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Open Thread: The One About New Motherhood


by Maddie Eisenhart, Digital Director & Style Editor

Open Thread: The One About New Motherhood | A Practical Wedding

Last month Meg and I attended the design summit known as Alt. It’s a big conference where mostly women and some men come together to get inspired and gear up to take their businesses and blogs to the next level. It was a professionally fulfilling conference for me, and at the end of the short week, I left feeling more excited about the possibilities in store for APW this year. Which was pretty much what I expected to get out of it. But what I didn’t expect was the impact this conference would have on me personally. You see, Alt is filled with moms. Certainly not all attendees have children, but a significant amount do. And as I sat between them, watching their kids fall asleep in their laps while we talked business, or not seeing their kids at all because their dads were upstairs in the hotel room watching them, I felt a noticeable shift in myself.

It was the first time I’d experienced a kind of motherhood that didn’t scare me.

Until that point I’d always known that having children was something I wanted (and something Michael and I have been talking about together for a little over a decade), but I’d never been fully convinced it wasn’t going to be the worst mistake I’d ever make. Maybe that’s because I was the product of a teenage pregnancy (not that my parents didn’t love me to pieces, but I’m well aware of the way that my presence impacted their lives), or maybe because I had four younger siblings I used to watch after school every day who I loved, but, you know, not like a mother. In any case, this inner conflict, this wanting and simultaneous dreading, has been keeping me up at night for about as long as I can remember.

That is, until now. I’m not saying it’s completely eradicated, but in these past few months I’ve had the ability to watch Meg as a new mom, interact with these mothers, and watch them continue to be who they were before they had children. And it’s amazing what having just a few positive role models can do for your confidence. (Jeez, it’s almost like I was here in this exact place four years ago feeling this way about marriage. Funny.)

So after Alt, when Meg was pretending to not be working except I was totally bribing her into meeting up with me every few weeks so that we could “talk strategy” (aka I pretend I have a big idea, but really I just want to hold the baby), I pestered her into agreeing to do an interview with me for the site on some of the stuff she’s learned in the first few months as a new mother: the surprises, the good stuff, the not so good stuff. Basically, wedding graduate format for baby having.

Do I think Meg has all the answers on what it means to be a new mom? Obviously not. In fact, she only let me write this post if I told you that she really, really, really does not think she has answers (and she’s not sure there are answers). But I figure if I’m getting something really important out of seeing someone parent in a way that doesn’t make me feel panicked, maybe it’s worth talking about. (Which, based on comments from last week, it probably is.) And I’m probably not the only one who can benefit from having an open and honest conversation what new motherhood really looks like, with someone we’ve all been reading along with for years.

So here’s the deal. In order to prepare for this interview, I want to know: what are your biggest fears about choosing to have children? (Or not choosing to have children? Because I think that’s an important part of this conversation.) I want to put together a compilation of APW readers’ real concerns and then have an open conversation with Meg about her particular experiences (big picture, of course. I want to respect her decision to keep her personal life and the details of her kiddo private. But I assure you, it’s the big picture stuff that’s been the profound part). I’m not sure where it’ll go, but I promise it will be candid and, not the same BS you’re being fed everywhere else. And hey, maybe it will be the first new mom interview of… well not too many, since you and I both know that APW & Reclaiming Wife are never going to be parenting sites. But maybe it’s the first of more than one. Who knows?

Finally, as part of this experiment, Meg and I are toying with trying out a new format: video (because I have a new haircut and I’m really excited about it). But before we go crazy trying to make that happen, we want to know if this is something the community is even remotely interested in. So, head on over to Seesaw to vote on that subject (you don’t have to create an account or anything, just hit the appropriate button), and in the meantime, leave us your comments and we’ll round them up for a one-on-one, Frost/Nixon style.

Cheers,

Maddie

Photo by: Kara Schultz (APW Sponsor)

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

    I want to hear about daycare. (Today is my 1 year old baby’s first day in daycare and I am a total mess.) I know you Americans go back to work much, much earlier than us Canucks, but I’m not sure if that makes it easier or harder. Either way, I want to hear about daycare experiences.

    • meg

      He’s at daycare right this second, and it’s not his first time by a long shot. Solidarity! I actually am thinking of writing a whole post about that.

      PS It gets easier. Hormones make the first day (or the first day you extend a schedule) a killer. Like, tears and physical shaking for me, but I’m really sensitive to hormones. But after a few days, my hormones adjust. It’s crazy shit.

      • Jamie

        Yes, please, talk about daycare. Rowan has been in daycare for 8 months, and it has not gotten easier for me. Maybe the pumping and logistics parts, but not the emotional part. I need to hear/talk more about it.

        • Amy

          I switched day care when it didn’t get easier. The first center was ok, but leaving my son there always made me anxious. The new place is just awesome. So don’t be afraid to look for a new center if that’s an option for you.

        • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Rowan

          My name is Rowan! I love when I hear about other Rowans!

          • Jamie

            My Rowan is 11 months old and a lovely human being. I’m sure you are, too :)

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

        I am shocked at the intensity of my grief, leaving her at this (fairly awesome, expensive) daycare. I mean, I knew I’d be sad, but I am shocked to find myself keening in the parking lot. Hormones, man. They’re a bitch.

        • meg

          I was shaking like a leaf the other day going to pick him up, after our first round of full time daycare. AND CRYING. Hormones be crazy. They’re tied to monkey mind: GRAB THE BABY RUN UP THE TREE DON’T LET GO.

          • Class of 1980

            I know hormones make EVERYTHING more intense. But I think separation grief would happen regardless. I bet a lot of adoptive parents cry too.

            My grandmother took care of me during the first three years my parents lived with my grandparents and worked. When they moved out to their own home, my grandmother said it was like they took HER baby.

            She was emotional about it for a long time. It means you are attached to the little one.

          • meg

            1980: I think you’re probably right. But for me there is this weird intellectual/ hormone split. I know he’s really happy there, and I’m really happy working and it’s fine. But my hormones have actually been making me ill, leaving him. CRAZY RIGHT?

      • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

        UGH, daycare. Meg is right, it does get easier. And if it makes you feel better, I think my kid is significantly more advanced because of daycare than he would have been if he was home with me, just due to the extra interaction with other adults and kids. (I don’t belong to a playgroup/mother’s day out/church where he’d get that.)
        Daycare isn’t for everyone but when it has to happen, it has it’s advantages.

        But still, big hugs!

        • meg

          Totally. He’s already really good at just sort of coping with new situations, even when he doesn’t love it.

          • Senorita

            Not to mention you’re bolstering those immune systems like woah. They’ll also be at reduced risk of stuff like asthma and allergies.

            Yay hygiene hypothesis!

          • http://itsloverly.blogspot.com Nicole

            As hard as it was at first and as much as I still occasionally feel guilty about daycare, I am very pro-daycare. My daughter is almost 2 now and is social, outgoing, adaptable, and friendly. I credit a lot of this to the social interaction she gets at daycare. Plus the toys and activities at daycare are waayyyyy better than what we have at home! ;-)

            I wrote about our daycare experiences here:
            http://itsloverly.blogspot.com/2012/11/daycare.html

    • Mmouse

      And the flip side of this: I felt terrified the first days (what if he DIES!?) but 2 months later I feel almost *too* good about it. I miss him yes, but there are moments when I look forward to sending him. Mostly because I feel like he’s more engaged there and not because I don’t want him around, but still it makes me feel like a bad mother.

      So yeah, a daycare coversation would be nice.

      • Amber Baur

        Yes! Our son goes to a nanny share two days a week and I look forward to those days ALL WEEK LONG. I just run out of ways to entertain him! My husband is home the other three days so it’s like my mind can take a break from thinking about him and I can just focus on work. I think I would send him more days but it’s SO expensive and it’s hard to justify it when theoretically we can cover it.

        • Stacy Lynn

          i love the nanny share thing

  • Kim

    I’d love to hear about the stress level that you currently have about being responsible for the well being of an individual that cannot fend for itself. That’s what scares me the most about having children. About the level of responsibility and associated stress that comes with it.

  • alyssa

    Oh gosh, where to begin! I’ve never had that “Defining Moment” that some people have, that they absolutely KNOW 100% that they want to be mothers, and they define themselves as mothers. Since I’ve not had that moment, it leaves me feeling like perhaps I shouldn’t *be* a mother, or maybe it means I’m not ready. So, how do you get there?
    If I’ve learned anything from reading APW, it’s that everyone’s process is different, and that one way isn’t THE way for everyone. But the responsibility of creating/caring for a new life, a new person, is so immense that I worry anything less than 100% overwhelming joy and JUST EXCITEMENT OMG… will lead to my inevitable “bad parenting” or the “huge mistake” … yep.

    • Kate

      I don’t know if this is similar to your situation, but I have always been an anxious person in general and particularly anxious about making major decisions, so I’ve never really had a “Defining Moment” about any choice I’ve made. I’ve always had to take leaps of faith and hope everything works out. But it is clearly a lot more difficult when making a decision about something as permanent as parenthood. With marriage, I can tell myself that if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get a divorce (which is sad, but not the end of the world). There is no “whoops, this isn’t working out” for parenthood.

    • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

      If it helps? (And it probably doesn’t.)

      I had that defining, 100%, yes, motherhood is a thing I want to do! moment . . . about 1 and a half years after I had my daughter. It’s not that I didn’t love her or appreciate her – I loved her as much as I loved any family member. But it wasn’t until she was 18 months old, round about, when something shifted and I loved her not just as a tiny member of my family but as THE family, the person which came from me, the person which I helped create.

      My day-to-day parenting didn’t change when I had that moment. I didn’t become any more sacrificial of my time; my daughter didn’t all of a sudden cease to annoy me when she fought nap time even though EVERYONE KNOWS NAPS ARE AWESOME, KID. And the subtle fear that I could be screwing it all up didn’t go away all by magic, either. There was only the realization that it was forever going to be the long haul with this person and a quiet peace that came along with it.

      • AliceMay

        This perfectly describes my experience with so many things. Like my career (I’m an academic) – for three years of undergrad, and fours years of PhD, I knew I enjoyed my work, and was happy to keep going with it, but it is only 6 or 7 years down the line that I have that gut-level, “this is what I want to do with my life. I will fight hard to be able to carry on doing this” feeling. Othertimes, it takes less long, but I still have to actually be in the situation before I know it is right. I’m glad someone else has had this experience with motherhood! And as you say, it doesn’t make the daily facts of the decision any different, they just come with different realisations.

    • Colleen

      For what it’s worth, I never felt that prior to having kids, either. My husband and I hadn’t spent much time around babies or kids, but had a vague idea that we might want 2 or 3 kids. I suspected I might regret it if we didn’t have any; that’s as close to that feeling as I got. My age more or less dictated the “when” if we wanted bio kids. Anyway, all that to say I never had that feeling prior to kids, but now have 2 kids who absolutely give me that feeling. It’s definitely not a prerequisite.

    • Kristin

      Absolutely would love to hear about this. My husband LOVES kids (can’t emphasize that enough) and helped raise his little brother (he was 19 when baby bro was born) so he feels more like a father than a brother sometimes, I think. He works in customer service and is so great with kids and really wants his own. He’s more family driven, like wants to stay home with the kids, which is awesome. Except I don’t know if I want kids. I tend to research anything I have questions or doubts about so I can be more educated on it. But me not knowing has been painful for both of us and my husband doesn’t want to talk about it until I’ve made a decision one way or the other and I don’t know if I will ever be able to be 100% yes or no kids. I read Jessica Valenti’s book, Why Have Kids? and he didn’t even want to discuss it…even though it’s more about the societal expectations of pregnancy, child birth, connections with the child, raising the child, etc.

      I’m more career driven and my husband is totally supportive of that but I feel like I’m depriving him of something he really wants…and I feel like there is absolutely no one I can honestly talk about this with…and I tend to need to talk things out to figure out what to do. I cry about the anxiety over it like twice a month at least.

      So…is there ever a defining moment? Does it happen for everyone? I think if I got pregnant by mistake I would keep it, but I don’t know if I would ever want to intentionally try. But what if I never had kids and would regret it? Or is it better to not have kids and regret it than have kids and regret it? I know it’s different for everyone but would love Meg’s thoughts on this.

      • Elizabeth

        This is me in the reverse scenario. I’d love to talk about having or not having kids.

    • Newtie

      I was worried about not having that defining “yes I must have kids!” feeling all through my twenties. I personally decided I would wait to make a decision about kids until I knew my own feelings better – it seemed worse to not have kids and regret it (there are always nieces and nephews and adoption and volunteering and so many ways to have children in one’s life) than it did to have kids and regret it (even though no one EVER talks about regretting having kids, so maybe that doesn’t happen).

      Then all of a sudden I felt like I had. to. have. a. baby. NOW. I was somewhere around 30 or 31. It was overwhelming and dictated all my thoughts – I’m 100% sure it was somehow hormonal, either from hormones shifting with age or from going off hormone contraception or both. I also think marrying made a difference – I wanted my partner’s child, not just “a child.”

      Personally, I’m glad I waited for the “yes I 100% want this” feeling, if for no other reason than it has made the whole experience of pregnancy easier for me. All those aches and pains? Hardly even feel them I’m so damn happy. Pregnancy depression? yeah, it sucks, but it all feels worth it because I want this baby *so bad.* All my financial worries and worries about my career? Well, they take a back seat to my joy.

      I don’t think being 100% “ready” would be an antidote to all pregnancy/new mom woes for everyone, but it has been for me. And I certainly don’t think it’s a prerequisite to being a happy and confident parent. I just know for me personally, waiting until I felt SURE – even though that meant pushing back against the biological clock timeline – has made this process much easier, and has given me a confidence and happiness I’m not sure I would have had if I hadn’t waited.

  • Samantha

    This is fantastic! I don’t have the slightest feeling that discussions like this are parallel to “parenting sites” but rather that they help APW come full circle in discussions about individuality, womanhood, and living beautiful and fulfilling lives. These discussions make APW and the strong, inspiration community around it!

    My biggest fear about motherhood is losing myself. Losing my own individual identity. I don’t want to me”Mom, also-previously-once-known-as-Samantha.” I want to be Samantha: decorative art historian, curator, traveler, book-worm, yoga lover, outdoor frequenter, who-also-happens-to-be-a-kick-ass-Wife-and-Mom! – or you know something of the same. I need to know that keeping a strong sense of self is possible. My amazing mother gave up everything to be Mom, which I think she would choose again, but she now once in a while mentions how she never had the career she wanted or lived in NYC, etc. How do I: 1) maintain my individual pre-baby identity, 2) not back-step the career I love, 3) be present for my children’s lives? I guess if I’m not loosing my identity by becoming also-wife, it is possible. I need some strong women examples.

    Oh man APW this is a huge question! I know there is no “answer” but please I would love discussion and sharing from people who have gone through this. It’s the never ending, two-fold question: can I have my cake and eat it too?

    • http://turningtoward.blogspot.com Kara H.

      I definitely second this. I also have an amazing mother who did a fantastic job raising my sister and I, but completely gave up her nursing career to do it. So I think my core fear is that I can be an “career lady + awesome wife” but not an “career lady + awesome wife + good mom.” I’d love to hear how the kids/career decision calculus worked out and how that balance is working.

      • Amy

        There was a very interesting (to me) rebuttal to the outcry over the yahoo telecommuting policy which basically boiled down to no, no you cannot have it all. If you want a super high powered job in which you work 60+ hours a week, and your spouse does the same, you cannot expect to have children/maintain your home/etc. without a lot of paid help. Which, bleak, but in my experience totally true.
        Having (or choosing to pursue) a flexible job/working for yourself/teaching/etc. all seem to offer more options. But lets get real, you cannot expect to work a job with crazy hours and do it with a partner who also works crazy hours without some help.

        • meg

          Yeah. I agree, and on more levels than just that. I have a flexible job working for myself, but it’s also a high powered job where I work a lot of hours. We need paid help. And I’m fine with that. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s a trade off I’m ok with.

          And also? A lot of the alternatives are myths. My mom was a teacher. Yeah, she had summers off with us. She also worked 12+ hour days all year.

          (I mean, policy issues is a different conversation. I’m just talking about reality as we currently know it.)

          • Mmouse

            Yes on that teaching front. I teach primary and it’s great to say “hey, president’s day! Lets snuggle baby!”, but it also sucks to keep grading after the baby falls asleep or work on Saturdays or not be able to pick up the kiddo from daycare because I have a meeting. Also, our house is in shambles and we’ve been eating chicken nuggets & tater tots at least one day a week since January. :)

        • Class of 1980

          I was just reading about the Yahoo controversy. Yikes.

          • Sarah from Australia

            I was reading about this yesterday. Being in Australia we are pretty lucky as paid maternity leave is now the law, but with that seems to come the pressure that new Mums have to stay in the workforce, even if that isn’t what they want, and working mothers get hit with the “you got paid maternity leave so you can’t complain now”. There doesn’t seem to be any allowance for individual needs, and the whole thing is just so judgemental!

            Any way, I thought Sarah Lacy’s article about the issue was a really good take on the whole Yahoo thingy.

      • Amber

        This is where my concern lies as well. My husband and I are 5 months into a start-up business and we just discovered there is a baby on the way. My mom was wonderful but completely gave up aspects of herself to be “perfect mom”. I’ve never had a need to be a mother but always took a “when the time is right” approach. My concern is how do I find the ability to push my dreams for this business and be a good parent.
        Also I think just hearing about this stage of life from this community that I have learned to love would be a wonderful thing. Just saying. :)

        • Shosh

          I’m totally the same way. I just got a new job a few months ago, and am making real headway on saving up to start paying down debt (and actually being able to meet my bills right now), and DH and I moved into our own place (we were previously with a roommate) and we’re working on our own startup(s)–separately and together, they’re all related. Then we found out there was one on the way. Yay, but now what?

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

          You might like this article I read yesterday, by a woman working at a start up. “Beyond that, everyone’s definition of “having it all” varies. For me, it’s building a company, being there for my employees, having a healthy relationship with my husband, and raising my kids. That’s pretty much it. It’ll take me a long time to lose baby weight, because my schedule doesn’t give me much time to work out. I don’t take vacations. I don’t have a group of tight girlfriends, or really many friends that I see regularly at all…. Quitting my job to work at a startup meant almost no disposable income and even less time.Those are all trade-offs I gladly and willingly made before starting my company. ”

          http://pandodaily.com/2013/02/25/in-this-corner-theres-sheryl-sandberg-in-this-corner-theres-anne-marie-slaughter-and-then-theres-reality/

        • Ashley

          Apologies for the long comment in advance.

          Could there also be a discussion of the kind of opposite? My mother is amazing, but certainly never gave up aspects of herself to be a perfect mom. In fact, she’s told me that it was my being born that gave her the kick in the butt to quit her boring but stable job working at a bank as a teller to chasing her dreams and becoming a detective for the LAPD. That meant dropping me off at my grandmother or great-grandmother’s homes for the majority of my childhood for the majority of the day, and having me wake up at 4 am for all of elementary school so she could do the hand off with my grandma but still get to work on time. She couldn’t make plays or field trips for me, but by the time my sister came around she had more flexibility and I suppose felt like she was missing out and was more participatory in the school activities.

          The only change she made was moving to the suburbs, which don’t get me wrong, was huge, but a bit of a different narrative. I’m struggling with the duality of wanting to be more present and available for my kids, but also not fall into the paralyzing anxiety of trying to be the perfect mom, and overcompensating.

          Also, I may be the only one dealing with this, but I am TERRIFIED about the possible level of resentment I may feel towards my husband because he’s male, and doesn’t have to deal with all that I’ll have to go through- physical, hormonal, cultural, etc. The Second Shift is a constant theme in my mind, and I can only imagine how much more prevalent it would be if we had kids.

          Also, um, kids are scary. I want them to love love love me. What if they don’t? What if I don’t like them?!!

          • Heather

            “I am TERRIFIED about the possible level of resentment I may feel towards my husband because he’s male, and doesn’t have to deal with all that I’ll have to go through- physical, hormonal, cultural, etc.”

            You’re DEFINITELY not alone in that.

    • Caroline

      The losing yourself is scary. I’ve seen many folks describe it as like your old self dies, and in some ways like dieing and hugely traumatic and transformative. The way they describe it makes it sound like they came back as a shade, as just a shadow of a different person, subsumed by parenting. Which is TERRIFYING. I really want kids, but recently, I’ve become so scared of having kids. The I-must-have-a-baby-this-instant baby crazies of my teen years have somewhat faded, and while I know I want kids, I’m so scared of the idea of losing myself and it being horrible forever, but oh yay baby smiles. I know that balancing a career and family is incredibly challenging, and maybe we can’t have our cake and eat it too, but I’m not so worried about that. I’m mostly worried about the concept of being less of a person. Which is how so many people seem to describe it.

      And Maddie, thanks for this. I don’t feel like I have any good parenting moms in my life, in that they are still who they are.

      • Audrey

        I’m not sure if it helps, and I’m not a mother, but my favorite singer/songwriter wrong a song about becoming a different person when he had a kid, and your post reminded me of it. Even though I’ve decided not to have kids the song comforted me when I was thinking about it.

        You can listen to it for free.
        http://www.jonathancoulton.com/primer/listen/

        (It’s “You Ruined Everything” under “4 Sweet Ones)

  • Salwa

    I want to hear about if/how your marriage has changed post-baby. I know that it will obviously change the dynamic of some things, but are there things that surprised you about your partner? Has your relationship changed in a profound way? Or is it mostly the same (but with more diaper changes?)

    • Shiri

      I think I may have “exactly”‘d this more than once. I stand by it! This this this!

      • http://itsloverly.blogspot.com Nicole

        I would love to write a bit on this. What has changed? Everything and nothing.

    • Vanessa

      Yes yes this. Everyone always says that your relationship changes, but that’s so vague.

    • Mmouse

      I would love this conversation too! The Man and I are coping well, but things are different around here – for better and worse. Those aforementioned hormones kick some ass in this area as well, I think.

    • Amber

      Yes, this would be a very good conversation.

  • Class of 1980

    This post made me realize something funny.

    From age 19 through my early 20s, I thought having a baby would mean I ceased to exist. I was the only person I knew who felt that way.

    But here’s the funny part. I never once thought that about my grandmother or mother. They were too full of life, interests, talent, and personalities. I also never thought that about any of my friends who had babies.

    See, I’ve never actually witnessed anyone change who they were because of giving birth. Not one time. Even funnier, is that I have a very strong will, so how could I cease to exist? Impossible.

    I knew at the time that my feelings were illogical. I knew I’d never seen it happen, but the feelings persisted for a long time. Later on, I just had no desire for children and the timing was also always wrong.

    So this opens up a new question that just occurred to me. Maybe it’s not so much that we are afraid motherhood changes people. Maybe we are afraid that even if everyone else seems to take motherhood in stride, that WE won’t.

    Maybe the fear is really personal?

    • http://ahobbitatheart.blogspot.com/ rachel

      Amen.

    • MDBethann

      I don’t think your fear is strange at all. I have watched some of my friends and family members (male and female) change once they had children. In some cases, it made them mature and become more responsible, so good changes. but in others, they got so wrapped up in their kids that they forgot it is okay to have interests and things that don’t involve their kids. And maybe it wasn’t really changes, but rather an enhancement of latent or dormant qualities that were always there but weren’t so prominent until after they had children. I think it just depends on the personality of the individual.

      I don’t feel like people became invisible, but they did change how they interacted with the world.

  • Amanda

    Work-life balance after having a child, childcare (among the parents, relatives, daycare, etc.) and maintaining your individual self after becoming a parent are my top three.

  • http://ordinarycontradictions.com Emily

    I can’t ask this politely… but I want to know how old Meg is and if she constantly thinks “well, in twenty years I’ll be able to…” That’s where I find myself, but I am older (35, still not certain I want a child).

    Thank you for the site! I appreciate the depth and quality of your content!

    • One More Sara

      I know these questions are supposed to be for Meg, but I can’t help but chime in with this one. When you have kids, your own life doesn’t have to get put on hold until your kids are grown up. Granted, some things will get more expensive when all of a sudden you have to pay for more people to do them, so those expensive things will probably happen less frequently. BUT I know a couple that goes on a ski vacation with friends. This year, she is having a baby. And guess what? They’re still going on their ski trip, and leaving baby with their parents. Having a kid doesn’t mean that you have to be taking care of them 24/7/365, you just have to be sure the there is always SOMEONE to take care of them, be it a professional at a day care or grandparents or other family members or trusted friends.

      (*gets off soap box*)

      • Jamie

        But sometimes having a kid changes the way you feel about other things, and you WANT to put them on hold or give them up all together. I could do nearly everything I did pre-baby with a baby – maybe with a little more help or dirty dishes. But I no longer want to do some of those activities either because they’re so much more work or because they seem less important now. I’ve experienced this and had a hard time coming to terms with caring less about certain ambitious goals and projects than I did pre-baby. I am okay not being #1 in my professional field if it means more family time these days. Certainly not everyone feels this way, but it’s okay to feel that way if you do after the baby is born. No guilt for going where our hearts pull us, even if they pull us off of the ski slopes or cubicle for a while.

        • http://LeahAndMark.com Leah

          Yup, totally feel you on this one, Jamie! I had planned to shoot several out-of-state weddings with Mark after our son was born, and made arrangements for my parents to watch him for a few weekends…. And then had to admit I was NOT ok with that and didn’t want to leave our son overnight with anyone else. I fought that feeling so hard out of fear that by admitting my own wants and needs had, in fact, shifted, it made me less of a feminist, or less of… Me. But I realized I have to honor myself where I am NOW… We are always changing, and children are just one of many changes that life brings… And changes can and do change you. For now, I would rather be home with my son than hitting up new cities each month. I never would have expected to feel this way prior to being a mom. But I’m not less of myself. I still love to travel – WITH my son! There are many parts of myself that stayed the same. But there are also changes that I didn’t expect. And coming to terms with that has been hard, but ultimately very affirming and empowering.

    • meg

      You don’t need an interview for that. I’m about to turn 33. And I’m sure Maddie will talk to me about the second question, but no, I don’t feel that way. We just bought some international plane tickets, for example.

      • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

        Oh, good. I was going to ask you about travel. My husband and I love to travel, and I worry that we won’t be able to do that once we have kids. I worry even about going out in the city we live in. Some friends of ours just had a baby, and they’ve basically been home-bound. How do you remain part of the outside world full of restaurants and museums and interesting places and take your baby along for the ride with you?

        • meg

          Seriously: he flew to Salt Lake city at two months old (with Maddie!). It was fine. He went to a restaurant at about a month old. But you do need support, I think, in whatever form, to keep getting out in the world, which is really worth discussing. (And to be clear: we were home bound at first, and still go out way less, but that’s fine and temporary. The baby thing is SADLY very temporary.)

          • ItsyBitsy

            I have nothing terribly insightful to say, but I could just hug you for this little tidbit. A little voice in my head just went, YAAAAAY IT’S POSSIBLE!

          • Rachel

            If you’re worried about travel – then this book is a great antidote:

            http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/world/travel-with-children-5/

            Lonely Planet’s guide to travelling with children.

