February 15, 2007

Deciding Whether Or Not To Be A Mother

Today we have an excellent question from Kara of Baa Baa Black Sheep. Kara writes:

I have a strange-ish question. It is this: What makes women know they are ready to be mothers? I mean, I know often it is unplanned, but if that's not the case, what's the thought process? Do you think women ever really feel ready? It's a topic that comes up frequently among my girl friends (I have one who is literally terrified of labor, to the point of saying "I look at your hips and I think 'surrogate!'", and I thought I'd ask you. I'd like to hear your input.

Well! You know how people have topics you don't want to get them started on because they will never shut up? This is one of my topics! I am so interested in the whole "family planning" process: how people decide whether to have children, and how many, and what kind of spacing, and when to stop, etc. I could talk about it all day long, and then start in on it again first thing the next morning, until you wish you'd never asked.

Anyone who feels like answering, please pitch in. If you've had a baby, or more than one baby, or if you're putting it off, or if you've decided not to have children at all, speak up--I am dying to know your answer. And don't feel the need to make it short and comment-length--the comment section has tons of space, so fill it up with essays if you want to.

I will go first, because I can't help but notice that this is my blog. For me, it was like catching a virus. I was going along, la-la-la, thinking I might want children someday or maybe I wouldn't, and then suddenly I was consumed with wanting a baby. I think the trigger was when an old friend of mine got accidentally knocked up. She was the first of all my friends to get pregnant, and her pregnancy was like an amazing revelation to me: "WE are of the age to have BABIES! I could have a baby!" It was exactly like flipping a switch from "stand by" to "on." The switch is still on, and I am starting to look for ways to flip it the hell off, because this is getting nuts.

Mine was the "baby fever" method of deciding to have a child. It's a lucky way to decide, I think, because it makes the usual fears seem almost insignificant. I was worried about labor, and I was worried that I would have a baby and then regret it but be stuck with it, and I was worried that I was having a baby too young, and I was worried that having a baby with Paul would tie me to him more permanently than marriage, and I was worried that I would go into labor in a snowstorm and have to deliver the baby myself onto trash bags laid out on the living room floor--but all those fears were minuscule compared to the WANT BABY WANT BABY WANT BABY WANT BABY soundtrack endlessly looping in my head. I read pregnancy books, took a class on fertility (want to talk about cervical fluid? I'm your girl!), bought baby clothes in the sneaky manner usually reserved for buying heroin, and was sad to see my period every month. This is all before we'd even started trying to conceive.

I don't think this is a particularly common way of deciding to have a baby. It seems to me that at least in my group, it's more common to wonder about it, to not be sure, to keep waiting to see if it becomes more clear, to start worrying about running out of time, to finally have to take a chance one way or the other. Tell me....I mean, tell Kara: How was it for you? Did you waffle? Did you leap? Did you change your mind? Did you feel pressure because of age? relatives? partner?


lisa_k_m said...

I have babyfever and I have it bad. One day I was fine and the next SMACK. It's been going on for five years. I want to move on already!

Penny said...

This is going to sound bad. But, I decided to have a baby when I burned out with my job.

I'd grown up with the vague notion of "someday" but when I got married and starte thinking through the logistics, they did not appeal to me. But then, I also thought I had the most awesome, fun, rewarding career of my life!

So I focused completely on career. I focused so hard I almost lost my husband over it. Then I finally got thrown one too many bricks while trying to swim in the deep end with lead shoes and I couldn't stand my job anymore. Then my brain suddenly switched from CAREERCAREERCAREER to BABYBABYBABY. None of fears of getting fat and going into labor or anything phased me, same with a career that demanded 80 hr work weeks and 75% travel.

Ironically, I'm still in the same job I burned out at 2 years ago. That's why I'm on this blog posting instead of working right now. But, I have plans to quit in the near future, and also to have another baby which is already on my mind even though my #1 is 7 months old.

Erica said...

Mine happened the exact same way. I went from "I'm not going to have kids because I like sleeping in" to "OHMYGODIWANTABABYNOW!"in like 2.5 seconds. I tell people it's like the alarm went off on my biological clock.

It only took us three months to get pregnant, but the first two months were murder. I would get my period and bawl as if my life were over and puppies were being tortured.

Now that I've done it, the switch has been flipped to "off." No more babies for me.

desperate housewife said...

Hmm. I think my baby fever struck when I was about five! I was never one of those girls/women who was kind of ambivalent about the whole having kids subject; I always planned to have at least three, and I wanted to start as soon as all those pesky details were in place (married, have stable finances and health insurance, blah blah blah.) I think it had something to do with being an oldest child of all girls. Playing house and baby dolls was like my full-time passion for the first ten years of my life.
I met my husband when I was barely nineteen and we were married within that year. He was twenty-seven, and yet he was a lot more hesitant about jumping into parenthood, and wasn't sure that I really knew what I was getting myself into when I said I wanted a baby.
He was probably right, but after about six months or so I finally wore him down and he believed that I actually understood what parenthood entailed and really did want it. I got pregnant about five months after that (I was already freaking out, thinking I was infertile, after five months!) and had Adelay two weeks after my twenty-first birthday. She is sixteen months old now, and I am currently about eleven weeks pregnant, and also had a miscarriage in between.
Today is a bad day to ask me about regrets. Not that I am even borderline there yet, no, it's just that it was a bad day and being pregnant with a toddler is no piece of cake.
I'm still glad about all of our choices and happy to be having our kids while I'm young, but some days I do dream of escaping to a tropical island and a drink with an umbrella in it. But who doesn't dream of that, right?
As far as fears go, I don't think I really feared labor any more than the average person. I'm kind of a wuss about pain usually, but I figured, hey, there's always the epidural if I want it!
Newborns scared me more, the crying and being up all night and stuff. But it actually wasn't as bad as I expected. That's probably why we were so ready to get pregnant again! We'll see if the next one's as easy, and then go from there one child at a time.

Tessie said...

This is such an interesting topic. For me, partner pressure was a huge factor. My husband had the babyfever bad and he wouldn't let me forget it! I think this is a tough situation to be in, because even when I decided I was ready, he couldn't really shake the feeling that I was just "giving in", and not really as into it as he was. Based on how I feel now, after having my baby, I think I would have gotten the babyfever all on my own in due time (I have it now...MORE BABIES!). I can't imagine that the planets perfectly align in very many situations so that both partners are ready at the same time, so this must be common, but it's extra hard as the woman when you are the "hold-out".

I also think there are some people (like me) who can't really envision the "good stuff" very well at all until it happens. I know I would have a completely different level of excitement and anticipation during a second pregnancy just knowing about some of the great moments to come.

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on spacing!

nonsoccermom said...

My son was an accident, we had only been married for 6 months or so. Straight out of college, first jobs, just bought a brand new car, the works. We definitely weren't financially ready, but looking back I'm glad it happened that way because otherwise I would have found all sorts of ways to talk myself ever out of having kids at all. My son is 4 now, and we just started trying for our second, so we'll see how that goes...the clock is definitely ticking though. It was like a switch flipped one day, just like you said.

Anonymous said...

My son was also an accident, and I believe, like nonsoccermom that I would have also found ways to postpone having kids indefinitely. I think it is always a leap of faith, whether you want and plan them or not; it is very difficult (or at least it was for me) to imagine what your life will be like after your baby is born, and it has nothing to do with "liking babies" or stuff like that.
What I would also like to say is that labor is not always as terrifying as we are led to believe!!! At least in my experience, there was very little pain involved (at the time it hurt, a lot, and there was crying, but in retrospect, the pain is not something I remember. And the excitement and complete happines of having the baby arrive and becoming a family overshadowed it completely the second he appeared. So my advice is to not be so afraid of this part of motherhood.


Emblita said...

Well, I was always on the "one day" baby wagon. I was adamant about not having them too early because I wanted to do so many things before then. I was the neighborhood baby sitter and have 2 younger siblings, worked at a playschool, as an aupair, at an afterschool center and even with teens. No one can say I didn't know what is involved!

