I've spent my whole life trying NOT to get pregnant
August 13, 2016 5:11 PM   Subscribe

What are some good resources for getting in the right mental space to have a child?

Like a lot of middle class women, I've spent pretty much my entire post-pubescent life up to this point trying to avoid pregnancy. Now I'm getting married. We both definitely want kids. The consensus right now seems to be that we will start trying, or at least stop trying not to, fairly soon after our wedding next spring. Which makes perfect sense as we are not getting any younger.

To me, my partner seems to be more immediately excited about this than I am, though I think this might be because it has been drilled into my head since circa age 11 that PREGNANCY IS FOR FAILURES. I also have anxiety about how we will afford a child, how we will handle childcare, whether motherhood will spell the end of my creative side projects, etc. which my partner doesn't share.

I don't so much need convincing (I definitely want a kid and am on board to have one as soon as is reasonable), but I know that if I'm going to be mentally ready to start trying in 6 months to a year, I need to start wrapping my mind around it. I'm the kind of person who knew what colleges she was applying to sophomore year of high school. It seems bizarre to just be like "at some time in the next couple or three years, a person is going to plop out of my vagina and we'll figure it out I guess."

I'm interested in both practical resources (what requires advance planning? what are some things we probably haven't considered?) as well as things like memoirs, narratives, explorations of the subject of motherhood, etc. And especially some kind of roadmap. How does this even work? Do I just not refill my birth control sometime next April and that's it? Or am I supposed to be Awakening My Natural Fertility and examining my cervical mucus and such right from the start? Basically what I want is A Practical Wedding, but for the process of baby-making. Does such a thing exist?
posted by Sara C. to Human Relations (37 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Go see your obstetrician, give him or her your timeline, and get their advice. Assuming you're all healthy, you'll want to be up to date on your MMR vaccine (rubella causes miscarriages), take appropriate Zika precautions as necessary, and start prenatal vitamins somewhat in advance of going off birth control. (You want those spine-health B vitamins on board before you start, if possible.) You'll also want your pap smear up to date -- or they'll do one when you're 8 weeks along or so which is fine but annoying.

Generally at 4 to 8 weeks pregnant they'll do an STD panel and check your vaccine titers when they draw blood for the HCG count, but it's good to already know where you are on those things.

(You'll also need to update your DTaP but now they want you to do that in your 8th month or so so you can wait until the ship is well underway before worrying about that. But your spouse should make sure HIS DTaP is timely.)

And everybody needs their flu shots.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:32 PM on August 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

I would suggest reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility, if for no other reason then that it will enable you to be as in charge of getting pregnant and you have been on not getting pregnant. It is also just an excellent all around primer that covers both trying to conceive and avoiding conception, so makes a pretty ideal "bridging manual."
posted by DarlingBri at 5:40 PM on August 13, 2016 [17 favorites]

Do I just not refill my birth control and that's it?

I came from this background too, but went to a high school that had a daycare centre for the students and a Planned Parenthood down the street.

Pretty much yeah. Bodies are made to get pregnant and it is just not rocket science, you know? Take prenatals. You can make it complicated if you want, or if you're really having trouble you made need to, but I would recommend just enjoying lots of worry free sex. Once you're pregnant it's a whirlwind of doctors appointments and whatnot and you'll have plenty of time to adjust. You don't just wake up 9mo pregnant - it's little by little :)

Babies themselves don't need or cost much necessarily - Western culture promotes massive shopping overkill but you don't have to do that; I've found you can't know exactly how it will all work out but it always does. The first two years are pretty intense, but you'll find ways to keep being creative and it gets better as they get older. The solutions may not be what you expect but if you're flexible you'll find some.

We'll figure it out I guess: exactly. Partly because you don't know WHO is going to pop out! It could be anybody!

I recommend finding a doctor you trust and staying away from obsessive research. I'm not sure it's a thing you can get your head around - it is a weird thing. I still look at my 2 yr old and say to my husband: that was in my body and now it is out walking around all person-like! Look, it wants cheese! !?! This guy thinks I'm his mom!

