How and when did you decide to have kids?

Whether it’s meticulously planned or a complete surprise, the decision to have a baby is a big one. Find out how four parents ended up in this wacky world of child-rearing.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the third installment in our parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (total parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a couple months). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

Whew. We had QUITE the response to our last column. Thank you to everyone who weighed in on our discussion. But, in an effort to cool things off in here for a bit, let’s talk about something we all obviously love: babies! Specifically how and when we decided to have them. Or in one case, when it was decided for us and we were happy to go along for the ride.

Today’s question: How and when did you decide to have kids?

The Salgados

We married young thinking we would have plenty of time to pursue our careers, travel, to grow up together. But only a year into our marriage we saw the little pink lines on the stick. Like everything else in our lives, we jumped in with both feet and never looked back.

It seems that if Jorge even looks at me sideways, I am instantly knocked up. I might add this is with only one ovary, people; I lost one of those bad boys during my pregnancy with our first child. Only one of our four children was planned. All we knew was that he wanted two kids and I wanted four. There wasn’t much discussion really… it just sort of happened.

How many different ways and places can you find out you are pregnant you ask?

Baby #1: We found out together.

Baby #2: Jorge looked at the test before me and confirmed my suspicions.

Baby #3: I took a test in a Harris Teeter grocery store and eventually told Jorge while watching Mean Girls a week and a half later. I was horribly convicted by all the secrets in the movie.

Baby#4: I snuck a test into a friend’s bathroom because I couldn’t wait until I got home to find out. I texted Jorge from the bathroom letting him know we were officially going to be one of those crazy couples with all the kids.

Every time we found out, he got this silly grin on his face and was pleased as punch. It was with our fourth that I realized something must be done or we could wind up with our own TV. show. While we did start young, I like to imagine we’ll have an empty nest sooner. At the ages of 41 and 44 we will be shipping our first born off to college, and then hopefully we will have some time and the money to go to Europe and beyond.

While we didn’t purchase a home, craft a financial plan and start taking vitamins (me, not him), we chose the non-plan plan. Life unfolded and we embraced it and the people brought to join us on the ride. I sometimes wonder if we were just young and foolish, but then I look around the dinner table and smile. Call me a fool, but you can also call me happy.

The Catrows

During our days of dating and being engaged, we always talked about having kids… as in “Yes, we will have them one day.” But, being young and foolish, neither one of us thought to ask the next logical question of one another: Ok, when?

If one member of our marriage had gotten her way, we would have been welcoming our first born approximately nine months after saying “I do.”

However, there are two people in a marriage, and on an issue as enormous and life-changing as children, it’s best if both parties are on board.

But after almost 5 years of off-and-on fighting about the matter, a compromise was reached. Although Ross would have preferred to wait a little longer, we agreed that we had invested a nice, solid amount of time into our marriage and it was time to take the next step. “Trying” would start in February.

February came and we “tried.”

By March we had a positive pregnancy test. (Ok, several positive pregnancy tests. *Someone* was a little excited.) By November, we were bringing home our fat, delicious baby boy home from the hospital.

Looking back, I have to somewhat begrudgingly say that Ross was right to urge me to wait. We were 21 and 22 when we got married. For us, throwing a baby into the mix of us trying to learn to be married and, honestly, grow up together, just might have been disastrous.

Don’t get me wrong. You love children no matter when they come. We’re just grateful we were able to spend 5 1/2 years just being married – although “just” seems to imply that being married is easy. Many of you who are married know that sometimes that is not so true.

Our choice to wait a while gave us time to get to know each other, to build a life together, and to prepare ourselves (as much as you can, I guess) for that wonderful little man who took us from two to three and turned our world upside down in the scariest but best possible way.

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Patience Salgado

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