power and grace from speaking up thing that you mentioned Captain, because that sounds really nice.

    1. Just saw this after posting mine below! I’m glad to hear that your relationship is going pretty well, and that you and he have brought up the subject of kids before. I wish you well! Good luck.

    2. Awesome! You’re right, the fuller version is not so worrisome. By all means, go forth and procreate — or at least talk about it.

      I totally hear you on the “I am afraid of prodding this thing that seems solid and finding it is not solid at all.” Try to envision the joy of confirming it is every bit as real and solid as you think it is. Given what you’ve written, I suspect it is.

    3. Maybe in a way none of this is really about kids at all, maybe it’s that I am afraid of prodding this thing that seems solid and finding it is not solid at all. Maybe this foundation I think I’m standing on is really over a sinkhole.

      Oh, sweetheart. I am giving you gigantic Jedi hugs. I think this feeling of dread is a symptom of grief — if you weren’t already thinking about kids, it would attach itself to something else. That is not to minimize it AT ALL — it’s very real! I’m just remembering that my therapist has told me many times, when my life and even my body have felt like a bag of nothing held together by safety pins, that that is grief. Grief is mental and physical and it turns your world upside down in ways that are so fucking sneaky you don’t even realize. Your mother just died; one of the foundations of your life *has* disappeared. It’s really, really normal to start eyeing the other ones and making escape plans. Talk with your bf, about kids but also about this feeling — the kids conversation can be concrete while the grief conversation is abstract. A catastrophe just happened to you, but it doesn’t mean your whole life is a catastrophe.

      I also want to put in a word for trying to find a grief support group. I just joined one this year (two years after my mom’s death), and it has been extraordinarily helpful to talk to other people who have gone through similar things, not least because we can compare notes (“Yeah, I don’t have insomnia anymore, but I still have nightmares 3x a week” and so on). You might be able to talk more about these intense fears with new people who get them than with your boyfriend, who has so much invested in your mental health.

      1. I was mostly lurking on this comment thread, but your comment really resonated with me. It’s been a little over a month since my Mom passed, and while most of the time I feel like I’m ok and the worst parts of the grief are over…I have this nagging feeling that all the things I’m juggling are held together by the tiniest, and most fragile, threads. I should probably look into doing some kind of a grief group…

        I unfortunately don’t have anything for you, LW. I’m still mostly ambivolant about kids, while Sir Briz has no interest in them. Jedi hugs to you, I remember when Mom started going downhill I kept on thinking that if I ever did have kids she wouldn’t be there to sing to them. Good luck, and seriouly, a zillion jedi hugs.

      2. I’m just remembering that my therapist has told me many times, when my life and even my body have felt like a bag of nothing held together by safety pins, that that is grief.

        This just hit me like a load of bricks. I didn’t know that’s what this feeling was. Wow.

        Thank you so much for this, as well as your reply to my comment above. Sending lots of Jedi hugs your way!

    4. It’s not ridiculous at all that you haven’t felt able to have this conversation. But, once you do go speak up, you won’t have to worry about the quicksand anymore.

    5. So many hugs, LW!

      At the start of our relationship, I had also just begun a PhD program, a program that I quit after 5 years.Some of this is from me, there are any number of future things I am non-committal about, and some of it is almost certainly left over the grad school, when some kinds of plans were impossible to make.

      I am convinced that grad school frequently leaves deep scars on the souls of people who attempt it. I’ve known several people who have dealt with major life events and also grad school, and it is taking years for all of them (okay, fine: us) to recover. I’m guessing you’ve been through a lot *on top of* your mother’s passing and your father’s health!

      You mentioned that you have a phone number for calling a counselor. I’m just an internet stranger, but I’m here wishing you bravery in calling or otherwise contacting them! I’ve had some “I want a baby before it’s too late” moments (my mom has MS, my dad has diabetes, my sister’s disabilities mean I’ll be her guardian some day), and had Bad Stuff happen during my PhD program. Having a therapist helped me immensely. It was a safe space where I could just talk, but also a place to learn tools: how to use *my* words, how to arrange my physical life to keep my mind at ease, how to start hard conversations, etc.

      It’s come up obliquely, but I don’t think anyone has said directly that it’s also okay to use the loss of your mom as part of the conversation: Boyfriend, losing my mom has made me think a lot about family. It made me realize that I want a baby. How do you feel about?