Books I recommend:
Taking Charge of Your Fertility
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
Growing Eden by Kate Fridkis

Good luck! And congrats on the wedding!
posted by jrobin276 at 5:47 PM on August 13, 2016 [39 favorites]

28 weeks pregnant here, obsessive overplanner. The things I found most useful:

Reading "Expecting Better" by Emily Oster cover to cover. The first portion of the book covers the process of getting pregnant, and the first few weeks where you might or might not be pregnant.

I never charted temperature or anything, but I did get a digital ovulation tester (clearblue I think... it's the one that tells you a few days window when you're fertile) just to make sure I was ovulating when I thought I was. It did really help us to have confidence in when we were having sex to procreate, which was useful because my husband was out of town a lot when we started trying. Relatedly, a big pack of cheapo pregnancy tests from Amazon (the strips you stick in your pee) because when you start wanting to test, you will want to test A LOT.

When you first start really trying, the most frustrating thing for me when I first got a positive test was that there are a million things that can happen that can A) be a sign of early miscarriage (which did happen to me the first time) and B) can be a sign that the pregnancy is going fine (which also happened to me, I had a scary bleeding episode on my current pregnancy around 8 weeks). It's hard, but you just need to accept that you might be very anxious between a positive test (4 weeks) and ultrasound confirmation of the pregnancy (usually around 8-10 weeks).

Definitely start taking prenatals. My OB recommended to start taking them at least 6 months before you plan to get pregnant, although if you generally eat a balanced healthy diet it's probably not that dire if you get pregnant earlier.

Examine your finances/maternity leave policies to have an idea of how you'll be impacted by pregnancy, maternity leave, and evenutal daycare costs. If you live in a major city look at how long waitlists are for infant care and maybe get on one. Spots can be very very limited for infants because they require a high caregiver/child ratio, and FMLA will only give you 12 weeks off.

I'm not actually a redditor, but I *love* reading the subreddits r/babybumps and r/beyondthebump to get a sense of what people go through in both pregnancy and early childrearing

Good luck!
posted by permiechickie at 5:47 PM on August 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Oh, also, look into all the things you can't do a lot of when you're pregnant, including eating lox, drinking alcohol, riding rollercoasters, etc etc and THEN DO ALL THOSE THINGS because you will miss them. Savor travel because it will be difficult to plan trips when you are trying to get pregnant and then when you are pregnant.
posted by permiechickie at 5:51 PM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Foster some baby animals.
posted by gentian at 6:21 PM on August 13, 2016

You will never be perfectly ready so get rid of that idea. It's a leap of faith either way. Maybe focus on making peace with that duality over the coming year, instead of over planning.

It seems bizarre to just be like "at some time in the next couple or three years, a person is going to plop out of my vagina and we'll figure it out I guess."

So much of parenthood is winging it and you can't possibly foresee all that you will encounter so "we'll figure it out I guess" is the best attitude to have.

It sounds like you are over thinking this but it's absolutely hard to shift gears I agree.

One option is to quit hormonal birth control and switch to condoms. Condoms suck so you'll be "cheating" in no time ;) then let nature take its course. If nothing happens within (depending on your age) 6-12 months then you can start the additional work: tracking cervical mucus, temps and seeing doctors. At most all I would suggest right now is paying more attention to when you are mucousy so you can identify it when it happens and have sex when you see it but any other detailed charting I wouldn't bother with to start. So many people get pregnant without it. Why get all stressed for no reason.

Don't pressure yourself to feel excited or any other way than exactly how you feel. Of course your partner is excited - it's not his body that's going to get pregnant! You'll be the one undergoing the massive change and so of course you will have a mix of feelings.

Finally do not fall down the "natural" birth wormhole. There's too much pressure on women as it is, everyone wants a say in your body for some bizarre reason. If you're an over planner it might be better to read less. Of all the things I read, the main thing that has helped me is finding my voice as a mother and developing confidence in myself. I did not learn that from any book. Good luck!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:31 PM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I completely understand the anxiety about all the things that come with trying to get pregnant and having a baby, but really: Have as much fun, sexy, laid back unprotected sex with your partner as you can before starting to obsessively chart your fertility. Go on a honey moon after your wedding and just enjoy it, and then try to just have lots of sexy times in the months after...give your body a chance.(Though Taking Charge of Your Fertility is useful, and a good read while you're having fun, regardless.)