            And this: “Does having kids mean that your travel bug has buzzed its last? Nope – not according to the Lonely Planet community. Sure, some travellers have changed the way they hit the road – the places they go, the places they stay, the things they do – but some have found that having a tot or two in tow has actually enhanced their trips.”

            http://www.lonelyplanet.com/middle-east/travel-tips-and-articles/1317

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

          My baby turns 1 tomorrow. She has been on: an international road trip, 6 in-province weekends away, an all-inclusive Mexican resort trip, and a 10 day Dallas city wander. We eat out in restaurants with her all the time, starting when she was only days old. (I wanted Vietnamese.) In Dallas, we took her to half a dozen museums, and on a mini road trip, and so on. You have to make more of an effort, yes, and you have to work nap times in, but it’s totally doable, IF YOU DECIDED THAT YOU WANT TO. And that’s key. So is starting young. We’re raising a baby who is okay with sleeping in the car and eating in restaurants and people watching at museums, because that’s important to us. So we’re teaching the baby.

          Sure, it helps that she’s on the easier side of the fussy curve, but I firmly believe you can teach babies to live in the world the way you do. I have many feelings about this, but they boil down to: babies are just little people. You have to accommodate them, and they have to learn to accommodate you.

          • Catherine B

            Morgan I love reading about you and your daughter (and husband) and the adventures you’re all having. (I almost always click over to your blog to see what’s new) Thank you for sharing! And happy birthday tomorrow to her!

          • Another Meg

            It is so good to hear stuff like this! I refused to get engaged until B got comfortable with the idea of having kids. It was key for him to see his cousin, who he’s known his whole life, still be herself after having kids. KEY. It’s so good to know that if you make it a priority you can still be mobile.

        • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

          We’re taking our 21 month old to Japan for two weeks on Friday! It will be the first time in Asia for *all* of us and we can’t wait.

          She’s traveled extensively in the US, even a coast-to-coast RT (with only 1 parent), but this is the first time we’ll use her passport. Travel is something my spouse and I always want to do more.

        • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

          Thanks for all the comments! It’s nice to hear that people are in fact traveling with their young children, contrary to the cultural message that says, “You won’t go anywhere on vacation except Disney World for the next 18 years!”

          • http://www.KatesShortandSweets.com Kate

            I am the product of parents who didn’t stop traveling because they had me. Granted, there was just me (no siblings), but plane travel has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

            I was shocked when I discovered that my now-husband had been on a plane like twice by the time he was in his mid-20s. I make him fly fun places, and it’s interesting to see how differently we approach travel.

            My two cents? Travel with your kids. It will make them more confident travelers as adults and more likely to go on adventures.

          • Brittany

            My parents travelled with five of us. Granted- when we were young and my parents were poor it wasn’t hotels and such, but damn if we didn’t have fun road tripping in the car. And we did big trips every year, as far back as I can remember (which would have made my youngest sibling not even a year old, and the second youngest barely two.). We also went to museums and plays from a young age. My parents made it clear how we were to behave in different situations and then packed us into the car. I loved all those trips- long and short!

        • Stacy Lynn

          i feel that it is important to take your children out into the world and experiance things. of course there is a time for everything. infants, toddlers, and elementary aged kids are very different things.

          i think as adults sometimes we take for granted the things we know that you have to teach a child. from how to cross a street to how to navigate an airport. all important skills that you can’t learn stuck at home.

    • Aiyana

      As we ponder the baby question, I’ve looked for role models of the kind of parent I’d want to be, or at least examples to counter my fears. I’ve sought out stories of parents hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (2000+ miles, usually takes 5 months) with their 10 year old, taking their 1.5 year old to India, sailing around the world with their 3 kids, etc. I’ve loved hearing that people CAN and DO still do these things with kids. I may never hike the PCT, but it good to know that I CAN if I make it a priority (and get a bit lucky with the kid).

  • http://stephanieearlygreen.com Steph

    I definitely want kids, but dang, it is scary, isn’t it? I think I’m most concerned with doing everything I want to do with my husband before we have children (e.g., live abroad, which we are doing now), but that list is infinite. I can keep adding and adding things that seem impossible post-child, and if I think that way, I’ll never have kids, which is not what I want. So I guess my biggest fear is around regret: I don’t want to have a child and then regret not doing things I wanted to do as a childless person. Maybe this is simply a question of adjusting my attitude and deciding that regret is a useless emotion, etc., etc., but I’d be curious to hear how other women have dealt with this question.

    • Samantha

      Or changing your attitude about what you can and cannot do with a child in tow – which I’m with you on.

    • Granola

      Along this line – were there things you planned on or did before getting pregnant that you knew you wanted to to beforehand? What were those? And are you glad you delayed pregnancy or otherwise made time for them? Or knowing what you know now, were those concerns overblown?

      • The Lost Kate

        I’d love to hear Meg’s answer to this (and other people’s too). I agree that it’s never going to be a perfect time to have kids, but surely there are better and worse times. If we start having kids during a scary (but awesome) career shift for me, will it throw me off my game? Or will it just be confusing (e.g., is this not working because of the baby, or because it wouldn’t have worked anyway)? Meg—did you wait? And how did you decide it was Time? (But I have to note that just thinking about starting to have kids has shifted me into gear on life goals in a positive way—I want to be the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be before I become such an important person in someone’s life.)

    • http://doomedforhappiness.Blogspot.com Shana

      Yes! We’re currently planning extended vacations and other things that we want to experience before children because I’m terrified of regretting anything.

  • sfw

    I want to hear about how the new love that is created by baby interacts with, interferes with, complements, or contrasts with the old, pre-baby loves (i.e. partner, career, friends, hobbies, self). The cultural narrative about motherhood suggests to me that if/when I have a baby, my love for it will dwarf everything else. And perhaps I will no longer care about the things I love now. And it really scares me to think about losing contact with the parts of myself/my life that I love now.

    So thank you, Maddie, for your desire to share your revelation about motherhood. It feels like a lifesaver for me right now.

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      Speaking on behalf of no one but myself? That was one of the single biggest lies anyone ever told me before I had my kid. I love my kid’s tiny little face off, but it’s ONLY in addition to loving my husband and family and hobbies and such. I am still me in a shockingly unchanged way.

    • Loz

      This was bollocks for me too. If anything, I have grown to love my husband more as I watch him with our 7 week old daughter.

      And while we are here, I didn’t feel instant, overwhelming love for her the minute she was born. She felt like a stranger that I needed to get to know, but I have been enjoying getting to know her immensely.

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

      The one that worries me: would I be a bad mother if I loved my husband more than my kid. Not that I can control who I love and to what degree, and obviously romantic and parental love are different … but so much pressure is placed on loving the baby “most”.

      • Sian

        My friend cheerfully reports that his parents love each other way more than they love him and his brother. They’re constantly honeymooning off all over the globe. Personally, I can’t think of anything greater for a kid than knowing their parents loved each other so much!

  • Carrie

    My biggest fears about having kids: Depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation.

    I have depression and anxiety now. They’re generally well-controlled with medication. But I’m afraid that pregnancy and breastfeeding would mean I’d have to stop taking meds. And then, that I’d end up with a colicky baby (as I was, according to my mom) and be severely sleep deprived for months and months. And that the sleep deprivation and stress would pitch me right into a very, very bad mental-health place, where I wouldn’t be able to care for my child, care for myself, or sustain my marriage.

    Relatedly, I’m afraid that when my child(ren) got a bit older, that I wouldn’t be able to handle their tantrums or misbehavior — that I wouldn’t be able to keep my temper and would verbally explode at them or God forbid, hit them.

    In short, my deepest, darkest fear is that I would completely fail at handling the physical and mental stress of parenting.

    • meg

      Quick answer: you don’t have to stop taking meds during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In fact, often you shouldn’t. Eff an interview with me for the facts, pick up the phone and make an appointment with your prescribing doctor today to talk it through.

      • Em

        Second this! In addition to just getting the facts, your doctor might have suggestions about trying out a different med (depending on your treatment history), since some have been studied more extensively during pregnancy than others.

        • meg

          Also, pull the actual studies. There is a lot of abundance of caution, and if something has happened EVER, it usually has to be listed as a risk. When you pull the study and find out it happened once, and no one knows if it was even med related, that can help you make a decision. Also, they’ll tell you things like “Risk of birth defects increases” and then you’ll pull the data and find that it increases alright… from, you know, 5% in the general population, to 5.5%.

      • Carrie

        Well, I’m not planning to get pregnant at the moment (have to finish grad school first), and am on birth control so it isn’t likely to happen by accident. But if/when we start trying to form babby (as it were), I will definitely have a long conversation with my primary-care doc, my psychiatrist, and my OB-GYN about mental health and meds and suchlike. Because yeah. You are totally right about that.

        • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Rowan

          Jessica Grouse over at Slate covers this in her really good series on prenatal depression. She makes the argument that if you have ever been gone into depression b/c of hormonal birth control (I have – I went suicidal crazy) you should be aware of it b/c hormonal birth control mimics pregnancy. That never occurred to me, so I am so glad to have read it before I get pregnant so I can watch out for it.

          • meg

            That’s actually medically correct, and not talked about enough. Risk factors are: bad emotional PMS, and a history of problems with hormonal birth control.

          • Caroline

            Ok, this is terrifying.

            Hormonal birth control was not good for me, and I believe a primary factor in my suicidal depression as a teen. Obviously there were other factors: being a teen, divorced parents who did not get along at all with a crazy custody agreement which meant moving every two days, no friends (which was maybe a positive feedback loop with the depression), but I think that the birth control was a major factor. Also, my PMS is super emotional.

            This is really upsetting and scary. I’ve gotten better and off meds, because they were also problematic for me, and never ever ever want to touch them again with a 10 foot pole, but I don’t want to be so depressed and dangerous to myself again either.

            I’ll find Jessica Grouse’s article. Does anyone have suggested ideas on where to find more information on this? Are there ways to reduce risk if you know you are high risk in advance?

          • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Rowan

            Caroline – I just plan to be very aware of it and do what works for me in my everyday life: eat well, exercise, get enough sleep. I also know my triggers (family conflict leads me to binge eat to avoid facing my emotions about the conflict – binge eating leads to depression/anxiety about getting fat). So now when I am upset about family conflict, I give myself permission to be upset about it, rather than self soothe/distract myself. It has taken years of talk therapy (and meds) to get here though.

            I also plan to find a supportive doctor and work closely with her. I’m not opposed to taking antidepressants while pregnant if it gets bad.

            Obviously it will be very personal to you, as long as you are aware of it and have a supportive doctor/family you’ll be ahead of the game (Grouse’s article talks about how little prenatal depression is covered and the stigma associated with it).

        • LMN

          Hi, Carrie–I am so totally and completely with you. We’re getting married in a few months and I know we’ll want to start a family in the next couple of years. I’ve been on medication for anxiety/panic attacks/vertigo for a while now, and, not surprisingly, it’s causing me a lot of anxiety to think about going off them for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

          Even though I’m still a couple years out from even trying for a baby, I’m finding that talking with my counselor and my primary care physician/OB-GYN about this helps considerably. For me, having solid information about my options–and creating an actual written plan–helps combat the anxiety. And talking openly with my partner about how scared I am, and what I need, and how he can help. I wish you all the best, and please know that you’re far from alone as you think about these issues. Hugs to you!

          • anonforthis

            Caroline – It’s ok to be scared but please know that a history of depression and problems with hormone birth control don’t mean you can’t have a pregnancy free of mental health issues – you just have to plan ahead and take care of yourself.

            I’m pregnant and I have a LONG history of mental illness – including suicidal depression and multiple hospital stays. I was a mess on hormone birth control & couldn’t take it. But my pregnancy has been fine – mostly because I did a lot of research and was prepared to take extra special care of myself and my mental health.

            I didn’t get pregnant until I was at a point in my life where I understood my mental illnesses REALLY WELL – not just what my “triggers” are, but how to prevent those triggers from ever coming up, and how to structure my life in such a way that triggers don’t actually trigger anything. My coping skills are phenomenal. I also made sure I had excellent support in place: a very understanding partner who knows exactly how to help me, a good therapist, a midwife who specializes in prenatal depression. I didn’t choose to take meds while pregnant, but I made sure I had tapered off them a full year before I started trying. If I had felt like taking meds would have helped me more, I would have seen a prenatal specialist who specializes in maternal psychiatric medication (these people do exist – maybe not in every town, but probably in most major cities).

            When I started having some pregnancy depression I was careful to alert my various support people immediately; I immediately revved up my various healthy coping strategies; I made taking care of myself my #1 priority. In my case, this was enough to make the depression fade. If it comes back after delivery I will be similarly prepared to deal with it.

            It hasn’t been scary for me at all. I know this is just one person’s experience, but I really believe being pre-disposed to mental health concerns is something to take into account but not something you have to be afraid of. Plan for, yes – but no different than the planning other moms with other medical concerns (like diabetes or kidney issues or heart issues) have to deal with. My best advice is to do what you need to do to feel confident about managing your depression NOW, before you are pregnant – if you go into pregnancy with confidence and with a clear knowledge of your needs, it helps tremendously.

    • Shiri

      Dooce.com writes extensively about her decision not to get off her depression meds during her second pregnancy, if (after you talk to your doc!) you’re looking to hear about other people’s experiences with this.

    • Anon

      Here’s a blog about this topic: http://www.donotfaint.com/.

    • shhhhhhh

      My mom had and has paranoia, depression and anxiety issues. In hindsight she wasn’t always on top of it. There was a lot of screaming, which was particularly hard because our Dad traveled every other week or so. but you know what? We got through it. I not only survived, but have a wonderful relationship with my mom as an adult. Was it hard as a kid? Sure. Should it have been a deal breaker for when she was deciding to have us? Absolutely not. Kids are smart. They catch on. We could always separate one of mom’s episodes from our understanding of her love for us. And I don’t feel “messed up” or abused because of her hormonal issues.

    • Heather

      You might benefit from the book “Rebuild from Depression: A nutrient guide including depression in pregnancy and postpartum” by Amanda Rose. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to. It seems to address just this concern and provide tools in addition to pharmaceutical ones. I have the same worry—history of depression, far from family/friend support, scared of getting PPD. But going in knowingly is better than being blindsided.
      Also, it’s a great idea to do some counseling work and address things like how you handle intense emotions (anger, frustration, etc). Growth is always possible, and it’s admirable to be work for it!

    • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

      I second an third and fourth this request! Already just reading the comments under this comment has been extremely useful for me.

  • Hannah

    First off- this is why APW is awesome. It’s like having a massive collection of awesome friends who give awesome advice about tricky life stuff. Love it.

    I have three big fears about having kids:
    1 – Are the first months really as horrible as TV makes it seem? Are you really only sleeping 2 hours a night and mostly delusional? At this point in my life I am a zombie with anything less than 5 hours of sleep. I usually need 9 hours to feel well-rested and fully functional. The lack of sleep issue really freaks me out!

    2 – Is it really possible to have kids and excel at your job? My mom totally did, but she is amazing and the hardest working person I know. I’m not sure if I have that in me…

    3 – How do/will you deal when your kids are mean to you? I interact with high school students a lot and it’s made me realize that teenagers are jerks. Looking back, I was definitely a humongous jerk. I’m so sensitive to people being upset with me…I can’t imagine how it would feel to have your child scream “I hate you!” or something along those lines. It is definitely the thing that scares me the most.

    • meg

      For three, you definitely need to talk to someone with a child who can talk. My kid doesn’t know his feet are attached to him yet, so being mean is beyond his rather limited skill set ;)

    • Erin

      The lack of sleep thing is a HUGE fear for me, too! Both my husband and I tend to require a serious amount of sleep to be not crazy, and I worry a ton about how to make that work with a baby.

      • Amy

        Um, my kid is going to be 1 and he still doesn’t sleep through the night. I knew sleep deprivation would be hard but I kind of wish someone had candidly said that not all kids start magically sleeping at 4/6/8/however many months. Ours doesn’t, and trust me, it isn’t from lack of consistency/sleep training/sacrifices to pagan gods.

      • Christina

        I second 1 and 2 !! How do you work and think really hard about stuff when you are sleep deprived? My job is really hard on my brain even when it is well rested, and I see the side eye other women get in my field when they refer to themselves as having “pregnant brain” or “baby brain” or whatever and thats why they couldn’t do or understand x y or z. I don’t want that to be me! That is my biggest fear. That and how it just sucks being tired.

        • http://www.ruthvincent.com Ruth

          Hi, I am So sorry I accidently hit “report” on my smartphone keyboard – I was trying to say “Exactly!”

          • Anon

            APW – is it possible to swap the date/time of the post and the ‘report this comment’ tags, so that this happens less? Seems to be a common occurrence! Might help not to have the report function directly underneath the exactly button?

          • Jen

            I have also done this many times. Request seconded! :)

      • Rebecca

        Me too! I am not a functional human being without sleep. I am also really, really grumpy. And mean. It is not good.

        We are starting a “night nurse for future babies” savings fund- so we know that if it ever gets truly unbearable, we can pay someone else to take care of the baby and we can get some sleep.

        I first realized this was an option when my co-worker and his husband were thinking about adopting a second baby while both continuing to work and he said “this time around, we’re hiring a night nurse. I’m not doing that again.” He was a great dad with their first kid- I figure if he can hire a night nurse and not feel guilty, I should get to do the same.

        • Different Rebecca

          My fiance is very nocturnal, and his work from home supports that. I used to be very worried that he would have to make drastic changes to his sleep schedule once we have kids, but I recently realized that his schedule will better facilitate late night baby needs. He is cool with this arrangement, even though he knows that as our kids start to sleep through the night he will have to adjust to the rest of the family.

        • http://catoctinmountainmama.blogspot.com/ Catoctin Mountain Mama

          I think this idea is GENIUS!

          • Paranoid Libra

            Completely off topic but holy crap I got engaged at the waterfalls of the Catoctin Mountains so just seeing the name makes me squee a little bit and I semi wish you still lived near them as you seem like someone I would love to be friends with from doing a quick blog stalk.

    • http://ahobbitatheart.blogspot.com/ rachel

      As far as question one goes, I am a soul who truly loves a good night’s sleep. I used to open at a coffee shop, so I was at work at 4:30 every morning and usually went to sleep at 8:30pm so I could get my full eight hours of rest. I had no idea how I was going to handle the lack of sleep with a newborn- it was probably one of my biggest fears about having an infant. Somehow, your body adapts and makes it work-they are kinda awesome like that. For me, I think all of the getting up to use the bathroom all night long/being so uncomfortably huge that I couldn’t sleep preconditioned me…only sleeping 2-3 hours at a time felt great after not sleeping at all. That’s not to say it’s a piece of cake, but you really can do it…promise! When I was really feeling the lack of sleep taking a toll, I would sleep when my son slept or call in reinforcements…but really, it is such a short phase and before you know it, your kiddo is stealing your morning cup of coffee.

    • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

      As for #3 – it is going to crush you, for a while. Sometimes your kids are going to say things that are just insensitive and some times they are going to say true things that aren’t meant to be mean but which will hurt you all the same, and sometimes they are going to purposely say mean things to you, usually to try to get some kind of reaction and justify how picked on they are feeling.

      It helps to remember that they are still growing into human beings, and will be for a while. Feel lucky that you don’t have to deal with that sort of crippling insecurity and try to help them be more secure in themselves.

      But man, if they’re mean to you after age 18, tell them to sit on a sharp stick. Ain’t no one got time for that.

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      #1 is why the rest of the world gets mat leave, honestly. The first few weeks were … torturous, and then things got better. But I was on mat leave so I could sleep the 2 am to 2 pm schedule my baby preferred, until I could slowly move her schedule to a more functional time.

      But mine was mostly sleeping through the night by 4 months, only waking once or twice to feed (we’ll ignore a medical issue around 5 months that resulted in terrible sleep). It’s surprisingly easy to wake up, feed the kid for 15 minutes, and be asleep 5 minutes after that. You adapt.

      ALSO: read Bringing Up Bebe. I totally cribbed our sleep training from there and it worked like a dream!

      • Remy

        Ha! Cribbed. ISWYDT.

        (I also liked that book. And it made me long for a creche-accepting and -supporting society.)

    • Mmouse

      Blerg. For #1 I agree that your body does make some good adjustments. I was a 9 hours at night plus a nap kind of person. I worried too about sleep deprivation. Our little man doesn’t sleep well (and it seems to just keep getting worse – augh!) But, it’s okay!! I am tired and little less patient. I cry a little more than usual and can be cranky. I function though. I function well enough to teach 25 little 8 year olds and not loose my cool. For a few weeks after returning to work (I got 15 weeks leave), my husband and I got into terrible arguments every Thursday because I was too tired to be nice. Now I’ve adjusted (and he has too). No more fights, but there is a 9pm bedtime :)

    • http://catoctinmountainmama.blogspot.com/ Catoctin Mountain Mama

      1) The thing is you never know what kind of temperament your child is going to have and if they are going to be a good sleeper or not. My daughter was a rock-star sleeper for the first three months and then morphed into a baby who had “sleep challenges.” We tried “crying it out” for several weeks, several different times…and she would just cry until she vomited over and over again. So, I just sucked it up and just dealt with being woken up 5+ times a night to nurse.

      What I was surprised with was how I adapted to my sleep being interrupted. It sucked but I survived. This had been my biggest fear while pregnant.

      My secret to surviving was to take a nap. I certainly can get through a day without a nap, but, man….does it help to make life easier.

      If you are working outside the home, maybe you can leave your child in day-care for an extra 1 1/2 hr, so you could go home and take a nap first. I’m sure there’s some way of you being able to work getting in a daily nap in your schedule.

      While I was pregnant with my daughter, I worked at a Montessori Preschool. During my break time, I would high-tail it to my car and take a nap. Naps are amazing!

  • http://www.myhealthychef.wordpress.com Chasity

    I would love to hear about what changed within the marriage once she was pregnant and then once the baby was born. Did lazy tenancies become more pronounced or did her husband become more helpful? Did she feel a special connection with the pregnancy and baby that she felt like her husband wasn’t a part of? How did they make sure it was a connection the three of them shared together? What are some tips for balancing a healthy marriage and a new baby (from what she knows so far)? Also, how did she deal with fear during pregnancy? As in, “Holy shit can I (we) do this?” or “What if I fail?” or “What if I becoming too controlling of a wife/mother because I have all these ideas in my head of what I want to be like as a mother and what I want our family to be like and I never stop to listen to what my husband is saying/feeling or really look at the true dynamic of our family as it is?”

  • anonymous

    It’s funny, I was at first excited about this thread then realized that all of my baby questions are related to gay parenting – will we spend so much money getting pregnant that we’ll cripple ourselves financially and wish we hadn’t done it? How will less supportive family react? What will travel look and feel like, especially if US laws don’t become more supportive nation wide? These other questions, more “normal” questions haven’t even arisen for me yet…

    • meg

      But it does mean that if you guys like this, we should do it with a gay mom. APW has some pretty amazing gay mom wedding grad alums.

      • Marina

        YES PLEASE. (“Exactly!” wasn’t enough.)

      • Jamie

        I could do some weighing in here, though my experience may not be representative of all queer moms :) Maybe Aly and I could co-author a piece? We cover a lot of ground between the two of us.

        • meg

          PLEASE YES OK THANKS EMAIL ME EXCITED.

    • Kelsey

      I have these same concerns!! I’m wailing at my partner almost daily “But if we have a baby now we’ll be poor forever!!!!!”
      So, yes, I think financial concerns from gay and straight parents, but I would be very interested in hearing from a gay parent as well!

  • SamA

    Mine is about the FEAR. And how you handle it? And, not necessarily the fears expressed above about the decision itself, more the omigod what if something tragic happens, within your family or to your family, or, gods forbid, your child. What if baby isn’t born 100% healthy… What if i (we) just can’t handle that?! And, again, everyone is different, and life throws shit at you all the time, but man – this one kinda keeps me dithering.

    • Rachel

      THIS! I’m a huge worrier, it’s in my nature. I worry about losing people close to me on a regular basis. I’m terrified that once I have a child, that fear and anxiety will be so overwhelming for this tiny human I’m responsible for, that it will totally cripple me.

      • Audrey

        Ugh, accidentally reported instead of Exactly!ed

        I have to admit these tendencies (and the fact that my mother is totally like that about me) are one of many, many reasons I am not planning on having children.

        (Yes, I don’t know why I’m in this thread either.)

    • http://writemeg.com Megan

      Agree, agree. I’m also a naturally anxious person and the thought of harm befalling my future children about paralyzes me with anxiety. That’s probably not normal? Or maybe it is?

    • http://mydnyht.wordpress.com Aurora

      My biggest fear relates to how my in-laws will treat out kids. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the way they brought up my fiancee, and I’m terrified they’ll make some big snafu that will traumatize our kids for life. I don’t know how to begin discussions with “this is how we want out kid to be treated” and it’s getting to a point where the anxiety makes me wonder if I even want kids, for fear that someone else I can’t control will screw them up.

      • One More Sara

        It’s scary putting someone you love into situations you can’t control. When the baby is a newborn, you would have to be trying to seriously screw them up. I am also fiercely protective of my son, and if someone tries to discipline or talk to him in a way I REALLY disagree with, I shut that shit DOWN. You’ll need to have discussions with the in-laws, esp if they were spankers and you don’t want to be, you’ll need to teach them how to do time-outs properly. If you are worried about leaving the kid with them, be sure you’ve invited them to your house so they can watch how you parent AND SEE FOR THEMSELVES THAT IT WORKS.

        In the big picture though, your child is going to have to deal with assholes at some point, hopefully later, and hopefully not related to him. The best thing you can do is to teach them how to gracefully deal with awful people.

      • SJ

        God yes. My future mother in law has borderline personality disorder, so not only am I terrified of the genetics, but I am also fearful of exposing any future children to her. She was, and still is, very emotionally and verbally abusive to her own children. I have already made my fiance promise that she will never be left alone with any future children, and the thought of her interacting with them scares me half to death.

  • KTH

    I am in the “have always known I wanted kids” camp and have babysat for half my life, so my concerns are not so much about how to actually take care of a child. I am terrified — TERRIFIED — of the financial impact. How will we have enough money? Will we be able to buy a house, ever? How will we pay for daycare? How in God’s name will we ever save up to pay for college? What if we end up in credit card debt because there are medical issues to deal with? Will we ever be able to send the kids to camp or travel or will they spend their entire childhood feeling like a burden or poor?

    tl;dr: money.

    • KATE

      This is also my fear and it really doesn’t help that my mother is constantly saying, with regards to having children, “there is never a right time and we all just found a way to make do with what we had so you will too!” My parents did not have much money at all during their kid-having (3! they afforded 3 kids!) period of their lives but they also did not have the type of significant and scary and constantly hanging-on debt that we have (student loans, ugh). They don’t quite understand the black hole that is student loan debt, and think that because it was for our education, it should eventually be just fine, and it shouldn’t hamper us from the children-having… but I can’t see any way that it won’t directly impact the children-having. And then, of course, there is the house buying (with a yard! for the future children who are not currently an option) and the college savings (maybe before we’ve paid off our own education??) and the enriching vacations that you mention that I worry about irrationally on a weekly basis.