      Best of luck to you!! I hope that you have space to grieve, you can get to a place where you are on solid ground, and you can welcome that desired child into your life.

      1. “I am convinced that grad school frequently leaves deep scars on the souls of people who attempt it. I’ve known several people who have dealt with major life events and also grad school, and it is taking years for all of them (okay, fine: us) to recover.”

        Sooo much this. I am in a similar situation as the LW, where my husband and I have started the conversation about kids, but I constantly feel like it is going nowhere. Career wise, age wise, hell, mental health wise, now is a really good time for me, but that is quickly dissapearing. But from his perspective, my career is still up the air, he took a giant pay cut in his career to be able to move with me, and we have no resources to support a baby (because who the hell can save money while in grad school?). All very valid points… but isn’t that why we are pursuing my big fancy career? I am so tired of putting off all major decisions in life because of 4 years doing this training, or 2 more years getting trained in that, and omg we don’t know where we will be in 2 years from now so decisions can’t ever ever ever be made!! Gah…academia is sucking the life out of me. PS, is there a support group for post-graduate-graduates, and/or their spouses? Man, that would be useful.

        I am so sorry for your loss, LW. I hope all of this wonderful advice helps you and your boyfriend through this difficult time. i also want to thank you so much for you letter. Its so nice to see that I am not the only one finding this a very difficult topic to discuss, and all the comments have been very helpful to me as well.

        1. PS, is there a support group for post-graduate-graduates, and/or their spouses? Man, that would be useful.

          I don’t want to derail the thread, but I wanted to respond to this: uh, maybe? Drop me an email if you’re interested in talking about this more. 🙂

  22. I can understand why this might be a hard conversation. Having a potentially relationship-ending conversation right after losing your mother would be freaky. You don’t have to have this conversation right now. The relevant facts seem to be:

    (a) The feelings you have right now will make this conversation harder. Your desire for a child is all mixed in with your grief for your mother. However, it seems to be also true that:

    (b) The feelings you have right now are the final impetus to say something you had already wanted to say.

    So if your grief helps you understand your priorities, do communicate that with your partner, and if you feel like not saying this now means you won’t say it at all, then by all means say what you need to say. But don’t fall into the trap of blaming your partner or blaming yourself. Guilt and grief can go together sometimes, I know, but you really don’t have anything to feel guilty for.

    Go see that counselor.

  23. Hey LW, I am so sorry about your mom.

    I’ll share my own story, in hopes that it will bring clarity. My Spousal Unit and I got together at 18, and while we knew kids were possibly in the future, we also knew I wanted to go to college and he wanted to try other things first. A mistake happened, and I got pregnant.

    I knew I was pregnant for almost five weeks, terrified and completely paralyzed, before I had a miscarriage. I went through all of that alone, the fear and the grief — yes, grief over a daughter I hadn’t known I wanted — because I was too afraid to talk to SU. I finally told him about my miscarriage six years later.

    Since then, we’ve gotten married and gotten started on our careers. Kids continue to be part of the conversation, and we even went off birth control to try for about six months before work went sideways for both of us, and we decided to revisit the conversation later. It’s ongoing, as Olivia said. Right now, I happen to want kids more than he does, but that’s not always the way it’s gone for us. It changes, and those changes are okay.

    I could feel the pressure of scripts gone unspoken in your letter, and I hurt for all the pain you’ve repressed. But you love boyfriend, and boyfriend loves you, and talking is the mortar in the brick wall of love. I wish you luck.

  24. LW, I had such a hard time figuring out how to have this conversation with my husband. I also bit my tongue a lot and was so afraid to say what was on my mind. I met my husband when I was 18, and we didn’t talk about kids at all until the eve of our wedding. I can tell you that I was in no way ready to have children. So after the first uncomfortable conversation in which I said “Um…so babies aren’t really for me. Hope we don’t need an anullment,” and he said “Nah, it’s cool,” we didn’t talk about having kids for years.

    Then I turned 27. I was feeling like our wonderful life together was somehow incomplete. HOLY CRAP I WANT A BABY. So I randomly bursted with the news over the dinner table. It wasn’t graceful, and he didn’t take it so well, but he said he was willing to think about it. So one night a few months ago, he grabbed me by the face and said “Honey, stop taking your birth control, ok?” And now we’re just going for it. The moral of the story is, you never know until you try, and you won’t know for sure what he’ll say until then. He may surprise you!

