I Really Want to Talk About My Big Parenting Fear


We've decided on kids, but I'm still scared as hell

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

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I always thought that when the time came to have kids, Michael would end up dragging me into action kicking and screaming. Because while I’ve always wanted kids, I also assumed I’d never be ready. So you can imagine my surprise when, one drunken Christmas a few years ago, I finally admitted to myself (and Michael) that I really, really, really wanted kids. Like, now. It’s been a strange, almost freeing two years since then, reconciling the fact that I’m emotionally ready for kids, but giving ourselves space to clear out some room in our lives for them. But now we’re almost there, and it’s starting to feel very… imminent.

I generally avoid parenting advice online, because most of it makes me want to hide in a small dark space and never come out. But every once in awhile I’ll venture into the unknown and read an upbeat article about why being a parent is great. Inevitably, they all head in the same direction: being a parent is so amazing, it’s like your heart imploding in on itself. You never knew you had the capacity for such love. It devours you whole.

And that makes me want to run for the hills. Because babies? I can handle babies. Sleeplessness? I’ve done that. Work? Not worried. But an all-consuming love, the likes of which I’ve never known? That scares the shit out of me. Here are a few other things that scare the shit out of me:

  • Children ruining my marriage
  • Children dying
  • One of us dying and leaving the other with a young child
  • Me loving a child more than I love my husband
  • My husband loving our child more than he loves me
  • Having our world turned upside down so hard it can’t be turned right-side up again
  • Any kind of all-consuming love that threatens to explode my heart

Y’all, I don’t want my heart to implode on itself.

I remember a similar (if not slightly less intense) anxiety when I was a teenager and got my first job. I had an epic meltdown in front of my mother, not because I was afraid of work, but because growing up seemed like it was all happening very fast and a job felt like the final nail in that coffin. It would tip the scales in a way that couldn’t be undone. And for me, having kids feels similar.

But here’s the thing: we’re doing it anyway. It’s decided. At some point we’re just going to pull the trigger (or the goalie, as it were). Whether by childbirth or adoption or fostering or kidnapping, there will be no turning back. And while there’s a lot of talk on these pages about kids or no kids, I want to talk about what happens when the answer is yes, but with a fair amount of anxiety behind it.

So let’s talk. If you’re a parent, did you go through the same pre-jump panic I’m going through? Were any of your fears realized? Can you please explain this heart-bursting thing to me in a way that doesn’t make me feel claustrophobic? And if you’re thinking about kids, what are your fears and anxieties? Does anyone else find articles about the joys of parenting more stressful than ones about how hard it is to raise kids? It’s the final countdown and I am looking for comfort here.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • NotAnImploder

    Two kids in, the heart imploding hasn’t happened. When my second was born, I had this awesome, peaceful feeling that he was always supposed to be a part of our family. I kept the feeling a secret for a week or two, then asked my doula, in a whisper, will this feeling go away? Or is it real? She smiled and said it would stay. It has :)

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I just, like, audibly exhaled.

    • Rebekah Jane

      My father had that fear when my little sister was born. He thought that his love would be like a pie and he didn’t want to have to divide the pie between me and her. However, when she was born, he said that it wasn’t that he had one pie split in two – he just got a whole other pie for her.

      • Shannon Clarke

        While I know it’s different, my fiance is a widower and this is how we’ve explained it to people who had trouble with him moving forward. Loving me doesn’t mean he no longer loves her. I’m not taking up the space in his heart that she occupied, his heart grew to make room.

      • Danielle

        That is such a wonderful analogy. It gives my heart hope <3

      • Fitzford

        That made me tear up. So sweet!

    • Amy A.

      I wasn’t a heart imploder either, and originally I thought this was because there was something wrong with me, but as I look back I think it’s in keeping with my personality. I didn’t love my husband at first sight, I fell in love with him as I got to know him. Love at first sight happens for some people, but for those it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean we did it wrong, just differently.
      I loved my sons from the moment they were born, but initially I loved them because they were tiny and vulnerable and babies. Then the first time they smiled at me and I saw my first glimpse of the person inside that tiny vulnerable body, I thought to myself, “Oh, there you are.” My response made me realize that my love for them would grow gradually stronger and deeper, just like my marriage has. I used to love them for what they were, but every day now I love them more for who they are.

      • Fitzford

        Totally, totally agree. Loves sneaks up and builds up with me.

  • Ashlah

    My husband are in the same place as you and yours, but he’s the one with more anxiety. That said, even though I’m the one whose scales tip more towards excited than afraid, I am of course also scared and anxious about what having and raising a child means for my marriage, my life, my personality, and on and on. Anyone with zero anxiety at such a significant life change must be rather rare.

    Honestly, my husband and I have a difficult time discussing these things sometimes because I feel like it’s my responsibility to quell his major anxieties, which means he gets the impression that I’m not anxious at all, which couldn’t be further from the truth, even though I have the excitement to balance it. And then I get blue that he doesn’t seem excited at all, just anxious. We’ve talked about that specific dynamic and have gotten better at communicating ALL our feelings–I tell him when I can relate to his anxieties instead of trying to comfort them away, and he makes sure to tell me when there’s something he’s looking forward to about parenting. But it can be tough when you feel like you aren’t emotionally on the exact same page about such a huge thing. (Then again, how realistic is “exact same emotions” pretty much ever?)

    Since we haven’t been through the whole thing yet, I’m mostly here to listen. Looking forward to anything that will help to quell both of our fears, but especially my husband’s. Though I have a funny little feeling those fears never quite go away, until you’ve been through it and see for yourself that you’re okay.

  • Kate

    For anxiety #3, get a buttload of life insurance on both of you NOW before another birthday passes or you remove the goalie. It’s really important but also somehow morbidly comforting that if you kick it, at least hubs and the kid are set for a while.

    • emmers

      Yes, do this. I’m having life insurance annoyances right now because literally on the OB appointment I had to remove my IUD, they found some weird cells so now I have more testing, so life insurance is taking longer. So earlier, the better!

    • Mags

      Yes, really generous life insurance policies are key! And the sooner you sign up the better!

    • Kelly

      Do people feel like you need life insurance in top of what is provided by your employer (if they offer that as a benefit)?

      • Kate

        This article sums up a lot of reasons why people should not assume employer-provided life insurance is enough or a good fit for them:

        http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/022014/your-employerprovided-life-insurance-coverage-enough.asp

        Summed up, you should be 100% sure that an employer provided policy is enough money (talking to a lot of friends I’ve found their employer’s policy would really only cover funeral costs), that you can take it with you, and that you’re getting an affordable rate. I’m always a proponent of locking in a great policy while you’re still a spring chicken.

        • Alanna Cartier

          Sigh, That ship has sailed for me. I’m pretty sure the celiac diagnosis has made affordable life insurance a total impossibility. That being said, if I had bought life insurance before I found out…

          • Kate

            I’d still double check with your insurance agent, sometimes if a condition is being actively managed affordable life insurance is still possible. Fingers crossed!

      • emmers

        Yes- cuz what if you leave your job? And what if it’s not enough to cover stuff that you need? Life insurance gets more expensive as you age, and also as you learn you have medical issues (I’m learning!).

      • MDBethann

        I would say yes, because you need the life insurance even if you change employers and/or quit, are laid off, etc. We are both federal employees and had insurance that way, but (1) it was contingent on our employment (what if I decide to become a SAHM for awhile?) (2) benefits start to decrease after age 35, and we’d both hit that point and (3) there was no cash out value, and we wanted to have that to an extent.

        So – we went with term life (no cash out value) for each of us that lasts the length of our mortgage so that we can pay off the house if something happens to one of us and we’re down to one income. We also each got a universal life insurance policy that builds a cash value that we can tap in an extreme emergency but also goes until we’re like 99 or something like that, so it will cover our final expenses (that stuff isn’t cheap!).

        If something happens to both of us, all of our estate (including our insurance) goes into a trust for our kids that our wills set up. His sister is the guardian of our daughter and any future children (my sister is the back up) and our sisters are our joint executors and trustees, so they will both be involved in all decisions involving our kids if something happens to us. We made sure our insurance would be enough to take care of our mortgage & any other expenses then provide enough to cover living and hopefully college expenses for our daughter and any other children.

        Don’t worry that you have to do it all at once. I suggest getting the insurance in order now, because it will get more expensive as you get older and/or develop any health issues. You can change the beneficiaries at any time. We did our insurance change while I was pregnant, then we did the wills when our daughter was about 4 months old.

        At the same time as the wills, we also did financial powers of attorney and “living wills” (aka health care powers of attorney) to have those bases covered as well. If you don’t have much in the way of assets to worry about, the wills aren’t super-important until you have children and need to lay out guardianship directions. The financial powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney are good ideas sooner rather than later so that IF you would get sick/hurt/or otherwise incapacitated, your wishes are clearly stated and it will hopefully reduce the chances of issues between your spouse and your family of origin.

      • Lisa

        Yes, it’s definitely important! I don’t know about your employer, but mine only allows you to keep it while you work for the company. It’s also only worth one years’ salary until you’ve been with the organization for 3+ years, and then the coverage starts to increase from there. I can purchase additional life insurance, but the rates aren’t as good as what I was able to get through a private provider, and I wouldn’t be able to take it with me when I leave.

        If you’re relatively young and healthy, you can lock in a good rate right off the bat. My husband and I are in our mid- to late-20s, and we were able to get $250k each for $13/person/month. It’s a 30 year term policy, but when it ends, we’ll have the option to resign for new policies with the same health assessment we had in our 20s, which means, even if something happens in the interim, we still get “excellent health +, non-smoker.” Also since my husband’s policy is with the same company where we have our auto, home, etc., we get a discount on all of our other insurance as well.

        In all likelihood, we won’t need those policies, but it’s comforting to know that, in the event of one or both of our deaths, there would be money to cover any funeral expenses and outstanding medical bills with enough leftover for the surviving partner to take time off work and live comfortably for as long as she/he needs to grieve. We’ll probably consider getting additional larger policies as our family grows, but that’s something we’ll reevaluate in 10-15 years.

  • Just Me

    We still haven’t officially decided on kids and I know we have different fears but for me the biggest are:

    1. Physical. Everything about pregnancy, birth, and breast feeding terrify me. Not even the pain part necessarily, but another life form becoming a part of me….like an alien/parasite living inside MY body. I don’t know how to get past that.

    2. I’m worried about equally sharing the emotional labor with my partner (I’m a cis hetero woman so there’s lots of societal gender stuff that worries me, being married to a lovely but privelidged man).

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      “I’m worried about equally sharing the emotional labor with my partner (I’m a cis hetero woman so there’s lots of societal gender stuff that worries me, being married to a lovely but privelidged man).”

      YES THAT.

    • Teresa

      YUP! For the emotional labor stuff, we’ve started having these conversations now in a big way–I posted that we made a list of all of the things we thought we did and that we thought the other person did…it blew my husbands mind how much I really did that he doesn’t think about. I think that helps. I hope to keep it an ongoing conversation if/when kids come!

    • KK

      I think we are about 1 year behind Maddie in terms of timeline, just a few more things to get in line (like a x-country move) before we start to try, but I think we have decided we will go for it. And both of the fears you listed are at the top of my list.
      #1 – I’m glad that pregnant ladies and new moms are able to share the struggles and challenges and I’m the type of person who likes to know in advance all the various scenarios of what could happen, but at the same time, I also wish I could just put my head in the sand and face the challenges as they come. Because if they are things you can’t really do anything to avoid, then worrying about them isn’t useful, but sadly is still inevitable. At least for me.
      #2 – Also yes! My job is far more flexible and also less stressful (although our salaries are even) so I worry about how to fairly share the emotional labor. I want him to be equally involved, but I also understand that doing so will be harder and more stressful for him because of his job. So then what is fair? What is equal?

      • Carolyn S

        Ha yes – I’ve talked with several friends with kids about how it’s great that as a society we now talk about the real impact of childbirth but how also.. in some ways maybe it would be better if I never knew that prolapsed uterus’s and bladders were a thing…

        • Alanna Cartier

          “maybe it would be better if I never knew that prolapsed uterus’s and bladders were a thing”

          Man I can relate to this. I work at the regulatory body for nursing in my area and damn I wish I could un-know and un-read some of the stories I’ve read. It is ever so rare that people complain about the nursing care when everything goes perfectly according to plan.

    • Amy Sigmon

      The emotional labor bit is something I’m dragging my feet on bringing up with my husband, but it needs to happen pretty soon. We’ve got a 2 year old, I’m pregnant with our 2nd kid, and I’m in grad school. I cannot keep up with everything anymore. It’ll have to wait until he gets back from a 3 week business trip next month though. :-(

    • Sharing the emotional labor is huge for me – we do a good job of sharing it now, but it’s just the two of us. In our many “are we ready to have a baby?” talks I’ve stressed to my husband that I expect his full participating because I don’t want to be a married single mother and forced to do all the work. He is very much on board though and plans to take parental leave after I go back to work so he can have more bonding time with our future baby, and that gives me hope that we’ll be (somewhat) equal partners in this parenting thing.

      • Jaimee Alsing

        I agree completely with paternal leave time, but personally I wouldn’t count bonding time as “clocked hours.” I think its more important to be emotionally and continually present throughout your children lives than to be there when they are basically a needy creature with no long term memory.

    • Re: #1: Honestly, the first trimester of pregnancy was my favorite (I wasn’t ever really sick — a lot of people aren’t.) It was so much fun having this little secret physically inside of me. And I was so proud of my body for doing something amazing. I’m a little more uncomfortable physically lately (10 days till my due date!) but it is still pretty cool feeling my baby kick and move inside me. I can tell where his feet are and he responds when I push on them. Pregnancy is pretty weird but harboring a little life form has its cool moments too.

    • Meg Keene

      1 was really hard for me. (Well, not breastfeeding. Turns out I love that!) But it’s all hard. That said, I feel like giving birth is like realizing you’re secretly a rocket ship. And that is really cool. (I’ve had a c-section and a VBAC and a lot of complications, so I’m not saying that glibly).

      • SLG

        Can we talk more about #1? I don’t have kids, but most of the pregnancies and births I have been close to have been traumatic (hyperemesis gravidarum for a full 9 months, miscarriages, home births that ended in emergency ambulances / C-sections, debilitating depression, severe tearing during birth, severe depression, you name it). Like, traumatic in ways that have had lasting consequences for the moms and by extension, in some cases, the kids.

        I know it doesn’t have to be that way every time, but I also feel like I can’t get pregnant until I’m ready for all of that to happen to me. Plus dealing with the permanent change to my figure / boobs / etc. And yes, I know “be ready for all of that” is a totally unrealistic idea, but still.

        Nobody on the internet talks about this in a positive way, or if they do, I can’t find them because I’m terrified of doing an internet search on what pregnancy and birth do to your body and brain. Meg, your comment along (realizing you’re secretly a rocket ship) is so empowering. Can we have a whole post about that?

        • I’ve never thought of myself as secretly a rocket ship regarding the births of our children, but that’s a real good analogy. It was the most incredibly physical empowering thing I’ve ever done. Left the three marathons I’ve done completely in the dust regarding physical empowerment.

          Just yesterday I was telling my husband that I feel a bit more saggy now that I’ve had two full-term pregnancies, three births, and nursed all three kids (still nursing two of them), but it’s not bad. It’s rather amazing what my body did.

        • Inmara

          What you should keep in mind regarding #1 is that it’s all a big lottery. Some women have easy pregnancies, some not. Some can birth a 9 pound baby and be on foot next day, some require C-sections to survive birth. Some breastfeed with ease, some don’t produce milk at all. And there is very little you can do about it, just accept and plan around. There’s huge industry of supplement marketers, health gurus and the like in internet who want you to believe that it’s all your fault for not eating enough organic kale or not doing patented yoga exercises, but it’s not. Maybe you feel anxious because it’s so unpredictable, but at least for me it’s easier to accept that I don’t have much say in what will happen with me during pregnancy/birth/postpartum time – more important, we live in first world countries where majority of these issues are manageable and not an imminent danger anymore.

        • MDBethann

          So if it helps at all, since you’ve only known scary, traumatic births.

          (1) I had slight nausea in my 1st trimester (had to avoid greasy meats & fried foods) so I snacked on ginger snaps, drank ginger tea, and lots of ginger “brew” (the good ginger ale made with real ginger). But the rest of my pregnancy was fine (except for the 1 cold I had, which SUCKED) – some ligament stretching that was uncomfortable, but I adjusted my work station & started teleworking more, which all helped. I really LOVED being pregnant and look forward to hopefully being pregnant again soon, despite having a toddler around (which will definitely add challenges). I did feel pretty powerful and amazing – I was GROWING ANOTHER HUMAN. Can men do that? Um, no.

          (2) I was in labor for 10 hours, that’s it. Part of the time felt like the world’s worst period cramps, but as long as I was moving around or my husband was rubbing my arms & my back (distraction techniques), it was tolerable. A shower at the hospital helped, as did my heating pad. I did not have an epidural or any other medication. That said, the last couple hours HURT. A LOT. But it really was fleeting in the grand scheme of things, and having a tiny, wiggly little girl placed on my chest pretty much “erased” the pain (the laughter when she immediately peed on me helped too). I have had some friends with much shorter labors (like barely made it to the hospital in time) and others with labors that lasted much longer. It really does vary from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. But no matter what, the pregnancy and labor are in the end, just a small part of the whole journey of having a child. Yes, it’s weird and scary, but so are most things in life.

          (3) I know this isn’t the case for many women, but in terms of my body, I’ve been really lucky – I weigh less now than I did when we got married. I did develop vertigo 6 weeks postpartum and have had some issues ever since then, but with the help of a good ENT & physical therapist, I got things back to normal. In trying to eat healthier while pregnant and after my daughter arrived so we can set a good example, we cut out a lot of high salt and highly processed foods, so my figure (over the course of a year) came back (not on purpose, just happened). I totally get that this is very different for most women, but I think if you start making a change toward healthy eating now, it makes it easier once you are pregnant & then have the baby. Diet isn’t the cure-all, but it helps to get into the habit of cooking more, eating less junk food, etc. so you aren’t tempted to fall back into TV dinners, take out, and junk food after the baby arrives, exacerbating the baby weight gain.

          Good luck to all of you who are thinking about increasing the size of your family!

          • Lmba

            Oh and as for labour/delivery fears… Sometimes it actually all just works. I had an unmedicated hospital birth with my first, which was hard, but we did it and felt great about how it went. Second baby was a beautiful THREE HOUR LABOUR which, yes, it was objectively painful (as in, I wouldn’t want to do that every day), but compared to my first birth it was really only bad for about half an hour or so. Both kids came out healthy. Breastfeeding was a bitch at first, but we were able to nurse exclusively after a lot of work. If things go wrong that is absolutely not something to feel bad about, but we are built to birth babies and sometimes nature wins and it works out without too much medical intervention.

          • anon for this

            I had a similar experience to MDBethan.

            Everyone has their own path on this – even child to child. I had a pretty easy first pregnancy overall with a fairly easy, totally natural childbirth. I was induced (which I was nervous about – but turned out my body was ready anyway) and even with that, only had about 2 hours of really bad contractions. Even then…I don’t remember a lot of it in my haze of post-birth happy hormones.

            Even the process of getting pregnant is different from person to person and time to time. My first was like “let’s try, oh we’re pregnant, yay.” And now…we’ve been trying for a long time, finally got a + and I just miscarried (but I could already feel that it was different from my first prenancy – and when the symptoms got better, not worse, that’s when I knew something was wrong). And it sucks, but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything.

        • Michelle

          My pregnancy was easy but the birth/aftermath was incredibly traumatic. (Birth defects, surgeries, feeding tubes, etc.) I was definitely not prepared for what was coming and probably would’ve been terrified had I known. But the thing is – you build up strength and courage as you go. You probably weren’t ready for the sum total of every challenge that your marriage has presented on your wedding day, but you’ve gotten through each of them day by day.
          We can never really know what’s coming but you have to have faith in yourself and your partner (and your relationship) that you can handle it. Even if something terrible happens, you keep breathing and living and then one day you think… Holy cow, we did that! It’s over!
          And thankfully, you do get a pretty good dose of adrenaline and lovey dovey hormones to get you through the worst of it. :)

        • Gina

          RE: “nobody on the internet talks about this in a positive way”… The fear surrounding birth was really ingrained in me, so when I became pregnant I tried to counteract that. The site “birthwithoutfearblog.com” became my go-to for positive birthing stories, everything from home births to scheduled C-sections. I actually feel like birth is a really important feminist issue because it involves, to a large extent, the taking away of control from women by care providers. And U.S. maternal morbidity and mortality is dismal compared to most developed countries. I don’t think the two are unrelated.

          I was able to find a care provider that treated me with respect and followed evidence-based practices for birth (surprisingly still a rarity in the United States). I was able to have a really positive birth experience and was blessed to have a full-term, mostly uncomplicated pregnancy that enabled that birth. My daughter did have a single-artery umbilical cord but my midwife made sure I was fully informed regarding that complication. Looking back on the birth part, I feel nothing but positive about it, and I think that’s because I had a care provider who made sure I was respected and informed the whole time. There was TOTALLY a postpartum period where I felt like I was not myself, I’m not gonna lie, but that has slowly ebbed away and now, 10 months later, my body feels like my own again.

        • Lmba

          Yes, rocketship. I felt so affirmed in my body’s capabilities and feminine power! And then postpartum hit, which was misery, but I definitely think of myself differently and have a different connection to my body than I did before pregnancy.

        • SLG

          The APW comment section is the best thing on the internet, y’all.

      • Ashley

        My sister invited me to be present during her labor this past year and it was absolutely magical. It was her second baby, and apparently went a lot smoother than the first (i.e. slower and not panicky). Obviously not all births are like hers, she had a great birthing room, midwives, no complications. But it was just really great to see the real thing, up close and personal. People wondered if it would turn me off birth, but it was just the opposite. So much of what we see on TV is crazy and frantic, maybe representative of some births but certainly not all. Sure it looked hard, and painful (no meds), but it was also awesome. And she was totally calm afterwards. I wish there were more candid conversations, more open knowledge about birth, so it didn’t seem shrouded in mystery for those of us who haven’t given birth.

    • emilyg25

      1. I haaaaaaaaated being pregnant. And I had a totally normal, textbook pregnancy. I just hated it. But it’s temporary! Giving birth was amazing (for me) and breastfeeding was very hard but awesome (for me). Pregnancy and birth is temporary, a means to an end, and you don’t have to breastfeed. Not to minimize your concerns.

      2. Lots and lots of conversations help!

      • Sarah

        I feel the same way. I am pregnant and I don’t like it. My pregnancy has been “easy,” totally normal, no complications, very healthy. But I still don’t like it. There are some cool parts (feeling the baby move, having husband fascinated w/ baby’s movements, and for the first time ever in life, not giving a fuck how many calories I’m consuming – omg it’s such a relief!) but overall it really is a drag. Your body is suddenly so different. It is freaky and I don’t like it. But it’s a necessary sacrifice I suppose. I mean, I also hate aspects of my job day-to-day, but find it one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. So I just try to enjoy the parts that are cool, get through the parts that aren’t, and just take it in stride.

        • Laura C

          I missed this discussion because I was, uh, giving birth, but this. I was just saying on Facebook how glad I am to not be pregnant anymore — even though I had an easy pregnancy aside from terrible acid reflux (a big aside from, to be sure). Even while sleep deprived I’m just so glad to be back in my own body again! Though I recognize that I’m very lucky to so quickly feel that I am back in my own body. One of the weirdest things, for me, was lying down to sleep hours after my baby was born and putting my hands across my stomach, then realizing that for the first time in months I didn’t need to look for movement as a check that everything was ok. It really was this “my body is just me again” moment.

    • Mags

      I don’t want to fuel the fire, but these are such legit worries! For me, 1 is totally true (breastfeeding was the worst — I’m due in a few weeks with #2 and am so much more worried about breastfeeding than labor — they provide pain meds for that part). I haven’t felt like myself in 8 months and I know from experience that it might be another year until I do (except this time I’m going to let myself quit breastfeeding if its as awful as last time — hopefully I’ll have the courage). For 2, I recommend couples counseling (with a feminist counselor, which is key).

      But, these aren’t always issues for everyone. (Also, adoption totally gets around issue 1.) So, maybe you won’t have problems! (And the kids are worth it.)

    • Jsk

      For #1: I’m due next month and always felt similarly to the way you do (my feelings: ew pregnancy sounds really icky and creepy and alien). Turns out I don’t really mind being pregnant all that much. Sure, I wish I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and wish I could sleep comfortably, but the whole process is way less creepy than I thought it would be and I almost like it. Everyone’s experience is different of course.

