A few months ago, when my now-husband and I were in the midst of wedding preparations, I faced more than one pair of raised eyebrows and the question, "are you really going to have a baby right away?" - implying that it would be riskier than bungee jumping and more reckless than drunk driving. I know we're not alone, too - not long ago, I received an email from a young lady who, only a few weeks before her upcoming wedding, received dire warnings from family members telling her it would be unwise to have a baby as a newly married couple, and that she should "just enjoy married life" first.
There's this trend of thinking that having a baby before you "establish your marriage" - whatever exactly that is - might nearly ruin your married life. Sure, getting used to life as a couple has its challenges and requires a great deal of adjustment and flexibility - and having a baby is an enormous transition which puts additional stress on a couple. But to say that having a child will ruin your relationship?
I might have mentioned before how irritating I find the assumption that having a baby is something on your to-do list which you can achieve whenever you decide. With the ideas of "reproductive control" hammered into our heads, we seem to have forgotten that each life is a precious miracle and a gift from God. Not all couples will be blessed with a baby as soon as they start "trying". Some will never have children. And some have a narrow window of fertility, which will be closed sooner than they imagine because of medical problems they weren't aware of. One lady who visits this blog mentioned a couple of times in the comments section how she has been unable to bear a child past a certain age (which would be considered very young by anyone), and how happy she is for the fact that she and her husband opened the door to God's blessings right after they were married. For them, being "wise" and "waiting just a couple of years" could be fatal.
Am I saying the time you will have alone with your husband as a carefree young couple isn't precious? Of course it is, and it should be thoroughly enjoyed. Cherish this time! Be spontaneous and creative, take the chance to go on an unplanned trip or dinner and a movie - or whatever fits into your budget. But if this romantic period only lasts nine months, or if you don't have it at all (which can happen, for example, if you are a military wife and your husband is deployed shortly after you get married and doesn't come back until the baby is born), it doesn't mean that your marriage has less chances to be successful than if you had two, three, or five "uninterrupted" years together.
I must tell you that the news of my pregnancy greatly affected the way my husband and I think, plan, act, and relate to each other. Suddenly we realized we must prepare for a tremendous new responsibility. We had to go over any plans we might have had and see if they will fit in with our expected little love bundle. My husband had a very interesting thought, that perhaps God is sending us a baby so soon precisely in order to steer us on the road of maturity, patience, flexibility, self-control and working as a team. God knows what He does.
I'm not saying it isn't overwhelming sometimes. We had wanted a child; we prayed for God to bless us with a child; yet when we found out I'm pregnant (about a month and a half after my beloved placed a ring on my finger and we were declared man and wife), I found myself looking desperately at my husband, exclaiming, "What on earth do you do with a baby?" (My husband's very practical suggestion: you feed it about every three hours; you change diapers several times a day; you wipe its little face, give it baths, and comfort its colicky tummy. Oh, and while the baby naps you can snatch a few minutes of much needed sleep :-)).
Another warning young couples are often intimidated with is how expensive it is to have a baby, and how unwise it would be to do so before their financial situation is "stabilized". The same people tell them how terribly expensive life is. You know what? Yes you need a certain amount of money to live on. But not as much as others might make you believe you "must have". Much of it depends on your lifestyle choices.
My husband and I rarely go out to eat or to the movies (a picnic with a packed lunch or watching a movie on our computer screen while cuddling under a blanket is much more fun in my eyes anyway); we only have one new item of furniture - our bed; our table, chairs, sofa, refrigerator, washing machine, desks and cupboards are all either rescued finds, or were passed down to us. Household supplies such as plates, cups, cutlery, towels, laundry rack etc were given as wedding gifts or passed down. Recently we found, rescued and gave new life to a lovely, old but sturdy wooden crib we intend to use for our baby. We plan to say "yes" to any used baby items in good condition such as clothes and toys. We are looking into the option of cloth diapering. We refuse to buy into the mainstream brainwashing that you "need" such-and-such amount of money if you want to have a baby.
God's message to us states quite plainly that children are blessings ("and the fruit of the womb is His reward"). He doesn't say anything about children "ruining" our health, finances, marriage, or even our very life. God loves to see large families with many children (though of course His plan for each unique family might be different), and He also loves to see beautiful, wonderful, loving marriages. I don't think He would have made the two things mutually exclusive.