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Monday, March 26, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: One woman asks: "I'm not sure if I want kids or not. How do you decide?"

My good friend Corrie Pikul, a 36-year-old magazine writer and blogger living in Brooklyn, has never been sure if she should have a child. She doesn't for sure want one, but she also doesn't not want one. She's completely 50/50. So, as she gets older, how will she make the decision? Here, Corrie shares her fascinating story...

***

Corrie's story:

I have to say, it was funny to me when Joanna was curious about my baby ambivalence, because I’ve spent so much time wondering about the opposite feelings—of certainty, of desire, and of urgency. At least, that’s how I imagine it feels when a woman knows she wants to be a mother (am I right? Please tell me!). The only thing I’m certain about is that I lack that feeling, and I’ve spent the better part of the past decade trying to figure out why. It’s my obsession.

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

It’s not that I don’t want a baby. Or that I do. It's that I’m exactly 50/50—I 50% want one, and 50% don’t. I’m totally, completely middle of the road—which makes making an actual decision feel impossible.

How does baby ambivalence feel? Frustrating. Temporary—it can’t last forever, because eventually age forces us to make a decision. Lonely.

I worry that I’m an anomaly. Why can’t I just get over this, and either throw myself into baby-making, or decide once and for all that I’m not meant to be a mom? Neither option feels right to me. I’m stuck in the middle, and I feel trapped. Baby ambivalence isn’t a form of freedom, because I’m too skittish to celebrate the fact that my husband and I don’t yet have kids. What happens when/if we change our minds? Down the road, we’ll think back on all the money we perhaps blew on, say, learning to scuba dive, and how it would have been better saved for pre-school tuition. My husband and I live in this “maybe” world.

WILL GETTING OLDER HELP?

For a long time, I thought that age would help me answer the baby question. I started thinking (fantasizing?) that, as I grew older, my fertility would naturally decline, and some biological mechanism would kick in that would help me realize that time was running out, and would cause me to feel a strong desire for a baby. There's cultural precedent for that—women on TV and movies suddenly start talking about their ticking biological clock and how badly they want a baby. So I thought that since I didn't feel strongly either way, some hormonal change would happen as I got older that would push me in the baby direction. But the question then became: Does that really happen? And if so, how long do you wait for it to kick in?

I investigated the link between age-related infertility and maternal desire for ELLE, and while researching that article gave me the opportunity to talk to some fascinating people (like a laid-back California psychiatrist named Warren Miller, who researches why people have children; and a whip-smart sociologist in Finland, Anna Rotkirch, who has done studies to test the existence of “baby lust”), I wasn’t able to find any proven link between what’s going on in our ovaries and our emotions about motherhood. Although Dr. Rotkirch has found that many women do experience that intense craving for a baby, she hasn’t been able to pinpoint a biological cause of that feeling—it may be related to hormones, but we can’t be sure.

MONEY WORRIES

The lack of a gung-ho, go-for-it, let’s-make-a-baby! feeling may seem like a flimsy "con" to have on the Baby Decision List, but my other worries loom large—and there are so many of them. My biggest concern is money (the astronomical cost of raising kids from infancy to college is another subject I've written about), and not having nearly enough of it to support both a child and my own dreams of a fulfilling work life. I’ve seen women leave jobs that they enjoyed because those jobs seemed incompatible with motherhood. And I’m not talking about crazy jobs that required traveling to Hong Kong every other week or pulling endless all-nighters in their cubicles. I’m referring to the kinds of normal careers that ambitious women want and succeed at, and believe that they’ll continue to succeed at before realizing how all-consuming and expensive raising a baby can be. In this country, the cost of full-time childcare sometimes doesn’t make working feel “worth it.” That freaks me out: that having a baby might mean that I wouldn’t be able to afford to work. I hear the word “choice” used a lot in discussions of moms and work—as in, “You make the choice that’s best for you” or “It was her choice to stay home.” But as Sharon Lerner, the author of The War on Moms, told me, for some people, it’s not a fair choice if all the available options are so crappy.

I’m constantly on the lookout for role models of women who are raising children and flourishing in jobs they like (or even love), and still enjoying their marriages. And, frankly, the numbers are discouraging. I feel so let-down sometimes about the daunting prospect of having a baby and finding a way to make the extra thousands of dollars I feel like we’ll need, while working less than I do now (who doesn’t pull 60-hour weeks these days, especially, it seems, in New York?), that it makes me feel like everyone with children must know some secret that I don’t. Or they have some special advantage, like a savings account they've had since first grade, or super-rich parents, or parents that live nearby and can babysit for free whenever necessary. Or maybe they have super powers! Seriously, how else would you do it?

That’s why I really appreciated the series Joanna did on mothers who blog, because it showed some of the different strategies women use to balance motherhood and work. It was reassuring to hear real mothers talk about how they’re making all the pieces of their lives fit together. We need more stories like that, of moms and dads talking honestly about the challenges of work, marriage and parenthood.

EARLIER LIFE DECISIONS

It recently occurred to me that all the life decisions I've made, all the decisions that helped define who I am, worked against the idea of a baby: I moved away from my parents, who are wonderfully generous and supportive people and who have reassured me that they’d help out with some of the childcare; I didn’t pursue a lucrative career (I'm a writer); I settled in one of the most expensive cities in the world; I married a man who, while perfect for me in just about every way, is as indecisive about children as I am (and who didn’t choose a lucrative career, either).

I never gave a thought to how all of these decisions would factor into MY ultimate motherhood decision, and now I realize how naive that was. It’s not like I thought the U.S. would suddenly turn into a parental utopia like France (check out Sharon Lerner's eye-opening book for more info about how seriously unfriendly America is to families), but I guess I still thought that whatever I decided, everything would work out.

That’s what everyone tells us, right? “You’ll find a way. You’ll make it work.”

WAITING FOR THE URGE

And that brings me back to The Urge, and why I’d really like it to hit me—bam!—right in the kisser. In the same way that I fell in love with my husband, I’d like to tumble head-over-heels for the idea of a baby. That just seems like the best and easiest way to go against reason and logic and convince myself that all the sacrifices will feel worth it.

***

Corrie, thank you so much for your incredibly thoughtful and honest essay. What do you think, everyone? Do you feel the same way? Do you know for sure you want kids, or are you 50/50, or do you know for sure you don’t want kids? If you do have children, how did you know you were ready? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this fascinating and very personal topic.

P.S. More Motherhood Monday posts...

(Photo by Ruth Orkin)

559 comments:

1 – 200 of 559   Newer›   Newest»
.Tinacious Me. said...

Great post! Love Connie for her honest opinion!
xo, Tina
WWW.TINACIOUS.ME

Kelly said...

I did have a VERY strong urge once I hit 30...
Once I was pregnant, it really hit me that my life would never be the same. And it's definitely not...there have been sacrifices, but I wouldn't change a thing. Raising my two precious boys is wonderful and rewarding. Good for you for thinking it through and being honest with yourself before jumping on he baby bandwagon.

My Soul is the Sky said...

I have no children but I feel I must comment because I feel the same way. It's like that quote from Eat.Pray.Love. "Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit." If you're not 100%, then you're not ready. For now, that's my decision. Not sure if this helps.

Ashley Faye - ourbklyn.com said...

This was a very interesting read, I am feeling the same way. I'm only 27 but all my friends are going off to marriages and babies- I'm just not ready. I've always dreamt of being a momma but I can't do that until I feel like I've done enough for myself as well.

Serda said...

This is a wonderful piece. Women have such a challenge. I don't have kids yet but there was a period when my husband and I were sort of split between to worlds. One in which we couldn't wait to hold and snuggle a baby... and the other where we didn't want share our life, alter our routines, shift the focus away from our careers or social life etc. Of course, we felt a bit of guilt and some pressure (amongst other things). But we finally decided together. We do want to have children because the absence of children made us more uncomfortable than their presence ... if that makes any sense. :)
Now, let's talk about trying to have a baby... oh boy! And how incredibly stressful that can be. :)

Corrie Anne said...

Yay! We have the same name! Even spelled the same way!! I'm kind of on the baby fence, but not quite so much. I'm sure we'll have kids someday, but just not yet. And I definitely do not have the urge yet. At least at 27, I'm starting to think some babies are cute! I often wondered how we would know exactly when we are ready!

Melissa Blake said...

This is a great post, seeing as how so many women grapple with this issue.

Meagan said...

Yes yes yes! I feel this way totally. Waiting for my biological clock to take over so I don't have to make the decision. It hasn't happened yet. :(

Jamie said...

Great post and so well written.

Anni said...

I love this post, because I feel pretty ambivalent too. I would say my ratio is 70/30 (against/for) having kids, but I'm also young. Also living in a major and expensive city, with a career that's not very forgiving to mothers (self-employed, books way out, I'm my only employee...) and I'm just not sure that I deal with stress well enough to be the good, kind mother I'd like to be. But I hate that there's no definitive feeling of definitely not wanting kids... I hate that I can see it either way, because it feels like either decision means losing something.

Anna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
art deco engagement rings said...

I feel the same way and this was a very helpful article. I think I'll eventually end up having them one day though!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing Corrie. I can totally relate. I am 28 now and have not yet had 'the urge'. Thankfully, my husband and I are on the same page. We just don't know 100% and we feel like going into having a baby we need to feel it 100%. Other factors are the fact that I have a major back problem, and don't know if I'd be able to carry full term, and if I was, I'd likely be on bed rest the majority of my pregnancy. I have plenty of friends that have already had babies, some that are half way through school, and I have plenty of friends going through baby brain right now, but for me, it's just not on my mind, and I often worry if it is something wrong with me, if I just don't have that motherly instinct. AAH! That's why I was so blessed by reading this piece today and being reminded, I am not the only one. Thank you.

Yvonne said...

Thanks for sharing! I myself am pretty torn as well. I don't want to completely dismiss the idea of ever having children, on the other hand, I feel like it might not be for me.
Even though I am 'only' 25, many friends and acquaintances have started to settle down, got married, and have kids. I am about to finish my Master's degree and will hopefully be able to go on and get my PhD as well. So by the time I'm done with that and will want to make a career, I'll be in my thirties and probably nowhere nearer a decision...

So, again, great essay and thanks again for sharing!

http://goinwiththeseasons.blogspot.com/

Rebecca McTee said...

I'm exactly 50/50 too, and it occupies a lot of my thoughts. Partly because I'm nowhere near where I want to be professionally, partly because I like travelling, like the freedom of not having dependants (a cat is pretty easy) and like having extra money! That said, I see my friends who have grown up kids, or see my family with my 6 siblings and how nice it is when we're all together, and how nice it is for my parents, growing older, knowing that they have all of us to take care of them. I dunno. Exactly 50/50. I keep waiting for it to hit me over the head too.

Meg said...

Jo, I can't tell you just how timely this post is for me. Thank you and thank you Corrie!

I'm 31 and exactly the same, 50/50. If I was being absolutely honest, it's probably more 60/40 to not having children. I have no ovary burning, maternalist desire. I love kids, love my friends kids but I'm really ambivalent about having them myself.

My husband and I are talking about trying towards the end of next year (nothings decided), however I'm worried that I'm just saying yes to having a child because I'm scared that I'll get to 45 and look back and wish that I had.

Anonymous said...

I am 34 and have battled the same ambivalence. It is touchy to mention to anyone that you might not want children- somehow people suddenly act as though you might eat their young! But I love other people's children, I'm just not sure if the love and energy that it would take to be so selfless for 18+ years is there for me. The idea though that at one point, our bodies make the decision for us in closing that door, is tough to face when it is your choice. For women who can't have children, they have to face the cards they have been dealt. It is much harder to be responsible for choosing to forgo something that is supposed to be so "natural" for all women. With that being said, I loved your piece. It hit very close to home.

Serena said...

Wow. I could have written this post (minus the husband part). I feel this is largely where I am in my life. As I get older, I feel pressured to think more about whether to have a baby because, before I know it, the choice will no longer be mine. Very much middle of the road.

I've been hoping a future will husband will be my deciding factor, but then again, do I wait?

Meghan said...

I never had the urge. I had to just jump off of the highdive. Six months in I am glad that I did. Hardest 6 months of my life, but still glad that I did.

Simone said...

The person above me put it perfectly....when you know, you just know, and yes, if you're not 100% certain, then don't do it, or not yet anyway.

I didn't have children til I was in my 30s but really that was only because I hadn't met the right person. Not having children is unthinkable to me.

I never ever considered the financial side of having children - that didn't come into it. And not because we had plenty of money...simply because I felt we would find a way. And you do.

I don't think it's just the US that is not "family friendly"....I honestly can't think of a job where any mother can work full-time and happily juggle her family. It's a challenge wherever you are and whoever you are....something has to give as they say.

Certain times in your life may lend themselves to being a "better" time to have children but I think it's like anything....there's never a perfect time. Sometimes you have to just take the leap.

Maybe the question to ask is how would you feel if you got to the age of 40 - or even later in life - and you hadn't had children, would you regret it?

Being self-employed or freelance does have some benefits in that you can juggle your work slightly more easily.

emily lang said...

I feel 100% the same way and I fear I always will. At 25 there really is no rush, despite everyone my age around me starting to have children. I feel particularly conflicted because while I know I'm not ready for a baby now, I also hate the idea of being an "old mom" someday.

Anonymous said...

I'm 37 and my son just turned 2. I definitely did not ever have the urge - just a fear that I would regret it later if I didn't have a child.

I went into motherhood totally unprepared for how much work it is and how life-changing it is.

All that said, I don't regret it. I've never loved anyone or anything more than I love my son. Although my life has changed drastically, I can say without reservation that it has changed for the better.

Now I'm going through the whole debate over again, whether to stop at one or have another. In many ways, this decision is much harder because I'm afraid of messing up a great family dynamic, and this time I know how much work a baby is.

JenLynn said...

I have nieces and nephews who I adore and truly enjoy spending time with; but I'm more of the fun, cool aunt than the nurturing and mothering individual in their lives. I've never had the strong instinct to want to be someone's mother. But I also fear that when I'm an old lady that I will regret this decision and feel like I let myself down. Although I don't want to have one, just in case; I don't want to bring a life into this world without being 100% certain. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one indifferent on the topic in a world that has become baby 'crazy'.

Sara {House Bella} said...

I have never felt even the slightest twinge of an urge for children. It I'm being truly honest with myself - which I am most of the time - I absolutely do not want to be a mother. But society is hard. I live in an area where there aren't a lot of kids, most professionals my age have chosen not to, and yet the pressure still lingers out there in the ether. It takes bravery to go in either direction. Wishing you the best in your decision.

Rebecca said...

I also felt somewhat ambivalent. I never really liked other people's children that much, didn't babysit as a teenager, etc. But, ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I would regret not going for it. Since my little boy arrived (just turned two), I have not regretted that decision. It is difficult to balance everything - working full time, childcare, maintaining a marriage - but I think that it's been worth it.

One thing I've noticed is that you can still keep your priorities that you have now. If you like to cook (as I do), you'll make time to do this. If it's important for you to go hiking/biking/etc., you'll find a way for to do that. If what you really want to do is go out eat, you can arrange the timing so you can bring your baby.

Probably if you aren't actively against wanting children, then you probably do and are just scared (and it is daunting.)

Now the big question is do I want another child....

Mara @ {A Blog About Love} said...

Fascinating topic...one that I'm interested in as well. I have been infertile for 8 years, and in the beginning I had an intense desire to have a child. But after so many years I've had time to really have a meaningful life and I've had to think more about why people really do have kids... For me, I don't really "need" a child, but I've decided I want to do it to give back to someone else. I had so many opportunities & so much love & a great life, and I want to give back by being a mother. (plus I think motherhood is a GREAT place to learn so many of life's lessons.) I wrote about it here on A BLOG ABOUT LOVE....

http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/2011/11/why-have-kids.html

Sarah said...