So at 19 I went abroad to college, travelled all over, met my husband, travelled some more (together).
We had always talked about having kids and suddenly we just arrived there. We wanted kids NOW, not later. So 9 days after our 4th wedding aniversary our son was born.
We LOVE being parents... and as for travelling, we're still doing that. I think all those years of travelling by ourselves have really helped. So he took his first flight when he was a month old! And we're taking 2 holidays this year (gotta love european maternity/paternity leaves).
As for labor- the more pregnant I got the less worried I was. That kid's coming out one way or another! Within days of giving birth I was all 'that wasn't so bad- lets have more!' We still feel that way (he's only 5 and a half months old) and will hopefully have a sibling in a couple of years :รพ

jen said...

I could have written your post (though it wouldn't have been as funny.) but righ tdown to the standby->on, WANT BABY WANT BABY WANT BABY and ttc expertise and not knowing how to shut the switch off..man... Though my trigger was a pregnancy "scare" I thought I was pregnant and I wasn't.. and then I thought.. hey why can't I be pregnant!

Trena said...

I'm warning you all ahead of time that this is most likely going to be a novel or something equally as long ;)
For me it was a combination of a bunch of things. By the time I (finally) got married at the ancient age of almost 28, most all of my friends had been married for 4 or 5 years, had had at least 1 or 2 children and were working on more. (Keeping in mind that the area where I am from in Idaho/Utah, it is entirely normal to get married at 17 and get pregnant immediately after).
I will say though that there was a period of about 3 months after we were married that I wanted to be pregnant SO badly. However, I was experiencing some semi-serious health issues and we weren't as financially stable as we would have like to have been to brought another person into the mix...so it was a no-go at that time.
Once I got my health issues resolved (surgery-yay) and had been healthy for about 6 months and we were on much more stable ground financially, we finally started actively *trying* for a baby. It took us 4 months. 4 very ugly months because I am so anal, so I charted my temperature and monitored cervical mucus (yummy) and even *blush* would come home on my lunch hour to have sex with my husband (talk about romantic) because it was the 'optimum' time because I was FOCUSED and come Hell or High Water, I was getting pregnant. However? That last month, when I was already pretty sure I was pregnant, even before taking the test? Yeah, I will honestly admit that even though I so wanted to be pregnant, the very first thing I thought (luckily in my head and not out loud) when I saw 'pregnant' on the stick was "OH.SHIT.WAIT.HA.HA.I.WAS.JUST.KIDDING.ABOUT.BEING.READY."
After managing to stomp down that feeling like I had just willingly chosen to jump off of a cliff into a lake of crocodiles, I (and my husband too) were kind of giddy--We had created a person!!!
I know that much of how I feel about pregnancy/having children/having more children has alot to do with the fact that I really had an easy (and excepting the first 6 weeks and last 4 weeks) and enjoyable pregnancy. Labor and delivery was easily the hardest thing physically and otherwise that I have EVER done, and even though yeah it hurt way more than I thought it would (why yes, I WOULD highly recommend the epidural) it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be (or worried it was going to be due to all the horror stories people would feel compelled to tell me when it was getting close to time to actually have my baby. Blah--some people are annoying that way).
In fact, and ha ha ha, here's the crazy part--my little boy turns 7 months on Monday and my husband and I are already discussing the possibility of working on my getting pregnant again in the near future--like we're both okay if I were to be due this December. Alot has to do with how well it went the first time and the fact that we want to have a fair amount of children (probably at least 4 maybe (and that's a big maybe) 5 and we're not getting any younger--I'll be 31 this year and my husband will be 30. Not that 30 or 31 is old--I just worry about how dramatically certain percentages jump for potential problems once a woman's age hits 36.
Everybody is different though--for me, I think that I will definitely be a little sad when this part of my life is over with--hopefully the whole baby craving will be at least slightly toned down by then to make it a little easier.

Swistle's mom said...

Except for one year (when I had a newborn and a two-year-old young Swistle and my baby buckets runneth over), I've had the WANT BABY WANT BABY soundtrack running non-stop since I was about twelve and it's still continuing on now at age 57. I don't want to turn it off; I just want more babies!

Black Sheeped said...

Thanks, everyone. It's interesting to here all of this! Now I don't feel so crazy about my "babybabybabybaby" thought process. :)

Anonymous said...

I always knew I wanted 2 kids. So when I FINALLY got married at 27, I was ready. We waited for a year before trying (which was a great idea: got used to being married, bought a house, got out of debt, etc) When We started trying, based on the experience of several friends, I figured it would take at least a couple of months before I got pregnant. WRONG! We concieved during the first month! And like trena said, even though we were *activly* trying, when I first saw those pink lines on the stick I remember thinking: OH SHIT...IS REAL...WAIT I NEED MORE TIME TO THINK! Then, that same day, I saw a diper commercial and FREAKED OUT because what the hell did I know about babies? But it all turned out great and we ended up with a beautiful daughter.

Baby #2 was concieved while I was on the Pill...yes it really can happen! I was thrilled because as soon as my first baby turned one, I was READY for another. I had the BABYBABYBABY soundtrack constantly palying in my head. DH was not so thrilled. He was happy with just one. After my handsome son was born though, I knew I was done. I had a hard and painful delivery with him (unlike my first easy labor / delivery) and after being home a few weeks with a newborn and his jealous two year old sister, I knew I was finished. Also, I was almost 33 when I had him and I knew I didn't want babies after 35 (personal choice) All of my 35+ friends are getting pregnant with third and fourth babies and I still have no desire for anymore children. I think I have been "cured" of baby fever. And I like my new found freedoms: no naps, easier schedule, no more diapers, the kids can feed themselves, etc.

Anonymous said...

I"m due with my first at the end of April. I've never had baby fever, I've never really had that maternal instinct (unless you count my dog; it's pathetic how much I nurture him!). My husband and I (married only since last March but together for 11 years before that) were both on the same wavelength...not really sure.
Then our best friends got pregnant and it just sort of kicked us into thinking more seriously about it. What would we be doing in 10 years? Same old routine? So we gave it a try and were somewhat shocked to see the results so quickly. We weren't over the moon, but we weren't disappointed either.
Now that we've had 7 months to get used to the idea, we're pretty excited. The unknown is scary and there are a lot of not-perfect situations (our location, my job), but is there ever a perfect time?
We're worried about what it will be like (I really like my sleep!) but we're also excited for what's ahead of us!
It's nice to hear that not everyone else 'knew' because we've felt guilty about that!

gabby said...

I'll go. I never wanted kids. I turned 30. Still nothing. We celebrated our 5th, 6th anniversary. Nada. I was so terrified of labor and dying during labor, it hampered all thought. However, we knew "we" wanted a couple of kids. I knew I was the vessel to make that happen. So I lept - after 7 years of marriage and at 32 and after a miscarriage - with fear gripping me and a whole lotta faith that other women did just fine and with the words of my sister (you will not spontaneously combust if you get pregnant) ringing in my head.

And then I had every complication known to woman and 6 high risk OBs (after bringing back from the brink of literal death - my very worst child birth fear) decided for us that we were done, if I wanted to live to watch my son grow up. On one hand I'm sad I won't get my two. On the other, I'm very glad I never have to make that faith leaping decision again and have a medical excuse for it.

But I'm a wuss....

Bunny said...

I knew BABYBABYBABY when we were ready for our first, and I knew after he was a year I was ready for the second. Now that I have two I am torn. I am overwhelmed and not getting any sleep and so NOT ready for a third. But we've always thought we would have three, and I don't know, I knew definitely when it was yes. I just don't know if it is no yet.

Melissa said...

I got pregnant unexpectedly in college after only dating a couple of months. I KNOW! I was such a goody goody in high school that I kind of went nutso in college.
So, we got married right after the second line turned blue.
All was fine...I had a girl and she was the easiest baby ever. I only took a semester off school and then put her in daycare and finished my degree.
Well, and this sounds awful, I just did not feel like going out and getting a job and my baby was so good (I didn't know what all the fuss was about) that I thought we should have another! Why not?
I was pregnant the next month and daugher #2 was baby from hell. Funny, but now she's my easiest! I cried daily as she cried and fussed and wouldn't sleep. I swore...no more kids! 2 was ten times harder and this baby was awful (but so damn cute!).
Anyway, I survived, she survived and life went on.
Marriag fell apart slowly (not a great start, huh?) but I found out I was pregnant AGAIN. So, we regrouped and I had another easy daughter. When she was 5, we separated and eventually divorced.
They are 10, 14, and 16 now and doing well. I am happily remarried to a man with 2 teenage boys. We discussed having more but I'm getting too old I think (38) and don't want to start over again.