Oh man, it is sooo easy to go from, "let's try to have a baby" to getting really anxious about the whole process, and it could take one month or years. (It took me almost 2 years to get pregnant.)

Like give yourself and your partner a chance (maybe 6 months?) of not even 'trying', but just seeing what happens. You really don't need to do that much.. maybe go see an OB as someone suggested, take some prenatals, and then maybe check up on what type of insurance you have.

Yes, just stop taking birth control one day. Accupuncture can be a great resource for tuning up your body and getting it in peak fertility (not everyone believes this, but it worked for me, and at the very least it's pretty relaxing.)

I think it's really easy to start obsessing over the whole thing right away, and while I don't know your ages, give yourself some time before diving into overplanning the whole thing. It can take awhile to get pregnant, and then it takes 10 months of actually BEING pregnant, and when you have the baby, mostly likely a lot of your plans will shift anyway...

Just remember, you do have a lot of time. Even if you get pregnant right away, the 10 months of pregnancy is plenty long to prepare for the things you can prepare for (and most of it is just leaping in!) I found talking to my friends, my mother, other moms, a therapist, etc the best way to actually figure out what I was doing. The books overwhelmed me, generally, but maybe I just didn't have the right ones.

In my area, there are some pretty good parenting/mom Facebook groups- people ask about literally everything, from expecting parents, people trying to get pregnant, new moms, people on their third kid -- and it's been really helpful just reading that, and getting advice along the way.
posted by Rocket26 at 6:34 PM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

We have cats (and are currently in the process of bringing up a kitten together), and I started babysitting as a pre-teen.

While we know that babies don't need as much as you'd think, we are both freelancers with sketchy access to health insurance and periodic lean times. So "how to have a baby as a non-rich person" is valuable information. I would also like to start reading up on how to get the best possible educational opportunities for our likely gifted (we both were in those types of programs as kids), non-white, and likely barely middle class hypothetical future kid.
posted by Sara C. at 6:36 PM on August 13, 2016

So I've never been pregnant, nor do I want to be, but a couple of thoughts:

- The fact that you're actually putting some thought into this already puts you ahead of the curve. So many people have kids without really any prep/thought put into it, making it up as they go, and things still turn out fine.

- Speaking as a fellow obsessive overplanner (with the resulting hellish anxiety) therapy sounds like it would be a worthwhile investment. People have been doing this for quite literally millennia, YOU WILL BE OKAY.

- Whatever you do, do not go onto mommyblogs/forums, that way lies madness. Instead, get a couple of good, well-recommended books and just read them. Seriously, stay off the internets and its associated judgypants and mommy wars.

- Two books I CAN wholeheartedly recommend are Lean In and Unfinished Business. Sandberg and Slaughter both have excellent things to say about the 'mommy track,' work-life balance, and the burden of care, and they're complimentary books in a lot of ways.

- Seconding the above commenter re: figuring out insurance and such. Having those figures to hand will enable you to make better decisions.

- American society has this odd idea that you should become consumed by motherhood. Nope. Your kid will be fine (likely do even better) if you retain your own identity and continue to do stuff for yourself after they're born. It'll likely be much better for your mental health, too.

- Finally: seriously, it'll be fine. People have been doing this with much less notice, and prep, for years, and the human race hasn't managed to die off yet.
posted by Tamanna at 6:39 PM on August 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have heard excellent things about Baby Bargains for getting baby gear on the cheap.
posted by Tamanna at 6:42 PM on August 13, 2016

I also have anxiety about how we will afford a child, how we will handle childcare, whether motherhood will spell the end of my creative side projects, etc. which my partner doesn't share.

Not that I think your partner needs to be worrying excessively, but I would ask him why he isn't. Is he just focused on the "Yay Baby!" thing and not looking too deeply at the practicalities? Is it because he's already given a lot of thought to these issues (and worked them out), because he isn't even aware that these issues may pop up, or something else? There is no reason why you should be the only one planning these things out - it should definitely be a group project! Work on the budget together. Talk about how you plan to manage childcare. Talk about how you want to handle your projects.

A big part of family planning comes down to figuring out your own expectations (hopes, dreams, wishes) and finding a way to balance them with your partner's - - and if you're both aware of how you want things to go, it's much easier to work together to make that happen (and to cut each other some slack when things veer off track at times).
posted by VioletU at 6:44 PM on August 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

I also came to recommend Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, though I find all of her work really helpful because of the way she talks about emotions and life and suffering, etc.