      I’m still squicked out by childbirth and breastfeeding. I don’t feel any compunction to love birth so if it turns out to be anything better than a nightmare I’ll be happy. I will do my best at breastfeeding. Maybe I’ll love it and maybe not.

    • Jenny

      1. Yeah. Physical is tough. And weird. I didn’t like being pregnant, but I do like being a mom. That said, adoption/fostering are ways to have kids without pregancy/birth/breastfeeding.
      2. We have tried to address this by being really open to talking. While pregnant we made a list of all chores/tasks that we do to keep the house running. We included stuff like scheduling/buying birthday gifts etc. We talked about how much time each took, and how often we’d like to do it v. how often we HAD to do it. Aka, I’d like to vacuum the house every week, it HAS to be done once a month. And we agreed to have that conversation every three months once the kid was here and then as often as needed after he was 2 (our thinking being things like picking up stuff/laundry/vacuuming/scheduling timeing will change a lot those first couple years). We are only 3 months in, but it has made us both appreciate what the other is doing, and also I think be vigilant about being equals.

      • MDBethann

        The housework balance part IS tricky and something we’re still definitely working on. I do the vast majority of the cooking, but I also enjoy cooking and for the most part, I don’t mind it (DH makes pancakes on Sunday morning, typically makes steak or pizza one night a week so I don’t have to cook, and when I do cook, he entertains our daughter). Typically he’s been the one to do most of the vacuuming throughout our marriage, though I’ve been doing it a bit more because it was one of the chores I could do while wearing the baby. He still does all of the bathroom cleaning, trash collecting, recycling, and the bulk of the yard/outdoor work (I help with the flowers & garden, a bit less now than I used to though). I commute 3 days/week & he works from home full time, so 3 days/week he is responsible for getting our daughter off to daycare & we take turns with pick up. While I do the bath & bedtime routine at night, he washes bottles. Errand running used to be shared, but since I don’t work on Fridays, more of that falls to me, but our daughter enjoys it so it’s not too onerous & I don’t mind.

        While some of these chore divisions do seem a bit gendered, a lot of it is based upon what we do and don’t like. I have never been a fan of getting sweaty & dirty, so if he wants to do the outdoor stuff, more power to him. I enjoy cooking – it is relaxing to me and helps me feel like I’ve done something productive. I try to do as much of my cooking on the weekends as I can so on the days I commute, we can do leftovers or have pizza (usually our one non-healthy meal each week) and I can spend more time with our daughter. And whichever one of us isn’t doing a “chore” is the lead parent at the time, so labor is still divided (unless my husband is working, like he does on Fridays when I’m off).

        Do I still do the bulk of the vacation planning, birthday remembering, list making, etc? Yes. I’m trying to get him to weigh in a bit more on those sorts of things, but I tend to function better if I have lists and have vacations planned, so if the only way those things happen is if I do them, then I do them.

        • Jenny

          yeah we also had a column in the spreadsheet which was how much we hate doing the chore. If we hated it equal amounts we usually ended up splitting it, but if we hated it different like I HATE doing car stuff, and doesn’t hate it at all, well it just makes sense that all else being equal, he’d do that.

    • The parasitic aspect is why I’m so glad there are two uteruses in my relationship. In no other scenario do you want a parasite in your body, so why would I want this one? Hard pass.

  • Jenny

    Had my son in January and heart still intact. It is a totally different love than that I have for my husband or friends or parents. The closest thing I can describe it as is like that joy you have when you’ve just read a really awesome book, or seen a killer movie, or got an awesome piece of jewlery, but times 1000. I was talking to one of my friends about it and saying that parenting is so hard to describe because we’ve all felt the negatives (stress, worry, sleep deprivation), but the positives are so hard to describe because there is nothing pre parenting that is quiet like the pride/joy you feel about sort of objectively dumb stuff, like when say your kid is able to hold their head up themselves.

    • Cellistec

      “The closest thing I can describe it as is like that joy you have when you’ve just read a really awesome book, or seen a killer movie, or got an awesome piece of jewlery, but times 1000.” I love that you can describe it in such an accessible way–so many people say “You can’t understand until you experience it yourself,” which always feels patronizing, even if it may be technically true.

    • Meg Keene

      Yeah. I think my heart didn’t explode, but it grew a million sizes. (That said, I’m pretty sure that’s Maddie’s exact fear ;)

    • emilyg25

      I once read that the moment you give birth* is like having all the I Love You’s that anyone’s ever said to you repeated back, all at once. I liked that.

      * does not always happen at that moment

    • rg223

      ” there is nothing pre parenting that is quiet like the pride/joy you feel about sort of objectively dumb stuff, like when say your kid is able to hold their head up themselves.”

      TRUTH. That’s why social media is filled with posts that boil down to: “EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING! MY CHILD IS SHOWING SIGNS OF TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT!”

      • MDBethann

        I know, right? As adults, we really stop and think about the fact that at one point, we didn’t know ANYTHING – sitting, walking, talking, blowing our noses, etc. Until we have a child in front of us starting from scratch and figuring all of this stuff out, we really don’t think about it (at least I didn’t). And it is pretty amazing watching a a tiny human LEARN. Not to mention the fact that as the parents, you’re like “wow! I totally taught her/him something!”

    • My friend’s partner recently said that for him it’s like how he feels about his cat and watching his cat do little things that are adorable, etc., only multiplied in intensity. I kinda loved that he compared parenting to being a cat parent (because I can get that) and that it was like that but MORE.

  • auntiemame

    I hear you on these anxieties – fearing that your child might die especially. My best friend died when we were 22, and I witnessed her family’s devastation. I sobbed after meeting my niece for the first time and seeing the love my brother and his wife had for her, thinking about my friend’s parents. I still have days and moments when that grief weighs heavy, and I’m sure when I do have a child I will have more stuff to work through. However, experiencing the joy of a niece, and witnessing my brother’s joy, has made me feel more confident that I do want a child, with all the uncertainty that brings.

    In a less emotionally heavy way, seeing how my brother’s life continues to be his life has been helpful to me. The baby has been an addition, and I think he and his wife would argue she has transformed them, but they still like spending their time the same way as before. It hasn’t upended their world so that they are unrecognizable to me.

    • Ashlah

      Yes, seeing parents who continue to live fulfilling lives has always been really helpful for me, whereas listening to parents talk about how they never do anything fun anymore can really trigger some anxiety. One of my husband’s close friends told him that they adapted the baby to their life, not their life to their baby. Obviously some changes will happen, but that’s advice that we will really strive to follow.

      • Green

        This x 1000. Definitely always looking for these examples because the negative stuff often seems so pervasive. Thank you!!

      • Lisa

        This is really what I hope for our life once we have kids. I like who we are and how we are and what we do now. I want children to augment that, not completely turn everything on its head.

      • Cellistec

        Friends of ours who have a one-year-old recently mused in front of us, “We should go out sometime! We never do anything anymore.” It scared my husband, who’s been putting the brakes on our kid conversations ever since.

        • Ashlah

          Oh, that’s too bad! I hope you have other friends who can show him a different post-baby lifestyle. Our closest friends have a one-year-old too, and I think we’ve seen them just as much after baby as we did before–whether at their home, going out with baby, or going out after they got a sitter. It’s different, sure, but they still do stuff!

          • Cellistec

            Wow, props to your friends! Our kid-endowed friends have withdrawn significantly from our social circle, so I assumed that was the norm.

          • Lmba

            This may not be the case with your friends, but some social circles are not very accommodating to people with kids! We had this experience after our first kid was born and our social group seemed unwilling to make baby-friendly plans (ex:wanting to do late-night drinking rather than late-morning brunch). We dropped out of that group because our lifestyle didn’t mesh.

          • Cellistec

            That’s a really good point. And though my friends with the one-year-old said “we never go anywhere,” they have friends and family over all the time. But to my husband, who loves going to restaurants and movies, the idea of staying in to socialize symbolizes a loss of freedom rather than moving the social sphere to the home.

          • Ashlah

            To be fair, we’re all introverts who already didn’t hang out more than once a month anyway, but we were just all relieved that they didn’t disappear from our lives. And I’m sure they socialize with more people than just us :)

        • MDBethann

          Do we not go to the movies as much as we used to? Yes (we time our movies to when we’re around family; unless we can do a babysitting swap with another set of parent friends, babysitters are so expensive in our area we’d rather just wait and Netflix it – saves us money).

          BUT – our daughter LOVES going out into public, eating at restaurants, and seeing new things. We were hampered a bit last spring and summer because I had really bad vertigo so we didn’t go many places with her because we weren’t sure how *I* would do with my vertigo, but once I was better by the fall, we started going places more often and our Miss Social LOVES it. As long as restaurants have highchairs, we take her to them; it’s how she’s going to learn how to act in public. She smiles at everyone and charms our seat neighbors & the wait staff, so we have yet to have problems.

          Next month, we’re going to Scotland for a week, just the two of us, and our daughter is going to “grandparent camp” – she’ll spend part of the time with my parents and part of the time with his parents. I’m not even sure she’ll miss us much.

          I wasn’t good about it at first, but I’m learning to just let things like the dishes go and just sit down and read in the evenings after she’s in bed. It has definitely helped me relax more and I realized how much I missed curling up with some fiction in the evening, something I hadn’t done for awhile, even pre-baby.

          Is it harder to be spontaneous? Yes, but it also is sometimes harder to plan far in advance. Flexibility is KEY. You just learn to take advantage of days when no one is sick or when the weather is gorgeous or whenever naptime falls. You go into things with a Plan A & a Plan B.

      • Lmba

        Our lifestyle with two kids under three is dramatically different than it was pre-kids. We don’t go out nearly as often, we don’t have nearly as much time for ourselves or each other. And some of that is unsustainable, and needs work. And some of it is just… Realistic? And how life works? It was a hard transition to go from absolute freedom and unlimited (so it seems now) time to looking after two tiny people with a lot of needs. But also, our lives were never going to stay free and easy forever. As much as it may seem scary, I don’t think that kind of change is something we should always try to avoid or minimize.

    • Keeks

      Many of our friends have had children and it’s been so comforting to see how they’ve fit kids into their lives, instead of the other way around. We do more afternoons at the park (with a concession stand for the adults!) and dinner parties at home, but the frequency of our hangs hasn’t decreased much. Also, by watching our friends parent we are learning how to parent!

  • Booknerd

    I feel the same way, and I have a hard time because at my age I’m surrounded by women who can’t wait for kids, and I feel so out of place in that I don’t have that “instinct” or love of babies. I have no doubt that I will love my own kid, much like I love my own cats but don’t really care for other peoples. My fiancee loves kids and loves holding babies, and I get tons of weird looks when I decline holding a baby that’s being passed away. And people tell me how lucky I am that my fiancee loves babies- give me a freaking break.

    Anyway- here is my major anxiety with kids. I struggle already with the workload balance, and I have no problem with taking on more housework to reflect the amount of time I have, as he works 10 hour days quite often. We were casually talking about what it’s going to be like with a new baby, and some how it came out that if the baby is crying and he has to work the next day, its all my responsibility. I understand that physically he can’t do what I can for the baby but still- I don’t see myself being happy if he’s snoozing all night and I’m taking care of a baby 24/7 with only a few evening hours for relief when he’s home. Somebody please tell me that I’m not crazy in expecting some nighttime support even as he puts it “I have to be up anyway” so I may as well let him sleep.

    • Ashlah

      I don’t think that’s crazy at all. I understand his point, but I don’t think it’s fair. Babies interrupt your sleep. They just do. If you’re both choosing to have a baby, you both need to be on board to care for the baby whenever it needs cared for. You may end up doing more of the night care, whether because of biology or because of his work schedule, but I would be very hurt if my husband decided to completely check out and decline to support me through every single night. You will be happier, your marriage will be happier, and your family will be happier if you aren’t tearing your hair out from taking on 100% of nighttime duties.

      (And if you’re open to it, you could pump milk or use formula so he can bottle feed at night)

      • Booknerd

        Thank you!! Not having too many mommy friends I was starting to really worry about this! I know he doesn’t mean to be hurtful, in his POV he is the one making the money while I’m off for a year (Yay Canada!) so he should be well rested to best make that money as a salesman. His mother is also the kind of woman who does everything and doesn’t complain, is always on the go, very active and busy all the time and gets stressed out with downtime, so that is his mommy example. I’m a major introvert and if I don’t get enough downtime I get emotional and a little overwhelmed, and I hope that when the kids do come we will be able to strike a balance.

        • KPM

          If you haven’t directly said what you wrote in those last two sentences I think that could have a big impact.

      • Jess

        ” If you’re both choosing to have a baby, you both need to be on board to care for the baby whenever it needs cared for.”

        This sentence puts to words my entire opinion on parenting.

    • 3 months in

      You are not crazy to expect some nighttime support. Here’s the thing: you *don’t* necessarily “have to be up anyway.” Those first few months? Possibly, if you’re successfully breastfeeding (which is not a guarantee). But even if you are BF’ing, babies cry for reasons other than food. Once my partner went back to work, we had a loose arrangement of him covering 8pm-12am (I’d go to bed early) then me from 12am onward, so he could try to get some uninterrupted sleep before work. That was very loose, however, and we still helped each other out. Once our baby started sleeping longer stretches, we worked out that when she woke, he would get her up, do the diaper change, and bring her to me for nursing. Then he’d go back to sleep, because sitting next to us for 45 minutes simply wasn’t necessary. Husband liked this; he was up for ~10 minutes and was always able to fall back asleep quickly. I liked the camaraderie/team work feeling that we were both up, and I had those few minutes to grab a glass of water, granola bar, arrange the pillows, etc. Also, I knew that I would very quickly start to resent my husband if I were up multiple times at night and he just snoozed away, so we made sure not to let that happen.

      To offer a different perspective, I have a colleague who is currently overdue with baby #2, and her family arrangement is that she does nights, husband covers all daytime chores and baby when he can. She acknowledges that he is an individual who DOES NOT function well without sleep (she actually said “I don’t want to worry about him dropping the baby while sleepwalking through the house”), so he makes sure that all her meals are prepared and things are relatively clean/laundered, and she does all the nighttime parenting. This way, she is free to nap during the day when the baby is asleep. I was shocked, but she’s totally fine with it and that is what works for them.

      • Booknerd

        Two awesome examples thank you!! He’d probably be better at picking up the chores than being up multiple times a day, he’s usually the cook anyway, so perhaps that would be a solution for us! Thanks for the parent perspective!

      • Amy Sigmon

        Not crazy. In this situation you are BOTH parents. Our situation: we bottlefed from the beginning so anything before 2am was me, anything after 2 was my husband. We would help each other out, make bottles and keep them in the fridge so that the nights were easier, but still equal. My friend who breastfed: Her husband was in charge of getting up, changing the baby, bringing the baby into their bed to nurse, and maybe taking the baby back? She might have taken the baby back to bed, but that’s not really the point. The point is, he was still actively involved.

      • FM

        Yeah, for my two kids I did 95% of the nighttime stuff for approximately the first year and probably do 70% of night time stuff after the first year (which overall is way less stuff because my kids don’t wake up multiple times at night like infants) and that is what works for my family. I did this when I was on maternity leave and when I went back to work. I nursed and my kids were both not great with bottles. I would wake up my husband if the basic nurse/diaper change didn’t work and I needed someone to walk the the floor with the baby. My husband is usually kind of useless at night unless directed as to what needs to be done (he can’t think that logically when woken in the middle of a sleep) and I am better at waking up and dealing with needs, and I would prefer at least one of us is getting sufficient less-broken sleep so that they can be more useful during the day. My husband is great at other things, including handling the kids most days while I sleep an extra hour after the morning nurse. Don’t rule out that what may actually work best for your family given your respective strengths and other factors may be different from what you imagine.

    • So apparently new dads are *more* sleep deprived than new moms in most cases: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/04/05/473002684/for-new-parents-dad-may-be-the-one-missing-the-most-sleep
      I think if you have been able to work out an equitable division of labor at home, you’ll be able to do the same with nighttime care. If he has to go back to work and you’re on maternity leave for the first few months, then it probably does make sense for you to sleep when the baby sleeps (day and night) and be awake when the baby is awake, while he tries to maintain a more standard sleep cycle. Obviously there will be moments when you need him to take over at night, and he should be reasonable enough to understand that. Once a few months have passed, baby’s sleep patterns should regulate a little bit, and you can figure out more equitable strategies. I know one couple that alternated nights “on call” and another where the dad handled anything after 5 am.

      • Lmba

        I think there is some sense to the at-home partner getting up through the night if they have the chance to rest/chill during the day when baby naps (which is not a given! But some folks are lucky that way). But you sure as heck want to make sure the jobbing partner is WILLING to get up if that’s what needs to happen, because the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing allllll falls apart once you have more than one kiddo to care for. Got a three-year-old at home? You are not spending baby’s nap snoozing blissgully., no way no how.

      • Jenny

        The sleep when the baby sleeps is also hard because when you are most tired and able to probably all asleep at 2 pm, it is also the time when you are unlikely to be able to do anything for yourself when the baby is awake, so naps might be needed to eat, or to shower. Then after the first 3 weeks or so, at least for me, I would be really tired, but still couldn’t fall asleep at 2 pm.

    • Meg Keene

      OH NO NO. That’s what I have to say about that. If one parent is going to work and one is home with the kids, we consider the parent going to work to be living the easy life, and they have to do more nighttime care. As two working parents, we know that as a fact to be true!

      With our first, we both got up at night, and that was important emotionally. With our second, I’m on duty at night, and he’s on duty in the early morning and I go back to bed. It’s not a totally even split, but it gets everyone the best sleep possible, and since I’m breastfeeding, it makes sense. Also, Breastfeeding gives me hormones that make somewhat interrupted sleep slightly more manageable, so that helps it work well.

      But in short? I’d have packed his bags for him if he’d given me no night time support. Hope you like your new apartment dude! BYEEEE.

      • emilyg25

        Seriously, it’s like checking out on half the gig. So not acceptable.

      • StevenPortland

        150% agreed. The one with the full time job has it easier over the one at home — for so many reasons. For baby #2, during the first few months if the baby needed attention before 1 AM then it was my husband’s responsibility. If the baby needed attention after 1 AM then it was my responsibility. It ensured that both of us got 4 or 5 hours of sleep without any worries. Really worked well for us.

      • Phoebe

        DITTO! I have read about the parents out there who take on all night time responsibilities because their partners work outside the home, but it’s just not an option for us. Even if the parent who is at home during the day has the option to nap (which is the most common argument) the likelihood of that happening is slim. Plus all the added benefits of not being home (regular meals and bathroom breaks to name a few) I think outweigh the occasional nap.

        I went back to work when baby was 4 months old so I didn’t have a lot of time to be at home but even when I was, I would handle feeding and he would do the diapering in the middle of the night. For us the balance still wasn’t 50/50 for the first year or so, but it wasn’t all me. Then once night feedings ended we would alternate nights. This was actually my husband’s suggestion because he would get stressed out not knowing if he was going to need to get up that night.

    • Alicia Landi

      A friend of mine was totally 100% NOT OK with her husband checking out of nighttime care, and so they had an arrangement where when the baby cried at night husband would get it, change it if needed, and then bring it to her for feeding, and put it back to bed. It was a way for both of them to contribute to the care more equally.

    • emilyg25

      In my house, my husband handles night time. Even though he works full time, with a 50 mile commute, and wakes up at 4:30. (I breastfeed so he gets up, gets the baby, brings him to me, and the puts him back.) There are reasons for this and we discussed it long before trying to conceive. So no, you are not crazy to expect support. Even if you stay home, caring for a child is still work and all nighttime care shouldn’t fall to you too.

    • Inmara

      You’re not crazy. My husband still takes early morning feed (now it’s at 6 AM, used to be between 3 and 5) though I’m not breastfeeding anymore and I’m at home with baby. To be honest, I still have less sleep because I have to soothe baby a few times during the night, but that’s it.

    • Jenny

      Uh No way. I do think it depends on the time because week 1 nighttime is so different than week 5, is different than week 12. For the first ten days our kiddo would NOT sleep put down, he wanted to be nursing, or being held (I mean clearly what he really wanted was to crawl back inside me and continue that way, but sorry dude). From 3pm to 3 am he would cry unless he was being held, walked, fed, or rocked. My husband got no time off, but there was no way I could had literally stayed awake 24 hours for 10 days. On day 10 we decided we thought he was hungry (despite all the breastfeeding evangelist saying I was making enough as long as he was making enough wet diapers and gaining weight, he I think hungry), we started supplementing just 2 oz of formula and he immediately was able to sleep 2 hour stretches and his fussiness was just from 6-9pm. By week 5 he was sleeping several 3 hour stretches in the night, and I would occasionally let my husband sleep through the night because he would go back to sleep so easily after nursing. I went back to work at week 6 and he was not sleeping as well, so we started doing one of us on 8-1 duty, and the other from 1-6. that way you get 1 five hour stretch, and usually another 3-4 hours broken up. When I was getting really sleep deprived my husband would take a full night and I would just wake up to pump (for a while our son took FOREVER) to nurse, so pumping was faster) and he would feed him the milk. Plus often when he wakes up in the night it’s not only because he’s hungry. He needs a diaper change, or comfort, both of which your husband can (and should), You don’t want your kiddo associating only you with comfort in the middle of the night, that doesn’t bode well for the many years of nightmares etc.

    • MDBethann

      My husband and I both work for Uncle Sam – him FT from home and me PT with 1 day of telework and 3 days of commuting. Here’s how our childcare responsibilities balance out:

      Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun nights: I don’t commute the next morning, so I can take baby duty in the wee hours if she wakes up.

      Mon/Tues/Wed nights; I can take her early if there’s a problem (like until midnight or so), but he takes her afterwards. Tues/Wed/Thurs are my commuting days and I get up at 5, while he can sleep until 6:30/7. She woke up crying last night, so he took care of her & got her back to sleep while I stayed in bed.

      On my 3 commuting days, I leave the house before she gets up. DH gets her up, dressed, fed, and off to daycare. On the 2 weekdays I’m at home, I help with that & take her to daycare or our Friday Mommy/daughter activity. On weekends, we split duties.

      I was not able to nurse very long because of health issues, and my daughter never latched properly so we pretty much pumped after the first week. I’m more of a night person than my husband is, so when we had to do night feedings, I’d take the first one around midnight, put her to bed, then pump and go to bed myself. He’d take the next feeding around 3 or 4 in the morning and then either nap or hang out with the cats. And FYI, night don’t last as long as you think – DD started sleeping through the night around 2 months; once their stomachs get bigger and can hold more food at a time, your nights tend to be interrupted by either wet diapers, bad dreams, or teething, not feeding, and either parent can do that. And if you are bottle feeding (pumping and/or formula), either parent can do feedings.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      When I was home on leave, and he had to go back to work after the first couple weeks, I would do the majority of nights. But he would do the diaper and get her for me on Friday and Saturday nights.

      Most of the time, when it wasn’t “his shift’ he would still get up with me, help with a diaper change and give emotional support if it was a rough weeknight. He missed seeing her all day, and wanted to be the one giving her cuddles as she relaxed to fall back asleep.

      Also, nursing lying down in your bed is amazing. Bring a bassinet into your room. Baby fusses for a night feed, you get up, get them, nurse one side, change the bum, bring them to bed and nurse the other lying down. You get to relax, get a cuddle in, and when baby dozes off it’s just a little tip toe to put them back in the bassinet. The partner will have to get used to sleeping with a lamp on, because you will fall back asleep nursing.

  • EJF

    I’m so glad that you have reached the point of feeling ready, and would like to adopt your concept of clearing space in your lives for children. I think that preparation is so so important for preventing and managing several of your fears: if either of you happen to love your child(ren) more than each other, you’ve addressed that fear pre-kids and can make a game plan for bringing your emotional focus back to your marriage post-kids. Doing emotional, mental, and financial preparation for kids prior to trying to conceive means that even if your world IS turned upside down, you will probably be able to turn it back upright (or make upside down work, in the long run).
    We want kids, and pretty soon (1-2 year trajectory), although I can’t say I have reached to point of feeling ‘ready’. I am not sure many persons ever ARE ‘ready’. I know that love, as I have experienced it, will change and grow with children; I’m not daunted. I know I will make a good parent and feel prepared for actually parenting, as hard as it might be. My biggest fear is being able to afford children (Los Angeles is expensive!). Clearing some space in your life, particularly financially, seems like an important step. I keep asking myself how to be the best parent and give my children everything I would like my them to have, while juggling incomes and expenses, and whether or not we are a single income household or a double income household, all the while not losing my own dreams for myself and my own standard of living.
    The second fear I have, as a social worker with the disabled population, is having a child who is physically or cognitively disabled. While I know I will take what life gives me, and if I have a disabled child I, as a professional in my field, am particularly prepared to parent that child, I SO do NOT want my life to change in the way that loving a disabled child (and disabled adult child) would require it to change. I see too many families whose lives have all been altered drastically, if not shattered, by caring for a disabled child into elderly years.

