I’m Pregnant (and I Never Wanted to Be a Mom)


Going from #nokids to #yeskids is a trip

by Jareesa Tucker McClure, Contributor

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant_(3_of_20)

As I write this, I’m halfway through my first pregnancy. In fact, my baby person is moving around right now and it’s giving me great joy. Pretty much everything in my pregnancy has given me some joy, maybe because I never thought I’d experience any parts of pregnancy. Until very recently, I was the woman who was Team (Probably) No Kids.

#NoKids, Please

I can’t tell you the moment when I realized I wasn’t interested in having children. I do remember playing with my dolls, but my dolls were my friends—not my pretend babies. I also remember that my goal in life was to have an awesome career; as a kid I wanted to become either a doctor or a scientist. When I imagined what my “grown-up” life would look like, I don’t remember kids being in that vision. As a young person, I was adamant that I didn’t want children because I didn’t need to have kids to define me as a woman. As I got older, that position evolved to, “I would only have a kid if I were married, and even then, I probably wouldn’t have any.”

I discovered feminism in my teen years and it instantly spoke to me. I grew up with a fierce, independent mom who fostered that same streak in me. My mom was also big on raising her four kids in an egalitarian way, which was so opposite from the images I saw in the world around me. So much of the feminist message in the ’90s just made sense, like having my own career and identity, and redefining what “being a woman” meant. It feels like becoming a wife and a mother are the two hallmarks of womanhood according to mainstream media, and I just wasn’t with all that. In fact, I’d regularly shake my young fist and rail at it. I was a woman regardless of my marital or parental statusI wanted to have that option.

As I went through college and graduate school, my resolve not to have children got stronger. Sure, I’d smile and wave at babies in Target, but I felt no desire to have one of my own. As my friends and siblings began to have children, I’d volunteer to babysit and happily play with them for a few hours, before I passed them back and headed to the bar for a stiff drink. I loved my life, with the freedom to think about my wants and needs, and to put my desires first. I liked kids (for the most part), but at the time, I never felt I needed to have one.

Putting My Fears On The Table

You know how some women just know they were born to be moms? I was not one of them. I know there are people who are firm in their decision not to have children, but I wasn’t one of those people, either. As I aged, I noticed I was loosening up on my stance. I didn’t suddenly want a baby, but I did start realizing that what I had envisioned as motherhood didn’t have to be my motherhood.

One reason my position on kids started to change was that I began dating my husband. I don’t mean that I met “the right guy,” and all of a sudden everything fell into place and I realized that I actually did want kids after all. I mean that he consistently showed me, in little ways, what a great father he would be. It turns out I’m really into that. Things I thought would have scared him off, like my desire for an egalitarian household or frequent discussions of intersectional feminism, were met with enthusiasm. I confessed to him that one of my fears of motherhood was being a married single mother—a woman who had to do a hundred percent of the childcare while her husband drank beers in front of the TV. I could only see myself having children if I was able to have a true partnership, where we both shared childcare duties. He never said it explicitly, but my husband responded by showing me how much he was willing to do his part to keep our home running. Seeing my husband owning a huge chunk of our household responsibilities, without complaint, started nudging me toward having a baby.

Along with my fear of doing it all alone, I put all my other fears on the table. I told my husband that I was afraid of losing my identity, going broke, losing our connection to each other, and having to sacrifice our dreams for our kids. Through multiple conversations, he provided alternatives to all the doom I envisioned came with parenthood. Basically his response was, “Parenthood is what we make it.” He shared with me his desires to have his own time with our child, and to be a very hands-on father, just as his father was. Through our discussions I learned that we were on the same page in terms of how we wanted to raise our children and divide childcare responsibilities, which was reassuring to me. All of a sudden it clicked: we really might be able to create the kind of parenthood I’d thought was impossible.

As our relationship progressed from dating to engaged to married, I found myself looking at my husband in a new light. Every time I looked at his beautiful dark skin, I pictured a little baby girl with my dimples and his chocolatey complexion. William is not just my husband; he’s my partner, in every facet of our lives. Through our relationship, he’s shown me that the type of parenting arrangement that I envisioned (and thought was unattainable) is possible. I know it will be hard, that I’ll be sleep-deprived and have less money for spontaneous fun purchases, but the idea of raising a little person with him sounds so amazing to me. Once that switch flipped for me, I became gung ho about having a baby—so much so that I think I asked him if we could have a baby every day for months.

 A New Future

As much as I wanted a baby, and tried to prepare before we officially began trying, I was still shocked when I saw the positive pregnancy test. In my mind, I envisioned that getting pregnant would be a long process, based on the friends who confessed that it took them months or even years of trying. It only took us three months, and I had a moment of, “This was too fast!” before I allowed myself to just enjoy it.

It feels like things changed overnight for me after that positive pregnancy test. While my body has already gone through numerous changes, my heart and mind have done the same. I’m a chronic worrier, but pregnancy is actually helping me relax and mellow out. I tend to be a “contingency plan” person, but for the first time in my life I’m allowing myself to just go with the flow.

I’m allowing myself to imagine the future, and much to my surprise, it has children in it—more than one. Part of me is terrified, but in a way I think every parent should be afraid. I’m allowing myself to be excited about the baby, and give into this experience that for so long I told myself I didn’t want or need. I’m so surprised at how excited I am about our baby—I can’t help but gush to anyone who will listen to me talk about all things baby.

We still have twenty more weeks before we meet our baby person, but already I feel so confident that we made the right decision. This journey to impending parenthood has been a great surprise, but also joyous. I’ve discovered a new part of myself that I didn’t know was there, and I’m excited to explore this new phase of life.

Jareesa Tucker McClure

Jareesa Tucker McClure is a thirty-something newlywed in the Twin Cities. She’s a chemist turned supply chain project manager (and part-time writer) who spends her time knitting and running a Twin Cities Black professionals organization. Follow her rants on Twitter at @Jubilance1922 or on her blog, Black Girl Unlost.

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  • I love this and relate to the emotions present here. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • emilyg25

    “I’m a chronic worrier, but pregnancy is actually helping me relax and mellow out. I tend to be a “contingency plan” person, but for the first time in my life I’m allowing myself to just go with the flow.”

    Yessss. I’m still a chronic worrier, but I’ve really mellowed out. When I got pregnant, I resolved to let go, acknowledge that I was no longer completely in control, embrace the crazy and the unknown, lean in to the ambiguity and the emotion and just all the all of it. I’ve also worked hard to learn to listen to myself. That’s the best gift I think you can give yourself as a mother.

    • Sarah

      I was very efficient and mellow during my pregnancy too and was just FB chatting about this with women in the same spot as me. I think it really helped me have the unmedicated out of hospital birth I hoped for. Even though I had the nausea no sex drive aches and pains of pregnancy I still look back on this time fondly.

  • LJ

    “I confessed to him that one of my fears of motherhood was being a married single mother—a woman who had to do a hundred percent of the childcare while her husband drank beers in front of the TV.”

    Also my fear. I am a couple years off from intentional pregnancy (although I’m one of those fortunate enough to know they want it) but I have been cohabiting for 4 years. I try to tactfully mention doing more chores to my fiancé, and he tends to do more chores by having a “chores day” every week or week and a half where he does allll the tidying that one day… then neglecting it all week so I am still doing a lot of the day to day stuff (dishes, sweeping, etc). Sure, he cleans the bathrooms and I don’t (this is an excellent split), but he thinks that his one-day chores blitz of cleaning the clutter from his home office and doing 4 loads of laundry is the same as my day to day “maintenance” chores…. I am not yet convinced that it is? Like possibly this is a personality/style difference, and it is WONDERFUL that he does do a chunk of the chores, but I do 90% of the dishes (mine, his, shared meals, etc) and I don’t want to do that forever. I obviously need to have a talk with him (adding it to the laundry list of pre-wedding talks), but it’s just a HARD talk to have when he is doing the same amount of chores as me, I just don’t like which chores are split. It’s hard to bring it up without him taking offense that I’m implying he doesn’t pull his weight.

    Anyways, that sentence just struck a chord. I was also raised in a VERY gender-split chores home (men never do dishes or cook meals unless it’s BBQ, they mow lawns and fix the gutters instead) and have no urge to end up like that because doing all the dishes forever sounds horrible. I’m a bit hypersensitive maybe.