While I'm not a parent, I am a teacher. And I would suggest that you PLEASE don't worry about education much right now, and don't necessarily think that your baby will have you/your partner's attitudes towards education. Of my three siblings, two of us are college graduates, and one is currently working on it. My parents never went to college.

What you CAN do it think about whether you'll stay where you are or move based on the access to schools in your area. You should NOT just go by test scores when you consider schools. Talk to people in the area and go and visit the schools yourselves. Test scores are a horrible way to choose a school. Also, are there decent places to play outside in your neighbourhood? Lots of other kids around? Moving while pregnant or with a small child along for the ride is freaking terrible, so if you're going to move, it should be sooner rather than later.

And I am sure you have this covered, but as you're considering having a child together, make sure you're really REALLY sure you and your partner can communicate, even in the toughest times. This person will be in your life forever. You will be making pretty major decisions together, but also thousands of small decisions, like whether to let him/her cry it out, or how many activities he/she does after school, or how to deal with a disappointing report card...and if you can't communicate effectively, your life becomes hell.

Oh, and you can get lots of free stuff just by asking on Facebook, or wherever you have a social network. Craigslist and garage sales are great sources of baby things as well.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:54 PM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would focus on making sure you're health insurance situation is settled - you'll need it. I wouldn't worry about schools or education just yet because neighborhoods, schools, principals, teachers and all that are likely to change between now and when the kid needs them. I was also that kid and "best possible" is often kind parents, a library card, and my parents making sure I got the "good" teachers. My elementary school had low test scores because we had a lot of perfectly bright but non-English speaking refugee kids... I had excellent teachers.

You can get so much kid stuff cheap or free, or on clearance. Or grandparents. He doesn't even eat much yet. The biggest ongoing expense, the only one really, is Childcare (or loss of income from doing it yourself). Talking this through tentatively might be a good idea. Otherwise, we spend more on cat food and vet bills.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:13 PM on August 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Last threadsit: My partner is less anxious in the "we'll figure it out" sense that folks are recommending, not so much because of a lack of communication or an assumption that I will do the hard stuff and he just gets to hang out with a cute baby.

We currently live in a pretty ideal home and neighborhood for a young family, which is one of the things that informs our choice to start trying sooner than later.
posted by Sara C. at 7:15 PM on August 13, 2016

Heh - I got pregnant immediately after being on the pill for about 15 years, and I was so impressed by how effective my birth control had apparently been.

My strongest advice would be to actively shun What to Expect When You're Expecting unless you enjoy constantly envisioning everything that could possibly be, but probably isn't, going wrong that very second.

Your best resource is going to be other parents in your neighborhood. They'll know the best doctors/schools/playgrounds/classes/therapists. I've never been a terribly social person, but falling in with a group of local moms when my kids were younger was essential for my sanity. The first year I had a baby, I was living in a city where I didn't know any other parents, and I made myself sick trying to live up to What to Expect and Babycenter alarmist, scolding advice. By the time I had my second child, I had found a strong community that gave me a)good recommendations, b)moral support and c)invaluable perspective. When I look at all our (now tween and teenage) kids today, I can't tell which ones wore cloth or plastic diapers, which ones were bottle or breast fed, which ones co-slept or had to "cry it out," whether their moms had epidurals or not - all these choices that so many parenting resources will depict as the vital decision that will determine whether your kid gets a full ride to Harvard or ends up eating paste in your basement.

Good luck. Sleep now.
posted by bibliowench at 7:37 PM on August 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

My husband and I are in a fairly similar position - we want to start trying to get pregnant soon, but we're not trying yet - and I'm also an obsessive planner. Here are some things we/I have done or are thinking about doing:

1. Applying for life insurance. Apparently pregnancy can make it harder to get life insurance, so we did it first. We also did it before we got physicals, just in case.

2. Physicals for both of us. I've had mine, he's scheduling his. Mostly just to get a thumbs-up from our doctors to go ahead with our reproductive plans, though in my case it turned up an issue that I was able to work on resolving ahead of time (iron deficiency) - yay!