A wise teacher once told me, "don't wait until you can afford kids to have them - you never will." Then in a separate conversation she said, "you know the reason most people have kids don't you - they get pregnant."
If you have managed to avoid an 'oops pregnancy' (the most common kind), the choice becomes much more difficult. I wish you luck as you navigate this difficult decision.

Joy | Frock Files said...

As I read this, I felt like Corrie had read my mind. This is exactly where I stand on motherhood--and yes, it does feel frustrating & lonely. I have friends in their late 30s and early 40s who struggle to conceive and want desperately to give birth to babies. Will that be me? Joan Didion wrote in "Blue Nights" that she was hit suddenly with the desire to be a mother, and I feel like I keep waiting for that feeling to hit me, too.

Haydee Rodriguez said...

I've gotta say that when you are ready you really feel the urge, you will truly feel it!

Giulia said...

I never had a strong urge, it seemed like my husband and I just thought that we'd want to have kids. We discovered that not having kids might give us great financial freedom but it would be like not choosing to go on this incredible trip. You can be completely happy not going on the trip, but I never wanted to question myself as to why I didn't jump at the chance to have this experience of having kids as hard as it might be.
We are lucky that in Canada we get quite a bit of support and I've been able to advance my career while having 2 kids and all with a 35 hour work week.

The Cyclist's Wife said...

Not to sound trite, but if you aren't sure, you probably don't want one. I think wanting to be a mother is an undeniable feeling. If you want a child, you will know without a doubt.

Jessica @ Decor Adventures said...

Great topic. I'm on the fence myself and at 35 1/2 I feel like I need to and am being encouraged (by the Dr.) to make a decision.

I've wondered about the motherhood urge. I simply don't have an overwhelming desire to have children (which I think is because of the significant lifestyle change) but that doesn't mean I won't be happy with children.

I'm also in the middle of a PhD and my husband works full time and has his own business. There are a lot of things to consider.

I always felt like once I was done with classes I'd feel more likely do want children but I don't have that luxury to wait due to my age or at least that's what I think.

For the most part I think about the long term life we'd have with children and that is something I want. Sure people make sacrifices now, but do I want a loving family to spend time with as the years go by, definitely and that is pulling me to decide yes.

Brenda said...

I felt the same way, probably more so on the end of not wanting kids. This was until I met my husband. I just knew we would have a family. When we got pregnant with our 1st, I still wasn't 100% (crazy right?!), but once he was here and now that he is here, I can't imagine life without him.

We are pregnant again, with a girl this time. I still have the feeling of "Am I ready? Are we ready? Is this right?" ... and I know of course it is, but its all change.

I know baby girl will be such a welcome and necessary part to our family, and I'm excited and nervous for the new adventure.

I think as we get older there are moments where you think the grass may be greener on the other side, but truthfully, there is no where I'd rather be in my life that right here...with my growning family.

Thank you for your honest post. I think its so important to be honest with yourself and talk those feelings out. Change can be scary...you just need to find a way to welcome it, no matter what road you take.

Anonymous said...

Reading this just depressed the hell out of me.

I don't know how I feel about babies now -- & I have two.

Meredith said...

I think the reason why the decision is so difficult is because both options are wonderful. She is happy with her career, it brings her joy. A baby would, too. If one path were truly undesirable the decision would be easy.

I so often drive myself crazy, trying to decide between two perfectly good options. I try to remember to be thankful when caught between opportunities. It is difficult, but also pretty awesome, you know?

Lacey said...

I am 28 and single, but truly relate to this story. I have had ambivalence about children since my early twenties. I struggle with the "second shift" lifestyle so many moms have to deal with... they work and do so much at home, and, as a southerner, it is just the cultural norm for moms to have so much responsibility on their plate that it freaks me out to be honest. I worry that mutually sharing child rearing responsibility is a fantasy, at least based on what I see among my own married friends who always seem to need to get permission to go out and leave the kids with their husbands.

I want to use my master's degree once I finish school next year and also be free to travel and live somewhere I want. I love not feeling limited... but I do wonder if one day I will change my mind. Again, I just really resonated with this story.

Jillian Nicole said...

Wow, beautifully written and really insightful! To tell you the truth, I'm really in the same boat: I feel like I could be perfectly happy with a baby, as well as perfectly happy without a baby, and Connie's right, it can be really frustrating! It has been great to read this though and hear that other women have these feelings too!

Vintage Scapes said...

I'm also on the fence. In my early twenties I was bright-eyed and wanted to have kids. Now, after years of living in a recession and having a career that has bottomed out, I am not so sure. I believe that my clock isn't ticking yet because I don't feel financially secure. I also have way too many things that I'd like to accomplish before embarking on that journey. I always hear that they, as wonderful as they are, turn your world upside down and inside out. I'm just not ready for more of that.

Kelly J. R. said...

I'm 30 and am on the fence about having kids. I like the idea of having a family (someday) but have no desire to have a kid at the moment. I worry that I won't ever get bit by the "baby bug". Then what? No family? It makes me sad to think of myself as an old lady with no kids and grandkids to visit me. But, at the same time, I'm not going to have kids because it's what society thinks I should do. Sigh. Just like Corrie I'm hoping for a definitive answer one way or the other.

erin loechner said...

I loooove this post, Jo (and Corrie!!), and I so appreciate that this perspective is being scared.

I'm currently 6 months pregnant, and having a baby was a very, very logical decision for my husband and I. We didn't necessarily have the urge, but we also didn't want to be 85 spending Christmas Eve alone. So, we jumped in and started "not trying." And boom - it happened right away. We were terrified and sort of thought we made the worst decision of our lives.

But then? Something shifted around 12 weeks and we found ourselves dreaming of this little thing that we'd be welcoming into our lives (so essentially, the URGE happened AFTER we were already pregnant!). It didn't feel like "the missing piece," because our lives were so very fulfilled before. But I can best describe the feeling as that pinch of salt that makes everything taste better. Adding this baby to our family is going to bring out the flavor it already has, and I think that's a beautiful thing.

I suppose I'm getting on a tangent. ;) Anyway - I think it's super, super normal and rational to never get the urge - and that's when logic comes in, I think. The emotions will follow suit.

Corrie, I love that you're spending time researching the various options/feelings/alternatives attached to a non-parenting life. The world needs that perspective!

Sally said...

Have you ever read the blog Young House Love? The two parents are able to juggle(somehow, I don't know how they do it) their full-time blogging gig while raising a very hape tot.

Anonymous said...

I just had a baby 5 months ago and even when going to the hospital to have her was not sure how I felt about the idea of being a mother. I'm 38 and a lot of what was said in this essay rings very true for me. The biological clock never really kicked in buuut the one thing that made me want to have a child is the man I've been married to for 15 years.He is amazing. An amazing husband, an amazing dad and we are a team. I couldn't and wouldn't do this without feeling like it was an effort on both of our parts. Sadly with many couples I know it seems that it is the mother who sacrifices more. Her job, her time her goals and that is just so sad. I do work from home as an artist in Los Angeles, a pretty expensive place, and my parents are in southern California but its a bit of a schlep to get them to babysit. We take our baby to most places and it seems to work out pretty well. I was working a regular 9 to 5ish gig but realized that I actually, with or without child, like working from home better. My daughter is fantastic and I'm so glad that I decided to become a mother. I still am not that into babies generally unless I'm related or they are those of close friends. I do get rather annoyed at the prodding questions of strangers about my baby, like "When will you have another?". Answer...probably never. One is plenty and perfect.

Claudia Rolim said...

What a great post Joanna! I have the exact same issue (even the fact that my life decisions work against the idea of having babies), it feels good to hear someone talk about it so openly. I keep having the same conversation with my partner, except he really wants to have kids...but I still have quite some time before the age pressure kicks in, I'm hoping I'll figure it out by then :)

collette said...

We have a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy. I went to college, traveled the world and was dating a boy for three years. One day we went to an expert ski hill. I am an intermediate skiier. Growing up, I wanted a career, an apartment and cats. He helped me get down a tough hill and I thought, "I want to marry him. And I want two children, and he will teach them how to ski someday." This winter, our daughter hit the hills (although, the bunny one). That was my maternal "pang". It is difficult. I work 30 hours per week while paying for daycare. I left magazine publishing to do something else. But I am one of those who can't afford to stay home, but cannot work 60 hours a week while feeling good about being a mom/wife. There is a lot of sacrifice (sleep, eating, trips, "me-time") so you have to be prepared for that.

Sarah said...

I feel about the same way but I know with out a doubt that my husband and I will have children, we will adopt, have our own or even both. I know this because I believe in families. I believe that they are the strongest bond we can have here on this earth and I know that there are children waiting to come down and be a part of my family. I catch myself wondering if I really do want children? I think yes and then no. But as I watch my siblings and family friends around me express their love for their babies and children I know that I would want to give that kind of love to my own child. I would want to teach them everything I know and show them how amazing they are. So my husband and I are trying wither we are ready or not and we will make those sacrifices but I know it will all be worth it. To give that unconditional love that we as human beings are capable of giving.

Great post!

Olga said...

I think being a mom is a part of life. I'm only 19, but my mom recently gave birth to my third sister and it just made me realize how much I can't wait to be a mom.

http://olgasrecord.blogspot.com/2012/03/if-i-can-run-7-miles.html

Bárbara said...

I feel the same way! I've been married for almost 8 years now (I'm 32) but still can't decide about having a baby or not. I don't feel The Urge, but I looove children. My mother says that when the time arrives (if the time arrives) I will feel a huge baby fever that wont leave me until I have the baby in my arms, and if I don't feel the baby fever, that's ok too, life is wonderful and big and I can use my creative energy in other direction. I love my mom...

Ilaria said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I used to be completely 50/50 about wanting/not wanting a child, until a) I met a man who's 100% sure he wants babies and b) I discovered I've a health problem which needs to be treated before I can have children. Now my obsession is: will I be able to conceive? And it sucks, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a 25 years old women from Montreal (sorry for my bad english, my first language is french). Me too, i'm ambivalent about the subject. But not about the money part... I'm kind of a worrier, and I worry for so many things in my life, I can even imagine to be more worry about one or many child. I think that motherhood is a lot of job, and in our society we show maternity like something always rewarding et fulfilling, but I think it's not always the case. I don't know if I'm gonna be more happy with or without children. But, like Connie, maybe with age and the urge...

And I want to say thank you for your blog, thank you for the series on mothers who blog and, finally, thank you for your honesty. It's very interesting to read you.

-F.

Jennifer said...

A few years ago, I was scared out of my mind to have kids. If anything, one would be nice after a couple of years of marriage. Then I saw my sister give birth to her baby girl, and my mind was changed. I didn't get baby fever or anything, just a new understanding of how much of a blessing a child can be. Someone who depends completely on you and forces you to give your all to them. From what I hear, children are the best thing that can happen to you. I'm expecting a baby boy this June after just getting married last June. I could not be more excited and thrilled to begin a new life with this extra person that my husband and I get to teach and mold and raise up in faith to be a Godly human being. How much more satisfying of a life can you be given? I can understand the struggle, but at a certain point you just need to realize who you are living your life for. Life isn't about who has the most toys in the end. It's about making the most of the life you have right now. Jump in and start living!
~Jennifer

kerry said...

Clearly you are not alone and you can include myself in the uncertainly as well.

I am adopted (and 32 years old/young) and I do believe that I do not have the biological clock. And I do think that if I ever made the decision to have kids, I would adopt.

While it's still a big decision, it takes some of the age related pressure off.

Also, I've never come across anyone that regretted their decision to expand their family - whether they were all in or unsure. I do think it gives you an experience of love that you can't obtain elsewhere.

Thanks for the post - Loved it!
Kerry
www.bigapplesmallbites.com

kLr said...

This topic is one that I have discussed with my friends. I am not currently in a position to have children, I am twenty and single. However, it is a subject that I certainly consider. When I was younger I very much wanted children. However, in the past year and a bit I have begun to not want children/only under certain circumstances. I love my cousins' children dearly, but I just don't really want my own.

I began to question why I had this change in desire. I began to realize several things. The first was that my lack of desire to have children is motivated by a selfishness, a fear of the responsibility and not wanting to have the responsibility. Then I realized that I envision myself being the one caring for the children and my husband not wanting them and me missing out on good times with him. But, that didn't make sense. I realized that if we are married we will both want the children and share the responsibility. We will be a team.

Also, that when I am in the position to have children and married to someone I want to have them with, I will be more inclined to desire them. But, we'll see.

jen said...

I got married young (at 22) and always assumed I would have children. We decided to give ourselves a few years to settle in. We're at 9 years this summer and though definitely settled in, the decision to start a family still remains a daunting choice. Like the author, we are completely happy in our current life. There is this fear of the unknown that a baby brings - how would it affect our relationship, our finances, etc.

I think we will have children because there is this thought that it's the ultimate adventure and I think we'd raise good future citizens. It's a little scary to me how many smart and successful people are choosing not to have children. What does this mean for the quality of our future generations?

--r said...

when i was younger i said i was definitely NOT having kids. it wasn't until i was married a few years, and had a few years of babysitting nieces and nephews under my belt, that i realized being a mom might not be so terrible. i was never gung-ho, exactly, but i'm sure glad i took a deep breath and jumped in. my son is basically what awesome is in kid form.
and soon he'll have a sister!

rachelb said...

Corrie I really appreciate this essay. It is was a very timely post for me because I am LDS, or a Mormon, and it is very VERY common in our religion to get married very young and have children very young because that is what God told us to do- have families. However, although my husband and I have been married for 3 years almost, we still have not felt like it was right for us to have kids yet. Just this week, my dad told us that he doesn't think we are working on making a life that is conducive to raising a family, and it really stung to hear that. It was almost as if he didn't think we were living our live correctly. And although I could see myself with kids at some point in the future, and even more so can see my husband being at excellent dad, I just don't feel that URGE you talked about. I would love for it to just hit me like you said, so I wouldn't be so wishy washy about it, but I know exactly where you are coming from. For now, we are starting our family with a puppy- we get to bring home our Boston Terrier puppy Alfred home in 3 weeks. Thanks again for the post Joanna and COrrie!

Karelys (Beltran) Davis said...

I used to stress out about my rationality getting in the way of feeling my feelings like I feel hunger or tiredness.

But this could be a great thing for you.

Why not wait it out? Is it really that necessary to birth a child of your own? for me it wasn't but I'm doing it because it is for my husband.

I could've adopted kids who need a family and a home and be extremely happy about it!

So maybe you don't have to give up your life and decide for a baby. Maybe what the world needs is more people who are NOT TORN between following dreams and babies.

But if you really feel the need to give someone a home and pass down wisdom then adopt. Later. When you feel ready (financially and emotionally).

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I think the ambivalence is normal. The baby urges seem unnatural to me -- when you've never had a baby how do you really know? Before birth control humans did not have this decision so the lack of an urge seems natural to me. I was abivalent as well. I didn't NOT want a baby. So what I decided to do was engage in recklnessness. Before long there was no choice to make! And I am so totaly and completely happy. I love being a mother :)

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing your story Corrie. While I am one of those women who always knew she wanted to be a mom, and am now mom to a 6 month old baby girl, I can absolutely relate to your concerns about baby + career. If we'd spoken a year ago, I would have characterized myself as career driven. I've worked hard to succeed in school and to put myself in a position to have a rewarding career as an attorney. But as soon as my daughter entered the picture, my world turned upside down. I can't, and I don't want to, put in 60+ hour weeks. But at the same time I want to be able to model the behavior of a strong, successful woman for my daughter. And I want to be that woman for myself as well. But if I am honest, most days I want to be with my daughter, not working to pay for her childcare. I haven't figured it out yet, and I'm quite certain there isn't a win-win solution out there. But for all that frustration, I am so grateful for my daughter and certain in my decision to be a mom. I hope for that certainty for you, in whatever decision you ultimately reach.

Malia said...