Kelsey said...

Swistle, I'm wondering if you get notified via email when someone leaves a comment, or do you check these old posts just in case someone leaves one after you've moved on?

I always knew I wanted kids. Once I got into my early twenties, having children became the thing I wanted most in the world. For a long time I was far more interested in having children than I was in finding a husband. But I really did want to have the husband first, I'm sort of traditional that way! I did not get married just because I wanted to have children though!

When we were dating my husband and I both thought we might like to have a family of three or four children. We got married when I was 25 and he was 23 and felt like we should wait a little while to have kids. When we were married for nearly a year we got a dog as a delay tactic. Everyone we talked to suggested we be married for at least a year before having children and we wanted to try to build up some savings because I was not planning on working after having a baby.

We started trying when we'd been married about a year and a half and I became pregnant almost instantaneously. We felt lucky, because we know so many couples who have had a hard time. It actually made me nervous that we'd have half a dozen kids in no time if we weren't careful!

I don't think there is such a thing as an easy baby. However, Harper was fairly happy and content, along the baby spectrum. But I was totally stunned by the isolation I felt as a stay at home mom (once I discovered "mom blogs" that was lifted a bit) and realized I do not find taking care of my home fulfilling in any sense of the word. I love my daughter, but I often do not love being a stay at home mom, which is why I'm back in grad school. Balancing everything is tough, but I needed something beyond these four walls to focus on.

Between my unexpected feelings about staying at home (the only thing I thought I'd ever want to do) and the vision we have for what our family will be like in years to come, I suspect we'll only have one more child. Both my husband and I feel it would be good for our daughter to have a sibling. Of course you can't always plan these things. Right now our plan is to get me through school, which I should finish this fall and then we might start thinking about number two. Harper will be three when I get my master's degree, I don't think we want her to be too much older before a sibling comes along.

I feel really different about motherhood than I expected to. I love Harper, and I'm certain I will love another child, but I no longer feel like I want to have child after child after child as I once imagined.

Kathryn said...

This is a really interesting topic to me, because it's something I'm struggling with a lot right now. I'm 27, about to turn 28. My husband is 33. We had always planned to wait until I was at least 30 to start thinking about kids, but lately I've got the WANT BABY! monster whispering in my ear. It is the worst possible timing--I just finished law school and don't currently have a job to pay off the crazy amounts of debt I'm carrying (and I'm looking into public interest fields, which don't exactly provide a whole lot of financial security anyway). We live in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment that we pay way too much for. We don't have a car. Our savings are non-existent, and I spend way too much on frivolous things. I like to sleep in and travel and eat out in restaurants that aren't McDonald's. The list goes on.

But. Some deeper part of me is saying that none of that is the stuff that matters. What matters is that I want to have kids while my parents and even one of my grandmothers (just lost the closest one last year) are still around to enjoy them. I regret that my kids will never meet my other grandmother, who was a kick-ass woman, and I'm not sure how I feel about taking that chance with other people in my life.

And even more, I worry that at the end of my (hopefully very long) life, I'm going to wish I had even just one more day with my kids. When I look at it like that, I feel like every day I wait to have kids is a day I'll wish I could be spending with them.

The husband is still quite sensibly in the "no babies now" camp, which is probably for the best. But when I see a sweet little bundle of baby, all I want to do is start reproducing like mad. It's hard, wondering if we'll ever actually feel ready, and if this is as ready as it gets. And yeah, I'll be honest...I'm a little disappointed every month when my period shows up right on time. But also relieved.

Anonymous said...

still haven't decided..married for one year, together for 7, am 28.
I was never one of those girls who plays with dolls and wanted babies from the moment that they knew they could have them...I played with horses and my brothers toys. :)
I have always told my other half that I was ambivalent about having children and that he needed to know that it might never happen.

However some days recently, I'm feeling like it would be great to be pregnant.. I wonder if it's just because I see a lot of cute stuff to decorate a babies room and also for pregnant women!

Swistle said...

Anonymous- My retail incentive was baby clothes. I started lurking in baby departments, furtively purchasing an item here, an item there.

dukedivgirl said...

I am 27, my husband is 30, and we haven't yet decided if we want children. We call it the "pendulum" that swings back and forth between wanting a child to, hell no, I don't want children.
One element of this is that we both work in demanding professions, and for a long time, I worked as a youth minister. I feel like people who spend a great deal of time with teenagers and their parents really get a sense of parenting at its worst. Still, I met some truly fantastic kids during those years that made me want a family.

I don't know. I'm giving it another couple of years.

Swistle said...

Dukedivgirl- In the years when I babysat, I didn't want children AT ALL (because of how unpleasant I found children and child issues). I didn't change my mind until I was in my early 20s and got struck by the biological lightning bolt that is baby fever. I'm not sure I would have gone into it otherwise: the thought of teenagers is so appalling!

Beth said...

I'm coming so late to this discussion - but I actually have a whole blog on this issue! It's at http://www.childrenornot.blogspot.com and I'm writing a book about the decision.

Basically - my story is that I hummed and hawwed forever and then when I decided I did want kids, my partner said he didn't want another one (he is older than me and has a grown up son from another relationship)

So I decided that I had to say that either we had a baby or split up as I didn't want to be forever feeling bitter about it. And we have a lovely son.

But I also am aware that I probably could have had an equally - if different life if I decided to remain childfree.

Anyway, I'm going to put a link to your blog now as I think it's great!

Annie said...

Also coming to this discussion late, I cannot seem to flip my WANTBABY switch off either. I was soooo worried that I was infertile due to irregular cycles that our first baby was conceived while my husband and I were engaged and not yet married. Oh the shame! Then after 5 clomid cycles, we were blessed with our second in March, 2007. After the worst year ever (our second was kind of high maintenance), I cannot believe I am saying this and my husband would probably shoot me, but I want another. I really do. Is there any way to flip the switch off??

Swistle said...

Annie- I think we're doomed. DOOOOOOOOOOMED! Although, one of my friends said it finally switched off for her when her youngest went off to school.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been married for 2 years - he NEVER wanted kids before he met me and before we got married, said he wanted them, but only if they were with me. We have a house, secure jobs, debt-free...we're in a great position to have a child...but now I am having doubts. And he just told me today that he may never want kids. UGH! I don't know if I want the responsibility of raising another person...having our life revolve around someone besides us and our pets (i know that sounds selfish...and it is). But I also don't know if what I am feeling is real, or if it is knowing my husband would be happier without ever having a child. On the otherhand, I don't know if the reason I want a child is legit or if it is for my mom...giving her her first grand child.

I am quite confused...we are in our early 30's so it's not like I have all the time in the world to decide. If anyone has suggestions, I am open to them.


Swistle said...

Anonymous- I think the concept of "having a baby" is a lot like the concept of "getting married": when you're not in love, you might think, "Why would anyone want to chain themselves to another person FOR LIFE, never being with anyone else, cutting off their options, settling down to DULLSVILLE, always having to make decisions with someone else??" But then you're in love, and you WANT to be married, you WANT to cut off other options and make decisions with someone else.

Having a baby is very similar. Before having one, it's like, "Why would I want to babysit 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, FOR FREE??" But then the baby arrives, and you WANT to be with it, you WANT to have them in your life orbit with you. It's a lot like the swoopy romantic love, but with more spit-up.

Anonymous said...

I am very late to this blog but I found it and it made me laugh out loud several times. It was very funny to see my exact thoughts reflected in the comments. Thank you for letting me know this is a common thought process and I'm really not going crazy. It seems EVERYONE is having a baby and I'm 32, so the chant that keeps playing in my mind is - "have to decide, have to decide, do I want to have a baby or not have a baby." My poor husband is no help and just doesn't understand it is all I can think about! Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.

mrsmoorein2004 said...