3. Reading. I really loved Expecting Better, as mentioned above, but I also enjoyed Before Your Pregnancy, which is actually stuff you can get started on now (yay, in my opinion), and The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant (I ignored the recommendations that seemed a little too impatient to me).

I also completely loved Taking Charge of Your Fertility and wished I had read it earlier (like, age 16 or so), not really for pregnancy reasons, but just to understand my own cycle better. I found it super empowering.

Definitely take everything you read with a grain of salt - it's easy (for me) to over-obsess about getting my diet exactly right, etc., which is probably not at all necessary, but I tend to prefer to do more reading than less, as long as the information is not presented in a totally black-and-white, do-it-this-way-or-else way.

Which is why I'd suggest reading Expecting Better first - it's less about specific information and more about learning how to sift through all the giant amounts of information that will be coming your way and making your own decisions, not the ones anyone else (your doctor, family members besides your partner, authors of other books) want you to make.

4. Charting BBT and cervical mucus. As others have said, I'm sure it's completely and totally okay not to do this, and I weighed the pros and cons carefully, given my obsessive tendencies. However, for me, the thought of not collecting many months worth of potentially useful data while we were waiting to start trying was more maddening than actually doing it. So I take my temp (almost) every morning, chart CM when it's particularly obvious and eggwhitey, and otherwise ignore the data. I figure if we need it later, we'll be glad to have it, and if we never look at it, it's so little effort that it doesn't feel like a waste of time. Taking Charge of Your Fertility helped me understand how to do this.

5. Hanging out with a friend who was trying/pregnant/now has a baby. I realize this isn't something you can plan for, but I've loved following along at home as a friend goes through the same process. I feel like I know so much more, in a way that's specifically the opposite of anxiety-provoking.

MeMail me if you want to chat further with someone in pretty similar shoes.

Thanks for asking this question - I'm finding the answers super helpful too - and good luck and congrats with your upcoming wedding, babymaking plans, and plans to stay sane through the whole thing :)
posted by bananacabana at 7:40 PM on August 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

I saw your update and wanted to comment on the whole 'educational resources for gifted kids,' thing. I grew up in a country with an absolutely wretched education system. Even in my private school, class sizes were huge and I was never challenged.

What saved my sanity were my parents and grandparents being willing (and able, although y'all have the advantage of a much better public library system than I ever did) to buy me books, and tons of them. They read to me as a child, let me have the run of my older cousins' book collections, and more than anything, were always really good about enabling my curiosity. Especially for a young girl in a country where they're not always treated very well, this was SUPER important.

Very good books can be found for very cheap off Ebay or Amazon - there are some classics I read as a teen that haven't really become that outdated that were an absolute gift to a bright, curious child like me. Hell, I'd recommend getting Why in the World and The Origins of Everyday Things and reading them yourselves, they're that good.

The Time-Life Science Library (yes, old as balls, I know, but SO full of really well-written science and awesome pictures, and a lot of it isn't actually as out of date as you might think) and National Geographic (both kid and adult products) were also fixtures in my home growing up.

But really, the important part is listening to your kid and being engaged in what they're interested in.
posted by Tamanna at 7:46 PM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I just want to say that it's okay if sex to get knocked up is weird and it's okay if you're a bit baffled and terrified by pregnancy. It was very hard for me to ever forget that we were fucking for a purpose and I spent most of my pregnancy vacillating between disbelief and anger at the expectation that I be a glowing fucking pregnant woman on top of the fact that I felt awful through pretty much all of it in one way or another.

But man, having a kid is great. It might not happen immediately (my kid's first night here I was like, um, hey, now what?!) but you will inevitably and inextricably fall in love with your kid in a way that will make you say, "Oh, hey, I get it now!" Hardest thing ever, but best thing ever.

I will say that personally I've ended up much more of an Earth mother stereotype than I ever expected, and I really hate all that Lean In stuff now even though I loved it before I had a kid, and yet, even though I'm a weird homebirthing breastfeeder of a 2.5 year old, I haven't lost myself or my identity or even (especially!) my creative self. I'm not the same self I used to be. But I like myself--and the work I'm doing--a lot better now, actually.

Motherhood's transformative. And that can be really wonderful and scary and exciting. You will be okay, and you will be a great mother.