I can really relate to Corrie’s opinion. My husband and I got married “later” in life, at least compared to our friends. And where they had lots of time to just be man and wife I feel like my time to really get to know my husband as just the two of us is really butting up against starting to know us as the two of us and a baby. I think kids are adorable and I love my friends babies and nephews and nieces, but I could live without a child of my own, or at least I could for now. Unfortunately as I look into the future I couldn’t imagine not having children and not having grandchildren. Of course then I see a misbehaving child and it just sends me in a nose dive of what money do we have, where is our local support system, I won’t have time to travel, and much much more. Turns out even with all the self doubt, I’m fairly sure I want a child so I’m in the process of waiting for my depo shot to run out and we’ll be trying this summer.

Mairi said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I know the feeling of not-knowing-what-i-want. I am happily married and 37. I was/am not sure if I want children. My husband isn't sure either. However we tried to get pregnant last summer. And we did. And then I lost the baby. Guilt came over me. I felt that I had somehow secretly wished for the miscarriage. It was a tough time. And now, a few months later, the doctor says that we can try again. Do we want to? ..... I have come to realise that no matter what the future holds for us we have our beautiful life and love to enjoy. We don't want to take our present blessings for granted. :)

clarity enhanced diamonds said...

Great post... really interesting read!

Anonymous said...

NO CHILDREN...What an interesting article! I have three boys from age 11yrs to 30 yrs old !!! I do not think I have ever read a commentary where I felt the author should NOT, at all, period, have children as long as her feelings remain the same. No question. Children are very tough...50/50 from both parents is no way to begin. I have tons of friends that chose not to have children and they are very happy!

Jam-packed Life said...

I'm 28 (turning 29 a month from now) and pregnant with my first child. My husband and I have been together for almost 11 years, married for 5 and a half. Although we knew we wanted to have children eventually, for a very long time we didn't feel stable enough to bring a child into this world. We needed better jobs, a better housing situation, a steadier support system. The first inkling of feeling stable came when we bought a condo (we live in Chicago). Things just kind of fell into place after that. So here we are now, about 7 weeks from the birth of our son.

beccainboston said...

I have always felt the "motherhood calls" if you would say and I am only 23 lol. I know that I would not want to raise a child anytime soon but I want to sometime in the future. My field is pretty forgiving (social service) and I may end up working in a school which will give me the flexibility to be on the same schedule as a my child.

No boyfriend or husband yet either so that plays a major role! Although, if I don't end up with either of these I may end up like that J-Lo movie where she does in vitro. I may change my mind in the future depending on financial circumstances but having a child is definitely something on my list.

Erin said...

How can you have a real true "urge" when you have no idea how crazy it is to look at a pee stick and find out you're uterus has an occupant, or uncomfortable it is for your abdomen to stretch to ungodly proportions with a wiggling alien (that is supposed to be a baby?) inside, or that once the baby is actually born you kind of curse this "urge" you thought you had because this shit is hard! So in conclusion, just do it, you won't regret it one second.

ag. said...

I've always wanted kids, always wanted to be a mom but now that I'm older and hoping for a baby in the next few years, I've become okay with not having kids. I can picture a pretty perfect life with my husband without bringing kids into it, it feels a little like a selfish life as we'd be able to afford more, do more, not worry as much but then I picture life with a little one of my own and I'm pretty smitten, too.

I do find the different perspectives fascinating. I'm curious to hear thoughts from those who want kids but can't have them! It's certainly a hard decision to make if you're on the fence about it because it's not something you can easily change if you regret your decision much later in life. This may seem like a silly comparison but everyone told me when I was looking for a wedding dress that I would just know when I had found the one - but I never had the strong feelings that everyone talked about! And it certainly worried me! I didn't put my dress on and fall completely in love with it and know it'd be the one I'd walk down the aisle in. But after lots of humming and hahing and trying on a lot of dresses, I made my decision. It took me a while and there was no 'hit me right in the kisser' moment but it felt right after weighing my options. Kind of like waiting for The Urge to hit, it may never happen but in the end, you may just know what is right for you and your partner. I do agree though, it'd be so great if The Urge just hit and you just knew one way or the other - I wish more of my big decisions were like that! (I realize a dress and a baby are quite different - hope this doesn't come across as insensitive!)

lori said...

I did not want babies, and started trying very young to be permanently sterilized. (Really bad family, didn't think I could possibly escape the generations of abusers.) Pregnancy #1 on condoms and foam. Pregnancy #2 with IUD. Pregnancy #3 with the pill.

So I have these three children and it was very hard, and my life -- and myself -- would've been extremely poor without them. (but not fiscally! :) ) Retrospective view? Perhaps. But what they've given me as a human, and to my life, has been so important, and so enormous, and all the stuff I would've done with my life otherwise couldn't have matched the scale.

HiLLjO said...

I wrote a post like this as well for Offbeat Mama. I struggled with baby ambivalency until deciding that it's something you want enough to just do at a time when the baby lust is high... and never look back.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post.

I certainly don't think there is a biological connection between age and desire to have a baby, and especially not a positive connection. If anything, from an evolutionary standpoint, I would think that the older one gets (the stronger the biological clock is "ticking,") the LESS of a desire to have a baby a woman would have. Pregnancies in older women are much more likely to result in various birth defects. I think that any increased desire for a baby as a woman gets older is more likely to be purely psychological, a worry about missing the boat. I don't think most women are likely to suddenly lose all ambivalence... it's more like, "well, I better make a decision and I'm not 100% sure I don't want a baby, so I better try to get pregnant because it's my last chance."

In my case, I got married shortly before turning 33. I certainly did not want to immediately switch my marriage from two people to three, but I had the 50/50 ambivalence mentioned here. And I was a bit worried about age-related infertility. Plus, my husband is significantly older than I am, so we decided if we were going to have one, it would have to be soon. His age, especially, forced us into a decision. Except... as it turned out, I was infertile. We tried for about 2 years, with no success. And you know what... I had all the usual heartbreak of infertility even as I felt a twinge of relief each month when I wasn't pregnant. That's something which is never talked about. You're not part of the "infertility sisterhood" if you don't with every fiber of your being want a child. So, you don't get emotional support there... but you don't get appropriate support from those who had no trouble having children, either. And you don't get support from the "childfree" because if you ever tried to have a child (and therefore know you're infertile) then you're excluded (especially by the hardcore.) You're not truly "childfree" if you could ever imagine yourself being a parent.

In any case, it was the infertility which made the decision for us... but in the end we realized not having kids was the right decision, and we didn't pursue treatment or adoption. We're both old enough that we're settled into adult life and it would be too much of a jolt to our lifestyle. And now, my husband is old enough that he'd be in his early 70s by the time a kid graduated from college. We don't want to be tied down for his remaining "prime" years, and we don't want to forego saving for retirement to pay for the cost of raising a child, and paying for college.

The decision when one is young - early to mid-20s - is a little easier, I think. You can have children and then by the time you're in your 40s, the kids are grown and you're still in your prime. As long as the child-rearing process seems to be, you'll come out on the other end and still be young. But if you're in your mid-30s, and especially if your spouse is older, you start thinking about what you've already done... have you done everything you really want to do for yourself? Are you living where you want to live? ... because if you have a child at that point, you and your spouse are giving over many or all of your remaining "youthful" years to child-rearing, living near good schools, going on family-friendly vacations, etc..

Anonymous said...

This is such a timely post for me. I completely relate to this. We do have one child, and it is amazing, but I have NEVER felt that overwhelming urge, or baby lust, or biological clock, or any of the other feelings that so many of my friends decide. I often put it down to us being so practical because when we think about having a second child, all of the same things that Corrie is saying come up - cost, my desire to work in a fulfilling job, not wanting to put stress on our relationship, COST!!! I also feel like there is this societal pressure to have a kid (or to have 2) to such an extent that you are somehow selfish otherwise. I think that making responsible decisions about whether to take the HUGE step of bringing a child into the world is far from selfish.

Anonymous said...

Continued...

I don't think that thinking friends' babies are cute will truly make the decision for you, but that can result in a "whim pregnancy" (a term I just coined) and then by the point, you can't really back out, and you start saying, "I wouldn't have it any other way!" As rarely as this is talked about, a LOT of people look at other people having kids and then just get pregnant, without thinking it through. That kid who looks so cute, and who you'd like to take the beach or the park, or drive around on your bike, is not necessarily so cute when he or she is keeping you up night after night after night, and you haven't had sex in months and you can't remember the last time you had an adult conversation.

Babies are cute so that adults will want to take care of them. Finding someone else's baby cute and thinking you would like one is a whim... it's not really a "decision" although it might result in a (largely) irreversible action. That's not the same as as thinking things through carefully and deciding that you do not want to alter your lifestyle for the next 18+ years.

Courtney said...

I don't know anyone who felt 100% about having a child. There is no perfect time, and it's not without sacrifices. I think that for most people there is some ambivalence towards having children because of the upheaval that it can bring to your life. My life would be different if I didn't have my daughters, but I can't say that it would be better. I didn't know that something was missing until they arrived, and really the sacrifices have seemed minor in comparison to the benefits. It's a bit like jumping out of an airplane--scary right before you make the leap, but exhilarating and life changing after all is said and done. The day my first child was born changed everything about how I view the world. Truly life altering (in a good way)

thedirtyknitter said...

We didn't have a strong urge, but at age 34 decided to stop preventing a pregnancy. 3 years & 2 kids later we wish we'd started sooner (and had more $$ & lived close to family) so we could rationalize having a 3rd. We both pretty much swore we were only having one child, but that definitely changed after having our first. We did a lot of recreational & international travel before we had kids, & now sometimes wonder if we shouldn't have saved some of that trip $$ so we wouldn't have to struggle now. But that traveling was wonderful for our relationship, & molded us into the couple we are today. I am a graphic artist & decided after #2 to stay home. Thinking I'd do some freelance, but that has been hard to come by (especially with my lack of time with a 3 yr & 11 mo old). My husband is a community college professor, so we're not making a ton of money. But he is home during the summers ( teaches online) & we hop in our camper & travel the states, so we have had to change our travels, but now I would't change it for the world. I think most people have some ambivilance even if they "know" they ultimately want kids. Whatever decision you make will be the right one, you just may not know it at the time.

Monica said...

So many things just aren't the same for anyone. I did feel that baby urgency, and I feel like that word...urgency...was perfect. As soon as it hit, I wanted a baby righthisminute. Or, you know, yesterday. Friends speak of waiting for the right time, saving money, being adult and practical and responsible. And while most of my life was dictated by thinking-through and being rational and responsible, this all went out the window when the desire for a child hit. As far as the difficulty of balancing life and motherhood...that is hard. I didn't take the time to think about it, but even if I had I think the rose colored baby-glasses I was wearing would have made me think that those hardships wouldn't have hit me at the time. It is just now, three children later, that I can understand that ambivalent feeling toward having a baby. I am only now at that 50:50 place, and for me, that translates to a no. I hope that, whatever you decide, I hear the end of this story. I think it is so important that we each tell our story. Thank you for sharing yours!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interesting read
(and the link to the book! fascinating) I'm 25 and I know I want children at some point, but I'm in the middle of a very demanding PhD that will lead to a very bad job market. I wish I knew more female professors who found a way to have children, because it seems like most of my mentors have chosen to be childless.

Heather said...

Like many have commented I too wondered about the URGE. I'm 35 (nearly 36) and am happy about having no children. I like children, don't get me wrong, but I like my life the way it is. The freedom that comes along with being childless is wonderful, and not just the financial part.
Also, like many others, I get the whole "what do you mean you're 35 with no children!' comments all the time. I live in the south where it's not unusual to have 4 by your mid 20s. And I feel like right off the bat people are judging me harshly for choosing this way of life.
But ya know what! I'm happy and had plenty of sleep haha!
Heather

Fancy Pants said...

For what it's worth...I was ambivalent and even at one point leaned a little towards maybe not. Then, literally, one morning I woke up and it hit me smack in the face. Like something out of a movie. It was almost embarrassing how strong I felt it. That said, we waited two years after that to even start trying as we were very newly married and not quite ready.

Helen said...

I AM SO HAPPY YOU WROTE ABOUT THIS! I feel completely the same about having a baby. Growing up I never "knew" that I wanted children and that one day I would be a mum like my sister and my friends did. It didn't unduly bother me at the time as I was academic and just assumed I would do something incredibly important with my life instead of having children! As I've grown older I find myself no more certain of wanting children than I ever was but I can not stop thinking about whether I want to be a mother. I am 26, soon to embark on a 3 year Midwifery degree and will be nearly 30 by the time I qualify. I'd obviously then like to enjoy my hard-earned career for a little bit and this is where time starts slipping away from me fertility wise. I constantly harrass people who are certain about parenthood as to how they know it's right for them but it seems as instinctive in them as it isn't in me. I too dream of knowing one way or the other. It is something that you can't take back once it's done and is so hard that I feel a desperate desire to be a mother might be the energy that drags you through the tough times. However, if you don't have children and later realise it was the biggest mistake of your life then it'd be devastating. Add to all this a history of depression that I'm terrified will resurface and my own mother's admitted disappointment in parenthood and I'm a confused mess! I secretly hope that one day, with the right man, I will accidenty fall pregnant and the choice will be taken out of my hands, because left to my own devices I don't know that I could ever choose one way or the other!

Anonymous said...

The primary definition of selfish is caring for oneself REGARDLESS of others. And, that's the general negative connotation associated with that word, although a secondary definition is just caring for oneself... without the disregard for others. And what is wrong with that? Some people criticize those who don't have kids by saying they're "selfish." And some people beat themselves up because they feel that they're being "selfish" if they don't have kids. But really, what is wrong with caring for yourself? What is wrong with being happy that if you don't have kids, you'll have more disposable income, more free time, more freedom the ability to travel to non-"family friendly" locations, etc.?

There is NOTHING wrong with developing yourself. The fact of the matter is that more than enough people are having more than enough kids to keep the earth populated. And, those people aren't martyrs... they usually have kids for "selfish" reasons, too... sometimes for unconditional love, sometimes because they want someone to take care of them in their old age, and sometimes for less "desperate" reasons, like wanting to mold another human being, or simply joy that will come from family life. Sometimes the "selfish" act fits the more negative definition of that word... people choose to bring into the world kids they cannot care for on their own. Sometimes it fits the less negative definition. But it is all selfish, too.

I say, to each their own, as long as they are not hurting or burdening anyone else. And I'll add that my husband and I pay thousands of dollars in property taxes each year to support the local school system, while not having a child to use the school's resources. That's quite giving.

cecilia said...

wow- such honesty.

i sort of always imagined i would have kids, but i never ever planned for that. similarly, i moved away from my parents, didn't choose a lucrative career, etc.

i will say that for myself, having a partner who i could definitely see as a parent was a critical part of me knowing that i definitely wanted kids. i'll also say, that nothing can prepare you for being a parent. separating the "am i prepared to be a parent?" questions from the "do i want to be a parent?" questions should help tilt your ambivalence in one direction or the other. i'm all for thoughtful family planning (and it seems you are too). i'm just saying that if you are deciding whether you want kids, the preparedness part is something distinctly different to consider.

about a year before i had my daughter i seemed to see more pregnant women, and more families out and about. many times i thought about how i could see myself in these pregnant women and mothers, and i suppose that's how i sort of knew i was ready. i found myself thinking about what they might be thinking, and how they might be feeling. before that time, being around pregnant friends/family or women who were moms didn't have that much of an impact on me at all. i didn't care to get inside their heads so to speak. maybe you feel one way or the other?

Anonymous said...

A really great post. I've struggled with the decision myself. My problem is that I would get the urge and go baby crazy for about 3 months, but then something would come up, as it often does in life, and the urge is instantly replaced by anxiety and doubt. Once life comes down, the urge comes back, but then a few months later, out it goes...

It's paralyzing. I wish I just knew.

Marn said...

Dear Jo!

In the past couple of weeks your posts have been bang on with what my friends and I are feeling! (a group of 26 year old ladies from Vancouver Canada). First, the "how long should you wait to sleep someone?" and then the post on falling in love with John Steinbeck letter. It must be a Spring thing!