I am so glad I happend upon this topic.... OK "happened upon" it not nearly as accurate as "scouring the internet trying to find ANYTHING to help me make this decision" is. I am 29 and my husband is 33. We have been married for almost 4 years but were together for 10 years before that. I am horridly indecisive about whether or not to have children and the not knowing is killing me! My husband does not understand why I can't decide one way or the other and really doesn't understand that my emotions are in turmoil over it. I feel like I can't be at peace until I decide one way or another. Aside from wanting to pay off some debt first, we are in a good place to have a child. My husband really wants kids, but accepted the fact that I may never want them and will be "happy either way."

I'm so glad to hear that others who have not experienced "baby lust" made the decision to have kids and don't regret it. I've never had baby lust and have actually had people tell me that it's because I really don't want to have children and can't admit it to myself. AARRRGGHH! As my 30th birthday looms in the next 6 weeks I feel tremendous pressure to decide as I don't want to have children after 35. I wish the baby lust would kick in and make it easier.

Anonymous said...

I have read everyone's comments and unfortunately found nothing that could help me with my dilemma. I went to university for so long and focussed on my career as a lawyer until I was 30, at which point I got married. the switch never came on for me and I know now that it was probably because I knew deep down that I didn't want to raise children with my husband. we divorced 3 years after our marriage. Now, at almost 34, I have a new relationship with an amazing man who has 2 children of his own. although I would love to have children now (as I've found the perfect Partner I would want to have them with) i feel cheated in the sense that I won't want to have this experience (of having a child) with someone who's done it before. I'm considering staying childless. I've recently found a pregnancy journal that he used to keep with his ex among his things and after reading it, I think I've decided that having a child with him would be very difficult for me because I feel I should share this experience with someone who is experiencing it for the first time as well. I'm not sure whether or not I'll regret this one day, whether I'll still be with this man when i'm old, but I'm making the decision to stay childless because of it. I'm hoping that there other women out there who are going through the same thing. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I see how that would be. On the other hand, "the first time," while special, doesn't seem crucial to me. People marry people who have been married before, have sex for the first time with people who are not virgins, travel to Greece for the first time with people who have already been. People also have second children with people they've already had first children with, without the experience being less special.

What I've found, having five children, is that every child is a brand-new experience, even if some parts of the experience become familiar. Even though the man you're with has had children before, any child the two of you had together would still be a brand-new experience for him, shared only with you. And I don't mean this in an "every snowflake is technically unique" way---I mean each child genuinely is a totally different experience. Having a child with a different co-parent would make it even more different.

KNJ said...

Swistle- I should be grabbing some precious sleep when I can, but your blog really does grab my attention! I find myself reading a ton of the older posts and wanting to comment on each... anyway, the point of THIS one is:

My dh and I married in 99, and decided to NOT have kids for the first 4-5 years. Around year 4, we stopped "avoiding pregnancy"... and then had a quick + test followed by a miscarriage around 10-12 weeks. Never went back to avoiding babies, but didn't get pregnant for another 4 years! So, last year, we accepted that maybe we were one of 'those couples' who couldn't have kids. I'm not so fond of medical interventions (more on the I'm-a-wimp grounds) so we didn't do any testing- just signed up for foster care classes. Had our hearts set on doing foster care and being open to adoption.

Finished the classes and had one more step to be certified- then in the span of 2 weeks discovered we were pregnant- and had a miscarriage again. Now the foster care folks say we have to wait "a few" months before moving forward (to process our recent loss)... and we think okay, maybe we'll NEVER have kids, of any kind!

This kinda sucked, because both of us are fairly good with kids and enjoy them immensely... then again, I know lots of non-mom women who are really giving & inspirational, so I think I was okay with it.

Then we find out we're pregnant again! Just 2 month after the last time (remember, the previous ones were 4 yrs apart). I take it one week at a time- I think I wasn't quite sure this was our baby-for-keeps... then in the 3rd trimester, I finally really believed and started gearing up for this great 'waterbirth' experience...

And then wound up having 40 hours of labor (only the last 10 were really bad) and a C section. Which wasn't as hard to deal with as LIVING WITH A NEWBORN. Remember that whole we-love-kids thing? Yeah- kids. Babies- totally different story. Little K is awesome, and we love him, and we wouldn't trade him or the last 7 weeks for anything...

but more? babies? um... not so sure. I'd really like him to have some siblings, but more and more adoption is looking like a brillant idea for us!

Oh, and one SIL will be having #6 this coming Feb. Their oldest is 10. I'm thrilled for them, but can't honestly imagine juggling that many babies (kids, yes, but babies?)

Having said that- I'm still open to having another baby. The pregnancy was great, it's just this newborn phase that's so friggin' difficult for me!!! But your blog, among others, is helping a bunch... so thanks. And thanks for asking the questions that make me think!!

Anonymous said...

I am 31 years old, and it never really even crossed my mind to have a child until tragedy struck almost two years ago. I am a military wife. I was with a very close friend when we received the news her Husband had been killed while deployed. Through the bad times she was comforted by the fact that their young son was the spitting image of his father. He has the same smile, cocky swagger, and laugh that his father has.

I have become terrified that if something happens to my Husband, I will have nothing meaningful left of him (memories aside). I will never again see his jolly belly laugh, his flaming red hair, or his quick wit. I am caught up in the wonderful things about him that he could give a child of ours, that I therefore would get to keep.

I then feel guilty that this is the wrong reason to have a child. I just want someone to tell me what to do one way or another. I don't like the idea of regret.

My Husband easily views our life in both scenarios (childless and as dinks)and feels secure that whatever we decide, we'll be happy. My fear of losing him, over-rides his reassurances. He has even agreed to donate to a sperm bank for his next deployment, but then I fear a child would truly have to hear his father's full belly laugh to truly emulate it.

Anyone have any advice, or is therapy my only option?:)

In Turmoil

Anonymous said...

I'm 31 years old. My husband is not ready for children yet. He says he wants kids, but not yet. I have wanted a baby for so long. It is all I can think about. All my friends have kids or are having babies. We have been together for five years. I don't want to have children after age 35. What does a woman do when she wants a baby this very minute and the person she loves doesn't? It is good to hear everyone's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Where do I begin? I am 34 years old and desperately searching for different views to corroborate my ambivalence about having children. This blog has helped.

My partner and I have been together for over 5 years. We have a stable loving relationship, a house, good jobs and 3 lovely pets. We travel a lot (4 times a year) and are very athletic. Most of our time is spent training, traveling, going to concerts and spending time with friends and family. We are extremely happy and lack for nothing. I can say that in all honesty. Each day I fall more and more in love with my partner. Life is good.

Now here is the dilema. Lately, our friends, family and coworkers have been openly (and unabashedly) asking when, WHEN, WHEN are we planning on getting pregrant? Even complete strangers ask us this question. I usually smile and laugh because I don't mind answering this question. I find it funny that so many people are anxious for us to have a baby. But it has led my boyfriend and I to ponder this question. I will turn 35 in February 2008. How come I have not heard the biological indicator that so many women hear? My partner is 40? How come he does not want children right now?

I love children. In fact, I fall deeper in love with my niece and nephew each time I see them, but I feel like I would be giving up so much.

The majority of my friends have children. I am not blind to the joys nor to the disadvantages.

So what is the point of my ramblings? Well, I wanted to share part of my story (I say part because there is not enough time to go into more details) and I wanted to know if there was anyone who was ambivalent about parenthood and who ultimately decided not to have children. Do you regret your decision.

jess said...

I've always loved kids. I'm the oldest of 7 kids. Who needs dolls because there's always a real baby to play with? I've been a nanny for over a decade and I'm good at it, damn it. I get kids and they like me.

But I'm 34 and I just broke up with the guy I thought I was going to marry. I was in my 30's when he came along and my hope for marriage and family was ebbing. Turns out he wasn't ready for either one, although he wanted to believe he was.

So I don't think it's all that odd that a tiny part of me wants to flip off every person who mentioned, "not wanting to have babies after 35," even though I might have said the same thing, had my life gone differently. I'll settle for a drive-by mooning. (( ))

Anonymous said...

