7 Tips for Autistic Couples Deciding to Have a Baby
The decision of whether or when to start a family is a big one. Many autistic couples, as well as neuro-majority couples, wonder when is the right time. How can you know whether or not you’re ready to have a baby? Here are 7 tips of things to keep in mind when making the decision.
7 Tips From A Life Coach: D.I.A.P.E.R.S.
The way to remember the tips is to think of D.I.A.P.E.R.S.: Desire, Information, Alignment, Planning, Economics, Room, and Support.
Do you actually desire a family, or are you being pressured to take this step by parents who want grandbabies? Look into your hearts. Spend time with friends and family members who have children of various ages. Sit in a park together and watch the children play, taking note of how their parents interact with them. Would you parent differently if they were your children? How do you really feel about children? Does the idea of holding your own infant bring you joy? What about a toddler, a school-aged child, a teenager, or an adult child who may or may not give you grandchildren of your own? Listen to your heart’s desire, and don’t be led by others’ expectations or societal pressures. After you are clear about your own desire to be parents, it’s time to gather information.
Gather as much information about parenting as you can. Look online, and read magazines and books about parenting. Talk together about what you have read and learned. What are your responses? Which sources ring true to you, and which should you set aside or ignore? Talk to people you know who have children, and ask them for advice. Would they do things differently today? If you have a counselor, coach, therapist, or doctor you can talk to, ask for their professional opinions and advice. At the end of the day, though, the decision can only be made by the two potential parents-to-be. When you have gathered information about parenting, it’s important to check and see if the two of you are in alignment.
If you will be co-parenting with a spouse or partner, are the two of you on the same page? It can be difficult for an autistic partner to self-advocate and share how they really feel, especially if they know it is important to their beloved. This is not the time to hold back and let your partner take the lead, though. It very much must be a decision made by both of you together.
If you don’t want to be a parent but your partner does, you need to be upfront now. It might be too difficult for you to say your truth in person, so consider writing out your feelings and your reasons behind them. Then find a time when you are both calm and open to communication to share it. Take an honest look at parenting together.
If you’re not sure how you feel, rather than going along to make your partner happy, consider short-term couples counseling. You can address your concerns and get clarity about whether you really want to have children but have fear or anxiety about it, or whether you truly do not want to become a parent at all, ever. It is vital to get this answered before going further. You owe it to your partner, yourself, and your potential future family to be sure you’re in alignment before going forward on this journey. Once you’re in alignment, you can start planning
What could be more important to plan for than parenthood? If you’re the kind of ND who loves to have everything organized, this will be right in your wheelhouse. Make lists, charts, spreadsheets, drawings, or whatever you like to do as you plan for parenthood. Many autists have visual strength, so these representations will be an important part of your planning. If you lean more towards ADHD than OCD, the planning part might not be your strength, but working with your partner to create a plan is a good idea. One important thing to plan for is economics.
They say two can live as cheaply as one, and cheaper by the dozen, but nobody said that three, four, or a dozen would be without a cost. Start planning out your costs in advance. Do you have medical insurance that covers prenatal examinations, labor, delivery, and neonatal care? What about other costs, such as prenatal vitamins, prepared meals when you’re both too tired to cook, diapers, wipes, and all the tiny adorable things babies need? Make a budget together and be realistic. Most people can cut costs when they need to for an important goal, and your new baby is certainly worth making sacrifices for. Now that you’re thinking about costs, don’t forget to evaluate whether you have room for another family member.
Babies don’t take up a lot of space. The things that come with babies do, though. Cribs, dressers, strollers, changing tables, car seats, and mega-packages of diapers and wipes take up a lot of room. If you live in a small one-bedroom, think in advance about where you’ll put the crib, for instance. Is there room in your bedroom? What about multi-purposing large items, such as a dresser that has a changing table on top, a stroller with a removable car seat, and a crib that will later transform into a toddler bed.
Draw out a blueprint of your home and decide where everything will go. Not having a big house is no reason not to have a baby, but planning to make room for it in advance is a good idea. Once you know you have room, it’s not too soon to start thinking about the support you may need.
First and foremost, when there are two parents, they should serve as mutual support for one another. Be sure to have your partner’s back, and especially if your partner will be pregnant. That’s a huge commitment, and the non-pregnant partner should go above and beyond in the support department, just because there’s no getting around the fact that one partner will be carrying a heavier load, literally.
Look outside your partnership for additional support. Are you connected to any kind of social service system that can offer help, or a counselor? Use the services provided; that’s what they’re there for. Do you have family members who will be happy to step in and help out? Then you are fortunate, indeed. However, do be clear about what kind of help you want and need. If you want someone to come and watch the baby while you nap, let them know. Or if you’d rather have someone come over and do the dishes or vacuum while you bond with your new baby, be clear about that, too.
If visitors want to come meet the baby, let them know how long you are comfortable with having them stay. If you’re autistic, your social capacity may be much smaller than your guests. They may need to be reminded that you need your downtime to recover from the social event. When the time is up for your guests’ visit, graciously thank them for coming and walk them to the door. Letting them know you look forward to their next visit may take the sting out for them if they wanted to stay longer. The bottom line is that you have the right to set boundaries, and others must learn to abide by them.
The Bottom Line…
All the planning in the world will never be as important as the two of you being aligned in your desire to have a family together and to support one another through the process. If you two have each other’s backs, if you’re committed to your relationship and to the new baby you’ll bring into the world together, then this will be the beginning of the greatest adventure of your lives.
You’ve got this!
Do you want support as you make the decision about having a baby? If you do Adult Autism Assessment can help with our Choose Your Own Life Coaching Adventure. Our dedicated Life Coaches will support you as your make the decision that is bes for you. In order to get a free consultation follow these steps:
- Contact us here or email [email protected].
- Meagan will get you set up for a free consultation with one of our Life Coaches.
- Make a decision that is aligned with your desires.
Other Life Coaching & Assessment Services We Offer
Besides out Choose Your Own Life Coaching Adventure we also offer timge managment coaching and dating coaching. In addition to Life Coaching we also offer ADHD Testing, Adult Autism Assessment, and SPD assessment.