About 9 months ago, my wife and I decided that it was time to have a child. Like many young professionals, we had held off because of ongoing educational endeavors.
At the time that we married, I had just graduated from medical school and was heading towards residency, while my wife was about to start her graduate education in psychology.
The following years were some of the most challenging for us. My wife spent hours studying and reading, while I took overnight calls several months of the year on a “q3” schedule.
Even when I wasn’t on an overnight rotation the days were often long — typically starting before sunrise and ending long after sunset. Weekends off were a rarity. I was pretty much exhausted all the time.
The thought of caring for a crying infant wasn’t appealing. In fact, it was frightening. We did want to have kids — at some point. But these were the years that we ate out most nights, got the least amount of sleep, and whenever we were able to coordinate our schedules for a vacation, we packed our bags and traveled.
Moreover, these were important years for our marriage. By having to work through some unexpected and challenging adversity, we got to know each other much more deeply. We built a bond that we otherwise might not have, had we jumped straight into parenting. Besides, we both wanted to be involved in our child’s upbringing. I, in particular, wanted to be there to watch my child grow and share in his or her childhood achievements.
Meanwhile, we would hear our friends and family members who had children, boast about the joys of parenting, while simultaneously moaning about the miseries of having to care for a small “irrational” human being 24/7. Some friends also seemed to feel the need to point out how impossible our recreational activities would be if we had children.
Yet, over the last few years, that “cautionary advice” began to have less impact on us. My wife found herself noticing pregnant women on the street, cooing over newborns, and window shopping at Janie & Jack stores. I began smiling at children playing, and noticing how happy the parents appeared to be — despite all their complaining!
Christmas at my sister-in-law’s was particularly exciting. We witnessed in our nephews the holiday magic that we ourselves had felt when we were children. Their joy brought warmth to our hearts and left us longing for our own child.