    • Jess

      Oof. I grew up in a household where stuff was split super equitably, and this is one of MY major fears too. It started the second I realized that not many other people’s family was set up like mine, and what if they expect more from me than I’m willing to give?!

      It is the primary source of arguments in our house, because R is like, “Why would you even think I would not be involved” and I’m like, “Because of your parents! Because of Societyyyyyy!” (Note: I do not claim to be the reasonable one in this relationship)

    • Amy March

      Wait sweeping is a daily thing? Clean people, man, ya’ll are different. Does it need to be a big convo about chore division and whether he does enough? It would seem to me, as a total outsider, that instead of tactfully mentioning you could just say at the end of a meal “oh look, it’s your turn to do the dishes” and see how that goes over? Like, don’t make it a HARD talk without first trying an easy talk if that makes sense?

      • Meg Keene

        HAHAHAHAHAHA. What’s a broom?

        Sigh. I wish that wasn’t a real question. Currently a broom is this thing my toddler keeps shoving in her mouth because I haven’t put it away. #fail.

        • Meg Keene

          To be perfectly fair though, I am the one day cleaner in our house. David does a lot of day to day (meals, more of the loading the dishwasher). I play scullery maid for a day on the weekend, where I wash and fold four people’s laundry, tidy a whole house, take out all the trash, etc. It works for us, and I do think it probably comes out in the wash. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)

          • Amy March

            I do see, and as one who does not own a broom, does not do much daily cleaning at all, and basically relies on a housekeeper every two weeks to maintain acceptable cleanliness, I think once a week big chores sounds like a pretty even trade!

            I think he might be more receptive if this was a conversation that assumes the status quo is equal, but has other problems, than assuming he is doing less and should do more.

          • LJ

            I see what you did there, I do ;) hahahha!

            I’m not against one-day cleaning, and as I said in the original comment I know I just need to talk to him about what chores are done regularly by whom, it’s just a not-fun chat so I’m bitching about it :)

        • Eenie

          When I was younger and wasn’t talking on schedule I saw a specialist. I didn’t recognize the mop, broom, vacuum, or any other cleaning products on the flash cards. My mom was so proud.

      • toomanybooks

        Yeah, it can totally be different standards – for example, up until recently I had no idea how to clean shower tiles and would never have thought about them getting mildewy until it was really far gone. Maybe go through what you do every day and see if he can take half of the daily things and make it clear that while he is helping, you’d like it to be a little bit of work every day instead of a lot one day, because otherwise you feel like you are doing maintenance cleaning hat doesn’t get noticed and he’s doing cleaning in bursts where it’s noticeable but only effective for like, that day until things get messed up again.

        • Amy March

          Or, make a list of what you do every day, and just stop doing half of them. I think it’s important in these convos to be open to both ways of solving it, because really a big clean once a week, that he’s actually doing, including the bathrooms, is not really red flag territory on not contributing.

          • toomanybooks

            Yes, that’s basically how I clean tbh, and the big clean tends to only come if we are expecting guests. :P My fiancée is the same.

        • LJ

          The issue with this is that he works as an independent contractor, so instead of having downtime every day he works 16 hour days for any amount of days in a row, then basically crashed for a relatively proportionate amount of days off after. Daily chores aren’t really an option when he’s not home AND awake for more than 30 min each day for a week or two in a row. I’m sure this would work for someone else’s situation.

      • LJ

        We live in a tiny home and it’s impossible not to get dirt EVERYWHERE due to the lack of a separated mudroom or equivalent. Sweeping only became regular (every 2-3 days) when we moved here.

      • Vacuuming was a daily thing for a while here because the toddler thought it was awesome and ze wanted to “help”. Except it turned into “You run the vacuum, I’ll direct, and then go read a book but don’t stop vacuuming!” I decided to go with it and appreciate the temporary extra-cleanliness we were getting.

        We also have a tiny broom but like Meg’s toddler, JuggerBaby thinks it’s for licking. *eyeroll* GROSS.

    • My husband and I also split chores, and he doesn’t do things the way I would, cause he didn’t grow up with a Type A mom who thinks cleaning is an Olympic sport, lol. Basically, I had to let go of some of my “rules” about cleaning, and let him do things his way, especially if it wasn’t a big deal. So our floor doesn’t get swept every day, but I will always have clean clothes cause he loves doing laundry.

      Also another option, if you can afford it – cleaning service. If you don’t have to worry about the heavy cleaning, perhaps he’d be more into splitting the maintenance stuff? Just a thought.

      • LJ

        Yes, I have definitely changed my standards. My 90% clean is his 105% clean, and I’m down with that. My mom was also….. adamant about right and wrong ways to clean, so I can relate.

        A cleaning service is kinda growing on me. Just once every 2 weeks perhaps? We aren’t rich but our place is like 550-575 sq ft so I can’t imagine it would cost much :P

        We also only moved into this place June 1 so we’re still figuring out a routine and where things go and what “clean and decluttered” actually looks like…..

        • I had so much guilt about even suggesting a cleaning service, – I think it stems from that idea that women “should” be able to keep a nice home, that cleaning is apart of being a wife and all that jazz.

          Anyway, he was totally on board, cause he hates cleaning too :-) I think you can totally find someone to do your place for a reasonable rate every other week.

          • LJ

            I take no offense at that suggestion! I totally take pride in my home, but really in 550 sq ft how much entertaining will I do – do I really need to impress nonexistent guests? – maybe in a larger place more entertainment-friendly I’ll change my mind, who knows :) thanks for adding a choice to my options:)

          • Beth

            Personally, I think “women should be able to keep a nice house” is only true if the woman stays home and it’s her only job, as was the case decades ago.

            The men used to come home and relax after a full day of work. Why not us?

          • LJ

            …..she’s not saying she agrees, it’s just conditioning that we’re all working past.

          • BSM

            I don’t think Beth agrees either…

      • Not Sarah

        We hired a cleaning service earlier this year. We are in about 1200 sqft and they come biweekly. I found that it really makes it easier to get the other stuff done: laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. when we don’t have to worry about all the regular big cleaning too.

        • We planned to get a cleaning service when the baby arrived, but a few weeks ago my husband asked if we could hire someone NOW, and I was beyond happy. Cleaning is really becoming an issue with my belly and I’d love to just outsource it.

          • Not Sarah

            It’s amazing to me how much I value having a clean house and how much time I was willing to spend doing the cleaning that I could have instead spent meal planning, cooking, going to the gym, or hanging out with my partner versus the minor cost of outsourcing the cleaning. I’m willing to pay to go to a gym to exercise – why wasn’t I willing to pay someone to clean?

      • TeaforTwo

        It is so good that you can let go before having a baby. I spent years wondering why my husband did chores wrong, and how I could fix it.

        Then I had a c-section, and spent weeks in bed recovering and even more weeks nursing round the clock (nursing right now while I type this) and I just had to let him do it all his way. And no, my t-shirts aren’t folded Marie Kondo style, and the dishwasher is not loaded as efficiently as it could be, but we have clean clothes and clean dishes and we get to eat dinner every night and it’s all. just. fine. Because of course. Because I married an adult who had been taking care of himself just fine before I came along, even if he did it differently.

    • Her Lindsayship

      I am really with you about finding the idea of doing all the dishes forever horrible. I HATE doing dishes. I just wanted to suggest, maybe it could be a cooking v. dishes split? For me, that feels much more equal.

    • Jenny

      one thing we did in preparing for our kid was making an excel sheet of ALL the things.
      The columns were chores, amount of time, ideally how often, must happen this often, then we each ranked how much we hated the chore.

      It was helpful for a bunch of reasons. 1 We have a list of chores, 2 we both gained a bigger appreciation for how long each others “owned” chores take (ie oh yeah changing the oil, and rotating the tires, and changing breaks etc takes a lot of time, and oh wow, I forgot that budgeting takes a fair amount of weekly time). We both realized that we could never to all the chores as often as we’d ideally like them to be done (it totaled to 15-20 hours a week). We realized that I don’t hate meal planning and grocery shopping, and he doesn’t hate laundry, so instead of splitting that, we just added them to our “owned” tasks.

      • AP

        This is interesting…I think my husband would go for it, too. He keeps spreadsheets for car maintenance, retirement accounts, budgets. A chore spreadsheet seems like a natural addition.