    Also Big Jedi Hugs. Take care of you – I lost two close relatives of mine last year within three days of each other, and it takes a toll. Good luck, hon.

    1. I know so many people who leave the Big Conversations until later. Honestly, I probably would have too, except that, as part of our mandatory premarital counseling, our minister gave us homework. “Ok, this week, you’re going to sit down and talk about money. You’re going to lay everything out on the table — debts, assets, credit history, financial priorities, all of it. Talk about which non-essentials you think are most worth spending money on and which are a waste of money. Talk about what qualifies as essential vs non-essential. No secrets, and nothing’s too unimportant.” We also had conversations about children, career ambition, gender roles and division of household labor, how to deal with the fact that one of us was an introvert and the other an extrovert (and what that meant about communication styles), and how to fight effectively. It was intense, but it’s been incredibly useful. I recommend having those same conversations to everyone I know who’s thinking about getting married.

  25. I decided to have my daughter while looking at the positive pregnancy test. The conversation went like this, “Honey, I’m pregnant.” “Oh.” The conversation preceding happened years ago when we talked about birth control and what would happen if we conceived despite the birth control – which is a conversation that should happen in all LTRs.

    My daughter is amazing. I wish I could have had her when we had some form of employment so that she didn’t have to watch us worry about money all the time. Don’t be like me.

  26. I’d steer clear of any script longer than ‘Honey, how do you feel about having kids with me?’ and a whole bunch of listening. After all, you do presumably want to know how he feels about it, rather than just wanting to push him into it willy-nilly, right?

    Having a prepared script will quite possibly just make it really obvious that you’ve been going on a whole journey about having children without including your partner in it, and feeling railroaded tends to put people off reproducing.

  27. Oh, LW, many jedi hugs at the loss of your mother. I’m so sorry.

    MisterFirpa and I discussed kids, by pure accident, about six months after we started dating. It was a quick, toe-in-the-water test scenario for both of us, since I knew he hadn’t wanted kids with his ex, and I was still ambivalent about them. We came out of that knowing three important things:

    1) We both liked kids and were vaguely interested in having them.
    2) We both thought of each other as decent parenting material.

    These extremely brief conversations on the subject happened about once a year until we got married, and then they started happening every six months or so. We’d confirm that yup, we both still liked kids, were both still interested in having them, thought each other would be awesome mom/dad, and WOW NOT NOW NOT YET.

    About four years after we got married, the last bit started to turn into GETTING CLOSE, NOT SEEING IT YET, BUT CLOSE, and the conversations started happening more often as we circled the idea, poking at it. The conversations started to drift into more specific details: how many kids? how close together? where would we want to raise them? were we making enough money that one of us could take a few years off to stay home? This was both terrifying– because we realized that this topic was now on a downhill slope and picking up speed– and reassuring. I’m the type who likes to have all my ducks in a row, pointing the same way, and neatly labeled (possibly bar-coded) before proceeding on anything life-changing, and MisterFirpa had to be convinced he would be able to deal with handling an infant without killing him/her, via repeated exposure to our friends’ kids.

    Then the conversation turned into a single question: “When?” Eventually that was answered when we decided to have me check with my doctor on my health and readiness the next time I went in for my annual, and my doctor cheerfully said, “Okay, then I won’t renew your birth control prescription!” and pushed me off the metaphorical high-dive board. I panicked; MisterFirpa took it in stride and gently laughed me through it. Five months later, I was pregnant– eight years after we first talked about it.

    So the thing is, LW, THIS IS THE SCARIEST PART. Turning it from “not now” to “becoming a priority: soon!” is ridiculously freaky– not just because of fear of how your partner will react, but because if they say “yeah, wow, let’s go!” then you’re jumping off the high-dive and the high-dive is scary! And you just went through a major change in your life by losing your mom, and oh lord, grad school, enough said.

    But if it’s something you want, it’s something you want, and Boyfriend should know that. Let him in on what you’re feeling. If you’ve been together that long, he may not know exactly what’s going on in your brain but he knows something’s up. Let him know. The only way to get an answer is to bring it up.

    If he dismisses your feelings by thinking it’s all about grief (even though you wanted it before– but he didn’t know that), apply a time-table: check back in six months, and in the meantime he has to be considering his feelings on potential parenthood. MisterFirpa, I know, does not do well when he feels he is being pinned down on some kind of immediate decision, and often needs to be left alone to stew on a topic before he comes back with an answer.

