Please help me look at parenthood in a more positive way.
September 7, 2011 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Please help me look at parenthood in a more positive way.

Being in my early 30s and recently married, I am now thinking about whether to become a parent and when. I have been talking to my husband and he is keen to start trying for a baby after summer in 2012.

I have been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of becoming a parent and must confess that I am a bit anxious.

We have recently relocated and just about getting used to life in a new country, have adopted a puppy and things and seem to be getting more settled. However, we work together and while we have just began to get our own business off the ground, it is quite stressful at times and it sort of takes its toll in the relationship at times - even though we are trying to have some time for ourselves instead of our lives just being 100% about work. It has worked to some extent.

Apart from being worried about stepping out of my very much work-dominated life to become a mother, all the practical aspects of motherhood worry me quite a bit: having to find a nanny that I trust to help out, having to ask for my mother's help (as I have always been quite independent) and having to cope with most of the work related to the baby. Just to clarify my partner does help me with chores and stuff at present, but it is never up to my standards and I have to do it all over again quite often. I can only begin to think of how this is going to be if we have a child in the house.

Also, we seem to be just about overcoming some prolonged sex-related issues where we would not get laid for months on end, which was stress-related and mainly on his side. I fear that, if I get pregnant, this will return and get even worse. I am also a bit overweight and trying to lose it by exercising and eating more healthily, but am also worried that the weight gain from pregnancy may bring all my irritability and self-esteem issues I've been having.

Lastly, there is the "freedom" point. I see that pretty much all of my mates who have had babies can rarely even go out, socialize or even travel. Considering the fact that I am only just rebuilding my friends network in this new place, I am not sure how I would deal with being isolated again.

At the same time, I worry that I may soon get too old to have a baby. I want to be young enough to play with him/her and have energy to do all the things that motherhood requires and have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

I also know that having a baby can be wonderful and equally, I have seen many people who really enjoy being parents even with all the challenges and limitations that parenthood can bring. I just can't seem to look at it as an attractive option, even though I would like to be a mother. Please help me rationalize this, thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I see that pretty much all of my mates who have had babies can rarely even go out, socialize or even travel.

Actually, I'd say that having a baby is one of your last chances to make new lasting friends in your area. New parent groups are a great way to bond. It's also possible that your friends with babies are only doing stuff with other parents so as not to bore the singles to death with diaper talk.
posted by benzenedream at 4:51 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you wait for the right time and perfect circumstances at this point, you will wait forever. Unfortunate, but there it is.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:08 PM on September 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think you have some reasonable problems that the two of you need to work out together before embarking on parenthood. One thing that jumped out at me was your concern about chores. Did the two of you agree before getting married that you would be primarily responsible for housekeeping stuff? Because your language--that he "helps" you--implies that they're your job. You can't assume that he'll treat child-rearing any more equally than he treats housework.
posted by Mavri at 5:12 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wrote a long email to my best friend that sounds very much like your question 18 months ago. Now, I am 8.5 months pregnant.

The thing benzenedream mentions, where a baby makes it pretty easy to find other mom friends is totally true; I've seen it happen to a bunch of folks around me.

I too am overweight and was when I conceived. I had been working out regularly, and being really strong has helped with the pregnancy considerably. I think I'm dramatically more comfortable than I would be otherwise. And starting out with some extra fat has meant that I haven't gained very much weight. (ymmv, obviously with that part.) Don't worry quite so much about your weight; do try to up your fitness level.

But mostly the thing I have to say is this: I understand the panic part of it. Until the very moment I got pregnant—okay, until four months into my pregnancy—I was terrified about the idea of having kids. The metaphor that kept rolling around in my head was that it was the end of your life, a cave with no exit. Let me tell you, though, pregnancy is long, and I don't feel that way anymore. I'm excited to meet the baby. I know my life will change, and I think that's okay now.

You're not required to get pregnant this moment. Not this year, not next year. In fact, it sounds like you've got a few bumps in your marriage to work out. In particular, this concerns me:
Just to clarify my partner does help me with chores and stuff at present, but it is never up to my standards and I have to do it all over again quite often. I can only begin to think of how this is going to be if we have a child in the house.