  • Congratulations on the future and present happiness you’ve found and made. I was much like you – never needed them, pretty sure I didn’t want them, I didn’t see them in my future. I did want to adopt but that had less to do with wanting kids than to help kids who don’t have a home. After many years with my now-husband showing me and telling me that we were true partners, and really living an egalitarian life, I learned that I was willing to give parenting a try because my fears were much like yours: being a married single mother (oh no way), screwing it up or regretting it when it’s too late, having the kid turn out to be someone we didn’t like very much (as witness many dysfunctional parent-child relationships in my family).

    We learned that we were willing to take the risk together and take on the hard work, and we are so happy that we did. I wish you every possible happiness with your newest family member!

    • BSM

      Ditto! I could have written this comment.

  • anon just for this

    I always thought I would have children one day. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve grown less and less certain, for a specific reason. I’m absolutely terrified of the difficulties of parenting a disabled or developmentally handicapped child, and the reality that many conditions are unable to be diagnosed prior to birth. Mostly for selfish reasons – while I want to be a mom, I also want to have my own life that doesn’t revolve around a child, and I recognize that with many conditions, this is not possible while still providing the highest quality of life for the kiddo. I don’t want to be a permanent caregiver or a case manager or a 24/7 nurse or an occupational therapist, etc. – just a mom. I feel really icky about it, because I do recognize the inherent value of people of all abilities, but practically, I don’t feel prepared or able to ever handle a child who will be “high care” for… forever. It just sounds too hard, and I could see myself very easily being burnt out and resentful. Has anyone else struggled with this?

    • stephanie

      I tried really hard to be patient with your comment, because in the first half of it I reasoned that you mean very severe conditions and/or disabilities. But once I got to this: “I feel really icky about it, because I do recognize the inherent value of people of all abilities, but practically, I don’t feel prepared or able to ever handle a child who will be “high care” for… forever” I realized that actually you just seem to mean any condition or disability whatsoever, and this entire comment reeks of ableism.

      I’m not sure what your mom does or doesn’t do. I don’t know what your home life was like. I don’t know what kinds of things you guys did or didn’t say while you were growing up about the people your mother may have cared for, but I need you to know, 100%, full stop, what you’re saying is beyond icky. It is ableism, completely, and I encourage you to a) figure out what’s driving this and b) come to terms with it, so that you can come up with a new way to express what you’re trying to say.

      The fact of the matter is, we live in 2016. There are genetic tests and abortions available. If you’re worried about raising a child who will have a lifelong condition, you can take care of that before the child is born. If you’re concerned about a developmental disability (I assume you mean something like Autism?) then you should probably do a whole lot more reading and learning on what life is like in 2016 for families who have children with developmental disabilities. Contrary to what you seem to believe, it’s not hell. YES, it’s hard, but you know what else is hard? Being a parent, period.

      But if you’re under the impression that all people with disabilities and medical conditions are living lesser lives, or that their parents are chained to these children, then you are not correct. Disabilities and medical conditions most certainly can impact one’s quality of life, and I can speak from experience when I say that raising a child in and of itself is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining, and raising a child who has multiple doctor’s visits, therapists visits, and so on is at least doubly so, but the way you’re saying what you’re saying? You need to fix that. I don’t know if you’re using this to mask another parenting fear or if this is really it, but I strongly, strongly encourage you to research ableism, learn more about disabilities, and open your mind to the fact that disabilities and medical conditions are a spectrum, and that, whatever your experiences, you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent of a child who has a condition or disability.

      The idea of pregnancy is scary to a lot of people on its own. Actually BEING pregnant is scary. Raising a kid is scary. Your life, to some degree, will always revolve around your child. That’s ok. That’s kind of the beautiful part of it.

      • Booknerd

        Wow way to call someone out on their totally legitimate fear in what is supposed to be a safe environment. She never said there was anything wrong with people that have special needs, or developmental disorders, she just confessed she might not be cut out for being a mother to a special needs child. Saying that it is 2016 and you can abort a child with special needs is beyond assumption that the poster is one, OK with abortion, and it is an extreme reaction that is so much more disturbing than what the original poster is saying.
        I personally feel that as a person who will have kids in the next few years that if there is a genetic test to determine disabilites, it will not be an easy decision to abort and it is definitely not as black and white as you presented it here.
        I 100% agree with anon and say that I am a selfish person, and I want to spend 18 years raising a child, and still maintain my own identity. I can acknoledge that it might not work out like that, and if my child has a disability then I will have to adapt. But the fear is there that I might end up with a kid that requires special nursing, or is not able to live independantly and that will affect my entire life in a way that raising a child with no disabiliies just wont. I have a very involved mother in my life and that is the expecation I have for my kids. I will raise them, and will be very much a part of their lives forever but they will grow up to be independant. The fear that the won’t is there. The guilt that comes with that selfishness is real, but it exists. There is enough guilt and shaming attached with parenting, lets not attack people for just expressing their fears.

        • Amy March

          A safe environment for who though? People who, as Stephanie pointed out, have a lot of misconceptions about the lives of children with different types of needs, or safe for people who might have different needs or might be raising people with different needs and might prefer not to be confronted with panic about the prospect of their existence?

          • stephanie

            Exactly this: the world of disabilities is not one thing or another. It’s not “your kid is completely dependent on you”. My kid isn’t. He won’t be. He will absolutely have the ability to be fully independent as an adult. I’m encouraging anon to go learn more about disabilities and medical conditions and how they actually play out in the real world, because it absolutely sounds like she has one perspective on what raising a child with a disability or condition is like and she needs more. She is speaking to one stereotype that exists, based on a set of life experiences I am not (and do not need to be) privy to. There are many more life experiences out there.

          • LJ

            “because it absolutely sounds like she has one perspective on what raising a child with a disability or condition is like and she needs more.”

            I still don’t see how you attacked her, this is an excellent point.

          • stephanie

            :)

          • stephanie

            Ok, but what if your kid isn’t born with a disability but loses a limb at 10? What if your child has a disability as a result of car accident at 16? Why isn’t this fear applied to this as well? Why is it just couched in “my kid might be born with a disability”?

            You can talk yourself out of anything if you talk about the what-ifs like this. My point is that her understanding of disabilities is very limited. She should work on that.

          • Booknerd

            Totally agree that anything could happen to your child to change the level of care they may need, I don’t deny that, but telling the OP that there opinion is icky just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t disagree with what you say in the least, I just felt that telling them to “fix” their opinions when the OP said themselves they were struggling with this fear was not constructive.

          • Eenie

            I related to the original comment because of what you said here. There is a similar fear for when I married my husband – I’ll be responsible for whatever happens to him down the road. I know I’ll be making the same commitment to a future kid, and my biggest fear is not being able to provide enough time, emotion, money etc for their needs.

          • Booknerd

            I find what Stephanie said about abortion “Icky” but her response was a straight up attack on the OP for expressing her fears. These open threads are supposed to be open to more than one opinion, and accusing someone of not understanding ableism just doesn’t seem constructive to me. The OP never said that there was anything wrong with people with disabilities and recognizes that there are different levels of independence that people grow up to have, but at the end of the day it’s just an opinion and everyone here should be allowed to express it without feeling attacked.

          • stephanie

            The idea that there is only one reality for children (and their parents) who have disabilities is ableist. I’m fine with what I said.

            The point with abortion was made because anon mentioned that not all conditions show up during pregnancy, so I made a small leap and assumed that’s what he/she was alluding to.

          • Booknerd

            There are various types of disabilities absolutely but the point being made is that there are so many kinds of disabilities that would require a drastically different level of care than a disability free child. It’s a valid fear, and not a blanket statement that all divisibility are debilitating, but that the OP might be too selfish to want to change her life for children that will require THAT level of care. And that is my understanding of what the struggle with is, which I can totally identify with.

          • LJ

            ” but at the end of the day it’s just an opinion and everyone here should be allowed to express it without feeling attacked.”

            Sooooo just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean it’s right. You can believe that lemons are alkaline but you’re still wrong. This group is about encouraging open-mindedness – Stephanie is doing exactly that.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Agreed. Some opinions are in fact vile. Not all view points are worthy of serious engagement or deserve space and dialogue.

          • Ashlah

            I mean, I agree with that…that a statement is an opinion doesn’t mean it’s protected from critique (or necessarily deserving of dialogue). But is it really vile for a person to express their anxiety and fear about the unknown implications of having a disabled child? Is there a way for someone to express their worries without it being ableist? Is it the language they used, or the mere facts of what they said? I was surprised by the harshness of these responses, but I’m feeling…ignorant.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I’m not wading into that. I just stepped in to say “it’s my opinion” is not always a defense to unsavory viewpoints.