    Best of luck. Parenthood is a rough gig, but it’s pretty awesome.

  28. Oh lord, this just cut right to my heart. LW – I wish you every luck with talking to your boyfriend and hope that he reacts in the way you wish he would.

    I’m going to tell you my story, but please don’t get disheartened by it because I’m the only one of all my friends who has had The Conversation with their partner turn out this way. I have lot of friends with beautiful children, and I’m the (unlucky) one whom it didn’t turn out right for. So, remember: Results Not Typical.

    When I got together with my ex (you can see where this is going, right?), I was just 30 and he was 28. We had The Conversation early on and neither of us were really sure whether we wanted kids or not. I’d always kind of assumed I would have them, but didn’t have any major yen for them at the time. After 3 years together, I realised that although I wasn’t experiencing BABY HUNGER of the kind some of my friends seemed to go through (obsession with children, getting quiet and sad when they saw pregnant women in the street etc.), I did kind of want a family. We both had good jobs, were happy together, and as I was 33 by then I thought it was good time to start trying. I brought it up with Mr girlfrommarz, and basically detonated a bomb under our relationship. He said he was really sorry, but he’d come to realise that he flat-out didn’t want kids and never would. I even found myself doing the “child who wants a puppy” thing of “but I’ll feed it and take care of it and everything”. We struggled on for another year, basically not talking about this massive hole we’d blown in our hitherto strong relationship, but eventually realised we were making each other sad and split up (he’s now with someone else and I think sometimes that if he has kids with her it will just break me – I think someday he *will* have kids, actually, but he lost his mother at a young age and doesn’t want to be in a position where he could do that to a child so it’s going to take him a long time to overcome the fear and go for it). So I understand the stakes. When we split up I was so sad and heartbroken and hurt that it’s taken me a couple of years to put myself back together, and I’ve only felt ready to try to meet someone else since about a year ago, and that hasn’t been going too well (helloooo, low self-esteem and its impact on your dating chances).

    So now I’m 37, single and want a baby. I’m even considering having a child on my own, because I am beginning to think I won’t meet anyone in time (fertility issues are in play here too, as I have had endometriosis since I was 28 – it’s now under control in terms of pain but I know it could have an impact on my chances of conceiving). I have a good job, live in the same town as my parents (who would love to be grandparents but are trying very hard not to show it because they can see how sad it makes me), so it would be possible, but equally I know that it would be VERY hard to do it alone. I also wonder what I would tell people – when I was in my early 20s, I remember a co-worker in her late 30s had a child by sperm donor and we all thought it was really weird (which says much more about us as shallow 20-somethings that it did about her).

    That sounds so utterly pathetic that I could cry. In fact, it is making me cry writing it.

    I’m sorry, LW – I’ve hijacked your letter with my own issue. I didn’t mean to, but this is so deep and painful for me that I just couldn’t stop it from pouring out. Jedi hugs to you, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that things turn out well for you.

    1. Hang in there, sweet pea. You’re going to be okay. It’s never too late to build a family, and you can build it any way you want to. But please, please my love, if you can, work on the idea of getting “what you would tell people” out of your system, because that is the weakest possible point on which to break your heart like this.

      Because here’s what you would tell people: this is my daughter. this is my son.

      If you can, please, release, as soon as you can, the fear that you have of raised eyebrows and the judgment of shallow twentysomethings. Imagine the future, in which you do have your child, and perhaps in that future your child is a different color than you are, or is little bit kooky, or is slightly lopsided, or looks pretty for a boy, or seems chunky for a girl, or believes very firmly that it is actually a carnivorous dinosaur, or possesses any one of the natural variations that humans are prey to. In that future, where Future You may be living. Eyebrows will be raised, and people will judge you, and twentysomethings will laugh at you unkindly behind their hands, because you are in a Starbucks and your androgynous mixed-parentage velociraptor has gotten away from you and has attached itself to the ankles of a barista and it is licking her, aggressively, in public.

      In that future, you don’t give even the tiniest fuck. You literally do not have a fuck to give about other people and what they are thinking and what they are saying about you. You collect your velociraptor and your mocha and you are very happy and all of those fears are behind you and they have melted in the sun.

      1. And you don’t have to tell them how you conceived! It is so literally NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS! Donor-gamete children don’t come marked with a scarlet S, and unless you tell other people, they will never know.