      So, in conclusion, I would love to hear discussions about the money! Not the actual money, because that’s not really the point, but the feelings around the money and the cost and being able to provide the things that the child needs and wants. I want to know how, in general, normal not-rich people get to a place where they take the risk financially of having a baby, and don’t see it as a risk or a calculation or a potential liability. And, I totally don’t expect this to happen in Meg’s interview since these are such personal questions :-).

      • meg

        This actually makes me think we should do some… generational interviews, for lack of a better term. David and I graduated college in 02/03, and if you look at charts of student loan debt (there are better ones than this that go back further, but here is one I found), student loan debt started rising fast right after we graduated. So we’re sort of with Gen X (our real generation anyway) on that one. That makes me want to interview some younger parents just for that issue.

        The other issues are still salent, though at the end of the day I think your mom is probably right. We don’t own a house, and I’m fine with that. At the end of the day it is what it is. You’re never going to be totally settled before you get married/ have a kid, unless you want to age right out of your fertility.

      • Shiri

        My mom is always saying the exact opposite, to wait until it’s right, everything else is settled, and everything else is, as she puts it, “in the right place.” I’m convinced that isn’t an actual situation anyone ever finds themselves in, and I’ll be waiting forever!

      • Marina

        I’ve been thinking about a Reclaiming Wife post on this subject… I became a mother and the primary wage earner basically at the same time, and have been trying for the past year to hack my way through the emotional jungle of how it’s affected me. Consider this comment a reminder to myself that I should get on that…

        • Angie

          Please! I’m the primary breadwinner and hoping to have a baby next year. My husband is expressing interest in possibly staying home, which would make a lot of financial sense, but having sole responsibility for supporting our family is scary. I have a whole new appreciation of the pressure men must’ve been under for hundreds of years when it was expected that they would provide entirely for their family.

          • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

            Yes, please x2! This will be our situation when/if we have kids, and it is TERRIFYING to me – would love to hear how others have navigated it.

        • http://www.theloudandclear.com Kate

          Oh man. Yes. Please write that post for me. On a slight tangent, I work in finance and my husband is a carpenter so I earn more and have access to benefits which puts me in the primary earner position.

          However, he loves his work and I’ve been thinking about a big change since I’m getting burned out. Throw a baby into the mix and all these complicated feelings about doing what’s best for our hypothetical family financially vs. emotionally start to come up.

          Should we put off trying until I figure out my career situation (how do I get a new job and then go on maternity leave right after?), or is preganancy one of those things you just have to go for before your window closes and it will work itself out?

          It really stresses me out. However, this thread has helped me a lot today and I’m super-excited for Meg’s interview!

      • http://onwardfulltilt.blogspot.com Caitlin

        This is where we are right now-slightly terrified over finances, so any conversion around that would be great. I am five months pregnant and we were trying for this, we knew that the costs would be a factor and were as prepared as we could be, but now that it is becoming more real, the actual numbers are a bit daunting. I’ve worked for a non-profit for the past 10 years-I have job stability, and a comfortable salary, but my husband is a first year NYC teacher and makes considerably less than I do. I’ve been the primary earner for our entire 11 years together, so this is nothing new, but adding $1,800/month daycare to the mix is pretty scary. People say we should leave NYC (and we live in an affordable neighborhood in an outer borough) but I won’t find a job that pays me nearly this well anywhere else, and we need that salary in order to cover the $780/month student loans (graduated in 02 for reference to Meg’s comment above). We don’t need to own a house any time soon, I just want to make it month to month without struggling once we factor in daycare. We’re budgeting, and saving, and I know we’ll make it work, I know we’ll figure it out, but it is still a very real concern.

      • Corrie

        YES! THIS! I am the oldest of 4 children and grew up in a family that always struggled financially. I recall going to WIC with my mom and using food stamps at the grocery store. We got a few new clothing items once per year and never an allowance. My parents were barely able to contribute anything to my college education. My mom says all these same things to me – that “it’s never a good time to have kids and you will find a way to make due.” I don’t want to just “make due.” I currently pay $750 a month toward student loans alone, which is already prohibitive toward having a wedding let alone a kid (I’m trying to finish paying them off in the next 3 years, by the time I’m 31, so that I can afford to have kids). My siblings and I turned out fine – great, even – but I don’t want to have to raise my kid(s) in the type of financial situation that my parents raised us in. What if I can’t pay my student loans off before I get too old to have kids? How can I afford to pay for day care, and school, and activities, and feed another person? My boyfriend and I can barely afford to take a road trip 6 hrs away to visit friends, let alone pay for a vacation with a kid, or heck, save for someone else’s college education (the cost of which seems to be ever-increasing, by the way).

        The financial things TERRIFY me. I finally feel like I’m gaining financial control/stability in my life and I feel like having a kid is going to throw that all away…possibly for decades.

    • Maureen

      I cannot “Exactly!” this comment enough, because the word TERRIFIED is precisely the word that pops into my head whenever I think of babies and money in the same sentence. I’m starting to reconcile myself to all the other big fears and feelings mentioned in these comments (key word: starting) but the money thing just seems like the boogie-man of baby-land at the moment for me.

      I would definitely appreciate any talking about relationships with money when kids come into the picture! And I think Meg’s idea of a generational discussion about baby-money would be amazing!!!

    • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com Stephanie

      Exactly is not strong enough to express how much this scares me too. My mom was a teen-aged single parent who struggled financially my entire life (still does). I’ve done fine on my own but I do have massive student loan debt from law school (I’m talking 6 figures, and I’m not currently practicing law … go figure) that I’m afraid will hamper any baby-money-spending we may need to do. How do you plan for it or budget for it? Or do you just NOT plan for it but go with the flow and make it work as you need to?

      • Kate

        Just to let you know I’m there with you. Six figure debt from law school. Luckily I’m practicing and love my job, but it’s so daunting that daycare will cost the same as my student loans, which costs the same as my rent. How can we make this work?

        The finances of it are so that it would *almost* make sense for my husband to stay home, but I am not sure how he would feel about that, and do not think he would want to.

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

      Also, how much does it REALLY cost to have a newborn? I know daycare is expensive, but how much do you spend on necessities like clothes, diapers, wipes, etc.?

      • meg

        It’s funny, I really bought into this “There is a baby industrial complex! You don’t need the stuff!” idea, and then was sort of blindsided. Apparently, that means: you don’t need all the extra crap parents these days seem to buy. But our friends aren’t parents, so that wasn’t even on my radar. Turns out you DO need stuff. Kind of a lot of it. Like: clothes, bottles, diapers, a car you can fit a kid in probably, a car seat, etc. It is not, in fact, like wedding favors. SURPRISE! And thank god some friends with older kids jammed all this stuff I thought we didn’t need at us: like a bouncy seat and a baby bathtub. Ha. It’s the stuff I’m not sure we could have coped without.

        However, I also find out people tend to come out of the woodwork to support you, regardless of if you “need” the help. Yeah. Accept all that help. You’re going to get REALLLLLLYYYYY good at accepting help, or you’re going to go REAAAAAALLLLLLYYYYY crazy real fast. In my experience.

        That’s not a specific answer to the question, which I’m sure Maddie will ask me. But it is some thoughts.

        • Class of 1980

          You absolutely need help. Period. End of story.

        • Vmed

          Some of us don’t get help from out of the woodwork. In fact, sometimes people crawl back into the woodwork after the baby shows up. Just sayin. A baby swing won’t bail on you. But I guess the motor can burn out.

      • Lindsay

        You can get a ton of stuff secondhand. A ton. Not sure where you live, but here in Chicago people practically give this stuff away for free. There’s Craigslist, Facebook groups, mom swaps, consignment sales, second-hand shops, not to mention hand-me-downs from friends and family, who can’t wait to get rid of stuff because children grow so fast and room is needed for more clothes, toys, and books. Formula companies hand out coupons like candy (if you’re formula feeding), clothing companies like Gap and Old Navy have huge sales, parent groups hand out freebies all the time. It’s almost overwhelming but once you get a handle on it, you can score a lot of stuff for cheap or free.

        • meg

          So true and worth pointing out. We don’t have hand me downs (for more than a few random items) which somehow you can feel badly about because everyone acts like you’re supposed to. But we pay full price for very little (heyyy Craigslist and consignment).

        • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

          I actually live in Chicago, so that’s good to know. Thanks!

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

        People will THROW their old baby stuff at you, if you stand still long enough. Like, by the car load. I’m not even kidding. And it doesn’t have to be close friend either – J’s crib came from one of my husband’s then coworker’s, who just wanted it out of his house.

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

          If you’re concerned and have space you can start collecting now. When people know babies are planned in your future things get pushed in your direction. Even though I’m not pregnant, we’ve managed to accumulate a lot of “big” stuff, like a crib and stroller, just by listening to who is looking to get rid of things.

      • Katharine

        Newborns are not as spendy as I had originally thought. We took a plunge having our son who is 5 months old. We have mountains of student debt and are doing stuff on the cheap because we don’t make a ton of money. I have a line item in our monthly budget for Elo/Bjorn (dog/baby) that is $70 which thus far still has money left each month.

        We breastfeed so that is free, thank goodness.

        We do bumgenius 4.0 cloth which was $350 upfront cost with a negligible increase in our water/gas bill. We spend $14/mo on target disposables for at night.

        Clothes, when they are really bitty you realistically won’t be spending much of anything because people love the little clothes. I am actually selling some of our 3 month and under clothes to pay for 6 mo. plus clothes.

        We spent $400 on the nursery and utilized things we had, craigslist, ikea, etc.

        People were generous with hand me downs and gifts so our total baby supplies purchases for Bjorn was about $300 (things like aspirators, millions of paci”s, bumbo, etc)

        Bjorn’s toys are hand me downs, his feet or measuring spoons. He is 5 months and happy as a clam with that :)

        I hope that helps!

        • meg

          Yeah, pretty much all our costs were up front. Other than daycare, we really don’t spend a ton on him. Diapers, wipes, occasional formula, done.

        • Amanda

          This might be the dumbest question ever, but do you know if daycares (generally) continue with cloth diapering if this is the parent(s) choice? Or do they insist on sending your child with disposable? Just a thought for me to consider, as we will need daycare by about 4 months.

          • Lindsay

            That depends on the daycare. Definitely a question to ask when you are going on tours!

          • amc

            Amanda – My daycare was very open to cloth diapering. Each day I pack a large planet wise diaper bag with 5 clean diapers in the front pocket. During the day, they put the used diapers right back in there and I take them home to be cleaned.

            It’s much easier than I anticipated and they were very open to it. Just ask, the daycare may surprise you.

          • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

            It depends on the daycare. Mine does, except when H had a stomach bug a couple months back and they asked (very nicely) for disposables to use until she felt better. We thought that was genius and used them at home too, until she was back to normal.

          • meg

            Depends. Every daycare we looked at was open to cloth diapering. Which, you know, we thought we might do… till we landed it survival land ;)

          • Amanda

            Thanks ladies! So great to know that I might have the option to continue cloth diapering. That is – if we choose to start!

          • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

            Our daycare is willing to do cloth, but right now, in the first weeks back? I decided that we’ll start her in disposables there and keep using cloth at home. Then later, when I have my life a little more organized, I can think about going over to cloth at the daycare. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

            (And cloth is super awesome. And way, WAY easier than I feared. If you want to try it, go for it. Worse case scenario, you can sell them and make some of your money back.)

  • Danielle

    I would love to hear if anyone has similar struggles within their relationships with getting used to the “new normal” versus “getting back to normal”. My husband and I got pregnant (unplanned) a few weeks after getting married… Right now we have a beautiful, funny, challenging 7 month old baby girl and we have been married for a year and 5 months and we keep going back and forth with this struggle of “when will things get back to normal?” This can put stress on our new relationship (heck, it would be stressful even if we weren’t *newly* married).
    I know many people talk about how “life doesn’t have to change” after you have kids, but as much as those people have been our role models, that just hasn’t been our experience. Anyways, I would love to read about anyone else’s struggles between “getting back to normal” versus “accepting the new normal” and how this is navigated in terms of people’s relationships.

  • http://www.ablogofherown.wordpress.com Shaba

    I want to know how to deal with the big, scary, finality that is motherhood.
    Having kids scares me to death for a number of reasons (It’s the one area of my life I can’t plan with any kind of accuracy, it’s stressful,it’s expensive , it makes everything else harder) but the biggest reason is that once you’re a mom you’re never not a mom.
    When I was engaged it helped me calm my “THE REST OF FOREVER IS A LONG ASS TIME” nerves just by knowning that if for some reason one of us went completely crazy, we could undo our union. Not that we would, or that it would be an easy option to take, but just knowing it was there was comforting to me.

    Motherhood is really the only identity I can choose and I also can’t change.
    I feel like there is this big wall between non-mom me and mom me and that once I cross it everything will look and feel different and that scares me.

  • http://www.saravictorious.com Sara

    Phew! I know that Meg is hesitant to talk about this, but, let’s face it – the decision to have kids is an important part of wedding planning, and trying to figure out how to raise them is an important part of marriage and redefining your role as a wife. I had twins a year and a half ago, and I still realize daily that I don’t know what I’m doing.

    Discussions/conversations/fears I would love to see:
    – Daycare – because even though I have a solution now, what happens when that changes?
    – Change in your relationship with your spouse, and sex (I know that’s too personal, but dude – it can be a big change!)
    – Making the decision to continue to have grand adventures, even though you have a kid. (Because this is such a huge fear! “I have a baby, now I’ll never get to see the northern lights until they’re in college!”)
    – Choosing to bring your baby into your public/blog life space, or not.
    – Postpartum anxiety, and the fact that even though you have a baby now, you still have fear that you’re messing up every day… It can’t just be me, right? :)

  • http://somervillebeat.com Elyse

    THANK YOU! I am 28, have been married for 1.5 years and my husband and I totally ambivalent about having kids. We both always wanted them, but the closer the decision to have them gets (i.e., as we get older), the less we want them/the more terrified we are.

    I completely horrified by the idea of not having control over my body during/after pregnancy. Afraid it will change my wonderful partnership with my husband. Scared that my life will be completely different, and not in a good way. That I will be so hard on myself to be the “perfect” mother (this happens in basically every other area of my life) and will drive myself insane/be miserable.

    I have really disliked the preparation phase of life for major events (marriage, home buying), so I’m really interested to hear about Meg’s experience being pregnant, especially because she has alluded to it being difficult. (possibly both physically and emotionally?).

    Basically, any honest information you ladies want to share would be amazing! APW totally saved my sanity while wedding planning and I’d love to get some of that real talk regarding motherhood as well. Thanks so much for doing this post!

    • Brytani

      Yes! I don’t really care to have bio kids and we don’t even know if we want kids at all at this point (we’re pretty young at 25 and 27). Hubs seems to feel that if we do decide to have kids, he would like at least one to be bio. That scares me so much. I’m pretty small and I’ve always had issues with anemia and other nutritionally-related goodies. As in, if I skip breakfast, I get weak and all spotty-eyed from standing up too fast. It’s no bueno.

      I have a deep, deep fear that I physically cannot handle pregnancy. Of course, I see people in much worse health power through and have relatively healthy pregnancies. I mean, refugees have babies. Clearly, it can be done and logically, I know that I could do it if I just paid attention and took care of myself but I just lack any faith that my body can do it. I should probably just say no to pregnancy. Right? Right.

      • Emily

        I’m in the same place! It seems like all we hear about pregnancy is how terrible it is, and how people almost die, even with our medical advances. And the only answer seems to be that it’s worth it for the baby. My thinking is: if it’s so terrible, and I might die, and there are millions of children already born who need me and who I can love unconditionally, why do it? Why not adopt?

    • Lizzie

      This is in no way meant to minimize other people’s experiences with rough pregnancies, and it may be a bit naive since I’m only 5 months in to my first, but to offer an alternate narrative about what pregnancy does to your body, so far for me it has been all to the good. This is probably in part because I’m being a bit more conscientious about what I eat and how much sleep I’m getting than I normally am, but I seriously feel better than I can ever remember, and I love not having my period (I typically have awful cramps and occasional vomiting for 2-3 days every month).

      I’ve been anemic in the past, and the weirdest thing was that I was dealing with some pretty horrid but unexplained GI stuff before getting pregnant that completely went away when I got pregnant. My GI doctor actually shook her head laughing and said “Well, maybe you’ll just have to stay pregnant for the next 15 years!” (prompting a very nervous laugh from me…). All of this is just to say, I was not exactly a perfect physical specimen going into this.

      I know that this is very much luck of the draw, but it’s not all short straws out there.

  • http://independapotamus.com Kamille

    I’m struggling with the idea of “defining” myself right now – I hate to let a title define me. I’m not a mother yet, and I’m honestly scared to add that title to the list of ways I could potentially “define” myself. Does that make any sense? I’m not sure it does, but to expand upon that, right now I feel a bit conflicted between veteran/unemployed/homemaker/(stepmom??), and I really don’t want to BE any of those things. I just want to be ME. I guess I fear adding “mother” could change things. I do think it’s a legitimate fear, and reading all of the other comments, I know there are other people with similar thoughts.

    I second (or fifth based on the current number of Exactlys) the fear of the financial impact. Apparently according to current statistics, for what they’re worth, it costs over $250,000 to raise a child – don’t make me quote a source because I don’t remember where I got that information. And then being torn between getting a new job and staying home with the kids – I just don’t know where to go.

    Also, I feel that making a baby together is a WAY bigger commitment than getting married. That’s scary. Even if you were 100% secure in your decision to get married.

    • meg

      Luckily, it does not cost $250,000 all at once. At least, if you have health insurance. You should SEE the itemized bill we got (and didn’t have to pay) for his birth. Holy shiiiiiiitttttttt.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      The $250,000-ish number is from the USDA. It covers just food, clothes, etc.

      Of course, $14,000/year can be really scary, too.

    • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

      I feel like kids are kinda like weddings in the $$ regard… yes, it is going to cost you something for sure. But some people spend millions of dollars and some people spend … way, way less.

      So far I have more clothes for my fetus than I own for myself. And I spent about $30 on some Threadless onesies that I couldn’t resist. The rest were all hand me downs.

      • meg

        True, though see my comment on stuff above.

        But daycare is daycare, and daycare ain’t cheap. It’s actually not nearly as expensive as I’d feared, but still. There are lots of expenditures that are less flexible, depending on your circumstances… unlike weddings.

        • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

          True, there are definitely expenditures that are totally non-flexible. For a wedding, the only thing I can think of that is completely non-flexible is the marriage license, and I guess even that is flexible if you either don’t want or can’t have your marriage recognized by the state.

          Side note, it really pisses me off when people say that breast feeding is “free.” As Hannah Rosin has pointed out, breast feeding is only “free,” if you think the mother’s time is worth nothing.

          • meg

            You know, I never thought of it that way. So true. SO TIME CONSUMING. Also, pumps sure as shit aren’t free.

          • Amanda

            With the new laws in place, breast pumps ARE free from some insurance companies (I’m talking double pump, electric — the “good” ones). If you think you might qualify (less about the mother “qualifying” and more about whether or not your insurance adheres to the laws), call your insurance company once, twice and then a third time, just to confirm all info you are receiving is the same in every call. Some people will be required to provide a prescription, others will not. Get those FREE PUMPS, ladies!!

          • Colleen

            Yeah, I had low supply & spent a *lot* on renting a hospital grade pump, plus literally hundreds of dollars on various herbs & pills in an attempt to increase my supply. Obviously that was my choice in response to a situation that doesn’t apply to everyone, but SO not free.

          • Lizzie

            When it comes to breast pumps, 2013 is a good year to be having a baby:

            http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/01/29/170583430/episode-432-the-price-of-free-breast-pumps

          • ItsyBitsy

            Re: what Amanda (I can’t reply directly to you) said…

            FREE PUMPS? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?? I used to work at a health insurance company and I just wanted to cry every time I had to tell a new mother that we didn’t cover them.

          • Amanda

            @ItsyBitsy: I think in January for most companies; perhaps later in 2013 for those with different start dates for each plan year.

            My insurance will cover the full cost of the Medela Pump In Style Advance that I plan to purchase after babe is born. In my instance, I cannot purchase ahead of time (ie. not before babe is born), but I can do so from the hospital baby center on the day of birth. It’s one less expense to worry about.

  • Martha

    My questions would all be related to pregnancy! I’m definitely in the “always wanted kids camp,” babysat all the time, can’t wait to be a mother. But those 9 months of baking really freak me out – I think of myself as a bit of a wimp, so the idea of pushing another person out of my nether-region is wicked intimidating.

    But then, do I really want the answers to this question? Some women I’ve talked to had great births (while they admitted it certainly didn’t tickle, overall they survived and lived to tell the tale) and others have absolutely horrifying stories.

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

      I’d like to second this question. I’m really scared of what pregnancy will do to my body. I’ve read about the obvious changes (like your boobs getting bigger), but I’ve also heard about non-obvious things like your feet getting bigger and staying that way permanently. What changes did your body go through? How has it bounced back (or not) since you gave birth?

      • Martha

        If my feet get bigger and STAY THAT WAY I will cry. For two reasons: I love my current shoes collection and there is no way these size 10/11 monsters could get any bigger.

        • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

          This was an article on Jezebel a couple days ago, and it scared me shitless. The more I learn about what happens to your body during pregnancy, the less appealing it sounds.

          • RC

            Same here. Maybe I’m vain, but I work hard on my body and I’m proud of the results. I’m terrified by the idea that pregnancy would permanently change me physically. Would my boobs be droopy and my stomach never quite as flat as it was? I’m not sure I would have the confidence to love my body after pregnancy.

      • One More Sara

        The bounce back varies so much from person to person. Only 50% of people get stretch marks, which makes it seem like you have a 50-50 shot at stretch marks. Hint: not the case! If you got stretch marks on your boobs when they grew during puberty, or ever got stretch marks from weight gain, you will probably have stretch marks from pregnancy too. If you didn’t get big boobs overnight or have never gained weight quickly, the best indicator is to ask your mother or sister. Also, recoveries from c-sections are crazy different than recoveries from vaginal birth. I lost all my baby weight in 5 months or less ONLY by breastfeeding, no exercise. If you choose to use formula, you’ll just have to be careful with how much you are eating (one day you are growing a person inside you, so you need a lot of food. the next day you aren’t, so you don’t NEED the food but you definitely still WANT the food). Also, don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat a carton of Ben&Jerry’s every night after dinner and then be surprised that you gained way more weight than you expected. The less weight you gain, the less you’ll have to lose.

        (My feet went from 8.5/9 to a 9/9.5. I was full term in May, so was only wearing flip-flops or no shoes at all, so idk if my feet were even bigger then. My boobs went up 2 cups for good, a welcome change for me)

    • Courtney

      Epidurals. Love ‘em. I always thought they took the edge off. Nope, pain is completely gone. I felt pressure which is good because I didn’t want to be completely disconnected, but I wouldn’t say it hurt after the epidural. I know some women prefer natural births and more power to them, but I was in love with my epidural.

      The thing I kept reminding myself of was that our bodies are literally built for this. Obviously some women have issues but biologically speaking, this is what we’re made for. It is amazing when you stop and think just what we can handle.

      Also, weird connection to make but physically getting through labor was made *slightly* easier because we chose not to find out the sex of our baby. It really gave me something to look forward to and think about during the process.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    How do you give up the things you’ve worked hard to obtain, for someone you haven’t even met? I put a lot of hard work into fixing physical problems, and setting up a not-baby-safe apartment. Maybe it sounds vain, but I don’t want pregnancy to wreck my body or a toddler to wreck my apartment.

    Also, what if you don’t like kids? Don’t like holding babies? Don’t like playing (and never really have)? I sometimes feel like the dads in the old movies – where the wife/mother is disappointed the husband/father isn’t really interested in the baby, and the girlfriends are all, “Some men just don’t like babies. He’ll come around when she starts talking.” Except, I’m a woman.

    • Hannah K

      Dear Prudence wrote a thing once about how some *people* are not into nonverbal babies (mothers included) in which she said that, in her opinion, that is totally fine and does not disqualify you from parenthood because, as you point out, they eventually do talk. (And for the record, my mom is not silly and doesn’t do playing, and that did not stop me from bonding with her, even more so than with my dad, even when I was little.) That said, I completely share your fears! haha.

    • Rachel

      This applies to me too. I’m very confident that I want kids. I’ve thought long and hard about it, my partner and I have discussed it extensively, and it’s definitely something we both want. That being said, I don’t really like spending time with other people’s kids, unless they belong to someone I’m really close to. I don’t really enjoy spending time with young children, I hated babysitting when I was young, I could never work with children, yet I want children of my own. Terrible idea? I would love to hear from parents who are in a similar situation – and hear how that’s worked out for them.

    • Kate

      My mom has also told me that she had this problem, and said hiring a babysitter to come and play with Barbies with me was a lifesaver. She was a wonderful mom and we are very close, but she was never into playing with me when I was little.

    • Daisy

      I am the child of a stay-at-home mom so I share the fears of identity and work/life balance others have stated above.

      In regards to your comment, I have realized as an adult that my mom does not particularly like children. She loves my sister and I fiercely and devoted her life to raising us, but she pretty much can’t stand other people’s kids. She doesn’t even like any of my cousins. I don’t think either of my grandmothers like children all that much either. I’m an elementary school teacher so I do love kids but I could take or leave babies, none of my own yet.

      My point is that I don’t think you have to like kids all that much to love your own and be a good mother.

    • Teresa

      I feel this too–I’m not generally a silly person and kids love silly. What makes me feel a little better is that my sister never was a silly person either, but she is great with her kids and is always singing silly songs and making silly faces with them and they just giggle with her constantly. That doesn’t mean I’m not still petrified of a hundred other things (money! identity! changing relationships! everything!), but I think I can handle silly…

    • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

      ha, i totally think of myself as a dad (apparently so do the kids, dresses and all – 1st kid called me “he” for a month, 3rd kid called me “daddy” for a week). personally, i recommend starting with ones that already talk. obviously choosing to foster (or adopt) is a more in-depth decision than that, but that was the easy decision for us. “no babies” was my caveat when i told her she’d talked me out of “no kids” =)

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      My kid’s a mobile 1 year old and we’ve barely baby proofed our entire house, minus 2 baby games and some plug covers. We’ve just been super diligent with the NO and redirection, to the point that the baby monitor that lives on the floor is so off limits to her that she doesn’t even seem to see it. She knows she can’t play with that pile of cords, or to climb that shelf. So, other than the occasional test of our resolve, she doesn’t. Babies CAN be trained, if you are willing to put in the effort (and have a kid who wants to please.)

      • One More Sara

        I always say you need to house-proof your baby, not baby-proof your house. Esp bc you’ll be going places all the time that aren’t babyproofed, so your kind needs to know how to handle that. (We do have a childproof lock for the cabinet under the kitchen sink. No need to gamble there.)