Feel free to MeMail me at any time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:03 PM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you're meaningfully under 40, you are very likely to get effortlessly pregnant. If you're older, you're still likely to get effortlessly pregnant. Other than folic acid there is nothing to worry about it until you actually are 4-5 months into trying and no joy.

Have a GOOD short term financial plan, as in -- who is taking off what time from jobs, how that income is made up, if both of you are going to keep working how much does nanny or suitable infant care cost, etc.

Start to at least play around with your ideas for neighborhoods and schools and the like. Kids grow up VERY VERY fast. It's always good to be thinking. And for some things there's even doing -- if you are in a one-bedroom now and need more space immediately, why not migrate towards where long term plans make sense. If your plans were to get your kid into a good private school in LA or New York, you have to make nursery school strategy decisions when you are pregnant. (Just because it is nuts, doesn't mean it isn't true!)
posted by MattD at 9:23 PM on August 13, 2016

Schedule a dentist appointment several months prior to trying to become pregnant; if you need any kind of work done (especially work that might involve a series of visits), it will be much easier to address prior to pregnancy.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:32 PM on August 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

On the "how to have a baby as a non-rich person" front:

I've been noticing recently that there are lots of good quality baby clothes and little kid clothes in second-hand shops, presumably because kids grow so fast. This is true even in shops where the adult section is pretty limited. There is even a second-hand shop in my town devoted solely to kids' stuff; they also have a small assortment of cribs, high chairs, etc.

I've also been told by friends with kids to check out your local craigslist when you're looking for baby stuff. For instance, baby strollers can get crazy expensive these days, but if you look for them on craigslist, you'll find a bunch of ones for sale for $30 or $40.

Once the baby becomes a kid, look into programs at your local YWCA and YMCA. They both often have leadership and enrichment programs for kids, and they're usually not expensive. The YWCA recently started a program to encourage more girls to get into STEM fields.
posted by colfax at 2:49 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another reason to do a dentist appointment now: morning sickness and a dentist appointment do NOT mix well. Morning sickness (which is a misnomer, it can happen at any time of day) usually happens in the first trimester. Strong smells and someone poking around in your mouth could make you nauseous. Neither you nor the dentist wants that.

Another book in the spirit of Expecting Better that I like is The Panic-Free Pregnancy.

Dollar Tree has good home pregnancy tests for $1. It's human nature to go through a bunch of them while trying, and to want to do another test to confirm when you get a positive.
posted by Anne Neville at 6:47 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is a chain of kids' consignment stores called Once Upon A Child. If they have a store near you, you can get clothes for the kid there.
posted by Anne Neville at 6:58 AM on August 14, 2016

What a great question -- I wish I'd had these answers before I had kids! All of this sounds like excellent advice. One thing I wish I'd thought of more before I had kids is understanding that kids are really individual people. You may think you know what you're going to get (as you flagged, gifted) -- and this very well may be likely! -- but you really don't know. I didn't think that much about this. I know professors with special needs children, and friends who never finished high school with academic superstars. I also know of several people who had children with sometimes severe disabilities, who struggled a lot at first, but are now very, very happy with their families.

So my suggestion is more of a philosophical conversation with your spouse -- what we do if we had a special needs child? Do we want Downs testing, etc? How will we handle differences our children might have to us? This book is incredibly useful for having these conversations.

(This isn't supposed to be a downer -- just a useful exercise to do before the WOW THIS IS CRAZY AND I ACTUALLY HAVE VERY LITTLE CONTROL OVER WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN that hits you when you're pregnant.)
posted by caoimhe at 7:53 AM on August 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would start looking into the actual costs of daycares, nannies, babysitters, and after-school care in your area. No matter where you are in this country, you probably have the sense that it's "expensive" but you may not know specifically how expensive. Many people above are saying not to worry about things too much, but for most families I know, it's a significant part of their budget (on par with the rent or mortgage), so it's good to get your budget in order sooner rather than later.
posted by stowaway at 8:12 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

The best part about being pregnant is that there actually is NINE months between the "pee-on-a-stick" stage and the "actual human" stage. As much as you are worrying about it now and trying to pre-plan (and I agree that this already puts you ahead of the curve) you do get lots of notice and time to figure things out once you are actually pregnant.