          • Ashlah

            Fair enough, and I agree.

          • anon just for this

            Thanks, Ashlah. Me too to all of the above :

          • anon just for this

            Ouch. Care to expand? I am truly trying to be open and humble to all the perspectives here and educate myself to my blind spots, but really having trouble seeing how anything I expressed above fits that description. Ignorant, I can own up to – I have a limited scope on disabilities. From what I have seen and experienced, I am not cut out to provide a higher or much higher than normal level of care to a child, and don’t feel prepared to do so. But is that “vile”?

          • LJ

            I don’t think you’re the target of her comment :) you definitely weren’t the target of my parent comment re opinions – I was coming back to Booknerd’s comment that opinions cannot/shouldn’t be countered or shown that they may not be opinions that are recommended for society as a whole – a prime example would be ableism/racism/etc, if people have an opinion that racism is desirable then it more than makes sense to show them otherwise.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I stated somewhere in this thread though you might not have seen it that I was commenting on the idea that all opinions are acceptable or ok merely because they are opinions. I was not writing on anything specific and was not talking about you. I’m not even wading into the particulars of what you said and this discussion about ableism.

          • anon just for this

            Thanks for clarifying, I was a little bewildered!

          • Mara

            I profoundly disagree that all viewpoints are not worthy of space and dialogue. You don’t convince anyone by telling them their views have to conform.

            If you believe their views are wrong, you engage with them. Shutting people up just makes them think you’re a jerk, and they become even more entrenched in the enforced silence you’ve imposed.

            We are getting less open to discussion and it’s a bad trend. If you look at the views you hold dear, you probably didn’t have those views your whole life. You had the time and space to think, discuss, and perhaps change your mind.

            That should be extended to people who aren’t there yet.

          • Amy March

            All viewpoints are worth of space and dialogue? Really? So we all have to just listen to racists, and its our job to teach them and engage with them and help them learn?

            Nah. I’m team enforce silence. Sometimes you learn better by not speaking. And sometimes your need to learn by sharing harmful view points just isn’t as important as someone else’s need to not hear those kinds of statements.

          • Mara

            I often think the shushing that goes on here is over the top.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            That might be a legit point but that’s different from arguing that all views no matter what they are deserve space and dialogue. Did Nazi Germany deserve a forum to explain why they believed Jews should be murdered?

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Hell to the no.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Engaging with racists and helping them learn is not my ministry.

          • Mara

            I don’t know how my saying we should engage with all viewpoints made you all take a giant leap to racism. Come on. You have to know that wasn’t what I was talking about.

            There is just a lot of shushing that goes on here and it’s counterproductive.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I’m responding to what YOU wrote. What else does engaging all viewpoints as you stated mean if not those that are also undesirable like racism? You wanna qualify that statement then?

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            If I believe someone’s views are wrong I absolutely do not have to engage with them. I do not owe anyone an audience, particularly when their views are harmful and damaging and violent. I maintain the right to protect myself from ideas that are harmful and I don’t have to give space to any and every view simply because it exists.

            For example, I do not engage with racists who believe I have to prove I deserve to exist. It’s emotionally traumatizing to engage and debate with someone over my right to exist. I do not hold space for that kind of opinion. I do not entertain that kind of opinion.

            Also: I’m perfectly fine with people whose views I find contemptible thinking I’m a jerk. If they already don’t think I have the right to exist, why would them thinking I’m a jerk matter?

          • Meg Keene

            I’d really like if we could stop using the word icky here. It’s a reality that many if not most pregnant women get genetic tests, with the idea that they will consider abortion if the tests have particularly bad outcomes. What a “bad outcome” is varies by person, but it is fully within pregnant women’s rights to make that decision for themselves.

            I would not bring a child into this world if I knew they would die a painful death by four, for example, which is what Tay-Sachs does. I fully support other people’s right to make a different decision, but don’t call my choice icky.

          • Booknerd

            I was just using the language reflected in the top two posts but no problem, its a subjective and problematic word. I agree that for a lot of people abortion is the right choice based on the result of genetic testing. Personally myself it’s the choice that I would go with as well. I’m not disagreeing with anything that Stephanie is saying, I just didn’t agree with telling someone they needed to “fix” their opinion.

          • Meg Keene

            Well, look. We are all comfortable saying that people need to fix their opinions if they’re overtly racist or sexist. Ableist… we’re not so good with. We need to be better.

            My reaction wouldn’t have been as fierce as Stephanie’s, but she is 100% entitled to it… because you know what? Ableism is really hurtful to real people (like her). I think we’d all know that was the case if the comment had been similar but about race. That doesn’t mean the original commenter is somehow morally wrong, just we need to learn how to speak about these issues without hurting people… me included!

            I can argue all day if any spaces on the internet are safe. But even assuming they are, I think it’s much more important to keep spaces safe for marginalized folks. ALL THAT SAID, I think we all need to get better educated about these issues, and what kind of language is and isn’t hurtful. I for sure don’t know enough, and do totally understand the OP’s fears.

          • anon just for this

            Thanks, Meg. I gotta admit – I am feeling a little attacked and overwhelmed by these (totally valid) responses. Ableism is not something I understand well, apparently, and not something I would have ever pegged myself as being. I thought these anxieties would be kosher to share and discuss, but it sounds like the wording I used and/or (?) perspective I hold is hurtful. Not sure… trying to learn more.

          • LJ

            You’re being incredibly gracious and objective about all this. A+ PR-handling and humility. A++++

          • heyqueen

            You know, I’m also surprised at the responses you got. These are legitimate fears that many people have and express. I feel like you were jumped on unfairly.

          • Booknerd

            I agree with you 100%, that it is perfectly fine to tell someone to fix their opinion if it’s by and large offensive to a large group of people, ie. sexism or racism. I understand Ableism is a real problem, however I don’t see this as the issue. The issue is if someone is prepared to handle all that comes with a special needs child. If they are prepared emotionally, financially, and physically able to give the kind of care necessary. I think that’s something that every parent should question before making the choice to have a child. There are many variables that will effect how a child is raised, and having the self awareness to realize you might not be cut out for all of it, or require further research or soul searching before making that commitment is a very brave thing to admit.
            I know that there are no real “safe” places on the internet, but I do think as a community APW has had a history of being less judgmental and more open minded even when discussing controversial topics!

          • anon just for this

            Hey, Mods – could we get an article on this? Seems like this thread has really touched a nerve. Upthread, downthread – it seems like there are a ton of different opinions and viewpoints, and not all of us are sure how to respectfully discuss disability while still owning our own feelings on parenting.

          • Sarah

            Many pregnant women get SCREENINGS very few get actual tests. My insurance covered 1st trimester screening but would only cover those pricey tests if I was 35,had questionable screening etc. so anon’s fears aren’t unreasonable. And some states like mine only allow terminations past a certain time if kid has life threatening condition.

          • “It’s a reality that many if not most pregnant women get genetic tests,
            with the idea that they will consider abortion if the tests have
            particularly bad outcomes.”

            This is a completely inaccurate assumption. Many women get those tests that that they can adequately prepare for the birth, with the best medical care from the outset to ensure the best outcomes. Termination is not always the endpoint.

          • Meg Keene

            Exactly.

        • anon just for this

          Thanks for the support. I definitely feel guilt and shame for my point of view; it’s struggling with the reasoning behind it (without being rude or hurtful or offensive) and trying to talk it out (again, while using compassion and being mindful) that I seem to have problems with. I think I am pretty welcome to differing points of view, but it sucks feeling like the way I feel is “wrong” because I feel I wouldn’t be a good parent to someone who requires more care than I am able/willing to give.

          • Violet

            You mentioned similar fears should some accident befall your partner, and you are still choosing to be with your partner, though. I certainly don’t feel equipped should my partner encounter a life-altering accident tomorrow, but I’m embracing the fear and loving him anyway. I think that’s the thing- it’s really no different when it’s a kid. It feels different because you don’t know that kid yet (the way you know your partner). So I agree with Amy March in that I think your fear may actually be about some other things. (Like, maybe a fear you won’t love your kid enough to overcome the inevitable hardships that arise in any kind of parenting, disability or not?)