Either your standards have to relax a little, or if your partner really is hopeless with chores, he needs a reality check that his job is not to "help" you. His job is to make your home livable and pleasant for both of you. Hired help for cleaning is definitely an option, even more so if you're anxious to get back to work soon.

tl;dr: You can still be nervous about having kids, even when you decide to get pregnant. That's okay. Considering how huge a life change it is, I can't imagine that anyone isn't.
posted by purpleclover at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


There are countless films that romanticize pregnancy and parenting. A lot of them are hilarious and worth watching, even if you wind up deferring this decision. Are they realistic? Well, I don't think they're lying about the feelings parents aspire to and achieve at the best of times, and what you're asking for is a big dose of positive thinking about this.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:18 PM on September 7, 2011


It's totally natural to be anxious about this; it's a big change, a big decision.

One thing to thing about is the fact that biologically, becoming pregnant really is a window of opportunity that will close. After age 35, fertility rates drop off exponentially. If you run into fertility issues, you can still become a parent, but it gets a lot more complicated.

I realize that acknowledging this reality may add to your anxiety, but it can also help focus your thinking. You don't have forever to make this decision...
posted by mr_roboto at 5:19 PM on September 7, 2011


You'll have someone to (maybe!) take care of you in your old age?

You'll have an excuse to leave work early pretty much on a moment's notice for the next 18 years?

You won't have to worry how to spend all that pesky disposable income anymore?

FWIW, parents tend to over-report their levels of happiness on tests thereof... Meaning that they either really do get something unmeasurable out of it, or it boosts your self-delusion skills.

Sorry, probably not helping. I totally respect people who want to have kids, but if you don't... Well, you do have alternatives.
posted by pla at 5:20 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, if you don't want to (or aren't ready to) have kids, don't try to talk yourself into it. The issues you list are all valid. They are things I worried about before having kids. None of them were magically fixed by having kids. Having a kid (or two) IS wonderful. But it's wonderful AND finding good childcare is very hard and stressful, and my spouse and I argue far more about chores, and I frequently bitterly resent the hit my career has taken, and we are frequently too tired at the end of the day to talk.

So, yeah. You're heading for Resentmentville if you try to talk yourself into this before you really feel ready and happy about it.
posted by instamatic at 5:21 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Having a child is heavy - but weight gives meaning to life.
posted by Flood at 5:30 PM on September 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Want to hear a funny statistic?

When parents are asked if having children makes their lives happier almost across the board most parents would say "No."

When parents are asked if they regret having children, the answer, almost across the board? "No."

Don't know if that helps or not. Probably not, but there you have it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:37 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your life can have all kinds of meaning without children.

This quote from your question worries me: my partner does help me with chores and stuff at present, but it is never up to my standards and I have to do it all over again quite often

Parenting will be a slog if you don't let go of those standards a little. You will end up doing everything, and then (I bet) you'll end up resentful.

I had NO IDEA what I was in for when my daughter was born. It has helped me grow as a human being. I think personal growth is a poor reason for having a child, but it is a benefit.

If it helps, eventually (probably) your child will be able to care for itself. You dog will depend on you forever.
posted by jeoc at 5:46 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I don't think you have a "problem" with how you're looking at parenting, or things you need to "fix" with your husband...I think you're just not ready to have a kid, and on an important level, you realize that.

Obviously, the situation is never going to be perfect for anyone to have a kid -- all those challenges are not going to magically go away some day. What _may_ happen is that, at some point, you wake up and realize that the challenges seem acceptable, compared to having a baby.

That might happen tomorrow, it might happen in a couple of years, or it might never happen. Everyone's different, and you obviously have the right to decide for yourself, but what you're going through is something that I think almost any parent can relate to, after the fact.
posted by LairBob at 5:50 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


concerns about relationship, sex life, and independence were pretty high on the list when my husband and i decided to not have kids.

i know, it's different when they're yours, they give more meaning and depth to life, and they are the greatest joys...

but honestly, i liked my joys right where they were. i like sleeping in on days off. i like randomly staying up all night for fun. i like deciding at 3pm on a tuesday that it's time for a beer. i like when we spend 10 hours gaming and forget to eat. i like packing a single backpack and heading out of town for a couple days.

i know it sounds like delayed adolescence and maybe it is, but i also think that makes another fine case for us not having kids.
posted by nadawi at 5:59 PM on September 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


If it's making you anxious, why not put it on the back burner and revisit it in a year or even two? The one piece of advice I always tell people are to take time to be a couple first. Then you become a unit in parenting instead of two people fumbling around trying to deal with how to be a spouse and a parent at the same time. Both are skills learned over time.