    • Kara

      This is one of my biggest fears–having a child that is disabled. We have family and friends with children with physical and cognitive disabilities, and its heartbreaking. Some of the children are adults, but they will never live on their own. They will never be able to care for themselves. Everyone hopes (and plans for) healthy kids, but it’s not always the case.

      My husband is great with kids, loves them and would be an amazing dad. However, I do not see myself ever wanting kids (I have a list of pros and cons–and the cons list, for me, is much too long). This is one of the major reasons why I don’t want them.

      • Cellistec

        On a related note, grown children can be dependent without being disabled. My 35-year-old brother-in-law lives with his parents, is chronically underemployed, and relies on family support for everything. My husband and I know we’ll be responsible for him when my in-laws pass. A beloved uncle of mine lived with his mother until she died because his drug history and chronic pain got in the way of his employment. So even if you have able-bodied, neurotypical children, they can turn out to require more care than expected as adults.

        • Kara

          I definitely agree that happens. I don’t have any first hand experiences with adult children that are able-bodied neurotypical individuals living with their parents, but I agree, it can still happen.

        • EJF

          Point! There are many things that parents have to deal with in terms of dependent adult children that they often must take in stride. You can’t prepare for every single outcome….and perhaps that scares me too.

    • Kalë

      This is my biggest fear surrounding (eventually) becoming a parent. I am paralyzed by fear of having a child with cognitive or physical disabilities and the level of care and life changes that comes with it. While I realize that people and children of all abilities come with their own set of challenges, having seen family members deal and struggle with several levels of disabled children (from high functioning to completely parent/healthcare provider dependent), I know I don’t want that for myself. And it scares the hell out of me. Especially knowing this about myself, and the fears and insecurities that brings up (does that make me a bad person? what would I do if my child was born disabled? how would/wouldn’t I cope?), I sometimes find myself questioning if having a child would be right for me, despite how badly I want to be a mom.

      • MDBethann

        No one WANTS to be disabled or to raise children who are; I don’t think it is something any parent actively seeks out, and to be honest, I think you have reasonable fears. Unless we grew up in a family with people with disabilities, we don’t really know whether or not we’re personally able to handle it. You aren’t saying that disabled people are bad, even in your original post – you just say that disabilities come with a lot of unknowns and fears, which is true. I don’t think acknowledging that or being afraid of that makes you a bad person. How you ACT towards your child IF they have a disability would be (to me anyway) the yard stick for that. Do you love your child regardless and just want the best for them? Or do you shun them and hide them and show them no affection?

        I worried about these things when I got pregnant with my daughter; I was 35 when she was born and so the risks for birth defects have started to increase for me. By the time we have our next child (hopefully) I’ll be at least 37 (my current age), if not older. So there are definite risks, but they aren’t huge. And what’s to say that any of us might not become physically or cognitively disabled in an accident or by a stroke? Life itself is full of risks and uncertainties; at the end of the day, we just have to have faith in ourselves that we’ll be strong enough – that our marriage will be strong enough – to get through it.

  • EJF

    I’d also love to hear how parents have managed their fears when deciding to have unplanned children. How did you make it work when pregnancy was not part of your plans, but an unexpected joy? What did you panic about and how did you handle it?

    • Catherine McK

      I’m writing from the perspective of, “we wanted another child, just not quite yet,” so maybe different than what you’re looking for. We found out I was expecting at 16 weeks. I had/am still having trouble dealing with feeling like I didn’t give my child the best start/put him at risk due to not knowing from the get go. We’ve managed through lots of conversations with each other and with the doctor, who was very reassuring. But! I still feel like it is something I’ll worry about until he is school aged. It was hard to skip the first 4 months and go right into the “everyone knows” stage. There’s a lot of processing and dreaming that happens in those early days before your uterus is a public discussion point. I worry about him not feeling wanted, because it’s a sure thing that given my family, he’ll know he was a big surprise. I guess knowing how much my 2 year old knows he’s cherished is reassuring. I’m interested to see what others have to say. This definitely wasn’t a position type-A planner me was ever anticipating!

      • MDBethann

        Surprise baby? Yes. Unwanted? Doesn’t sound like it (you are keeping the baby, right?). It wasn’t what you planned, but I’m related to a lot of “unplanned” babies who are plenty loved and even know they weren’t planned. And even babies who are not planned but are given up for adoption aren’t necessarily not loved – sometimes, parents love their child so much that they know they cannot care for their child and the most loving thing they can do is place their child in the care of someone who CAN take care of and actively love the child.

        Yes, you had 16 weeks of “not being prepared” but if baby is healthy and the doctor says you are fine and the baby is fine, then you are. Lots of people don’t know from the get go, even when they ARE TTC.

        Best wishes!!

  • macrain

    I definitely had a lot of these fears before I got pregnant. Now I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, and my anxiety has definitely shifted throughout. It has gone something like this:
    Trying to get pregnant- what if I can’t get pregnant?
    Pregnant- what is keeping this ball of cells from just falling out of my uterus?
    End of pregnancy- how do i keep this tiny human alive once he gets here?
    Everything feels so high stakes and urgent, it’s insane. For example, I logically knew that if I had a miscarriage it would ultimately be fine, but emotionally I just couldn’t get there. I desperately wanted THIS pregnancy to work, and I couldn’t escape the fear of the devastation I would feel if it did not.
    On the plus side- I have never felt so connected to other women in my entire life as I have as a pregnant person. I have absolutely cherished it. It’s amazing out other moms want to help you, even people you don’t know.
    No baby yet (I’ve got 2 months to go) but I will report back from the trenches! Great piece, Maddie.

    • I”m squarely in the “what if I can’t get pregnant?” worry mode and my poor husband is trying to keep me from worrying. I feel like I’m just a worrier and no matter what, I’m going to worry about something.

      • Teresa

        I am here and trying to tell myself that if I cannot get pregnant, then I will get another cat and we will travel and we will love the shit out of our nieces and nephews and try our damnedest to enjoy the expendable income we otherwise wouldn’t have. That being said, we aren’t starting to actually try until June…I’m not sure how calm my head will be when we actually get to that point!

      • Eenie

        It’s a fear that is so unbalanced in my relationship. I have the same fear, and it just never even crossed the fiance’s mind that it was something to be afraid of.

        • Ditto! My husband finds it weird that I worry about so many things that never even cross his mind.

          • Eenie

            I’ve got plan A, B, C, etc fully formed in my mind. Meanwhile he has plan A mostly fleshed out in his mind. He likes to focus on the problem when there is an actual problem. I promised to take a leaf out of his book on this one, but it’s so hard.

          • Yup, that’s me! What’s interesting is that my husband is also a planner, but he’s more of a “Plan A is totally going to work so I’ll just casually think about Plan B just in case” while I’ve got a fully formed contigency plan in case A-C don’t work. Crazy.

          • Violet

            Have never heard my kind of planning defined before, but I am just like your husband! I’m like, “Well, if something happens that makes Plan A not work, I can’t possibly know what it is beforehand (or I’d change Plan A in accordance). So how can I think of alternatives? Waste of time!” While my husband considers every fractal.

          • Lisa

            Professional worrier here! My husband is definitely of the “we’ll figure it out if that happens” mentality while I’m over here dreaming up the worst case scenarios playbook. His attitude towards us getting life insurance was that he didn’t really care if we had it or not, but he knew it would make me feel slightly better so he went along with it.

          • TeaforTwo

            We were the same way (and then we did wind up having trouble getting pregnant) but I think that part of it is that women talk so much more about this stuff to each other than men do.

            I knew so many friends who had gone through infertility and/or miscarriage that it loomed large for me from Day 1 of trying. He didn’t know of any friends who’d gone through the same, but statistically that just doesn’t make sense. The couples in his family and/or social circle are just as likely to have the same experiences, but they aren’t talking to him about it in the way my girlfriends are telling me about it. So he just saw people having babies and assumed that was all there was to it.

      • Ashlah

        I’m there too. A total worrier, even though I know it helps nothing.

      • Lisa

        Same here. I’ve had some problems with my IUD, and when I went to my new doctor, she sent me in for an ultrasound to make sure everything was correctly in place. My mind immediately went to, “What if I’ve done something to my body that means we’ll never be able to have kids?” I was on the verge of tears through most of the ultrasound because I’d worked myself up into this fit and convinced myself that everything was my fault. (Everything ended up being perfectly fine, but man, that hour before I finally got the results felt interminable.)

      • Sosuli

        Yup. People (read: my mom and FMIL) keep saying to me “so when you have kids…” and my instinctive thought is always “I don’t even know if I can have them yet! I’ve never tried!”

      • macrain

        I play piano, and when we were trying I just hurled myself headfirst into an insanely difficult to learn piece. It was a nice to have place to throw my nervous energy! That really helped at in the beginning too, when I was so nervous about something going wrong and hiding from people.

      • Kate

        Yes! I shared some of Maddie’s worries pre-pregnancy (I’m still terrified about loving a child more than my husband/losing my marriage to children). Then I was worried I couldn’t get pregnant. Then I did. And now I’m 6 weeks into it and convinced that something will go wrong. I’ve looked at every test and scan and found all sorts of wonderful rare problems that I’m sure I must have. One of my close friends told me that pregnancy is a lesson in not being able to control everything. If I’m really honest with myself, that’s what scares me the most.

        • Cara

          Congrats! I found that the worries kept shifting as the pregnancy went on. Like “I don’t feel that sick, is something wrong?” “Just make it to 12 weeks, and it’ll be fine” “Just make it to the ultrasound to see and make sure it’s okay in there” “why isn’t he kicking?” “why is he moving so much?” and I think I’ve started imagining issues like slight numbness on my belly. It’s kind of nice to have online chat boards to talk about stuff going on, but it’s almost worse to see bad things happen to others (because everyone talks about the worst things the most). But letting go and trusting that everything is fine is so helpful, if nearly impossible.

        • StarryNight

          Yes. This. Having to deal with the loss of control in pregnancy is the most terrifying experience. In my case, my first pregnancy ended very badly when we discovered our baby had severe chromosomal defects and we terminated. Now I’m trying to get pregnant again and the fear and frustration and loss of control is overwhelming.
          Kate – I hope your experience is blissfully easy and healthy.

          • Kate

            I am so sorry to hear that! I can only imagine what it must feel like this time around. Lots and lots of luck and love.

      • Carolyn S

        We don’t really want kids for a couple years but I keep saying I wish we could get pregnant and then pause it for a couple years, so at least I would know that part works…

      • Alexa

        I was really worried we’d have trouble conceiving because I knew my parents did. Then it turned out I got pregnant basically the first month that we started trying. It felt a little like emotional whiplash, but shifted pretty quickly into worrying about the possibility of a miscarriage or, on the flipside of feeling really awful for at least 8 weeks and possibly 8 more months…

      • Gray

        Worriers unite!

        One time after a potential birth control mishap I spent the entire night awake, worrying I was pregnant. Then when I got my period a week later, I spent another entire night awake, worrying about whether or not I *could* get pregnant.

        My brain just has to worry about SOMETHING at all times.

        • Ashlah

          Ha, seriously. My birth control has done exactly what I want it to do for our entire 7 year relationship…could that mean I’m actually infertile?! Come on, brain, chill.

    • C

      I totally had “what if I can’t get pregnant” fears long before we even considered trying (which we haven’t started but now have a date for). Then my best friends adopted amazing kids, and the fears went out the window. “Oh, if I can’t get pregnant, we’ll adopt which would be awesome”.

  • snf100

    This is super timely, we have been talking for a year now to start trying in april of this year (so yea this month), cue giant freak out in feb about the enormity of all of it coupled with my fears about motherhood/raising a kid, and being and getting pregnant. While I know we will be good parents and that things will eventually get to a new normal after a kiddo arrives its still scary. Complicating this is I have hypothyroidism, possible PCOS, been on birth control for 10 years, and asthma so getting and staying pregnant might be hard to do and hard on my body. We hit pause on the time line and are going with the flow. I got off birth control and read taking charge of your fertility and have started the process of charting, I figured if I can start to calm one fear (that I don’t ovulate at all), I can work on calming them all. We will see how it goes. Right now I am glad that I am charting my cycle with out the added pressure of did we have sex at exactly the right time to make a baby. Its nice getting to know me not under synthetic control.

    • I love charting! (And I am not trying to have a baby.) But charting makes me feel empowered with understanding my body more.

  • AEH

    It is so refreshing to hear someone actually talking about this. I’m getting married in August and I’m still on the fence about kids (my fiance knows this) because of all the anxieties you listed above, and I felt like I was totally alone in feeling that way, and also very selfish for worrying about “loving too much” but for me it’s a scary thing. So thank you for talking about it publicly because I think I said ‘amen’ out loud at my desk while reading this.

  • Green

    Maggie, I’ve been a long time fan, but I’m a little bit in love with you for this post. A couple of things: 1. Congratulations!! Seriously, just in coming to terms with the baby question- that’s huge! 2. You and Michael are going to make fantastic parents (oh what? We don’t actually know each other, but from what you’ve written ( this post and others) your future progeny are super lucky to have you guys as parents). 3. My husband and I are in a similar place and so I’m super appreciative of this post and the ensuing discussion. I feel like I keep stumbling on discussions of how hard parenting is and I fear what that means for my future family and being so far from family support.

    • Green

      Uuuugh- MADDIE, sorry about the typo. Total Freudian slip as I have a Maggie in my real life and am typing on my phone

  • Teresa

    Dude. Get out of my head. Those are all of my biggest fears and we are starting to try in June and it is A LOT. I didn’t want kids for the longest time and then all of a sudden, a switch flipped for both of us. No one was more surprised than we were that our minds changed and we are so excited and so terrified. I started listening to The Longest Shortest Time podcast about a year ago to kind of normalize the idea of parenthood in my own brain. I actually do not know that many close friends my own age that have babies, but the very few that do make me feel like I can handle it.

    What I currently am working on is ridding my brain of expectations–that I will be able to get pregnant at all, what pregnancy is like, what birth will be like, how we will act as parents, etc. I am finding that really freeing and I hope it keeps my brain calm.

    • Lisa

      I love TLST. I think that and the conversations we have on APW pretty regularly have helped to normalize the pregnancy and child experience, especially since we don’t have any close friends with kids who we can watch parent on a consistent basis. (We have one nephew, but he and his parents live 2000 miles away.)

  • FM

    Two kids. My heart did not and does not burst. I’m not a bursting heart kind of person in general I think? Some people fall madly in love with their babies the moment they arrive, and that seems to be a large percentage of people who write blogs about children, but lots of us, like me, mostly feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility and care for their babies at first, and then the love grows over time like it does in any relationship you have with another person. I mean, the relationship you have with your kid is different from other relationships, but it’s still fundamentally two people having a relationship, if that makes sense? I felt more lovey with my second from the beginning than I did with my first, probably because I was less anxious about not knowing what I was doing. I do think there is a big amount of anxiety that comes with being a parent and I don’t think there is any way around that. It is part of the trade off. I think it has been helpful for me managing my own struggles as a parent and fears to try to keep perspective of parenting as a long-term project, that will evolve over time. The effect on my life choices and my other relationships (marriage, friendship, family) of having an infant is different from having a one year old, and that’s different from having a 4 year old. I think it is more scary to think that your life will be impacted in a particularly difficult way forever or indefinitely than to think about it being impacted that way for a few months and then it will change as your kid grows in independence and in their needs. Also, I will say for the record that I think being a parent is wonderful and difficult and life-enriching.

    • Jessica

      I like the point about ‘people who write blogs about their own children’ are more likely to be the ‘heart bursting’ type of people. It also touches on the fact that people make things shinier for the internet. If a woman who is a mother runs a lifestyle blog and gets money for looking like she has all of her shit together — and so can you!– it’s going to be a rosy picture that doesn’t show the struggles with her husband, the fact that running the blog is probably her job, and that she has a vested interest in making all of the hard stuff look simple. And as much as someone can tell themselves that it’s basically just photoshopped life doesn’t mean that anxiety doesn’t creep in.

      My husband and I like to joke about how we’re going to have ugly, talentless kids who will be raised as monsters. We do that because his sister is an amazing mom who puts a lot of emphasis on getting things right and parenting philosophies for happy kids who will be the best at everything. To me it looks like a lot of stress and extra work that I’d rather pass on.

      • FM

        I had a lot of fantasies about things I would do when I had kids that went right out the window when I actually had kids because extra stress and extra work aren’t things I go looking for (I have enough stress and work, thanks). I like reading about different philosophies for doing things on occasion because I think that stuff is interesting but my actual parenting choices are half fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants (aka what my parents did or things I’ve seen other parents do) and half hodge-podge of the great and varied parenting methods I’ve absorbed through my readings. I figure that every kid is going to grow up with issues because that’s just being human and the most important thing for a kid is feeling really truly loved and important to your parents, and I think we’ve got that one going ok. That’s the main theme that I try to keep in mind when I’m trying to make a parenting choice. If your parents are perfect, then your issue is going to be that you have perfect parents who you can never live up to. Right?

  • Gray

    Not a parent yet, but I relate to this article so hard.

    In addition to everything on your list, I’m scared of losing my own identity. Currently I have lots of identities, some more important than others, but none that feel like they are overpowering. I’m afraid of “Mom” completely overtaking everything else that I am. I’m afraid of losing myself.

    • Kelly Mine-His

      This is exactly my fear. That I will suddenly have priorities and feelings that will change me into someone I won’t recognize and I don’t want to change who I am now. I already felt like falling in love so young did this in many ways – I have shifted my priorities and made room in my life for another person, and many of the ambitions I had before have pivoted. I am still uncomfortable with this even though I don’t regret it or miss my old self, and THAT is why this scares me so much.

    • Jenny

      So for me, I think my identity as a mom is a gradual thing, like when I started running, eventually I considered my self a runner, but not right away. It still sort of weirds me out when people refer to me as a mother, and it’s a good thing kids don’t come out talking because I was not ready for my son to be calling me mom right away. I was really worried that once I became a mom all this stuff that was important to me would become not important to me. But that hasn’t happened, I still care a lot about my job and my research, and my hobbies, and my friends, I just also care a lot about my kid too.

      • Stacey Cuddhy

        I felt the exact same way about becoming a “wife.”

    • Chris

      Then it probably won’t. For lots of women, ‘mom’ is an identity they’ve been waiting to take on. But if not giving up on whatever makes you _you_ is important to your sense of self, it won’t go away. I was angry and pissed off about the assumptions that I might get turned into ‘only mom’ when kid 1 was born, but it hasn’t happened because I have chosen to not let that happen. This really is a matter of choice. Nobody (spouse, baby, or society) can make you be someone who you aren’t. My academic, athletic, intellectual self is still (frankly) a more important a part of my identity than my two year old. The competitive sports that I play are on hiatus right now, but I still feel like they’re part of me even though they aren’t in focus right now.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      Keep contact with your friends that were your friends pre-baby. They know you as you and not as babe’s momma. The friends you make after baby are harder to have them see you as you, as you may have met them through having a baby. But get to know them without the babes in tow, and they will see you as you.

  • Meredith

    My husband is convinced he will always love me more. Which I’ve told him is weird and probably won’t happen he will love the kid more, or differently or something. Also in addition to the things you listed I can’t imagine not loving my dog the most! ;)

  • Christina McPants

    Parenting, at least for me, is trying to cuddle a baby (now toddler), who is completely uninterested in snuggling and being completely dismayed at the lack of snuggles and proud of her independence. Yelling “wait for me!” as she gleefully runs towards life and also wanting to hold hands with my wife and watch her go. It is not an easy or inexpensive experience and all of my fears about not being good enough have been realized in one way or another. But you know what happened after those fears were realized? We rolled with it. The only person affected by my perceived inadequacies were me (and my wife who had to hear me rending my garments over them). Early kid life is hard. It’s hard on your finances and your marriage and your sleep and your work. But it’s totally survivable and so, so much fun.

  • OMG all of this. ALL OF IT. We’re trying and just the idea of a baby both excites me and scares me to death. Maybe I’ve just heard too many horror stories, but I’m afraid of everything from childbirth to being a helicopter mom. I’m extremely afraid that I’ll unconsciously put my kids before my husband, because I love my husband and I don’t want us to lose the bond we have. I’m afraid of bringing little Black boys and girls into this crazy world, where my children will deal with racism and sexism and patriarchy and possibly be killed simply for being Black children. I worry that I won’t be as good of a mother as my mother was to me. I’m afraid of losing myself in motherhood and being obsessed with my kids.

    Someone please tell me I’m worried for nothing or that it won’t be as bad as I fear.

    • emilyg25

      You just do the best you can. That’s all you can do.

      Also, I believe that it’s our job to model a strong marriage, so that means that putting my husband first sometimes is also benefiting our kid. That helps. Same with maintaining your own self.

    • Alicia Landi

      I read a ton of books about pregnancy/motherhood/work-life-balance, etc. before I decided to try for kids (cuz that’s how I roll). The one that really stuck with me was “Perfect Madness: Motherhood In The Age of Anxiety”. It talks about the shifting role of motherhood over time, how it ties in with feminism, and how the incredibly unhappy ‘helicopter mom’ lifestyle/stereotype came into being. I read it as something of a ‘how not to parent’ guideline, though it’s more just a social analysis.

    • Danielle

      Hello! We are also trying, and I am also excited and terrified about everything. Although, our baby (if I can conceive one) will be white. I’m sorry that you also have to worry about your children being Black in a hateful world. I can’t imagine that fear, in addition to everything else.

      Last weekend I visited my BFF for her younger son’s first birthday party, and stayed over the night before to “help”. Guess what I realized? It’s a lot of work to be a mom, and throw birthday parties, and take care of two children at the same time. She was tired and sick and doing a million things at once. I was horrified and shocked at all the work she had to do, and how snotty/filthy/disgusting the little babies were (sorry, just being honest. Babies are filthy!). But somehow all the moms there hugged and took care of each others’ little babies when they were crying/freaking out/spitting up.

      I came away from that weekend kind of reeling, thinking, “THIS is what I’ve been wanting for so long?!?!” And kind of relieved that we haven’t gotten pregnant yet.

      Babies will change your life. That’s the part that really scares me. I like having time to watch Netflix alone on the couch, and sleep in and make a lazy brunch on Sunday. That part of my life will end when/if we have kids. The world becomes about the kids, more than you, at least for quite a while. It seems “nice” in the bigger picture to lose that selfishness, but part of me isn’t really ready to give it up yet.

      • Absolutely with on the babies changing your entire life thing. One of our favorite things to do is to lay in bed on the weekends and cuddle and talk. Almost every weekend, we look at each other and say “you know we won’t be able to do this when we have a baby, right?”.

        • rg223

          I mean, you can’t do that all day. But my husband, my 6 month old, and I cuddle in bed and talk every morning before we all get up for the day. It’s five minutes. But it happens!

        • Anon

          Maybe for a while. But one of my fondness memories from childhood is waking up on the weekends, knocking on my parents door and crawling into bed with a book for them to read to me, or for me to read myself. I did the from ages like 6-14. And then they would convince me to get them coffee.

          • Danielle

            Ha ha, my husband is convinced we can get our tiny future children to to help out: “Go get Daddy a sandwich.” Maybe he’s right.

          • Eenie

            My friend’s 2yo kid loves bringing people bottles of beer. The parents have strongly encouraged everyone to thank her enthusiastically and then just put the beer away if we don’t want it.

          • Danielle

            :D Now I’m remembering my younger cousin loved to sweep as a tiny child – like 1 year old! This is a good habit we can try to instill early on…

      • MDBethann

        You can watch Netflix alone on the couch, but it may end up being at 9 or 10 pm at night (and you don’t get dishes done instead) or in the middle of the afternoon with a baby napping on you. Lazy brunches are still possible if one partner is willing to watch the baby/toddler while the other cooks. It takes some planning, but I still get to be “selfish” sometimes and go shopping alone, or read a book, or just say “f it” and do my own thing after DD is asleep instead of doing dishes or laundry or cleaning up the toys. Do you get to be as spontaneous and free-spirited as you were pre-children? No, but you get a different kind of spontaneity because you never know what the baby/toddler will do next.

        • Danielle

          This is a relief to hear. Perhaps I have an unrealistic image in my head of motherhood being 100% self-sacrifice and soul-crushing drudgery all the time, because the “your life will change” thing is promoted in a voice of dread so much…. or maybe that’s the message I pick up the most. But in reality it sounds like you’re saying there are trade-offs, and it’s possible to have some free/relaxation time — just that other things will NOT get done in that case.

          I also think it’s really different when you have two kids as opposed to one. Because then it’s hard for either parent to get a break.