    • rys

      I’m extraordinarily ambivalent about wanting kids, leaning toward not (and my single life is not exactly pushing me toward kids anytime soon). A lot of my resistance is that I’m not a baby person. At all. Don’t think they’re cute, don’t want to hold them, don’t play with them. Nevertheless, I’ve realized two things:
      1) kids who talk interest me way way more. Still not sure how I’d make it through several years of no talking and limited talking, but I don’t mind interacting with kids when words are involved. (Also, for the person above, I love teenagers, even with all their snarky meanness; I’ve often wondered if I could just take the kids for the teen years.)
      2) A good friend who was also meh about kids just had a baby. Watching her parent has been far more thought-provoking, at a deep level, for me than anyone else. It’s really the first time I’ve thought that, under the right circumstances, kids, or maybe just a kid, could happen. I think I needed to see someone more like me have a baby and have it work and be excited for the baby even as she wasn’t super-duper excited about kids pre-baby or while pregnant. The enthusiasm of my other friends (as awesome as it was for them) couldn’t do that, because I know I don’t feel that way, so it never felt like a realistic model. Now I have that model, in someone who is not only totally blase about baby hype but also someone who is career-focused, and that’s been a good thing, I think.

  • Moe

    I want to know: what are your biggest fears about choosing to have children?

    Almost everything already mentioned!! At 40 I’m not even sure I can have a baby. I’m afraid of what infertility could possibly do to my marriage. I don’t have a burning desire to become a mother I can honestly say I’m indifferent. Does this mean maybe I’m not mommy-material? Will I lose my sex drive? Will I be too tired to do anything else after I have a baby?

    I feel a certain amount of shame that I’m not making more money, more successful and won’t be able to give a baby All The Things that other moms my age can.

    Can I parent a child after coming from a family where there’s been dysfunction and alcohol abuse? How will I know what ‘normal’ is?

    What if I have a baby and don’t bond with it?

    As a former morbidly obese person, what will happen to my body? Will I gain all my weight back and not be able to lose it?

    • Sophia

      Moe,

      I felt moved to reply to your comment. I know situations can be similar while being completely different, but speaking from my own experience as a grandchild of an alcoholic, it is something that can be dealt with via effort on your part. My mom and dad were able to give me and my siblings a very happy and supportive immediate family.

      My mom did not want to raise her children as she was raised. She sought out help to deal with her childhood and her family. She read parenting books galore, went to counseling, Al-Anon… She and my dad never claimed to know everything about parenting, and my mom was honest with us regarding her background, especially when my sister and I were older.

      When I was growing up, I would ask about the books dedicated to parenting that she was always reading, and she would tell me that she is always learning how to be a better parent. She also said that I should not raise my future children like she raised me and my siblings; I should read and learn as much as possible, perhaps incorporating how I was raised, but not necessarily doing so.

    • http://mydnyht.wordpress.com Aurora

      “Can I parent a child after coming from a family where there’s been dysfunction and alcohol abuse? How will I know what ‘normal’ is?”

      This. This, this, this. I want to hear about this. I already clicked “exactly” but I can’t click it more than once.

      If it helps (it did help me a little bit), I was having a conversation with a friend of mine whose mother did a fantastic job raising her, but whose grandfather molested all his children (including the mother who did a fantastic job raising my friend). You can break the cycle. I’d also recommend “Healing the Child Within” by Charles L. Whitfield.

      • Caroline

        I actually have a lot of questions about this. I’ve realized that I probably need to do a lot of work to heal/learn from the dysfunction of my family as a child (I’m an adult child of an alcoholic in recover), but I don’t even know where to start. I have the vaque idea it is vital for our marriage and for our family, but I don’t know where to start. My mom dragged me to a lot of AA meetings as a kid, so I’m kind of traumatized and really resistant to ACA or Al-Anon, but I have no idea what else to work on, or how to go about it. I’m trying to find a good therapist who specializes in adult children of alcoholics, but I’ve had so many BAD therapists and am scared about that.

  • Hannah K

    I want to hear about Meg’s experience of the common problem Jessica Valenti talks about in WHY HAVE KIDS?–the myth of “parent and baby should be everything to each other,” so that parents feel both guilty about needing things other than to take care of the baby and jealous of and threatened by anyone else who can be important in the kid’s life–the one thing that would allow the baby to receive love and support while you pursue things of your own. Basically, is that a problem for you, why or why not, and how do you deal? This is my #1 fear about parenting (matched and balanced by my #1 fear of not parenting: that that will mean I am a selfish, stunted asshole who can’t give to others! yaaaay!), so I would love to hear anything about this–do you feel like you’re ignoring your own needs and then resent the baby for needing so much and “deserving” “more” than you? Do you not-neglect your own needs but then get the crazies about letting other people be important in the baby’s life? Why or why not, and how?

  • Natalie

    As usual, APW hits the nail on the head in terms of choice of topic.

    Currently, I am re-evaluating my role as a hopeful mom. I am 27, just started a great full time job in my career (after working for close to 3 years to get it,) and I have been married 8 months. My husband and I have talked on and off about having children, and we both knew before we wed that children would *hopefully* be part of our future, whether they’re bio, adopted, or foster. I’ve had abnormal paps off and on for the last 6 years (FUN!) and not being able to have children has been the focus of my anxiety since I started dating my husband. (Despite the fact that my GYN reassures me that, even if I needed a LEEP procedure in the future, I would still more than likely be able to have multiple, healthy pregnancies. What can I say? I have a lot of health anxiety thanks to HPV.)

    The funny part with myself–that I have noticed since being married—I worry constantly that I am somehow pregnant; that if I were pregnant it would not be a convenient time, but then once I find out I am not pregnant, I find myself relieved and then GUILTY for being afraid of being pregnant, while still harboring the fear that I am infertile.

    Basically, I am just worried about everything having to do with kids: money, timing, the emotional and spiritual development of my marriage, planning for college, mortgages/costs of rent, costs of everything rising………….this is all evidence to me that I am nowhere near ready or mature enough to care for another human being. And I am hoping that the day will come when I will find the courage to just do it, because deep down I want it. But I am afraid of everything that could go wrong.

  • Trin

    I’m scared that I’ll never feel financially secure enough to have a child–and I’m scared that if I have one before my career is well-established, I’ll never have the resources to build a career I love.

    On the other hand, I’m scared that if I wait too long, I’ll never have a child at all!

  • KC

    Babies are Not An Option right now, but…

    I identify as “myself” when not PMS-ing and not sleep-deprived. I do not like “me” when hormonal and sleep-deprived. From what I gather, babies make you both hormonal and generally sleep-deprived. I know that you’re technically the same person pre-marriage and post-marriage, and the same person pre-baby and post-baby, but… when something messes with your hormones and your sleep, are you the same person? How do you cope with that? (ditto for hormonal or baby-related depression)

    (also, I sometimes get around TMI by using anecdata from my pool of friends (and/or myself, when relevant); things like “most friends needed additional lubrication for post-baby for sex for a while, while a smaller number didn’t”, which gets around mental picture-ville and protects privacy to some degree? Not sure if this would be useful for anything that does require details to explain or not, though.)

  • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

    I’d like to hear about whether or not/how friendships changed during pregnancy and with baby. I know I had to work really hard when I got married to convince single friends that I wasn’t becoming an entirely different person who’d never want to hang out with them again and I worry about that same assumption happening if/when we decide to have kids, particularly since if we decide to go for it, I’d like to start around 28, 29, which Bay Area people treat practically like teen pregnancy. I’m worried that even if we don’t change fundamentally, people will treat us as though we have and that I’ll resent having to do the work of convincing everyone that no, really, we want to hang out and we really don’t want to talk about baby all the time!

    • meg

      RIGHT? David and I feel like teen parents half the time at 31 and 32. That’s a weird urban-only problem, but I still haven’t figured out how to navigate socially when the parent with kids the same age is 15 years older than you. You want to relate UP to them, and you’re supposed to relate peer to peer, and it’s really strange. I know that’s not the answer to your question, but the problem is so unique to certain areas, and so baffling to me, who’s brand new to it.

      • Kate

        My concern is that I will FEEL like a teen parent (aka clueless) but everyone will look at me like “you’re 30, having a baby is normal for your age, so why are you freaking out?”

        • meg

          Everyone’s clueless, so it’s fine. I have endless childcare experience, but it hardly helps with your own kid/ breastfeeding/ hormones, whatever. You just roll with it a lot of the time.

        • Alyssa

          Yup, I feel like this in just about everything I do. Part of the problem is that I’ve always looked much younger than I am (still getting offered youth fare on buses at 26), and it really sucked in wedding planning when it was obvious that people were judging me for being a very young bride (especially since at 25, I was a fairly young bride for my region, so there was already a bit of guilt there). One random customer of mine who I’d never talked to before in my life told me “you’re way too young to get married.” I definitely sympathize on not feeling “old enough.”

      • Danielle

        I just want to elaborate on my *Exactly*. But, YES, THIS, EXACTLY. As a 28 year old new mom (my husband is 29) we do feel like teen parents most of the time. None of our close friends are having children – and don’t seem to be in any rush to. I live in Oakland, CA and joined an “new moms” group and was the youngest new mom by anywhere from 5-15 years (talk about life situation differences!) I think it is especially hard on my husband – where are all the “new dad” groups for cool “young” dads?

        • http://www.emilywenzel.com Emily

          We’re stuck in this weird place where half of our friends are having kids, and the other half are getting engaged. So we’re awkwardly in the middle, being already married but not wanting kids right away. It’s like being a teenager all over again.

      • One More Sara

        In response to feeling like a teen mom, nothing is worse than a stranger asking if you are your own child’s AU PAIR at the playground. File this under things you should never ask a stranger.

        • Colleen

          I (age 35) was asked if I was my kids’ (age 2 1/2 & 6 months) grandma. File in the same folder. It’s funny to read the Bay Area experiences, while in the Midwest, I’m definitely an Old Mom.

      • Remy

        How do you find other parents to hang out with? I have friends in a range of ages, but the older ones either have grown kids or are childfree, and the ones my age or a bit older aren’t having kids now or ever. Assuming that things go according to plan (which is a big assumption), it looks like my wife and I will be the first parents in our immediate circle (which is small) and 5+ years behind some of our acquaintances that have small ones now. I… I don’t like a lot of people. I find it hard to make friends based on superficial similarities. Am I going to have to sit through playgroups and mommy meetings and try and find someone I would actually want to be friends with? Ack.

        • meg

          I just didn’t. We met people through a birth class, which ended up being a great decision. It will change some later, but having a baby doesn’t mean I need a TON of friends with babies.

        • One More Sara

          Personally, I barely have any friends that are parents. I have one. The belief that you “need” other parent friends is a myth. It’s been working pretty well for us… we can bring our kid along most of the time bc it’s fairly simple to accommodate one child (like if we can’t find a sitter, we’ll bring him with us and put him in bed at our friends house. Another time he came to a daytime bar party with us, and was totally eating up all the attention). If more of our friends had kids, doing things like this would be pretty hard. My biggest issue with having not-parent friends is that they tend to decide to get together for drinks 3 hours ahead of time, and sometimes we have to opt out bc we didn’t have a sitter (and sometimes we do an all-call on fb and find someone. It goes both ways)

          • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

            Yeah, I have maybe one friend who has kids? Otherwise . . . I just don’t see the point. I’m not trying to make friends for my kid; I’m trying to make friends for me. So what do I care if they’ve reproduced?

        • Amanda

          Like you, Remy, I find it hard to make friends based on superficial similarities. That said, going through life changes together – pregnancy, postpartum, etc. – isn’t necessarily “superficial”. So – I’ve found it worth my time to yes, sit through mommy (to-be) meetings. You don’t have to click with *everyone*, but if you can click with just *one* other person, I think that just might be enough.

          (Please someone exactly this so I know I’m on the right track!!)

          • Remy

            Adding a new family member *is* a big life change, which is why I would love to spend time with others (that I like) who have done that recently. I do hope and expect to carry on friendships with my people who are not parents! I think I may have less in common with mothers who are expecting to or have given birth, at least while their children are very young. We might find kindred spirits in our pre-adoption classes/support groups, but the individual timelines can vary so much among families. Maybe I am expecting a sort of media-glossy symbiosis with the neighbor moms (who are…? maybe I will find them at the park or the library), and that is not the reality other urban parents actually live.

    • Marina

      This please. Have any friendships changed in expected or unexpected ways?

    • Laura

      I’m curious about this, too. Though, from the other not-yet-ready-to-have-kids side.

      I feel as though my husband and I will be all too willing to let the grandparents babysit so we can have a social life, but frankly, some parents will happily fall into that no-life parenting cliche. And I know our best friends are going to be those parents in 3 months. It’s just their personality (and I have a lot of history to back up my theory).

      I don’t really know what my question is, but I know I’m very much mourning the loss of more time with them.

      • Lauren

        Yes!
        Often women talk about their post birth bodies and sex after baby in really vague terms, like how it was all worth it, even if there where changes. I’d love to know the nitty gritty, from both moms who had C-sections and moms who had vaginal births. (Nitty gritty such as how did sex change, how did your vagina change, how did your body change, and how long was recovery, did any changes remain, etc.)

        • One More Sara

          I gave birth vaginally, and the weirdest thing I had post-birth was being scared to poop. The nurses said I had to have one BM before I could be discharged from the hospital. I think it took me longer to push that BM out than it took for me to push out the baby. (The same muscles for pooping are used to give birth, so I don’t know if it was the muscle fatigue or the fear that made it take so long. Probably a combination of both. I thought I was going to poop my entire uterus out or something)

          • mmouse

            Thankfully my nurse let me leave without having a BM! I just couldn’t relax in the hospital. It took my like 4 days to drink enough water and feel comfortable enough to relax enough to go. After the first time though, it was all back to normal.

  • Anon

    This is on the more selfish side of things…

    I am *terrified* about the impact pregnancy will have on my body, both during an after. I struggle now, as is. It is literally the only thing that deeply concerns me about having children.

    • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com Stephanie

      Yes for me on this one too! Guess I have more fears than I thought. :)

      I’m scared to death about what pregnancy will do to my body and I know part of that comes from witnessing my own mother never be happy with her post-children body but I really am petrified. What if I gain too much weight and can’t lose it after? What if I don’t gain enough and the baby is underweight/unhealthy? What will happen to my lady bits after going through the birthing process? Am I going to pee my pants every time I laugh or cough? Will I get stretch marks? Will they go away? Will things tear and stretch during labor only to never return to ‘normal’ afterwards? I’m 31 now, by the time I have kids I’ll be closer to 33 – will my body bounce back the way I want it to? Will I get postpartum depression? Will my brain function normally ever again? I know these are vain concerns but they are still concerns. How did you deal with the physical impact pregnancy has on the body/brain?

    • Natalie

      Not selfish at all. I think this is one of those practical considerations that each person should make before the decide to have kids. Lifestyle expectations are important, and I am learning this the hard way, after having been married for 8 months. The first few months we were married, I cooked for my husband and was probably too excited about cooking because we each gained some weight after our wedding. Sure, we are both young enough to the point where it might not matter now, but children enter the picture and it seems to become more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to be able to have the energy to meet a child’s needs.

      Part of the health concerns have to do with weight gain, and I have a bad feeling that I will struggle with weight after pregnancy since I have struggled with my weight for more than half my life.

  • Jen

    Since we talk so much about feminism and marriage I would love to hear your take on feminism as a new mom. For example, my fiancee and I have, what I feel, is a relationship which I am proud of as a feminist. He wants to see my career excel and I his. In fact, right now I am the breadwinner and I feel very supported in this role. (Not that it is the only way to be a feminist but as we are both attorneys and since law has a horrible record for equal pay, I think it is pretty cool) Around the house we have also divided up the labor in a way that works for us. I still cook dinner every night because I get home a little early, but he washes the dishes, etc. Essentially, we have a balance to our careers and our obligations at home that is what I always felt was lacking in my parents marriage. I am terrified that when we have a baby all that will go out the window.

    • meg

      Do I want to talk about this? YES. (Hint: my answer isn’t doom and gloom.)

    • JBL

      I second this one–I am 11 weeks pregnant right now, and the thing I am most worried about is failing to give my husband enough space to parent in his own way, even if his way is different than how I would do it. I can see how that could result in me taking over more and more responsibility for caring for our child and how that would lead me to resent him (and him me). This is a weird analogy but I felt it a little when we were decorating our house–it was almost a feeling of being affronted because he had opinions about things that were supposed to be my “territory” and also feeling like I should have the tie breaking vote because people would judge me, not him, for the way our home looked. I feel like I will struggle with that a lot once the baby is here.

      • Itsy Bitsy

        ThisThisThis!! Not giving my partner space to do things his way worries me.

      • KC

        Yes on the judging me rather than him for ridiculous things. I mean, some people judge the wife rather than the husband for *what the husband wears*! I would imagine baby-related stuff being similar.

      • Colleen

        My husband (we have 2 kids: ages 2 1/2 & 7 months) just had a discussion (stemming from a misunderstanding) about this the other week. So I try to be really aware of not telling him how to parent, and sometimes *really* bite my tongue while reminding myself that we are on the same team. I think being aware of it as a potential problem is half the battle. And honestly, my husband’s pretty fantastic at parenting, and I learn better ways of parenting (and sometimes just *different* ways) by watching him. The take-home from our misunderstanding/discussion was that I am never quite sure when telling him how I do things is helpful vs me being bossy/not respecting his method. On his part, he (who works 60 hour weeks while I’m home full-time) feels like a “part-time parent” (his words) compared to me, and so is somewhat insecure and sometimes feels like an outsider in our family dynamic. I think that both of us being aware of the other’s perspective has helped a lot. For big things where we need to agree (sleep-training, for example), we discuss it and problem-solve together, and re-evaluate if it doesn’t work. We both know that we’re making it up as we go, which also helps reduce blame if something doesn’t work.

        • LAS

          My question totally relates to this general topic. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and she was fantastic at it. A lot of my ideas about how I want to be a mom stem from the ways I was mothered, and I have spent a lot of time over the years developing strong ideas about how I want to parent my kids.
          However, I am coming to realize that the way I imagine parenthood may not really be the way it works out. I am a lawyer who works crazy hours. My husband is a music teacher with a more flexible schedule. Through many discussions we have both come to realize that he will most likely be the one taking on a lot of primary parenting responsibilities, and he completely supports me in pursuing my career. So I guess the thing that scares me about becoming a parent is learning how to let go of the “vision” I had for parenthood and accepting reality. Also, learning that if I am not going to be the more at-home parent, I can’t and shouldn’t dictate to my husband how I think he should parent. But rather must trust his choices and let go of some of my naive pre-children theories on parenting.

          How did the reality of parenting match up to your expectations? Or perhaps more importantly, when you have to rely on others, whether your husband or paid help to care for your child(ren), how do you learn to trust their judgment and not become a backseat parent, second guessing decisions or being too bossy/helpful?

    • Granola

      Also, if you’re up to sharing, I’d love to hear what it’s like logistically with a new baby. How do you split up chores and duties, especially when you may be breastfeeding, which only one person can do? Did you and David talk about it beforehand, or take things as they came?

  • k.

    Other people have already asked questions I am interested in, but I also want to add one plea! I think a video is a great idea for this, but please please caption it! You’ve got deaf readers on apw, I know because I’m one of them! I’d hate to miss out on this interview – I’m so looking forward to it.

    • meg

      An interesting reminder for video in general. I wonder if there is a program that will caption for you… hum.

      • http://www.emilywenzel.com Emily

        Or a transcript? Also good for those who will want to read/watch at work (like I used to) and can’t have the video on.

        • Rebekah

          The staff has my email, and I’d love to transcribe it for you guys. I’ve got some prior experience.

        • Rebecca

          If there is video, I vote for a transcript strictly for convenience…Although the accessibility point is also a very good one.

      • LB

        I think Camtasia may have captioning capabilities — although you might have to manually type it in.

      • never.the.same
    • kyley

      Ooo, good point. If it were possible to do both video & transcript, I think that would be great.

    • http://becomingbrown.wordpress.com Jennifer Lyn

      Yes! Also, apparently we need a Deaf on APW group. Everyone on Facebook? Do you all like that idea?

  • Kate

    In the words of the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey, I would like to hear Meg’s thoughts about the “on-and-on-ness” of parenthood.

    As someone who can definitely get overwhelmed by too much socializing and likes to have plenty of alone time to read/cook/relax/whatever, I’m terrified of the early stages of parenthood when your child needs/wants your attention 24/7.

    • meg

      I need to point out, the Dowanger Countess was referring to the hour a day she saw her children when their governess presented them.

      AKA, you need help in some form. Even if you don’t have a governess (damn!). It really does take a village.

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      BABIES SLEEP! A lot! They sleep for many hours of the day, even if they are inconvenient hours. A newborn sleeps for like 18 hours a day. There is a surprising amount of time where you can take a shower or read a book or whatever.

      • Amanda

        I wish I was still in Cowtown (I think that’s where you are, Morgan?), because we could be great friends. I love your philosophy and insight and practical approaches to parenthood. Le sigh.

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

          Aww, I wish you were still here too. It’s hard to make new friends in this town. (I say this as a lifer.)

          • Julia

            I’m in Cowtown! Well, work takes me to “Stabmonton” and sometimes to Red Deer as well, but yeah, mostly Calgary.

      • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

        On the flip side of this coin, though, babies can go through their clingy phase as well. When my daughter hit about 4 months, she was personable and pleasant and quiet . . . so long as she was bouncing on your lap or you were holding her. Otherwise, she wanted you to sense her displeasure . .. loudly. There were definitely days when I didn’t get to have a shower or even check the mail because she just wouldn’t let me put her down for even a second.

        Thankfully, it was only a 2 month period, but DAMN.

      • Nonnie

        I heard this a lot when I wad pregnant. I need to pipe in and say that it’s not true for every baby. I ended up with a fussy baby that didn’t like to sleep and needed to be held constantly. Now at 3 months she’s becoming slightly more flexible, but I was angry and confused and depressed for weeks because I had the expectation of having free time when the baby was sleeping and instead I had a barnacle baby attached to me 24/7.

    • Loz

      This is something that threw me, and I wasn’t expecting it. The physicality of having a newborn that breastfeeding for 6-7 hours a day and refuses to sleep anywhere but in your arms is full on. Especially for a summer baby. For me it was one of the hardest things but new parenthood, and I didn’t expect it at all.

  • Kate

    Beyond the questions already asked, my biggest concern is this: did your relationship with your own mother change during pregnancy and post-birth? If so, how?

    Mostly, I feel a lot of pressure from my own mother to be her “perfect” eldest daughter. I struggle with it a lot – particularly during the lead up to our wedding a few years ago. I work hard, enjoy my job, love my husband – but because I have different priorities from my own mother (i.e. my mom was a stay at home mom and had all her children before the age I am now), I always feel like I’m not good enough for her.

    I know that my mom desperately wants grandchildren. I am worried that when the time comes, I won’t have room and space to grow the ways I need to in order to be a mother myself.

    • NTB

      I have a similar fear. My mom did not go to grad school (I did) and she stayed at home with us until we were complete grown-ups. I am grateful to her, but I feel like I will really fail/disappoint her if I decide to be a working mom. I feel similar pressure and it is a somewhat difficult situation.

    • http://www.ruthvincent.com Ruth

      I second this!
      I would love to see a post about dealing with pressure from parents ( or in laws) to make certain parenting decisions – my mom was also a stay at home mom, expects me to stay home, and has a more conservative world view generally… I would love to see a post about setting boundaries with family, when they are pushing certain choices and values that go against mine and my fiancee’s

      • Anon

        Agreed.

        On the other side of the coin, as much as I love my career, the cost of child care would literally cancel out my income (quite literally…I don’t make tons of money but I do make a decent salary, and here in Denver, child care is outrageous.) I do not necessarily want to give up my job, but on the other hand, my practical/financial side seems to think that staying home at least part-time might make sense from a money end, especially during those first years, although I suppose this is the more ‘traditional’ or ‘conservative’ way to go about it.

        I have no answers, but I can also speak to the pressure from in-laws and how difficult that can be. My mother in law and father in law are great people and are hands-off—-it’s my sister in law who won’t stop asking.

        For me, personally, the ‘answer’ is remember that I have my own life and my own path, and me and my husband need to do what is right for us, at the right time, for the right reasons. Those reasons are different for everyone, and that’s the point. We are all different and so our choices in life will differ from those of our peers.

        • rys

          On childcare costs v. salary, it seems important to place it within the family income/budget as a whole, not as one person’s salary but as a percentage of the team salary. Economists and sociologists have shown that staying in jobs, even when the childcare costs are high, is beneficial for future earnings. So IF it’s primarily a financial calculation, it seems important to think long-term, not just vis a vis present salary.

          • NTB

            Great point. Hadn’t thought of that. :) Thanks!

          • Rebecca

            Future earnings! Definitely a thing! Also, tax-protected vehicles for retirement savings- also worth $$s.

            What I mean is, Exactly! But more words.

        • Jessica

          I know you say that daycare might cancel out your income, but if are sort of wanting to work here is another way to look at it… Just because your income completely goes to daycare you are still probably getting benefits besides that paycheck: 401k contributions with matches maybe, you are building seniority in your company, you are building income (if you quit for a few years you might be able to come back at the same salary, but now you’ve lost out on any raises). In my business if i left for a few years i could never come back. It’s a dying industry, and i’m lucky to have the job i have and make the small amount i do.

  • BeckyPhD

    I’m currently 5 months pregnant and in the middle of all this. My biggest fear is being myself after the baby. I don’t at all feel like myself right now because hormones, and i am terrified that won’t get better. I went through this 2 years ago with wedding planning and getting married. Everyone i knew warned me how much i would change after marriage (I didn’t). I am still exactly who i was, now with matching husband! This baby thing seems to come with far more dire warnings and along with my hormone load right now, I am terrified I will never feel like myself, will never want to go back to work (I love my job, it’s a very important part of who i am), will never get my regular sex life back, and will start to hate my husband. I think this would be a valuable discussion, especially here since it aligns so well with the types of fears that come with other major life changes (hello weddings).

  • Alison

    First of all, thank you to Meg for opening up to talk about this subject. You rock!

    I second the questions about depression/anxiety, and wonder if you know anyone who has had any experience with being pregnant and having a chronic illness?

    Also, any ideas on what to do if you really don’t want either your mother or your mother-in-law to take care of your children, even when they’re close enough to do it, because you feel they are irresponsible and bad influences? This is essentially a question about boundaries and putting them down with difficult family members. Also, is there a point at which you say, “Screw it, it’s only a couple of hours, let her watch the baby” and hope everything is okay?

    Also, do people come out of the woodwork to tell you how to parent, much like they tell you how to have a wedding? If so, how do you stay sane?

    • Shiri

      Please, please please please, any advice on pregnancy and chronic illness would be adored, peanut gallery. I know it differs by condition, but every time I hear a healthy pregnant woman say she’s never felt so awful in her life, I get so scared that I was to throw up a little.

      • Danielle

        I don’t have much in the way of advise – every situation/every illness/every pregnancy is different, but as a person with a chronic autoimmune disorder being pregnant was THE only time I wasn’t sick – weird backwards pregnancy hormone business. That’s not to say that I didn’t have the regular pregnancy stuff (morning sickness, acid reflux, etc), but no autoimmune disorder for 9 months (and two months post pregnancy). Biology is funny stuff.