And honestly it won't make a difference in your energy levels if you do it tomorrow or when you are a few years older. When you're a parent you just 'do' what you need to. Whether you are awake and full of energy or exhausted and ready for sleep.

You could spend a lifetime careful weighing the pros and cons, the negatives against the positives and you'll never be one hundred percent ready for what it brings, but you'll not be disappointed either.
posted by pink candy floss at 6:04 PM on September 7, 2011


I think all your concerns sound perfectly reasonable. Being pregnant can really suck. I have gained 50+ pounds and had issues with a kidney, and my pregnancy is well within the range of normal. What can I say--I can't really recommend it or try to pump you up about it, it's not awesome.

If anything, people approach pregnancy with rose colored glasses.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:04 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it's making you anxious, why not put it on the back burner and revisit it in a year or even two?

Totally! You guys aren't even planning on trying for another year, you don't have to psych yourself up now. Enjoy life now and see how you feel as things approach!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:13 PM on September 7, 2011


maybe you could try making a short list of important things you feel like you want to accomplish, or habits you want to establish in your family, or things that might be more difficult to do with kids? Then spend the next year trying to meet those goals, and reassess.
posted by daisystomper at 6:42 PM on September 7, 2011


Wait until it is the right time. Work to make the time "right" TOGETHER.

40 yrs old, first baby is now 5 months old, great husband.

- We got a cleaning service 3 months ago. Why did we wait so long??

- Ignore everyone who tells you parenthood sucks or makes clucking noises towards same. Fuck them. Their experience is not your experience. Practice self-referencing, confidence, and fearlessness. You will need all three.

Lastly... if you never want kids, that's OK!
posted by jbenben at 6:52 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


pretty much all of my mates who have had babies can rarely even go out, socialize or even travel.

Travel hasn't been an issue for us. Remember that kids under 2 normally travel free. We've been on a 2-week road trip, plus 6 weeks in Indonesia. East Timor is shaping up as a candidate in the near future. Travelling with a baby in a foreign country also opens up a lot of doors.

Going out & socialising has dropped off, but who cares? A baby just changes the threshold at which going out appeals more than staying in, and you end up happily culling a lot of activities that might have been OK timewasters when childless, but in reality aren't really all that great.

Parties? Meh, never liked them much; just an excuse to get trashed & talk shit with strangers on the off chance of maybe hooking up; they don't have any real value or purpose beyond that. Concerts? Maybe one or two international acts have passed that I would otherwise have seen, but in the end you're just standing around for a couple of hours in a crowd listening to music with sound quality worse than their CDs, nothing particularly interesting to see, then you fork out $30 for a tshirt & go home. Film festival? You can eventually see it all on DVD anyway. Restaurants? You can still do that, minus maybe some upper end child-free places that are more enjoyable anwyay because they're saved for special occasions. Catching up with friends is easy, only you might change the format a bit: a cafe during the day instead of a bar after dark; no real hassle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:05 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're a nervous person, your work stress will continue. And, there's a chance that the energy you have left for work after re-prioritizing your life won't be enough to further your career as far as it could have gone were you childless.

Finding a nanny for your baby will be terrifying.

Learning to ask for help feels humiliating at first - somehow even more so when you're exhausted and have gained back 35 lbs previously lost in the year before your daughter was conceived. But you won't care about the humiliation because you're so exhausted even your own ego wants just. 5. minutes. of. quiet.

But there's a chance none of that will matter. It'll definitely suck - there's no pink cloud of parenthood (that I'm aware of). But the emotional and physical pains will be laughable sacrifices to offer up in exchange for keeping another helpless human being alive and falling in love with her. And she may love you back - but it's probably just learned behavior. Oh, and she'll eventually talk back, maybe steal from you, ignore you, etc.
posted by MediaMer at 7:18 PM on September 7, 2011


"having to ask for my mother's help (as I have always been quite independent) and having to cope with most of the work related to the baby. Just to clarify my partner does help me with chores and stuff at present, but it is never up to my standards and I have to do it all over again quite often."