Most recent "Anonymous, " I'm with you totally. I am turning 35 this month so the decision needs to be made. I've been married for 2 years. We've both had the feeling of wanting to have children "one day" but knowing that that we have to start trying "Now" is stressful. We seem much closer to making the jump, but when I think about going off the pill and I get terrified. We are so happy now and can imagine this wonderful childless life for us. It's harder to image the life with child scenario. We both need to work and the thought of starting work and ending work with a baby seems too much to bear. I literally can't imagine it. I also worry that the stress of it will take a toll on our marriage.

Like someone else said earlier though, I actually never wanted to get married either and thought that marriage seemed a dreadful infringement on doing what I want to do. I had a great career and good group of single girlfriends in the same situation. I didn't want to compromise. But life with my husband is a thousand times better than my single life, even though there is more conflict. I wonder if it would be the same with children.?

Anonymous said...

I am about to turn 28 and my husband is 33, we have been together 11 years, i have wanted a baby off and on at different times in our relationship, the past 6 plus months i have been going crazy.. i really cant make a decision and stick to it, my husband really isnt bothered about having kids, and i dont believe i can go my whole life without having kids, i am really excited about experiencing pregnancy and all the other things that come with having a baby, but i am terrified at the thought that once it has arrived, there is no going back, this little person will depend on you for an eternity! So i guess my problem is i do want them but im scared of the commitment.. isnt that something a guy should be saying!? I also like time to myself and i need my sleep! Am i really someone who should have a child? Will i be able to supress my desires to have a child? Will i regret having/not having one? How long will it take to decide, 11yrs on and im still not sure? I have to admit if my husband was all for it i think alot of my fears would go, but can i really have a child knowing its not something he wants? Reading through the replies i thought it had helped, but as im typing this, i realise i am actually no closer to a conclusion :-(

Anonymous said...

Reading all of these comments is very helpful...because I feel I am not alone! But I still can't decide! Through my 20's and 30's I never wanted kids. Now I am 41 and married to a terrific guy (for 2 years now) but we are both sitting on the fence, not able to figure out what we want to do...worried that we will regret it if we don't...worried that we are not ready...worried that we never will be ready. It is only now at the age of 41 that I have begun to think wouldn't it be nice to have the same wonderful relationship that I have with my mother and grandmother etc...with my own child? Soon it will be too late for us...because of our ages. We are talking about adoption...but no closer to making a decision. It is so hard, because we are very happy with life as it is right now. The responsibility of a baby...oh, it is so scary! I always wonder HOW people do it...I am so tired after a long day of work and a long commute. How do you find the energy to then take care of a baby? (I'm one of those people who needs a lot of sleep too! :-) )
I guess at some point we will figure it out? I hope! Best wishes to everyone,

Kathleen said...

I am so glad to have come across this blog. It is so nice to see that I am not alone. I am 34, will be 35 in Mach 2010. Married 2 years ago to a wonderful man, who has a 16 yar od from a previous relationship. We have full custody. After raising his child on his own, he would prefer not to have another, but is agreeable if it is what I want...

But the problem is I don't know what I want. We tried for a few months, and i had a mixed relief and sadnss when AF came each month. Then he got laid off of work and we decided I should go back on the pill for awhile.

And of course as soon as I went back on the pill he got called back to work. Now I need to decide i I want to try again or not. I spent many nights in tears as I struggle with the idea. It isn't so much that I WANT a baby now, but don't want to regret not having one...and I read these posts with tears running down my face.

I had always dreamed of being a stay at home mom, and that is not going to happen. So do I want to be a working mom? The cost of day care is rediculous!

I am up at night stressing about this decision...and scared that I am gonna decide I made a mistake when it is too late to have a baby....

all these posts and still no answer .....

C. said...

I'm 38 and my husband is a young 53. We've been together 10 years, married for 4 years.

Initially he didn't want kids, no way, never - he believed that it would steal his freedom. Now with age, he has mellowed and says out of this and his love for me he is open to a baby/child.

I'm ambivalent. Still. I've never particularly liked children and never thought I'd want a baby.

I don't have baby lust, but I do want to see my belly bump in pregnancy, I want to hold my baby on my hip, I want to see my husband in my child's features and mannerisms, I want family photos that include a child, I want to be called 'mum'.

I'm scared of what the lack of sleep will do to me, and I'm scared of tearing during labour.

Right now I'm closer to saying an enthusiastic YES to motherhood, but ask me in half an hour, it could be 'Are you kidding? I have a great life as it is!" Such is ambivalence.

Anonymous said...

Wow i feel so different from everyone else who had written but i have loved hearing such diverse stories so i will add mine to the mix.

I am 21 and don't worry i am fully aware i have many years before needing children. I am however in an amazing relationship and we are dicussing the future. My boyfriend and I dont belive in getting serious unless your compatible...have same beliefs and want the same things.

Well i was alll up for that until he tells me he wants 4 kids...he doesn't have to pop them out so go figure! And until he asked me i wasnt even sure if i wanted one.
Now it's on me to decide not only if children are for me but whether i would be willing to have 4!!!
I work with children for a living, with young offenders so maybe i see the bad side to young people but i can't help but cringe when i think of me at home(i live to work) with 4 monsters....
Of course all the other girls around me want cute babies awwww but i wanna ask them have you thought about soaring bills, piles of laundry, cooking (which i hate by the way) and nights of endless crying...
Well he wants an answer...and what do i want....well the number of a really great Nanny to start ; )

Anonymous said...

Wow, everyone here seems way more decisive than me. My husband is insane about kids and could probably handle a hundred of them at once! I am terrified of the thought of having kids. At 27 I thought that I would be more prepared for this sort of thing. I switch between feeling like I would be a terrible mother, to denial, to feeling sick to yelling at my mother. I wish someone could just tell me whether I should have kids or not and why. At the end of the day it just kills me. I can't say that I want kids because I don't know if I do. But if I even so much as think that I don't want them I can feel the tears welling up. Does this mean that I really do want them?! I get sick at the thought of breast feeding or "maternal bonding" and yet I feel like I'm gonna cry if I think about never having them. I give up! I have no idea. I only wish that I could get "baby fever" or accidentally pregnant..or find out I'm sterile. At least this nightmare would be over.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I am 30 years old and am engaged and going to be married this March. I had baby fever since I was 20 years old, and have felt that I absolutely had to be a mother or I would just die. The yearning to have a baby was so strong that I became completely depressed the more years went by and I wasn't pregnant. Not that I had any reason to be trying, because I was in relationships, but babies weren't discussed with any of them because I wasn't even engaged to these men. At 27, I had been with the man I am now marrying for a year and became pregnant! We weren't really trying, but were doing the whole we will just see what happens because he knew I have wanted a baby for a very long time. AFter 3 months, I became pregnant! I was so thrilled, but at the same time knew that it was too good to be true. I had a miscarriage and became severely depressed and therefore tried to get pregnant again to replace that baby. Got pregnant 3 months later and had another miscarriage. Again, started to go mad and got pregnant again 6 months later and had another miscarriage! At that moment, I figured that I was insane and probably just not meant to have a child and decided after a year of debating on whether or not I should ever try again, that I am officially done with the baby fever. My husband to be and I are just fine with our life and we can have the freedom to do whatever we want while our friends have to deal with babysitters and the whole drama that comes with wanting to have a life again after children come into the picture. I am proof that sometimes the whole process is draining and everything you thought you wanted, may sometimes just be an illusion. I know that it is not as cracked up as what you think it will be and you will never sleep again for the rest of your life. You will worry yourself to sleep every night for the rest of your life no matter what age your child is because that is what Mom's do best. I am not ready for that and hope that I never have to deal with another pregnancy in my life. I think women should take a step back from the hormonal side of things and really think about what they are getting themselves into before they want a baby. It is not for everyone.

Anonymous said...