          • Sara

            Or perhaps one believes they could handle caring for 1 person who befell a “life-altering accident”, but not two (or three, etc) people who are high-needs and dependent for life. I feel confident committing to the long-term care of my fiance if I had to. But my fiance and a severely disabled child? Or two? I try to be aware of my limits and I believe my limit is one.

          • Violet

            I dunno, I’ve got my partner, my sister, my mom, my aunt, a cousin, and a friend that, if anything happened to them, I’d really want to help out however I could. I wouldn’t be able to do everything, or finance everything, or do it perfectly, but I’d try. So I guess once I’m at that point of realizing I’d do what I could for those I love, it doesn’t seem such a stretch to add one more person to that list. But obviously everyone’s different about what they feel they could take on. But I’m not about to stop feeling close to people out of a concern that, in future, they might need me.

          • Sara

            Valid point, and I would do the same for any of my existing family members. I will not stop “feeling close” to anyone, my caution is limited to the decisions that are under my own absolute control.

          • rg223

            Yeah, but there’s a difference between caring for someone you already know and love if something happens to them, and activity bringing a new human into existence that you’re not sure you can stretch yourself to care for. I can totally see someone being okay with dealing with disability or end of life situations etc for a partner, but not wanting to make the leap of creating a whole new person AND making that commitment to care for them.

          • Violet

            Exactly! I actually think that’s the key difference- whether you already know the person or not (as opposed to whether the person has a disability or not). If you know the person, you can be like, “Yes, they’re awesome, whatever life throws at us, it’ll be worth it.” When you don’t know them yet, it’s nerve-wracking! For me, anyway. But it’s not about disability, it’s about, how am I going to handle the inevitable challenges, all for someone I don’t even know yet? And for some people, the answer is, very logically, to not introduce said unknown person into their lives, if they don’t feel equipped to take on those challenges.

          • anon on this one

            I get your perspective and, frankly, hold a fairly similar one. I don’t think it’s from ignorance, however. Let me give two of the reasons:
            1) Very good family friends have a child with cerebral palsy — there are many wonderful things about him, but there is no doubt that he will live with them forever, that they have to make contingency plans for when they die, and that it has impacted their life and the life of their older son. Do they regret their decision to raise their younger child? Not in my earshot, but it made me very aware of what a severe disability can do to a family.
            2) Similarly, a friend from elementary school has a child with a genetic disorder similar to Tay-Sachs that was not diagnosed until after birth (I have no idea what they would have done if it had been diagnosed earlier). After several years of in-home care, with many aids, they’ve moved her to a institutional facility — they live close by and can visit regularly, but still, it was and is a hard decision but one they had to make to both care for their child and be able to live their lives too.

            I could name other examples, but the larger point is this: these experiences terrify me, and make me very concerned about the prospect of raising a child with a severe disability that is unknowable before birth. I have friends who are parenting kids on the autism spectrum — some more severe, some less so. It’s an added challenge. And I have friends who are parents who will say that as hard as parenting has been, they are grateful their kids are healthy. I think it’s the opposite side of the coin, and it’s not wrong to express fear about this side of parenting.

          • heyqueen

            Everything you said!

          • Booknerd

            I think it is a brave thing to admit. I am currently sucked into watching Parenthood for the first time and it is really making me think about the possibility about raising a child on the autism spectrum, and the challenges that different mental and physical disabilities could present. I am solid in my belief that if there was a genetic condition discovered in pregnancy I would be comfortable aborting if it significantly affected the length and comfort of a child’s life, but past that the grey area is very very scary.

      • anon just for this

        Hi guys, OP here. Seems like this has really struck a chord. I tried to phrase my original comment in a way that was kind and inoffensive while still expressing my own, very real, parenting fears. However, it seems that it didn’t come across that way at all – and maybe was not as kind as I thought – and I offer my sincere apologies for that. I didn’t mean to be hurtful and came from a place of not knowing much about disabilities, other than experience with a cousin’s profound developmental disability. Stephanie is absolutely correct that I don’t know much about ableism, and certainly didn’t expect that my comment, or perspective, was ableist. It sounds like I have a lot to learn, and I will take the rest of today to educate myself about my misconceptions, and hopefully confront my own blind spots.

        To be perfectly honest, though, I still just don’t see myself as equipped to handle a profoundly disabled child or the many struggles (and even the many profound joys) that come with it. I didn’t expect judgment for that, but recognize that it may be an ableist perspective (?). Again agreeing with Stephanie, as with anything, disability is a spectrum, and I recognize that all abilities are different and can offer their own struggles and joys. The experience that I’ve had within my family (which definitely doesn’t represent ALL disabilities or ALL families, but seems to be the standard in my community) is that the expectations and level of care for many severely/moderately disabled (mentally or physically) individuals, regardless of if they are born that way or if it is later in life, is much higher than I’m personally prepared to offer, or that I could ever realistically afford. And, to address some other comments below, this fear extends to any future extended or “higher needs” care that could happen down the line as well (traumatic brain injury, losing a limb, paralyzing, etc.) and also applies, theoretically, to my partner.

        Again, just wanted to address that this is my singular perspective, and is my opinion. I personally am afraid and would feel woefully unprepared to parent a child who is high needs; I don’t think that others should be or are. I don’t see people with disabilities as the issue, it’s my willingness and ability to parent someone with said disabilities that is.

        • Violet

          Okay, this might seem like a cop-out response, but in the case of your fears, I’d encourage you to take away the idea of “disability” completely. Look, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, times of success and times of struggle. Think of it like a continuum. All kids need to go to the doctor at times- some may need to go more. All parents help their kids out from time to time- some parents may help more. All parents need a break sometimes- some parents may need more. All people encounter times of illness- some encounter more. But try not to think of things in absolute terms as “able” or “disabled,” because I think that’s where you’re getting yourself caught up (and then you end up othering people who are diagnosed or labeled with disabilities).
          You just can’t base these parenting assumptions off of one variable, like disability status. For example, I have a cousin with, you might say, “failure to launch” now that she’s graduated college. Her parents are continuing to take care of her, but guess what? She has no disability.
          I know a number of parents very intimately who have kids that you might describe as having disabilities. Are their lives hard at times? Sure. But I’d argue most parents will say their lives are hard at times. Do they experience times of profound joy in parenting their kids? Yes, just like all parents. I know these kiddos (in some cases, now as young adults) and they’re Awesome. Just, truly fun, funny, lovable people. I’m afraid of lots of aspects of parenting, but I’m no more afraid of parenting people as cool as they are as I am afraid of aspects of parenting anyone else.

        • heyqueen

          I can see how what you said was received negatively, and I think everyone has made excellent suggestions about not othering disabled individuals shifting how we view them. However, I also understood what you were trying to say, and I like the distinction you made as not seeing people with disabilities as the issue. You understand your limitations as a parent, and I can’t fault you for feeling how you feel.

        • From this additional comment, it feels to me that you do have a pretty specific fear of disability in the general sense—you seem very afraid of your own capacity to handle, help, or support someone (be that child, parent, spouse, or self) who has or develops a disability. I can understand that, but I do feel that at least some of that fear comes from not having a knowledge of disability, the disability community, the support systems available, etc.

          For a lot of people, the knowing doesn’t happen until they’re dropped into the thick of it. But, because you’ve broached the subject that this fear is a specific weight against your having kids (or your desire to have kids?), I’d echo Stephanie’s call to learn more about disability. Because life *will* throw disabilities at you or the people you love at some point, in some form or another, along a spectrum of intensity. They may be temporary, like a broken arm, or they may be permanent, like a loss of vision or hearing due to age or illness. And living with the fear doesn’t seem like it’s doing you any favors.

          I say this as someone currently working at a research center that specializes in accessibility solutions for people with disabilities, who really had no concrete knowledge of the disability community (though it technically includes me, as someone with mental illness). I’m sure there are a lot of misconceptions I still have about disabilities, but the majority of them I’ve had to confront are products of ignorance and the general stereotyping still heavily at work when it comes to the disability community.

          Regardless of whether further education changes your mind about kids, if this is something that’s weighing this heavily on you, then it’s worth the work of unpacking that fear and learning where it’s coming from.

          • Anon for the Tough Stuff

            #Truth. Everyone gets sick or injured at some point. The question is “when,” not “if.”