Well, you're going to have to relax a bit on the cleaning, I expect, or hire a service. Also, when it comes to parenting, your mantra is "Dad just parents differently. Dad just parents differently." (There's a book called something like "fatherneed"? It's about how kids need multiple styles of parenting (stereotypically gendered) that both focus closely and attentively on their needs, AND that give them a bit of benign neglect and let them explore.) And not all moms are my mom? But my mother was never as fully awesome as when she came to stay with us and help after each baby. She not only learned all the new rules ("back to sleep") but 100% deferred to me even when she thought I was wrong or insane, and never let on that she thought I was wrong or insane. She competently cared for the baby along my rules, and let me rest and heal, and took care of the house, and cooked me comfort food from my childhood, and even though she didn't breastfeed she was 100% on board with me breastfeeding and so on. This graphjam is EXACTLY TRUE.

"I am also a bit overweight and trying to lose it by exercising and eating more healthily, but am also worried that the weight gain from pregnancy may bring all my irritability and self-esteem issues I've been having. "

Personally, I loved being pregnant because everyone was like, "HAVE A SECOND BURRITO AS BIG AS YOUR HEAD, YOU'RE NOT EATING ENOUGH!" You're no longer chubby, you're GLOWINGLY GORGEOUS. Even though, personally, I looked a lot like a Weeble when I was pregnant (because I'm quite short and my babies were fairly big). A GLOWINGLY GORGEOUS Weeble. Also my weight seems like less of an issues anymore, now that I have two kids. I'm a lot more focused on my HEALTH and a lot less focused on my looks. I want to be healthy for my kids; I don't care (much) how that healthy happens to look.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:19 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


...having to cope with most of the work related to the baby. Just to clarify my partner does help me with chores and stuff at present, but it is never up to my standards and I have to do it all over again quite often. I can only begin to think of how this is going to be if we have a child in the house.

You need to address this one now because if you want your husband to view this as a joint endeavor, rather than your job with him helping you, it is going to take some time to work out. You can give it a trial run with the household chores before the baby gets here to see if it's working out. (Unless you are fine with the current arrangement of course.) On the flip side, if he is an equal partner, you cannot redo his work if it is not up to your standards or be on top of everything and supervising him. You will have to let go and accept that he will do things his way and that he may be better at you than some things related to the house and baby.

I can see why your husband is eager and you are not. It's easy to be excited when you're not the one doing most of the work!
posted by unannihilated at 7:33 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


My Monsters and 19 and 15, and I love them ferociously. They amuse me, befuddle me, teach me, humble me, delight me, and wear my ass right out. Yes, even now that they are grown and nearly so, they still make me tired. It took a lot of work and a significant silvering of the hair to get them this far, but I wouldn't trade them for anything in the entire universe.

All that gushiness said: If you are not 100% interested in and over the moon excited by the idea of having kids...don't. Having kids is too big of a responsibility to "rationalize" or have someone else talk you into. Your concerns are all valid! Sure, some of them change - frex, kids do get older and you do get your social life back, and sooner rather than later, at that! But if you and your husband are not both on the same page about having kids, if you're not gleefully preparing to add a kidlet...don't.

It's hell on a kid to learn that s/he wasn't really wanted all that much, and it's hell on parents to feel guilty for feeling that way.
posted by MissySedai at 7:47 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pregnancy was the easy part. What kind of babies were you and your husband and your siblings? Because the writing was on the wall that my wife and I would have a difficult baby. He Just. Would. Not. Sleep. There was one day that he slept for 8 hours in three chunks. He refused to suckle and was losing weight. We were so gung-ho on breastfeeding that my wife was feeding him for about half the awake time. iIt was awful. Every day was the worst day of my life, and worse than the one before for like two weeks. Babies are very, very different from one another, though. The easiest 10% of babies sleep for 18 hours a day the first month, while the hardest sleep for just 10.5 hours.