    • Inmara

      I have 8 month old, and at one point during early weeks I was so overwhelmed with how much work parenting is, and how much more is to come when he gets older! And then I stopped myself from worrying about things that are further in the future than next week. Just STOP IT! If you deal only with parenting tasks at the moment, it’s much easier because children grow gradually, and you adapt your efforts and routines with them (except the early postpartum weeks when everything your life has been is thrown apart). Of course, you need to keep a bigger picture in mind, like, how you want to raise them being good people, and how you’ll cope with pressure from society to do things this or that way,or how you’ll deal with racist remarks when you’re out with your family… but don’t give it too much headspace, you’ll have plenty of time to deal with it when it actually happens.

    • MDBethann

      For avoiding the helicopter parent thing and figuring out how to treat baby like a little person (because as Meg likes to point out, that is what babies ARE), read “Bringing Up Bebe.” While unfortunately American society isn’t as helpful as French society in providing and supporting a variety of child care options, the French parenting philosophies are definitely adaptable and will hopefully help you to be a more relaxed parent, if that’s what you want.

    • Alexa

      I’m currently pregnant (still first trimester) and the whole bringing kids into a world with so much racism, sexism, ablism, etc. & various other forms of hatred scares me a lot. Our child will be biracial (I’m white and my husband is black), with a good chance that they’ll have an appearance that most people in the U.S. at least will code as black. While I’ve done a fair amount of reading and thinking about how to talk with kids about racial and intersectional issues, there’s so much you can’t really prepare for, I’m sure I/we will mess some stuff up, and it sucks to know that there’s so much crap in the world that can still hurt them even if they are as prepared as possible (with police violence one of the worst-case scenarios).

      I think it helps a little bit to work in a school, because I can see kids from a wide range of situations, many with very serious challenges, still growing up to be awesome human beings.

      • dearabbyp

        My (future) kid will look pretty white but have a Persian/Muslim last name and I’m hella proud of that but… I have literally lost sleep about bringing a child into the current political situation.

  • THIS. ALL THIS. Holy heck.

    I want children. The thought of having children terrifies me.

    I’ve always like Maddie, but now I’m sure she’s in my brain, saying the things I’m not eloquent enough to put to paper. In a good way. ;)

  • Sarah

    I’m currently 7ish months pregnant. Still not ready to have kids. My husband and I had vaguely planned to have kids some day, but after marriage, after the house, after our family trip to Italy, after, after, after. And then I approached 35 and our trip was over and we were in line at Costco and he turned to me and said “weren’t we going to talk about having kids after Italy?” and I said “Yes. But I’m not ready to have that talk.” And then a few days later I said “ok I’m ready to have the talk. What do you want to do” and he said he wants kids but we are not ready. And I said yeah, I feel the same way. And then he said “but remember your mom always told you that you will never be ready, so don’t wait to be ready. So maybe we should think about starting” and I said “yeah plus I’m nearing 35 and I want grandkids before I’m too old so I guess we should get started.” And then we did. We usually analyze and over-analyze and re-analyze everything and use spreadsheets and agonize forever but this decision was just like “uh, ok, let’s throw caution to the wind and go.” I guess because otherwise it’s too scary and we’d never do it. So anyway like 2-3 months later I was pregnant. And then we were 90% terrified and 10% excited. Now we’re nearing 50% terrified and 50% excited. Still not ready. In fact my husband just lost his job literally 2 days ago. So, totally not ready. Doing it anyway.

    • Jackie

      When we got pregnant (on purpose) one of my first thoughts was “oh no, what have we done?!l and I continued to second guess the decision to have a baby right up until we were induced. Baby girl is 7 weeks, and I honestly haven’t thought it since she was born.

      • rg223

        And to add another experience to this, sometimes you continue to think “Oh no, what have we done?!” months after the baby is born. And that’s okay.

      • Amie Melnychuk

        It will change to a “Wow, what have we done?” with all the smiley and heart eye emojis.

  • Katie

    With a 18 month old, when I gush about the feelings I say my heart swells. It’s the honest truth – heading home after work and getting to pick him up at daycare, my heart swells with excitement and love. I think of that scene from the Grinch cartoon as his heart grows five sizes. I hope that puts a positive spin. I still have a hard time believing the amount of love but it is the best. (Esp now that he’s at the stage where he hugs and kisses us!)

    • emilyg25

      Ha, yes, I think about that scene in The Grinch a lot.

  • Cellistec

    I want to adopt through foster care instead of having bio kids, so my fear is that with zero parenting experience, I’ll screw up an already-traumatized child. I sometimes ask myself “Why would DCFS give us a kid when we’ve never done the parenting thing before?” (I know there are ways to get kid experience without birthing one–volunteering, babysitting, taking care of friends’ kids, etc.–but those also tend to require some kind of experience, so it’s a cyclical thing where you need experience to get experience.)

    • lady brett

      do your research – i had done a fair bit of reading, but i wish i had known more about trauma when we started (and, realistically, trauma research is moving so fast that some of the stuff i’m reading wasn’t written when we started this). but also, be compassionate with yourself. i wish we had done better with our first kids, but while i can point out how we were framing the whole thing wrong, i can also say pretty confidently that they were a lot less broken when they went home than when they came to us. i guess that’s to say that the opposite of “better” isn’t “bad”.

      (the sarcastic response, of course, is that dcfs would give just about anyone a kid where i live because the alternative is kids sleeping in dhs offices…which is pretty screwing up.)

      • Cellistec

        Thanks lady brett- I always value your insights into foster care and adoption!

  • Roselyne

    Children ruining my marriage – Nope. Made it different. Better. Added stresses, and some yelling, and a lot of fixing, and in the end we’re more solid than we were before.

    Children dying – Oh, god, I can’t imagine.

    One of us dying and leaving the other with a young child – Again, I can’t imagine. Horrifying. BUT this is why we got life insurance before having a kid.

    Me loving a child more than I love my husband – Not more. Differently.

    My husband loving our child more than he loves me – Not more, differently. And, more specifically, I love her just that much, so it’s a relief to see that it’s mutual love. We can bond over it. ;)

    Having our world turned upside down so hard it can’t be turned right-side up again – Yeeessss.. ish. Our world didn’t turn upside down so much as it gradually shifted into something that isn’t recognizably what it was 4 years ago, but it is significantly more awesome. We wanted that change, though

    Any kind of all-consuming love that threatens to explode my heart – Yes. Sorry. 100% yes.

    • emilyg25

      “Our world didn’t turn upside down so much as it gradually shifted into something that isn’t recognizably what it was 4 years ago, but it is significantly more awesome.”

      Yes. True.

  • Kristen Kravitz

    I agree with Jenny’s comment wholeheartedly… for me almost two years into my parenting journey, the love I have for my daughter is different than with my husband, and it’s more like a quiet joy (mixed with epic frustration at times navigating the awesome and terrible twos).

    I also want to add that I DIDN’T have that moment when they put my daughter in my arms and my heart imploded or overflowed like all the articles said it would, and I really thought there was something wrong with me. But having talked about it with my own mother and other mama friends, I’ve found that a LOT of women don’t have that lightning-struck love feeling right away, and it’s OK. For me, the love has taken root and grown with time, especially as I get more and more excited to see the person my daughter is becoming.

  • Amy Sigmon

    If you are a pragmatist in general, your heart will not explode. I don’t know what your emotions will do post-birth, so I’ll just tell you mine. A) I was thoroughly relieved to have that kid on the OUTSIDE of my body, and I had a good pregnancy. B) It just seemed normal. Like, weird because I’m never up in the middle of the body, but it was normal weird. It’s just what we starting doing, feeding and changing and clothing this tiny kiddo. We loved the shit out of him, but for us, it was very even keeled on the emotions front, and this is partly because my hormones cooperated, etc. But seriously, you will be fine. Parenting on the internet is insane. The book I’ve really enjoyed, once you get around to reading books, is Bringing Up Bebe. It’s not insane, so that’s helpful.

  • MaryElise

    I’m currently 7 months pregnant. And while I feel excited, I also feel tons of anxiety and have fears like you about it (and so does my husband). I worry it will ruin the business I’ve started (I’m a wedding designer and my due date is July so I had to decline a lot of weddings this season), I worry that I’ll lose myself/my identity, or like you that it could ruin our marriage in some way.
    We are both in our 30’s and have been married two years, and so I got feeling like it was time to have a baby…I’m not super into kids, but I did feel like I wanted to have kids. My husband and I also thought it would take a while to get pregnant (I thought I’d be like my mom who had fertility problems) and so in our heads we were like “sure, we’ll start trying now but it will probably be 2 more years until we have a baby”. BAM! We were punched in the gut when after only one month we found out we were pregnant. To be honest, those first few weeks after finding out were hard…my husband had so many fears (I did too, but his felt way bigger than mine). We had to have many talks and we have continuing talks to help decrease those fears.
    What really helps is having other young parents that you can look to. We have a few set of friends that have had a child already and yet still have maintained their personalities and still do all the things they love…but now just with a little companion along for the ride (and that’s the type of parents we want to be). Seeing other cool folks handling parenting makes it seem doable!

  • Alicia Landi

    I’ve never heard anybody else express their parenthood worries in the exact same way as I felt them, but you nailed it. I’ve worried about every single one of those bullet points, much more than I worried about changing diapers or feeding the kid. I’m pregnant now, due in a few months, so I don’t have words of comfort to offer yet. Except I can say that the process of going through pregnancy with my husband has made us both feel closer to each other. Seeing the way he’s taken care of me while I’ve been dealing with a kinda shitty pregnancy has just made me more excited to see him in the role of dad and love him in a whole new way. I’m excited about diving into this experience with him and I think keeping the lines of communication open about those fears/anxieties has helped us.

  • Bsquillo

    I have also had similar anxieties about having kids, as I’m not really a heart-bursting, super emotional kind of person…so it’s hard to relate to all of these parenting conversations that seem to be centered on extreme emotions and very little logic. I will say that it’s been supremely helpful that I’ve started having peers who are great parenting models: friends nearer to my age who work in creative fields and have similar lifestyles and personalities to me and my husband, and who are able to be loving, successful parents. It’s like watching someone else go first on a big, scary waterslide, and feeling better once you see them come out the other end okay, haha.

    Also, I know it’s not the point of the post, but CUTE SLEEPY PUPPY in the photo <3

  • emilyg25

    I’m not gonna lie, the love is completely overwhelming and sometimes it HURTS. It’s part of why I’m sticking with just one kid. I don’t think I could handle loving two kids this much. It’s kind of like how you feel with a new crush but ALL THE TIME FOREVER.

    I was terrified having a kid was going to ruin my marriage. I think it was my biggest fear. But parenthood made it so much stronger though because we worked so well as a team. We were just both ready to dive in 100%. It’s added so much depth and trust to our relationship.

    Yes, I love my child more than my husband. I love him more than anything else on Earth. If he died, I think I would die. I spend a lot of time reminding myself that the chances of anything happening to him are really very slim!

    Being a mom is the most amazing thing. It’s just so fucking cool to see the world through these fresh little eyes. He’s made me a lighter, happier person. It’s sounds terribly cheesy, but that is my truth.

    • Jackie

      Yes! Especially that first paragraph. I feel like my heart resides in baby girl and I don’t think I can handle feeling this way about two people

  • Pam

    I felt ready… then not ready but already pregnant. My son is a year old now and I’m happy and relieved to report that my marriage is still great. My husband and I now have this great shared adventure and challenge that is raising a child together. It’s like the most epic road trip ever, but with more tears and joy and baby poo. My love for my son is different than my love for my husband. I chose my husband, my son is the adorable little human that we got dealt by luck and genetics. I’m really glad that I got pregnant when I did because I honestly don’t think I ever would have been “ready.” I think my life would have been totally fine without my son. I know not everyone will say this, but my life isn’t better or worse for having him. It’s an entirely different kind of life than before. Both my life before and after baby are happy lives. I’ve definitely been changed by the monumental process that is pregnancy and childbirth. Also, to state the obvious, taking care of a baby is ALOT of work. Gather as much of a support system as you possibly can! In the end, I’m happy we chose to have my son. I love getting to know him, watching him learn, being his Mama, watching him discover the world around him. I don’t think there is anything quite like it.

    • Jenny

      I completely agree. I think the ready, and then getting pregnant and being like, uuuuuh not ready, is so true and pretty common. My son is only three months, but I agree with so much.

  • Sara

    Always fun to actually be able to contribute! We have twin 4 year olds, and it continues to be a hellva crazy, but fun, ride. I never expected to have kids, but married a man who was very passionate about having a family, so when I said yes, I knew they would be part of the package, so it took a while to wrap my head around that. Was ready to try one, and see how that changed our life/family before going for more. Halfway through the pregnancy we found out it was twins, so I didn’t quite get to make that choice. ;) But I had all these concerns/worries/stresses and more.

    They’ve not ruined my marriage. But we’ve definitely made adjustments to make it work for us, and sometimes that’s hard. I’m a selfish person who wants free time and time with my husband, and I don’t always get that. But I try to do a decent job at being rational, so most of the time it’s okay.

    Every week my brain plays the scenario of one of my kids or my partner dying. I think my brain will always do this. Brains are weird. They were much more frequent when they were babies (thank you post-partum depression), so now I know it’s just a crazy thought and probably won’t happen, so I do what i can to prevent it and take financial safeguards.

    I love both my kids, but in a different way from my husband. He loves both of them so much, but in a different way than he loves me. So the love is huge and multiplies exponentially through the family, which is great. But I know there’s a different relationship. And it’ll change as we all get older too. It scared me before birth, but now that i see how it plays out in reality, I don’t know why I was worried about this in the first place.

    As for the world turning upside down… Well, I think any big change is going to do that. Birth, death, relationship changes, jobs, moving, etc. And it all has the potential to change it so much it’ll never be the same. I don’t think you can plan for it or insulate yourself from it. It just happens and you figure out what the new normal is and make sure you can both work in the new landscape.

    Other things I’ve worried about, and continue to worry about:
    – how having children affects my career. Husband has been out of town for a funeral the past few days. I had to manage some problems at work over the weekend and had to bring the kids with me. They colored, I solved problems. It’s tough, but I try to rock it. Sometimes i just muddle through.
    – freedom. Once upon a time I just had responsibility for myself. Then I had responsibility for him, too. Now I have responsibility for four people. Sometimes that changes my decision drastically, which is a bummer.
    – Teenage years. OMG, they are going to hate me.
    – It’s going to be another decade and a half before I get to buy a cool car again.

    To sum up, damn they are so awesome, and I love the family that we’ve built together. But the thoughts/concerns never go away… they just evolve to fit your current life crisis. :)

  • Al

    Okay, I’m clearly in the minority here, but 11 months into my first kid and my heart definitely has imploded. It is scary. When my thoughts drift to “what if something happens to her”, I am at risk for a complete breakdown. Also, I love my kid more than I love my husband, which I did NOT expect.

    BUT, the cool things is that he feels the same way. And we talk about it a lot. And it feels like he’s the only other person on this earth who can relate to how I feel about my child. (When pregnant, we’d play a morbid game of “who would you pick to save in a fire, me or baby?” and always chose the other spouse. Couple months into being parents and we both switched our answer to the baby!!)

    So, I dunno. We have a long road to go on this parenting journey. So far, though, it’s really cool to have a joint obsession with our kid.

    FWIW- I stayed home for 3 months on (unpaid) maternity leave, and then he quit his job and stayed home with baby for the next 6 months. He loved it and tries to convince every guys he meets to do the same. It has done a lot for us both in understanding the other person’s parenting trials, and in strengthening their bond.

    • emilyg25

      Not alone. I really expected to have a hard time attaching to my baby, but the moment he was born, it was total, all-consuming, lightning bolt, crazy fierce love. It was like a tear in the space time continuum or something.

      • Al

        I love this, thanks for sharing. I’ve been surprised to find I’ve had a hard time relating to other women on this. In my experience, there are plenty of of spaces created to talk about the hard parts or complain about lack of sleep and lazy husbands, but talking about how awesome it is, and how much you love your baby, isn’t allowed, because it’s “glossing over the truth about motherhood” or being a sancti-mommy. It’s been a little isolating.

        (I probably need new mom friends..)

        • MDBethann

          I love my daughter “to infinity and beyond” I always tell her. I love her differently than I love my husband, and while sometimes I think I do love her more, I guess because she’s the best of both of us. But it doesn’t mean I love him less than I did before – in some ways, I think I love him more than I did before BECAUSE of her. She brings out a different side of him and I love watching the two of them together and I love how she loves him. She kept going over to him last night and giving him kisses on the forehead; it was adorable (at least to me).

          Are parts hard? Yes, but I think the hard stuff – the crying, the illnesses, the poopy diapers, the “I’m going to do what you told me not to do” looks, the dinner time meal issues – all have made me more patient. Do I scold and say no? Yes, but it is usually because I’m trying to keep her from hurting herself (standing on chairs is something she likes way too much right now). I’m not a perfect parent by any means, but I LOVE picking her up at daycare and spending my evenings with her. I LOVE cuddling her and reading to her and rocking her to sleep. I love her hugs and her kisses and her smiles and her giggles and I wouldn’t trade any of it, ever. We’re going to Scotland for a week next month and she’s staying with her grandparents; while I’m excited about the trip, I’m already sad that we’ll be apart then, but we really need some husband & wife time so there’s no taking her with us (that and she doesn’t have a passport yet).

    • Sarah Cassanego

      I agree – I love my daughter more than my husband, and he feels the same. That doesn’t mean we love each other less, but we also answer those morbid questions about “who would you save in a fire” and we both pick our daughter. And we both want the other to pick our daughter. I think we both feel a biological drive to protect her first, before ourselves or each other.

      • rg223

        It’s interesting, because I feel like this depends on your definition of “love,” too. Because I too would save my son first in a fire, but I chalk that up to, as you said, the biological urge to protect him. I still think I love my husband more than my son, despite the fact that I wouldn’t rush to save him in a fire.

        • Al

          Sure, definitely some different types of love playing into the choice. The biological urge is crazy, right? I never knew how powerful my hormones were until having a kid.

  • Sandy

    Maddie, I felt all the same fears when we talked about getting pregnant. We have close friends who had a baby, and then a second, and she like became super mom. Which I guess, someone has to right? And it’s hard to be super mom before you are a mom, but she was like a pod person. She was completely different from who she was before. It was made worse when, talking to her husband, I said I wasn’t sure I wanted kids and he said “Oh, she used to be like that.” I was now officially terrified.

    But it’s not like that. I’m still very much me. It’s hard af and we are still navigating the equitable division of labor, both emotional and physical, and it’s made more complicated by the fact that my mom is living with us and caring the for the baby while we work. But I do my job, and my second job, and I talk to my friends about things other than baby (which stopped entirely when I was pregnant). We go out. We take baby. It’s us, just with more things to carry.

    I think about Leslie’s words of advice to Amber in the Parks and Rec series finale, about how having kids is deciding to add more people to your team, because Amber and Andy make a good team. Cried so much. Possibly the fact that i was holding my still newborn baby might have had something to do with it.

    • Jessica

      That speech, more than anything else in the world, helped me accept that having kids was an OK choice for me. A+ for Parks and Rec.

  • Dolly

    NOT AT ALL suggesting that loving kids and loving pets is the same thing…but an analogy about fears of hearts exploding. My last dog died young, and this was the worst loss of my life, and I used to cry myself to sleep about it sometimes, up to a few years later. I refused to entertain getting another dog for years afterward – I couldn’t handle the loving and the losing, and the responsibility that caring so much brought along with it. My (now ex-) partner basically insisted we get a dog because I didn’t want kids, and finally wore me down, after months and months of protest about exploding hearts. Finally I gave in, and I love the dog so so so so so much, and love her like this basically upon meeting her, and so I say (without wanting to imply kids and dogs are the same thing), the love immediately cancels out the fear of the heart exploding. (By the way, after all the protests about getting a dog, I got the dog in our breakup because my ex recognized that my heart WOULD explode if she were taken away from me.)

  • Sosuli

    Oh man, yes a million times yes to the anxieties here and that everyone has expressed. I had that exact pang of the fear last night when I got up to go to the bathroom (why does it always strike on nightly toilet breaks?) and suddenly realised I’m only 2 years off the age FH and I have set as a Probably Good Age For Baby.

    In addition to what others have been saying, I wonder if anyone else has had anxiety about having a child forcing you to settle down? I live in the UK but am originally from [unspecified Scandinavian place] and I’ve had this to a lesser degree about getting married in the first place, but sometimes thinking about kids I get the fear that I’ll never move back to [home country] and that escalates to “oh god my children will never learn my language” to “oh god will my children know their grandparents and aunties and cousins?” to “oh god what if they don’t care about [home country]?” Like I know a lot of it is irrational night-time fear that in the daylight I can combat by talking with FH and knowing that we are both up for moving wherever life takes us. And I moved across the Atlantic twice as a child, so I don’t see why I think it’s so impossible to do within Europe. But I still wake up and think about it regularly.

    • Eenie

      I have this fear only because our families live in two different parts of the country (US). Which is probably less of a “real” issue than worrying about your home country and language (I think it’s common for people to fear this, it’s a huge part of what makes you up). But it’s still something we talk about all the time. Do we really want to try and stay in one place? Split the difference? Live near one side of the family and constantly travel to the other? Move back and forth?

      • Lisa

        We’ve talked about this a lot, too. My husband is from the west coast, and I grew up in the Midwest. I don’t particularly want to move back to my hometown, but I don’t foresee us moving to the Bay Area anytime soon either. We don’t have any good answers yet.

        • Eenie

          What sucks is that I don’t want my parents to be “punished” by living further away from their potential future grand kids just because I know they will make the time/spend the money to travel and see them. They make the time now for just me and the fiance, being the kid furthest from the nest. But I also don’t want my kids not to see their other grandparents and uncles and aunts either. I grew up with only one grand parent who lived so far away I saw her twice a year. That’s not what I want for my kids if I have a choice in the matter.

          • Green

            Yes! How do you foster close relationships with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins when there is so much geography in the way?

          • Eenie

            Well I will point out that I have an awesome relationship with my 1 year old nephew. He knows me as the “kitty lady” because when we skype I always show him my kitties. It’s not easy, I feel bad when we don’t connect on skype for several weeks in a row, but when I see him in a little less than 2 weeks I have hope that I’m not seen as a stranger. As he grows older I hope he looks forward to our video chats and showing me stuff he’s done at school and such. It’s work, and my SIL is awesome for doing a lot of the work now. It’s just not the same as being able to watch him for the weekend or night when my brother and SIL need some 1:1 time. So maybe my long distance fears for my potential future kids are exaggerated.

          • Dess

            THIS. Having grown up at least 10 hours (by either car or plane) from any extended family, I am often amazed/occasionally slightly jealous that my fiancé grew up with almost all of his extended family within 45 minutes drive. When we discussed our hoped-for geography for pre-kids, we decided to move to Europe, where we live now, pretty easily. But the conversations of where to be for kids? Neither one of us can figure out how to make that decision. I feel confident that we could do it far away from family because I saw my parents do that, but I can’t tell if I *want* to.

          • Eenie

            Yes! Could and want are two separate things! We totally could, but the want just isn’t there yet for me.

          • Amy March

            Letters, tape recordings of reading them bedtime stories, talking about relatives at the dinner table, sharing family recipes, encouraging everyone to pick up the phone and call each other directly, making the time and money sacrifices necessary to visit? At least that’s what my parents did when they moved us around the world from both of their families. I had a close relationship with my grandfather, not so much with my aunts, uncles and cousins, but it is possible.

          • Green

            Thank you, brings a bit of peace into a messy place.

          • MDBethann

            My aunt & uncle had to move from PA to OK for my uncle’s job shortly after their granddaughter was born (my cousin’s in-laws live close by, so they see them frequently). They had a strong bond with their 5 year old grandson but were still developing it with their granddaughter. I know it isn’t perfect, but they use FaceTime/Skype a lot (we do too, and we’re only 2 1/2 hours from our parents) and my aunt & uncle fly home to visit whenever they can (it helps that my uncle returns to PA every few months for work, so my aunt, who works part-time, joins him) and in the summer, my cousin’s family goes out to OK to visit for a few weeks (both are teachers, so they can do this). My aunt and uncle have a great relationship with both of their grandchildren and the kids know them and love them very much. So it takes work, but it is doable.

            For us, we try to make the 2 hour drive to PA every 4-6 weeks and my parents try to visit us once a month. We try to Skype with our parents every other week or so and our daughter knows their voices so even when we’re just on the phone with them, she babbles at them and kisses the phone (or the screen if we are Skyping). She lights up when we visit, so clearly she knows her grandparents and loves them, even though she doesn’t see them all the time.

          • OliveMC

            I’m also furthest from the nest, and everyone in my family lives within an hour of said nest, so I feel like I miss out on a lot.