        • Sara

          “the expectations and level of care for many severely/moderately disabled
          (mentally or physically) individuals, regardless of if they are born
          that way or if it is later in life, is much higher than I’m personally
          prepared to offer, or that I could ever realistically afford.”

          ^^^ this, and thank you again for being so honest. It is selfless, not selfish, to realize this about yourself (ourselves, as I’m with you on this) and then make a decision NOT to potentially place a high-needs child in your care. This whole discussion is messy but it’s very much A Real Thing, and different people can handle different levels of dependence, and it’s good to be self-aware about your own limitations.

        • Marcela

          As someone with a disability who has the possibility of passing it on to any children I may have, I feel you. I am terrified about this possibility. I saw what my family went through with me and what my partner still deals with on a daily basis. I don’t know if I could handle it if my child were to end up with the same condition I have and I would know that I gave it to them. This is not something I’ve discussed with my partner because I am ashamed of the perspective.

      • lindy

        I’m single, so this isn’t an immediate concern in my life. However, my younger brother has a rare (not very medically understood or treatable, and can’t be diagnosed in utero) disability that means he has the mental capacity of a 6-year-old and will forever. This is a genetic condition passed on through the mitochondria – that means I’m a carrier.

        I love my brother. I’m planning my life and my future around the idea that I will eventually be his caretaker when our parents die or are no longer capable themselves. I am fine with that, I’m grateful that I’m capable of it and that he won’t end up on the streets like someone with his disease would without a strong safety net.

        However, I know exactly how difficult this has been for my parents throughout his childhood and into his young adulthood. I also know exactly how much difficulty I’ll be signing on for when I end up taking him in – which will likely be right during the years I am parenting my own children. For that reason – because I don’t want to risk having a child with this disease myself, especially while caring for an adult who has it – I am sincerely considering not having biological children, no matter how much I want to.

        If I foster or adopt, there is certainly a possibility that child will develop severe medical needs after coming into my life. Of course I would take care of that. But I’m just trying to think about the course of action that mitigates the risk. If that means not having a biological child because I know exactly what I might be signing up for, I think that’s okay.

        • heyqueen

          I’m in a very similar situation to you, and I think you give a very important perspective.

      • How is suggesting abortion as a solution not ableist? “If you’re afraid of raising a kid with genetic disability X, don’t be, you can make sure it never happens. If you’re afraid of disability Y, well that’s ableist.” My aunt has Down’s Syndrome, and she deserves a life free from discrimination just as much as anyone else.
        Secondly, I just want to say that I found both of your comments downthread more helpful than this one, because rather than just identifying an ableist comment, like you did here, you defined ableism (stereotyping the lives of all disabled people as dependent on their parents and causing more hardship for their parents than non-hardship). Downthread you also gave some suggestions for how to avoid ableist bias (by learning more about the wide range of lives/lifestyles of ppl with disabilities). Obviously you don’t have to always be educating ppl on how to avoid ableism, but if your goal was the same in all 3 of your posts in this thread, I think the other 2 were more effective bc they went beyond “you should feel icky about saying those things.”

        • another anon

          The comment on abortion really jumped out at me too. I can’t see how suggesting genetic testing and, potentially, abortion as a solution is less ableist. It’s actually pretty disturbing. Down’s Syndrome and CF are common enough reasons for abortion, which I see as a strong indication of ableism.

    • Amy March

      I don’t disagree at at with Stephanie, but is this really about whether your kid might have needs you don’t feel equipped to deal with? Or is it more free floating anxiety that has found a convenient home in this worry? It might be worth exploring that issue with a therapist. I could be completely off-base, but it seems to me that missing out on being a mom because of worry 10 steps down the line without a lot of basis to it is just hard and sad and worth really pondering.

    • emilyg25

      I was scared of having a child with profound disabilities. I think when you’re already facing a giant unknown like parenthood, you just don’t know what you can handle. And yeah, if you don’t spend a lot of time around people with disabilities, you probably don’t have an accurate perception of what their lives are like. I will say that parenting any child is hard, and parenting any child is also full of surprise and joy. One of the scariest parts of being a parent is that you really have no idea, at any point, what will happen. It’s a tremendous leap of faith.

      • Anon

        Yes, this is what I resonate with as well – when you decide to be a parent, you really have to be ready for almost anything, including a child who is anywhere along the spectrums of abilities. I think that so many parents assume that their baby will be healthy and not have any disabilities, and I personally think it’s good to realize that anything can happen. I also think it’s good to do research about the most-likely scenarios, because fear-based anxiety doesn’t do anyone any good, but I do think you have to sign on for possibly dealing with the worst-case scenario (not just in terms of severe disabilities, but health conditions, scary personality traits as they get older, etc.) when you sign on for being a parent. And if you don’t want to do that, then it’s perfectly fine to make the choice not to be a parent.

    • Jess

      Hey – I get this struggle. It’s not uncommon, because ableism is not uncommon. The stories we hear are often brushstrokes of “Hero parent sacrifices life for disabled child!” which is super ableist and super fear provoking for those of us who are like, “I’m not superwoman, I am barely getting by on my own, I cannot do this thing.”

      The part of you that feels icky about it knows that it’s not great to think about other people as burdens. Ableism is in a lot of things, and while we are getting better at finding sexism and racism, it’s not something we know how to look for.

      I think there are a lot of fears of the unknown in parenthood, of feeling capable of meeting needs, of losing yourself. I think it’s ok to feel fear about something or have doubt in your abilities, and I think a lot of parents-to-be feel lots of fears about things they haven’t experienced yet.

      I agree with Stephanie in that education can help calm some of those fears. Having a child with disability does not mean sacrificing to be a 24/7 nursemaid in most situations. There are situations where it can, sure, but for the most part? Not really. Every kid is going to have needs, some needs are going to be more than you can provide and some aren’t. That’s true no matter what, and at the end of the day, kids are kids.

      For me, knowing what to expect really reduces my fears. Meeting people with disabilities, reading stories from people with disabilities or people caring for people with disabilities can help to normalize that situation for you.

      • anon just for this

        “The stories we hear are often brushstrokes of “Hero parent sacrifices life for disabled child!” which is super ableist and super fear provoking for those of us who are like, “I’m not superwoman, I am barely getting by on my own, I cannot do this thing.'”

        Wow, yep yep yep. That is the perspective where I was coming from, exactly. And had no idea that it was ableist! Thanks for your comment – lots to chew on, here.

        • Jess

          For sure! Having family members and friends with various types of disabilities, I hadn’t really considered it like that until I read this piece on The Toast, and realized it also applied to the way we talk about parents (linked below). To me, they were just aunt and uncle, or cousin, or teammate. It’s really hard to realize there’s this “other” group of parents of children with disabilities that some of us fear becoming, while even knowing those same parents and children in our lives.

          http://the-toast.net/2016/04/14/disability-representation-inspiration-porn/

    • One thing to consider – you never know what can happen down the line. My mom gave birth to 4 babies that were perfectly healthy – no issues. My baby sister suffered a near drowning at age 12, causing a traumatic brain injury that put her in a coma. When she woke up, she was essentially a baby – she didn’t even know how to swallow. It took years of therapies, doctors, medications and now my sister is an independent 26 year old, but my mom sacrificed for years to get her there. Stuff happens and we often don’t know what we’re made of until we’re in the moment and we go through it.

      • TeaforTwo

        This applies to all relationships, too. My husband didn’t have a disability when I married him, but he could be in an accident tomorrow or suffer a stroke, and require my dedicated care for the rest of our lives (neatly covered off by the “in sickness” and “for worse” portions of our vows).

        No one picks their parents, but many many people find themselves being caregivers or coordinating care for aging parents with a range of disabilities.

        Having meaningful long-term relationships of any kind means accepting that you can’t control what happens to the people you love, and that you may have to offer more care or make more sacrifices than you knew going in.

        • anon now

          Of course, but you can also decide not to have kids because you’re wary of your own ability to handle those unknowns or because you’re already obligated to parents/siblings/whomever and that’s the reach of your capacity. In a time when women have reproductive agency, they get to make that call. And while some might call this acting from fear, I think of it as acting from love: recognizing your own limits is a form of self-love and love for others too.