        • Shiri

          My doctor actually just told me this could be the case for me too (a neurological disorder), but I think I don’t totally believe it’s possible, given how crappy regular women seem to feel. Without supposing to understand how other people feel or judging anyone’s pain, did you feel like the regular pregnancy stuff was easier to deal with because it was “normal” and expected? I guess this is my hope.

          • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

            There is a theory (only a theory!) that the human body is not biologically made to flourish in healthy environments. It wants to be able to attack things – that is why we have awesome autoimmune systems and crazy good digestion. But when there’s nothing to attack, the body turns in on itself. Ordinarily healthy people develop asthma, autoimmune problems, chrohn’s, you name it.

            There is a sub-theory to this that says that babies are, to put it kindly, the perfect parasite. I mean, they steal all your body’s resources, right? So some people think that if you are a person who suffers from what we will call “body attacking diseases,” you’ll actually have an easy-ish pregnancy, because your body sees that something else is already attacking you and everything goes harmonious again.

            Now, that could also be a giant pail of horseshit. I haven’t done a lot of research into it. I do like thinking of fetuses as giant wormy parasites though.

        • KC

          Was two months post-pregnancy “enough” to get through the worst of recovery/transition? The whole caring-for-a-tiny-human-being-while-sick thing seems pretty scary (although obviously would be different depending on the levels of illness and the amount of available support).

          • Danielle

            Um, I don’t if I could say it was enough time to get through all of the transition. I mean, I was physically “recovered” from birth, and was lucky enough to have an uncomplicated, vaginal birth that required minimal healing time… But, having a chronic illness does make it harder in some ways to have a baby. Everyone is different, but in my situation, I have severe back pain and it can take up to 15 minutes to move between 2-6 in the morning because of inflammation in my spine… now at 2 months post pregnancy this did make it difficult to get up in the middle of the night when the baby is awake – needing to be fed, changed, rocked. My husband and I had to sort out a routine for us that worked.

        • meg

          I do have an autoimmune issue, and they do vanish in pregnancy usually. Your immune system has to tamp down so it doesn’t eat the baby. Thus far mine hasn’t come back, which apparently is common.

          However, no, regular pregnancy stuff wasn’t easier. It was totally different (TOTALLY different) and blindsiding.

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

          Lactose-intolerance isn’t like, a disease or anything, but mine went away for my entire pregnancy and took about 9 months to slowly come back after the baby was born. I loved being pregnant, even with the heartburn and such. (Which I “cured” with ice cream.)

          It was great. I’m almost willing to get pregnant again just to eat cheesecake.

          • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

            My pregnancy “cured” my allergy to raw carrots and apples. I can still eat them now, 22 months postpartum. Weird.

        • Shiri

          Thanks for all of these answers, you guys. It’s good to hear, as no one seems to talk about this side of pregnancy. Meg, I especially appreciate hearing about the emotional relationship between the two kinds of pain/illness.

          • Anon

            I have colitis and it really worries me. I have a hard time making sure my body is taking in enough nutrients growing a human terrifies me. Can anyone speak to being pregnant with a gastro issue?

          • Lizzie

            Anon – I spoke to this briefly above. I was severely anemic a year ago and I had some weird GI stuff start up last spring. Lots of abdominal pain that would come on in the middle of the night and would basically prevent me from sleeping for the rest of the night. I had just found a doctor I liked (I was also relocating in the midst of this) and we had eliminated some of the more scary possibilities, but I didn’t have an official diagnosis yet, and then I got pregnant in October. The GI stuff immediately went away and so far (five months in to pregnancy) has not come back. Also my vitamin levels had gotten much better with vitamin supplements. I wasn’t entirely planning on getting pregnant when I did, mostly because my body felt so broken and I’d heard so many horror stories about pregnancy that I was sure I would completely collapse. It was quite the opposite. Obviously I feel really lucky about how pregnancy has affected me, but I honestly don’t think I could have done anything physically better for myself.

  • jen

    I would love to hear about having your own business and having a new baby. As a small business owner myself – this idea scares me the most. I dont have anyone who can do my work for me. How do you balance it all..

    My other concern f course is doing things “out of order.” My husband and I rent our apartment as we are saving for a house… but we just havent even decided on where to put down roots.

  • http://www.emilywenzel.com Emily

    As much as I’d love a video (because we’d get to see your pretty faces!), I’ve always done better with written articles.

    Also, as someone who works from home, I want to know how you made the decision to daycare? Are you doing full-time daycare? And how did you balance work & maternity leave? Because we all know you still did some work :)

  • Caitlin

    As a new mom myself (my daughter is two and a half months old), I’m interested in Meg’s general thoughts and experience thus far. For those who brought up keeping your own identity once you become a mother and just dealing with the newness of it all, you might find this blog post interesting. I loved it and found it to be pretty spot on.

    http://www.renegademothering.com/2013/02/09/i-became-a-mother-and-died-to-live/

    • Caroline

      I read that blog post, and it scared me so badly. Is it really like that? How do you possibly cope?

      • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

        It was not like that for me. I definitely did stay up watching her breathe (it was so fascinating) many times when I should have joined the nap.

    • Elemjay

      Oh I don’t know it seems a bit overblown to me. I think it should come with a “your mileage may vary” disclaimer. SOME women feel like this, SOME women do not (like me). My whole identity didn’t die because I had a baby (who is now 2 and 1/2).

      • Caitlin

        I thought the author made some great points, though I don’t feel exactly the same in every way. Experiences obviously vary person to person. I just liked her honesty. But even though I’ve wanted kids for as long as I can remember, now being a mom is sort of surreal.

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      I am loving that blog, thanks!

  • http://doomedforhappiness.Blogspot.com Shana

    Yessss. I’m in the phase where I see a baby and I WANT ONE NOW but I realistly want to wait a few years until I have just a little more of my shit together. So I love reading/researching baby stuff.

    I’m interested in the health (physical/mental) stuff.

    Partum depression; I was terrified to find out that exists & shocked I didn’t already realize it was there. You only ever hear about postpartum. How to treat it? Are there ways help avoid getting it?

    Doulas; How to find a good one. Are they helpful?

    Eating placenta capsules; thoughts on it?

    Body change: What REALLY happens to your body? Chewed up nipples from breastfeeding, vagina stuff, excess skin, gaining weight, losing weight, tiredness, etc…

    Obviously not asking for Meg’s specific experiences with these, but maybe positive/realistic/healthy references (books/articles) that she found helpful?

    • meg

      Because we won’t get to this in an interview:

      1) You can’t prevent getting it, but you can watch for it, particularly if you have a history of depression. It’s treated with therapy, and meds as needed, same as post partum.
      2) Our Doula was SUPER great in terms of providing support for David. That’s why we hired her. He was my support, and I really wanted to know that he was going to have someone to support him. It’s a damn hard job that he had. My labor was so fast and hard I barely remember her being there, but it was great for me personally that she kept a record of my labor, with notes, which I really wanted, it turns out. Interesting to note: Doula’s work on sliding scales down to free very regularly, so everyone can afford one (at least in the bay area). Also, for the record, I’m not very hippy, and I ended up having a lot of interventions for reasons far outside my control. Our Doula was great with that.
      3) There is lots of debate on this, other people will have different opinions. However, with serious depression, I can tell you right now this is not going to TOUCH it. Also, I think it’s horrid (with a kind hat tip to APWers that disagree with me and did it). The placenta has your child’s DNA. No, no, no.
      4) It changes, it wasn’t generally as bad as I expected. I’ll let other people who are less private or more anonymous weigh in more.

      • Colleen

        Re #2: Right?!? I had an unmedicated (by choice & good luck), vaginal delivery with 3rd degree tears, and would choose that over my husband’s job of determining whether or not my calls for an epidural were for real, or just part of transition–being relatively powerless for the most part and aware of everything going on– in a heartbeat. A heartbeat. I’ve not heard anyone else express how hard the partner’s job is before.

        Re #4: Aside from tearing (treated with stitches, and *for me*, no complications), my body is no worse for the wear. And interestingly (to me, anyway), as a plus-size person, I’ve never had a better body image than when I was pregnant. For me, it was like my body *finally* looked like it’s “supposed to.”

        • meg

          #2: I’d literally rather be me than him. Sure, I was in pain and screaming and such… but I was so IN IT that I didn’t have to emotionally process it. And besides, I remember it all through a haze, he does not. The support role is no joke. And you must feel so helpless.

    • Heather

      I’ve never heard anything negative about consuming the placenta, except for the psychological ick factor. It seems the benefits can be significant. In capsule form, it seems easy to forget about. Many traditional cultures have been practicing this for millenia. I’m definitely doing this! From the reading I’ve done, it seems to be nature’s design to replenish the body and help balance our hormones.

      I found this very helpful:
      http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2011/10/the-benefits-of-placenta-encapsulation-for-postpartum-healing.html

  • carrie

    I just want to say thanks for this post and this question because I don’t feel absolutely insane for my ambiguity and fears around having babies. I would like you all to be in my circle of friends.

  • Karen R

    Lots of good questions already here… One I have is: how does pregnancy and baby-having affect your relationship with friends who don’t have kids (yet, or ever)? I kind of worry that–besides the inability to go out and have free time issue–my kidless friends wouldn’t want to hang out because they’d assume I wanted to kvetch about nothing but e.g. baby poop with fellow parents. Or worse, baby poop would, in fact, be my number one conversation topic!

    • MM

      I just got back from visiting my sister and her new baby (4 weeks old). I recall her talking about his poop several times during our brief visit. I can tell you that this in no way surprises me about her… I always imagined she would be that person. I like to think that I won’t be, but who knows?

  • Sarah

    Oh APW. I come here and there is always someone else (or many) with the same worries and me and someone different (or many) with reassurance, answers and ideas.

    Anyone know where the APW for deciding on the topic of your Masters dissertations is to solve my most pressing problem?!

  • HK

    I’d love a discussion of the certainty/uncertainty of making the decision to have a child. For me, having children for a very long time seemed like one of those things that I’d just do, because that’s what done. And I’ve worked my way through those feelings, and am stuck in a bit of a limbo, as I’m not really certain one way or the other now. Does not fitting into the paradigm of “I’ve always wanted to be a mother” mean I don’t want kids? Or is it ok to feel like that and still want them? Anyone else out there in the middle?

    • Alyssa

      Can’t “exactly” this enough. I hate the true ambivalence that my husband and I now feel about having kids now that we’re old enough for parenthood to be a reasonable possibility. We actually have a pro/con list going (which boils down to kids are going to be a ton of work and prevent goals vs but they’re probably worth it)…but yeah, if I don’t feel the obvious unquestionable need to be a mother, should I not?

      • Colleen

        I didn’t feel that need prior to having kids, but now have 2 that I love indescribably. That Must Have Babies feeling is not a prerequisite for being a good, loving parent, in my experience.

        • ItsyBitsy

          Truth. My (wonderful, amazing, loving) mother has told me that before she had me and my sisters she didn’t even like children that much, and still doesn’t feel affectionate towards other people’s kids. But man, does she love us something fierce.

          (Disclaimer: not having babies is a totally valid and good option for lots of folks, I just thought I’d pipe in on the “Must Have Babies feeling as a pre-req” idea.)

    • MTM

      This. I have two sets of friends who when they got married (or before they got married) thought they wanted to have kids, but now that it’s “go time” one partner is all in, and the other partner is not at all wanting kids. One of the sets is moving forward with trying because “someone has to win” and the other set is hitting the pause button.

  • Beth C

    My biggest fear is that despite having a supportive awesome partner that my career will always come second because I make less money than him. It’s that simple.

  • Anon

    Ye gods, the list of fears and questions I have!

    1) I’ve never felt the overwhelming desire to have a baby that some women report. My biological clock exists only in that I am staring at 35 and I know I need to be about it if I’m going to do it. Over and over, I hear/read that it’s “really hard, so you need to be really, really sure about it.” Really, really sure is not a setting I appear to possess in this instance, so that particular advice makes me rage-y.

    2) I am terrified of never feeling like I am alone in my own head again once I am responsible for someone else.

    3) I fear feeling like my child is an intruder. My relationship with my husband is lovely and the idea of intentionally changing things/bringing someone we don’t even know into it–permanently!–is terrifying.

    4) That whole “permanent” thing. Anything else you can do, you can undo with enough time and energy. You can sell a house, quit your job, divorce your spouse. You can’t un-have a baby. What if I do it, and it turns out I don’t like it?

    And on and on. Pregnancy fear, sleeplessness, body changes, etc. I honestly don’t understand how anyone manages to make an affirmative decision to do it–it’s just so freaking huge.

    • p.

      Don’t get me started on the “having kids is so hard and if you aren’t sure then you probably shouldn’t do it” comment. Another thing that makes me ragey is when I express ambivalence about having children and get comments that imply that I don’t like kids (as if my personal ambivalence about having a child of my own is equivalent to being ambivalent about children in general).

      • Anon

        See, I will totally cop to not really liking kids. They’re loud, and kind of boring, and messy. So that should be it, right?

        But my mom was the same way, and she adored her own kids. And I find my sister’s kids to be way more interesting than anyone else’s, so I have to suspect that I *would* like my own. It’s just kind of hard to picture it.

    • Nic

      I like a lot of other friends’s babies and kids, but I’m worried that I won’t like my OWN! What if they are particularly cranky, obstinate, shy, or illogical? I find many stranger’s babies and children annoying. Is it the parenting or their personalities or some unfortunate combination of both? If good parenting can actually help raise a pleasant child, I’m worried that the effort of training is overwhelming and potentially disappointing.

      • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

        Oh god yeah. Raising an asshole is my biggest secret fear. I mean, you do what you can, but what if …?

  • Brenda

    I know a lot of people are worried that they’ll change too much when they have children… I’m worried I won’t change enough. I want children, but I’m worried I’ll react to them the same way I react to all changes, even big exciting ones – with absolute terror and the conviction that it was all a terrible mistake and now I can’t take it back.

    Also, I’m pretty lazy and I hear children mean you have to clean things more. Really? Will I suddenly care about cleaning? Will I need to?

    What if I don’t change enough and am a terrible mother? How do you deal with this fear?

    • Amy

      I think the cleaning thing comes from the realization that the child is now lying on/crawling on the floor most of the time for a good year or so, and you don’t want them picking up all the cat hair/dropped food/dirt from outside and eating it. Otherwise I wouldn’t swiffer/vacuum nearly so much.

    • meg

      Nah. Our child is getting a great immune system ;)

      • Jen

        I thought the concern with cleaning more with young children around, at least in high density urban areas, is that the dust that is carried into or settles in the house may contain harmful toxins besides germs. Helpful article here: http://www.afhh.org/chil_ar/chil_ar_why_children.htm

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      “I’m worried I’ll react to them the same way I react to all changes, even big exciting ones – with absolute terror and the conviction that it was all a terrible mistake and now I can’t take it back.”

      That is me, and that didn’t change after I had Jess. My husband is now good at talking me down when I get too worked up. You live, and things, in the end, generally work out.

      And I own a house, but not a vacuum cleaner, and I’m a crappy sweeper. I’m sure the kid will eat more than a few stale bits of food, but she’ll live.

  • Remy

    Generational finances from another angle, maybe? How do you relate to your own parents and your childhoods, now that you’re parenting and planning for your kids’ future?

    I’m petrified that we won’t be able to afford kids. (And a house. And retirement. And paying off the last of my grad school loans. Or not all of the above in the same lifetime.) Partly because we’ll have our finances evaluated as part of the foster/adoption preparation, and either they’ll think we don’t have enough when we’re used to living well below our means and on less than many people in our area do, or they’ll think we’re FINE the way that credit card companies or mortgage lenders think we’d loooove to take on lifetime debt. Don’t think we can trust the system’s judgment on this one — but if we’re not approved, we can’t accidentally or purposely get pregnant anyway. Also partly because I grew up upper-middle-class and had a lot of privileges, and I know that at our current or projected financial state, we won’t be able to provide our hypothetical kids with all of the opportunities and advantages my sibling and I had. I fully realize that kids don’t NEED all of those things/experiences, but it is weird for me to realize how much money went into raising me and that I definitely won’t have that much. My wife comes from a working-class background, and our family will have more disposable income for kids than hers did, so she’s approaching some of the same concerns from the other side.

    • Anon

      I cannot agree with you more. Thanks to a tough economy these last 10 (!) years, I am only now getting into a job I love that is in my field. I am almost 28. Sure, I’m still young enough and all, but the money/savings/mortgage/retirement thing scares the shit out of me. Add that to the rising costs of everything—from food to gasoline to energy—and it makes having a child seem like an overwhelming bundle of NIGHTMARE.

      I grew up in private school and with lots of opportunities and college without debt. I have an advanced degree and no loan debt thanks to my parents and the sacrifices they made for me. Were they rich? No; they learned early on how to save and worked their asses off. Can I duplicate what they did in this ‘new ‘ economy? Hopefully; maybe in some ways, but not to the degree that my parents did in the 90s. (Ah, those golden years.) And if we are able to provide in a similar way, it will be on a delayed schedule.

      • Caroline

        Oh yeah, this. We are in our mid-20s, and going back to school for our bachelors degrees now. We originally planned on having kids now. Yeah right. We couldn’t afford it. We won’t be having kids until our early thirties, and even then, affording it is terrifying. The things my parents gave me: a top notch private school, summer camps, a debt free college education, the chance to go to Europe, vacations, etc, seem like they will always be out of reach to give kids. (Ok, I want the vacations and Europe for me). Buying a house? Saving for retirement? and having kids? How will we manage?

    • Edelweiss

      I would love a post from someone who has gone through the adoption process about finances – both the evaluation and the actual costs of adopting.

  • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com Stephanie

    I actually have two big questions that are kind of related. My fiance brought up the issue of having kids approximately 10 minutes after he proposed. Actually, what he said was, “I’m down for whatever kind of wedding you want – big, small, elopement, whatever. We can even go to Vegas next weekend if you want. And then we can start trying to get pregnant on Monday!” It was a little bit of a joke, but not really. He wants children as soon as possible (like trying to talk me into going off birth control before the wedding *just in case* in takes longer than we think to get pregnant). And while I want to have a family, too, it’s been a bit of a mind-shift for me. We’ve been talking about marriage and kids for years now but I was NOT expecting the proposal so we suddenly went from talking about these things in the abstract to planning a wedding in 6 months and having serious conversations about timing and how to plan for children that could be here in about a year or two! So I guess my first question is, How did you go from the abstract idea of having kids “someday” to “okay let’s do this now”? I know it’s different for everyone but none of my girlfriends are really in this position so it’d be nice to hear from someone who’s perspective I respect. :)

    And my second question is about fear. I have all these hopes and dreams and plans for my career and business but I also have this nagging fear that once a child enters the picture, they will become the focus of my world. That’s definitely not a bad thing, but I don’t want to sacrifice the professional goals I have in order to make the personal goals attainable. How do you balance these two and find a way to have both a career you love and a family you’re equally devoted to?

    Sorry for the super long post! This is all new territory for me and only one of my girlfriends is a mommy so I don’t have many places to turn for advice. :)

    • Granola

      Yea, how do you go from “I think I want this” to “This is going to happen soon.”.

      FWIW, for me, acknowledging that it could be a reality in the nearish future gave me permission to start researching and really grappling with it all, rather than feeling like it wasn’t allowed. In that way, it’s similar to how being publicly engaged made me feel like it was socially OK to explore all these questions that I couldn’t before because then I was just “wedding hungry.”

    • Christina

      You need to talk to your fiance! Maybe I’m reading between the lines too much but it seems like you are not sure you are ready yet but he maybe doesn’t know that?

      My husband is 7 years older than me and was cracking jokes about a honeymoon baby during our engagement, and I was so pumped to see him excited (esp since when we first met he said he had never planned on kids) but at the same time terrified that he was way more ready than I was, scared he didn’t care about my career which was just starting, scared he didn’t recognize the physical toll it would take on me and was glamourizing it. But at the same time I also feared if I wait too long to be ready then he would end up an Old Dad.

      So we talked about it then and a few times since and now I trust that he is ready when I am, and until then just happy to be married. Our talking took away a lot of my anxiety about letting him down. So a talk with him might be more helpful to you than anything anyone here has to say, including me!!

      • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com Stephanie

        Thanks Christina! We’ve definitely been talking about it a lot. Probably more so than the actual wedding planning. I guess for me, it’s more of a mental shift that hasn’t quite happened yet. A little over a year ago, I decided to leave my legal job and start my own photography business. That, to me, was a huge mental shift from “someday I’d like to have a photography business” to “ok, I’m actually doing this.” Fear that it won’t work out is a big part of it for me but with the business I knew that if it didn’t work, I could find another legal job.

        For me, having a baby seems to require that same type of mental shift. It’s going from “we will do this someday” to “we are going to start doing this by the end of the year.” I guess it’s the reality of it that I’m adjusting to and the fear that it won’t work out. Can’t really give back a baby or go back to being a non-mom once it happens. :) So I’m curious to hear how others made that shift from “we will do it at some point” to “we’re doing it now!”

        Btw, my fiance is 5 years older and has similar fears about being an Old Dad. :)

        • jlseldon7

          Talking about it is super helpful. When my husband and I were in the fiance stage, we were both clear on that we wanted kids. The timing was a larger issue for us. He pretty much wanted them “right now” too. I insisted on a couple things, we had to have health insurance, and one of us had to have a full time job (we were both part time at that point). I’ve never seen him so motivated. He obtained both of those things (full time in Sept, and insurance in Dec)

          So we tried. And were successful the first time around. So it’s possible that it will happen right away. Ideally I would have liked to wait one more year. I’m currently struggling with the fear you mentioned. We are having a lot of conversations about what having a baby will look like in our lives.

          I’m still pretty concerned that I’ll end up being the primary care parent, but I’m doing a lot of reading on Equal Share Parenting and other similar parenting styles. And so far my husband has been supportive, if I do get a full time job he’s okay with child care or even staying home himself. Maybe that’s something you could talk about with your fiance.

      • One More Sara

        My dad is on the older side of things. He was 40 when I was born, and my mom is 12.5 years younger. I think having younger kids and a younger wife has helped him stay young. He also happens to age very slowly. His hair is just starting to thin (he’s 65 now). My half-brother (20 years older than me, and a smoker) has more gray hair than our dad. If your husband lives a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t have increased risk for age-related health complications (e.g. family history of heart disease), I would be hesitant to make his age a #1 factor in babymaking (top 5 for sure, but not number 1)

    • Martha

      We are getting married in May and my fiance wants to do this as well! We’ve had numerous talks about it lately – we both absolutely want children and have alwyas known that, but I figured we would wait roughly a year or so before even trying. But through our conversations I’ve discovered we have different definitions of what “trying” means.

      Also, I think it’s hard to remind yourself that even though men don’t have the same biological clock we women cope with, they still could have fertility issues – which my fiance has unfounded reasons to be worried about – that would be better to know about earlier. This is his main reason for wanting to toss the pill ASAP. As we get closer to our wedding date, he becomes way more sentimental (which is great) but also more invested in our future family. Also, my older sister just announced her pregnancy. So I think, at least for our situation, it’s just a combo of things.

      Definitely talk – and compromise, as with all things marriage related. I think for men they perhaps don’t realize that while having kids at minimum means change 9 months from now, for you it means change now. Linking to the decision theme of the month, sometimes you just have to make a decision and hang on to it.

    • Anon

      Personally, I think that work-life balance is kind of a myth. (Don’t hate me! I don’t think all of it is a lie, but ‘having it all’ is certainly something that I feel personally, for me, is unattainable.)

      Every decision–career, family–that we make requires a sacrifice and a trade-off. You might be able to stay in a career you love while having a family; the trade off may be that you will pay a little extra so that your children are in daycare or pay someone to help you clean up your house on a regular basis.

      Don’t get me wrong: I think women have awesome options to work and have kids. But the idea of working full-time and having a family is exhausting to me. It freaks me out, namely because i have a history of severe anxiety and I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up. But that’s a personal setback; I truly believe that there are many ways to work around some of the balance issues we face in our lives.

  • Sarah M.

    I know I want kids, but I really enjoy the place I’m at in life with my husband, work, and free time. I know having a child will be a life changing event for both my husband and I, but I think it’s going to be a bigger change in my life. Not only with pregnancy but taking care of the child. At the end of the day, as the mother I forsee myself taking care of this child more than my husband. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take that burden yet. I realize there are a lot of wonderful things that come with kids, but I think life changes a lot too. How does this (possible) imbalance impact the marriage? Will I be resentful that I’m stuck with the baby while he can do what he wants without the guilt that I would have?

    I’m really excited for everything posted so far. This is why I love APW and continue to read. I love the discussions helping us navigate these difficult topics in a real, thoughtful way.

    • Anon

      Absolutely. My husband is always, and has always been, very pro-family and he definitely wants a family sooner than me. He is 7 years older than me. I just started to get my feet under me in terms of my career, and I KNOW that I will bear more of the burden of child-rearing, so of course he’s all about having a family ASAP. I am not ready; I don’t plan to be ready for another 4-5 years (ideally we’d have our first when I am 31) and I have a feeling that this will become more and more of an issue as time goes on, especially after I turn 30.

      • Sarah M

        Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! It feels a little unfair to say, but I can see it with his cousin who has 4 kids. His cousin, who is the dad, is definitely participating in his kids’ lives but at the end of the day, his wife is much more responsible. I’m sure some of it has to do with their relationship and personalities but he lets his wife be responsible. she feels obligated because if she doesn’t, who will? I don’t want our life to be like that.

  • amigacara

    Things I’m scared of:

    1) my body changing, being in pain, being heavier than normal, being tired, not being able to play the sports I normally do

    2) all the STUFF that seems to come along with having kids, not just the basics like car seats, sippy cups, but all the extra paraphernalia that I see parents with and I’m afraid that will seem normal to me too when I’m in that position. I don’t want to feel like I need to buy ALL THE THINGS.

    3) being judged by everyone, all the time

    4) being separated from my friends who don’t have kids or aren’t even in a relationship–I’m afraid of being in a separate, alien category

    6) being tied down. I want to be able to change jobs or move to another state/city/country and I’m afraid that kids will make it soooo much harder to do that. Even though I know many people who have moved with babies…it still seems symbolic to me. Like, I’ve given up on adventure forever.

    • Class of 1980

      As far as being tied down, there are lots of things in life that can do that besides babies … like someone becoming very ill or not being able to sell a house, etc …

      There are lots of things you don’t think of and can’t even plan for.

      • KC

        I agree, but I often feel differently about situations that I chose vs. situations that were not chosen. For instance, sometimes it feels different, I think, to be short on money when you’ve quit your job and haven’t been able to find a new one vs. when you’ve been laid off and haven’t been able to find a new job. The situation is sort of the same in both cases, but sort of different, too.

        (however: adventures with babies are totally possible, if you’re the adventurous kind and your baby is not in the tiny fraction with serious health issues. We’ve had friends swap countries repeatedly, move, renovate houses while living in them, travel literally halfway around the globe, change careers, all while having and hauling babies and small children.)

    • EAO

      #3 is a huge one for me. We got a dog a few months back and I have been forced to tell several well meaning relatives (who apparently have side jobs as Professional Animal Trainers) to stop talking. My favorite cousin just delivered her THIRD kid, and people still feel the need to instruct her how to hold a kid.