At around a year (for us), due to changes in our child and our attitudes, things started to really turn around and at three years I really enjoy pretty much everything. But we're done having children. One infant was more than we could handle, and I developed depression for the first time in my life. We were in our early 30s and had plenty of love, money, and desire to have a kid, and still had our lives utterly ruined for months. What I tell people is that if you're trying to decide, don't even think about it!
posted by wnissen at 8:02 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't have to have kids if you don't want them. If you really don't want kids, you probably shouldn't have them. Don't let anyone -- not even your husband -- pressure you into having a child if you really, really know you do not want one.

That said, no one is ever ready for kids. People who get pregnant by accident aren't ready for kids. People who have been trying to have kids for years aren't ready for kids. There is no ideal time in your life to have a child. No matter how ready -- or not -- you think you are, having a baby will turn your life upsidedown.

Becoming a parent is the end of your life. The end of one life, the start of another. Personally, although I did lose some friends and I do miss my former freedom, I find this second life of mine as a parent more meaningful and fulfilling than the first. I find care a lot less about things that don't really matter. I know what it is to love someone completely and unconditionally. I have a vested interest in a future I know will never live to see. Not to mention the fact that over the past several years I have gotten to relive the experience of learning how to be in the world, through my child's eyes. I got to watch a brand new human see his first butterfly, smell his first thunderstorm, hear his first violin, taste his first lemonade. I've watched him learn to show compassion. To help others. To take responsibility. Inside a child I've begun to see the glimmers of a man.

That's absolutely been worth a few (hundred) missed nights out. And every stretch mark I gained in pregnancy. And yes, even a few awful fights with my husband over who should change the damned diapers.
posted by BlueJae at 8:08 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


It was The Last Lecture Professor - Randy Pausch which caused me to pause and reflect if Mr. BuffaloChickenWing and I should start a family. Dr. Pausch was 47 when he died yet his children were so young! The US was entering a recession, I wanted to finish graduate school, but we wanted someone to stay at home to raise our children.

The Plan
What to do? We sat down - came up with a plan to deal with every situation - Mr. BuffaloChickenWing leaving his job, My graduate school situation, how to handle finances, etc. We decided to - just do it.

What Happened
I had my son 2 years ago. I was not finish with my grad degree, Mr. BuffaloChickenWing's job was in jeopardy as they were laying off people and the recession was getting worse. Because we planned that he was the one leaving his job we were prepared for the one income. I believe it is because he left others still had their jobs at his old company. I continued working full time, and finished the 1 1/2 years of graduate school part time thanks to Mr. BuffaloChickenWing's love and support.

I was recently diagnosed with an operable brain tumor that I am currently seeking treatment for.

Reflection
If we were "responsible" and waited until I was done with graduate school, my brain tumor would have been found and my son would not exist today as it was made clear - no baby making right now.

We are so glad to have our son. He is a reminder of life to us as my husband almost lost me. Because we decided to have my husband stay at home, he was able to be home with me while I healed. Likewise the family is able to travel to another city together for my treatment because he is not working and forced to fight a job for time off. My son is an excellent distraction during all of this. We are worried about packing all of the kid stuff and getting to the other city on time that I forget the reason for the travel - for treatment.

My Point
My comments are not to push a certain lifestyle on you - stay at home parenting etc. They are to show you that you cannot micromanage fertility as you do not know how life will be handed to you. This includes the good (a beautiful child) and the bad (facing death in your 30s).

Lastly, there is the "freedom" point. I see that pretty much all of my mates who have had babies can rarely even go out, socialize or even travel. Considering the fact that I am only just rebuilding my friends network in this new place, I am not sure how I would deal with being isolated again.
You are going to be going places you never thought of because of your child. I have been to the library, parks, and local pools more than ever. You do not see this with your friends because you are not going where those that have children go.

At the same time, I worry that I may soon get too old to have a baby. I want to be young enough to play with him/her and have energy to do all the things that motherhood requires and have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
My mother in law said to me that she had more energy when she was younger, but more patience when she was older. I agree with her assessment.

Best of luck to you.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 8:33 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Via BuffaloChickenWing, repeated for truth:

"That said, no one is ever ready for kids. People who get pregnant by accident aren't ready for kids. People who have been trying to have kids for years aren't ready for kids. There is no ideal time in your life to have a child. No matter how ready -- or not -- you think you are, having a baby will turn your life upsidedown.