Corrie's essay was brave and thought provoking. Surely having babies is a huge life decision, and we are so lucky to have the choice! Recently one of my best childhood friends had a baby at age 26 (a very happy accident!) Luckily she was ready enough to embrace it (although she was a little scared!). Now that her little one is here and he is so incredibly beautiful and she is so incredibly happy, I find my baby fever getting stronger...
The other day I saw a girl my age walking on the street and it looked as though she was wearing a backpack from the front and I thought, Ah a happy little student just like me. As I passed I realized she was carrying her baby on her back! She looked so happy!
Anyways, I have baby fever now, I think. It is just a feeling of longing that I get when I see beautiful babies with their happy mommas (I know it is not all babies breath and rosebuds though!)

I know Corrie will be happy in the side of the 50/50 that she choses! All the best!


ps. This is my little blog. http://redclementine.blogspot.ca/
Look at how beautiful Vancouver is in the Spring!
Have you been here?

leigh said...

i have to say that i truly appreciate this perspective - that you Jo, and Corrie for putting this out into the world.

I have always felt that I would have kids... because... well... people have kids, that's what they do.

But I never felt that ticking clock, that urge, that NEED. Even when I met my husband, even after he proposed, even after the wedding...

I knew he wanted kids, and that I "wanted" kids (in theory) but I was no where near ready.

even when some of my friends started have kids, some moved on tho have their second, and still I was waiting to wake up with baby fever...

and then something happened... not baby fever... not 100% "YES WE CAN"... but just this little peep of a something in my heart that whispered...

"I think we'd be okay"

we are still not trying, not even "not-not trying", i am still on the pill... but my head space is open to this idea now... kids don't scare me as much as they used to...

and i can picture it now...

i can picture too little darlings running around our yard...

and although my job is anything but stable at the moment...

i know we could do it.

many many people have for thousands of years with so much less...

we will be okay.

and just knowing that, even without making that move to start trying for kids - I know that I want them in my life... soon.

and not just because that's what i think i'm "suppose to do"

L Schelvan said...

There is no magical lightbulb -- you just have to take the plunge or not and be okay with the decision (forever). I helped myself deal intellectually by thinking: on my death bed will it make me happiest to look back on some work accomplishments, or happiest to look into the faces of my beautiful children? I chose children, but I recognize the huge faults with this "deathbed" model of decisionmaking!

Andrea said...

I'm married, 27, and my husband is 36. We eventually want kids, but not yet, because there are still things we want to do without the inflexibility that having a child brings. That said, some thoughts:

1. I think the pressure to be excited about having a baby is scarily similar to, and perpetuated by, online communities and forums that promote weddings. Just like a wedding is the celebration that launches a marriage, a baby is a new, exciting addition that is the beginning of a long, long road of parenthood. Just like everyone compares wedding decor ideas, and dresses, etc. etc., we're doing that for nurseries and baby gear and other material aspects of having a baby, but (in my opinion) forgetting to talk about what it means to become a parent: 100% responsible for the well-being of another human for a long time.

2. I wonder if Corrie has thought about parenthood beyond the pregnancy/infant/toddler years, and has a more emotional reaction (positive or negative) to being the parent of a teen, or young adult? Does she enjoy being around children in general? Babies are only babies for a short 18 months, and then the parenting game totally changes.

3. If resources (money, time) weren't an issue AT ALL, would the idea of parenthood be more or less attractive?

Just some things I think about when I feel the outside social pressure to want a baby NOW gets too great.

Alison Pearldiver said...

Thank you for this post. I feel basically the same way. I am 32 and will be married for 4 years soon to a wonderful man who I have been with for 10 years. When I was young I was pretty sure I didn't want kids. I was later diagnosed with endometriosis and confronted with the fact that having a child could cure or seriously help with the disease, that is if I was even able to conceive. Still I didn't want a child but I did want whether or not I had one to be my decision and not an effect of a health condition. My husband on the other hand has always know he wanted to be dad some day and as of late very badly wants us to have children. I now find myself hoping that some biological clock is going to turn on for me, and I no longer feel like I don't want kids- in fact I want to feel like I want to have a child-I just don't yet. Money and stability have longed played major role in my feelings within the past 3 years but more than that I have been dealing with my feelings about raising a child. Somewhere I developed the notion that to be a good parent you had to be a near-perfect person. If I can't remember to lock the door or pick up milk on my way home hoe can I be responsible for another life, sure you don't have to be saintly to be a parent most people aren't but I suppose I have been waiting for my perfect self to come face to face with my biological clock, meet, hug and decide on the stage of life. I know I still have time to figure this out and my husband is patient and understanding but being in the 50/50 limbo as Corrie wrote about is stifling, confusing, and shows me that I not the strong, decisive person I want to be-but at least I am not in feeling this way.

Mia Stizzo said...

i was also baby ambivelant! well, until i was surprised by my pregnancy last spring. i was actually ambivelent through most of the nine months too. my little one is three months now, and the absolute joy of my life. i think all the time now how scary it is that i might have missed this experience. if i hadn't accidentally gotten pregnant, i don't think i would have had children. and now all the cheesy things people told me are completely true...i liken it to the grinch (the imagery, not that i was grinch like or anything) when his heart grows and busts out of the frame. i'd be walking around today with a mini version of my heart without even knowing it had i not had my son.

www.wishdownawell.blogspot.com

Mary said...

I must say I didn't get "the urge" until my husband and I started trying for a baby and it didn't happen as easily as I expected. Once I came up against that obstacle I realized it was really what I wanted, and thankfully, it confirmed we were making the right decision. Also, in terms of work-baby balance, I've found since becoming a working mama it's very important to me that I love my work. Otherwise, the meaning of being a mama far outweighs leaving that baby to go to work. But when I love my work, the balance feels just right. Maryann

Anna Culp said...

One piece of advice I try to remember when making major life decisions: Don't make decisions based on fear.
If you took all of the fear out of the equation, what would be left?
And after that, I think, Which scenario am I likely to regret more? (I have a bias, because my whole life I have had the urge to be a mother, but) it seems more likely that someone would not regret a child once they had one, but that they may regret never having one. Don't forget the power of a spiritual answer. That is just as valid as a biological or emotional or logical answer.
But, of course, making this decision is a personal journey. Best wishes to Corrie in finding peace about her choices!

Anonymous said...

At least a couple of people have mentioned thinking that maybe earlier on they should have saved money instead of spending it on travel, etc., so that they'd have it easier when having a kid.

I cannot even express how much I disagree with this idea. You need to live your life, develop yourself, have valuable experiences, have shared memories, etc.. You can't put that on hold - before you even have a child or even think about having a child - just because at some future point the money may come in handy. As it is, once most people have kids they either can't afford to travel, or it becomes too difficult (or a combination.) Once you have kids, that lifestyle already takes a hit. There's no reason to impose that "hit" yourself before any future offspring are even a glimmer in your eye. You'll be a better and happier parent if you've been able to live your life and see the world before you have children.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I knew I couldn't be the only one! I think if I were a man, I would want children, so I guess one of my worries is the responsiblility the woman has of bringing up the baby. I worked too hard in med school to not go as far as I want in my career. People (my married 33 year old sister with no kids!) keep telling me I will end up old & alone- but having kids doesn't guarantee they will look after you later on. Having said all that...I really do wish I was 'normal' and didn't have to think twice about having kids.

Anonymous said...

For the first three years of our marriage we knew we weren't ready for kids. Then it hit us at the same time. We had a very easy time conceiving. Baby boy #1 came on our fourth wedding anniversary.. :) When he was 15 months we decided we wanted another, and wouldn't it be cool if they shared a birthday month? Yeah, baby boy #2 came three weeks early but his original due date was our sixth wedding anniversary. Baby girl came 2 1/2 years later, again completely planned.
Due to medical reasons I can't have any more, but I love my life. I love being a mom. Our marriage is happy and solid (although we work hard at that fact). And I work as an author. I even homeschool, which is not something I recommend for everyone.

People talk about the lack of freedom or the cost to raise kids, and while both are valid arguments to not have children, I don't feel they factor into our lives at all. We don't have money coming out our ears, and sometimes things get tight, but it's okay. And I think we have created a different kind of freedom with our family.

Anne said...

I was always a no kids kind of girl. And my husband felt the same. Strangely we both started shifting our thoughts around the same time. It's really silly to admit this, but I found myself really curious about what it would be like. It wasn't a strong longing for children. It was just curiosity. And we talked a lot about it because we had both felt the opposite way for so long. One of the things we thought about was how we wanted holidays and special times to feel. Did we see the experience feeling more meaningful and important if children were part of it?

I now have two kids. And I love them dearly. But I also wonder (more than I probably should!) what it would be like if I hadn't changed my mind. I think a lot of it has to do with how restrictive being a mom can be. It's been more challenging to deal with career slowdown etc. than I thought it would be. And I have a fairly flexible career (I own my own business), but I still feel it.

It's incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating all at the same time. But I don't think anyone expects parenthood to be easy.

I think the earlier post by Anni kind of nails it. She said, "...it feels like either decision means losing something." There's no question in my mind that this is true. Some of the changes and how much they might affect oneself are difficult to truly understand before becoming a mom. So yeah, it's a very daunting decision.

And I know I'm not helping! haha. Sorry.

Jessica Ochs said...

I think one of the problems facing women today is the idea that we shouldbe able "to have it all.". It puts so much pressure on women trying to juggle a career and a baby. No One's circumstances will be the same but everyone will have to make some sacrifices. After I had my daughter, I couldn't go back to work. I would have been an emotional wreck. I loved my job and wanted to be one of those women who could balance everything. But in the past few years I have found that I can have a very fulfilling life as a stay at home mom. Having a baby changes everything, you just have to let things happen as they may.

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah! I thought I was the only one feeling this way! Thank you so much for writing this article. I'm 36 as well and it's about time someone wrote an article like this - I'm going to send this to all my friends and family who keep pestering me about my ambivalence so they know it's a lot more common than they realize.

Barchbo said...

I was totally "meh" about babies, even after getting married at 38. We figured we would "see what happens" and I am now 42 and pregnant with baby number 2 (so don't believe everything you see or read!) I love my son and I love being with him, but even NOT choosing is still choosing. You can only do what is best for you and it's impossible to know what your hindsight will be in 20 years. Life is different for all of us.

Brigi said...

I applaud you for your honesty. I used to feel like you, but after marrying my wonderful husband, I changed my mind. I wanted to have a family. But age is a factor, and I was 40 when we got married. Now I am 42 and we are still exploring our options, but even with doctors' help it is bleak. In hindsight, I wish I would have frozen my eggs, just to keep my options open longer.
I am not advocating for you to have kids, but just to have more options later on.

Lindsey said...

What a great post! Until recently I've never imagined myself having children, but that all changed when a new man came into my life. While this man is not my life partner he showed me what an amazing feeling it is to love and to share love!
http://lindseyyoung.net

Anonymous said...

A poster above me, Andrea, is spot on.

I registered at The Knot when I was about to get married, and then I quickly started getting e-mails for The Bump, as though of course I would immediately get pregnant after getting married. Most of those women (or girls) at The Bump are CRAZY. They seem to have no aspirations other than to have babies, and they all have screennames like "Mrs. Smith" or "Dave's Wife" or "The Future Mrs. Jones" or whatever. It's scary how little of their own identities they seem to have.

But in any case, yes, "baby making" has become a trendy, trendy thing, fueled in large part by online communities. Now everyone wants to show off their "baby bump," and take a "babymoon" (???) and show themselves in full make-up and blown-out hair in maternity ward photos posted on Facebook. The same narcissism which has been fueled by Facebook and the like now extends to pregnancy. Unfortunately, so many women have this fantasy idea of what motherhood is like, and I think that even once the reality has hit, they have to perpetuate the fantasy, because they never want to admit that it's not all fun and games (or worse, that maybe they would have been happier without kids.)

Babies becoming a trend is a dangerous thing. It can result in very unhappy mothers, and unhappy kids, in the long run.

Of course not everyone having a child has fallen prey to this culture, but way too many have.

Laura@happyroost said...

I completely agree! I'm only 26 so I guess I still have more time to find a solution to my dilemma. I grew up thinking I never wanted to have kids. Now I'm open to the idea - just not anytime soon. And the thought of pregnancy and childbirth absolutely terrifies me! One idea I've been looking into is adopting older children (my husband was also adopted so he's very pro adoption). Perhaps even siblings. I love kids (not babies!) and love the idea of providing for those already in this world. I don't feel the need to create any :)

Laura
www.HappyroostBlog.com

Nancy said...

Once upon a time, I wanted four children. I was so sure. I was a teacher when I became pregnant with my first child, and still at home with her when I became pregnant with my second child. Then, the work-childcare issue became very real for me when I had a burning desire to go back to work. I attempted to work for two months. I still couldn't afford childcare and I was doing my job half-assed because I felt pulled in different directions. So, I gave up on working. My compromise? I'm stopping at two kids, much to my husband's disappointment. I'll go back to work when my oldest is in Kindergarten. One kid in daycare for a year feels more manageable than two kids in daycare for three or four years.
The realization that the longer I stay out of the workforce, the less relevant I become in my field is a scary and intimidating one. And now I feel fully justified in becoming a young (or young-ish) mother. At 32, I still have time to rebuild my career, without having to start completely over from scratch.
I see that a lot of readers commented that they had a child because they feared they'd regret it later. Parenthood is one of those decisions that really require you to put on your "future self" lens, and make a decision based on a possible future desire that has to be acted on in the present. That is scary! How often do we really have to make a decision like that? Nothing has the kind of permanence that parenthood does. But I also question whether that is a good enough reason to have a child. Those same readers also commented that they didn't regret it, though it was hard but that's not a guarantee. It just means that the right decision was made by those readers. And I wonder how much of the ambivalence is caused by this nagging feeling that not having a child/not wanting a child means that there must be something wrong with you?

Jane said...

I know exactly how Corrie feels. Growing up I NEVER wanted children. People assumed I didn't like kids in general; I've heard "You just don't like other people's kids, but you'll love your own" more times than I can count. Yes, if I were to have a child or two, of course I would love them, but that isn't the point! I couldn't say why I didn't want them, I just didn't.

About two years ago (right after I married my husband actually), I went from "NO" to "Eh". I'm sure there's some psychological or physiological reason behind this change in feeling, maybe a change in hormones or my relationship status. I have a great husband who would be a wonderful dad and would never leave me all alone to be a single parent. In my opinion, it's easier to entertain the thought of having kids when you're in a healthy relationship.

But as I said, I don't have that "YES" feeling, I feel "Eh". And it's a lousy feeling. Twice in my life (within the last year) I have had that "YES" feeling. The first time the feeling lasted all day, the second time it lasted a few hours. Then I got my period (too much information?) and I was back to "Eh". Those two "YES" times were terrifying, because I couldn't stop them, no matter what I said to myself. If, down the road, I get that feeling again and that time it doesn't go away, what am I going to do?? I'm turning 30 this year. I'm currently in school to get my degree in elementary and special education, and I have three years left. I can't do school and have a baby at the same time (especially since my husband is also back in school- we're broke!) so we decided to wait until I get out of school before we talk about having kids. Will I have that "YES" feeling at that point? If I am still at the "Eh" stage, will I tell myself just to go for it? I don't like the idea of having a kid just because I might want one in the future, but let's face it, I'll be 33 when I graduate and that's "getting up there" (not that many, many women in their late 30's don't have perfectly healthy babies, but it still concerns me). If I don't have a kid at that time, will I long for one later in my life, when I've missed my chance? I'd rather either feel "YES" or "NO"! I don't like the idea of one feeling or the other creeping up behind me while I'm going alone with my life, just waiting to strike.

Courtney said...