I'm 27 and was reading this post because I have been trying to wrap my head around this baby fever thing. My friends (several of whom don't even LIKE children) now go all to pieces at the sight of a baby. It really is like a switch flips on and all of a sudden my (previously) perfectly rational friend cannot think of anything but how much she wants to have a baby RIGHT NOW. And I have absolutley no idea what any of them are talking about. I think my switch must be broken or something. Don't get me wrong. I actually really love babies. But do I have an overwhelming urge to go out and get pregnant every time I encounter one? Absolutely not. So I have started thinking that maybe I am the crazy one because I seem to be the only one of my friends who doesn't get it. I had actually never been particularly concerned about this until recently. Me and my boyfriend are very in love, and are talking about getting married. Which is great, except for the fact that he is pretty sure he wants kids, and I'm pretty sure I don't. I like kids, and I have spent a lot of time taking care of them, so I feel that I have at least some sense of what I would be getting myself in to. My boyfriend, on the other hand, seems to have no idea how difficult raising kids is (I have a LOT of respect for all you mom's out there, how you manage to retain your sanity is beyond me...), and he has spent essentially no time taking care of kids (so why does he think he wants some exactly???). I have never wanted kids, and don't want them now. That being said, I never had the slightest interest in getting married until this past year, and it has now become something that I really want to do. So maybe I am just behind the curve in the baby department? Maybe it is just a matter of waiting until my switch flips on? I hope either my switch flips on or his flips off sometime soon, because I can't imagine loosing my boyfriend, but I also can't imagine having a baby...

Anonymous said...

hi, thanks for putting this post together, i thinks its awesome. I am a 33 year old with a partner who is 35 with 3 kids (4, 6, 9) from a previous marriage. we have been together for 4 years, are totally compatible, love each other, enjoy the same things, the kids love me and i love them. we had talked about having more kids which he was open to, i was a bit undecided but didnt feel like i had to make any particular decision, i had time to figure it out. last week he told me he has decided he does not want any more kids, for a number of reasons - not wanting to loose the connection with the 3 he has, not wanting to have babies around again, his daugher telling him she didnt want him to have any more babies. i am totally confused as now i think i really want a baby, time is running out. i am scared that if i choose him (and not a baby) then i will regret it later in life that i have missed an amazing opportunity to be a mum. i am scared also that if i choose a baby (and not him) i will have lost him (and what if it turns out i cant have babies or dont meet another man i want to have a baby with - what then). oh i am so confused about what to do and can't seem to find the answers I need. do you know of anyone else who has made a decision like this - what guided them one way or another?

Anonymous said...

Still no closer to an answer myself! I keep thinking that reading other women’s stories will help me and continue to be let down when there is no clear answer. This struggle began in 2007 for me and this is the third very clear BABYBABYBABY thrumming through my head. I'm 35 and have been with my husband 18 years; we're happy and have a great life so I think - why should I want to change anything? We have both said no kids since about age 20/21 and he's still there, so what's a girl to do? I read about 8 books on the subject in 2007 and just finished ordering another 5. I don't think they'll be a clear direction in any of these either, but I keep trying to get a clear picture of what I really want. Sometimes I think the ambivalence is an answer within itself, and then others I can't stop the BABYNOW BABYNOW BABYNOW. I guess I’ll either make the decision or age out of my fertile years.

rapakivi said...

Up until I was about 25, I never wanted children (even though I was a girly girl as a child, I was more of a tough girl in college). When I was 25, suddenly my hormones went crazy and I did start fantasizing, more about getting pregnant than actually having a baby, though. But I did not have a good partner for a long time. Finally was engaged, but broke it off after 2.5 years.

Then I got together with my husband. At first I was crazy for the idea of having a child with him. We got pregnant before getting engaged, and had an abortion because we weren't sure the relationship would last. It did, though. We finally got married when I was 35, and of course I was freaking out because "my babies are going to turn out retarded", you know, all the stuff they hit you with when you turn 35. I felt like it was a big hurry, but my husband had recently gotten his PhD and was having difficulty finding a teaching job. For him it was obvious that we could not have a child until we were more stable.

Finally, he did get a job, when I was 36, but then we were too busy and needed a year to adjust to the workload, as we were both teaching. Then the following year, I stopped working and we thought that we might finally go for it, but then I started to feel like I had not ever accomplished anything in my life, and if I didn't start a career before having a child, I never would. So we didn't do it that year. And then we got into a terrible state in our relationship, resenting each other for so much, and that's basically been the past two years. Now I'm 39, and I don't want to have kids anymore. My urges are gone. I have watched my friends struggle with their children enough to be glad that I don't have any (including my nephew with 7 months of colic, which had a huge effect on my feelings about it).

I need to let my husband know this week (or next week, after my PMS is over), that I have come to that conclusion. I know, there is always the fear that I will have missed out on something, but I have seen the research and I know that people with kids are actually slightly less happy than those without. I think I would be unhappy as a parent, and that I would suffer terribly because of my tendencies toward horrible guilt, and probably manipulate my kids the same way my mom did.

So I think I will just be happy with what I have chosen and start to live my life for what it is instead of for these theoretical future children that I have been arranging my life around for the past 15 years. I feel much better when I think that.

Anonymous said...

I'll add my unfinished story to the mix. Perhaps I should start early and explain that when I was little, I didn't want a husband or kids. I wanted to be a career woman. I hated dolls - I owned one Barbie for when my friends came over but had a plethora of Dinotopia figures and stuffed animals. Around about middle school, I changed my mind on the husband thing but still wasn't particularly sold on the idea of another creature sucking out my nutrients, blasting out of my body, and taking control of my life. And frankly birthing and raising children still sounds to me like a sci-fi movie; just replace "mother" with "human" and "child" with "alien."

So fastforward to my current relationship. I'm 28 and have been with my boyfriend for over a year, after having not been on a single date for 9 years. As he's 24 and we're not moving especially fast, I figured I'd have a long time to think about the baby issue. When we first met and talked about the big issues, I said I wasn't sure if I wanted kids and he said he wasn't either, although he'd grown up thinking he did and was given pause by being in the delivery room after his niece was born, saying he wasn't sure he wanted to do that to someone (kudos to him). He moved in with me in June and sometime after that told me he thought he wanted two kids. He's brought it up again and now states definitively that he wants two - preferably a boy and a girl (okay, let me just give the stork the order...). He's said that in the next year, we need to have a serious kids discussion, since he's looking for someone who wants a family and understandably feels we need to be on the same page about it if we decide to get married. He has also very sweetly worried about putting pressure on me, since I know he wants kids and my folks want grandkids, but it's there just the same.

But I just don't know. The thought of pregnancy sickens me, and I frankly have no idea how anyone could actually WANT to be pregnant. Granted, I've seen the babylust in friends, but I sure as heck don't have it and never have. I wish I did, for both the sake of my relationship and my indecision. The thought of labor terrifies me (my mother was in labor for 36 hrs before having me with a C section), and I may be the only female on the planet that thinks babies are ugly. It's true - I think naked mole rats are cuter than infants.

And I like my lifestyle - I love sleep and travel, and after having only visited 21 countries (yes, only! - I may not have babylust, but I do have wanderlust!), I'm also terrified that I won't see the pyramids, Great Wall, or Ayers Rock before being chained to a crib and that I'll be too old and tired by the time the kids are grown. I'm working on my doctorate now and definitely want to continue my career. I know being a soccer mom would be my personal hell, but I also know that my tendency is to put my loved ones before my own well-being, so I could see myself falling into a situation where I'm not really happy but am trying to make those around me happy.

But then I think about being elderly and not having a family to have big dinners with at the holidays, and even though I would (hopefully) have a husband, I think it would be sad and lonely. And I think about parting ways with my boyfriend over just this one issue (which granted is a major issue, but is still just one thing), and I get teary. I guess ideally I'd like to adopt a 25 year old when I'm maybe 45, but it doesn't appear to work that way. :oP

So I still have no idea. I know that the things I've regretted in life have been the things I haven't done, but on the other hand, I've never not done anything that was drastically life altering. Anyone out there that was on the fence and now regrets your decision, one way or the other?

Anonymous said...

I know I'm ready because all the downsides don't sway me anymore and because my husband's resistance to even one child is causing huge amounts of strife. And whereas in the past I would practice acceptance and patience, now I scream at him, and resent him, and accuse him of loving his family more than he loves me, and of loving the idea of 'stuff' more than the idea of our baby. So glad you left comments open on this post. Needed the therapy today.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I love that comments are still open and people are still posting over 4 years after the OP. Many of the comments were as thought-provoking to read as the first post.

I'll add my story, since it's a little different than most here... hopefully it will help out someone in a similar position.