And I can't second enough the idea of getting a Mommy-and-me group in your radar. Lack of adult conversation can be a really drag.
posted by csmithrim at 8:26 AM on August 14, 2016

I'd mention to your doctor you're planning on getting pregnant sometime soon, s/he will likely advise pre-pregnancy vaccinations and write you a recommendation for it.

When I told my family doctor I was planning on getting pregnant, she told me I should get some blood tests done to check my immunity for certain things, and get an MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine. There are some viruses you could possibly catch while pregnant that can result in deformities in your baby, and some vaccines you might have received only last 10 years. They recommend you get this vaccine shot 3 months prior to trying to get pregnant, just to make sure it's cleared your system before baby, just in case.

I'm a pro-vaccine person (obvs.) and got the shot, but the rubella component didn't take, which I found out once pregnant. Also not really immune to chicken pox anymore either. So... as a currently pregnant lady I've had to be careful, they won't give me the shots while pregnant. Will be getting immunized after baby comes, along with baby's own immunizations.

But there are other women I know who had absolutely no clue about the pre-pregnancy vaccine thing, here in Canada where this stuff is free. And they didn't give two shits about it once they got pregnant, like no big deal. I think they were anti-vaccine anyway.
posted by lizbunny at 4:52 PM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Find out what online community your local parents hang out on. Many towns have one - preferably NOT a free one, you want some sort of barrier to entry to make it worthwhile and not just a troll town. This is the place you will find a ton of directly helpful information - like going rates for nannies and nanny-shares; free and low cost fun activities; pediatricians to seek out and avoid; how to get giant bags of hand me downs so you don't need to buy almost anything.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:08 PM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had one more comment after seeing your updates - don't feel that you need a separate room for the baby. We're not planning on a separate nursery / kid's room until our kid is probably around 2 or 3. This used to be much more of a norm and it depends on how you and your partner feel about it, but just don't feel like you necessarily need a bigger place for the good of the kid - babies don't seem to mind sharing with their parents.
posted by permiechickie at 11:04 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you don't already have a budget and expense tracking, start now. It is really helpful for feeling a sense of control - it is much easier to panic when everything is vague, estimated numbers, than when you know you have a concrete, manageable plan. Ask around how much things will cost - daycare, etc. Have bad, good, and middling case scenario plans.

I am an anxious overthinker and this helped a lot.

Also, every time I worried about parenting I'd read another chapter of a down-to-earth parenting book. Excellent self-soothing method, highly recommended. (what effect it has on the actual parenting, I dunno). Avoid perfectionist-type books that stress you out - you may need to experiment a bit to find one that hits the sweet spot. (I found I had immediate strong reactions of NO or YES to parenting books)
posted by Cozybee at 1:11 AM on August 15, 2016

Consider that pregnancy plus the "4th trimester" is a year of your life for which you could be moderately out of commission. You may be very sick and completely exhausted the first three months, and mostly immobile the last three months, and then mostly at home nursing for another three months. Yes, people run marathons when they're pregnant, but you don't know how being pregnant will impact your body until you're actually pregnant. So figure out when a good time to take a year "off" is in the event your body refuses to be its normal self for that year.

And before this happens, shore up all your friendships, see lots of movies, and get any "active" travel done. And KonMari your house, if that's your thing. And, yes, see the dentist!
posted by luckdragon at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Echoing what a lot of people said about getting pregnant and birth control: a family member of mine decided to start trying to have a child four months ago. She is now entering her second trimester. She was only off the pill for 2-3 weeks when she got pregnant, after having used BC successfully for 18 years. Her exact words to me about it: "That birth control stuff works, man."

So yeah, as far as actually getting pregnant: 94 percent of women who are actively trying successfully conceive in the first year, and 38 percent conceive in the first month. It seems like there should be another step, but for the majority of couples, you just stop using BC and then presto! a fetus happens.
posted by joechip at 2:34 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Advice for the pre-pregnancy phase: I think it's worthwhile to track temperatures and periods, at least, as soon as you stop the pill. You'll have data that could be helpful if you need to see a doctor. But also you will know when you aren't sure yet if you have conceived during a cycle and when you are definitely not pregnant. There are things that you might do differently when you *might* be pregnant -- you might not take hot baths or hot tubs, not eat foods potentially contaminated with listeria, and not take over the counter drugs or alcohol. Some things that might be bad for a fetus are things that you need to get out of your system (or in, like folic acid) in advance, but some don't last in the body. Maybe you are happy being very strict for the whole time you are trying, but what if you don't get pregnant for a year or two?