I grew up with the idea that I would be a mom just ingrained in me-- part of my religious culture. So I never considered anything else! I got pregnant after 2.5 years of marriage, and it wasn't planned, so it was a really hard transition for me, because I didn't feel ready, even though I knew it was what I wanted eventually. My daughter is almost 4 now, and I am just now ready to have another. I kind of resented that my choice was taken from me (both from my cultural upbringing and from an unplanned pregnancy) but my daughter is absolutely the light of my life. And being a parent has transformed me into such a better person, so I would never trade this experience. Some comments say that if you aren't 100% committed to the idea of having kids it means you're not ready. I definitely disagree. Even though I always expected to be a mother, I don't think I would ever have felt ready to do it. It's super scary, and it is definitely a sacrifice financially, socially, etc. I guess if I were you I would try to realize that a huge desire one way or the other will never hit you in the face. And if you wait until your age makes the choice for you, you might resent losing your choice. It's a lot of hard work, but I find making those sacrifices can often make you appreciate everything in your life that much more.

Alexa said...

Fascinating topic!

I've always known I am meant to be a mother. I can't describe it other than to say it's innate. I just feel it.

That said, if I don't ever meet my "One," I won't take matters into my own hands and raise a child alone. For me, the decision to have a baby is very much about making an "us," so the circumstances must be right.

Ginny Cook said...

Corrie,
Your writing is so thoughtful! I was COMPLETELY THE SAME WAY - and not just about babies, but a lot of things in life I realized. Marriage too (both my partner and I come out of divorced families.) I let things happen to be because of indecision (e.g. procrastinating until the last minute, letting jobs fall into my lap instead of seeking them out, etc.). My partner Chris also felt just as ambivalent about kids. Great.

What happened is this: I got *SURPRISE* knocked up, 2 months after getting engaged and finally started to wrap my brain around married life. It just "happened" to me (haha, not really of course).

To cut a long story short, I am still ambivalent about parenthood and so is my partner! I LOVE my 2 year old toddler girl, but there are many moments of lusting after a baby-free life. I have the same looking around, wondering how the hell other parents do it. I honestly don't know, because at times we feel we barely can make it, financially and emotionally. It has been very very tough on me as I negotiate my identity as a woman, an artist, a mother, etc.

But - and here's a positive note! - the love that has grown over the past 2 years, not only for my daughter but for my partner as I watch him learn to be a dad - is phenomenal. It's profound. It has changed me. And even if I am still 50/50 about having these changes to me, I kinda see it like therapy sessions: it's good pain. It hurts to grow.

Corrie, I really feel your struggle. Thank you for posting and thank you for sharing, Joanna!
Ginny

sumslay said...

I should start this out by saying that marriage also scares the crap out of me, so I clearly have some commitment issues to begin with.

I've never particularly wanted children either, for the reasons listed as well as the possibility that they could be huge disappointments and ruin your life (while parenting does influence children's lives, i'm a believer that genetics/crazy cannot be controlled and it's possible that you get what you get). Anyway, my questioning motherhood, to me, means I should prooooobably take that as a sign that I should not have children.

I will say, if I were a man and/or got to choose my kids, I'd totally have them. I love seeing happy families, and i'm pretty sure they exist (not perfect, but happy). As for being a man....they just have it so easy! Sure, they "help out" too, but it's not their "job" like it is a woman's job. I see posts all the time like, "My husband's so wonderful - he addressed and sent out all of Ava's birthday party invitations!" Or "He kept the baby all day so I could take a spa day! He's the best!" To this I say: Big shit. Women do the grunt work every day, and it's not noteworthy. Sorry, that's not how I want to spend my life.

Anonymous said...

Interesting! I have one child, who is almost three, and feel almost this exact same way about whether to have a second kid. With the added "do I want an only child" category to the list of pros and cons. Thanks for sharing!

The Jilly said...

I loved this post. I have been ambivalent myself for about 5 years (I am 30). However, I should note I haven't been in many serious relationships during that time. Perhaps if I were married I would feel differently, it is difficult to say.

I always said I didn't want to have children, but would follow that thought with the knowledge that this feeling could change someday. When I turned 25 I decided if I were to have children I didn't want them before 30 and would probably not want them past the age of 35 (for various reasons. I again, acknowledged that I could 'plan' all I wanted but feelings/circumstances are always subject to change). I now find myself within that window and I just can't decide.

I have a group of friends who are just beginning to have children and it is wonderfully excited to be a part of their lives during this transition. However, I also have a group of friends who have no intention of having children. I think this helps make me feel a little less out of place with my abivalence.

The bottom line is, I think it is a little dangerous for people to say "I wasn't sure either, but then I had a child and I don't regret. Just go for it." Or "you may regret it not having children later in life." Obviously, I paraphrase. It starts to feel like the pressure society places on people to do what is considered "normal." I think the experience is different for everyone. Hopefully, you will know which decision is right for you. At the moment I am not sure what decision is right for me either. But I think that's okay. Part of my reasons for not wanting children is fear (about money, raising a decent human being, giving up a certain sense of freedom, etc.) as someone else commented. I know this does not necessarily go away when one has made the decision to have a child, but I also know that at the moment my fear is great enough that having children is not an option for me and that is okay.

Thank you for this posting and I hope that you enjoy whatever decision you make Corrie, whenever that may be. Enjoy life.

J. Lewis said...

This post speaks my mind! I am 36 also, and my husband and I married when I was 32 and he was 36. We are both quite ambivalent about having children, and part of the reason is because we married later than almost all of our friends. We feel like we are still newlyweds, and we are enjoying this time together, just the two of us. I am very well aware, though, that we don't have the same luxury of time and waiting that our friends had. For me, that feels like the hardest part. We know we need to decide soon, and we are just not ready yet. I am so glad to know that we are not alone!

Erin said...

There is a big trade off. Life is never the same. It is good to see someone thinking about it rationally and not just jumping in. If you do have the feeling for a baby it can be strong and fly in the face of reason. Its great to go for it but make sure you know that the baby grows up. I have two kids and I'm a stay at home Mom. I love it and I think it would be good for ever potential parent to look into the "lifestyle" before committing. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Corrie! I can totally relate to what you are writing about, the only difference is that I am 30 now, oops,turning 31 this week. Anyways, I feel it is much easier for men, who can think about having children much longer than women.. My husband is also couple years younger than me.

Volha

{Liana} said...

Wow do I feel like someone just took the words right out of my head...my desire to have a baby is strong enough to know I should go for it, but not so strong that it says "now" and my 30's are already underway. Husband has been as ambivalent about it as I have...we're slow bloomers:)I think everything about life with kids gives us anxiety and so we choose to wait. I always felt like raising a kiddo would be the best time of my life and why rush getting to it? Starting to get our heads around it has helped, but it's not been a clear decision.

Anonymous said...

What a WONDERFUL post. I've always been 100% certain about the paths I've taken. I follow my gut and it has lead me to the perfect career, perfect husband and perfect city. My gut is dead silent when it comes to babies. When my husband and I talk about the subject, we seem to always mention things we'd like to accomplish before we take that step. So - we've made a 'pre-baby to do list' that includes big things like trips and small things like bike rides and late night movies. I'm hoping that when we check off that last item, my gut will be ready to lead us. Good luck!

Aunt Barb said...

I am 58 yrs old. No children. it was our choice. I'm not sorry I didn't have children...just wonder sometimes what it would have been like to have them. The hardest part of being child free is other people. People always tend to ask..how many children doyou have? When I reply, "I don't have any.". They don't know how to respond. They almost look at you likeyou have theplaque.

Children are wonderful. I have many nieces and newphews with whom I have very close bonds. I know it's not the same as one of your own, but they provide me the love and nurturing that comes along with children. I still have heartache over them at times, worry about them, share in their jous, etc.

Children provide no guarantees for us in our older years. We just buried my mothers significant other ( 91 yrs old). He had 3 children, as her laidnin the nursing home, then at assisted living and subsequently Hospice and death..none of kids were there to visit. Not even for his burial. Along with kids comes the threat of a lot of heartache also.

Good luck in your decision. Its very personal...please don't have a baby just because society thinks you should!

Anonymous said...

I'm in a childless marriage, by choice. We are both 44. I love children. I grew up in a large family (I am the oldest), with an emotionally absent mother, which may be what is behind this, for me. I've seen many of my friends "create the family they never had", with children of their own and I sometimes wonder when I'm going to wake up and wish that I'd made a different choice, but that has not happened. I don't think my husband ever questions his choice. Sometimes I feel like I was a mother, in my earlier life. I think, for me, my formative years were so emotionally stressful and I've come so far and am so happy to be in a healthy, supportive, loving relationship, with my husband and with myself, that I know that's why having no children is right, for me.

h to the eather said...

Corrie, thank you for verbalizing what I've been grappling with (29, married, my husband and I have good careers, we own a home) the "perfect recipe" ingredients are there, but so is the indecision (for both of us, as well). I too am waiting for some magical moment when "fate" will sway me one way or the other.
Thank you for making me feel a little less alone.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and its' responses. I'm a 22 year old college student (headed for grad school), and I have been dating the same guy for 4 years (who wants kids in the future). I find myself thinking about my potential future as a wife/mother/career women quite often even though many people would consider me too young to think about these things. When I do think about having kids one day, I find myself conflicted. Will I be able to financially support having kids? Will I lose my unique identity? My physical self? Will my relationship with a future spouse be as strong after having a child as before? Will I be able to feel accomplished even if I need to give up a traditional career to care for my children? Will I have enough energy and love to raise a child? Do I just want kids because of cultural pressure or the fear of being one day elderly and alone? It was comforting to read that many women who chose to have children are so glad they made that choice even with these doubts.

Suzanne said...

I figured that there were plenty of women that regretted not having kids (or not having 1 more child) but not quite as many mothers who say they regretted having children at all.

That's how we made our decision. We prayed for the right timing to be revealed to us, and were still confused, but just decided to pull the trigger and go for it!

gem said...

i love the comment by Anna Culp.
i wasnt sure when to have a baby but i was sure i would want one at some point. My husband was very eager to have an addition to our family but i wasnt so he respected my feelings and told me we should wait. finally when i felt that i wanted a baby before i turn 30 (just because) partly because i knew how patient hubby had been and how happy it would make him (i wasnt too excited about it though!) its so funny for me thinking about it now - because i realise i had very bad role modls around me of my friends who had 'difficult' babies and i didnt want my life turning out like theirs.

and then i got to thinking what if i decide i DO want a baby but i cant have one! i knew i would regret more not having a child than ever having one.

i strongly beleive that no matter how rich or poor you are a baby that is born is born with everything it needs and will be provided for somehow as long as there are two loving parents. For sure i wouldnt let a fear or worry about money make this decision for me.

so here i am at 27 with an 18 month old and i beleive that because my expectations of pregnancy and baby were quite low i was hugely surprised and may b ou will be too. i was lucky enough to have all my fears dashed and i cant think of anything that has made me happier since my son was born. the funny thing is altough i never had that 'urge' for my first pregnancy - i just cant wait to be pregnant again and i certainly have baby cravings riht now...lets see if i can squeeze in baby no 2 befoe im 30! i certainly hope so!

Moniblu said...

When I was younger I was more ambivalent, especially before meeting my husband. Having experienced a rough childhood with an alcoholic absentee father, and a depressed lonely single mother, I knew I couldn't let the cycle continue by having kids when the home and life I could provide wasn't "good enough" to be the mother I want to be.

I felt passionately that before I would have kids I would have the life I wanted, that for me meant a loving partner, a home to call our own, and a job that would allow me to give my children the life I want them to have, but also let me spend time with them. That does mean sacrificing a lot of high earning fields, but as long as we have "enough" and each other.

If motherhood is scary for me, which it still is, even while planning for it; my husband has no such qualms. And like other things we have embarked on before I know that if I have 100% of his support, and want children in my heart, then we will be successful.

Anonymous said...

I realize this is NOT THE SAME, but before I got a dog I kept thinking "Oh man, is this going to screw everything up? What about late nights? and travel? and the cost? and poop on the floor?" But I knew I wanted a dog so I took the plunge.

And 2 years later I'm so in love with my little doggie! And yes she poops on the floor sometimes and can be annoying and freaks out if I leave her alone- but she is full of LOVE and FUN and I am very glad I did it.

( I realize a baby is not a dog. I get it. Please don't yell at me for the comparison!)

Anonymous said...

I too am 50/50, I want a child 50% but I am also 50% uncertain that that is the path for my life. I have wondered if that makes me an anomaly. I am 27 nearing on 28 and as 30 seems closer than it does far...I am starting to feel unsettled about my ambivalence. I am not married but have been with the same guy for almost two years. He is 100% certain that he wants kids but not until he is married. When I imagine a life with this man the 50% of uncertainty fades. What I am saying is, his desire for children and the dynamic of our relationship seems to fill my 50% want for children to 100%...
Clearly, not the solution for everyone's ambivalence but it seems to be for mine.

Anonymous said...

i had a child under just these circumstances, i was 32 and split right down the middle. i had been married 5 years, in a not so great, but not so bad marriage. the pregnancy was unplanned, but we decided to go forward with it just the same. we figured it was A. the next step for our little family, B. the right thing to do and, C. who doesn't love a baby?. I have to be honest here and say, though I love my son to death, even 9 years later, every day of motherhood has been a struggle. every single day. beyond the strain it can take on your marriage, and beyond maintaining your personal identity through it all, it is one of those life choices that you have to really want for yourself. it's common to feel a little unsure, scared and unprepared for mothering. but i think there should be little grey area, you have to really, really want it.

JoL said...

so very nice to know I'm not alone!

until I was about 27 I was convinced that 1) I would never get married and 2) I would never have kids

but then I fell in love

and then got engaged

it did take me 10 years to marry him, and by that time I thought I had jumped the "nu baby" hurdle over to the "let's make a baby" side....

until on the eve of our 1 month wedding anniversary I found out he'd had a girlfriend for the past 6 months

EVERYTHING has come to a screeching halt -

I'll be 37 in two months - do I rush to try to find a partner, a "dad", and force the entire baby in to being? or do I chill, and enjoy my childless life, free to only worry about myself for the rest of my days?

it is a definate conundrum..... and heartwrenching either way......

Anonymous said...

Wow, I could have written this myself. I will be 37 in a few months and feel exactly the same. Sometimes I feel that we will regret not having kids but then we also enjoy the freedom it allows us. I also totally relate to the financial worries.

I also think woman have children for the wrong reasons, because it is the "next step" and that is what you do.

Great post!

Jennifer McCormick said...

What an amazing post! I feel the EXACT same way. 50/50. No idea why. Some days I'd LOVE to have a kiddo, other days not so much. Unfortunately, my husband feels the same way also. I sort of wish he were either pro-baby or anti-baby because then I could just go along with that. But for now, we're just enjoying our life and hoping a decision will come to us. My fear is that if I end up choosing no, I'll look back some day and regret that.

HeRo said...

Thank you to the anonymous poster who said adopt. I feel the same as Corrie and I'm 38 and single. I've never wanted kids badly enough to freeze my eggs and I don't think I'd go to extremes to have a child if it was challenging later. But I've always thought if it wasn't possible physically and I really wanted a child, I'd adopt.

Great topic, thanks for the post...you are not an anomaly!

blerg said...

This is such a great post. I'm in a similar- yet different- situation. I am 27 and sure that I want kids, but my boyfriend of 10 years is like the author- 50/50. Not having kids is a dealbreaker for me, so we can't move forward with getting married..or breaking up (which is frightening to think about) until he feels less ambivalent. So, we wait...and wait... He would be more interested in having kids if we could wait until we're 40, but as a PhD in child development I don't want to wait that long to conceive naturally. We've even discussed freezing some embryos to thaw and implant when I'm 40... but what if he's still unsure then? I feel like I understand the frustration of the author with ambivalence, because it makes so many things feel a little "on hold". Sigh. We'll figure it out, and I'm sure the author will too. To indecision!

Jess said...

You have no idea how great it was to read this article today. My boyfriend and I recently decided to end our 10 year relationship because of the marriage/kids issue. We were both undecided in our 20s and just recently discovered that we want different things. I want kids and he doesn't. I always thought we would end up on the same page about it but we didn't. I found this article extremely comforting during a very sad time in my life.