        Most people just don’t really think much about ART, so they will simply assume it’s an unintended pregnancy. You got pregnant, you had the baby, and now you are a single mother just like the millions of other single mothers in America. You are perfectly free to give a non-answer to anyone who asks impertinent questions about how you got pregnant, and where is the father. “Pregnancy can happen to anyone, and the father will not be in our lives”. You don’t owe them the gory details.

        Obviously, you should 100% have the donor-gamete conversation with your actual children at the appropriate time, but beyond that, it’s all up to you. If you have problematic family members, you can simply choose not to tell them about it. There’s no reason your coworkers or casual acquaintances need to know, either. Share it with Team You, and cock a disapproving eyebrow at the rest of the world.

        1. Thanks, Emmanonymous – you’re right that I don’t need to share the details with anyone. I just hope that the usual members of Team Me would be accepting – it’s not something I’ve ever discussed with them, so I don’t know quite how they’d react.

      2. Thank you so much for this – it was like you’d reached out across the screen, given me a hug, wiped my tears away and then made me laugh (if I ever do have a child, I fervently hope it’s an androgynous mixed-parentage velociraptor who licks barista’s ankles).

        “Because here’s what you would tell people: this is my daughter. this is my son.
        This is just perfect and beautiful.Thank you for reminding me that this is what counts, not anything else.

    2. Oh, honey. I’m so sorry.

      One of my dear friends had a child by sperm donor a few years back, and while it startled us a little at the time because we only heard about it once it was a done deal, we all completely understood. Another of my friends is talking about doing the same thing. It’s not as weird as you think, at least not in my circle! It is hard, but– especially if you live in the same town as your parents– it can be done. There are single mother support groups– my friend swears by them.

      What you say is: “This is my kid.” If someone asks about the father, you say “he’s not in the picture” and they back off. The end. If this is something you want, then it’s something you want, and to hell with everybody else. Okay? You are not pathetic for wanting things. You are not pathetic for having had a relationship that turned out to be with a guy who wanted different things than you did– that is the definition of so, so, so many relationships (and all of mine save one). You are awesome, and you can do whatever the hell you want to do.

      1. Thank you, PomperaFirpa – so much kindness, I am overwhelmed. The Awkwardeers are an awesome bunch. I’m off on holiday with most of Team Me in a couple of days – I might talk it over with them and see what they think…

        1. Jedi smooches, hon. You may be surprised; once us ladies reach a certain age, WE GET IT. Or at least we know people who’ve done purposeful single-momming and are impressed. Hooray for holiday with Team You! That is the BEST KIND. (And if you end up going this direction, possibly one of the last ones of its kind, so. ENJOY IT BAYBEE.) Much love to you!

    3. And jedi hugs to YOU, lovely, though I can’t possibly say anything more eloquent or apt than elodie has already done (SO MUCH AGREEING, ELODIE, GEEZ), so I’m going to comfort you from a different angle entirely.

      You are amazing. You know what you want! Can you even imagine how rare that is? You’re not floating around in a haze of “maaaaaybe if whatever then fine” you’re saying out loud that you want a baby.

      Now, maybe you don’t feel like baby fever has taken over your entire body, and it is OK not to feel that, while STILL feeling like you want to have a baby. We are very into feelings around here; you get to have whatever ones you’re having!

      You are not pathetic. You’re looking at a very difficult decision, and all the paths from here on out are murky and hard. But you have us, you have your parents, you have your amazing self, and you have the future. Some people play the “maybe” game with fears. I like to play it with hope and possibility.

      Maybe you’ll meet someone in the next 17 minutes who you never expected.
      Maybe you’ll try sperm-donation and it takes on the first try AND you have twins.
      Maybe you’ll discover that you can’t conceive and then foster ALL the kids.
      Maybe your parents will be SO gung-ho that they sponsor all your treatments, if any.

      And there are many bad-ending maybes, of course, but it is up to you to decide whether the chance to get what you want is worth risking the bad maybes. You’ve taken the first step by saying what you want. Now you – and only you! not those side-eyeing stranger-jerks! – get to decide how and how hard you’re going to try to get it.

      Best love and velociraptors.

      1. Thank you, commanderlogic. I still don’t have that BABY HUNGER feeling (if I knew my fertility would magically last for another 10 years, I would be delighted to wait as I love my job, am still building my career, and there are lots of exciting things I want to do which would be a lot easier without a small person around), but I know that I would feel that I was missing out on a huge part of the life I want for myself if I never have the opportunity to be a parent, whether it’s my biological child or not. I think the next step is to say out loud to other people that I want a baby.