            I started using this app (http://lifehacker.com/get-50-classic-childrens-ebooks-for-free-from-billion-e-1745485605) with my 2 year old niece recently, and she loves it! Free ebooks, works on smartphones & computers, and there’s an integrated webcam that actually works pretty nicely.

            I’m still sad, my dad babysits her every day and I know my kids will never have that, but I’ve always wanted to live in different places and my career kind of requires flexibility. The ebooks are wonderful, though. And when a 2 year old tells her daddy “Aunt O book,” my heart just melts.

    • Green

      Yes! Like Eenie mentioned, I don’t have to worry about language and culture norms exactly (a little bit), but the bigger issue is that we’re solidly thousands of miles away from both of our families of origin. Thinking about not being close to my sister and her kids or my parents while pregnant or raising children breaks my heart a little bit. And discussions about where we should go, if we decide to relocate are always sort of veiled as “who’s family will we live closest too,” and, not surprisingly, start pointless arguments. So, we’re staying put for a while in a nice area, far, far away from those best able to provide emotional support through pregnancy and parenting. Any tips on how people manage this are dearly appreciated.

    • I think the language thing is a big thing. I live in another country, and the language where I live is not my native language, and I have previously thought about raising kids bilingually. There’s a lot of identity tied up in language, and if one of the parent’s languages is a more uncommon language, well that must amplify the concerns. It’s easy to find TV shows, etc, in English if you live in a non-English-speaking place. But other Scandinavian languages are harder. (And I say this as a person who has lived in Scandinavia and learned one of the languages and is hoping to get back into the language after years of letting it be dormant, due to no longer living in a place where it’s spoken.) I know families where each parent speaks to the children in their native language (when they are alone with the child at least), and this is an approach that I like, looking in from the outside as a non-parent. But deciding home language and schooling language, etc.,….such big choices for bilingual couples and/or expat couples. But I personally love the cultural mix I see in people that have been raised with multiple cultural and linguistic heritages. I think it’s such a wonderful asset!

  • Keeks

    I always feel so ashamed admitting this is my #1 fear, but: sleep deprivation.

    Like, this week I have been getting about 6 hours of sleep a night instead of 8 hours (so not even that much of a deficit), and I am WRECKED – an emotional mess, jittery, and more unproductive at work than normal. I’ve been like this my entire life, where I am unstoppable if I get enough sleep and a terrible, angry shell of a human being if I don’t sleep. I worry that if/when I have children, I’ll end up with PPD and be a terrible parent & partner because I am so sleep-deprived. I know people say “hormones sort it all out,” but that’s not enough reassurance for me. And I know that my husband is worried for me about the same thing, which makes me even more worried.

    • Eenie

      Ditto. One of the best things I ever did was get one of those activity trackers that track my sleep patterns. If I average anything significantly less than 8 hours I’m a mess.

    • FM

      First, sleep deprivation is something that for most people is mostly limited to the first year or even just the first 2-6 months depending on how your kid naturally or through training sleeps. So it may help to think of it as a temporary situation. If you are disciplined about going to bed early (which I’m not, and also can’t because I have a crazy job) you can actually get quite a lot of sleep even if it may be more unbroken for those 2-12 months when your kids wakes up at night. Also, you can prioritize sleep training if that is necessary for your mental health (or whatever other reason). Finally, if your partner doesn’t have this problem then your partner can be mostly in charge of night time waking and that will be a choice you make together for your family. Even if you want to nurse and your kid isn’t night-weaned yet you can do bottles for some or all middle of the night feedings to allow your partner to be in charge of them if you choose and nurse during the day.

      • emilyg25

        Or do what we do: baby wakes, husband brings him to nurse and puts him back. I don’t even sit up. :)

      • Keeks

        Objectively I know that it is temporary, but it’s still a long enough time period to inflict some real emotional damage. I’m super-strict about my bedtime now, but I wake up a lot and my partner is a night owl so I already feel like I’m working with less than a full deck.

        Thanks for suggestions on actual things that we can do to cope! My husband brought up sleep training recently and I am sure having a night owl on hand will be useful. :)

        • FM

          Oh yeah. I definitely don’t want to minimize how hard the sleep deprivation may be for you. I find that for everything difficult about parenting it has helped me enormously to keep the perspective that it is temporary because babies/kids change so fast. Sleep stuff and other tough aspects can be especially rough for a couple-day or couple-week patch and then you get a reprieve, and it always felt to me (especially with my first) that we were forever stuck with that bad patch when we were deep in it, so actively working on keeping that mindset of everything being temporary (which is extra hard when you’re sleep deprived and hormonal) really, really helped me make it through.

    • Gina

      I am exactly the same way, and we were not blessed with a good sleeper, but somehow I have done just fine. I know it’s annoying when people say “your body adapts” but I really think it does. Even on nights the baby’s been up teething and I feel like she must have woken up every hour on the hour, I am able to go to work the next day and do just fine. And that was emphatically not the case before I had her.

      Also: I feel like half the narrative surrounding sleep deprivation in American culture is due to the fact that we try to make our babies sleep alone, when they’re biologically adapted to sleep with us. Once we gave up on the crib and brought the baby to bed with us, everyone slept approximately 3,000% better.

      • Ashley

        Ok I’ve heard people say that women’s hormones postpartum help cope with sleep deprivation…This is mostly false right? Like some guy just said it so he didn’t have to get out of bed?

        • Gina

          Haha I have no idea!! I mean, something happens that makes sleep deprivation not feel so terrible. I have no idea what it is. That’s my unscientific experience, but YMMV… I thought my husband would do great with it, since he never seemed to need that much sleep and I used to need 8-9 hours MINIMUM, but he clearly struggles with it a lot more than I do. That’s not an excuse for him not to contribute, but he will be dragging a lot more the next day after a rough night.

          Honestly, because baby is in bed with us, unless she is in pain or has to poop (which requires one of us to get up and walk her around), when she wakes up I just roll her over to the other side of me, stick the boob in her mouth, and fall back asleep. It takes 60 seconds and half the time my husband doesn’t even notice.

          • Ashley

            Just curious, best for babies to sleep on one side with mom and a safety gate, in the middle, or what?

          • Gina

            Now that she’s bigger she sleeps on either side of me. When she was little I kept her between me and the Arm’s Reach cosleeper on the side of our bed (which she refused to sleep in). I eventually just bought a bed railing.

            The Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory has some good info about safe bedsharing, if anyone’s interested. http://cosleeping.nd.edu/

          • Inmara

            On one side with mom, definitely. Sleeping in the middle increases risk of smothering.

    • Sarah Cassanego

      I really really really worried about this too, because I need a lot of sleep and am really unpleasant to be around if I’m sleep-deprived. What I found with my daughter was that hormones, combined with the understanding that I was providing her what she needed (i.e. breastmilk at 2am), helped me cope with it way better than I ever thought possible. I find it much harder now when my 18-month-old, who consistently sleeps through the night, has an off night due to illness or whatever. But in those early months, it’s like my body and brain knew what needed to be done, and that I needed to be okay with less sleep. And I was. That may not be enough reassurance, but I feel you about this being a major pre-baby fear.

    • Violet

      Same way with sleep, here. Anything less than 8 hours and I am less effective. Less than 7, and I get Angry. You know how people joke about getting “hangry” when they’re hungry? Yeah. I’ve seen people cranky about being hungry. Never seen someone be as short-tempered, condescending, or contemptuous as an underslept Violet. It’s nasty. My partner is also totally on the “Uh oh, what are we gonna do when you don’t get enough sleep? worry bandwagon. It’s fun place; hitch yours up to ours and we’ll commiserate together. So though I am not a mother, here are the things I’m telling myself to reassure me. Feel free to use any that work for you:
      – saving up so that I can take 6 months’ leave from work
      – sleep training as *soon* as kid hits 3 months. This is the age where sleep is largely consolidated in infants, and they (generally) don’t need to eat in the middle of the night. Sure, varies by kid, but you get the idea.
      – have a supportive partner who is also a night owl who can pull his weight
      – hoping my genetic impulse to sleep a lot gets transferred to said hypothetical kid. I was an easy, sleeps-a –lot baby, so maybe my genes will win out.

      • Keeks

        Not only do I get sleep-deprived angry, I also get hangry easily. I’m basically a toddler in a grown-up’s body!

        • Violet

          I would laugh if I didn’t feel your pain on this so much!

      • HD

        I’m the same about sleep, with the added problem of having periodic horrible bouts of insomnia, and I can tell you that taking 6 months leave will help HUGELY. It did for me. I stressed so much less knowing that even though I had a super colicky infant there was plenty of time to straighten it out before I actually had to DO something every day. And he ended up being reasonable at 6 months and then a great sleeper by about 7 months (we did lots and lots of routine and a little bit of crying it out).

    • Sara

      I’m halfway through my pregnancy and that’s a big fear of mine, too. I routinely sleep for 10 hours a night, and I’ve always needed large amounts of sleep, as a kid, as an adolescent, and throughout my adulthood (I’m 31). I don’t do well at all when I don’t get a lot of sleep, so I’ve been worried about my maternity leave self and what I’ll be like when I go back to work. However, like some others have said, your baby is capable of sleeping “through the night” (i.e for at least a 6 hour stretch, sometimes 8 – 12 hours depending upon the baby) by 4 months of age. One popular doctor/sleep guru author says you can begin at 2 months, most pediatricians agree that babies aren’t cognitively or neurologically capable of self soothing before 3-4 months of age. I felt so much better when I realized that while I can’t control what type of sleeper my baby will be, I can control how I respond to her if she has bad sleep habits (still wants to nurse throughout the night, cries and won’t self soothe or go back to sleep on her own), and I can feel confident that training her to sleep isn’t doing anything bad for her. There are some basic habits the book I’m reading (Baby 411) suggests to help avoid bad sleeping habits, and you start those pro-good sleeper routines after the first two months. So if you’re proactive, it seems there are some things you can do to help with the sleep situation!

      • Violet

        To bed drowsy but awake! From day 1!

      • Inmara

        Yes to the good sleep habits early on! I tried to avoid creating soothing routines that would make us miserable later on (like, endless bouncing on yoga ball or nursing on every whim) so at 2 months we already had a reasonably good sleeper, and even with some sleep regressions it’s still good at 8 months.

    • Jenny

      This was also my #1 fear. For me it’s actually turned out to be more of an annoyance past week 2 than an all encompassing thing. Part of it is that I actually get 8-10ish hours, it’s just broken into 2/3/4 hour chunks. If it is truly horrible you can decide to wean and you and your partner can take nights giving bottles enabling you to get a full nights sleep every other night. Also if you have a biological kid, hormones are for real and actually help out a lot. Depending on when you go back to work, it can make a really big difference in how much you feel the effects of sleep deprivation. week 5 I was feeling pretty good and functional (basically I nursed/watched netflix/talked to my mom/ changed diapers all day), but week 6 and 7 back at work I could feel the effects a bit more, like my brain just moved a little more slowly.

    • April

      ME TOO. I’m also like this, I go to bed at 10:30 every night so that I can get up for 7 and not be a nightmare of a human being to everyone around me. I’ve always needed more sleep than it seems like people around me do. I really worry that I’ll be a grump all the time due to lack of sleep.

    • raccooncity

      Once my mom was telling me about my birth and babyhood and she was like “you know how some people can. not. do. without. sleep and others push through? Your father was one of the cannot people, and that’s just how he is.

      My immediate thought was “me too”. I’ve never pulled an all nighter, and I actually get vertigo when I am sleep deprived. I’m quite nervous about this, but it turns out when you’re actually pregnant there are 1000000 other things to worry about involving the pregnancy so you forget to worry about sleeping later.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      Your body and hormones follow your baby, most of the time. And your support system in your house will help you do so if you need some coaxing to get there.

      Sleep when the baby sleeps. No one expects a newborn’s parents to have shit together. Your responsibilities in the first couple months are you recovering and getting used to the new one in your life. You sleep when the baby is down. Most of the time it is two hour chunks at night for the first couple weeks, then their night sleeps get longer and longer as their stomachs grow to handle a larger feed before bed.

      Then you pick which naps you also want to nap during. Breastfeeding can take a lot out of you, so nap when you can. Fold the laundry later.

    • Nadine

      Thanks for posting this! I have the same fear, especially after watching some of my friends struggle as their kids get older with bedtimes/waking up in the night. I wondered if it ever stopped. But then I also have friends whose kids have set bedtimes and have responded really well to that. I guess it does just depend on your kid and your approach. Appreciate the responses a ton.

  • Mags

    I have a 2.5 yr old and will have a second in 2-7 weeks from now (probably 7). A lot of your fears are legit (I love my child more than my husband, we haven’t talked about it but I’m pretty sure hubbie feels the same way, and our marriage is, well, a lot different than before and in some ways worse), but it’s also really great. My heart didn’t implode right away (I actually felt pretty meh about the baby for the first 4-8 months), but now having my little one climb all over me, cuddle with me before bed, insist that I not leave for work — that’s all pretty wonderful (not that I also don’t feel like I’m going crazy much of the time I spend with my toddler).

    For me the hardest part of being a parent is the worry. I worry that something will happen to him. But that’s not the worst of it. You think you’re worried about the results of the election? Yeah, this is the country my children have to grow up in so I worry so much more about Trump (and Cruz). I worry that our career trajectories will stagnate (we’re still in temporary training positions) and then we won’t be able to support our family. I worry that I’m not doing enough to make sure my kid can be anything he wants to be (like sending him to the right preschool, etc). I worry that my kid is going to do something awful (what if he becomes a rapist . . . or worse). I worry that I’m going to lose myself in motherhood and won’t be able to recognize myself in a few years. I worry that I get too annoyed by my son. I worry I should see a therapist for anxiety and then I worry that I don’t have time for this (I have tried seeing one — just so I don’t get that comment). Maybe this worry is what happens when your heart implodes.

  • Ashlyn

    I totally empathize with this entire piece and all the anxiety…but we did take the plunge and I am 25 weeks pregnant. Yet to be determined if my head and heart will implode.

  • Sarah Cassanego

    Yes! I’ve felt everything you describe! Particularly the pre-jump panic.

    For me, the heart-bursting happens when I become acutely aware, for a particular moment in time, of the love I am feeling. These moments happen to me as a parent in a way that they didn’t before I was a parent. But the closest I can compare it to are early moments in my relationship with my husband when I was just hyper aware of myself and him and our connection and the love I was feeling in a single moment in time. Like the night we kissed under the stars and said “I love you” for the first time, I have a very vivid memory of being so insanely happy in that one moment, happy in a way I’d never been before.

    I dearly love my husband, but after being together for 12 years, these acute, heart-bursting moments have been replaced by deep comfort and trust. As a mother, however, these moments continue to happen as my daughter grows. A lot of parenting is the stuff of life – getting dressed, changing diapers, dealing with emotional outbursts, figuring out what’s for dinner. But there are also these moments – cliche if I try to describe them but so dear as a parent (like the first time my daughter pulled herself up and then laughed with delight at her accomplishment) – that make me so aware in that moment of how much I love my child. And it does sometimes feel like my heart will burst from it, because it’s so much more than joy. For example, there was one time an aggressive dog charged us when I was walking my daughter in the stroller, and I really thought the dog was going to attack. I was determined to put my body in between my daughter and the dog, knowing I was going to get bit. And it hit me in that moment – I would run into a burning building if my daughter were in there. No hesitation, no doubt in my mind. Someone would have to physically hold me down to keep me from doing it. There’s enormous love and joy in that clarity, but holy shit, there’s also a lot of terror. If that’s not heart-bursting, I don’t know what is.

    I’m probably not making you feel any less claustrophobic about the heart-bursting. But I wholeheartedly believe you can and will survive it (although I don’t want to tell you what you will feel, because that’s part of the problem with parenting articles to begin with!). I think one of the essential parts of the parenting journey for me has been learning how to feel the terror and the heart-bursting and get out of bed every morning anyways. For me, the joy of being a mom has made it worth it.

    • Sarah Cassanego

      Thinking a bit more about my comment. I think a totally reasonable response to my last line “the joy of being a mom has made it worth it” would be “but what if it ends up NOT being worth it for me???” And the honest answer is, I don’t know. Motherhood is not the same for everyone. I think our cultural dialogue needs to improve a lot in this space, because there is this expectation that all mothers feel the same – or, at least, that they should. And this leads to so much self-doubt and shame. The truth is that no one can tell you what your experience of parenthood will be. That’s part of what makes jumping in so scary.

  • M

    My biggest fear is the lack of sleep with kids. I am the kind of person who feels exhausted if I get anything less than 8-9 hours of sleep, and I have a lot of anxiety that is usually triggered by being tired. I’m afraid that losing so much sleep will just make me break down completely. I would love to hear experiences from parents – especially anyone with similar fears!

    • emilyg25

      Same and I also have fibromyalgia, so low sleep = lots of pain. We talked about how we’d handle this and decided before even trying that my husband would handle the bulk of the night duties. The first 3 months were really, really hard. I did have a flare up which made it hard to hold my son which sucked. But we got through it. It also turns out you can function on way less sleep than you think. Not exactly well, but you can manage.

      Another thing I did was accept that sleep is a priority for our family, which means we’re okay with sleep training if necessary. It’s too easy to feel guilty for that. Don’t.

      So my advice would be to get super good at your coping mechanisms now and line up all the support you can manage and then just put your head down and muddle through.

    • Allyson

      Yes yes! This is me! Even with 9 I feel tired and my anxiety is directly related to the ambient temperature/humidity and how much sleep I’ve had. This is a worry of mine, too, and we’re thinking about having kids soon. I also worry (haha, all the worry, no kidding) that while I’m getting better at managing my anxiety now, I don’t know what hormones will do. Will I survive postpartum depression? Will worrying about getting post partum depression make me more like to actually get it? I am also far from my family so I know we would be doing it “alone” without a support system around. So many fears, but many related to my anxiety.

    • Amy Sigmon

      I had/have anxiety about lack of sleep too- when I had bad roommate experiences in college I would cry at the thought of missing sleep because of said roommate. I have always been a sleeper, getting 8-9 hours regularly, just like you said. HOWEVER. I don’t know what happened to my body or my brain, but after the birth of our son, I was…fine. I will say- he was not colicky. We split up the night shifts, so I got 3-4 hours at a time right away. Do a couple of those, add a couple short naps in the day, and that’s your newborn timeline. Seriously, I was fine. Showering, feeding myself, caring for baby, that’s about it, but fine. And it gets better from there. Different kids will give you different experiences, but you can handle more than you think you can. I promise. –And let me say this: if you ARE having trouble handling life at that time, ask for help. Ask your partner, ask your community, ask your kid’s pediatrician. Ask someone to help you figure out how to make it manageable. I want you to know that you’ll be fine, but if you don’t feel fine, that’s valid.

  • Maybe I’m just not brave…

    I feel so many of the fears included in the comments. The part about losing a part of yourself, the struggle to maintain an equal amount of emotional and other labor. HOWEVER, I think my biggest fear is the physical aspect, which someone else mentioned, but for me it is the fear of dying, or of major surgery (C-section), or other super scary complications. Like the “being pregnant” part, and the pain, etc. don’t scare me so much, it’s more that its almost like an elective surgery, where its routine and relatively safe, but you could still die. And it IS optional. So part of me is like, well, I like my life now, would it be SO bad if I never had kids? And the other part of me is like, self, you have an almost irrational fear, that no one else seems to have, and YES it would be bad to never have kids (or at least try to) because you already know you want them (and I really do)! Also, I’m scared to give up wine for 9+ months.

    • emilyg25

      I shared your fear. When I was like eight months pregnant, I told my husband, “I might die, you know. If it’s me or the baby, take the baby, okay?”

      I highly, highly recommend midwives. They were so good at making me feel respected and included in the process and providing evidence-based care and handling the emotional side of the whole business too.

      Also, I still drank a little wine. (Don’t tell my midwives.)

      • FM

        Ha, we had the same conversation, but I said, if it’s me or the baby, pick me (and my husband would have anyway, I know). I guess it’s good to be on the same page with your partner about it? But anyway, relating to the fear. Pregnancy and child birth is no joke. Sorry that does nothing to alleviate the fear. I also chose to occasionally drink a small amount of wine during both my pregnancies (mostly third tri).

        • Catherine McK

          Ha me too! Although, now, 2 years in, if he picked me I’d kill him. But I still feel that way about baby 2 currently residing, viably, in utero. So interesting to hear different perspectives!

    • Jessica

      This is sort of dark but comforting: I took a class on public health in Mexico and the instructor talked about the ridiculously high maternal death rate in one particular region. She said it made her so angry because, given the state of modern medicine, no woman should die in childbirth. Granted, it could expose some underlying health issue, but the actual process of giving birth will not kill you. I am 10 days away from my due date, and just keep telling myself that 1) labor and delivery will end at some point, and 2) once it’s over, everything will be okay. It’s possible that it will be a different kind of okay than I’m used to, but it’ll be okay.
      (PS Given that I am so close to my due date, and get notifications from Disqus about comments, please don’t reply with any horror stories with the one woman in a million who ended up paralyzed after birth or something crazy like that. thanks to all in advance!)

      • Cara

        I’ve been telling myself that it will have to end, the baby will have to come out at some point, and I will make it through and it will only last so long. I just wish I knew how long my body will take, and if it will cooperate (I keep hearing rumors that my mom wasn’t able to dialate beyond 4 cm, so I’m worried I’ll take after her). But I think I can survive a day or two of being uncomfortable, in pain, whatever, and a c-section isn’t the end of the world.

      • Amy Sigmon

        Obviously, none of us can make promises, but it will end. There are pain meds. You may decide to get some and watch a movie to help pass labor. You might be like that woman dancing through her labor (Youtube it!) You might end up needing a c-section even in a nonemergency situation- that’s what happened to me, and it was FINE. All power to you, lady (and just be mentally prepared to be pregnant another 20 days, ok? If that kid comes before being REALLY late, take it as a gift!)

        • Thank you for the encouragement!! My husband (a first-born) came 20 days early while I (also a first-born) was 4 days late…traits that we have carried on ever since. So the joke is that at this point it’s looking like the baby will be more like me in terms of punctuality!

  • Gina

    I didn’t have the freak out about All The Bad Things That Could Happen until I was pregnant, and I would lie awake at night worrying. I literally thought to myself repeatedly, “what are we DOING bringing a baby into this world?!?” But now that she is here (10 months old) I know without a doubt that she belonged here, in our family, and the fact that she has made the stakes so much higher is infinitely drowned out by the mundane simplicity of feeding, sleeping, and playing with her. It’s this extraordinary thing that somehow becomes ordinary.

    One thing I did NOT expect was, once the baby got here, I became this incredibly raw, empathetic person. Everything became more real and terrible and actionable to me– the Syrian refugee crisis, cases of child abuse and neglect, the list goes on. I am still figuring out how to deal with this without giving ALL of our money away, but I think it’s a good thing. For me at least, parenthood has made me a better person.

    • MDBethann

      Agreed about the raw empathy part. The Syrian refugee thing hit me in an unexpected way. I’m currently running a baby care kits drive at our church to support Lutheran World Relief’s kit & quilt ministry. A friend of mine runs that program and had a baby a few months after our daughter was born. We’ve both talked a bit about how looking at those situations and those poor children and their families was hard before and even harder now. We’ve talked about how thankful and lucky that we get to raise our girls where we do (because luck of situation is all it is).

      I was never a huge fan of crime shows on TV, but even for the few I like (Elementary, The Black List), I have a really, really hard time watching them if they involve a child getting hurt and depending on what is happening, I close my eyes or leave the room.

  • Violet

    I like what one commenter said about this inherently being a relationship. The question of: “What is it like to have a relationship with your child?” probably has just as many varied responses as “What is it like to be in a relationship with your significant other?” Not saying I don’t have these *exact* concerns, Maddie (pretty much all spot on, really), it’s just that I can’t fathom an answer from another individual, even those I’m closest to, that will satisfy these concerns.

    My story is that I had NO idea that marriage could be worthwhile. Had some bad experiences growing up. Figured, “Nah, not for me.” And then I met my now-husband, and that was that. I learned what it was like to be truly upset about dying. I felt joy like I have ALL the ENERGY and it’s going everywhere. I wondered if I’d ever love my partner more than my mom (for the record: not more, just different). I learned that my world changed in ways I’d never imagined for myself. But my experience with my partner can’t reassure someone who’s not in our relationship. Our relationship is uniquely us. By extension, I figure I might respond to having kids similarly to how others have, but I definitely will respond in my own nuanced way.

    It’s scary, for sure. But ultimately I guess I have enough (possibly irrational) confidence that if I’ve got through other things, I can get through this too. You know, someday. ; )

  • Josie

    I relate SO HARD here, because we are starting an IVF cycle in a few weeks, so I have, like, a DATE when I will, in fact, be impregnated. My husband and I are both a little older (I’m in my 30s, he’s in his 40s), so we have seen friends have babies, are more familiar with what’s going to happen with babies, which almost makes it scarier in a way– to some extent, we know what we’re getting into.