      How do you tell well-meaning people to back off, that this is my kid NOT yours, while still giving the vide, that of course, you appreciate their concern (because you genuinely do believe a village is needed to care for any person)?

    • One More Sara

      For your sports question, I was rowing competitively when I got pregnant (unplanned), and was able to row until about 6 or 7 months, and that was just bc my belly was so in the way. For the first few months, I actually think I had an advantage over my teammates bc pregnancy increases your blood volume, so it was kind of like natural blood doping. After I moved, I had trouble finding a club that I liked, so I’ve since stopped rowing. Even after I stopped rowing, I tried to stay active and kept going on (really light) jogs until that got too uncomfortable. You can totally still participate in sports after having a child, but maybe with a lower intensity than before.

  • kyley

    Here’s what I’m most afraid of: That having this little person will completely consume my entire life, and not in a good way. That I will cease to have the time or energy for outside interests or a social life. That eventually this baby will be going off to college, and I will realize that I have no identity outside of being a mother. That I will have stopped fostering outside interests and passions, because there just isn’t enough time in a day, and all my friendships will be based around motherhood and I’ll just become….boring. I know I have a lot of love to give, and I know my partner and I would regret not having children, but I’m really, really afraid of losing myself.

    • kyley

      Also: post-partum depression. Because that sh*t is coming after me, for sure! What is it like? How does it affect you and your relationships? Is it the same as regular depression, or somehow worse/different? It sounds worse and different. How do people come out the other side? It just seems dark and scary and confusing.

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

        Honestly? You come out the other side because the hormones eventually lift, or you go on medication, or you finally get in a good place with things and then one day, you realize that you hadn’t cried once all day, and then you don’t cry the next day either. And it’s not like one day everything is magically better, but for me, PPD was “easier” that normal depression because it was SO hormonally based. I swear I felt better basically the day I got my period, 4.5 months in.

        If you think it’s coming, you talk to your doctor and your husband before hand. You have a plan that if you feel sad, you will talk to someone, and you have your partner take you to the appointment, or even make it if you can’t get through a phone call with out crying. You research medicine options beforehand, while you can still think clearly. You talk to close friends, to let them know to look out for you.

        If you don’t want meds, and I didn’t, there are, at least in my area, a lot of good support groups and safety nets. I didn’t use them, but a friend of mine had severe post partum anxiety and went to a weekly group for 9 months and said it was the best thing she could have done.

        It affect my relationship a little at the time – it made my husband sad to see me so sad, but he was also super supportive, and in the end, it didn’t change much.

        It was dark and scary and confusing, but it passed. It really, really did, I swear, and I got the cutest baby ever out of it. Despite how terrible I felt, I’m still totally willing to go through it again for another kid, and I think that says something.

      • meg

        I second what Morgan says (though I will say there are times when you need meds, whether or not you want meds). I didn’t have post-partum, I had partum. It was worse for me, it made my relationship stronger, I came out of it with really good treatment and support. That said, regular depression lasts longer, and doesn’t net me shit. Partum depression netted me an amazing new person, so WAY BETTER.

        Also, you don’t know if it’s coming for you. No one does. Those of us who have had it don’t even know if we’ll have it again with subsequent pregnancies. All you know is if you have risk factors. That said, those of us who have risk factors and are aware of them are in a way better place, because we can have people watching out for us, and a medical team on standby, and a possible plan discussed before we get sick.

  • Anne

    I’m curious about how to time a first baby. I’m a small business owner and finally hitting my stride building up a business. I also want to have kids, sooner rather than later.

    How did you decide it was the right time personally and professionally to have kids?

  • http://www.timetoblink.wordpress.com Rebecca Rawls

    I’d like an honest to God, no holds barred, all cards on the table discussion of the fears of pregnancy, the act of being pregnant, etc. My fiance and I recently decided that we did definitely want to have children, but this was a huge step for me because I’ve always been absolutely terrified of the experience of being pregnant and the act of giving birth. There are so many things that can go wrong, and I find myself in a straightjacket of anxiety about it. All we ever hear about is how pregnancy and motherhood is THE MOST WONDERFUL THING EVER or it’s the WORST EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE, and I think that binary and America’s vague and veiled conversation about what pregnancy is like does women (and men) a huge disservice.

    • meg

      It may be sort of binary for most people. It literally depends on how the hormones treat you. Pregnancy man, it’s no joke. Luckily it’s time limited.

    • elizabeth

      I’m only 20 weeks along, but I can tell you that the first trimester was nothing. I had no symptoms, nada, nothing. If anything, I felt BETTER than usual (which makes me wonder if I have a hormonal balance in my everyday life). The second trimester has been harder–trouble sleeping, congestion, blurry vision (a symptom I had never heard of before!)–but on the whole… the truth is, I often forget I’m pregnant. I think part of it is that I’m overweight and so don’t show/have a bump to touch, but also, physically… it’s whatever for me. The binary is definitely not something I’ve yet experienced.

      • KC

        A friend had pregnancy carpal tunnel, which is apparently a thing! Pregnancy: so many weird symptoms.

      • meg

        Ah, no, I mean, it’s binary because for some people like you: it’s pretty fine and then you get a baby, so afterwards you think “hey that was great.” Yay! Then for others of us, it’s total hell.

        So when people describe it as the best thing or the worst thing, I’m not sure that’s cultural noise, I think that may be experience. Hormones, man.

        • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

          I think your experience can also change throughout pregnancy. First trimester for me was THE WORST THING EVER. I was vomiting, I had MAJOR anxiety all the goddamn time, I had crazy bad fatigue, I felt zero connection to the parasite in my body, I totally resented having to share my body with anything else, and I definitely never wanted to have another baby ever again.

          Now I’m five days overdue, and people are like, “Aren’t you going crazy?” And the answer is … not really. I finally got to a good place in pregnancy in the third trimester. I kinda dig my pregnant body and I’m actually excited for labor instead of terrified of it. And I’m actually really enjoying these last few days with my partner as a family of two.

          So I dunno. If you had asked me in my first trimester, I would have said it was the WORST THING EVER. Now, I don’t think I’d say it’s super amazing wonderful, but it ain’t so bad. I might even consider doing it again….

  • Jen

    This problem is not exclusive to pregnancy or new motherhood but it seems alarmingly prevalent. A new mom/ baby growing lady/ potential baby growing lady will express some concern (for example: I’m not sure I’m ready to have a child and not sure I ever will be). Then instead of trying to talk about why this is a concern/discuss the possibility that this may in fact be true or not true/offer emotional support, friend and family respond with one of those dismissive, “Oh but it all works itself out. Once you are pregnant/have the baby/take the baby home/etc, you just figure it out and it’ll all be fine!” This is one of those responses that enrages me. The reality is everything does not work itself out. How do you deal with this type of dismissive response when you’re feeling real anxiety over something? It seems like every time I am around a new mother I hear someone tell her that “it’ll work itself out”. Did Meg ever feel like her concerns weren’t being validated by those around her regarding her pregnancy etc? If so, how did she deal?

    • Remy

      Yes! I am a planner. I need to do as much work as I can, personally, so that things do get worked out, or they just don’t happen. THEY DON’T JUST HAPPEN. That is why I hang around baby/parenting forums even when their values don’t meet up with mine — I’m trying to figure out what the world isn’t telling me about how being a (good) parent actually happens.

    • meg

      It’s so interesting. I totally want to talk about this question, it’s super important. However, at this point I would generally say “it works itself out.” Hormones and lack of sleep are a powerful force and letting you just get through. Also: human being essental need for survival ;)

      So anyway, I totally see where you’re coming from and want to talk about it, and also feel like the “if you have a kid it works itself out” answer is coming from an honest place.

      • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

        Yeah, I feel like “it works itself out” is as honest answer as you can get about a lot of life things.

        I guess it’s kind of like adopting a puppy – you can plan for it, and research puppy types and buy all the stuff and read all the books and then you adopt the puppy and you still have to deal with all the puppy stuff – taking the puppy on walks when you want to sit on the couch, removing your precious needlepoints from the reach of puppy’s jaws . . . whatever. And the truth is that you do it every day, all the time; you’re always making these incremental changes or adjustments until one day it becomes your new normal, and someone asks, ‘how’s your puppy?” and you say “Adorable! He’s only chewed one remote control today!” It works itself out.

  • elizabeth

    I don’t think I saw this exactly posted before, but the thing that freaks me out SO MUCH–I’m 20 weeks now–is what if I don’t love him enough? Or the right way? We both have a history of depression, so I’m betting on the kid getting that at some point, and what if I don’t love him enough? What if we’re just not enough for him? This constant fear that we will fail him somehow–is that something Meg and other moms experience/d? Because my best friend who’s pregnant isn’t feeling it at all, and that freaks me out even more. Also, we’re having a boy and THAT freaks me out because I understand girls better than boys (I teach, so I’m speaking from experience, not just assumptions).

    • meg

      GOOD QUESTION. Also, normal.

    • Mags

      Yes, this is me. I can’t say whether it’s normal (it feels super scary and kind of like I am setting myself up to be a bad mom), but I feel this all the time (14 weeks).

    • Laura

      So the gender thing. I know everyone is supposed to “be happy either way as long as they’re healthy!” And I suppose to an extent I’d feel that way. But I’d also be really sad if I didn’t have a girl, and I don’t want to have 5 boys in the process of trying to get a girl. And does feeling this way mean I’m too immature to have any baby in the first place?

      • elizabeth

        No. I’m really upset it’s a boy. That’s why I needed to find out. I’m trying really hard to figure out how to adjust, and I know I love boys (I am married to one…)… but it’s hard.

        Also, thanks to Meg and Mags for responding. Just knowing others out there feel this really does help. I so hope it’s addressed and others can talk about it.

        Why I love APW.

        • MLA

          Thank you so much for your honesty, Elizabeth. I have such similar feelings, including about wanting a girl. People say, “As long as it’s healthy, blah, blah, blah,” but your questions come up for me constantly. My husband and I both struggle with depression and are both therapists *and* in therapy, and part of me thinks we can’t help but do some things right because we work so hard on ourselves, but part of me is terrified I’m going to f**k things up like my parents did. I *don’t* simply feel excited about the prospect of having a kid, and I don’t want to blow off my doubts and fears, but I worry that having them as much as I do means I shouldn’t have a child. :(

          • elizabeth

            I sorta feel/hope the same–that because we put so much work into understanding ourselves that hopefully we’ll be set on a good path–but it’s still scary.

            My favorite moment of therapy ever, though, was when our therapist said, “listen: it’s actually REALLY HARD to fuck up a kid. like, you kinda have to work at it. promise.” So that gives me hope (and makes me laugh).

            But it is scary. The spouse is so gung-ho for having kids that I’ve agreed, and I think back to my own father who loved the best he could but not the way I needed (or my brother), and we’ve both survived. So given that neither of us is a functional alcoholic with severe anger problems… I have to have some faith. I think all of us who care so much and worry so much have have some faith in ourselves?

          • MLA

            My BFF also does not feel the same way I do, Elizabeth. She has an almost-2-year-old and another on the way, and she’s the self-sacrificing, looks-on-the-bright-side kind of person who’s always wanted to be a SAHM, although she currently works. Talking with her about my dread only goes so far, because she says those placating kinds of things that may or may not be true for me when/if I have a kid, and in the meantime, I really need to talk with people who can hang with my fear without totally substantiating it, either. Not too tall an order, right?!?

        • Laura

          So glad I’m not the only one… I was really afraid I’d get lectured for admitting it!

          • elizabeth

            I’ve been pretty up front and public about it and no one has said anything negative to me. If anything, it’s been good because moms of boys have been so kind and sharing what they absolutely love about having sons. I even told my students (high schoolers) and they’ve been great because they’ve suggested names, all sorts of things to ease my anxieties. (Then again, high school boys are part of why I want a girl in the first place…)

        • meg

          I cried when I found out we were having a boy. I’d really wanted a girl. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade this kid in for ANYTHING. And now I think having a boy is so great that I’d probably cry if I found out I was having a girl. And repeat.

          There is a lot of pressure to feel a particular way. You feel how you feel. It’s REALLY FINE TO FEEL THAT WAY.

          • Laura

            Thanks so much to both you and Elizabeth for your responses! It really helps to hear that others feel/felt the same way.

            And even though I reassure people often that you can’t control how you feel and that’s OK, I guess I still need to be reminded from time to time!

    • Danielle

      Regarding “what if I don’t love him enough? What if we’re just not enough for him? This constant fear that we will fail him somehow” – I definitely had these thoughts throughout my pregnancy and in the first 6-8 weeks at home with our new baby, I was really concerned our baby wouldn’t “attach” to me because I felt I was somehow not great with children. While it may sound a bit crass.. I remember having the mantra “I only need to get it right 30% of the time”… You see, I had read this study that shows that in order for a baby to attach to his/her primary caregiver you need to meet his/her needs 30% of the time. This seemed do-able ;) – from there I extrapolate it out for children, there is probably a relatively large margin for error within which we are all still great parents

      • elizabeth

        30%?
        I think I can do that. I’m going to pack this mantra away for when I need it.

      • KC

        30% sounds… not too scary. Thank you for that.

  • Carissa

    Right now, I’m in the 1st year of marriage and in the 1st year of seminary, and I’m incredibly excited to be a mom (as soon as my husband and I both finish grad degrees…) BUT I’m really scared of balancing career and family. I know that seems pretty common, but (a) as a pastor, I’ll be entering a pretty male-dominated field and (b) my excitement about being a mom has a lot to do with pretty traditional domestic roles (I love cooking, decorating, etc.) that are already hard to easily jive with uber-feminist-ness. So…when I’ll already be facing a pretty big challenge (how to be fully me – feminist and liberal and female – as an ordained pastor), it scares me to think about motherhood.

  • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

    Meg, as someone who also had a pregnancy you would term as “difficult” (such a pleasant word for what was in all honesty the worst time of my life), I’d like to know . . . would you do it again?

    Not with the baby you have now, obvs. But will you want to do it again, knowing how bad it can get? I feel like . . . when I had my daughter, it was NOT A GOOD TIME for me. And I lost pretty much everything and everyone. Some people I drove away in my depression; some didn’t realize what was going on; some people tried to help and I wouldn’t let them. And everyone tells me “oh, it’ll be so much different now; you have a support system and family,” etc. But that, honestly, is my fear. Because the only person whose life I was able to destroy then was my own. Now I have my daughter, my partner, a job, a living . .. do I want to risk all of what I’ve built for another kid (or two)?

    • Amy

      My husband and I always talked about wanting 2 kids. With my first being almost a year we’re now on the other side and are seriously considering making him an only child due to my difficult pregnancy/delivery and how hard the logistics of child rearing have been.
      I’d love to hear from moms further down the road of what made them decide to do it again (or not!).

      • Amanda

        Amy, would you feel comfortable expanding on “how hard the logistics of child rearing have been”? Is there something particular contributing to this – lack of sleep, lack of family contribution (monetary or emotionally or…), partner working insane hours, physical pain, other? This isn’t something I specifically hear *details* about, just basic glossing over (“it’s SO HARD” they say), with contributions from all the categories listed above.

        • Amy

          Amanda – its basically that my husband and I both work office jobs that are typically 8-6 (or more). I travel for work, and we have a child who still doesn’t sleep through the night at a year old due to a litany of minor, but difficult illnesses (flu, cold, ear infections, norovirus, stomach bug x3, etc.). You simply can’t sleep train a sick child. And when they’re sick every other week…well, the self-soothing doesn’t come easy. Plus there is all the taking time off for doctor visits, days home from day care, and managing with one parent or the other traveling on a regular basis for work.
          None of this was news, and we are very lucky to afford good day care, have family to help, etc. But still, the sheer exhaustion and volume of sickness was a total surprise. Oh, and I had a very very difficult pregnancy and delivery making another child a serious medical decision.

          • Amanda

            Hi Amy,

            Thanks so much for expanding. I hadn’t really considered in depth the minor illnesses that children acquire, and their effect on working parents. Part of my naivety stems from the fact that I am a Canadian living in the US. I am used to Canada’s 1 year split (or not) mat/pat leave, whereas I will not get to experience this in the US. I hadn’t yet thought about last-minute time off to care for a sick child that cannot attend day care, or must be taken to the hospital. Luckily, neither my husband nor I travel for work, but I can imagine that throws an additional wrench in. I hope your little one sleeps better soon and that with spring approaching, the illnesses are less rampant.

            Thanks again for being so open to discussion; I really appreciate any straight-forward, honest discussion I can get my hands on before our bundle arrives!

      • Colleen

        We have 2 (ages 2 1/2 & 7 months). We decided to go for a 2nd because we wanted our older kid to have a sibling; someone who shared her family history & memories, and who will hopefully be a support for her when her father and I are gone. It was an easier decision for us because I am one of the lucky people who enjoys being pregnant, and had an uncomplicated 1st pregnancy. We decided on timing for babies based on us wanting 2 or 3 kids, and me being 32 when we got married (with my ob recommending being done at age 38 if possible/reasonable). We’re on the fence about a 3rd kid, but have about a year to decide (and have to get the new baby sleeping through the night first).

      • LW

        Hi Amy,
        I am pregnant with our second and due in 6 weeks. My daughter will be 3 when the baby is born. What made us decide to have a second…for me I just couldn’t imagine NOT having another. Which I don’t know is a good argument or not, but really it was what made me NEED another.
        I also had some of the usual thoughts, but even those have the flip side argument as well, mainly having a sibling for the older child. I love my brother and am super close and hope for my daughter and her sibling to have that relationship, but there is no way I can force that to happen. There is a chance that they won’t get along, or be the friends I imagine/want them to be. And I still have to be ok with that, and still want to have another.

        Maybe it was hormones. And maybe it was knowing how well things turned out with my first (in that looking back, rose coloured glasses way) even though I was terrified (she was an unplanned baby) and how fast it all went. I just really wanted to do it all over again.

        However, now that I am 6 weeks away from that reality, I am back to my terrified anxious self about coping with 2 and what it will be like.

        Also, my husband would have been happy to stop at one, he felt no “need” to have a second, but wasn’t opposed. I now have fears similar to 1st time moms like ‘what if i dont like the second as much and wish we had stopped at one’ (I even feel bad writing that).

  • KateM

    I am 6 months preganant with my first baby, and I am excited to see this post and excited to hear what Meg has to say. I will say a few things that I have learned so far, is that I am growing so much more as a person than I ever thought possible, both physically and mentally:) If anything I feel more free to be myself than I ever had (aside from missing copious amounts of wine). I have changed, I fully admit that, but not in a way that makes me less me, but good ways. I am more aware of how I treat myself, and how great my husband is and how much he has stepped up to pick up slack that I just can’t manage. I am pushing for better materity leave and getting a promotion this month because I care more about my future and am more moivated than I ever have been. I am also more efficent, I know that I am going to need to rest, so here is the window to get things done, and I am more likely to do it.
    The questions about how we are going to make this work, and the fear of sleep deprivation, am I going to be a good parent, am I going to loose my friends, those don’t go away. I don’t know about you, but I had many of the same questions and fear of commitment about marriage that I did about Baby Blader-Sitter. I was indiffernt to bein preganant in the begining, now I am terrified at the thought of something happening to him. I think we get through in the same way we get to the altar, I love and trust myself and my partner, and you take the leap.

    • KateM

      Also, my mom constantly telling me that I don’t have to decide breastfeeding, what college, private or public elementary school, all at the same time. While there are big decisions and some come together, most things happen over time and you are equiped to handle them. You know your kids pretty well, and their behavior is not usually totally unexpected. My mom had 10 kids, she had it pretty well figured out. My youngest sister is pretty awesome:)

  • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Rowan

    My question is were both of you “all in” right from the start (meaning did you both really want the baby)? My husband and I are at the point where we should really get started (biology is an unfortunate reality) but I don’t think he’s ready. I know he’d be a great dad (he’s great with our nieces and nephews, he’s great with our pets) and I also know that he’d agree to it if I pushed, but if it was entirely up to him he probably wouldn’t ever have kids. I don’t feel quite comfortable pushing (since it is another whole person involved, not just us) but that window is (slowly) closing.

    • p.

      Right there with you. I’m more pro having a kid than my husband. But I really don’t want to go into something this big and life-changing without feeling like both of us are really on-board.

      • LW

        I would have been in the same boat (I would be ready, husband not so much and maybe never) had I not got pregnant by accident. It was really a great accident for us to have, things worked out well. However that doesn’t really answer the question (and it can’t even happen for everyone).

  • Elizabeth

    I am concerned about the cost of daycare…not planning on having kids for 3-4 years but I keep hearing horror stories about it costing $2500.00 per week in the metro NY area (where I live).

    Also concerned about how people judge you when you put your child in daycare…it seems like women are constantly judged for this, but I think it’s something I’ll have to do if I want kids.

    Any insight is much appreciated!

    • Amy

      I have co-workers in NYC and their daycare is anywhere from $2k (low) to $4.5k/month (high). Nannies can run $60-$80k (or higher) a year – this is in cash, not including any healthcare stipend.
      The cost gets lower in the boroughs, with older kids (infants are the most expensive) and with an au pair. You’re also allowed to call around and ask – I did before we got pregnant, I wanted to know what options I had!

      • Elizabeth

        Thanks for the reply! I think by the time we’re ready we may be in Jersey…maybe things are cheaper there…

        • Kate

          Checking in from North Jersey here: from the research I’ve done, seems like a good daycare will run $1700-$2000 a month. Hope that helps!

  • Mags

    I’m currently pregnant so I guess I’m “decided” on the kids/no kids debate although I’m pretty sure this is a decision I never actively made (~ 50% of pregnancies are unplanned). And I have tons of fears. Among the many issues that pass my mind each hour are:
    How do I deal with all the career options that are simply no longer options? As much as I believe women can still work and have children, they clearly can’t do all types of work unless they never want to see those children. For example, just last year I was applying for high-powered management consultant jobs where you work 80 hours a week, travelling half the time. Maybe you can have this job and still have kids, but it’s really hard to begin working in this job (I didn’t get the position) when you have children. Because they aren’t going to let a brand new employee go part-time. And by the time my kids are old enough that I might be able to handle an 80 hr work week with lots of travel, I’ll be too old for this type of position. So how do I let go of those unfulfilled dreams?
    What if my child is unhealthy? I know this is a worry of all new parents, but there are some types of children who dictate their parents lives more than others. For example, my neighbor has an autistic child who spends at least half of the day (not just waking hours) screaming. I know, I hear her. Can you still love this child as much when they really do change your whole life? In such a situation, can you find balance?
    What if I choose to stay home with my child for a while longer than the standard US maternity leave (12 weeks max)? Will I love it or will I come to resent my child? How do I keep my career prospects up when I’ve chosen to temporarily put them in the back seat? If I don’t do this will I resent my job (a 60hr/week one without much flexibility for shorter hours) for keeping me away from my child? I feel that for a lot of job types there still isn’t much of a way to balance work with kids.
    How will this change my relationship? Children take time and so do marriages, so when time is limited because there is one more (huge) commitment, how do you make sure you still have time for your partner? And I know Meg believes in egalitarian pregnancies, but I am not buying that %$@! There are no amount of dishes or taking out the dog that is comparable to being nauseous, getting fat, and really giving up your life for nine months (plus breast feeding time). So how do I keep my marriage healthy when I’m upset about the fact that I’m the one stuck with female parts.
    And pregnancy puts a major toll on your body, which some people find worth it and others just find really annoying. I will have permanent physical changes because of this pregnancy (please let my bladder of steal return when I’m done with this), might I resent my child for this?
    What if I don’t like my kid? Or more likely, he/she doesn’t like me? I’m sure we will love each other, but liking someone is quite different. I have a great mother who really did an amazing job raising me and was overall awesome at mothering the whole time. Especially now that I’m pregnant I just am amazed at what a great job she did. But, honestly, we don’t have a lot in common. If we knew each other from a different part of life, like school or work, we wouldn’t be friends. It’s not that she’s not a nice person, but I find her quite dull and she finds my interests also dull (though because she’s an amazing mother she always wants to hear about them anyways). So I kind of avoid calling her and don’t visit often or regret moving across the country. But what if my child has this same attitude toward me? What if 30 years from now s/he really doesn’t want to hang out with me or be my friend? Will all the sacrifices I’m making be worth it?
    Finally, how does a type A person have a child? I’m used to doing everything right and get pretty stressed out when I lose control over some aspect of life. Clearly, having a child is a huge unknown. How does one get an “A” in parenting? No one knows exactly (I’ve been reading the parenting books, they’re all contradictory). I am not good at letting go, so in some ways maybe having a project that I can’t control will be good for me. But if there is one ting I need to do right, it’s this. How do I handle this disparity?

    Sorry for all the ramblings. I swear I’m not completely crazy.

    • Lizzie

      I’m 24 weeks pregnant and spent the first 10 weeks or so completely stressed out about having an unhealthy or disabled kid. Then I completely calmed down about it and it rarely even occurs to me now. We did get some basic genetic screening and came up with low risk factors, so that helped, but also I sat down with this brilliant new book by Andrew Solomon called Far From The Tree about families experiences with children who, in one way or another, weren’t the children they were expecting to have. Can’t recommend it enough for a radically new way of thinking about this some of this stuff.

      • Mags

        Thanks for the book recommendation! I just requested it from the library.

    • Sam A

      Type A here toooo…
      Excellent question!

      • Hannah K

        Yeah that last one!!!

    • Kayla

      “For example, my neighbor has an autistic child who spends at least half of the day (not just waking hours) screaming…. Can you still love this child as much when they really do change your whole life?”

      This part terrifies me so much. My fiance has two kids with autism from his previous marriage. We have them one weekend day every week, and by the end of the day our house is torn apart, my ears are ringing, I’ve been hit and bitten and scratched, and I never want to see them again.

      We’ve read all the books. We’ve sent them to all the specialists. We’ve tried everything. And it looks like this will never get easier. The oldest is already violent, and he’s only going to get bigger and stronger. I’m worried in a year or two I’ll be going to work every Monday with a new black eye.

      Should I never have kids because I couldn’t handle raising kids like his? Is part of being ready to be a parent being ready to parent any child, no matter how difficult? I used to work in dropout prevention in high schools. I thought I knew what difficult kids were like, and I was prepared for that. But not for this. Now I don’t know I’m fit to be a parent at all.

      • Mags

        Awww, Kayla, I feel for you. I’m pretty sure the answer to your “never have kids” question, is no. But this is what also freaks me out. Know that I’m sending good vibes in your direction.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t think this is something Meg can address, but I am terrified that I will be the only adult in the relationship. That I will bear the burden of not only being the breadwinner, but caring the baby. My husband is still naive and irresponsible at 27, and I’m terrified to have kids with him.

    • elizabeth

      OH MY GOD
      yes.
      I adore my spouse and know he will be a great parent to the kid because he can relate and let go and have more fun–but that’s also what freaks me out SO EFFING MUCH. I can’t be the only adult in the family, and I’m more scared than ever that I will be. We have an awesome therapist we’re seeing to help us prepare, and it does ease some worries… but I totally understand that feeling you’re expressing here.