Anonymous said...

I read an interesting quote from Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm's longtime girlfriend, about people asking if they will ever have kids. Her response was something along the lines of:

The fear of regretting not having kids in the future is not a strong enough reason to have them right now.

I thought this was well put....

Molly said...

This will be a long comment, but I want to address a few things you touched on.
*Age*: When you have kids isn't a matter of age. It's a matter of being ready to pour your love out on tiny human beings. I actually think that the longer we wait to have kids, the more set in our ways we are and less flexible we want to be. And I emphasize "want to be." So I don't think waiting until your older helps in the decision making.
*Money*: Yes, daycare is expensive. I know--I work full time. Here's the thing. If you don't work (and stay home with your child--supported by your husband, for example), your working income and daycare expenses are both $0. If you love love love your job and want to pursue your career while being a mom, and you have to put your entire paycheck toward daycare, your income/expenses (depending on where you live and the cost of daycare) may still equal $0. Having a child does not mean you have to give up your career. What it means is that you and your husband may have to give up the extra $$ you would have made if you both pursued your careers without having kids. So it's not your career that is the question (since you really can do both). It's the $$. So sincerely ask yourself this: Is that extra $$ and the luxuries you can buy with it more important to you than having a child? (I worked in a job I didn't love for the last couple of years and resented having to pay daycare and not be home with my kids. Now I'm in a job I love and the daycare costs don't bother me anymore. Keep that in mind.) On that note, where are the husbands in this picture? My husband stayed home with our kids for the first year and a half. The KEY to having careers AND kids is having a husband who is truly willing to share the responsibilities. Be sure you are both on board with sharing this child, otherwise you will be pursuing a career and raising a child on your own. And I think that's lame. Make sure your man will "man up" in the baby arena.
*Earlier life decisions*: It does work out. It will work out. If we all waited to have kids until we were perfectly financially independent and the stars aligned, no one would have kids. They are part of the journey. Not the icing on the cake once we're done with the journey. My kids are part of my journey.
*Waiting for the urge*: The fact that you're waiting for an urge tells me you're kind of hoping it hits. Does that say anything about which way you're hoping the scale tips?

K, that was a lot of rambling. I hope that gave you a little more to think about!

Kiley Kate said...

Really interesting perspective. Some of Corrie's pros and cons really hit home with me as a person who wants to one day have children. I chose a less than lucrative career, my boyfriend did too, child care is so astronomically expensive that it might be worth it for one of us to stay home with the baby, should I move closer to my parents? Luckily I have some time to think about it (I'm only 23) and I'm hoping that I'll have it figured out. Although, my parents always told me that if people waited for the RIGHT time to have a baby they would never have them.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely, honest and brave post.

I have a 5 yr old son after much ambivalence and tossing and turning over it. All the things everyone else has said are true (you love them a great deal, etc.) However a lot of those feelings are great biological defense mechanisms because you can't go back. Once you have had a child, they consume your life in every way imaginable (and some unimaginable) and you MUST feel that you love them more than anything, that they are the most important thing you've ever done, etc. Because otherwise (objectively, logically) it is the most one-sided relationship imaginable.

I'm a good and loving mother, but I often wish we had made a different choice. The "fulfillment" of motherhood is periodic (10%ish of the time for me) and the remaining 90% is exhaustion and boredom as we talk about the same topic for the umpteenth time that day. Motherhood isn't what it appears in movies or mommy blogs, and some are better suited for it than others. The women that I know that don't feel this way (and find it insulting) couldn't have imagined their lives without children. I definitely could have, and still do.

ClareJR said...

This was a very interesting, honest post. My husband and I have a little 8-month-old dude, so I'm coming from that perspective. I have no idea why we decided to have him - we just looked at each other one day and said, "let's have a family - more than just us two". We thought - we've been married for almost 5 years, we love each other and have relatively stable jobs, so why not now? I figured that I could always find reasons not to - money, time together, freedom to travel, etc. - so looking for those felt dishonest, like I could just pick an excuse out of a hat. And we had confidence in our relationship that we could rely on each other - to learn together, to figure stuff out as we go along, and to make sure we were on the same page as we helped our little one make his way through the world.
I think I was more intrigued with the being pregnant part, not realizing everything that came with his arrival. I'm kind of glad I didn't think about it too much, though, as I would have been overwhelmed with anxiety about the prospect of raising a child, and doing everything 'right'.
So I guess, I had no idea why I did it, but I can't tell you how in love I am with my son. It's a feeling completely different from anything I've ever felt before, so I'm so thankful we were able to have him.

Emily said...

I really appreciate this post- I'm in a similar situation, but with a twist.

After years of trying and medical procedures, it's clear that my husband & I are simply unable to have children. Back when we were trying, I really, really wanted children with every shred of my being. There was no question in my mind.

However, as time has gone on and we have moved past the emotional hurdles of infertility and failure, we have begun to realize that maybe life isn't so bad without children. Time has healed our wounds and we're in such a happy, amazing place today.

I can say with great honesty that I could be happy and fulfilled without children---maybe it's because I know I'll never have a biological child or maybe it's because of my past experiences--but it's quite clear to me today.

I think life is about making your own decisions, choosing the right path for your life and working to be deliriously happy. And that is not the same traditional path for everyone.

Emma C said...

My baby ambivalence often feels like the elephant in the room - I can't really explain it, my friends are confused by it, _I_ am confused by it, I don't know how to talk about it. The idea of never getting the urge terrifies me just as much as the idea of waking up one day and suddenly wanting kids. I almost started crying as I read your post and all the comments that followed. It means so much that my elephant and I aren't alone in here.

Molly said...

Clarification to my comment: When I said, "And I think that's lame." I was referring to a husband who doesn't carry his own weight in the kid department. Not the idea of pursuing a career and raising a child on your own. Just realized someone could easily read that wrong.

REBECCA CRALL said...

I can't believe someone finally wrote the EXACT same thing that I have been feeling ever since my husband and I got married almost two years ago. Everyone, and i mean EVERYONE, is just assuming that a baby must be on the way. But my husband and I are just as you said: completely 50/50 about having a child. Somedays I can't imagine growing older and not having a child but at the same time I just can't imagine how I would be happy having one. It seems so hard to find the right balance. Most people I even bring this up to think I'm nuts. They just assume that is what you do!! This was THE BEST blog post I have read in a long time. Thanks you Corrie! And thank you Joanna, what would we do without you? :)

C. said...

Oh my goodness, talk about over-thinking things! I did exactly the same when I was thinking of having a baby and it brings back old memories to see it all written down so eloquently.

I don't believe that everyone feels that 'bowl you over' urge, I certainly didn't. In the end the deciding factor for my husband and I was that we couldn't imagine our lives very clearly WITHOUT children. When we imagined our lives in the future, it was always with children. The more I began to picture that life the more I wanted it and the more I felt like it was waiting for me, so that's when I decided I was ready.
After I had my daughter, THAT was when I felt that urge. When I look at her or when I think about her, I feel is an intense ache and I feel even more crazy in love with her than I did when I first met my husband.

As for money, it was a concern for me too. All of those things you listed that were earlier life decisions, they could all be corrected if that's what you wanted. You can move close to your parents, find somewhere more affordable. People raise happy and successful children on VERY little money when they have to. My husband and I started a savings account when we married and adjusted some of our expenses so that when I wasn't able to work for a while, we still managed.

You could also see a financial advisor/planner to discuss how you'll cope on one salary.

Everyone told me and now I'm telling you - you make it work.

All the best with your decision, I know how hard it is to take that first step. Keep in mind that if you choose not to have your own children, it doesn't mean you can't have children in your life later on. There are so many ways to help raise a child that isn't your own. X.

Kerry said...

Great thoughts...

I was slightly ambivalent about my first, now i can't imagine life without him, although at times it can be tough to pursue your own life's ambition.
Now i feel even more ambivalent about subsequent children, now that i know what it takes to raise one child, but i feel like a sibling would benefit and add to his life experience. So who do you have a baby for, your children or yourself??

Jordan Jaked said...

My friends and sisters are all starting to really settle down. Marriages. Mortgages. Babies. Promotions.

I'm simply getting ready to start school in the fall to pursue my MFA. With that said, I definitely feel the pressure. When hold their newborns or stand next to them at their weddings, I want what they have.

I gently remind myself, however, that my life isn't the same. I want different things. I have these big dreams and goals that don't involve having a family of my own until later in life.

I've been in and out of unhealthy relationships that make me stumble over my dreams for a while, and I've just realized that this is my time to be alone. To enjoy what the world has to offer before I 'settle down.'

With that said, I definitely want to raise a baby someday. I want to provide a loving home for a child and share with him/her everything that I love about the world. Everything that I've found happiness in. The cool thing about kids is, besides for food, water, sleep, and an occasional bath, they only require love. That's entirely subjective, mind you, but true.

At my age, I'm not capable of selflessly loving anyone else--be it a husband or a child.

My dilemma is whether I want multiple children. I have three sisters who I can't imagine my life without. They are my best friends and my confidants. I am not sure I want to subject my child to a life without siblings, but I'm not sure I want more than one child.

Being a woman is just tough sometimes. It's a good thing I have a few years to figure this out.

My advice: if you reach your 40s and decide you still want a child, adopt one. You don't have to be of 'child-bearing' age to raise one. :)

Annie said...

So glad to see this post. I love kids and think they're fantastic, but part of me wonders if I'll ever consider myself ready to have kids. Like Corrie, my partner and I don't have lucrative careers and don't live near either set of parents. How does anyone ever afford a child? What if you don't like your child? What if your child requires major medical/educational attention and you can't afford it? And I know people who aren't billionaires or totally settled who have kids and are great parents. It works. But I still get overwhelmed by the idea.

Jordan Jaked said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Regarding Suzanne's comment about there being more women who regret not having kids than having kids, and making a decision that way... I actually think that is completely backwards. I think you'd be surprised how many women regret having kids although they won't usually admit it publicly. As another poster said, once people become parents, they also have a built-in defense mechanism... if they didn't, more people would be abandoning their kids. In contrast, most women who didn't have kids (but had the option) thought it through very carefully... usually more carefully than those who DO have kids do before they get pregnant. Even most of my friends who are parents will admit that.

And, one of those two situations is much more irreversible. It's pretty hard to reverse having kids, but if one waits too long to have kids, one can usually adopt or have foster children.

Anonymous said...

Who is ever 100% ready to have kids? Not most people, and I certainly wasn't. We were happily surprised. Don't wait, it won't get easier with age or more money. If you're ambivilant, I say go for it because you won't be disappointed either way. I'm not rich, but I manage to work full time and I've kept my husband for the past 3 years with a kid. I agree that deciding on having another baby has been a more difficult topic than being surprised with the first kid. It must be something about knowing exactly what to expect the next time around! Best wishes, and whatever happens will end up being the right thing for you.

Abby - Bright Yellow World said...

I am so relieved reading this - I've often felt like the only one! I, too, could go either way on kids. And I feel crazy, because it seems like something that I should have a strong feeling about! But... I don't. Or, rather, I have many strong feelings, all of which conflict with one another.

eastcoastbird said...

What a powerful post. I can't fully relate as I have always wanted to be a mother and am finally expecting my first child at age 33 in about a month. All I can advise is, I have never met anyone with children that regrets it. With that said, this included friends who planned to conceive, those who did not, those who weren't sure if they wanted to be parents but conceived. So, I am thinking that if 50% of your wants a child or children then you should do it, because I have hear from so many people, including perfect strangers on the street that it is the best thing you could ever do, but you just won't know it until you actually do it.

stacy said...

I commend Corrie for being so thoughtful about bringing a child into the world if she is not sure. WOuldn't it be amazing if everyone was so thoughtful about something so important? I had my one and only child at 34 and didn't really have an overwhelming urge to get pregnant until I was about 31. We discussed it over and over for a couple of years, getting more excited with time, so I guess that's how we knew we wanted to experience being parents and all that comes with it. What I think people get excited about is having a "baby", and not really always stopping to realize you are raising another person way beyond babyhood. Huge emotional and financial commitment. Im so glad we decided to become parents and wouldn't change a thing! But I can see and sympathize with someone who is not as clear.

Anonymous said...

I never had 'baby fever' and my husband didn't push to have a child. However, we threw caution to the wind because it was better than the awful state of indecision I was in. We had a baby boy when we were 37, who we love so much. Years passed and I wondered if we should have another so that he would have a sibling. I didn't really want another for myself nor did my husband. But the urge to have one for my son's sake started to grow. All the while we debated whether we really wanted one or not. Again we let the fates decide. I got pregnant and had a miscarriage and that triggered in me a deep desire to have another - again largely for my son, but I KNEW I wanted another. A year and a half later we hadn't conceived and went to a fertility clinic. 2 weeks after a work up we learned my husband has testicular cancer. He had an operation 2 weeks ago and starts chemo on monday - which will end our chances to conceive (takes 2 years for sperm to come back and we are now 42...). So today I am trying to get through to my Dr. to get a referral to a psychologist to deal with "secondary infertility" -a term I only learned today.
I was on the fence for so long and now that the possibiliy of having another is gone I am devastated.

diana said...

I ALWAYS wanted children; I had them. And I truly appreciate Corrie's decision on indecision. It's just the way it is. I have indecisions like that for other parts of my life, I understand NOT KNOWING an answer. It's good, it's cathartic to speak the truth out loud, it helps a lot for clearing the mind.

Anonymous said...

If you think people - normal, educated people - don't regret being mothers, try Googling "I hate being a mom" or "motherhood sucks."

Most people don't admit to regreting it because doing so would be so emotionally-crippling. How can you admit to regretting doing something that you absolutely can't reverse (at least without being a social pariah) and must live with for the next couple decades? It's hard enough to think that you made a misstep by, say, quitting a job you regret quitting, or marrying someone you regret marrying (or getting married at all!) But having a baby is (no pun intended) the mother of all decisions. To remain sane (and force yourself to keep taking care of the kid) you have to say you wouldn't change a thing, or at least that you're okay with it now that you have it.

Anonymous said...

Agreed its not for everyone however...
The only thing a women will regret is not having a baby, once you have a child life takes on a different perspective. A baby is not a baby forever, there will never be enough money, and the people you work for are waiting at home for you.
I had my son when I was 15, I worked as a waitress for years then a manager of restaurants then I became a helicopter pilot while my son was a tween. At 34 I decided to go to university and get that degree I always wanted. My accomplishments as a mother far outweigh my accomplishments as a professional.
Good luck with your decision.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to chime in to say that this describes me perfectly as well! You are not not not alone in feeling this way, and I have been heartened reading comments here from people who feel similarly, because it just doesn't come up easily in conversation these days!

I am 35 and married, and my friends are all starting to have kids (I'm a year or two older than many of my friends). I think I will be happy however we decide to go (given that we still have a decision to make...we're not sure if we're fertile or not...there are so many circles of thinking about this...I could go on, and have many times! ;) )

Best of luck to you as you figure this out. I am right there with you.

Kristi said...

The best way I've ever heard it explained is that you and your partner have so much love that you have to have someone else to share it with. We felt exactly that way...after 4 years of marriage and at 28 and 36, we wanted to be able to share our happiness with more people. Having kids is like creating your own little reality of a group of the awesomest people ever.

Loren S. said...

Your honesty is deeply moving. There is no right answer and maybe your ambivalence is your answer. Spend time with your friends with kids and gauge your feelings afterward. Maybe you'll adore just being an Auntie? All decisions are legitimate and only you and your hubbie can make them.

Also, I want to add that the Ruth Orkin photograph is gorgeous! Joanna, you have a beautiful eye for choosing absolutely breathtakingly fabulous photos! Thank you for finding them and sharing them with all of us and bringing something else that's bigger to our days!

Anonymous said...