    What’s really hard for me is reading some of these Facebook posts, etc by parents and about parenting that complain non stop about how hard parenting is, and so rarely seem to bring up the joy or the enjoyment factor. Like — kids are animals who will only eat chicken nuggets! Kids will ruin your sex life! Kids will poop everywhere! Good luck peeing by yourself ever again! I think it’s good to be honest about parenting but some of this stuff makes me stop and think — what’s good about this, then? Plus, since it is harder for me to get pregnant, part of me is very resentful of these women, complaining about having these kids that I would just love to be able to have naturally, instead of at great financial and emotional cost to myself.

  • Amy March

    Based on the picture I 100% thought your fear was going to be realizing that puppies are cuter than babies.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I mean, my puppy is AWFULLY cute.

    • Mags

      I have a dog and have a 2 yr old; sorry but the dog is so much cuter (and I have a cute kid!). People have always stopped me on walks and remarked how cute my dog is, and since his birth I pretty much get a “cute kid too” tagged on the end of a large ramble about the adorableness of my dog. I think my son has begun resenting the dog for this.

      • Rachelle

        It makes me really happy that my dog won’t necessarily be the forgotten child when my first human baby comes in September! I always worry that he’ll feel neglected – which is why after having a kid I’ll probably never sleep again from all the worries!

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      I am legit terrified I will never find any kid I birth anywhere near as cute as my cats.

  • Ashley

    I love that this article helped me articulate some of the reasons having a baby in the next couple of years (that’s the plan at least) is frightening. Of course the logistics are freaky as hell, but there’s so many emotional risks.
    I work as a mental health therapist for teens in a substance abuse program, sooooo maybe some of my fears stem from seeing the difficulties they deal with, their parents deal with, and how they interact with each other.
    Of course I can tell myself our family will be nothing like that, but the reality is, I have no idea. And some day my kids will hurt the hell out of me, and I’ll probably handle a ton of things horribly and possibly scar them for life. My sister related to me the first time her 5 year old told him he hates her, and how much that hurt. I imagine that might be a heart imploding moment.
    I also am fearful that I will drown in love for my child and lose a major part of myself. My partner has already said “oh hell ya” to me asking him if he will be a stay at home dad, but I fear that I won’t have passion for my career anymore, will want to stay home, or will just be complacent and not strive to better my professional self.

    And of course, the worst would be if something happened to my child. I can’t even fathom how people move through something like that. As someone who already struggles with anxiety, I hope to be really mindful of how that arises as we move into the next chapter. I definitely DON’T want to be super anxious all the time, smother my kid (figuratively) or just generally not be able to enjoy my life with my kid. Yikes! I hope it is all worth it…

  • SarahRose472

    One of my biggest fears about having children is about what happens when they grow up. To me, loving a little kid is easy, but knowing my/my husband’s/my friends relationships with their parents or siblings, and even our own parents relationships with their parents…children become ADULT PEOPLE, with all the mess and difficulties that adult relationships bring in. It’s a maybe a stupidly obvious thing to say, but that feels much more uncontrollable and uncertain to me than the childhood years, or even the teenage years, because those have pretty predictable patterns… Unlike, say, dogs, you can’t keep kids in the easily lovable, infantile state forever, where they constantly provide wonder and enjoyment in your life — because they actually grow up.

    I’m afraid of creating another broken family. Or of having broken relationships with my kids, or that a kid has a broken relationship with a sibling. And it’s not really a logical fear, because I’m confident both I and my husband will be very loving, supportive parents…but there are several completely broken relationships within our families (e.g. siblings, ex-spouses, parents) between people that are otherwise loving and functional, and then THEY are off raising their own children seemingly in complete confidence that those broken relationships are an aberration, and it couldn’t possibly happen to their own happy nuclear family. And it makes me wonder if we are just blinded to believe that we can create a family that will be happy and whole.

    • Ashlah

      I can relate to this fear, and it’s absolutely my husband’s biggest fear. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his parents, and he doesn’t want to put his hypothetical kid through the same thing. We know exactly how we would parent differently from them, and, like you, I’m confident that we will be good, loving parents who will be able to form a lasting bond with our kid, but…you never know, right?

    • Cellistec

      I hear you. The good news is, people can change. The bad news is, people can…CHANGE.

    • lady brett

      my biggest fear (after “what if i hate it?” and my honey loving the kids instead of me) in parenting was the fact that kids are in fact people and there is not a damn way that i can control who they become. all i could do, really, is just embrace that – like, all i can do is my best, and i am not in control of who my kids are or become. not that that will make it less heartbreaking if things end up fucked up, but it keeps me from worrying quite as much while i wait to see where things go.

      • Lmba

        Remembering the fact that my kids will grow up and get to decide whether or not and what kind of relationship they have with me is both terrifying and incredibly motivating in learning to parent well!

    • Rowany

      I joke that I’ll be ready to have a baby when I get over my fear of teenagers :)

  • AMcCRead

    This post could not come at a better a time for me. This has been my arc related to the idea of having kids:
    1) Pre meeting husband: I think it’s probably important to me that I meet someone who wants to have kids because I think I will maybe, probably want to have kids.

    2) Just meeting husband: OMG this guy is amazing and I could actually imagine wanting to parent a child with him.

    3) Moving in with husband: This is so much fun, we should just do this forever, having kids is really going to derail all of the fun things we could do.

    4) Married for a year: I love this guy, he is amazing, we are having a lot of fun….but dangit, it’d be wonderful to parent with this guy. However, OMG, PREGNANCY AND LABOR AND DELIVERY IS SCARY!!! Let’s just wait a little longer, just through the summer.

    5) A few months later….phew! that was a quick summer! Are we really going to do this? Pull the goalie? Really? Now? WHAT IF I’M PREGNANT NEXT WEEK?!!? Am I really about to purposely get pregnant? WILL WE EVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO GO TO EUROPE AGAIN? Asia? What if we just want to quit our jobs and sell our stuff and be nomads? Ok, ok, ok, let’s just give it a try and see.

    6) 8 months later…I knew this could take awhile but this long?!?! I’m so, so, so ready to have a baby. I’m ready to be pregnant. I’m ready to be a mom. Is this ever going to happen for us? What if this never happens for us? Am I really never going to get to be a mom? Will I never get to watch my husband be a dad to our baby? Can we adopt? What do we need to do to adopt?

    The last 8 months of waiting has been hard but it has also helped to calm a lot of my fears related to pregnancy, labor, delivery and motherhood. Not that I’m not scared of the details but it’s shown me that, for me, most of my fears about everything were really related to not being 100% sure I was ready.

    • This is me to a “T”! My husband and I pulled the goalie a few months ago, and the more weeks that go by the more I feel myself thinking that I’m ready to have a kid. You’re not the only one :)

    • MDBethann

      The waiting is HARD. We got married at age 33 and I went off the pill when we got married. It took us nearly 2 1/2 years to conceive. We even tried 3 cycles of IUI. Fortunately, our daughter eventually showed up 17 months ago and we’re looking to try again, this time fully aware that it could take 2 years. Or it could take 2 months. Or it might not happen again. Just keep talking – to your husband, to your OB/GYN, to people who have been through similar experiences. Definitely talk with your husband to see how long you want to “wait” and keep trying without medical assistance. If you are under 35, usually you have to try for 2 years or so before they run tests and such, but if you are close to 35 or older, they only make you try for a year before running tests and deciding if medical assistance is needed.

      Good luck!

  • MsMrBeard

    My husband and I are as ready as we’re going to be… except that I am not just unemployed, but between careers. I was ready to move on from my previous trajectory. Then we moved coasts: I can’t pick up the old career if I wanted to. I am pretty profoundly lost about who my career self is going to be in the future. My gut wants to wait until after I’ve figured it out to start a family, but also my gut is afraid that could take years (or never happen!), which is too long to wait. My husband is also anxious to start, and has stable work enough to keep us both (all three?) comfortable. So right now we are trying, and I am hoping that I can use this inbetween time to center myself, work out some of my longstanding issues, and build a stronger me for when the next thing starts. Maybe the heart-implosions of motherhood will help me think through my options. Maybe baby and I will figure it out together. But I’m entirely terrified that motherhood will allow this period of careerlessness to continue unchecked, or to subsume my identity into only itself. That’s a fear I’ve always had, and without my career-self in place as a counterweight, it’s all the more looming.

    I have feminist feelings, anxious person feelings, and perfectionist/overacheiver feelings, all crowding out my thoughts about motherhood.

    • Kate

      Thank you for posting this! I don’t have any answers, but I feel like we’re in similar spots. I’m between careers, and am a few months away from finishing my teaching degree. Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to learn how to take my hands off the wheel in the business I started a few years ago. Right now, I feel like I’ve got nothing to hold onto, and I’m terrified that I’ll never go back to having a ‘proper job’. I want to be an independent woman! With a clear career path! And in all those feminist feelings and anxious feelings, I fell pregnant, right at the the time I wondered if perhaps we should stop trying until I worked it all out. Anything could go wrong, but it could all go right, and then I’d be precisely in that situation – baby and still trying to work out what on earth my career is.

      “Maybe baby and I will figure it out together.”

      Yep. Or not. But the more I try to control things, the less clear things become, so I think at a certain point you just have to make a choice. Any choice. Then stick to it. There is no perfect.

  • lildutchgrrl

    I am having a fair amount of anxiety this week. For us, the answer is “yes, by adoption” and “SO SO READY WHY ISN’T THE PAPERWORK DONE YET?” and “Okay, let’s just mentally add 2 years to the timeline”… and then, before the paperwork was 100% done, a situation opened up to us. We meet with a woman tomorrow who is considering placing her child — already born!! — with us. And all of a sudden, as ready as I was, I am not ready. But I want it so much. (And I am trying so hard not to want it that much in case she makes a different choice.)

    • Cellistec

      That’s some serious whiplash. Fingers crossed it turns out the way you want (!), and thanks for the reminder that wanting kids and making them reality are two totally different things.

  • Meg

    I’m in your boat. We both really want kids. We’re close to a place where it’s feasible. But we see our friends and family around us in the thick of it and it’s terrifying how much it will change our lives that we’re just getting figured out.

  • My biggest fear right now is around the money stuff. I’m the breadwinner and my body also kinda sucks so it’s really important to me that our finances are totally in a row (I don’t think kids have to be expensive, but it’s around loss of income as paid leave here is dismal, daycare etc).

    Just adopted a dog and it’s already totally changed our lives, and it’s hard work! I know kids will be exponentially more work again.

    I want kids, definitely, this was my epiphany recently. Now it’s a question of when, and if our finances were stable I’d be just about ready. Emotionally the past couple years have been really hard. Had to deal with unemployment on his part for most of that time, which is really draining, and I would literally cry out of frustration and envy every time I heard about someone getting pregnant because I knew if it was me … well, we just wouldn’t have been able to make it work.

    Relevant: my list of fears about being a parent from a while back still stands in every aspect: http://nzmuse.com/2014/09/non-exhaustive-list-things-scare-parenting/

  • Anon for this

    This might be long. I apologize. But we were talking about pre-pregnancy fears, so I thought it’d be okay to ask.

    I just turned 30. My partner and I always talked about kids and how eventually we’ll probably have our statistical 2.2 kids. Currently, we find them adorable and exhausting, and are not ready to do anything about it. Probably in 2 years.

    However, i’ve already been stressing about something. And please share with me any advice you have.

    Situation: I’m a highly educated woman (I have a higher level of education than my husband); I have a job that I love (but that brings in less than his because of field differences). I love our life as we are: we live on the opposite coast from our parents and are both fiercely independent. Recently, his brother and sister-in-law had a child and they moved back to his hometown. The sister-in-law is working only 3 days a week, and that’s how she likes it. She stated that she eventually wants to be a stay-at-home mom, once they have #2 (which is a great choice, if she wants to). The problem is that basically since these two things happened, all the family gatherings on his side talked about how great it is that you can achieve the economic stability to be a stay-at-home mom, and that it’s how it should be (as in: “oh, Anon, wouldn’t it be great if you did the same as the SIL is doing?”). Even my super-feminist mom has been saying how she’s jealous that I’ll have the opportunity to just be at home with the kids. The rest of the conversations usually devolve into all the visit planning with husband’s EXTENDED FAMILY basically within a week of me giving birth.

    This has been stressing me to no end. I don’t see myself being a stay-at-home mom. I can bake and knit with the best of them (that’s my jam). I can plan kid activities. I’m sure that I’ll love my kid (I hope). But I don’t want this to be my whole life. I love my job. I love my husband. So far, the family expectations have been that it will be (because my income is “not necessary”). The other family expectation is that we’ll have a steady stream of visitors with all the parents alternating as to who lives in our house. As an introvert, this terrifies me. Their usual “comforting” statement: “we won’t be there for you; we’ll be there for the baby” (which just makes me feel like an incubator).

    I want to continue working. I want to have the house to myself. I struggle with depression and am fully aware that pregnancy can make it worse. But in the end, I think I can work most of this out together with my partner. The biggest part of my reluctance not to have kids is to basically have my life invaded/judged/nitpicked by relatives (In addition to the baby once it grows up). Whenever I tried to bring this up, I get shut down because “oh your opinion will change when you are pregnant.”

    So I guess my questions are:
    1). Did you figure out a way to mitigate family expectations? how? What were the consequences?
    2). People who struggle with depression: how was pregnancy for you? how was the post-partum period?
    3). What were some things that you would change about family interactions planning, if you could?

    • gonzalesbeach

      no advice, just solidarity.
      we’ve been talking about starting this year. my guy is ready but the closer we are to our start line, the more hesitant I feel. like I need a little more time. but I also don’t want to wait. I want a baby. but a baby changes things. and I love my work! I’m hitting peak stride! additional opportunities on the close horizon. but pregnancy and a one year mat leave would probably sideline those. will they come around again? will I have the same career goals or will a babe dislodge them?
      and my history of depression. plus plenty of family post-partum including my mum with us. that scares me. what if my brain stops working right again? I’ve worked so hard to stay out of the rabbit hole and what if hormones tip me back down it? ugh. hard stuff.

    • Lmba

      1. Try not to worry about the pushy relatives. You seriously dont have to do anything you dobt want to do when it comes to managing your own pregnancy, birth experience, abd parenting choices. Dont want visitors the first week? Dont have them. Not up for relatives staying over? Tgey can stay in a hotel. If people really wabt to help, they will ask you what you need. You have every right to make tgese decisions for yourself because FOR SERIOUS your birthing process belongs to you before it belongs to anyone else. Its your insides beibg spilled here (physically and emotionally!). You are allowed to say no. As much as possible, let (make?)your partner deal with his family’s expectations. But also? You don’t have to explain your thoughts in advance. Feel free to operate on a need to know basis. Your MIL doesn’t need advance warning of you choice to go back to work ( or whatever). Just let them know when it happens!

      2. Postpartum was rough for me. My advice is to set yourself up for as much rest and recovery immediately following birth as possible. Stay in bed, have people bring you nourishing good, no appointments, no visitors, no stairs! Don’t get up for three days, and then go slow. Think of it like a birthing for yourself too; you and babe both need time to enter the outside world.

      3. Know your family’s weaknesses. Even if they say they will help you with *blank, think honestly about whether they can give you what you need. If not, make another plan to have your needs met up ( even just as backup). You dobtvhavevtobtell them you’re doing it necessarily, but it auntie Bernice saysxshe is going to help you around the house but you suspect she just wants to hold the baby… Put some cash aside and hire a darn house cleaner for a couple of weeks. Make sure you’re looked after.

    • Inmara

      May I suggest that you go to Babycenter DWIL nation board and read some Best of stories there? You’ll see what you may get into with extended family, and be prepared. Yours seems like classic case of enmeshed/boundary stomping family, and as an introvert you’ll have hard time to deal with it postpartum, so start to put boundaries in place right now. It’s easy to say and hard to do, but so worth it long-term (and get your husband on board too!)

      • Keeks

        Speaking of worst-case scenario stories, my guilty pleasure lately has been r/justnoMIL. It turns out that pregnancy/birth/children bring out the worst in families, just like wedding planning. It’s been really helpful to hear some of the horror stories and plan contingency scenarios based on them.

        I’m a private, introverted person and I have boundary-stomping family so I’m trying to emotionally prepare for a future battle. I let the baby comments & notions roll off my back (for now), but I’m setting boundaries for other things, like not picking up my phone & declining some family events – just getting them used to hearing ‘no’ for now.

    • AMK

      Oh I hear you on having no desire to be a stay at home mom. I want to spend lots of time with my kid, but I think I would lose my mind if I were at home all day every day and couldn’t use the other side of my brain. I’ve known this for pretty much forever, and have been loud and clear about it to at least my side of the family. If I were you, I would start making comments now to prepare them. (like, “so great that SIL loves it, but I know it’s not for me”) Right now I work part time, and that exacerbates all those fears. Like do we really NEED my income? Well, we could survive without it. But as my therapist said, you NEED to work and have that in your life. So I need it, even if it’s not completely financially necessary — and that is a GOOD ENOUGH reason to do it.

      Re the depression, yes, been there. Make sure you find a good therapist and a psychiatrist who knows about pregnancy and meds. It’s not true that no meds are safe. Yes, everything is a risk, but what I have found is that you have to prioritize yourself and your well being, because doctors (esp OBs) don’t. A psychiatrist who sees you and knows you before you get pregnant is going to be super helpful. She can help you weight the risks and feel good about the decisions you make. Because it’s not good for mom or baby to be depressed. I’m 15 weeks into my first pregnancy and I feel very supported by the people I have chosen to help me out. I would say to be proactive and that is the best you can do. Also, read “Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting” — it addresses some of your concerns as well.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      Families always feel like they own a new baby. They don’t, you and your partner do. You control who can come and go, and you control what they do while they are at your house. It is all well and good to write that and think that, but you have to put it in words and act on it. You also have to have your partner back you up. Let him know what your reservations are, and how to best handle his family. Maybe he has reservations, too. Let him know that this is going to be a very emotionally, and physically, fragile time for you, and you really need him as your back up. Create a safe word for family gatherings if you need to.

      My MIL swore up and down that she was going to come help us for two weeks after our daughter was born. I was nervous as hell. They already don’t like how small our house is, or that it is not immaculate like theirs, and she wanted to come for 2 weeks?? Well, it took her a long time to finally make it over. She came 2 months later and stayed for just over a week and did nothing. She maybe cooked once or twice. The whole time she commented that I really didn’t need her there. She’s right I didn’t. But I also did. I took advantage of her being around so I could nap whenever. But as for her helping out, she really only focussed on how our dishwasher was not getting our glasses spotless. Instead of helping with the diaper laundry, or with the normal laundry, or with a top to bottom house cleaning, she fixated on the f*cking glasses.

      I have depression symptoms that I fight with a lot. Every day is a choice of how I want to see the world, and I have to remember to choose. Pregnancy was the worst experience ever. Think of how hormonal and irrational you get on your period. Times it by 100 and on an unpredictable schedule. You have no clue when a sock left out by your husband will cause you flip and insult him and curse his existence. But you get better at seeing when you are in a downspell, and you work on your choice to calm and come out. Then you get better at seeing when you are about to go down, and start preventing it.

      Post-partum was bad, too. And I really regret not getting help. But I’m not sure when i could have. There needs to be better assistance for moms to have childcare while they talk to a therapist. PPD ended up being the same as my depression during pregnancy, except I would ruminate more. I caught myself having scathing conversations with my husband, in my head, just because he didn’t put the wipes away the last time he changed the baby. But you catch yourself, and you retrain yourself to start seeing the assistance you do have and that you do have things under control.

      I would change biting my tongue and go to flat out asking for help more when she was under a year. Hubs and I really needed more breaks. His family lives only an hour and a half away, yet they babysat her only 3 times that first year. Twice were because we had Christmas parties in their town, and we put her to bed at their house and went back to the parties. My parents who live in another province babysat her and sent us out on a date everytime we visited.

      Don’t be afraid to vocalize if you need more help, and what you want that help to look like. If you are getting too much of one kind of help, ask for another type.

    • MDBethann

      (1) Since your families are on the opposite coast from you, they may not inundate you as much as you think they will. Babies arrive when they want to, so you can early on set a firm boundary that you will send pictures and even Skype from the hospital, but no visitors until you’ve been home for a week. That will give you and your husband time to bond with the baby. Then set up a schedule in which you have one set of grandparents visit at a time, for maybe a week. They can stay in a nearby hotel so they don’t create more work for you (unless they will legitimately clean your house & cook for you, like my parents & sister did for me – like whole house cleaned when we got home from the hospital). See how that goes, take things slowly, and then, maybe when your maternity leave ends, if you aren’t ready to send your baby to daycare, you can see if you can extend their time at home a bit by having grandparents watch the baby for a week or so, giving everyone a gradual adjustment period (baby’s surroundings stay the same, caregiver changes). If nothing else, the first 6-8 weeks need to be about YOU HEALING and meeting baby’s needs. If visitors aren’t willing and able to help with one or both things, then they may need to just wait to visit.

      (3) Our families live 2-3 hours away from us and within an hour of one another, so that actually makes visits “home” a bit stressful, because we want our daughter to have equal time with both sets of grandparents and that isn’t always feasible. I’m trying to encourage the grandparents to come down to visit us more because it makes things easier for us, especially since they are mostly retired or semi-retired.

      (4) I actually realized on mat leave that I didn’t like my job anymore. It took some soul searching and some careful financial planning, but I’ve cut back to part time this year. Our daughter is still in daycare because she LOVES it there and she is little Miss Social. I think we’d both go nuts if it was just the 2 of us all day, so quitting entirely wasn’t feasible for that reason or financially (DH makes a bit more than me, before I went part time, but we were fairly close). Working 30 hours/week gives me more time with her and I still keep my skills sharp and stay in the workforce. Would I like to find something else that doesn’t have a 2 hour RT commute? Yes, but the PT is mitigating things right now and has me feeling better until I can find something else.

      Most importantly, communicate with your husband, make sure the 2 of you are on the same page, and have him be the primary communicator with his family, especially when it comes to saying “no” or “wait.” I also second the commenter who said “I’m glad it works for SIL, but I don’t think being a SAHM is for me.” It could be financial, it could be personal, but it really doesn’t matter and no one deserves to know your reasons other than your husband. If people try to counter you, just remind them that it is all hypothetical any way and shut the convo down.
      Good luck!!!

    • Alexa

      I am definitely with you on the concern with overwhelming in-laws (also an introvert with a history of anxiety/depression). In our case no one’s yet suggested I’d stop working, but for a while my mother-in-law absolutely assumed she’d be moving in with us & taking care of the baby. (We joked that was part of the reason we bought a 4th floor walk-up condo, but it’s only about 60% joke.) Last time we saw her she talked about buying a house in our city as soon as they sell their current one (which has been on the market for a bit). Which is…better? I guess? But still concerning since she doesn’t really have family/friends/community here & I will lose my mind if we’re expected to be that for her. Now I’m actually pregnant, so I guess we’ll see how it works out.

      I think the most important thing, though is to be on the same side as your partner, and have him be able to lead setting boundaries with his family. It isn’t a silver bullet, but it helps keep you from feeling like you’re the “bad guy.”

    • dearabbyp

      I’ll just say… we are buying a 2 bedroom condo and one of the perks in my mind is that means no extended visits from anyone once there’s a baby. :)

    • Mellie

      Just to provide a different perspective on depression/anxiety due to pregnancy, being pregnant has actually had a hugely stabilizing effect on my moods. I tend to be more anxious than anything but have also recently gone through an episode of depression, and I’ve felt extremely emotionally healthy through my whole pregnancy. I’m due next week so I can’t speak to postpartum hormones, nor how my own worries about family meddling are going to play out, but I just want to counteract the idea that pregnancy will automatically exacerbate your depression. It seems, like with everything related to pregnancy, that is just can vary so much from person to person.

  • Becs

    As a recently married cis-hetero woman who wants children who also happens to be a doctor in training to become an OBGYN, SO MANY of your anxieties resonate with me. The physicality of it all is genuinely scary. I have performed or assisted with nearly a hundred deliveries and c-sections now – I’ve seen happy, easy deliveries that overwhelm me with joy and I have held patients hands while running to the OR when things go wrong. I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s hard to leave it at the door when my husband and I talk about our own family plans. It’s unavoidable and impossible to predict how things will go, but any doubts I’ve had regarding my desire to have my own children have been short lived – I know in my gut it’s what I really want. So what do you do? I’ve come to realize that putting together a support team is critical, both for the actual birth and for parenting life beyond. Get to know your birth attendant, look into different hospitals, ask around for recommendations. Having a obstetrician or family physician or midwife who you trust, who will advocate for you, and whose communication style resonates with you is more valuable than I can possibly describe, and having friends/family/parenting group/pediatrician to support you when you’re not sure what’s normal in the days and weeks and years that follow is even more important.