Becoming a parent is the end of your life. The end of one life, the start of another. Personally, although I did lose some friends and I do miss my former freedom, I find this second life of mine as a parent more meaningful and fulfilling than the first. I find care a lot less about things that don't really matter. I know what it is to love someone completely and unconditionally. I have a vested interest in a future I know will never live to see. Not to mention the fact that over the past several years I have gotten to relive the experience of learning how to be in the world, through my child's eyes. I got to watch a brand new human see his first butterfly, smell his first thunderstorm, hear his first violin, taste his first lemonade. I've watched him learn to show compassion. To help others. To take responsibility. Inside a child I've begun to see the glimmers of a man."



I'm speechless and on the verge of tears. That's pretty much it, if you do it right.


OP, if you decide to do this, keep this your eternal intention towards the experience of doing childhood all over again...
posted by jbenben at 8:40 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Lastly, there is the "freedom" point. I see that pretty much all of my mates who have had babies can rarely even go out, socialize or even travel. Considering the fact that I am only just rebuilding my friends network in this new place, I am not sure how I would deal with being isolated again."

Oh, came back to comment on this. Being pregnant (and having a stake in that future I'll never see that Buffalo Chicken Wing mentioned) made me angry enough and idealistic enough to run for local public office. I seriously went door-to-door 5-months pregnant, constantly barfing and with horrific back pain, in the coldest winter and worst ice we'd had in two decades. I was seriously shuffling down the sidewalks because I walked so poorly. Because suddenly it fucking mattered. A LOT. I spoke in front of groups. I went to candidate forums. I'm shy and big groups make me nervous, but I cared SO MUCH that I didn't care about that crap, and somewhat to my surprise, I won. Which has led me to meet so many awesome people I otherwise wouldn't have met, and get out of the house at least every other week for meetings. :)

(My husband was motivated to start biking to work every day and found a community garden, the first in our city, because he wants a greener planet for our babies. We all grow brave and strong and powerful and convicted in unexpected ways because of our children.)

Plus with all the mommy-and-me activities, I've met a ton of moms, and bonding is faster than when you're a non-mom. Because you all have mom-ness to bond over. But don't underestimate how BRAVE being a mother will make you -- there's nothing so fearless as a mama bear -- and the strange places that will take you.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:16 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


On becoming a parent I

*learned to let go of messes. I have foregone doing the dishes to play with my kid. We manage to keep a very basic, tolerable clean, but I don't care nearly as much about the clean laundry in baksets, toys on the floor, or other such things as I used to.

*laugh a lot more than I ever did before becoming a parent. And laughing is a known stress reducer and an incredibly healthy activity that adults don't participate in enough.

*had an amazing shift in priorities that certain things just aren't the big deal they used to be. I have gained an amazingly new perspective on what really matters.

*have gotten to do things that I would not be as able to do without a kid ---- like going to birthday parties with bouncy slides and obstacle courses

*have become far more sympathetic to others in a lot of ways. I mean, I always considered myself to be a genuinely sympathetic/empathetic person, but now it seems I have an endless capacity for it

So, those are the big things that have changed about me as a result of having a child that I consider positives in every way.

There are, of course, negatives to having a child as well. But you asked for how you could see parenthood in a positive light.

Only you can decide if having a child is what you should/could/want to do. But unless/until you have one, it will be nearly impossible to know exactly all the ways --- good and bad --- your life will change. I don't mean to say you can't understand parents or parenthood, rather, the changes are so swift and become so integrated into your life that six months ago will seem like a a life time ago. And part of that is watching, particularly in the early years, how much changing and growing the child does in such shorts amount of time. And along with the child growing and changing, so do you.
posted by zizzle at 11:52 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


this thread might help: How did having a baby change your life?

posted by mrmarley at 4:08 AM on September 8, 2011


Your anxiety is very natural. I jumped into parenthood with the help of a reproductive endocrinologist at 36. So off the bat, it was a fertility decision.

When I was pregnant, I confided in my OB about my anxiety---will I love this baby. I never have been around babies. I don't even know how to change a diaper. I just don't bond with people really....