I didn't actually see any arguments for having children in this article. These are the authors reasons for not having children. She has fallen victim to a number of fallacies, in my opinion. Probably the most problematic is that there is a particular way that women are "supposed" to feel about children (or anything). The second is that money will solve all worries, or that it can't be done unless you have a certain amount of money. The third is that women can't do things they want to do when they have children. So many examples of why that's not true- Dara Torres in the Olympics, anyone? The author needs to write the other side- why does she WANT to have a baby?

Andrew and Crystal said...

My husband and I felt the same way. We wanted kids, but we didn't want kids. Then, we got pregnant unexpectedly. We weren't "trying" but we weren't not "trying" which maybe was our subconscious putting the option to the universe and saying "Okay, universe, are we meant to be parents???" If we weren't meant to be parents, then we wouldn't get pregnant, right? Totally crazy logic! But at the same time, I think if we had the left the decision completely up to our rational minds, we probably would never have had a our son. I don't think anyone is ever really truly ready to have a kid, no matter how much they say they are. If you aren't a parent, there is no way of foreseeing what you would be like as a parent. You can imagine it, and you can spend your time with other people's kids, and you could really really want to be a parent, but you will never know until you are one. Our son is 2 and we're pregnant with our second, and there are still times when I question whether I'm meant to be a Mom even though I am one (so obviously, this was meant to be, right?) But I'm learning that this is in my nature and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the actual question of "am I meant to be a Mom?." I think the fact that I ask myself that question is unrelated to being a parent and just a reflection of a deeper part of myself. Maybe your ambivalence has less to do with actually having a baby but more about some other part of you? Just some thoughts to ponder... and good luck in your search!

Audra's Ally said...

I am 29 years old (my birthday is today!) and I am unmarried, with a boyfriend, no children. I have known since I was 4 or 5 that I was destined for motherhood. I dreamed of being the first one of my friends to meet someone and be married with children long before others even had the thought. Now, at 29, I still know that there is a future family for me, but I have been (pleasantly) surprised that I have exercised such restraint to make sure that I meet the man for me and the future I dream of. My boyfriend and I dream of our children we'll have one day - but knowing that I have created this safe (as I can create), loving and wonderful home, that, to me, is the first step in creating the life I've always dreamed of. If I haven't been created to be a mother, I'm not sure what my purpose is here in this life.

I enjoyed reading - thanks!
-Audra

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who had a child at age 15 and said, "The only thing a women will regret is not having a baby, once you have a child life takes on a different perspective"...

That is insulting and flat-out untrue. And, having a child when you don't even really have your own identity yet, and NEVER having been an adult without a child, is very different from having one when you've lived 30, 35, 40 years, with many childless adult years.

Anonymous said...

I am 34 and have 3 kids. I never thought I would have kids but I became pregnant unexpectedly when I was 31. When my daughter was 8 weeks old, I became pregnant again.. with twins. So I went from not sure about having kids, to having 3, all within a year. I am in baby hell right now so maybe you shouldn't take my opinion. I love my kids but it is tough!!!!!!!!!!! Every day I dream of not having kids. Would I change it? Not necessarily but I would wait until you are maybe a little over 50% :)

rachael said...

I love the comment that Sarah said, someone told her, "you know the reason most people have kids don't you - they get pregnant." That's how I feel when I see so many friends or peers having babies, especially on their own or without a husband...they all seem happy now, but it seems like they didn't have much of a 'decision' to make (other than to have the baby).

I am so glad to read this - I too am very on the fence about kids, I am leaning more towards not wanting them, though I'm still young. I always feel like since I'm young, I will also have an "aha!" moment when I just fall in love with the idea of a baby - but I haven't yet.

I don't dislike kids but I also don't love them either. I always feel like there is something wrong with me because everyone around me goes crazy when there's a baby around, and I usually couldn't care less. I also love my boyfriend and can't imagine how hard it would be to maintain our relationship when we already have so many things to juggle.

I'm hoping a lightning bolt hits me someday - if not, I can always just be a really great aunt ;)

Ms. A said...

I'm a 33 year-old, single professional woman working in the arts in Boston. I grew up in the middle of Texas with all the southern girls that got married and started having babies right out of college. It's funny because I remember so badly wanting to be like them...have the husband and the baby and drink lemonade, throw BBQs and wear pastel skirts that never suffered the pain of a mustard potato salad stain. I really, really wanted to be just like them. And I tried for a long, long time to do so. In the end, after several failed relationships and even more disastrous fruit salad attempts, I had to accept that it just wasn't me. I own a black wardrobe, drink black coffee, and spend the majority of my money on cheap wine, take out and cab fare. Don’t ask me how old my best friend’s children are because as cute as I may think them to be (most of the time, anyway), I honestly have no idea. Maybe 3 years old? Maybe 5? Can’t say for certain. Sometimes I feel ashamed for not getting on the baby train - like I'm rebelling against the very thing I was genetically engineered to do. That's not to say that the man and the baby might not make an appearance somewhere down the line - but I've never known The Urge for either. If it happens, cool. If not, cool. Nothing is guaranteed - so to live life strumming your nails on the proverbial kitchen table, waiting for or fretting over something never promised to you, seems an exorbitant waste of time to me. Women are fortunate these days; we can talk about being on the 50/50 line with marriage and babies and careers and such. We get to mull it over and ultimately decide what feels good for our own lives. High five to that. Today is just another Monday in my tiny world in Boston. I’ll finish out my day at the office, I’ll go have a beer and nachos with a friend after work and then head home to my dog and Mad Men on the DVR. What is there not to love about that? Let the rest unfold as it will…

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I pictured my future life with kids, so when my husband and I finally agreed to start trying I thought I was ready. However, we got pregnant on the first try and I now find myself feeling excitement and fear at different points. I am very excited to meet this new little part of our family, but also very cognizant of the fact that this changes our lives forever. If we had waited until we both were 100% "baby crazy" I think I would still have been on the pill today... It is such a huge decision to me that I respect anyone who takes the time to really weigh their options and feelings.

Also, thank you to all the moms out there who commented saying that they also felt sort of freaked out throughout their pregnancy at different points. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who is not walking around in a blissful pregnancy-induced haze!

Chessa! said...

Joanna, once again you are opening up a dialogue on something that is so important and relevant to women AND to men.

I always knew I wanted a baby and that "someday" was so abstract until suddenly it wasn't. You know about my struggles to conceive and for me I was so not "eh" or undecided or whatever that I was completely in the opposite direction of YES -- when it didn't happen for us for so long I wondered whether we should just give up and we wondered whether our lives would feel complete without a child. I wouldn't say "incomplete" bc we felt so fulfilled by each other and by how we lived our lives and our work but I just knew I wanted to be a parent. Now however I go back and forth, actually we both do, on whether to have another one. It never occurred to me to have "just one" bc I always just assumed that there would be more. But what's wrong with single children families? I have a loot of friends who are only children and they are wonderful and had amazing childhoods. My daughter has four cousins and they all love each other. After our experience conceiving our daughter I just don't know if I can put myself (and my husband) through that again. The hormones, the desperation, what happens if it doesn't happen? The anxiety and stress...and the fact that I'm not like "yes! absolutely! let's do this!" is a major sign for me that we're either not ready for another one or that we just don't want another one. That sounds so harsh to me that it hurts me to even write it. I wasn't expecting these feelings. Yet, at the same time, I feel like I need to have another one. My friends recently had their second and I was giving him a bottle the other day and the smell was so delicious and the way he was cuddling brought me back to when my toddler was a newborn and I actually started crying and really wanting another one! I wondered if other families went through this indecision and I'm so happy they do...I mean, not happy that they are so confused but glad that I'm not alone or somehow strange for having these very real feelings.

Part of me feels like we are "complete" as a family and part of me feels like we're not...and then I feel guilty thinking like somehow what we have is not enough and I am cheating my baby out of a sibling. It's so much back and forth. We are 50/50 on a second like Corrie and her husband are on one. I obsess over it to the point where I have to snap myself back to the moment and see all of the wonderful things we have as a family of three.

Rebeka said...

Thank you for this post, I appreciate it so much. I feel the EXACT same way. I don't really want a child, but I'm open to the though of having one if ever the "urge" hits. Everyone says that having a child is "so rewarding" but on a day to day basis, most of the (stay at home) mothers I know don't really seem to be enjoying it.

I also often feel like I shouldn't have a child - mostly because of my career choice. Going to grad school for three years and going hundreds of thousands of dollars into student loan debt should be for a reason. I don't want to leave my career for a child. I think I would be resentful.

But part of me really wants to want to have a child.

It's such a weird feeling. It's also hard when I tell people I don't really want a child. Everyone's reactions always seem so negative.

I'm glad you feel somewhat similar. This post made me feel oddly comforted. Thank you!

Rebeka said...

Thank you for this post, I appreciate it so much. I feel the EXACT same way. I don't really want a child, but I'm open to the though of having one if ever the "urge" hits. Everyone says that having a child is "so rewarding" but on a day to day basis, most of the (stay at home) mothers I know don't really seem to be enjoying it.

I also often feel like I shouldn't have a child - mostly because of my career choice. Going to grad school for three years and going hundreds of thousands of dollars into student loan debt should be for a reason. I don't want to leave my career for a child. I think I would be resentful.

But part of me really wants to want to have a child.

It's such a weird feeling. It's also hard when I tell people I don't really want a child. Everyone's reactions always seem so negative.

I'm glad you feel somewhat similar. This post made me feel oddly comforted. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for sharing. It's so good to know I'm not alone. 29 here and completely, painfully unsure if I want kids or not. My husband is on the same page, too. For awhile, I kept saying I "probably didn't want kids" because I felt like I'd have this serious urge like people who cannot live without children, but I got a lot of pushback from people and I didn't feel like it truly represented my opinion, either. I love kids- I love my niece, and I volunteer to teach. I love my job- and often I use the barriers it places to having a kid as my "excuse", but this made me think about that. If I totally wanted a kid, I'd do it, screw the logistics. But I don't, and I'm not sure I ever will.

bananafish said...

Great post...I would have loved something like this ten years ago when I grappled with my own ambivalence. I now hover near 40 and am 100% childfree and quite happy it. I often describe the choice to not have children as something I had to evolve into. There was never a day or a moment when I just knew.

What I did know was that for me, half wanting a kid was not enough.

The fear of possible regret was not enough.

Wanting someone to care for me when I got old was not enough.

I know plenty of mothers that adore their kids, but one of my friends once said to me..."of course I love my kid...what choice do I have?" That made me realize--uncertainty was the only emotion that was constant for woman with or without kids, and having them doesn't seem to make the 50/50 feeling go away.

Clare said...

I felt exactly the same. In the end I decided that in 20, 30 years I would regret not having children more than having children, and decided to go for it. To naturally then find out we had fertility issues! We do now have two great kids, I don't regret them for a minute. Having said that I think I would still have been happy without, life would just have been difficult. The difficult choices are easier ( not necessarily easy!) - you feel differently about many of them. Btw I've noticed I'm not one for dramatic panoramas of emotion, in that, for example I didn't feel instant, overwhelming love for my kids - I love them deeply, but it's a slow, quiet, deep thing, something that grows each day as I know them more. That seems characteristic of me, I don't think I could have been a baby lust person by nature - is this by any chance true of you? With best wishes, Clare

Melissa T. said...

I was terrified of parenthood. I wasn't excited to give up my freedom and way of life. The cost of children? Yikes! What I learned is that I was missing out. Fretting about the cost is silly. You will always work it out. Giving up freedom? You will grow tremendously as a person. Sacrificing sleep and other things starts to come more easily when you have the precious gift of a child.

Megkathleen said...

While I am different from Corrie and that I want want WANT to be a mama I am similar to her in that I am worried as to what will happen to my career when I do.

I agree that women who seem to balance work and life successfully are few and far between. However, they are out there and I LOVE them for showing me that it can be done.

I know that if it's important enough to me that I can make it happen. I also know going into it that my husband will support me every step of the way and I don't think I could take such a big step in my life without knowing that he was behind me 100%.

Chantel B. said...

Lots of a great replies and an interesting post!

I really do agree with those who say you have to be ready but in all reality lets face it: you are never 100% ready. It might have been my hairstylist who said that but she was totally right! If you wait for the "right time" it may never arrive at your doorstep. What I will say is that you must have some want for children.

I am 28 and currently pregnant with my first and I'll be the first to say that I never had a HUGE love for kids. But I have definitely noticed my mothering instincts kick in the last year or two. We have a dog right now and it takes everything to not want to dress him up and push him around in a stroller, haha (I'm kiddding...kinda!). A couple years ago I thought I was pg and eventually found out I was not. The main feeling I had was relief. Two years later: the same thing happened and this time I was terribly disappointed. Needless to say, I knew I was ready! There is no right or wrong answer. Everyone should live their lives according to their own rules and not everyone is meant to have children. For those on the fence I would say really listen to your gut and ask yourself, "Will I feel any regret later in life if I don't have children?" Hopefully you'll get your answer!

13bees said...

maybe it would be helpful to imagine a dozen years ahead and ask honestly if not having kids might be a regret.

either way, you can never, ever be 100% sure about matters of love. they all require a leap of faith in some respect.

Clare said...

Oops should have proof read - life would have been different, not difficult! Original comment a couple up from this addendum.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the issue of mothers regreting having children, and the belief many people seem to have that regret is very rare...

There is a big difference between loving being a mother/not wanting to trade it for the world/thinking it's so much better than what you were doing before, and simply loving your kids. My own mother has said repeatedly that she wishes she had never had children. But, she stresses that she's happy she has us. Few mothers would want to give their children away, but that doesn't mean they don't regret having them in the first place. A lot of people (and especially well-educated people who had full lives before they had children), when you get them in a heart-to-heart discussion, will admit that if they had it to do all over again, they probably wouldn't have had their kids. Yet, they love their kids. Loving your kids now that they exist doesn't mean you don't wish you'd made a different decision. But, saying you wish you'd never had kids is usually understood to mean that you don't love your kids and aren't a good mother, and women are terrified of being perceived in that way, so they often won't admit to wishing they'd taken a different path.

Also - here's an interesting point to consider. I recently took an Adult Development psychology class (as a prereq for a graduate program.) A lot of what we covered was just commonsense, but I think it explains why some people feel so strongly that the experience of becoming a parent was so important, and that it changed them in such a positive way, while others don't. Adults do not stop developing mentally and emotionally when they leave adolescence. But, continued development throughout adulthood is only a relatively recent area of study in psychology. Researchers have found (here's the commonsense thing) that certain challenges lead to development (with specific definition of development which is beyond the scope of this comment.) Formal education, paid work, and relationships are all arenas which can lead to development.

At least anecdotally, those women who are most adamant about the "growth" which comes from parenthood (and who are convinced nobody is a valid, mature adult until they have children) are those who have children when they're younger and who have less formal education. And of course there is a high correlation between having children younger, and having less formal education, and non-professional work (if any work.) The point is that for many, having children is the key "challenge" in their life which promotes growth. They haven't gone to college and grad school, they haven't traveled and interacted with a lot of different people, and they haven't held professional jobs. They feel their own growth so strongly that they are convinced this experience is key for everyone, when in reality, there are many ways to mature and become responsible adults.

Laura said...

The way I knew I should never have children: I imagined my ten-year-old child, not an adorable infant, sitting next to me. I asked her, "do you want to be born"? Her answer was "no".

Many of these other comments focus on the WANTING aspect of motherhood and babies, but not many comments focus on the child itself. A baby becomes a person- a person who will have to live in this very complicated world of ours. If every fiber of your being is calling out to raise a person into adulthood- healthy or not- then, by all means, go for it. But it sounds like that's not the case.

You know the line from the famous Kennedy speech, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country?" Ask not what a child can bring to YOUR life, but what YOU can bring to his or her life.

Lost in Provence said...

I won't write what I want to say if I read the other comments so I will jump ahead for now but just say that I hope that the truly heart-felt thank you that I feel will get through somehow.