I'm two years into a blissful marriage. We've had a total of six years together, and I can honestly say I could never have found a more honest, loyal, all-around wonderful man. We're financially well-off, no debt, great house, etc. - all the practical components that go into baby-having.

Unlike many of the women posting, I've wanted a baby since I was about 17. OK, "wanted" isn't strong enough. I've had serious, hard-core baby fever, starting in my freshman year of university. As a career-driven, ambitious student, I strenuously fought the fever. I fought it through our engagement, even though it intensified immensely as soon as I knew I'd be marrying my husband. I've fought it until now, when my husband is really starting to come around to the idea.

I should be thrilled, right?

Well, my problem is... logically, I KNOW the "baby fever" is just hormones. I can almost pinpoint the day that I start wanting a baby on my monthly calendar (about a week before I ovulate) and the day that I stop wanting a baby (about a week after I ovulate). The rest of the time? I'm well aware that I would prefer to stay child-free. I am terrified of losing my freedom, I'm not a fan of little kids or teenagers (LOVE babies, think toddlers are cute, can't imagine why anyone would want a kid from ages 4-16), and I really enjoy spontaneous travel, expensive dinners, and all the other fine things in life that are primarily enjoyed by the kid-free.

And yet every month, like clockwork, I am hit by the baby-fever as indisputably as if I have been hit by a truck. For those two weeks, from am to pm, all I can think of is chubby thighs, spit up (I don't mind spit up at all), first steps, etc. I rewind Johnson & Johnson commercials so I can watch them again and again. I surreptitiously buy baby clothes and tell myself that they'll make great shower gifts for friends (yeah, right). For those two weeks, it's like my hormones have high-jacked my sanity. I'm the victim of a brain-washing biological clock.

And then I come out of it, and I think, gee, I'm so glad to not have a kid. I can vividly imagine how annoying I will find the attention-demanding antics of a five-year-old. I could really do without the back-talk from a preteen. I really love sleeping in, and I really hate doing laundry.

And then back in. And then out. And then in. An ongoing battle between my head and my heart, my logic and my hormones.

As of right now, I honestly couldn't tell you who is going to win. When in non-baby-mode, I've seriously considered getting my tubes tied in order to prevent my hormones from overriding my logic. While in baby-mode, I've cried because I want a baby SO DAMN BADLY. I feel simultaneously sick to my stomach and ecstatically overjoyed when I imagine a positive pregnancy test.

It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. I WANT A BABY.

What to do, what to do...

Anonymous said...

Dr Jekyll and Mr I want a baby...................it would be great to have an update from you about how you're feeling about having a child?!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where I stand. I had baby fever...for a short time. I'm 31, husband 42. We got married with the plan of having kids, but we always went back and forth. Then we took in my pre-k nephew for 10 months. That was more difficult than I thought (mostly due to external issues - my brother and his wife). Went through a pregnancy scare recently and I so wanted to be pregnant - wasn't. That's when baby fever happened. But recently we've started having difficulty with my nephew, so it makes it confusing. We've already seen how we're alike and different as parents, but we've also seen how hard it is to actually have a kid. The money, the job/work balance, marriage strain. So now I'm more confused than ever. I should mention I'm a bit of a control freak with commitment issues, but have surprised myself with how good I can be around children. My decision seems to change with the wind. I just want a crystal ball. Anyone else ever felt this way? If so what happened?

Anonymous said...

I, too, would like to hear from those who have been on the fence. What did you decide? I'm currently in that situation. From a young age, I remember thinking it was selfish to have a child and that people should adopt. Now that I'm older, I understand it can be very difficult to adopt. I tend to go back and forth. I will want to, be mad at my husband for not, and then he'll want to, and I'll feel like I'm not ready. I'm starting to even question my marriage - maybe he's not the right one because I don't want to have children 100% with him and vice versa (when he doesn't seem 100% into it). We are quite different, but I would say we're happy. We are both good with kids, but we do like things/travelling, which would have to go. I can picture having a child, but then I worry because there are no guarantees and I would like some sort of guarantee on something this big. The thought of a baby scares me. Through close friends I see how difficult it must be to raise a child and mostly wonder why in the hell would anyone ever choose this? I often wish I didn't have to make this choice, that it would just accidentally happen as it has to others. Unfortunately, we're way too careful for that to happen. How did others decide?

Anonymous said...

Glad to read that I'm not the only 30yo who is reluctant but happily married to a man who wants a baby.

I feel like I'm trying to convince my husband to convince me to do something I don't want to do!

Doesn't help that I'm SURROUNDED by preggos and teenage girls who think babies are wonderful and can't understand why I wouldn't be desperate to have one when everyone does.

Don't get me wrong, I love kids, but I've never felt the desire to have a baby.

How did you decide?

KookyLoo said...

Reading all of these posts has been like therapy for me. I am a 32year old woman, will be 33 in a few months, married to a 41 year old man. My hubsand and I dated for 5 1/2 years before we got married. We both were of the mindset "we don't want kids now, but who knows? Maybe someday," when we got married. Now, 3 1/2 years later, I want one, he absolutely does not. It's tearing me apart. I am considering ending the relationship over this, but like another poster said, what if I do and never find another man I'd want to have kids with? Or what if I'm not able to have kids? I am so very confused.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to know I'm not the only crazy woman out there!

My switch flipped about 6 months ago (about 2 months before my 25th birthday). I've spent a TON of time around kids of all ages (newborn to 17) and I am all to familiar with the challenges of parenting, which is probably why (until this year) I have been, not opposed to, but mostly wary of having kids. Why would you want to shove something the size of a basketball through your vagina? Why would you choose to sacrifice spontaneity for a gremlin who will dictate your decisions? Definitely does not sound appealing.

And then the switch flipped: BABY BABY BABY. I do realize it is mostly hormonal-I too can pinpoint it to the week and a half surrounding ovulation, but the desire is so overwhelming that I can't shove it from my mind, even throughout the rest of the month! Why on earth do I want to have a baby so badly...and why NOW?

Bit of background: Have been dating my current boyfriend for almost 4 years now, but it has only gotten serious in the past year. He is 7 years older than I and already has a 15-year old from a previous marriage. He has ALWAYS been of the "no more" party, which I was fine with since we weren't that serious. But now, I find myself in a serious relationships with a man I couldn't possibly imagine leaving, but also with a crazy desire to procreate. I don't want to become a young(ish) widowed woman with no one but her dog to keep her company at Christmas!

So, I too am in a quandary. What to do? What to do? I don't dare try to change his mind in fear that he'll resent me if we do have a kid, but I don't want to resent him if I decide to live sans child. He did mention recently during a slightly intoxicated serious heart to heart that he had thought about it, and has considered it. But I don't want to live in a fantasy world hoping that one day his switch will flip too.

Sigh...oh the joys of womanhood!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for leaving this blog open to comments and to all the women who have posted their own thoughts, desires, and fears.

I am 37 and never had babylust. I never thought they were cute (still don't) and never dreamed of being a mother. However, I never thought I wouldn't have children either. It has always been, 'I have a few more years so no need to worry about it now.' Last week, I asked my ob-gyn if there was a way to know if I was still fertile because I thought I might want to have children at 40, and she looked at me and said, 'If you want a child, do it NOW.' I burst out crying, which shocked me, but she must have known it was coming, she had the tissue ready. She explained aging, declining amount of viable eggs, the increased struggle to conceive, and that even though there are many older women having children--there are many more who are unable. She shared her own story of not wanting to have children until she was 36 and then it taking over two years and advanced medical science to do so.

This conversation shook me. There is so little time left to decide... and yet I still don't know. My boyfriend says he doesn't want a child, but I've seen him coo and smile at babies in ways that I know he could eventually be convinced. But I haven't convinced myself. I am scared of having a child and then discovering why I never had babylust... I am scared of deciding I want a child and then finding out I can't. I am also scared of deciding not to have a child and feeling regret and loneliness later in life.

What's that I hear? Is that a Boston song in the background? "...It's now or never and tomorrow may be too late..."

Anonymous said...

