1. What happens if I can’t get pregnant right away? You may want to look into adoption the moment you hit the year-of-trying-without-success mark. He, on the other hand, may expect to pursue every single fertility treatment to get a biological child, no matter the cost. You obviously want to discuss — and ideally get on the same page on — these difficult but major decisions.
2. How are we supporting this child? Maybe you’ve both always worked but one of you hopes to stay at home when the baby comes. Two people plus a needy little person living on one salary calls for serious sacrifices, from living in a cheaper area to draining your savings. You’ve got to figure out if those are worth making.
3. If pregnancy screening reveals our baby has disabilities, what do we do? The vast majority of babies are just fine, but what happens if a test during pregnancy reveals an abnormality? Would you consider terminating the pregnancy? If you decide to have the baby, can you financially and mentally handle caring for a child with a medical condition? Figuring out how you would handle this extremely sensitive situation could preserve your sanity — and relationship — if you’re faced with it.
4. What kind of childcare will we use? If you both want or need jobs, leaving your baby with your retired mom might seem like a no-brainer. But is your husband hoping his mother would do the honors instead? Or is family too far away, so you’ll need a nanny or daycare? You gotta know what’s feasible, because the answer will likely need to become a new line item on your budget.
5. How are we going to split parenting duties? Waiting until you haven’t slept in six days to divvy up who’s gonna do what is a horrible idea. So, beforehand, go over hypotheticals like: If you’re nursing, can he change all the diapers? If you go the formula route, do you take every other bottle, or divide the day into childcare shifts?
6. How much religion will be in our kid’s life — and which one(s)? Just because your partner didn’t protest your childhood pastor officiating your wedding doesn’t mean he’ll be as blasé about his kid’s upbringing. Touch base on birth rituals (Baptism? Bris?), weekly worship, and celebrating holidays. If you practice different religions, plot out how you’ll explain your individual beliefs without slamming the other side.
7. Will we circumcise? If you’re having a boy, you’ll need to address this hot-button topic. A lot of dads want their sons to look just like them. Others want just the opposite, because it’s what they would have preferred had they been able to make the call for themselves. You can’t know what he expects until you ask, and there’s not much time to debate once the baby arrives — and has a penis.
8. Where are we raising our kids? One of you may want to trade the city for the suburbs before welcoming a kid. You both may want to live closer to one or both of your families once you start your own. (Or farther away — see no. 9.) No time like the present to ensure you’re seeing eye-to-eye on these quandaries.
9. How much help do we want, for how long, and from whom? Eager grandparents who want to move in for eight weeks to change every diaper can be a blessing or a curse. Decide how you much you’d want the help of either set of parents — before they start requesting off from work.
10. What are your name deal breakers? He may have his heart set on his son being His Exact Name Jr., while you think any child you push out should bear your last name. The goal is to lovingly compromise, of course — especially because no one wants to have that fight in the hospital.
11. What kind of delivery do we want? A home birth in a tub may sound dreamy, but if he saw how it can all go to shit on Girls, it may be hospital or bust for any wife and child of his. Do your research, and present your case. Wherever you give birth, if the thought of seeing your in-laws while you’re in labor makes you want to remain childless forever, your husband needs to (politely) explain your wishes before grandparents barge in.
12. How do you feel about kids sleeping in our room — or bed? If you’re firmly against opening the bedroom door to kids and your partner’s on the fence about it, better to hash that out before you’re both desperate to get some rest.
13. Who will be our kid’s guardian should something happen to us? You may not want to think about the possibility, but securing your child’s future in writing will offer peace of mind.
14. How strict are we going to be? Kids learn from a shockingly early age which parent to ask to get their way. Chat about how tough a stance you’ll take on screen time, sugary treats, and all other kid vices — and how you’ll work to maintain a united front.
15. How will we discipline our kid? Discuss the tactics you’re OK with — and the ones you absolutely won’t use. For instance, the time to learn that your spouse thinks spanking is acceptable is not when your child’s belly-down on his lap.
16. Will we send our child to public or private school? The reason to have this talk sooner rather than later? It affects where you live and every single expense, because as your student loans never stop reminding you: Paying for education is freaking expensive.
17. How organic/vegan/earth-friendly are we going to go? Breast milk, cloth diapers, and growing and blending your own baby food is just the beginning. If it’s important to one of you, it needs to be important to the other too. But if becoming an organic farmer isn’t as important as being a sane mom, tell him where you stand.
18. We’re going to follow our pediatrician’s recommendations for immunization, right? OK, this isn’t even a question. Just do it.
19. How will we handle any kind of coming out? Might I suggest with love and acceptance? But even if you know the father of your kids will love them unconditionally, if he’s got older relatives who will shun a gay or trans grandkid, get on the same page about how you’d respond to that.
20. How will we keep our relationship strong? It’s effing impossible to be a happy parent if you’re on -edge (OK, maybe even miserable), because you and your partner are passing ships in the night, teaming up only to tackle spit-up, dirty diapers, and feedings. In the midst of acclimating to this whole parenting thing, you still need to have adult conversations — and some sex every now and again — to stay happily married. Tackle how you’ll keep the spark alive, whether through monthly date nights, a yearly weekend (or week!) away, or just an hour a day after bedtime for kid-free talk.