More answers to more questions from readers! Again… in no particular order. If you missed Round 1, check it out here.
11. How long did you guys date before you were married?
Kate: We met when I was a freshman in college, and Benjamin had just graduated from college (an older man!). We dated while I was in college (except when we broke up for about 6-8 months, depending on which one of us you ask), and he proposed in the fall of my senior year. I had NO IDEA he was going to ask me, but there was no doubt in my mind when I said yes. We had a long engagement, though, because I didn’t want to be wedding planning while I was concentrating on finishing school, so we were married in the summer of 2006, which was 1 year after I graduated college (4 years after we met).
Benjamin: We met in 2002 when Kate was a freshman in college and I had just graduated from college. I was producing and recording an album for her college a cappella group. We were both dating other people at the time, but we hit it off. A few months later we were both single and hit it off again and started dating. I broke up with her after a few months, though (because I am an idiot), and we were broken up for about 6 months before getting back together. (Although I thought we were dating again after 6 months and Kate says we were “NOT” dating then.) I proposed to her in December of 2004 when she was a senior in college (with the help of her a cappella group) and we got married in June of 2006.
12. How long were you married before you decided it was time for children?
Kate: I would have been ready for children a lot earlier, but Benjamin kept saying “2 more years”. Once I finished my masters program I was really ready and he was beginning to come around too (not to mention we had the house and the dog, so what were we waiting for?). Lo and behold, after the 9 months of “trying” it took, we’ll have a baby 4 years and 2 months after we got married, so the timeline worked out pretty perfectly for both of us.
Benjamin: We started trying to have children in February of 2009. There was some time when I kept saying “two more years”, and that went on for a while until Kate said “it’s been two years”. I feel happy that we had a few years of not having or trying to have a baby.
13. What tradition are you most excited to do with your children?
Kate: Hmmm, this is a great question. I grew up in a house with lots of traditions, and I love the idea of passing some of those on to my kid(s). However, I think a lot of those traditions evolved because of me and my siblings (I’m 3rd out of 4 kids), so I imagine we’ll invent some of our own as well. I think some of the best traditions are food-related, so I’ll be making our special sweet rolls for Christmas morning, no question!
Benjamin: Another good question and I am not really sure what the answer is. While I would like to say that it would be our weekend ritual (when we are both around) of having oatmeal and sitting on the couch and catching up on episodes of “The Office” and “24”, I am guessing it will be several years before Piccolino can appreciate these shows. I don’t actually feel that we have a lot of traditions. I am sure that is not actually the case, but it seems that way to me. I am sure once we have a child, we will develop more family traditions.
14. How long are you taking for a maternity leave?
Kate: I get 10 weeks paid by my company (8 weeks for maternity leave, plus 2 weeks of “parental leave”). I’m very lucky, I know! Believe me, I looked into it back when we started trying and it was a big factor in my decision to stay with my company or look for a new position after I graduated from my masters program. Anyway, after those 10 weeks, I’m going to take until January 1st unpaid. That way, the baby will be 4-5 months old when I put him in daycare, which makes me a lot more comfortable than sending him off at 2 months. And I’m REALLY looking forward to having a New England fall with no work!
Benjamin: We are lucky that Kate works for a good company and they give her a good amount (for the United States) of maternity leave (10 weeks) and are supportive of her taking unpaid leave for an extra 2 months. I know it will be hard for Kate to go back to work, but as we’ve discussed on the blog before, it’s important (and necessary) to have her go back to work. We will each take 1 day off each week to take care of Piccolino, and he will go to daycare 3 days a week. I am happy with the idea of this setup.
15. Did you ever feel like some people just don’t “get” Infertility? I’ve got a good friend that just doesn’t seem to understand how it makes me feel, etc.
Kate: Yup! I think it’s almost impossible to understand the intricacies of dealing with infertility if you’ve never done it yourself. It affects every part of your life, and really makes you doubt your future. To people who are not at the babymaking stage of their life, they may not understand why it’s “such a big deal”. And to those who had no trouble getting pregnant, they may feel guilty that they don’t know how to respond or just think you “need to relax” (ha!) or that it just takes time and you’re being impatient. The most frustrating thing to me is how no one TALKS about struggling with infertility. That was one of my big reasons for starting this blog. I wanted to be able to start a conversation about it and remove some of the stigma. For some reason we can talk about cancer at the dinner table, but not infertility. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it needs to change, especially considering how many people are affected by it in one way or another.
Benjamin: I think it’s hard to understand if you haven’t been through it. I think even we don’t understand the extent of it for the large number of people who have it much worse than we do. The experience of struggling to get pregnant (especially through the blog) has opened my eyes to how widespread infertlity problems are. I do still question how far I would feel comfortable going in trying to conceive a child if things were much worse, as I think the expense and heartache can be devastating, when adoption is a perfect alternative.