          • Violet

            The only reason why I see it as acting based on fear is that I haven’t heard anyone say, “Yep, I’m done making friends, because I just won’t be able to handle if they fall ill and I am needed for support or care.” If I saw someone truly say, “I can only handle taking care of X amount of people, therefore I will limit myself to only X amount of close relationships,” then I see an amount of logic. Once it becomes about excluding certain people from their lives based on an imagining of a worst possible scenario, it starts to look more like a fear response to me. One that seems to have settled on “people with disabilities” as the repository for fear, when really it seems more like a fear of any life event that causes strain or hardship. But strain and hardship are inevitable in life. I think trying to limit hardship by limiting your relationships with others seems rooted in fear.

          • anon now

            I think there’s a rather significant different between pitching in a few shifts to help a friend and being the primary caregiver for a child/partner/parent/sibling. I wish we lived in a society that thought more about who the primary (non-paid) caregivers for single people are when family can’t or won’t do it, but the bottom line is that embarking on a friendship, even a very close one, does not create an obligation of care that marrying or having a child does (many feel obligated to parents and siblings, but one could get out of that in a way that one cannot as easily slide away from partners and children).

            To wit, I’ve had a number of friends with temporary or lifelong
            illnesses/disabilities, ranging from cancer and TBI to torn ACLs and
            amputated limbs. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in hospital rooms and
            at their homes and doing grocery runs and comforting their partners. I
            do all of this willingly. But I also know that I can beg off if
            necessary or shorten my visit or switch a helping shift. This isn’t an
            option when it’s your partner or child, at least not regularly, and
            that’s important to recognize. Is this awesome? Nope. But it’s reality. And if you know you can be the primary caregiver for a limited number of people, then it’s perfectly rational and–I think–acting from love, to hold to that limit.

          • Violet

            It is a rather significant difference! But I see it as a difference of degree, and not a difference of kind. Maybe it’s because I know about the respite care and social services that make sure parents of kids with disabilities aren’t “on call” 24/7 for an extended period of time, but what I see as an arbitrary line between disabled kid versus any other health/medical issue is what’s bumming me out. Let’s be real a sec- if the parents of a disabled kid tragically died in a car accident., would there be NO ONE to care for that child? Nope, it would get worked out. If I end up the parent of a disabled child, I fully intend on working out what that extra care would look like, so that there are as many breaks as I need, knowing how much I can handle.
            So I totally agree with you that it’s different. In my mind, it’s just not *that* different from the other kinds of things that happen with people we love.

        • Sarah

          In PA a man recently shot himself. His wife of several decades was hit by a rock (asshole teenagers dropping shit off bridges) and she essentially is mentally a child now. It’s a horrible story for many reasons. If someone knows they won’t be able to deal with this kind of situation and can prevent it by not reproducing that is best.

    • Eh

      I agree with the people who have suggested that you do some research. I have a disability and medical condition (I would not say it’s high needs but it does cause extra stress), I have worked as a support worker for people with disabilities, and I have a niece with Down Syndrome. I know that my children are at higher risk for having the same disability and same medical condition as me (because they are genetic). That has prepared me for that possibility (and I already know my daughter has the same medical condition). I know that I will be able to handle it because the supports that are available now are better than the supports that were available when I was a kid. There are many programs out there to support families so parents don’t get burnt out, or, if you have the money, you can pay for others to manage the child’s care and just be a mom. The program I worked for allowed adults with physical and intellectual disabilities live in the community (in their own apartments), so parents or siblings did not need to take care of the person (crucial as parents age).

    • sofar

      You are getting jumped on for this, and, while I agree that our culture is HUGELY ableist, I think your post touches on something important:

      Too many people don’t take the time to consider all the health and financial needs their child may have (disabled or not). Many of us don’t live near family or near cities that have resources for the needs their kids may have.

      Many people think about all the “what ifs” and say: “You know what? I want to be a parent no matter what. I’ll do my best, no matter what the challenges are and figure it out as I go.”

      And others say: “You know what? I’d only want to be a parent under only very specific circumstances — namely, I have enough money, my child is born and stays healthy and the worst she ever goes through is a broken arm, my spouse and I remain married and healthy ourselves, and I always have a job that allows me flexibility to be there for my kid when he needs me. If even one of these conditions is not met, I don’t want to be a parent. I know that’s not realistic, so I’m not going to be a parent.”

      Both are valid. And, the way I read your post, that’s the point you were making.

      • Anon for the Tough Stuff

        Yes. While I think every parent-to-be has those lingering “what if” questions, this is one (potential disability) I’ve thought about a lot too. Part of the reason is that we currently live in a state that has horrible schools and atrocious social services (shout out Louisiana!). I’ve had disabled friends who work in disability advocacy lament this ad nauseam, a new coworker with a disabled child leave her job after less than six months due to the systemic lack of support here, and friends who detailed stories of having to fight tooth and nail for basic school accommodations. Combine that with the fact that FH and I have no family within 500 miles for respite and support and I don’t think it’s ableism exactly – it’s being realistic that while we would love and care for anyone who falls into our sphere of family, it would be harder here than in other circumstances. And the fact that Zika is making it’s way here adds a whole new urgency to the thought. If you’re on the fence anyway (as the original poster was) then can these things be legitimately considered? Or is any consideration of future disability ableism?

        • Amy March

          Assuming that having a child with a disability = no independence for parents or that having a higher level of needs makes you a caretaker and not just a mom are, to me, what I think the issue is with.

          I also think characterizing Stephanie’s comments as sort of a well gosh then I guess any consideration of future disability is ableism seems problematically like complaining about how you can’t say anything because of the PC police.

          • R

            I didn’t get that at all. Judging from the OP’s responses throughout this thread, I would say that that last question was nothing less than genuine and certainly not a complaint about the PC police. I think it’s a completely legitimate question. The response may be that she should spend some time researching, educate herself, and come to a decision on that herself, which is fine – it sounds like she’s completely willing to do that.

          • R

            Sorry, it looks like I’m confused. I thought “anon for the tough stuff” was the original poster, “anon just for this” — my mistake. I can’t delete my last comment bc I don’t have a discus account.

        • Lmba

          Can certainly see how your realization that your community may not be willing to help meet the needs of a child with a disability or serious medical condition makes the whole prospect tougher to think about. The thing about having a family is that you may find your current situation doesn’t work for one of you at some point, for a wide range of reasons. So, you find a way to fight for what you need, or you pack up and go somewhere else. Everybody needs to make these types of choices in some way, whether it is switching careers due to toxic work culture, homeschooling because your kid and institutional structures don’t mix, moving to a big city because the small town you’re in is normalizing racism for your children, whatever. It seems really big and scary when it’s something that we don’t know on an intimate level, but when it’s your family, it’s just your regular life, and you do what you need to do to ensure everyone’s needs are met to an acceptable level.

        • To avoid abelism (in my understaing) I think instead of “future disability” we conceptualize is as not JUST disability that might be relevant here. Personally, I was a colicky baby (cried for 6 months straight) then had ear infections as an infant (doctor once a week for two years, almost lost my hearing) and then had a chronic health issue most of my life. I was not “disabled” but I was a medical handful. Perhaps we can expand the thinking beyond the disability trope, and realize any number of things can create lasting health/care/mental health issues that require x amount of ongoing support.

          Then we aren’t like “OMG disabled child I could never” and instead look at “could I handle whatever life throws our way with kids” and think long and hard about having kids in LA, in your current family situation, etc.

          • clarebar

            Najva makes an excellent point. Disability is part of the human experience, and even if you consider yourself fully “able,” you will likely experience disability personally at some point. Thinking of “the disabled” as some group separate and apart from you/your ideal life is at the heart of ableism.

            I was born with a disability and I work in the disability rights field.The OP is entitled to express her fears. Disability can be scary. Ignorance can be too. That’s why calling out ableism is important. Reading this whole thread, I was happily surprised at how aware many of the commenters are of the dangers of unquestioned ableism.

      • anon now

        I think this is important. And while I think it’s impossible to know what things will be like with your own kid, I think it’s possible to anticipate situations that are more or less challenging for you through the proxy known as life and relationships with other people. For example, I was much better with my grandparents who retained their mental capacity late in life than I was with the grandparent who did not. I don’t view this as a good thing, but I do view it as information. The ability to engage intellectually is hugely important to who I am and to the relationships I have. This means that I can anticipate that it would be harder for me to raise a non-verbal child or a child with limited mental faculties.