      • Stephanie

        I know right? DH will be such a fun dad… and I married him because he was “fun.” But I want to be fun too. It sucks being the one making the budget, paying the bills, stressing about taxes and stuff… I wish DH could pick up some of the slack, but when it comes to “adult” responsibilities, if I want it done right, I’d better do it myself. (And yes, we’ve tried chore charts, teaching DH how to budget, how to pay bills, but it doesn’t work, and I’m done trying.)

    • http://catoctinmountainmama.blogspot.com/ Catoctin Mountain Mama

      I am five years older than my husband, he was 27 when our “surprise” baby was born, two years ago. He’s a social butterfly, a very loving person and terrific with everyone’s children. He’s the “baby” of the family and as in most Indian families, had never lived on his own.

      Needless to say, he had a helluva of growing to do in the past 2 + years. It’s been rough, as in the roughest period of my life. I thought the fact that he was so great with OTHERS’ children would translate into him being a wonderful father. Nope, not so much. He loves and adores his daughter. But, he struggled with relating to her when she was baby and figuring out how to entertain her before she was talking. Now, that she’s much more verbal…their relationship has blossomed. I realized he’s good with OLDER children and that’s okay.

      What has helped me is the aceptance of the idea that it does take a village to raise a child. If you are concerned that your husband is too irresponsible, make sure you have a STRONG support network. Whether family, friends, a great child-care provider, or a Mother’s Helper…make sure you have a lot of support. My in-laws live 20 minutes away and my parents live 1 1/2 hrs away and all their help has been invaluable and helped save my sanity.

      If you are the primary bread-winner, maybe you can think of hiring a high-school girl to work as a Mother’s Helper for 2 hours or so at night. Mother’s Helpers are paid less than baby-sitters because they are not watching the child by themselves. She could help with dinner, throw the laundry in the wash, play with the baby, sweep the floor, pack your lunches for the next day, etc…

      Our second daughter will be arriving in twoish months or so and I am definitely going to be hiring a Mother’s Helper this summer. Good-luck!

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    What if one of you wants them more than the other? Bad idea to go ahead?
    What if you feel like each working full time jobs takes all the energy you have, and can’t imagine having enough energy to parent in the mornings/evenings, let alone have sleep deprivation?
    Those are the biggies…

    • Sam

      YES! I second the bit about the unbalanced desire for kids. He has known from VERY early in the relationship that I wanted kids and it’s not negotiable for me. I told him this so early so that I could be sure we were on the same page before we got serious.

      Now that we are engaged, he has settled into the idea of having them, but I wonder how much he really wants to and how much he just doesn’t want to not marry me. The deciding factor for him was the idea of being old and not having a family around him. And I worry that that is not enough for all of the trials that having kids will bring and it will destroy our relationship if he hates having kids.

      • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

        as the partner who didn’t want kids, the best i can say is trust him.

        “I wonder how much he really wants to and how much he just doesn’t want to not marry me.”

        that describes me almost exactly. i knew early on that kids were essential to my wife’s happiness. i also knew that i had never, ever thought of having kids. but i knew most of all that i would do absolutely anything to make our marriage work. even have children.

        and i felt really weird about that for a while; like i “shouldn’t” have kids if i wasn’t head-over-heels about the idea, or that i wouldn’t be a good parent because it wasn’t my dream. fuck that – there’s not a thing wrong with making a decision – even a major, life-changing, irreversible decision – for the sake of your marriage. at least, that’s my take.

        in the end, i have been mind-boggled by how much i like and identify with being a parent – that part came as a complete surprise, long after i had decided that it would be “fine”. but also, if it hadn’t happened that way, “fine” would be totally okay.

  • Jodi

    I’m pretty ambivalent, leaning towards no, about having kids. So is my husband. But I’m in my early-mid 30s and there are babies everywhere and I’m having major WHAT IF thoughts all the time now. At this point, I’m not so scared about having a baby, but I am really scared of having a kid. Thinking about my child struggling in school, socially and/or academically, medically, or being as miserable as I was when I was in hs and part of college… I just don’t know if I could handle that… How do you negotiate that sort of anxiety?

  • MLA

    Oh my god, PLEASE write more articles about this. We were planning to start trying as soon as we got back from our honeymoon in October, and I absolutely panicked. Someone here mentioned feeling both desire and dread re: having kids, and that fits me to a T. Fleshing out the details of both of those feelings is something that’s still in process for me, but I will say that a recent conversation with a friend who has two kids and who has done a lot of this work was so relieving to me, because she validated so many of my hopes and fears. She also said that having a child could be healing, which is not something I’d considered. I was raised by two dysfunctional parents, and I was also my younger sister’s “mom,” and it is not an experience I want to repeat. I also love hanging out with my friends’ new babies, want to cuddle them for hours, etc. So it gets confusing, to say the least. MENTORSHIP seems crucial, and I am seeking out positive mentors all over the place right now (unfortunately this means no one in my family).

    • Remy

      Yes! I am latching on to the few parents I know and like and talking with them about what they’re doing, because the role models I have had are either very distant or not so great. (Or maybe at some point I knew pretty awesome parents, but I wasn’t paying attention yet.) In a bunch of instances, I only know what I DON’T want to do/be, because I saw how (not) well that worked out. Mentorship is what I need.

      I would recommend the book Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, which addresses issues like that. http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Parent-You-Want-Sourcebook/dp/0553067508

      • MLA

        Just added it to my wishlist – thanks Remy!

  • http://www.ruthvincent.com Ruth

    Wow! I love you guys and am so grateful for APW’s existence! I thought I was the only one worrying about all this stuff! Somehow it is so comforting just to know that there are others out there having the same fears. Maybe THIS is what these posts are for?

    Here are some things I would LOVE to see in an APW post – maybe others would be interested too?

    1) Being a feminist, while occupying a ‘traditional’ gender role out of choice / economic necessity
    (For example – I face the reality of being the primary childcare parent because my fiancee makes way more money than I do and works way longer hours – and my career can be done from home while his cannot. Yet I have these fears that I’m a sellout to feminism if I become a ‘stay at home mom’!

    2) How to still have an amazing, fulfilling sex life, even though you have kids. Honestly, I have just not seen any positive role models for this. The few parents I know well, whom I’ve asked about how they manage a sex life post kids snorted with laughter, like ‘what sex life? We’re so stressed / sleep deprived / overworked / etc… our sex life went out the window, and yours will too.” That terrifies me. I feel like a good sex life is a meaningful part of a good relationship – it certainly is of ours – and I don’t want that to change. I fondly remember Meg’s pro-married sex post – I’d love to see one post baby.

    3) Also – how to have a work / life / baby balance when you’re NOT a superhuman. I’ve been reading all these discussions about work / life balance in the news lately – many prompted by Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’ project – but many of these women frankly don’t sound like me – they sound like superwomen, who seem to have a much greater energy capacity / stamina / productivity level than I’ve ever had, even pre-baby!

    I’m so glad to see this discussion on APW. I don’t think these types of discussions should be relegated just to the ‘parenting blogs.’ These aren’t just parent issues – they’re human issues.

    • Class of 1980

      Because I have had friends who love to talk about sex (whether you want to hear it or not) I can attest that many couples don’t slow down that much with kids.

      It’s just very individual.

  • Remy

    Topic: grandparents and other supportive folks in your family/friends constellation

    Are your parents involved with you/the baby? What if they aren’t or can’t be, but you wish they were? What if they ARE, but you’re having trouble with that? How do you develop a Team You for your baby family?

    Less philosophical/more practical: If you don’t live near your extended family (assuming that they’d be the first call), whom do you ask to babysit? How do you catch a break?

    • Amanda

      I’d also love to see this discussed. My extended family is all in another country, but totally on board, over-the-top excited and supportive (emotionally and even a little financially). My local in-laws haven’t said boo about our baby-on-board (12 weeks to go!). I don’t think it’s that they don’t like me (I think they like me!), but how do I get them involved? I’m crushed that they aren’t calling/checking in/stopping by, especially when my family is bending over backwards to make sure they do all they can, despite being so far away. I’m not convinced it will change once the baby arrives, although people tell me it will. I find it rather frustrating that I’m not enough, but baby will make it worthwhile to stop by? On the flip side, I am perhaps lucky I don’t have people in my life (who aren’t my Mom or twin sister) who are too involved…? So yes — how do we develop our local Team US (including baby!), because that is what we would love to have.

    • Amy

      Grandparents can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, super great for babysitting, but oh my goodness can the ‘we did x instead of y and you turned out fine’ comments be annoying.
      For babysitting, we use a local service that screens its sitters and you get access to them at a small fee. Local colleges/nursing schools also usually have lists of sitters.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn Moir

      Don’t discount your friends.

      I am someone who is currently childless, but I love babies and I keep telling my best friend that I want to help with her two month old!

      She has trouble reaching out, so I’ve taken to just stopping by her house every week or two to hang out and see what I can do.

      If your friends are excited about it, don’t be afraid to lean on them and ask them for help!

  • Emilie

    I haven’t read through ALL the comments here so I apologize if this has already been brought up, but what I am struggling with isn’t how to be a decent career woman, wife, and mommy at the same time (although that is certainly a HUGE challenge) . Positive models for that exist when the kiddos are healthy. But I haven’t met a single woman who manages that when their child has special needs. I have no plans to have children right now, mostly because my partner and I feel really strongly that we don’t want kids unless we feel we can handle a kid with those demanding health issues. Are there women that exist who work AND have a healthy relationship with their spouse ANd have a kid with special needs? What does that even look like?

    • Rosie

      I read a lovely blog by a talented writer, http://www.kellehampton.com/. She writes about her life and her children: her beautiful daughter has down syndrome and she’s open about her feelings, her daughter’s birth story is amazing. I also volunteer at a music group for children with disabilities and families, and the people there are so inspiring. It can be done!

    • Em

      THIS. So much this.

    • Anne

      I work with kids with special needs, and often think about this as well. I’d highly recommend reading “Far From the Tree.”

      A blurb: “Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.

    • KC

      You should totally look at http://thesesquarepegs.blogspot.com/ – they have two kids, one with Down Syndrome, one without, and from what I remember, she works during the day in university administration while he covers the kids, he then works at a restaurant while she covers the kids, and boy does it sound exhausting to me. But they do it, and she writes, and does not give the impression of everything being all so perfect and happy all the time, nor of DOOM, nor does it sound like they’re independently wealthy (which, um, would make some things easier, I assume).

      She used to write about the Down Syndrome side of things every October, so digging through those archives would give more of that perspective; a lot of the blog is essay-ish, some is slice-of-life-ish.

  • Lee G.

    I hope this question isn’t out there already; my eyes got too tired from reading through all the comments.

    I’m worried about my partner. I don’t know how to frame this question, but I honestly don’t know if he can handle having kids. He says he can, but I don’t know!

    I throw the same question back on myself all the time. I am really worried I’ll end up resenting my partner for the decision to have kids. I know myself, I can be petty sometimes…

    Anyway, I guess the whole parent dynamic and how to raise a person with two people when you each have different ideas as to how to do it best.

  • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

    my biggest fear about having children was some kind of a love scarcity complex. i was *terrified* that my wife would love our kids more than she loved me, and terrified of not loving our kids enough, and worried about all of the other possible iterations of hierarchies of love. which sounds stupid, especially in retrospect – but it sounded stupid at the time, too, and that didn’t keep me from being petrified.

  • Kory

    I’m really excited about this post because my husband and I have started talking about this a lot after just 10 months of marriage. He’s 28 and I’m almost 32. I really want to have kids before I’m 35, so even though financially and mentally (I’m scared shitless) I’m not sure I’m ready, we need to start trying soon. Here are my concerns:

    1) CONCEPTION – How hard will it be for me to concieve? Everyone in my family had their kids by age 25, so I have no one to ask about the late in life conception. A friend of mine is on her 5th month of trying but it still positive. How long before we should get ourselves checked out?

    2) MONEY – my husband and I are in a combined debt load of about $300,000 (thank you medical school (him) for adding to my undergrad and grad school debt)! We know his salary will increase once he’s done with training but until then we need two salaries to afford to live in our city. We’re trying to figure out how to make this work. I can take 3 months off work but it will be unpaid. Childcare costs an average of $18,000/yr. in our city. We probably need to get a two-bedroom apartment. I don’t think we can fit all the baby stuff in our 730 sq. ft. apartment. We can dip into our savings (which we’re bulking up now) but my husband’s probably going to have to supplement with overtime. How do you juggle the heart-attack that financing a kid is giving us already?

    3) RELATIONSHIP – I need my husband to be there for me, especially at the beginning. I don’t handle sleep deprivation well. How do I balance that with his need to work overtime to afford our kid?! How did you handle the 1) guilt of wanting him to be sleep deprived too, but knowing he had to go to work so maybe you should handle the night feedings or 2) the jealously that he gets to leave the house when your trapped at home 24/7 with the baby?

    4) HELP – Our family doesn’t live anywhere near our current city. How do you survive without that support system? I’m afraid of not having my mom there to help guide me at the beginning or provide a much needed break when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

    5) CHILDCARE – How do you figure out what’s better in the options of daycare/nanny/private caregiver? We both have to work. I’m not sure I want to be a stay-at-home mom, even if it’s the cost saving thing to do. And how do I make that okay for me when a lot of people around me are acting like that’s what I should do as a “good” mom?

    6) BAD MOM – If I’m going to be sleep deprived and with minimal support, I’m really afraid I’m going to lose it and/or start resenting this kid. Does that happen? How do you get over it? Would that make me a “bad mom”?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I really need guidance. I’m really excited that you guys are covering these issues.

    • Colleen

      1) I was 33 when I had my 1st baby, and 35 when I had my 2nd. For whatever it’s worth, my ob has explained that the age-35 scary stuff is based on 1 study from the 70s, which, if replicated today would define 20-somethings as being “high-risk.” She told me that 38 is really when risks for complications go up, statistically. As for when you should get checked out for problems, the rule of thumb is after 1 year of trying before age 35, and after 6 months of trying after that. I found it helpful to read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility,” and I used ovulation test strips, so I knew details about my cycle. What “we all” learned in middle school is only based on statistically average. For some people, that takes away some of the “magic” of spontaneously getting knocked up, and/or adds pressure to the process.

      3) I’m a stay at home mom, and it doesn’t have to be that isolating where you’re stuck at home 24/7. We get out as often as I need to to keep my sanity. We do Storytime at the library (free!) once a week, and music classes once a week. The other days we run errands, or hang out at home. There are times where the sample-people at Costco make up the bulk of our adult social interactions in a day, but for me, it works. And if it didn’t, I feel confident that we could find places to connect with more people. And when something crazy happens and I need that immediate bonding, I text my husband and/or another family member. Staying at home isn’t for everyone, but it’s not as terrible as some people would have you believe.

      • Kory

        Colleen, Thank you this helps! I’ll definitely check out your fertility book. Thanks for the tips about being a stay at home mom. I’m in awe of the women who do it and have been afraid that I’m too selfish for it. I guess it goes along with that fear of giving yourself up to being “mom” and nothing else. It’s definitely something I’ll consider. Thanks for the perspective.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn Moir

        Good to hear about that study!

        I know in my family my grandmother had my mom when she was 42 and my mom is the middle of five children. My grandmother’s sister had seven children well into her forties. All natural (they were strict Catholic).

        In terms of help and support, my friend who just had a baby has her parents and in- laws visiting in shifts from several states away, perhaps your family would be able to do that? She also has us! I love to go over there and hold the baby for her while she gets stuff done.

      • Carly

        I second “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. It’s a great read that helps you understand your body much better, and pinpoint possible problems much easier. Most OBGYNs will make you try for a year before they’ll do any testing, but if you can show them months and months of charting with no proof of ovulation they might take you seriously earlier than 1 year.

  • Marcela

    I don’t have a question, because I already am a mother, but I feel the need to write about something that I see as a common fear from the comments. I have seen many readers write about the fear of losing oneself, what makes us us, etc.
    I am the mother of 4 1/2 twins with special needs. My children didn’t say a word until they were 3 1/2 years old, go to school with a one on one, have weekly sessions of occupational and speech therapy and one of them will also require a child psychologist from this month. We see a parental counselor once a month, to help us with discipline and all the varied and multiple challenges that parenting special needs children brings with it, because we want to make sure to raise them as healthy as we possibly can. Their developmental age ranges between is currently close to 3 years of age, so we are still in the “it’s miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine” stage and going through tantrums.
    Due to this situation, I couldn’t go back to work and I am now 100% devoted to them and to supporting their therapies when they are home (=not at school). We do not have family even remotely close by or any help whatsoever, because we can’t afford any.
    For some, I have lost myself. For some, mine is a sh#tty life, because I left a job I loved and will probably never go back to it.
    But here is what I want to say: Life is always changing, even when we may not want it to, even when we may be scared of the changed it may bring. Life changes and we change as a consequence of it and it is ok,. Change is a part of life. The persons we are at the age of 30 will not necessarily be the same persons we are at the age of 50 and that most probably is a good thing. The things we will always want and love and enjoy may change. Sometimes it is a change that we seek, sometimes it is one we are forced to embrace, but either way, it is ok. Things fall into place.
    If someone would have told me that I would be happy with my life as it is now, before having children, I would have thought they were crazy, but I am. I changed, or my children and motherhood changed me , I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Am I exhausted? You bet. But, as hard as all this has been, it has also showed me opportunities for personal growth like nothing before, and it has allowed me to explore aspects of myself that perhaps would have remained unknown if it wasn’t for all that we went through.
    We are more than what we think we are.

    • MIRA

      This is lovely. Thank you.

    • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

      Marcela, thank you for sharing this. Your story is a beautiful one, and it gives me so much hope.

    • Class of 1980

      Well said.

    • http://catoctinmountainmama.blogspot.com/ Catoctin Mountain Mama

      What a beautiful reminder about “change.” Thank-you.

  • streamnerd

    The “wanting and simultaneous dreading” Maddie mentioned is pretty much how I feel right now.

    I think this decision is so terrifying because I think it is the one major life decision that just can never be undone. Also as someone who likes to plan things and be in control it just seems like too messy of a process. So I guess my fear/question is how do you deal with the anxiety of the uncertainty and decide to go for it anyway? Because when I ask myself if we are ready to have kids I think probably as ready as we’ll ever be but I’m paralyzed by the what ifs…what if we have a special needs child, what if something horrible happens to one of us, what if I hate being a mother, what if having kids ruins our marriage…?

    So yeah, with all the millions of things that can go wrong having a child, how do you tell that voice asking “what if…” to shut up and decide to go for it anyway and hope for the best?

    • Marcela

      Can you truly plan anything in life or is that just an illusion?

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I think it’s possible to plan things that don’t involve other people. The better you know the people involved, the better your plans. So, if I’m home alone for the afternoon, I can be almost certain my plan will work out. If I’m with my husband, I can be fairly certain. As we’re discussing, babies are terrifying because it’s a person you’re permanently attached to, but haven’t met yet.

        Andrew Solomon quotes his mother in “Far From the Tree,” his book about special-needs and other children dissimilar from their parents. His mother said something like, “There are two things in life that most people do but that seem impossible before you do them: learning to drive and having a child.” It’s a great comfort to me on many levels. I was terrified of driving, too. Delaying getting my license was the closest I came to teenage rebellion. And, yeah, it’s been fine – even that time I ran into a post is a distant memory.

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    I, along with four other female coworkers, are required by contract to rotate through third shift throughout the year. I have never been positively exposed to a parent or parents that work thirds. Maybe this is not a question for Meg so much as the community, but all you third shifters out there, how the hell do you make it as a mom when on third shift?

    • MTM

      My dad did this for quite some time. He spent time with us in the morning and made us breakfast and then slept while we were at school.

    • AmeLeigh

      My mom worked it as a single parent (and out of state from her family) when I was a baby for several months

    • MLA

      Michelle Tam is a food blogger but also writes about being a graveyard-shift nurse and raising two young boys with her husband. Good stuff. http://nomnompaleo.com/

  • Sam

    Ok, after all of the amazing, insightful questions submitted, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit my biggest fear. And I’m guessing Meg won’t be able to answer it, given her timeline of experience, but I thought I would throw it out there for general discussion.

    What happens when you end up with a kid that you don’t identify with (for lack of a better word)? For example, what if I end up with a daughter that loves all things pink and princess-y? What if I end up with a kid that hates camping or skiing or [insert activity/thing I adore] or VEGETABLES?

    • elizabeth

      well I can’t speak to camping or skiing (I hate those too), but I totally get it re: reading. what if I have an athletic kid? AHHH!!

      re: vegetables, though, I’m totally taking the French approach (Bringing Up Bebe & French Kids Eat Everything) and it gives me a lot of hope for the food front of things.

      • Sam

        I have heard of the French approach. So I wonder if the same thing works for activities? You are gonna do it and you are gonna like it! ;) Just kidding, I (probably) won’t force my kids to like all the same things I do. But I do wonder if there is something to being around it and learning to enjoy it?

        I look at myself and my mom, who just recently said to me: ‘Where did you come from?!’ re: wedding planning and my hippie dippy ways. Joking of course (and I’ve thought the same thing so many times) but we really are SO different in so many ways. But so much the same too. So I guess maybe we won’t get everything we expect in terms of similarities, but we will get enough? I hope?

        • elizabeth

          I think exposure is key, yeah. Maybe? So easy to guess w/o having a kid who is actually real!
          But the other French thing I really like is giving kids time to simply explore and “awaken” (that is, figure out what THEY like) and then encouraging them to do it.
          Also, genetics, right? Surely I can’t create a total douche-frat-asshole if neither of us has anything resembling a cool gene…

    • amigacara

      I’m so afraid of having a pink and princess-y little girl.

    • Louise

      Yes! I craft/make art and I LOVE making art with kids. What if my kid hates art? What if they prefer sports? I know, I will love them anyhow…but will I resent spending all my time at sports games? Or will i make them feel like they can’t be themselves? I hope not…

      But, as a teacher, auntie, and former nanny, i guess I have witnessed that nothing teaches you to accept other people as intensely as loving a kid who you’d never have chosen to play with when you were their age. You’re stuck with them, you love them, it’s pretty transformative. Maybe I’d even learn what the rules to soccer are and what “offsides” means if my (potential future) kid taught me.

      • Hannah K

        There was an article on Slate once about a mother (Emily Yoffe? somebody) struggling to get with her kids’ interest in astronomy and kind of forcing herself to do it and enjoying it. That opened my eyes to kind of a third possibility between “likes the things I like” and “hates the things I like/likes the things I hate”: “likes things I am indifferent to, but can get on board with.”

    • Marcela

      Studies show that most kids hate vegetables during the early years (until 6, some until 10). So you hide them in food until they accept in their real form ;)
      As for the rest of the questions, kids are their own human beings, not an extension of ourselves so it is very possible that they will like different things than we do. I couldn’t care less about makeup and my daughter takes after my mother and started experimenting with mine since age 3. It’s funny to see it, at least for me, they are so little and so full of life, opinions and personality. But always remember: if you struggle with anything regarding parenting, it’s better to seek counseling (parental or personal) than to risk it. There is always someone who can help!

    • Catherine B

      I found this to be really lovely writing about raising a princess-y girl as a non-princess woman:
      http://www.girlsgonechild.net/2013/01/for-whom-princess-dress-tolls.html

  • Lee G.

    Thought of another one!

    Extended family and in-laws! This must be similar to defending your wedding choices, but I feel like mothers are judged so much more than newly engaged women.

    How do you defend your baby family that now includes a baby? Is it the same? Is it different? Will my mother and mother in law drive me crazy by questioning and challenging my choices all the time?

    Should I always listen to their advice? How much is enough or too much?

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      My mom passed along the advice her mom gave her about advice. Tell people, even moms and mother-in-laws, “We’re following the advice of our pediatrician.” And then leave it at that.

    • http://catoctinmountainmama.blogspot.com/ Catoctin Mountain Mama

      I was very concerned about this issue when my daughter was born two years ago. My mother-in-law is Indian and VERY involved in our lives. Luckily, she’s been very respectful and kept most of her opinions to herself.

      When I was pregnant, she (along with my husband) were pressuring me to go back to work when my daughter was 6 months or so. Then the baby came and my mother-in-law became much more supportive about my choice to stay home.

      There are definitely LOTS of little things that she has opinions on and if I disagree, I just listen politely to what she says and then do what I want. I’ve learned to let some little things go (i.e. she HAD to put almond oil on my baby’s head every chance she got even though it just made my child look like she hadn’t had a bath in two weeks). I’ve just learned to pick my battles.

      I was surprised at how much my relationship with my mother IMPROVED after having a child. I think it helps that we mostly agree on the big issues. But, because she is my mother, I have absolutely no problem telling her “thanks for the idea, but this is my kid and I am going to do what I want.”

      Maybe, I just been lucky but I have been pleasantly surprised about how little of issue this has been for my family.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    Do you ever get used to adjusting your identity? My identity shifted when I got married. My identity is going to shift when I finish graduate school. My identity is going to shift with motherhood. Does it ever stop being scary? (my guess, no)

  • Angie

    I have one other fear that I haven’t expressed yet, even to myself, until I was reading the comments. I am the primary breadwinner in my family right now. We couldn’t live on his salary alone. What if I have our child and don’t want to go back to work after the baby is born?

    • Caroline

      This! We anticipate me being the primary breadwinner, possibly with him staying home. Which mostly, I’m good with, because I’m pretty ambitious (and likely will have higher earning potential than him). However, my divorced parents still have huge issues over the fact that my mom was the primary breadwinner, and my dad made less money at a creative job. When I was 5 she decided she wanted to stay home with us, and he left his creative entrepreneurship to do less interesting, higher paid stuff. Now, partly, this was a huge issue because they had a troubled relationship and poor communication, but it definitely scares me. They both warn me about it, and are still upset about it, even though I’m now in my 20s. Dad, that he had to give up work he loved, and mom that dad resented her staying home.

    • Anon,Y,Mous

      Oh man, I am completely worried about this. I’ve always wanted to either be a Stay at Home Mom or at least only work part time until my future kids are school aged. Unfortunately, the way things are working out has resulted with me in a management position that I like with higher earning potential than my partner, whose primary experience is working in lower paid non-profits (which he would like to get out of and make more money, but you know, non-profits….). We haven’t had a serious discussion about it because we aren’t planning on having kids anytime soon, but the one or two times I’ve casually mentioned the ‘what if’ of him being a stay at home dad, he was strongly opposed to it. Being in management, my job could never be part time, yet we could never afford to support the two of us, let alone another little person, on his salary. This all scares and saddens me.

  • Abby J.

    Oh MAN this is SO timely. I’m 15 weeks into an unexpected pregnancy. Hubby and I are excited now, but in the beginning it was oh shit scary, even though we’d already been married a year. (Conceived right exactly around our first anniversary, go figger).

    I’d love to know about managing finances having a baby, how newborn life impacted your ability to balance things like chores and other housework type things, and also as other posters have said, talk about daycare. We just started looking at daycares in our area.