16. If you could go back in time to when you were still TTC, what would you say to yourself now that you have been pregnant for 20+ weeks, and you know now what it feels like to be on the “other side” of the IF rollercoaster! I always wonder what I’ll wish that I would have known if I ever get to carry a baby in the future.
Kate: I would tell myself to stop trying to control the timeline, and that it WILL happen! Also, to trust the doctors. I spent so much time and energy doing research on my own to check and double check what my doctors were saying and doing. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very important process for me, and I’m so glad I worked so hard to be so well-informed, but if I could have loosened the reigns a little bit and trusted the process, I might not have stressed so much about each step of the way.
17. How do you plan to introduce the baby to your dog? Are you worried about how Schnitzel will react?
Kate: Introducing the baby to Schnitzel is one of the things I look forward to most. Schnitzel has been our “first baby” for the last 3 ½ years, so I know he will go through a bit of an adjustment playing second fiddle. However, he is SO sweet and SO gentle and such a lovebug that I have no doubts that the transition will be smooth. He adjusts so well to changing situations and environments, and I think he will not have any problem adjusting to our new baby-focused schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I expect he’ll be a little jealous! But Benjamin and I will try our best to continue to give him the most love and attention that we can.
Benjamin: I am very excited for Schnitzel with the baby. He is such a gentle, loving dog and I think he will be awesome with the baby. He has been around a lot of babies and he is initially VERY curious but then he calms down. I think our baby will get lots of doggie licks. I wonder whether Schnitzel will still sleep in his bed in our room or want to sleep in the nursery. I do worry about Schnitzel feeling neglected as he gets LOTS of love from us, but I really think of him as our first baby and I can’t imagine giving him any less attention.
18. Are you religious people? If yes, at what point do you want to introduce religion to your child?
Kate: I was raised in a Christian home, and although I don’t believe everything that goes along with being a Christian now, I feel strongly about instilling a strong sense of morals and inner strength in my child(ren). It’s important for me to teach our son about all different religions and let him choose what he believes in. That said, it’s a complicated issue, and I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet.
Benjamin: We are not religious people. I was never brought up very religious. One of my sets of parents is Jewish (sort of) and the other set is Christian (sort of) but neither are practicing. We celebrated Christmas at both houses and that was really the extent of it. My guess is that it will not be a big part of our children’s upbringing. I am sure we will go to church with Kate’s family if we spend Christmas with them, etc., but I couldn’t see us going to church or synagogue on our own. We certainly would not discourage our kids if they choose on their own to become more religious, but it is not something we plan to practice.
19. How do you feel about vaccines?
Kate: In general, I am a strong advocate for leading a naturally healthy life. I don’t take too many medicines, I eat very little processed food, I try to stay away from unnecessary or potentially harmful chemicals in the products I use and come into contact with every day. I take my vitamins, BUT I also get a flu shot every year, and this year I got the H1N1 vaccine even after I found out I was pregnant. And when I am sick enough to go to the doctor and they prescribe me medicine, I take it. I feel that vaccines have improved our daily lives by eliminating a lot of very scary diseases. And if parents decide not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children (and others around them) at risk. I will discuss the options with my pediatrician, when the time comes, to make sure that the vaccines I am approving are necessary and well-tested, but I am not against using the power of modern medicine to keep my kid(s), and others, healthy. I know some people feel that vaccines are to blame for the rising rates of autism and other disorders, but in general, I feel that the advantages outweigh the risks.
Benjamin: I am pretty trusting of most modern medicine and typically trust doctors. However, I know lots of people who feel the opposite. My guess is that we will do the vaccines that our pediatrician recommends. It’s nice to have doctors in the family (Kate’s sister and brother-in-law) and we can get their opinions on the matter as well. I just don’t feel educated enough on the subject to go against what the doctors are saying. Maybe I am naive, but I think that works for me.
20. Are you considering more kids? And… what about adoption?
Kate: Yes! We definitely want more than one child. How many more than one differs between the two of us. I want as many as we can handle — I’m one of 4 kids and I love, love, love having a big family. Benjamin is one of 2, and he thinks that’s a good number. So… somewhere between 2 and 4 is the goal for now. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from our struggle with infertility, it’s that you really never know what’s going to happen, and things don’t always go according to plan. I am not at all opposed to adoption, but it’s not something we’ve really discussed yet.
Benjamin: Yes we are considering more kids. I would like 2 total. Kate wants 3 or 4. I want 2. Just two. I have no idea what we will agree on. My guess is that either I will love having children so much that I will want more, or that Kate will feel like 2 is plenty.
Ok, that’s it for Round 2. Final questions to come tomorrow or Thursday.