    • emilyg25

      Yes yes yes yes. I really wanted a midwife, to the point that I drove 50 miles to get one. It felt kind of ridiculous until my labor didn’t go as planned and they were totally there for me, and they saved my breastfeeding relationship. Some folks don’t really care how things go down and that’s fine, but if you do, take the time to find a provider you’re comfortable with!

  • anon-o-tron

    Anon for this one:

    I come from an abusive family (physical and emotional) where my parents would regularly talk about how much they resented us, wish we had never been born, we ruined their lives, they couldn’t stand us etc. I’ve been through a lot of therapy and I know rationally this is NOT how healthy families act. I know it was emotional abuse and it wasn’t right.

    Knowing all of that doesn’t remove the fear that even though I know it was wrong, that I know it wasn’t my fault, and that I know I’ve been through a ton of help that MAYBE they were just saying what other parents feel and think but know better than to say out loud. Maybe I’ll feel like being a parent is a nightmare and I’m trapped and I’ll hate and blame my kids.

    I know I would never treat them the way that my parents treated me because I couldn’t do that to another a human being but I still worry that even though I want them, I’ll feel like having them ruined my life and I’ll hate them for it.

    • Jess

      Anon, I just wanted to let you know that I hear you and you are not the only one with those concerns.

      I’ve been through a lot of similar sounding dialogue from my mom, both explicit and implied.

      I don’t have a solution, and I can’t see into the future to know how either of us would react to having children, even though I’ve agreed to trying for kids eventually (after many tear filled conversations about “what if I resent them?”).

      All I can tell you that you are not alone, and that I am sorry that you’ve been through this.

      • anon-o-tron

        Thanks for the solidarity. We are going to be trying for kids in the next year and I’m just kind of hoping for the best. My partner’s family is very warm and loving and I’m pretty sure would be horrified that anyone felt that way about their kids. I’m hoping that spending time around them will help quell the fears a bit before it happens.

        I’m sorry you went through something similar. It’s really unfortunate that these things can have such a lasting effect.

  • Alexandra

    We’re trying for #2 right now. #1 was unplanned; just elbowed his way into my uterus three months into our marriage. :)

    I didn’t have the opportunity to worry about pulling the goalie the first time, which was a blessing, because pulling the goalie for #2 was fraught with anxiety.

    First kid showed up and it SUCKED for the first six weeks. I think if I had chosen to put myself through that it might have sucked even more. Whywhywhywhy didn’t I use birth control more carefully. What is happening to me. I feel crazy all the time. I hate my husband. I’m not nice anymore.

    Sleep deprivation on top of hormones on top of total unpreparedness to deal with taking care of a baby and being a homemaker (I HATED maternity leave; I’ve worked every day of my life and the loneliness, the mind-numbingness, the constant tired-ness, oh, it was all horrible!) on top of bladder falling out (bladder prolapse is real), making exercise very difficult…it was just a big shit-storm all around.

    The thing is, though…it’s all so temporary. The suckiness. The hormones. The sleep deprivation. Seriously, with enough sleep and with hormones being under control, I can totally handle all the life changes. And all that started to turn around as the months went on.

    My son is one and a half and he’s perfect. Best thing that ever happened to me. I love my husband more than anything, and I love my son more than anything, and we all love each other with a giant love because we’re all growing so much together. The challenges were worth it, and get more worth it every day.

    I’m mostly prepared for #2 to suck. It will probably suck more than #1, in some ways, because now we have #1 to worry about in addition to a newborn. I have a lot more knowledge and experience of what to do with a baby, though, and I also now have the perspective of how awesome things get.

    Some stuff that surprised me: I love working, hated maternity leave, and love being a working mom. I don’t feel guilty about it, love daycare, love my kid; it’s all fine.

    My husband has stepped up and become way, way sexily attractive to me as a dad.

    I don’t really miss all the stuff I’ve given up (staying out late, freedom, surfing, me-time) because I know it’s just temporary and life will go back to normal in a few years. I’m ok with that because the trade-off has been so awesome. I have a KID! He’s a blast! He has a little personality and I love being around him and he’s getting more awesome every day!

  • Rowany

    I have a lot of fears but the one I haven’t been able to talk about with friends who have had children is the bodily changes that can be experienced during pregnancy. How much have your boobs changed after breast feeding? (That’s a big one, I love my boobs!) Is sex different after pushing a baby through? How much did pregnancy affect you and how long did it take for you to recover? I know everyone is different but it’s just something people don’t talk about!

    • Ashlah

      Here’s a good open thread of a bunch of people talking about how pregnancy changed their bodies. It’s tough because everyone is so different, it’s really hard to predict what will happen to you specifically. Body changes are one reason I hope to do a boudoir shoot before I get pregnant!

  • AC

    My husband and I have always wanted kids, and I’ve always been a kid person–I can’t help but make gooey smiles at babies, and kids feel comfortable around me. (Recently I got together with a friend and her three-year-old, and my friend said, “Wow, she’s really taken to you.) But now that I’m on the verge of trying to conceive, I’m afraid that I won’t love the kid as much as I should.

    This also has to do with the fact that my one sibling is…complicated (unstable at best, abusive at worst). So as much as I love kids and want to raise at least one or two, I’m afraid that I’ll be in the same place my parents have been in with regard to my sibling. I know you can’t plan for stuff like that, and you deal however you can with whatever issues you encounter, but I feel way more anxious about it than I assume my other friends without complicated family situations have felt about having kids.

  • Carolyn S

    You definitely implied it with the fears about loving your child more than your husband but I think the most real fear my husband and I both face is around the overall impact on our marriage. We are happy! We love each other! We communicate well! What happens when this tiny ball of work disrupts our sleep and our bodies and you know, our centres of gravity. I want the core relationship in my life to always be my spouse, and I’m scared of how other humans that are related to both of us will impact it.

  • Cara

    I’m about 5 weeks away from my due date, and my mind is just overwhelmed with how much I don’t know what to expect. I didn’t expect us to get pregnant so quickly, and now feel like I’ve started to get the hang of the pregnancy thing, and I’m not quite ready for the next step. Right now I’m scared about labor (throwing up is my biggest fear in life, and it isn’t helping to hear so many friends talk about how they were puking during labor… Plus I don’t know what the pain will be like, how I will cope with it, and just basically anything).

    I’ve been resisting making ANY plans of any sort after the kid is here, just because I have no idea how we’ll be dealing with sleep, schedules, feeling overwhelmed, feeding, and just everything.

    I guess my biggest anxiety is the uncertainty of it all. We have so many friends with 1, 2, or 3 kids, and yet it seems like such a foreign world to me. I’m semi-excited to get started and begin the journey of learning and finding myself as a mom, but also a bit terrified. (And it’s stirring up a lot of emotions since my mom passed away almost 2 years ago, and I am so sad she’s not here for everything. She would have LOVED being a grandma.)

    • Eh

      My mom passed away 13 years before my daughter was born (she also has three other grandchildren that she never met). It’s hard to go through becoming a mom after losing your mom. I found a lot of people asked me about how my mom’s pregnancies were (eerily similar to mine, very sick and very quick labour) which was hard but also gave me a chance to think about her.

      I’m glad your friends warned you about the puking. No one told me. I puked twice shortly after arriving at triage (turns out that’s a sign that you are far along – I was already 9 cm dilated). As for pain, go in with an open mind. I ended up with no pain meds because it was too late for an epidural and the gas did nothing for me. The nurses where very helpful with finding positions that were comfortable for me.

      I don’t really think you can know what life is going to be like until you experience it. We also made no plans (or would not confirm any plans, even my dad’s 60th b-day party which was just over 2 weeks after she was born). I remember being in the hospital room, staring at my daughter and not remembering what life was like without her.

      • MDBethann

        No one told me about the shaking. That scared me and my husband when I was about 2 1/2 hours into labor and started shaking so hard I could barely dial the OB. We went to the hospital after that, where I learned shaking is normal. I went with no meds either. Heating pad saved my sanity when back labor started.

        • Eh

          I was lucky not to have shaking but my friend did warn me about it because it scared her. She had really bad shaking after giving birth.

  • Charlie

    I thought I was the only one.

    Thank you

  • raccooncity

    So, for me as a first trimester person my worry has turned into pregnancy loss. And here is why: MESSAGE BOARDS. I feel like (not to sound too judgemental) there are a lot of women on there who have fertility issues, etc. and are probably experiencing pregnancy loss more than average, and on top of that there are people who refer to everything as a ‘miscarriage’, even if they get their period on the day it was supposed to come. It makes it hard to not think that it happens more often than a healthy pregnancy.

    However, because I don’t have any close friends/family who have kids, I need that place to read that my experiences are normal, too. It’s a double edged sword, but I am totally having a hard time relaxing into pregnancy.

    • Cara

      I kept thinking as long as I got to 12 weeks, everything would be smooth sailing and no problems. Except there are new worries. I had unexplained spotting at 13 weeks that wasn’t an issue at all, but freaked me out so badly. And then there are times he doesn’t move as much as I expect, and that’s freaky.

      I’ve been on the message boards for people due in my month, and it’s hard to see how many people lose their baby or something totally crazy/unusual happens or they just have a tough pregnancy… I didn’t realize until I lived it that not everyone got morning sickness, or not everyone had terrible heartburn, or not everyone has weird cravings, those are such stereotyped images of pregnancy. No one is really talking about the easier pregnancies because it’s not interesting or seen as bragging.

      • Eh

        We decided not to announce (to more than our immediate family and closest friends) that we were pregnant until 20 weeks (after the anatomy scan). Not because I was high risk but because three people we knew had had miscarriages around 16 weeks, and my sister had just had a miscarriage at 12 weeks (she was due the week before me). Second trimester miscarriages are extremely rare (at least according to my doctor), especially if you have an ultrasound (i.e., see a heart beat) at 12 weeks or later (as was the case for at least one of the women).

        I am glad that your pregnancy was “easier”, but I remember seeing tons of women on the message boards in the first trimester freaking out that they weren’t having any morning sickness, especially since its related to a lower miscarriage rate. I think it’s funny when people ask pregnant women about their cravings as “small talk”. I had none. Food was the most disgusting thing in the world to me. I loved food before I was pregnant and I had so many food aversions while I was pregnant it was insane. People don’t really know how to react when you say that you have no cravings, especially when you say you have been exteremly sick (I had hormone induced migraines that were our of control until 23 weeks).

      • raccooncity

        Yes, I suppose that’s a big part of the reason. I don’t ever worry about what symptoms I do or don’t have, just that SO MANY people lose their pregnancies. I sort of wish I could filter out all the people to first pregnancy people in my age bracket so I could keep it to more of a representative sample.

    • emilyg25

      My Google history:
      miscarriage rates
      miscarriage rates at 8 weeks
      rates at 9 weeks
      rates at … weeks

      And then preemie 24 weeks…

      It was a constant countdown to the end. And then it never really ends.

    • Eenie

      Can my pregnancy fear just be message boards?

      • Amy March

        There’s also though just not using them? It escapes me why people put so much time and mental energy into something that causes anxiety.

    • Karen

      So so so much this. I am a genetic counselor, which is literally THE WORST thing to be while pregnant (or being pregnant as a genetic counselor is the worst…one or the other). For the entirety of first trimester, every day that I woke up and didn’t bleed I thought “Okay, that’s one more day down.” For weeks that’s all I could do! It didn’t help that my initial dating scan was all kinds of wrong so we had a two week period where I was basically waiting to miscarry. Didn’t happen and our next scan was fine, but YIKES those message boards are rough. I tried to stop reading them but I just couldn’t stay away. Double-edged sword indeed.

      My other struggle was my mother in law, who is a lovely person, but is much more scream-y about exciting things than I am. I really couldn’t accept that this pregnancy was real until after we had genetic testing, several ultrasounds, and a clear anatomy scan because I know all too well what can go wrong. At one point she sort of accused me of not being excited and said, “I really don’t think you have anything to worry about” and I (very politely) shot back, “I make a career out of people who thought they had nothing to worry about.”

      The bottom line is that there’s really nothing anyone can do or say that will make you relax into the pregnancy. Mine has been textbook easy and now, at 38+4, I am FINALLY just accepting that this is real and getting more excited. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been super uptight the whole time, but I think that some people are just more anxious or cautious than others and that’s okay!

      Best of luck!

  • Anon Today

    In addition to Maddie’s fears I have: what if I’m the type of parent who is never satisfied with their child and is always wanting more from them? What if I do actually want to be a stay at home parent and I loose my independence? What if I have multiple children and I clearly favour one? What if, no matter how hard I try I still can’t get motherhood right?

    I secretly hope for an unplanned pregnancy, birth control failing and fate playing a big role. I do want kids and I know the old cliche of never being really ready but when you pull the trigger there’s no going back. The minute we stop using birth control, we are saying we want a baby and are ready. The minute I start tracking my cycles and planning sex around them, we really want a baby – we should be very ready for a baby. Regardless of whether you fall pregnant or suffer infertility there’s no going back to a point before, to a point when it was OK to admit you weren’t ready. Back to a point when you were just the two of you. The need to be ready is even worse if you adopt or foster especially when someone else also has to agree. There are just too many unknowns to be ready but it’s such a monumental decision, especially in a time when it’s becoming more socially acceptable to be child free. At least with an unplanned pregnancy it feels similar to falling in love. You’re not actively looking for it but when it happens it takes you by surprise, turns your life upside down and you just have to hope you’re still standing on the other side.

    • Aubry

      I’m so glad someone else feels this way. I thought I wanted kids, then my clock turned off and I was on the no/weak maybe side. Then I’ve talked (and talked and talked) with C and we’ve come around to yes, probably. And were thinking soon but then I might go back to school. Gah!

      Long story I totally want to get pregnant by accident. It takes the decision out of my hands. So I cant get stuck in the “you chose this!” thinking when stuff gets hard. Take it back to the days when kids were a consequence of being an adult, rather than a choice made by removing the blocks. For us cisgender heteros anyway. Thank you for thinking the same as me. I’ve been unable to find a buddy in this regard in my social circle. I have mostly very sure, cant wait to be parents people.

    • tr

      The FH and I have already agreed we’ll be using Natural Family Planning as soon as we get married for precisely this reason. I don’t know if we’ll ever feel 100% ready to “purposely” take the plunge into parenthood, so we’re both sort of kind of hoping fate (and a lack of conventional birth control) will take the wheel for us.

  • Christy

    I’m nervous about how we will procure a child. My wife absolutely does not want to be pregnant. I don’t know that I do either. But I don’t particularly want to adopt either–my nephew is fostered and that has been a years-long emotional struggle. And infant adoption also gives me feelings–I feel like all I ever read on the Internet is by adult adoptees who feel SUPER CONFLICTED about being adopted. I don’t want that for my kid!

    So it seems like making a baby is the answer. But that’s not very easy, either, when you can’t exactly pull the goalie.

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  • anon today

    Great post! I definitely had some similar fears… and then we started trying to get pregnant and 6+ months later, we’re still at it. I know a lot of people try for a lot longer, but let’s just say my new set of anxieties is all about NOT being able to have kids. What if I waited too long?!? We are also considering adoption, even if we do get pregnant, because I want more than one kid, but I don’t want to add that many humans to the planet. So, I know we’ll be parents eventually, one way or another… but still. The anxiety remains.

  • Victwa

    Oh Maddie. This makes me want to give you just the biggest hug ever and say, yup, all these fears are totally legit and ALSO totally overcome-able. Except the kid dying part. I honestly don’t know how people make it through that one, except that I do know that people DO. But the rest of it? Sure, babies add a challenge to a relationship (although step-parenting was about 500% harder than having a baby/newborn, which no one really mentions), and everything changes with a kid. But lots of things change everything about our worlds. Getting together with Michael changed your world, I’m sure. A baby will change it, too. And some in really not fun ways (needing to find a babysitter so you can spend time alone with your beloved? a pain.) but in other totally amazing ways. And you might be a person who has one of those heart imploding moments, or you might not. I don’t think I was a heart imploder. I remember meeting my daughter and thinking, “hey– here’s this little person who has been hanging out inside of me! amazing that I get to meet her now!” But I didn’t feel any crushing feelings of instantaneous overwhelming love. And I hated breastfeeding. I did not feel “whoa– connected to my child”– I felt, “Um, can my body go back to being mine?” It’s ok. You’re going to have the ultimate Maddie experience as a parent– that is, the experience is going to be totally YOU. Having kids is a hard thing. You’ve done hard things. Whatever happens with parenting will probably play out the way other challenges in your life have played out. You just will have a little mini-person to hang with while you sort through all these challenges. Fortunately, babies have evolved so that their cuteness helps get through the challenges. And there’s also anti-depressants and therapy/counseling for when cuteness isn’t enough (because PPD is a real thing), and there’s also lots of humans in your life, I am betting, who are willing/able/wanting to step up and support you two when it gets challenging. (Take them up on this, btw.)

    I love being a parent. I love it more than I could ever express, but I am not overcome with crushing, claustrophobic feelings. It feels like this very clear constant in my life– I think it’s really the definition of unconditional. I love my husband, but I’m also clear that it’s not a “whatever happens, I’ll still love him”– if he turns into a horrible human for whatever reason, I would not continue loving him no matter what. And I can say that while I may have moments where I don’t LIKE my child, I know that my love for her will never, ever be in question– even if, unfortunately, she turns out to be a less than stellar human. (But I’m sure she won’t. Because she’s great. Ha!)

    Also, love for one’s child is so completely distinct from the love for one’s partner, it almost feels like two different planets.

  • Babrak Khan

    Parenting is a tough job, not everyone can do it. This article in You magazine http://www.thenews.com.pk/magazine/you/110226-Parenting has given some very good advice in what parents should and should not do.

    One thing that stands out is that the parents should understand that children, especially younger ones, throw tantrums but they should not be beaten for this. Beating a child for ‘their own’ good is not parenting. It is child abuse and is a crime.

    Parents need to understand their child and deal with their personalities accordingly. Each child is a different personality and cannot be treated with the same techniques.

    Parents should gain respect and love not fear – that is only for tyrants.

  • Anon

    A child with sickness/ disability. Having perfectly healthy children looks like a crazy struggle (and the end of the really very pleasant life we have now), supporting a child with a lifelong (or life ending) illness or significant disability seems impossible – financially, emotionally and life-ish-ly.

    • anon

      YES. This is my biggest fear. My mother was schizophrenic, and the possibility that I carry that gene somewhere and I could pass it along to my children is really scary.

      • a few

        agree – there is a history of mental illness in my family, too. but, luckily, health care and treatment and the stigma of mental illness has gotten quite a bit better in our lifetimes (although there is still a long way to go) and you and your family will be on the look out for possible signs and be able to help the child out if the need arises.

      • tr

        I have quite a bit of mental illness in my extended family, and the FH has a history of addiction and mood disorders, so this terrifies me. I mean, FH is amazing, and I’d love for our kids to ultimately turn out the way he has, but I don’t think I could handle the nightmares he put his parents through when he was younger!
        I just know that even if our kids seem healthy and well adjusted at first, I’ll be waiting on pins and needles as they enter young adulthood.

  • Helen

    I don’t want to parrot the media voices which tell women to worry about their fertility, but just wanted to weigh in with my experience. We waited for a couple of years to start trying, when we knew we wanted to and were emotionally ready, but wanted to get finances and employment in order. These were real issues and I don’t think we were necessarily wrong to want to sort them out. But when we started trying I had a miscarriage (quite recently), and I’m struggling with feeling that we could have started trying earlier and had more time for more things to go wrong without adding so much extra pressure. I also have some feelings of resentment towards my husband, because he was more insistent about waiting. I’m sure this is in part due to grief following the miscarriage, but I just wanted to flag up that waiting to try has its own emotional risks.

    • Karen

      This is such an important perspective and big hugs to you. Just to play a bit of devil’s advocate, I’ll also offer the opposite view, in which trying too soon also causes angst. I come from a family in which many women had fertility issues (took my mom 3 years to get me and I’m an only child) but with no overt cause – meaning none of my providers could predict whether or not I would have trouble getting pregnant. Because of this, I had prepped my husband that our path to have a kid could be a very long one and pointed out that neither of us were getting any younger.

      Consequently, we started trying sooner rather than later, thinking that by the time I actually GOT pregnant, it would be months (years?) away and we’d be more ready. As you can probably predict, it took exactly one month to get pregnant. Which was both great and upsetting and caused me to say, “I’m pregnant. I’m sorry?” and then start crying when I told him. I still really struggle with the guilt of pushing him into trying so soon (even though I don’t really think I pushed? just offered some logic?). I am now one week from delivery and still feeling like trying when we did wasn’t necessarily the best decision…so trying to soon equally comes with emotional baggage.

      Bottom line? Everything about when to try for a baby comes with mixed emotions, I think. If we had waited, I guarantee I’d be in the same boat as you and would be upset about waiting – miscarriage or not. I wish there were a way to make the whole process easier but I haven’t stumbled across it yet!

      • another lady

        I also had a similar experience with getting prego super fast – but we have just excepted it and decided to go with it. even though we were trying, it happened way faster than we expected and it took us both a couple months to come to terms with it. I think we both had mini-freak outs when reality set in. But, it got better for us.

      • Anonymous

        A good friend of mine married a woman who was a couple of years older than him, who had been married before and tried to conceive, discovered she had endometriosis, gone through IVF, gotten pregnant and then had a miscarriage.. and then gone through a divorce. So they did this too – started sort of trying really quickly after the wedding.. and then got pregnant really quickly!
        He had a bit of a freak out (and a bit of a macho pride moment, I suspect), but the old chestnut about never being ready but just having to step up when the time comes held true – he’s an awesome dad, loves his (now two) kids to pieces and wouldn’t change anything.

    • I am so sorry to hear you had a miscarriage. I hope you and your partner feel loved and supported during this time. Please take care of yourselves and give yourselves time to heal and grieve. Thinking of you…

  • _eatwithaspoon

    I’ve been on both sides of this argument. For years I told myself I didn’t want kids, I wasn’t responsible enough for them, when I can barely look after myself, goddammit. And then, insidiously, the desire to have a kid crept in, until one Easter when I was 29 I decided, that’s it. I want one. My husband (we’ve been together 11 years this year) has always wanted kids, but was prepared to either not have one or wait for me to catch up with him all that time, so when I came around, he was on board.
    We decided to ‘not try not to’ have kids. It was a terrifying year. Every month I would await my period with equal parts fear, tremendous anxiety and excitement. It would be late and my mind would spin out of control over all the ‘what if?!?!’ scenarios. And then it would arrive, and I was never sure if I was relieved or disappointed. I approached parenthood with so much anxiety, when I finally fell pregnant, it was the most anxious almost-year of my life. All my pending anxiety just cascaded, and I freaked out. Solidly for months. I’d go so far as to say the freak out continued well past the birth of my little boy. It only started to fade a few months in.
    From the other side (my boy is 10 months old), I can tell you this. It turns your world upside down. Selfishness no longer exists – you have no control over your time, you money, your life. This little, tiny tyrant leads the way, regardless of what pre-kids-you thought would happen. But equally, it makes your life infinitely sweeter. It’s like, your heart doesn’t implode, it expands. I love my little boy with my whole heart, and I love my husband so much more than I ever thought possible. Seeing him with our little boy cracks me open, but in a really good way. I’m softer, more liable to love, and better at understanding things now.
    Anyway, that essay to say: you’re never ready. But if you wait til you are, you’ll be old and grey. Some things you just have to leave the door open, freak out a little, and when/if it happens, go with the flow. Try not to freak out too much. It’s insane, it’s exhausting, it’s absolutely mind-blowing. But it’s also, strangely, quite nice. Look, I probably won’t have another one (the rollercoaster might be more than my heart can take), but having done it once, I’m glad I did. Good luck!

    • another lady

      for others who are reading this, there is a thing that is similar to post partum depression that is related to post partum anxiety. you can also have depression or anxiety during pregnancy. (not saying this is necessarily the case here, but just want to make other people away so that they can mention signs and symptoms to a doctor or psychologist)

  • Eh

    My husband had tons of fears about having children, much along the same lines as Maddie. Seeing his brother and cousin have children made him want children even more but the fears were still there. Then his cousin’s wife had a devastating miscarriage at 16 weeks, then they got pregnant and had a baby with a disability. He saw them go through all of this and realized that we would be able to get through it too.