Thinking about your title reminds me of how I was so careful with birthcontrol, not realizing that there's a fairly limited window around ovulation when a woman can conceive. Just having a fairly small number of poorly-timed out-of-town meetings for work could delay conception.
posted by SandiBeech at 8:18 PM on August 15, 2016

It doesn't get any less mind boggling as you go through the process - you're gonna be like "there is a HUMAN BEING growing inside me!? This just can't be real!!" and then you're gonna be like "a baby is being born out of my body?? They are not kidding when they call this a miracle!!!" And so on through years of parenthood, as far as I can tell. There is a lot of prayer, winging it, and having to just stop thinking too hard about stuff before it blows your mind involved in pregnancy and parenthood.

Some folks above alluded to it but I wanted to bring up again that as a 'planner' type, depending on how the game plays out you may find trying to conceive to be a HUGE rollercoaster of emotions. I found that in the first month I had this whole "OK, this is cool, but it's weird, and it's scary, and it's mystical, but it's awesome!" Then I get my period and I'm like wait, you mean I'm not just going to get pregnant even though I completely threw caution to the wind?? Does not compute. This is not what the after school specials say. So the next month we're literally having sex every day for two weeks straight and I'm like ouch. I'm really sore now. And WTF is this bleeding that looks suspiciously like my period? What's wrong with my body? and it quickly spiraled from there into this obsessive basal body temp charting, cervical mucus monitoring, reading everything I could about fertility, being willing to try old wives' tales, etc and then I went through months of guilt and self recrimination and wondering what I was doing wrong and being angry and grieving and so, so crushingly disappointed every single month.

Anyway, I really hope this does not happen to you because it was one of the hardest things that ever happened to me. But whatever you can do to try to plan to be easy on yourself and take good care of yourself from the start - I mean, not like "I have to get XX minutes of aerobic exercise daily and only eat pure rainbows and organic moonbeams FOR THE BABY!!" but taking care of yourself for your own sake, like drinking a cup of coffee when you need it and having a glass of wine when it's called for and doing things that keep your mind quieter (for me, it was yoga) and being outdoors and writing positive affirmations to try to get the negative thoughts out. It took me probably 6 months of TTC to get to the point where I would drink the occasional wine and not feel guilty about it, but I wish I had done it sooner (it took me 2 years to get pregnant, as well).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:47 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I notice that the posts that you've marked out as best ones are precisely the ones that tell you how to plan for pregnancy and motherhood.

In my very humble opinion, that is exactly what you should not do. Just stop taking the pill this evening, and let things evolve from there. Too much planning, or reading about it, just heightens your anxiety level and makes you even less susceptible to fall pregnant.

Moreover, you cannot really plan for when a baby will turn up, or how a child will turn out, nor what the child will make of his or her life. So, just accept that you'll do your best as things come.

Really. Really. Let things be.
posted by Kwadeng at 4:48 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

You will embark on a huge learning curve over the next few years. There is no way of knowing what it will entail. For probably the first time in your adult life, things will happen that you have absolutely no control over, but that affect you deeply and profoundly. It can be bewildering and lonely. Sometimes you'll need to seek help from new or unexpected sources.

Remember that the conceiving/pregnancy/baby phase of your life will probably be much, much shorter than the phase in which you are parenting a child who can probably walk, talk, have opinions and strong emotions, and will frequently exasperate you.

Make a very honest assessment of "support" - ie., do you or your husband have family members nearby who can help out? Be realistic about your expectations and their ability/willingness.

Try as hard as you can to *not* compare your experiences to other people's experiences of conceiving, pregnancies, births, breastfeeding, babies, or their apparent ability to cope. Every baby and every parent is different. Everyone has some hard times.

If it's relatively smooth sailing for you, try to keep in mind that others you talk to may be struggling. Don't inadvertently make them feel worse.

Don't judge other parents... you'll probably end up doing every terrible thing you said you'd never do.

Babies and kids are wonderful. Have faith in yourself. Good luck!
posted by 8k at 8:14 AM on August 20, 2016

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