I am 42 now so life is starting to decide for me. I was always on the fence as well but was alone as a NYC non-Sex in the City type girl until I met my honey when I was 32. Until then my life was my career, which was acting and it demanded everything. When I met my love I realized that I was tired of only portraying the lives of others and not having one of my own. We started a new life together, one where he is a well-established photographer and I started out as a travel writer. The years passed quickly, then the economic crisis when I stopped having work and then the questions that had been lingering headed up to the front of the class. Well, my honey was certain no, I had a fibroid surgery that went awry...and there you are. Which means still in the void...and yes, I live in France but we do NOT have enough money to have a child even with the ample help from the government. The women hear look at me with a bit of pity--especially as I am not working currently and I "don't even have children". It is an odd situation that only our generation has had to deal with. I send my best to all that are going through this struggle. Just as we can't understand what it is to be a mother, our friends can't understand all of the challenges that come with not being one.

Lilly and Liz said...

I had always wanted to be a mother, and it's been the experience of a lifetime. I can't believe our amazing little boy came from us! There were (and are) many sacrifices and negative emotions in the process, but reading your post made me feel that you are not factoring in something huge: the love you'll feel for that little person. It is astounding and difficult to imagine before the experience. If I were you, I would make sure my decisions are not based on fear. Sometimes, people internalize certain things and make them into beliefs: maybe the parents were not happy with parenthood, or it cost too much emotionally for the mother, or the marriage suffered. I battled with some of those beliefs, but I also remembered that it's my life, and I can make different decisions that my parents.

Kate Herd said...

30 and married. Some days, I'm desperate for kids. Some days, I can't bear the thought of them.
I work full time. We have a small house. We have a boat. We have a car. My parents live on another continent. I have a 14-year-old stepson. I sing in a choir with a 2-hour evening rehearsal. I love tower-bell ringing. I love reading for hours in bed. I love lazy Sunday mornings.

Am I ticking? I have no idea!

Magdalena's Madrid said...

Thanks so much for sharing this essay. I feel like it was written just for me or that I could have written it myself. So nice to hear it discussed.

Laura said...

I was 110% ready to have kids. I love my girls. I love being their mother. But if I hadn't wanted it so badly, I think motherhood might have broken me at times (I'm picturing that scene in the Ya Ya Sisterhood when Viv goes loses her mind.): from the big things, like chronic illnesses, to the cumulative little things like how long it has been since I've had a manicure. And balancing work and motherhood is difficult. I really like what I do. I want my girls to know (especially because they are girls) that they can do big and exciting things with their lives. But right now, those big and exciting things (being a mom and doing stuff at my job) represent a zero sum game. Big stuff at work, takes me away from big stuff with the girls and v/v. And right now, missing big stuff with the girls sort of breaks my heart. I know when they get older being away from them might get easier (ie, my baby will be off the boob). But right now, I'd love to dial back my hours to about 20/week. Which means not really being competative for some opportunities and also possibly becoming a target for the next reduction in force. All that said, almost inexplicably (when you consider the lack of sleep or tiem to dry my hair) I have never in my life been happier. They put things into perspective. They fill me with joy. But honestly, if I hadn't been so over-the-top ready to have kids, I don't know if that would be the case. You have to do what is right for you. Just because someone else balanced being a mom and amazing something or other, just because someone else finds motherhood peaceful and perfect, just because a million things, doesn't mean it is right for you.

Tournesol said...

I think if at 36 or so a person really doesn't want a child 100% they probably shouldn't have one. A child deserves a 100% investment. I absolutely knew I wanted children.

kaela d. said...

I'm only 24, single, and unsure about children in the future. I hope the "when you know...YOU KNOW" theory is legit. I don't feel like I can make the decision on what i want in the future until I am completely accepting of the present. I'd like to fall in love for the long haul before I consider a kid...but either way, I hope that down the road if I am still unsure, that I am as confident in my 'not knowing' as you. It's obvious that either decision you make you will continue to be the greatest you you can be because you acknowledge the truth. :)

Steph said...

I turned 28 6 months ago and I'm starting to feel that urge. Every time I see a cute baby I joke with my friends and husband that my ovaries hurt. We are going to wait a few more years to do things for us (travel, etc) but last year at this time I was on the fence as well.

Eloquent English said...

YES, thank you for sharing this... I'm 50/50, but for different reasons and I think mine is the responsibility... Marriage, Financially, Jobs, House, etc are all sound, but the commitment is what scares me! xoxo A-

Lauren C.T. said...

I must start by saying that I mean absolutely no disprespect by this... But, I don't believe that this woman is 50/50 about having a baby. To me it sounds like she is definitely against it, but feels unable (b/c cultural norms, perhaps? b/c of personal associations? who knows?) to come right out and say so. There's nothing wrong with not wanting kids and there's nothing wrong with being scared to admit it, but I think she'd feel more at peace if she just accepted it and moved on.

This reminds me of something from the book "Eat Pray Love." Elizabeth Gilbert's sister compares having a baby to getting a tattoo on your face - you have to be REALLY REALLY SURE. If there is any uncertainty about wanting a child (and I don't mean the typical aprehension about the changes and challenges it will bring), then I think that is a clear sign that a person should not have a baby, at least at that time. We make lots of decisions in our lives, but none of them are permanent in the way having a baby is.

Bun said...

I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am for this post! Although I’m only 25, I’m engaged to be married next summer. You can’t help but think about the future, and that I’m committing into a marriage where I know he wants kids…but I’m on the fence. I think my lack of The Urge is mainly fear- the thought of giving birth legitimately frightens me. I also think about what I will most likely have to give up- my career? Will I finish grad school by then? Can I handle being a Mom in my 30’s? What if I can’t be a full time Mom and have to work and deal with child care? All of these topics legitimately have me worried sick. I also see others who are young and have kids- and they seem miserable. I want to be able to travel and live my life to the fullest (and make those ‘on a whim’ decisions) for as long as humanly possible.

This post made me realize to take a chill pill- I’ll either get the urge…or I won’t. And I’ll deal with it when I cross that bridge.
Thank-you for such a great read!!

savoie said...

I've had the same ambivalence for years. Being nearly 35, I worried that maybe I would never really want a baby. My partner does, so I was afraid that would be a problem for us down the road.

I loved my friend's kids but it still never pushed me over the edge to wanting a baby. My tipping point was spending a long weekend with my sister, her husband and their 3 week old little girl. Something clicked that weekend that pushed me in this direction and I haven't looked back.

I would suggest, if you're 50/50 don't do it. I think kids deserve a parent that's in it 110%. If you're still curious about whether you'll ever change, then spend time with people you care about and respect and their brood and alternately spend time with people who have chosen to remain childless and are quite happy in their decision.

Your answer may not present itself right away or maybe never, but if you stay 50/50 forever, I would guess that's a pretty good sign that choosing not to, was the right choice.

KelLigZiv said...

I once felt the EXACT way you did - and I made the decision to just jump without looking and have a baby. I became pregnant at 32 years old and before that was very scared to have children and uncertain if I wanted them. So was my husband. We made the same life choices as you - low paying jobs, living away from family in NYC, ect. But you know what - there's a lot of people with kids who have made those same life choices. We sort of left it up to whatever happens, happens, and I became pregnant pretty quickly after that. I can tell you that I was extremely depressed during the 1st trimester, thinking about the changes, no money, ect, but then something changed and I started to get excited. I now have a 9 month old daughter, and NOTHING on the planet has ever made me feel as happy as she does. Her smiles, her sleepy face, and every skill she learns fulfills me in a way i never imagined (and I assumed all those other moms were lying when they said stuff like that). My husband and I have both managed to keep the jobs that we love, arrange for child-care..it all works out somehow! And my husband and I still love each other so much and have an amazing relationship. It certainly is not easy and it takes work, but it is possible to have something resembling 'having it all.' You just have to decide to go with what comes your way and have faith that, whatever decision you make - it's the right one in the end.

Lauren @ In Her Two Shoes said...

Jo, I'd love your input on this issue. It seems that you and Corrie have similar lives--you're both writers (and in fact, your husband is too), you both live in NYC, you both value your careers. But you decided having a baby was just right for you. How do you make it work? Did you grapple with the decision? What advice have you give Corrie?

Alena said...

Your career, scuba lessons, social life, or vacations will never bring you as much joy as your family. Weigh the difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure satisfies for now; joy satisfies forever, but yes, it requires sacrifice. Sometimes you never know how much you can love a person until they come into your life, and then it will hit you--bam--right in the kisser. Maybe you're trying to love someone you've never met yet, that's all.

Anonymous said...

I felt no baby lust and a lot of the feelings you describe. I decided to just go for it. It was the best decision I ever made and I don't think you'll ever regret having a child. (Well, some nights you'll regret it because you miss a LOT of sleep at the start.) I read the book Maybe Baby, I analyzed it, and then I analyzed it some more. And then my husband and I just said "What the hell?" And now we'd love to have another. It gave me comfort that an acquantance knew told me that she never felt any baby lust, but she is so happy she had children anyway.
I think it's also important to remember that babies grow, right? So even if you aren't totally baby crazy-- would you love to watch your child grow into a little person, and then an adult... And also remember that the challenges/trade-offs we make as mothers with our career when our kids are young are less serious after our kids start school. So, the agnst you may feel could be related to ages 1-5 and if we are lucky, our kids are around much longer than that. It is a true pleasure being there to see them grow and holding their hand along the way. You seem like someone who is ready for a baby: you are walking into it with your eyes wide open with a lot of consideration to the sacrafices you will make if you choose to have a baby. What you are probably not prepared for, though, is the love you will have for your child, which will literally knock you off your feet. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I just don't think motherhood should be something that someone is rather ambivalent about. It's a hard job and a lot of it can be none too pleasant that if it's not something wanted or yearned for, it could turn out to make someone bitter or unhappy about "giving their life away". I think it should be a firm decision to be a parent and a commitment to that. Having a child because you're not sure you shouldn't isn't really a choice or a commitment and maybe not fair to that child born.

ellengilbertpeace said...

I think a lot of people have children for the wrong reasons: they feel it is what they are supposed to do, they think it will fix their marriage or their unhappiness. Others, however, truly desire the "joys" of parenthood. I think if you are not automatically craving motherhood, you should decide not to ever have children of your own. "Fake it till you make it" and see how it feels once you start answering questions with, "We've decided not to have children". If it pains you, maybe you'll know what to do. And if you are not ready until you are past a safe age for childbirth, look into adoption which can take up to a year for extra preparedness. Good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

Honestly, after I felt this, I thought your guest author was over-thinking it. There is no way to now all the variables and predict the outcome. I say, go for it! You won't regret it. (At least, you will never regret it for more than a few seconds at a time ;) I think that in your case, having a child will help you embrace all the unknowns in life, and that will be a good thing.

Best of luck!

CoTechMama said...

Hi Corrie,

You're not alone! I felt EXACTLY the same way. The problem is that WOMEN DON'T TALK ABOUT THIS. When you're surrounded by women with baby lust, you feel like you must be missing something - like you must be unworthy - if you don't have it yourself.

I felt completely ambivalent about becoming a parent when my husband and I got married, when we first "pulled the goalie", for the better part of my pregnancy, and for the first few months of motherhood, even. (I got married at 32 and had my first kid at 35.)

I hated other people's kids. I had no idea how to change a diaper. I'm an introvert who was accustomed to spending a fair bit of time alone, reading a book. People who know me would have told you that I was not "motherhood material."

So why did I decide to have kids? Partly because I adore my husband, my husband wanted to, and I wanted to share this with him. But here's the real reason ... when I feel nervous or unsure about something, my coping mechanism is to do a lot of research. (Perhaps you're similarly inclined?) So I read everything on the subject I could get my hands on, and I informally polled people I know whose lives I admire (and who are older than I), and they unilaterally said that the best thing they had done with their lives was raise children. I didn't want to miss out on having what might have been the best experience of my life.

My kids are 6 and 3 now. I feel lucky to have good kids and a fulltime job that I love, and a helpful husband. And if I die tomorrow, I would absolutely tell you today that having kids was the best thing (both "the thing I've done best" and "the best thing I've done") in my life.

Steph said...

Ive been thinking about this a lot lately so loved reading this post! Im 26 and while i can feel that my body 'wants' have children, my head is further over on the other side of the argument. Ive never been maternal - didnt play with dolls and while i love my niece ive never been one to get in the wendy house and 'play' with kids. Having said this, im constantly reading birth stories and feel like my body wants to have those experiences.

I have briefly considered that if i do decide not to have children, perhaps i could surrogate but im still hoping that something will click - i can see that a life without children could be unfullfilling but equilly feel intese fear that i dont want my life to become toys and tantrums.

Such a confusing issue!

Jocelyn said...

Great post. Thanks for your honesty!

Thankfully, I haven't had that problem. Although there was a time when I was definitely not ready/interested in having kids. My husband and I wanted to be married for a few years before having kids and up until I was 28 I didn't have any kind of urge. And then all of a sudden it came. The same thing happened with my second. I figured we were done with 2 since life is a bit easier with an even number and costs are of course lower the less you have. But suddenly now, here I am pregnant with #3. And I'm surprisingly very excited. It was that urge again, I guess. Not sure what it is exactly. And it definitely doesn't come from seeing others' babies because other kids can annoy me a lot. But with my own, even with all the work and frustration at times, it is something I would never change. I do stay home with them and love it. I have recently started working for my old job once a week and I don't look forward to it. I don't miss having to wake up super early and work all day.

I hope you are able to come to a decision that satisfies you and that leaves you happy with no regrets. I can say though that even if you look at the cost of having kids and it looks impossible, people make it work everyday. Also, I think it would be pretty rare for someone to regret having a kid once they are there. There is nothing like holding YOUR baby and the love you feel. One thing that my husband and I think about at times that helps us through tantrums etc. is thinking about when the kids are older and we get to enjoy a big family together with lots of grandkids around. So, you might also look farther to your future and see what it is you and your husband see it looking like.

Good luck.

Bucktown Mom said...

Thank you for a thought-provoking post! I think you are in a great place because you realize that you can have a great life both with or without kids (hence the 50/50) and you and your husband are on the same page.

I was 42 when my son was born. I have always known that I wanted to have children. And I definitely say "children" rather than a "baby"--they are babies for a REALLY short time, so I think it's really important to realize the difference between wanting a cute, cuddly baby and wanting a person, one with their own needs and agenda. Especially a toddler person, which is what I have now. It's sort of like having a drunk, insane roommate a lot of the time. :-)

I got married for the first time at 39 and started trying immediately and experienced lots of age-related issues (mostly repeat miscarriage). I so desperately wanted my child, and I thank God for him every day. But I wonder how I would feel if I were more unsure from the get-go. Nothing feels like a sacrifice (the break from my career, the financial adjustments we've had to make, the changes in our marriage) because we wanted this so badly. My husband and I have said many times that you have to have a strong marriage going into parenthood because the stress of parenting will put a strain on it. I guess I have this intense feeling of gratitude that makes all of the hard parts of parenthood easier. The other night my son threw up on me, and in the middle of being exhausted, frustrated, and grossed out I said a prayer of thanks because there was a time in the middle of our infertility roller coaster when would have given up a kidney to have a baby.

I wish you the best in making your decision. While having kids was so the right choice for me, I see my childless by choice friends enjoying travel and other things we will be doing less of because of money and logistics and I can see that my "road not taken" would have been good too. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You have to REALLY want a child before you decide to get pregnant or else you'll be VERY miserable. Raising a child with a modest income is TOUGH work and requires endless sacrifices of time, money, and energy. I had the baby lust feeling and was in such a hurry to get pregnant after getting married. Even with this strong baby lust, there were LOTS of hard times with sadness over loss of career, frustration with the day to day hardships of balancing life, stress and needless fights with husband, crazy emotions, etc. I can't imagine if I were unsure like this author when I got pregnant..I wouldn't be able to make it through. Please be cautioned taht you have to REALLY want a baby before you take the plunge b/c there are real depths to this plunge. Of course the end result is a huge job but you do have to overcome alot of hardships first, and having mixed emotions about wanting a baby will make it extremely difficult to make it though.

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