The coronavirus pandemic has thrown off all sorts of plans, and for many that includes life milestones like getting married and starting a family. While some may feel comfortable postponing their wedding plans upwards of a year, others may not be willing to derail the rest of the plans they had lined up for their post-nuptials, and are considering having a baby before marriage.
“When people decide that they are ready for a new, exciting phase of life, like having a baby, they want to get started right away,” says notes Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D., Psychotherapist in New York City and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University. In addition, Dr. Steinberg points out that there are a lot of pros to having a baby during the pandemic, including the fact that we are in an indefinite quarantine where both partners would presumably be home to share in the day-in and day-out specialness of the baby's first stages of life. “Another reason people may not want to put off having a baby is that the pandemic could have hit right as their natural fertility window was beginning to close, when waiting may make becoming pregnant difficult or impossible,” she adds.
The trouble, however, is that we don’t know how long this pandemic will last—or the lasting effects that the pandemic may have on our society and way of life. Postponing your life plans is a very personal decision and one that should be made between you and your partner.
If you do decide to try to have a baby before marriage, you’re hardly the first to do so. Here are some very happy endings from real people who’ve added to their family before getting hitched.
“No one questioned the announcement of our baby with no engagement ring in sight.”
“When my partner and I found out we were pregnant, our first reaction was too soon. When we’d imagined welcoming our first child, we’d hoped we had advanced our careers, moved into our own house, got a dog, and had a few years to travel. But with the pandemic we realized most of those things were not going to be possible for a while, so we decided ‘why not raise a baby now while we should be spending more time at home anyway?’ All of our family and friends have been really supportive and no one questioned the announcement of our baby with no engagement ring in sight. Truth be told, I wanted to wait to propose for at least another year, then in a few years have our first child, but life doesn’t always work out the way you want it.”—Jeffrey S., from Los Angeles, California
“It doesn’t matter what ‘order’ you start your fairytale, as long as the outcome is happiness.”
“My boyfriend (now husband) and I were dating for about a year when we found out we were pregnant. I was living in my mom’s house; he was his parents’. He proposed to me at my baby shower and we got married about a year and a half later (with baby #2 already on the way!) Even though we had a baby first, we still got married, moved out, had more children and now have settled into our first house. Who says that life requires any particular order? We are just as happy now than if we married first! You’ll make it work with whatever cards you’re dealt! Although it must be tough to postpone a long-awaited wedding, it doesn’t matter what ‘order’ you start your fairytale, as long as the outcome is happiness. If you plan to have a baby before your big day, then it’s only one more happy guest to enjoy the cake.”—Rebecca S., from Bergen County, New Jersey
“Once you have a baby, you realize what really matters in life.”
“When I met my now-husband, Carson, we had both been divorced and were not in a hurry to jump into marriage. But we both knew we wanted to start a family and weren't scared to do that together! So about a year after we met, our son was born. We moved in together quickly and were happy to start making a life together. It wasn’t until a year and a half later that he proposed. I was shocked. I had always wanted to marry him, but marriage just didn't seem like the most important part of our future. We didn't have anything to prove and we didn't have to hurry. We got married in September 2016 and had our daughter in 2019 after some struggle to get pregnant. Once you have a baby, you realize what really matters in life. Having struggled with fertility on our second go-round, I might add, if you want children and have difficulty conceiving, consider the cost of a fertility specialist or adoption and the time those things take. Most people don't see issues coming with infertility, so knowing it's an issue could make you reconsider everything.”—Nicki C., from Cumming, Georgia
“Having a baby with someone is a far greater lifetime responsibility.”
“When I met my now husband nearly five years ago, we talked early on about our views on having kids. Being seven years his senior, I didn’t have too long of a window to date someone who wasn't interested in kids sooner rather than later. Within less than a year we were pregnant with our first daughter. We had planned on getting married, but then got pregnant with our second daughter, and life just got in the way. So it wasn't until nearly five years later that we finally tied the knot with both of our girls at the altar. Having a baby with someone is a far greater lifetime responsibility. You are bonded for life with that person. Ensure that you and your partner are on the same page with the decision. Know that the entire prenatal process is different now with COVID-19 restrictions, partners can't attend prenatal appointments at most doctors offices, many appointments are being done through telemedicine, so that can take away from certain memories you may want to share with your partner during your pregnancy journey. For me, having our daughters solidified our partnership the same as a marriage would, it was just special having our girls a part of our wedding day, so that to me was worth the wait."—Randee W. from Pasadena, California