When I was younger, i was always a fence-sitter on this. I would usually lean toward the "no babies" side of things and it would annoy me to no end when people would tell me "oh but you'll make a wonderful mother someday when you change your mind." When I was in middle/high school I would go through a cycle every month or so. I'd decide I'd like to be married with no kids, then I'd decide I'd want to have kids but not be married, then I'd decide I wouldn't want either (marriage nor kids, just a fantastic, high-profile career) and then the cycle would start over.
When my husband and I met in college, he definitely wanted kids. We were friends for 3 years before we got together and I remember him saying that if he wasn't married by 30 then he'd adopt. When we started getting serious about each other, I voiced this as a concern. He told me he was relaxing on the whole babies thing and thought he could be just as happy just with me and no kids.

Over the next few years there have been days when he's seemed really excited by the idea of having kids. He'd say, "when we have kids..." etc and when we were in the process of looking for a house he suggested that we start trying for a baby the next year (which would have been now). Three of my coworkers have announced pregnancies in the last 15 months and so even though none of our friends from high school or college are having kids, I feel like I am surrounded by pregnancy and babies. Everyone is always telling me that I am next and asking when I'm going to get pregnant. But the truth is, I don't know that it will ever happen. My husband is really worried about finances and recently told me that if he didn't feel secure about our financial picture he wouldn't have babies -- even if that meant we'd never have them at all. This was a big shock to me, since I know many people with less money than we have who still chose to have kids and I'd always figured that we'd try to make ourselves as financially stable as possible but that the biological desire to have kids -- if we had it -- would trump the financial concerns. But I don't know if he has that biological desire in the same way as I've realized that I do. Even though there is so much about having kids that makes me say "no babies right now" the "no babies ever" voice is fading fast and is being replaced by the fear of putting off the decision for so long that it isn't a choice anymore.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading all the posts. I am in the "cannot for the life of me decide whether I want a baby or not" camp. I'm 33 and not getting any younger, my husband is 31 and happy to go along with whatever I want. My situation is complicated by the fact that I'm on medication I cannot do without so this is an added consideration. But I come from a loving family and cannot imagine my mother dying and there being nobody else to call family....help!!

Gill from UK said...

It's been so great to find out that I'm not crazy for being so indecisive, and that there are plenty of other women frustrated by the 'to-baby-or-not-to-baby' issue.

I'm actually the opposite of how most people feel around kids. I LOVE kids, from age about 7 upwards. I get on great with all my teenaged family and I look after my 6 year old nephews all the time. They are wonderful. Thing is, if I see a baby I run in the other direction. I don't find them cute, I can't stand all those soppy 'kiss the baby's bottom' diaper commercials, and I'm pretty sure I would hate changing and feeding and even holding an infant. I also have horrible feelings about pregnancy. I don't want to get a bump, or have people 'ooh' and tell me I'm glowing. Sickening.

I've always felt this way, and just to say when I was younger that I'd just adopt a 10-year old. But that was before I was married. My husband told me he wanted my children in the first month of our relationship! He's always been lit-up by the idea and we've planned finanically for that future. He does not want to adopt becuase he wants 'our' children, and I have to say, now I feel that IF I were to have kids they simply MUST be his. That, unfortunately, means doing the baby bit.

Only yesterday, he said to me that we didn't have to have kids at all if I didn't want. It's basically up to me, no matter how much he wants to. This is very sttressful. Moreso becuse I'm turing 30 very soon, and I don't want the decision to be made for me by default. I despise the thought of telling him we aren't having kids, so does that mean I do want them? I feel so stupid becuase if for some reason I was told I couldn't give my husband children I would want to die. That tells me that, yes, I must in fact want kids at some point. Yet every time I tell myself that the current packet of the Pill will be the last, I wuss out and order more. I'm really hoping that if I do come off the pill and my hormones stop being artificial and become natural, that the 'on swtich' will flip.

I just WANT to want kids so badly! Anyone else have this feeling?

Anonymous said...

Gill - TOTALLY there with you! I considered adopting, but my husband wants his own.
I'm a teacher, so I spend everyday with kids. Babies never did anything for me. I dread baby showers and people's baby pictures because it makes me feel awkward - do I lie and say it's cute or just be silent? I know if I say what I really think, I'll hurt somebody's feelings.
I went off the pill and turned 31 earlier this year figuring, if it's meant to happen, it will happen. But now I'm totally stressing every time my period is late (which is every cycle) and with school starting again, I'm back to "Did you hear that so-and-so's pregnant? When are you having a baby?"
Fortunately, one of my best friends is in a similar head space and we're supporting each other through it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks ladies. Your blogs are a god-send. I was seriously at the point of seeking couselling to sort all the crazy stuff running around my head re: whether or not to have kids. Many people don't realise the decision to have children can be an incredibly difficult, complex and emotionally painful process to work through.
Trying to make sense of all the conflicting thoughts and feelings can be both exhausting and overwhelming. In my case, it has basically caused me to put my life on hold until the decision is made. It helps just to know there are so many other women out there who are going through the same emptional roller coaster, struggling to come to grips with what you really want out of life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having this blog. I no longer feel alone in my baby fever. My husband and I have been going back and forth with the whole baby thing and he doesn't understand how crazy that makes me. It's like when I'm ready to talk about it, he isn't, and when he comes around I'm still too hurt from being rejected and I'm not ready to return to the topic. In the meantime I secretly go shopping with my Mom for baby clothes. CRAZY!

Anonymous said...

I need to vent...I married a man with two kids from a previous marriage (I have a 16 year old myself). The kids have serious issues, mentally, behavioral, etc. and my husband's lack of discipline and involvement is really taking a toll in our marriage. The problem is, this is weighing heavy in my decision to have a baby. I feel I do want to have a baby but I feel like I shouldn't put myself in the situation of possibly being a single mom again, since i don't know how much longer my marriage will last. I am going to be 35 next month and I am afraid 10 years from now I will resent my husband for not having a baby and then it will be too late...HELP!!!

Anonymous said...

I am in a situation a little different than most of you. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a wife and mother. I am 34 and have not had a relationship that has lasted more than a couple of months in the last 8 years. I have tried everything under the sun from online dating to matchmakers to speed dating and I just can't seem to find 'him.' Everyone keeps telling me that I am still young and I have time. To top it all off, I was recently diagnosed with endometriosis. This could make getting pregnant even harder as I get older. I feel like I am now in the position of having to make the decision to either do this alone or not do it at all. I don't want to deby myself motherhood or deal with the resulting sadness for the rest of my life. I also don't want to make a selfish decision that could impact the life of a child. Overall, I am just so angry and resentful. It's not supposed to be this hard.

Anonymous said...

I am 38 years of age, soon to be 39. I had a 15 year relationship with a gentleman who had two grown up children. I never had the baby urge. Our relationship ended 3 years ago - we grew apart. In 2011, I met a lovely guy, kind, gentle, caring and considerate. I have polycystic ovaries and was told when I was 23 that it would be highly unlikely that I would ever conceive naturally. My relationship with my current partner progressed well (he has a teenage child with another woman). He was undecided about whether he wanted any more children however this is not something I was worried about due to my potential difficulties. After 10 months of dating, quite unbelievably, I became pregnant naturally. I was shocked and was in denial as I never believed it would happen to me nor had i ever considered whether i wanted children. My partner was devastated and said we hadn't been together long enough to determine the success of a long term relationship. I had a medical termination at 7 weeks, it was horrid and painful experience. I wasn't ready to have a family, even though I had fantasised about being a mum some day. Following the termination, I had a strong urge to become pregnant again. I have no idea why but i couldnt control the feelings.Again, unbelievably, I conceived and my boyfriend said he would support me. I had a huge panic and could not get my head around how we would manage, personally, financially (£800 a month childcare fees, strain on our relationship, impact on my career). Despite my partner begging me to keep the baby, I just couldn't go through with it through total fear. Regrettably, I had a second termination and to date, still worry every day have I made the right or wrong decision. Like many women on this blog, I cry and beat myself up for my lack of courage to continue either pregnancy. I have many friends who are struggling to conceive at the moment and going through IVF. Yet every day, I wonder whether I should have a family. What the hell. This topic keeps me awake frequently, causes me anxiety, stress, depression and a feeling of failure. Has anyone else experiences similar circumstances?