        As a total dinosaur nerd, I will be using “love and velociraptors” as much as humanly possible.

        I really am overwhelmed by the kindness, love and jedi hugs of the Awkwardeers. Thank you. Jedi hugs to all of you.

        (And apologies again, LW, for hijacking your letter – I hope you don’t mind.)

        1. Of course I don’t mind. I’m so grateful that you shared your story for me, and so so glad that you got some loving support and helpful advice for yourself from it!

  29. My husband and I had talked about “kids someday” from the time we began having sex. Family has always been very important to me (I have two siblings, a very large extended family that gets together at most holidays, etc), and I wanted to have at least two children (if I was rich, I’d probably have four, but as it is, two is sufficient for me). My husband is an only child, so he did not mind if we only had one child. And for me, as far as I knew, I was perfectly fertile, so it came as quite a shock when I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 23/24 and told I could probably never have children without significant medication and lifestyle therapy to lower my rampant testosterone levels.

    Plus, I had to stop taking hormonal birth control pills because it was causing my blood pressure to skyrocket (my BP normalized when I stopped taking hormonal BC).

    I was told I could not have children because my lutenizing hormone was far too low to conceive/ovulate, and this scared the crap out of me- so I talked to my husband (over tears and delicious seafood because delicious seafood helps when someone tells you that a big part of your Future Life Plans may not actually ever happen ever), and we decided to just “see what happens.” We started having unprotected sex, and within a couple months, I was pregnant….in fact, I didn’t know I was pregnant until 20 weeks in. Somehow, though, my body knew about it- I had intense cravings for B-vitamin-rich foods and my daughter was born healthy and adorable at 42 weeks. We were scared about having a baby, but once we started getting into the routine, there’s just no way we could live without her.

    I am also glad that I had my daughter when I did- she got to spend 2 and a half years getting to know my grandmother, who was the sweetest, most intelligent, lovely woman I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. She passed away at 97 years of age last August. My heart aches that my second daughter will not be able to meet her.

    Now, our daughter is 3 years old, and just recently she visited with my parents for a couple weeks. It felt like there was a marked hole in our lives- like something so very integral to our lives was missing.

    I’m pregnant with our second baby and due in October- there are a lot of scary thoughts at play- my daughter- what if she’s jealous or hurts the baby? She’s also starting preschool this fall so there’s that too, and my husband has depressive episodes from time to time, so I worry that he might get overwhelmed with juggling an infant and a preschooler.

    But I know that this is the right choice. Both of us wouldn’t want it any other way (and my husband feels right proud of himself- being able to impregnate a woman who is considered infertile not just ONCE but TWICE without having to resort to IVF. I’m only 27, but I’m glad to be done with the baby thing at a younger age- this pregnancy is taking a huge toll on my body- one that I’m not sure I could take later on (plus our children will be spaced close enough to actually be able to play together without having to be right on top of each other in age/development.

    I say, it’s the most important thing to know what you wand and know what your partner wants. Make plans about what to do for insurance, living situation, savings, etc, but come up with an Action Plan for Team Relationship. It’s not just “let’s have a baby”- it’s “let’s become parents and change our lifestyle in a very significant and directed way.”

    Just getting pregnant is the first step- but you’ll also want to look into various things- such as if you should consider legal marriage (even if you do not have a wedding) to help with tax break stuff and/or having your significant other automatically put on the birth certificate/allowed to help you make medical decisions if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Will you be on his insurance or do you have your own insurance? Do you have the living situation or housing that can support a baby? Who is your support group outside of your partner? Family, friends, etc are great allies in those first few weeks when you’re in pain and you’re trying to deal with getting together the important baby stuff.

    So yeah, I can understand the fear of talking about babies, especially if you’re really young (even if you’ve been together for a long time). I was pregnant at 24 with a job and everything and I sometimes still felt like a teen pregnancy- like I was some kind of weird young mother because most of the other pregnant ladies were in their late 30’s with a house and a new car and a husband with some kind of high-paying corporate job and they could stay home with their kids.

    But you know what? To be honest, I’m glad that I listened to myself and my partner, and that we did what was right for US. In the end, we have a well-adjusted, perfectly lovely little girl who we love very much- and what’s more, we have more of an extended feeling of “family Us” that we just didn’t have before having children, and that was what we wanted all along.

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