And you know what---my son is my entire life. I dont' know if it's because he is my child. I dont' know if it's because I finally got pregnant. I don't know if seeing him nearly die twice (apgar score 1 at birth) made me grow up but all I know is I love him beyond words, feelings, and explaination.

From previous postings, I don't have the greatest marriage. I never did. But I can say, without a doubt, I do not regret at all having him. My problems are my problems--not his to fix.

For travel, yea I won't sugar coat it, to me, the first six months did suck. He was a sick kid so we were restricted in socializing. And I had wicked post partum for almost 2 years. But once they are mobile and cut it down to 2 naps, it gets easier.

We went to CA when he was 1.5 half. Woo hoo free air travel for him.

We just got back from Vegas and Sonoma and he's now 2.5. Yea paying for a full price ticket for him and the nanny to help out sucked the pocket book (as well as the separate hotel room for her) but you know, we didn't go on a "real" vacation in 5 years. And we had a great time. He LOVED Las Vegas (pool, walking, sites, etc).

Life doesn't have to stop if you have kids or you don't. But having a kid is a big decision and like the one poster said, I honestly think people regret not having them if they were on the fence over having them. But it's up to you to decide how you want your life. We have friends in Vegas who didn't have kids and their life is grand (nature-nuts/outdoor activities all the time) but I can have that life too and bring the kid along .Each year he ges older, easier and we can do things together.

For the weight, do what you can and do your best. A kid isn't a death sentence on weight or bouncing back. It's temporary.

Good luck in whatever you decide and enjoy your life to the fullest without anxiety in whatever you do choose. You can be childfree and find every excuse not to live life the way you want. That's you--not a baby decision.
posted by stormpooper at 9:19 AM on September 8, 2011


My "baby" is 14 and is currently sitting on the couch next to me, cracking up over The Colbert Report. Laughing so hard he can hardly breathe.

Those all-consuming baby days? Barely a memory now; seriously, I know it was hard but I barely remember it. You have this little, helpless human and you fall completely in love with him and before you know it, he's 14 and he's all kinds of awesome and you get to see what kind of man he's going to be.

It's really cool. It's also very scary and very humbling. I didn't even know I wanted children until I had one. Really! And I liked the first one so much I had a second one. I like her, too! Quite a lot!

In all seriousness, nothing in life is easy, even being child-free. It really does sound like you want to be a parent but you're scared of the unknown. Of course you are, it's only natural. I can tell you, though, from the "other side:" it's pretty great over here.
posted by cooker girl at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, please don't, like others have said, try to talk yourself into being ready. You'll know when you've sewed your oats. I honestly think it's a shot in the dark no matter what. Parents could read every book about parenting, they may have wanted kids since they were 14, whatever the case may be, and they could be surprised by how it actually affects their life having children, and really regret it. A one-night-stand where the condom broke could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Just trust that it will happen when it's meant to, but also allow yourself to NOT want children, if that's the case (but obviously you'll have to take preventative measures). It doesn't mean anything bad about you. You're under no obligation to propagate the species, we're way overpopulated.

One of the people whom I respect and love most in the world doesn't want kids SO badly that when her husband had a vasectomy (she was 29 at the time), she made him go back every month for three months to get it checked, just in case it reversed. Only after three verifications did she feel comfortable having sex with him (she hates condoms with a passion, and to be clear, she did have sex with him those three months, she just never felt 100 percent comfortable with it). So many women feel the same way but don't feel comfortable owning it. They feel it's a character flaw. No, it's not, it's a lifestyle preference. They often end up in situations they resent and bring unwanted children into the world. Nothing hurts worse than being an unwanted child. So my friend making her choice based on her own feelings and aspirations for the kind of life she wanted (and sticking to it) doesn't make her less of a woman. It makes her more of a woman because through her honesty, she is saving some soul out there from becoming an unwanted child. She prioritizes other things: her career, her dog, her friends, her family (Mom, Dad, two brothers), having lots of fun and partying whenever she wants, being independant, not having to come home at any certain time, her love for expensive clothes and shoes (she works in high-end retail). And that's perfectly acceptable. You deserve to choose your own life path. Don't make a supposedly 18-year, but really lifetime commitment because you think you should want to. Do what you want. Period.

flood - Milan Kundera I assume
posted by jitterbug perfume at 5:16 AM on September 12, 2011


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