  • Elsie

    This is probably not something from Meg’s personal experience, but how to job hunt with a new baby. I got laid off at 8 months pregnant, and don’t know how I’ll get back in the work force, especially with no family in town that can be last-minute babysitters for an interview or other professional event and with about a year’s waitlist for a daycare! We certainly can’t afford to put a deposit on a daycare let alone start paying for one unless I do land a new job, but I won’t be able to start within a reasonable amount of time if the daycare can’t take us. And heck, I’m not even 100% sure I want to go back to work, but I fear that if I don’t get a job relatively soon, I’ll never be able to get back in. (Probably in an ideal world, I’d take about a year off after the birth of each child, but I just don’t see how that coming and going from a job(s) can work with the way US society and maternity leave are set up right now.) :-(

  • Elaine

    Also maybe out of Meg’s expertise, but dealing with motherhood in a fast-paced, male-dominated workplace. My husband and I are planning on trying for a baby soon-ish. I love my job, but it’s certainly not the type of place where I could plan on taking 30 minutes a couple of times a day to pump or switch to a part-time schedule. I really don’t want to get off my career track for a baby (and, frankly, we can’t afford it). Everyone says that will change once our kid is born, but knowing myself, I really don’t expect it will. Has anyone actually made this work in an industry that’s not all that family-friendly? How do you deal with pressure from other women who treat you like a bad mom for not wanting to give it all up?

    • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

      I am in that kind of industry, and frankly, you just have to demand what is your right. For pumping, block the time off on your calendar, and/or schedule conference calls during pump sessions so you’re using the time (bra-less billable hours!), get one of those hands free pumping bras or just hold both bicycle horns with one hand and type with the other.
      And be as discreet or blunt as necessary. (I have a co-worker friend who kept forgetting and then asking again what I was carrying, as my pump looks like a projector bag, and just told him as I stepped off a crowded elevator – leaving him behind with the crowd – dude, I told you, it’s a breast pump!)
      Also, there’s gotta be some working moms in your company, right? Mine has very few, but I interviewed all 4 of them while I was pregnant to get their advice. Each had very different solutions, but the main takeaways were – ask for what you want/need, and be flexible. For me, it was letting everyone know that I had to leave work at 5, but that I’d be making up the time at home after baby was asleep. We may be in very different fields though; hopefully your job does not require you to be physically at your desk for those hours. In my job, it all comes down to whether quality work is getting done.

  • Edelweiss

    1. My question is how much do you plan for the worst? Both when thinking about having a child and now in your long-term planning with a child?

    I don’t know if I’ve just been exposed to a disproportion of illnesses, disorders and challenging pregnancies but it’s really hit me in the last year that describing a healthy baby and birth as a “miracle” is not an exaggeration. While I can imagine us raising a healthy kid, it would be through love and perseverance as there are financial, emotional, and family obstacles we’ll need to overcome. I’m just not sure of our strength if something tragic struck (like a stillbirth, a heart condition, cancer at age 2, etc) My friends that have gone through these things have done so with amazing grace, but it hasn’t been all peaches and cream. Some have also had serious debt, divorce and depression.

    Do you just plan for the best and have faith that you can face any obstacles that come up? Do you seriously consider your ability to meet challenges when deciding if you’re ready? How do you discuss roles and how they might shift based on challenge (I see my fiancé as being the daily house manager and myself the breadwinner with children, but if there were a problem – I’m the one that’s better with bureaucracies and fast decisions – do we need to plan on flip flopping roles?)

    2. Was adoption ever a consideration or one in the future? I firmly want to adopt or foster. My fiancée is supportive of that but would also like one biological child. I’d love to hear from someone about how they negotiated that balance. And If they went with both, what order they chose to proceed in and why…

    • Brittany

      My husband and I are in the process of becoming foster parents right now. We’ve finished the classes and are wrapping up paperwork at this point. We don’t have any biological children yet, but we definitely want them. The decision to foster first is a bit backwards from the way it seems most foster parents do it, but it seems right for us. Fostering isn’t easy, and I want to get settled into the craziness of it first, before adding any other children to the mix. I think if I got pregnant now, we’d end up putting fostering on hold to focus on the baby, and it would be easy to keep pushing it off as one thing after another comes up. This is something I’ve wanted since I was 8 years old, so I’d rather jump into it now. We’ll probably try for a biological child at some point after we’ve settled into the foster world a bit. (We’re in our mid 20’s, so we have time. If we were older we might have opted to reverse the order we’re doing things in.) I’m a part of an online community of foster parents, and it seems the majority of them have already had biological children. A few are doing both at the same time. There are also plenty that chose to foster/adopt after struggling with infertility. And a few who never desired biological children and plan on only fostering/adopting. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to do it.

  • ANON

    Thank you so much for this discussion – it’s amazing and is exactly what I want to read right now!! I’m concerned that one of my biggest fears (aside from all of the many things that have been mentioned so far) is not quite politically correct, though I will try and frame it as best I can. How do you deal with the fear that your future child may have some kind of serious problem? I recognize that there are a range of possible problems – illness, physical and mental disabilities, etc. I assume that I would love the child I have, however that child turns out, but I also don’t want to downplay how difficult I am assuming it can be to parent a child with some type of serious disability or health issue. I also think that very few parents decide to have children thinking that they are going to have a kid who has some type of illness or disability. So while you are pregnant, how do you cope with the uncertainty that your child might possibly have some serious problem and there’s really nothing you can do about it? Do you prepare? How do you decide to commit to having children while knowing that you might not end up with a completely healthy baby?

    • Rachel

      For some reason didn’t see this one before I posted my comment immediately below, but yes. This. I’m terrified of this.

  • Rachel

    Okay, I’m going to bring this one up, and I hope it doesn’t make me sound like a terrible person or like I’m totally selfish – but I’m terrified of having a child with a disability – especially a significant intellectual disability. I guess part of it is that a lot of what I look forward to in terms of parenting is connecting with that child on an intellectual level as they age, and watching and supporting them as they grow and become independent and build their own lives. What if I have a child who can never do that? Who can never be independent or connect with me in that way? I really don’t feel like I could handle that, and I feel like I would be miserable in that situation, and that makes me wonder if it’s fair to bring a child into the world if I don’t feel willing to accept the possibility of a significant disability.

    My cousin has severe autism. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fantastic kid, and very bright, but he can’t speak or really communicate at all (he’s 12). He has bouts of screaming and panic, episodes of violence (not against people, thus far, more just generalized aggression) and fairly frequent meltdowns. My aunt is a single mom, and although I know she loves her son with all her heart, I also know that 12 years on she’s still as exhausted as someone with a newborn because of the constant care and attention my cousin needs. She can rarely go out, because his care is so specialized that she can’t exactly call up the 15 year-old down the street and ask her to babysit – she can really only get time away when the respite worker visits, and that’s not super frequent. My cousin will likely need care for the rest of his life, and will never be in a position where he can live independently. I look at this picture, and I know, confidently, that I don’t want that life, and I don’t think I could be happy in that situation.

    I feel really selfish for thinking this way, though.

    • Anya

      Yes. This. You are not selfish for thinking this at all. On the contrary, I think this only shows that you know and you’ve been witness to the fact that parenthood isn’t always the myth of the over-achieving child who talks at 8 months and gets into Harvard at 16. This is the true fear I feel we all need to face down, because it is the reality which we face with pregnancy – what if our baby isn’t perfect, or even alright? If this isn;t something you fear, you just don’t know any better. My mother always says I have to be financially secure and have a supportive family and partner to have kids – because what if your kid isn’t alright? And that’s the way scarier truth.

      I really applaud that you bring this out. I wish more people would say this. My family deals with this to, though not quite as extremely, and I feel confident in saying nobody wants the life of a parent whose child is unwell – mentally or physically. We gamble when we have kids, and I think we can only hope that love, grace, optimism, inner strength, and perseverance will keep us going as we face the scary things that will turn out okay and those that won’t.

  • http://www.mereader.wordpress.com Mary Jo

    Currently 6 months pregnant here. So incredibly glad to have this community address the things that are most relevant to my life right now!

    I swear this is not shameless self-promotion, but I wrote an essay a couple months ago about my fears, and this probably expresses them better than a comment I could write really quickly. One big issue in the essay is exactly what Maddie said here about how Meg and the Alt moms were examples to her of a new, doable, non-all-consuming kind of motherhood–examples like that are exactly what I lacked growing up and exactly what I need now.
    http://www.musingsonlifeandlove.com/2012/12/10/can-i-be-a-mom-and-still-be-me/

    Another big fear for me is dealing with judgement and comments and drama and BS from other moms and family members who may not agree with my choices. What do you do when you want to maintain the relationship, but feel the need to stand up for yourself?

  • Katy

    Why are you insistent that motherhood doesn’t change who you are?

  • Louise

    As an elementary teacher who loves her job, an auntie who loves her littles (and a sister in law who gets a lot of insider information–maybe too much) and a former nanny, I have a lot of experience with kids and pseudo parenting. However, I know that some teachers who I respect tremendously as professionals and parents, were absolutely thrown for a loop by new parenting.

    So my question is this:what was harder than you expected? What were/are you surprised by?

  • Kat

    Very excited for this! Just found out I’m pregnant so excellent timing.

    I’d like to know more about how you felt about giving birth. Not so much any specifics that may be too private to share with all on the interent, but how you prepared for it (mentally) and how you felt about it during pregnancy. I’ve always thought giving birth sounded somewhat scary, but there’s nothing like finding you’re pregnant to give you tunnel vision. So many things could potentially go wrong, and the general opinion seems to be it hurts alot. And that scares me. I know most births go fine, but don;t know how to balance my intellectual understanding and my fear of the unknown and it going wrong.

    • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

      I’d recommend any book by Ina May Gaskin. No matter what “kind” of birth you’re planning, it is super helpful to understand how the body works. I was so scared of birth for like half my pregnancy, but reading about the anatomy, and a bunch of positive birth stories, helped me get over that fear. And it is so helpful to birth to go into it without that fear, because fear amplifies pain… pain is scary… more fear… I think you get where I’m going with this.
      Good luck, and congrats!!

    • mmouse

      Penny Simkins wrote a book called The Birth Partner. It’s for doulas or husbands or life partners or support people in the mother’s life, but I found it so helpful! I also wanted to know everything that could happen. It’s got a natural birth slant, but it lists the stages of how the baby prepares to be born, the stages of labor itself, all the most common interventions (with pros, cons, and alternatives), gives advice on how to manage pain naturally, talks a bit about what happens just after birth, and how to advocate for yourself during the labor/birth. I loved it.
      The biggest help for me was realizing that labor and delivery is completely unexpected, but if I felt like I was informed and had the option to make decisions I was more comfortable. Also, having my husband there to say “I know she just said yes, but I have some questions…” was great!

  • Katie

    I also want to know on the effects on your marriage. Did issues come up you hadn’t addressed with each other (or even yourselves) when you were pregnant. After the birth, did you really feel like your heart grew to fit in your new love and that you still had the same or better or different intensity of love for your partner? I am from a family where our wonderful mother loved us more than she loved her husband. It was not a good example, and not a healthy home. I am extremely maternal but I don’t want to push my husband to the side and I don’t want him to push me to the side. Any insight from the other side?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn Moir

      I remember one of my friends that I grew up with told me that she once asked her mom (in a joking way), “Do you love me or daddy more?” Her mom answered, “Your dad.”

      I loved that! I knew when I heard that story that I wanted that family dynamic. Not that you don’t absolutely love your kids, but just that the relationship with your spouse is the one that take priority because the kids will move out and start their own lives, but you’ll (hopefully) always have your husband or wife.

  • Katie

    I also want to know on the effects on your marriage. Did issues come up you hadn’t addressed with each other (or even yourselves) when you were pregnant? After the birth, did you really feel like your heart grew to fit in your new love and that you still had the same or better or different intensity of love for your partner? I am from a family where our wonderful mother loved us more than she loved her husband. It was not a good example, and not a healthy home. I am extremely maternal but I don’t want to push my husband to the side and I don’t want him to push me to the side. Any insight from the other side?

  • Aiyana

    APW staff, it seems like there is a lot of interest in parenthood questions/fears/hopes. Maybe there IS a need for an APW-type parenting site? Featuring potential/future/current parents writing on questions of identity, challenge, growth, relating, decisions, etc (rather than brand of diapers and other small matters).

  • lindsay

    I don’t want kids and my spouse doesn’t want kids, and I don’t know if we’re ever going to want kids. I just want someone to tell me that’s ok and we won’t die alone.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn Moir

      Back when I thought I wasn’t going to have children, I had a friend who had wanted to be a mother for every second of her life. She asked, “Who is going to look after you when you’re old?” I said, “Your kids will.”

      I think we always have friends and the family that we create out of friends. It’s not like you’re ever going to get to a place in life where no one loves or cares about you! The kids of those around you will grow up loving you.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn Moir

    I am scared of motherhood for two reasons:

    1) I feel like I never really respected my mother. She didn’t work and when I was a kid I wasn’t really able to see how she contributed to the household. She wasn’t like the super intense SAHMs who cook everything from scratch, homeschool, clean their houses every day, etc. I want to work from home when I have kids, but I’m scared that will mean that they don’t respect me.

    2) I have serious envy issues. When I was a kid I definitely had the Electra complex where I wanted my dad all to myself and was fiercely jealous of my mom. I’m afraid that if I have a daughter I will feel in competition with her for my husband’s affection.

    I would love some help working through these issues!

  • Jenni

    I’d love to hear about online parenting resources/blogs that Meg/others read. I.e., what’s the APW community equivalent for parenting? I read Offbeat Families but that’s about it.

  • http://www.karinajean.com karinajean

    I know that you’re asking about babies, but I also want to know more about new moms who become moms because they are now step-parents. I feel like step-parenting is all the reward and stress of having a baby, but you don’t get any ramp up time (is it ridiculous of me to think of infant and childhood as training periods to get used to kids?) that bio-parents have. PLUS you have got a mystery third person in your parenting relationship that you probably don’t know well and may not trust – the kids OTHER bio-parent.

  • MEI

    1) What did you do about baby’s surname? (If that’s too personal, I understand.)
    2) I think other people have mentioned this, but I’d love to hear about division of childcare/housecare. My husband’s a private practice attorney (I’m thankfully in government), and I feel like there’s a big get back to billing asap especially if there’s a trial and omg must hit 2000 hours, and I know when I worked in private practice it was very frowned upon for men to take off much/any time at all. How are you guys negotiating that?

    I also would love to hear Liz’s thoughts on so many of the topics brought up by folks too. :-)

    • Laura

      Dittoing a discussion about offspring surnames!!! APW talks about changing *our* names (or not) all the time – I think there is a very important parallel discussion to be had on how children will be named. From a feminist perspective as well as a practical perspective.

      I’m the choke point of my family name – the only child of the only son of an only son, and so on. So, my nameline (I think I just made that term up) dies with me, unless I do something nontraditional with my kids’ last names. Combine that with the fact that my partner’s last name isn’t particularly important to him, but he’s keeping in after we marry because he’s built a professional reputation with it (same reason I’m keeping mine).

      So, for the kiddos… Hyphen? Both names, no hyphen? (I actually really like the idea of putting a slash between the names instead of a hyphen, like Smith/Jones, but I’m not sure that would fly on passports and the like). But combining last names can become exponentially complicated with future generations. So maybe mine only (I mean, the kid comes out of my body, for pete’s sake)? Or my last name as kid’s middle name? But then that won’t get passed on to future generations. So many options, such a big decision!

      • MLA

        Laura, check out the Spanish surname customs. It includes both parents’ names. This is was discussed on APW before as a viable feminist option, although I can’t remember exactly when.

  • anonymous

    1. Parenting and gender equity. Possible? How?
    2. External help. Has it been difficult to find daycare, babysitters, support?
    3. Is this piece by Claire Zulkey at The Hairpin true for you? If so, how can it be worth it?
    4. So far, what do you get out of parenting? I don’t mean in a score-keeping way. The parent-child relationship is obviously an asymmetrical one. Parents give and give. Kids take. (But to be fair, the kid didn’t have a say in being born. And for a long while they don’t get much of a say in anything. So there’s that.) But I guess I’m asking more broadly about the feelings of a new parent on what parents owe their children and what children owe their parents. I understand there can be tremendous joy in giving, but there can also be tremendous resentment. How do you not be a martyr? How do you find the joy, let go of resentment, and not be a doormat? Does that make sense?

  • savychacha

    Ok…this is where my head is at. I’m 31 and my husband is 33. We both have battled drug and alcohol addiction and have come out on the other side stronger people. It also runs pretty deep in our families. Also, mental illness runs in my family pretty rampantly. These are the first things that come to mind.

    My biggest concern? It’s not that I wouldn’t be a good mom, or that my husband wouldn’t be a good father. I’m concerned that I’m way to selfish to become a parent. Pregnancy doesn’t scare me. Having a baby doesn’t scare me. Having a teenager scares me. Knowing that I will dedicate my life to this human being only to one day be faced with them making their own decisions – and let’s be honest, they won’t all be good ones, and how I’ll deal with that. It scares me to death thinking that I’ll have a child just to one day have to help them battle an addiction, or a mental health issue, scares the crap out of me.

    Also, I feel like things are just starting to settle down for my husband and I. We have a goal to move out of the state next year, and buy a house eventually, and then, maybe a baby if we choose. However, we both need to work to support ourselves. And we have two dogs that we feel like we never spend enough time with. And one of them would NOT be ok with a baby/toddler in the house. We feel like we made a commitment to them when we adopted them, and it wouldn’t be fair to put to put them through the anxiety of bringing a baby into the house. Especially since one of them is not good with other people/animals. I would be afraid to have her around a toddler.

    Financially you can always find a way – I know this. But we wouldn’t have any family around for support, and it would only be us. I just don’t think I want to have children – even if it “might” make me happy. I’m going to see what happens over the next few years, and reassess how I feel, but right now – I’m saying no to having children.

    I really hate it when people say “just have one” or question my feelings on this matter. As if I don’t know what my feelings are. Ugh.

    This is a little all over the place…but I feel like I had to get it out there.

  • Heather

    I’m really interested to hear about ways that mothers who stay home (at least for the first 1-2 years) manage to remain connected to their passions, involved in the community, and in vital friendships. I’d like to stay home at least the first 2 years, but am worried about become depressed from sheer isolation and boredom. That’s what I experienced when I was unemployed in a new city right after getting married–don’t wanna replicate it due to parenthood!

  • http://brusselsproutblog.blogspot.com Cassandra

    I come from generations of abusive/dysfunctional dynamics, and I’m terrified that, no matter how authentic and intentional my husband and I are about raising our children, I will somehow pass it on to them like a disease, and perpetuate the cycle that I hate so much.

    On a more practical note, I live with several chronic illnesses, and I’m just wondering about energy levels– can I do pregnancy at all? What about afterward? The notorious “you’ll never sleep again!” has me beating a trail in any other direction, yet I keep longingly circling back around to the idea of a family… And then there’s the idea of bringing someone else in to help, nanny-style, which is not a bad idea, in and of itself. In our culture, though, it seems to be a privilege reserved for the rich and not a practical option for those trying to avoid the stigma of “I couldn’t do it on my own”.

    I don’t know if you’ll even be able to touch these, but I really, really, really am curious about the energy levels. I know each person and each body is different, but how did that change with motherhood?

    • Hannah K

      omg, breaking the cycle. i think and worry and hope and worry and doubt about it allllll the tiiiiiiime.

  • Erica

    I would like to know about having kids when your family lives far away. My husband and I recently re-located to a new city for work, and if we have kids, which we would like to soon, it will probably happen here. Our new city is about 2500 kms away from my family, and on another continent from his. We have a small circle of new friends here, but no old family-like friends, and no family at all within 2000 kms. We also probably won’t be able to afford travelling to visit family more than once a year. Any tips from people who’ve had kids without an established network of friends or family around?

    • mmouse

      We’re not quite as isolated from our families: SIL is a few hours away, my cousin just moved to our town, but all other relatives are states away. We did had visitors/family come to us very often in the first few months. But I’m commenting to say that I noticed my old “family-like” friends call me more often. I talk to my mother and sister much more now on the phone. Casual co-workers and even neighbors ask about the baby and offer support/babysitting/advice. I think sometimes there’s just something about having a baby that makes people friendlier or more willing to connect?

  • SHANON

    I’ve worked with babies and children for years. I’m not worried about the permanence-factor, I’m a bit worried about the financial/career aspect but most of it comes down to being deathly terrified that I’m genetically predisposed to having premature babies. I was born basically 4 months early…she was due in August and I surprised everyone in April. I was less than two pounds and the only one to make it out of the NICU with three other babies who didn’t get to grow up. My mother kept a detailed pregnancy journal that she let me read when I was about 17-18. I wept through almost the entire thing. My parents did it, somehow, they survived me. And when my mother was pregnant with my brother she was on bed rest for almost the entire pregnancy due to bleeding.

    I love her, I admire her strength and the sheer ferocity of her heart. I don’t know if I have it.

  • Julia

    This isn’t for Meg, necessarily, but my partner has concerns about bringing a child into an over-crowded, under-resourced, inequitable world. While my mother insists that “the world always needs more good people,” I tend to agree with my partner that having kids might be unethical. Thoughts?

    • meg

      Oh, that’s a big one. While I do agree with your mom, I also think that there are kids that DESPERATELY need homes, and Foster to Adopt is unquestionably ethical. It’s something we discuss regularly.

  • Michelle

    I’m terrified about everything.
    In my professional life I’m considered a “child development expert” (HA!) but actually HAVING children…. I have no words.

    My husband and I definitely want children but I am so worried about the unknown – that’s just me though.
    Can we afford it? What if I start to resent him/him resent me? What if our marriage goes down the tube? What if I don’t think our kid’s cute? What if they get the weird mental health issues we both have? What if I can’t afford to go back to work after my mat leave? What if we can’t find a care provider I trust and can afford? What if we can’t have kids?

    It’s basically come down to the fact that I’m gonna have to get careless with birth control cuz I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% ready.

  • CW

    As someone who doesn’t have kids, and isn’t sure if I ever want to, what topics/questions should I stay away from when talking with my friends who have kids/are new moms? I don’t want to make assumptions, so I end up stuck unsure of what to say or ask about this new person in their life.

  • http://itsahero.com/ Rachel [at] It’s a Hero

    We, unexpectedly, found ourselves pregnant. He’s about to turn 5 months old and I’m TERRIFIED that i’ve lost myself. That I’m not the same person :(

    Also, that my marriage would change. In fact, it has changed. Quite a bit. :(

  • Ren

    I realized recently that my partner and I are very used to having our own space. I feel like in a sense, having a kid would be like adding another perso into our living space, like having a roommate. We enjoy sitting together for hours relaxing. How does entering a new person — not just a baby, but a toddler and a kid and a teenager — into that mix do?

  • Sarah F.

    I’m afraid I won’t be able to have biological children of my own.

    At this point it’s probably (hopefully) not an issue, I’m 29 & hubby is 30, we were trying for 3 months and are currently on a babymaking break because I’m a Planner and don’t want a kid with a Nov/Dec birthday (short version of the story: lots of family with holiday birthdays and it sucks). So we realistically have 9 more months of trying before it becomes a problem.

    I’m a nurse and I’m reading and following Taking Charge of Your Fertility, I know how to be healthy, blah blah blah. But what if after all the work and planning and I can’t conceive? Or do conceive but miscarry? I’ve wanted to be a mother as long as I can remember, I’ve pseudo-parented via nannying and babysitting and being the oldest sibling/cousin. I’ve always said I would adopt if I couldn’t have my own, but now that I’m facing that as a potential option I don’t know if I can do it. I want my own biological child with my and my husband’s DNA.

    It doesn’t help that I am literally surrounded by pregnant women (5 coworkers, 3 friends from nursing school, 4 close friends, and several acquaintances as well are pregnant or new parents). It feels like the whole world is pregnant, and since most people know we’re trying or assume we’re trying since we’ve been married for 5 years, I’m feeling the pressure. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

  • Mec

    My big question is where can I find resources like AWP for pregnancy/motherhood? I am overwhelmed by the range of parenting sites out there, and long for something as, well, practical as this site, which kept me sane and grounded during wedding planning. (We’re at the point where we’re not trying super hard to have a kid…but not actively trying to prevent it either.) None of my friends have kids so I don’t have many non-internet options for guidance. Anyone have some favorite books/sites/forums/etc? Preferably ones that do not use insane acronyms?

    • Remy

      Always Offbeat Families (recently rebranded after being Offbeat Mama since inception): offbeatfamilies.com

      OBF has cuteness and radicalism in equal measure. They are anti-acronym, pretty darn sensible, moderate comments well, and publish lots of reader submissions. There’s no member forum assocated with OBF, buuuuuut there will soon be one for the related site Offbeat Home & Life. (And I am SO THERE.)

  • Liz B.

    I’m not sure I ever want to be a mom. I mean, I love kids, but timing? money? pushing a small infant out of my body? That’s a lot of stuff to be unsure about. So the really big question is of course: How do you know?

    My husband is of the opinion that if we decided to have one, that automatically means we have to have a second. He’s one of four and I’m an only child. My uncertainty about having one in the first place is compounded by the idea that I will somehow be forced to have a second even if I don’t want to go through pregnancy again and/or hate being a mom. Is it fair to say, “Hell no honey! It’s my body and I get to make the final decision about what goes in it” or by virtue of the fact that I own the uterus in this relationship, did I give that right up when we got married? It seems silly to even ask that question… and yet, it nags at me because this is one area where I can’t just hand the baton off to my husband and say “your turn”.

  • Stalking Sarah

    How do you deal with the “what if” fears (esp. during pregnancy)?

    I guess this problem is beyond parenthood. What if my spouse gets hit by a truck? What if I get cancer? What if the fetus has a serious health problem? What if…?

  • Shira

    Thank you Maddie and Meg!!

    Here are a few issues that trouble me as I contemplate future motherhood:

    – How will it affect my (yet to be well defined) career? Will I actually be able to have one and not be stuck mothering 24-7? Do I need to get on very solid ground with my career before getting pregnant?
    – How will it affect my relationship with my partner? Will we still be us? I’m afraid of changing our dynamic from “your my best person” to pushy, self-righteous non-stop “why did/didn’t you do X???” (there’s probably enough of that in our relationship as is. How do we stop?)
    – People seem to talk about the physical aspects of pregnancy and motherhood very vaguely. Can somebody please speak up and dish the dirt?
    – And probably most importantly: how do I become a mother without becoming MY mother?

  • Gina

    On pretty much a daily basis, I ask myself:
    1) How in God’s name are we going to afford it?
    2) How are we going to do it living in a different state than our families?
    3) I’m pretty sure my boss will fire me if I get pregnant. He thinks the only babies lawyers should have are their cases.
    4) What happens to all my student loan debt from law school?
    5) Am I really willing to give up the “dream career track” I’m supposed to want so bad for something I know I want even more– a family? Do I have to?
    6) What if we want to go backpacking for a weekend? Do babies fit in backpacks? (Kidding).

  • anon

    Someone may have already brought this up (apologies for posting out of place if so) but I don’t have time to finish reading the comments now, and I’m afraid I won’t get around to posting if I wait until I return to finish them.

    I’m white, and my fiance is Asian. I’m afraid that, (assuming we have biological kid) they will resent me for being white. FH cannot understand this fear and is baffled by it. It would be great to have an interview with someone who can address this.

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