  • LucyPirates

    A little late to the discussion but… I’m 32, marrying October and whilst we are very happy and keen to have kids one of my biggest fears is that by taking time off work, I am de-railing my potential promotion, which is flagged for the next 1-2 years. And I don’t have time to wait because according to everything I read, my eggs are already floating off into the ether.
    Trying to explain to everyone that I equally want a baby AND to be a LadyBoss at work is difficult because most people I know either value family way way way above work or have jobs where they can slot back in with little to no pause on their career path (e.g. teaching/doctors) or are male…

    ETA: And this is all with the extreme privilege of UK maternity leave (although this can make it harder as very few women go back to work before 9 months after, if not a year, which then perpetuates to male bosses that once I get married, I’ll be a ticking time bomb of Baby making and not necessarily promotion material)
    >insert wailing emoji<

    • emmers

      There’s a part of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, that talks about this, about basically continuing to charge on in your career, and not slowing it down prematurely, in anticipation of having kids. It could take awhile for you to get pregnant, and then you’ll be pregnant for awhile, so one thing to consider would be to just keep plugging along with your career, and then adjust as necessary. Good luck! Congratulations on getting married, and good luck on the balancing act. It’s definitely a lot to think about.

      • LucyPirates

        Really appreciate your comment as I think I have been associating pregnancy as the pause button rather than the birth. While everyone is telling me (and my practical side) that there will never be a good time and I’m not getting any younger, there is a little selfish voice inside me crying ‘but I’ve really worked for this…’
        Will definitely check the book out.

        • Mellie

          I’m 39 weeks and 2 days and still working away! I have lots of FEELINGS about taking time off, but pregnancy doesn’t have to be a pause button at all. I have had to temporarily scale back some of the things I normally do (I perform inspections in buildings and a month or two ago it just started to not really be feasible to climb ladders and get in cramped attic spaces or walk around at a productive pace) but I certainly haven’t run out of helpful things to do and catch up on, and I’ll be raring to go again after my leave. I also successfully passed one of the major certification exams in my field when I was ~6 months pregnant, and unlocking that achievement is making me feel better about having a little break, so maybe finding some way to “level up” right before you have to temporarily ramp down could help you feel better about the whole thing!

        • emmers

          It was a lightning bolt for me, too! There are some career things that I thought about turning down in anticipation of having kids, when really who knows how long it will actually take to get pregnant. But it’s sooo tempting sometimes to think like I should be slowing down, when really I should keep plugging til something changes. Lean in had a lot of wisdom about stuff like that. I don’t agree with all of it, but lots of good stuff.

    • Eh

      I live in Canada where most women take a year (and many women where I live take two years). I went back to work after six months (my husband is staying home for the second six months). I went back for financial reasons (i.e., I make twice as much as my husband so it makes more sense for him to be off work with reduced pay) but I was also concerned about the opportunities I would be missing if I was off work for a whole year. Since I got back I have been transferred to a team that is working on a really cool project. If I didn’t come back when I did I would not have had that opportunity.

    • JenC

      OK I know this is a bit of an unpopular thing to say, especially considering there’s women all over the world who would love to take 9-12 months (paid or unpaid) maternity leave, the U.K. System makes it really hard for women to go back early. I worked with a number of women who have taken maternity leave and there seems to be an acceptance that you take all the leave, even the additional 13 weeks unpaid unless you really can’t afford it. I know things might change when we have a child but I really don’t want to take a year out but I hate having to defend my slightly different choices (people are questioning my ‘need’ to keep my maiden name at work and think I’m a little full of myself for thinking I need two names).

      If we were to have two children, I’d want them with no more than 3 years between them. Therefore, if I don’t go against the norm, I’ll have taken 2 years off in 4 years (and that’s if there’s 3 years between ideally I’d like 18 months – 2 years). That will definitely impact my chances of promotion. That is one of the (many) reasons we are seriously thinking about having one and calling it quits.

      As an aside – I heard on the radio yesterday that since shared parental leave has been brought in, 1% of new parents have taken it. That’s 1% of new dads who thought their career was safe enough that they could take paternity leave. The argument was made that not many people know about it and whilst that may be the case, I think a bigger reason is that I don’t think it’s overly acceptable for many men to take any more than their 2 weeks. I think my husband would love to stay at home on shared parental leave but in all honesty I don’t think his work would take it very well, he currently earns more than I do and so there’s no point in hindering both of our careers (especially not with the cost of childcare).

      • Eh

        In Canada there is the same expectation that mom’s take the whole leave (we can share up to 35 weeks for the 50 weeks). My in-laws were against my husband taking leave because it would negatively effect his career, and more or less, why should both of our careers be effected. We have had the option of sharing leave for 15 years and the percent of men who have taken it has been low. Then on top of that, breastfeeding or pumping at work is only protected in two provinces. Luckily I live in one of those provinces but my employer does not have a policy on pumping at work so all requests are dealt with on an ad hoc basis.

  • Michelle

    Hihi. 24 weeks pregnant and definitely on the “holy crap what did we get ourselves into” train. I’m a midwife myself, so I see all the joy but also all the horrifying things that come along with pregnancy, birth, and transitioning to parenthood every day, and I thought I was prepared. Turns out even if it is literally your job to sherpa people through this huge life transition, it can still be completely overwhelming when you’re the one actually doing it. I completely underestimated how completely isolating being pregnant can feel. It’s like being this little vulnerable island set adrift in a sea of all these other, non-gestating folks, and for the first half of it (at least for me) no one could even tell from the outside that anything was different about what was heppening in my little body.

    Pregnancy is a lot to handle, physically and emotionally. One of the big things that I love is the type of prenatal care that we offer called Centering. It’s essentially group prenatal care lead by a midwife where everyone is grouped by their due month, so everyone is going through the same things at the same time, and gives you not only tons more info than doing those quick 15 minute visits, but also gives you kind of a built-in support group of other folks going through it together. So if you’re newly pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, I highly recommend searching out a practice that does Centering prenatal care.

  • Amber

    I definitely recommend these workshops called Boot Camp for New Moms (there’s some in California, not sure about elsewhere) because we talked about exactly what’s on your list: how to plan for the disruption to your relationship and rebound, how to regain your sense of self, what’s actually happening when it feels like you both care about the baby more than each other, to remember you’re a team and build on that.

    There were new moms there with their babies who shared what they had been through and how they worked through it with their partner. It was really great to hear from real women who all had different experiences and solutions. These things are so often not talked about or are an open secrets, yet almost all moms grapple with them.

  • Amie Melnychuk

    The love part scared the crap out of me, too. It was to the point that I called my sister, momma of one at the time and asked her to detail every bit of feeling that she had for her daughter versus her husband. How could she make a difficult decision if she had to save one or the other? Or how would she want her husband to choose between her and her daughter if something bad were to happen to both and he could only save one, etc.

    She explained that it was a different love than what you have for your partner. And it is also a very intense love, but a more protecting one. And it’s not like you love one more than the other, it’s as if your capacity for love grows. It’s like moving from a twin mattress to a queen. You suddenly have more room for possibility and to welcome more in your heart.

    Then I had my daughter and I understand completely.

  • punkysdilemma

    I’ve been scared of how I would handle pregnancy since my 20s. I don’t do well feeling nauseated and was terrified that I would spend months being absolutely miserable, with no way out, while still needing to go to work, and since I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling anyone why I felt like shit, I worried I would feel alone and desperate the entire time.

    Of course, the best thing to do with anxiety is to just expose yourself to the anxiety trigger and prove to yourself you have the tools to deal with it and the world didn’t implode. So we decided to start trying for kids a year and a half after our wedding and promptly got hit with the infertility hammer. Treatments added another damn year of low-level worrying about how I would cope with pregnancy — a year of wasted, yet completely unavoidable worry. Now I’m pregnant, 12 weeks along and coming out of the first trimester malaise. I did get nausea and the last six weeks were absolutely not my favorite six weeks of my life, but it wasn’t constant hell, and I did prove to myself that I have the tools to handle it.

    Now my anxiety can shift to how we’ll handle parenting since neither of us had the best parents (not exaggerating, dysfunction reigns). But there are books, and we both have shrinks. (The relationship psychology guy, John Gottman, also has a book about preserving intimacy after baby that we plan to pick up soon.) It’s definitely a “cross fingers and trust we have the tools to deal with it” kind of thing, though. We’re finally allowing ourselves to be cautiously excited about having a small human around. I hope this pans out.

  • Molly K.

    My husband and I are planning on end of summer (although I just went off birth control in preparation, so I guess anything could happen). I’m more nervous about making it work financially with kids. We’re doing fine financially now, but kids are expensive. We’ve talked about me staying home for a while, so I worry about eventually returning back to work if I decide to go that route.

    The fact that it is so imminent makes it even harder. There’s a lot of unknowns but I can’t wait any longer. I feel like I have to dive in and we’ll make it work.

    I try not to focus on the childbirth part. That scares the crap out of me…,

  • Erica

    Does anyone still love their husband as much after children? I definitely fear that change in my relationship, I adore my husband, he is such an amazing person, and all the parents I know have terrible marriages…. it’s difficult to parse out the reasons of course, but it’s still a fear of mine. And then I worry that thinking that is selfish. SIGH

    • Eenie

      I’ve heard that watching your partner become a parent and caring so much for another human being makes you love them more. Watching my brother become a dad was in the top five greatest moments of my life.

      • Erica

        That’s a great point! I know he would be an amazing father, he’s great with kids. In fact, I think if we could somehow role reverse he would be a better mother than me! Damn biology ;)

    • another lady

      from the way it was explained to me (by 5 women who had babies recently during a girls day), you still love your husband just as much or more than you did before, but you now love you kid even more than you love said husband. not that you stop loving him or loose love for him, but you love you kid on a higher level that is ‘more’ than your love for him. they said it’s like when you fell in love with hubs, you didn’t know you could love someone that much, and it was scary for a bit. they you had a baby, and you didn’t realize that you could love some new person even more than anyone else, and that is scary for a bit, too. they explained it like it was just the way things are and that it’s no big deal, just how you feel after kids. love is not a finite resource – it just grows and changes.

      • Erica

        That makes sense, I never thought I would love someone as much as I loved my twin, but then I fell in love with my husband. I don’t love him more, just equally and differently

  • Anon

    This has definitely helped allay some of my fears.

    Dumb question, though – everyone keeps saying that breastfeeding is hard – what exactly does that mean?

    • another lady

      ugh – start asking around if you know people who tried or succeeded at breastfeeding, it sounds like there are tons of things that make it hard and a lot of people quit shortly after the baby is born (a few weeks or months only). also, look up articles that list ‘things I didn’t know about breast feeding’ … fun times!

    • Ashlah

      I think it can mean a lot of things. Sometimes the baby has trouble figuring out latching (for any number of reasons). Sometimes mom can’t produce enough milk (for any number of reasons). Sometimes it’s painful (chafed nipples, clogged ducts, eventual teeth). Sometimes it’s the pure time-consumption of it, which can be challenging on both a mental health and a scheduling basis. Sometimes it’s just a struggle of feeling like your body isn’t your own. And still other people have an easy and rewarding time with it.

    • Eh

      I really think it’s hard to understand how hard breastfeeding is until you do it. (It’s also hard to explain why.) Both you and your baby have to learn how to do it. There is also the time and energy (at eight months in I am constantly exhausted and hungry). The prenatal class I took was half about breastfeeding and I still couldn’t figure out based on the diagram the difference between a good and poor latch. I also was totally unprepared for issues we might face and did not know what to do if we had problems (we had problems the first weekend home and waited until Monday to see the doctor because we didn’t know where else to go). My daughter had a tongue tie (diagnosed at the hospital but not clipped until 2 weeks) so we knew what the issue was but felt totally alone trying to deal with it.

    • Mary Jo TC

      It’s painful. It’s time-consuming. It’s a burden a partner can’t share. It’s socially stigmatized (both positively and negatively). It’s inconvenient. When you return to work you have to pump to maintain your supply and there can be issues with that with your employer, although they’re supposed to accommodate you. For me, the worst thing was the pain. With my first, 3 solid months of it. Every individual suck on my nipple hurt, at least a little. Maybe there was something wrong with the latch, I could never figure it out, but my theory is that the baby’s head and mouth had to grow to be big enough to take in enough of the nipple not to pinch me.

    • Guest

      It can be…but it can also be fine or great or normal. For me its a time to reconnect with my smartphone–and just relax. Just remember–like any review–those with more difficulties speak up more.

  • redgy

    I had, and still have, all of those fears. I also have a four-month old. I won’t lie and say the anxiety goes away – I worry every single day about my baby and my marriage and myself. But when I look at that kid, my heart explodes. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever felt or done, but I cannot imagine my life without him now.

    Also, relating to a comment below about sharing emotional labor – I am also cis hetero, and married to a wonderful man who works hard for our marriage to be equal. After our son was born, he stepped up in amazing ways to keep our house going and keep us fed. But there are definitely times where the burden is not equal, both the emotional burden and, sometimes, the physical burden of taking care of our son (beyond the breastfeeding aspect, which there isn’t much you can do about). I’ve felt comfortable pointing it out – mostly in calm, productive ways, but sometimes in angry, frustrated ways. Every time he has heard me out and I’ve seen him trying to be more aware and proactive about it. And when he doesn’t, I call him out again. So I think if you can keep that avenue of discussion open, that helps a lot.

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    Is anyone else terrified they’ll hate their child?

    • Ashlah

      Yes. Maybe not hate, but dislike. I worry they’ll turn into the kind of person I really don’t like spending time with.

    • tr

      I’m totally terrified of that! I mean, the reality is, some personalities just don’t mesh, so when you combine that with the amount of time and sacrifice that goes into raising a kid, it feels like there’s a huge potential for disaster! (Then again, maybe I’m just scarred from the lifelong feeling that my parents are pretty darn ambivalent about me…)

  • tr

    As weird and horrible as it sounds to say, I’m terrified that my FH will be a better parent than me, and that him and our future children will have a special bond that I will forever be locked out of.
    I mean, FH is wonderful and nurturing and affectionate and has fatherly instincts oozing out of every pore. That’s great, except that I don’t know where it leaves me, the woman who is impervious to the charms of puppies, kittens, and babies. Mind you, that is exactly why our future children will need me–someone has to be the bad guy and nix the idea of cake for breakfast and roller skating in the house, but when it comes to snuggles and kissing scraped knees and getting excited about good grades on a spelling test, it’s pretty obvious FH will be the winner! I feel like he’ll be June Cleaver and I’ll be the 1950’s deadbeat dad who just retreats to the den with a beer every evening.

  • My wife wants kids and I do with a serious “but”.

    I will never carry, no thanks; she will bear that responsibility. I only want one. She wants two. I will be okay with two if we adopt the second because my grandparents adopted me and want to pay it forward. She doesn’t want to adopt because she thinks she will love/favor her biological child more. This is a fun debate in our house.

    I think children are life ruiners for all of the reasons you listed in your post. And they are expensive. It will be expensive to conceive, over a quarter of a million to raise, then there’s college. I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it.

    What if I don’t like my kid? I know I’m raising it, but what if it exhibits personality traits that I don’t like? What if I accidentally raise an asshole?

    All of those are pretty solid obstacles, but my biggest fear with having a child is that I will lose myself. I don’t want to be that person who is “a mom first”. I don’t want to forget to work on us and end up with the only thing my partner and I having in common is our kid. I don’t want my kid to be the only thing I ever talk about. I don’t want to put someone else’s needs before mine. My wife and I are partners. We make decisions for us — I don’t want to make decisions based on someone else. I want to love my kid, but I don’t want them to be my whole life.

    I know I won’t regret having a kid, but I may regret not having one. And that is really the only reason I will, not because I necessarily am dying to have one. My wife gets upset with me when I say that…

  • Ali

    I have a toddler, and my heart has naturally imploded with love. No joke. But here’s the thing: I’m not ready for a puppy. I’m terrified of what it would do to my time, my house, my marriage. I’m afraid I would end up doing all of the work though my husband is the one who wants the dog. I’m afraid he would love the dog more than our kid. I’m afraid we would never have dog-free time again. Is that reassuring? I don’t know if that’s reassuring, but it’s the best I’ve got :-)

  • LadyWoman

    I’m about 5 months in and if I’m honest, I’m scared I won’t love my kid ENOUGH. Like, currently I think being pregnant is cool (now that I’m over the 1st trimester 24/7 misery, which is not hyperbolic, it was CONSTANT and GRINDING misery). But I’m not currently super bonded with my kid, didn’t cry or get emotional at the ultrasound when I found out it was a boy, I don’t feel any urge to write flowery facebook posts about how I can’t wait to hold his little hand and show him the world, blah blah blah. When people ask if I’m excited it’s like, “sure?” I’m not UNhappy that I’m pregnant, but I have friends who seem way more excited than I am.

    I know it’s mostly the social performance of loving your kid that has me bummed. People have always loved their kids in different ways: some very florid and emotional and open, some stoically but deeply, everything in between. But now the internet lets us see and share and reinforce shiny maternity portraits and motherhood above all and imploding hearts and it makes me feel like a bad person for not caring “enough”. Maybe I’ll get this spiritual, emotional high and feel like I AM MOTHER PERSONIFIED once I give birth, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be one of those people who loves their child but never admits to anyone that they secretly regret having kids. That freaks me out.

    Really, I’m sure I’ll love my kid, but it sucks that this feeling I’m supposed to be performing better is messing with my head.

    • Mary Jo TC

      OMG yes, you put into words what bugs me so much about parenting on social media–the social performance aspect of it. You are so right that loving your kid and showing the world how much you love the kid through frequent posting are totally different things. And the expectation that you will perform parenthood socially in this way is oppressive, I think, even if that is a big word to use here. I feel exactly the same way. I’m a mom of 2 now, and I can say that it is totally possible to feel exactly the way you describe during pregnancy (I would have said I felt positive but not excited), feel a strong, real love for your kid when he arrives, and still have no urge to tell the world about it through social performance.

    • raccooncity

      I feel like my mom-friends online fall into 2 categories, with few exceptions:
      1. like you described, shiny-happy-earth mamas
      2. moms who subscribe to “scary mom” or whatever it is and are deeply, all the time, against those other moms.

      I don’t really identify with either group of them at the moment, and my guess is that real human emotions go between the two depending on the day.

      • HD

        My FB friends fall into the same category, but as a mom myself, I would just like to say your guess is correct. I find that avoiding the parenting dogmas (in all their forms, and there are several) will really save your sanity :)

    • HD

      I hear you. I’m on my second pregnancy and even though I adore being a parent to my toddler son, I still just am not that into the pregnancy/infancy stage of parenthood. And you are so right…it totally does feel like a performance. When people ask me how I’m feeling, I know I’m supposed to be all glowing and amazed by the miracle of it all. But that’s not how I feel. This pregnancy has been brutal physically and emotionally. And I know that a second baby will upend my life just like the first and then everything will slowly become the new normal, but better–again, just like the first time. But I’m not looking forward to childbirth or the early months, because it’s just not that fun for me. Everyone’s different–I know plenty of women who love that stage. In any case, I promise that your feelings about pregnancy definitely don’t determine your feelings about parenting once the child is here…whole different ballgame. And there’s also a real freedom that comes with approaching parenting from your own actual feelings rather than the performance you might feel pressured to give. Parenting really is like anything else–you can do it on your own terms, and those who do are generally much, much happier, from what I’ve seen.

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  • SBostonR

    It makes me sound crazy, but…. climate change and children terrifies me. I feel like I could possibly know or learn how to handle the other anxieties, but is it right to bring a child in to a possibly collapsing world? Am I just passing the problem on to them, when everything has changed and they have to decide to have children?

    There have actually been a couple of interesting articles on this (and my mom’s answer was “I was worried about the same thing, but I decided it was also partially my responsibility to bring reasonable humans in to this world to help be a part of a better world”, which I thought was kind of bad ass). Nonetheless, terrifying.

    What if I bring something I love so much in to a world that then collapses? Sounds melodramatic but, you know….

  • Granola

    I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, and Maddie this may not make you feel better, but it is kind of terrifying, realizing and accepting the vulnerability I opened myself to when I had a child. I didn’t really think about it beforehand — I didn’t totally believe what everyone said (and not all of it is true for everyone.).

    One thing that I keep reminding myself is that frankly, all of this risk and potential for great pain was already there, I was just capable of ignoring it. My husband could still have died. I could die. In a way I think we’ve done ourselves a disservice extending the cocoon for so long. But really I think that’s largely because I’ve lived a pretty easy and privileged existence. Realizing the immense range of experience and pain that I was skating over has been really humbling. “How do people do this? Oh dear god, some people have been doing this the whole. time.”

    But also, to not be so doom and gloom, I’m starting to learn that people are OK. Your child’s life wouldn’t end if your husband died, or you died. It would be tragic, but that would still be a good and valuable life full of pain and joy and meaning. And perhaps he or she would be able to find some grace in that circumstance that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. I feel a lot of guilt that I have a personality that tends toward depression, and what if that got passed on to her? But hopefully, I can also help her to learn to deal with her negative feelings better than if I didn’t have this (often crappy) experience.

    Hope that helps. Come on in, the water’s fine here.

  • clarkesara

    I’m late to all of this, but it touches upon something I’ve been trying to think out lately, so I guess I’m just going to use this space to vent about it?

    I’m not so much afraid of the big What Ifs of parenting (childhood tragedy, what if a kid ruins my life, what if my partner and I eventually divorce, etc), but just pulling the plug. So to speak.

    I’m 35. Authority figures have been lecturing me about The Dangers Of Getting Knocked Up since I was about 13. I’ve been valiantly concentrating on Avoiding Pregnancy since I was 17. I’ve had a few scares, a few morning after pills, and have walked a few friends through terminating unwanted pregnancies (and feel very “there but for the grace of god” about all that, myself). I don’t really know how to wrap my brain around the idea of “oh yay I’m pregnant!” rather than “oh shit I’m pregnant!”, after something like 20 years of pregnancy = bad conditioning.

    There may be a point in the future where my fiance and I are officially Trying To Conceive, but right now our thought is that at some point, I’ll go off birth control and we’ll just let it happen. But, like…??????????? WTF does that mean? I mean am I gonna get pregnant right away, or is it going to take forever (at which point we WILL be the TTC people, I guess)? Are we going to stop using birth control right after the wedding (I’m in my mid 30s, y’all), or wait? If we’re waiting, what are we waiting for? It’s both the simplest thing in the world and also the most mystifying, because nothing prepared me for the part where you get pregnant like on purpose and you have a baby and it’s FOREVER, and you can’t take it back.

    So, a lot of words about something that comes easy to literally all life on earth except for me I guess.

  • Like you, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have kids for a long time. I had all the fears that you had, plus I have chronic illnesses so I had illness-related fears. I knew it would have to be an intellectual choice if we would try it or not, and in many ways it was. And it was also a weird emotional feeling that I did want to at least give it a try.

    But I was terrified I would be too much in pain to parent. That my husband would have to carry the weight disproportionately and would resent me. That the constant demands of a baby would be too hard for one of us and we’d crack under the pressure. That I wouldn’t be able to pick up my baby (true in month 2 when my hands were so swollen I couldn’t bend my fingers). That my heavy sleeper husband wouldn’t ever hear the baby crying and I’d be doing all the cry-responses.

    Many of these melted away in the first year. I didn’t have a heart explodey moment for weeks because I struggled with pain so deep that it triggered depression. But I got medications, I had some friends fly in to help, and my husband was a superstar. In the first week, he was taking the baby off to pick up supplies and give me time to sleep, was up with the crying baby every time unless I pressured him to go back and rest (and we took turns with that), and just being an awesome parent-partner.

    We do have small heart-splosions when we have a particularly adorable moment. We also have grouchy moments. And most of the time, we remember that we’re pulling in harness together and it’s a little bit of us against the JuggerBaby in that stance, but it’s also FOR the JuggerBaby. And we’re in love with hir but even more in love with each other. We’re in awe of each other’s strength and compassion and look out for each other harder than ever before. We’re the same people but distilled a bit to somewhat better, more efficient, versions of ourselves. I like who we are now in response to parenting and its demands.

    It does make me sad sometimes. I’m still saddened that my mom isn’t around to see this. To play with her grandbaby. It worries me that I can’t look into the future and see a happy and healthy future for the JuggerBaby. I still fear that we’ll screw this all up, and that we won’t ever find a good babysitter because holy hell, they’re all $25-30/hour in the Bay Area. But generally none of these are the overwhelming sort of fear I felt before and during pregnancy. Typically I avoid parenting forums but there are some parenting writers who are just honest and I totally appreciate them.

  • Cori

    The thing I’ve learned about parenthood in my 4 years is that it pushes you to the very limits (and maybe a titch beyond) of yourself. I never knew I could love so much, so deeply, so completely. I also never knew I could get so angry or impatient or exhausted or amused or passionate or protective or … you get the point. I’ve felt like the greatest mother and the worst mother of all time -all in the same day. This info probably doesn’t help but there you have it.

  • I’m legit worried about how I could possibly love another thing as much as I love my dogs.