By MATT HOPFHerald-Whig Staff Writer
It does not take long for a marriage to reach the point when nearly all couples are asked the same question: "When are you going to start a family?"
That question was asked of my wife and I before we even picked out wedding rings. As I held my young nephew at a family gathering, my father told the two of us that we looked comfortable enough with him that we should consider starting our family then. After checking to see if my heart was still beating at the thought of being a father, I told him to not expect it anytime soon.
Nearly three years later, the idea of parenthood doesn't frighten me as much. (For those wondering -- especially my sister-in-law -- my wife is not expecting right now.)
Maybe it's because I'm getting older and maturing, or because I've become used to being around my young niece and nephew, but the fear has subsided, and I can see us starting a family.
There was a time when I couldn't see it.
Don't get me wrong. A part of me -- and I'm sure a part of my wife -- is still terrified about having a kids. It's not out of the question, but we're not completely ready and will never be.
Sandy VanOs, a certified child birth instructor at Blessed Beginnings, said no one is ever ready for their first child.
"If you wait until you think you are totally prepared to have kids, you'll never have kids, because you can never have enough money or enough stuff," she said.
She said couples planning to have children will be ready when they can start sacrificing.
"Kids take a lot out of you," she said. "They take your time, they your money, they take your vacation and your partying time."
By the time couples head to childbirth classes, they are more excited than nervous, so she gets to see all the eager anticipation.
"People respond to being parents as something they look forward to, because it's totally a new experience that they've never had in their lives," she said. "Most of them are always excited about what's going to happen."
VanOs said fear and apprehension comes with the first pregnancy. I see that as I realize how I would pass my niece and nephew to someone else if a diaper needed to be changed. Nurses in the hospital help new parents with the basics of infant care.
"They'll tell them signs of when the baby is sick and when you should be alarmed and hopefully how to stay cool, calm and collected when things aren't going too well," she said.
My wife and I are enjoying spending time together without having to schedule day care and arrange for a baby sitter, unless you count someone checking on our cat.
But it's becoming clear that we are getting closer to starting a family.
Now if people would only stop asking.