        I don’t write this proudly, but I write this realistically and honestly. It means that for me to take the leap to have children, I have to be ready to embrace and raise a child even if that child is unable to communicate, much less participate in intellectual conversations (which, yes, is part of what excites me about kids, getting to raise them to be independent thinkers, whatever other trouble that may cause). I don’t think thinking about this ahead of time is a bad thing, I think it’s important to come to terms with it before bringing a child into the world. And to decide not to have to kids if that’s not something I can handle–whether it’s known at birth or occurs later. As the adult capable of making decisions, I should not decide to have kids unless I’m ready for all the possible challenges. At least that’s how I view it.

        • sofar

          Yep. Just yesterday in the “marrying down” thread, someone was like, “Yeah, if the person has a blue collar job and no advanced degree, I wouldn’t marry them. This might make me seem snobby in other people’s eyes, but I know this about myself, and intellectualism is important to me.”

          I don’t recall anyone jumping all over her and recommending she get therapy.

          • Sheryldthompson1

            <<fb… ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!iw370t:….,…….

      • emilyofnewmoon

        Something I think about a lot, and the article touches on this in a very thoughtful way, is that women end up being caretakers a lot of the time, especially when challenging health situations come up. With children, with aging parents, etc. I think there is something to be said for knowing that, if there is a situation you CAN control, you will opt out. As you say, knowing what aspects of parenthood you are or are not ready for is a GOOD thing, and something I think a lot of people don’t really take into account.

        So, for example, I know I will most likely end up being a caretaker to my parents at some point–possibly my partner–and I’m ready for that, even if it is daunting. It’s possible I will end up taking care of a child–life is long, and full of surprises. I don’t want to put myself in the position of being a caretaker to anyone else on purpose. Women haven’t had reproductive agency for very long in recorded history. People have many personal, deep-in-their-heart reasons for having kids or not. (Mine is the caretaking thing+overpopulation. Choose your own adventure!) I took the OP’s post not to be ableist, but to be real about what they might choose for themselves.

        Also this became a bit of a rant about women being able to choose their lives without a lot of societal input, but I hold that fear is informative.

    • Alynae

      I will say that this has been a very real fear for me. I don’t want to get pregnant until I have a better peace for myself and my partner about what we feel like we are able to handle, what we feel is important for quality of life for us and our children. How do you protect a child before its born best? Is there a line? What is the line? How do you know? What about the things you don’t know. And then real life happens are there are care accidents and disease and that is terrifying. It is a terrifying unknown abyss and definitely part of parenting and I know its so out of control, but also, it feels controlled as long as I don’t have kids…
      And I see families who have differently abled kids and they are so happy with their lives. And what if I’m not “good enough” to be that parent? It is scary.

    • Sara

      This is towards the top on my list of reasons I am not having children. You are not alone. I think about this a lot, actually. What I say out loud is, “Oh, I don’t want kids” but what I really mean is “If I could have a perfectly healthy, happy baby GIRL who would not consume my entire life, I would. But there are no guarantees, so I’m not.” Of course I never say that out loud and I’m afraid to even scroll down and read the responses to your honest comment… but again, you’re not alone. Your personal reason is as good as any.

      • Amy March

        You should really read the responses, especially Stephanie’s. You did just say it out loud to a lot of people. Refusing to learn how not to offensively stereotype an entire group of people is not great.

        • Sara

          I am reading them, and listening. But I don’t avoid saying it “out loud” to people in person because I believe my viewpoint is wrong, it’s because I am afraid of the same backlash seen here.

        • Booknerd

          How is she stereotyping an entire group of people? She just said she only wants to have a healthy female child. Because she realizes that there are too many variables out of her control, she is not having children. I think that’s a way better option than having a child you aren’t emotionally equipped to raise.

          • heyqueen

            Sorry if I accidentally downvoted you Booknerd. These phone keyboards >_>. Ultimately, APW is just not the space to voice those fears or anxieties. Which is completely fine as I don’t necessarily see it as a 100% “safe space”, and it doesn’t have to be.

            I don’t think you, the anon up thread, or Sara are wrong in how you feel. It’s important that we support the disabled and those with disabled family
            However, individuals should also have the right to express that they don’t have the capacity to deal with it, or that a certain situation is just not what they want for THEIR life. And again, I make the point that it’s only in regard to their own personal life. I don’t think expressing what you can handle in your situation is ableist. Do we consider women who chose to terminate pregnancies that have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome ableist?

          • Lmba

            Re: terminating a pregnancy where the unborn child likely has DS

            This woman may totally be ableist. I wouldn’t say that she necessarily is (there are non-ableist reasons for making that choice) and I wouldn’t say that she should be denied the abortion. But just because feminism supports women’s right to abortion access, doesn’t mean abortion is automatically without ethical complexity in all cases.

            A person who is disgusted or terrified by children with disabilities, or who feels that birthing a child with DS would be shameful/humiliating, or who wouldn’t love the child because they are a “disappointment”… These are ableist reasons for aborting. Doesn’t make the woman a monster, but it’s not ok to gloss over those problematic emotional responses.

            Once again, I’m not suggesting some kind of litmus test for acceptable abortion criteria. I’m just saying that not every person makes choices for socially ethical reasons. It is her right, but that doesn’t make it ethically sound in every instance.

          • obviously this is anon

            I agree that APW is not a completely safe space and doesn’t have to be, and would suggest that there is no such thing as a completely safe space. Meg suggested/ implied above that the priority is / should be to create a safe space for those who are often marginalized. That could be understood to mean that it not a safe space for someone wishing to express mainstream views (such as the ableist ones in play here) that make marginalized people in the APW community feel unsafe.

            What, exactly, does it mean about APW to say “APW is just not the space to voice those fears or anxieties”? I don’t read every article or every comment, but I have been a regular reader for years, and I could not have predicted that the OP’s voicing of her fears etc. was not an appropriate response in the context of APW. Controversial–sure, but not inappropriate for the context.

            To take it further: At this point, what I’m interested in is a discussion of the comments made by mods about abortion as a potential “solution” to the “problem” of a child with a condition diagnosable before birth, but I don’t think APW wants to host such a discussion. Balancing the safety of those who have had an abortion for this reason or who would if faced with the situation with the safety of those who see such a decision as downright wrong and an illustration of eugenics in action is just too hard.

            So is the OP’s post inappropriate because it is too difficult to moderate? Or inappropriate because by now we should all recognize it as ableist and have no obligation to educate her? OR?

          • heyqueen

            I think those that considered the OP’s post as inappropriate or “ableist” probably feel like it’s the latter.

    • Kara E

      Yes, yes, I have. Particularly since I’m related to a couple kids with some intense special needs (both fortunately doing ok) — both of which are at least partially heritable conditions. But I had a kid anyway. I think it’s important to be honest with yourself — and maybe talk to someone professionally to help you unpack what you’re feeling. And honestly, you don’t know who you will wind up with and you’re getting anxious about stuff you can’t control, ever. What if something happens to your partner? Or you? [And honestly, “just a mom” can also be all of these things anyway.

  • Amy March

    So many of my friends have also been surprised to get pregnant within 3 months of “trying” or have said “we weren’t even trying” when they got pregnant. It’s like we get two diametrically opposed options- either you get pregnant the first time you have sex at 15, or it takes years and years in your 30s.

    • Absolutely! I wrote on my personal blog when we were starting to try, and so many friends shared how they’d spent months or years trying to get pregnant, and the different interventions they needed. I really expected it to take about a year, so I was shocked when we got home from Italy and I was pregnant.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        Same! I thought it would take a year. 2 months!!

    • aldeka

      After ten years of sexual activity and zero baby scares, I got pregnant the month after I pulled my IUD. We were only starting trying then because we expected it would take a while! I honestly wasn’t ready for it to happen that quickly. There was much crying.

      Six more weeks till my due date, so, ready or not, here goes.

    • Yet another Meg

      I’m really afraid this is going to be me. We wanted to start trying for a baby in January, but because of travel to Mexico have had to put off starting until..We’ll, now. I’m really afraid it’s going to take us years to have a baby, which makes me super sad and anxious to this k about.

    • TeaforTwo

      That is not necessarily untrue.

      When we were having trouble getting pregnant, everything we read said not to worry until it had been a year, and than 85% of women would get pregnant within a year of trying. Which is true. Except that the distribution across that year isn’t even at all.

      If 100 couples started trying to get pregnant today, 25 of them would succeed in each of the first three months, and after that the chances of success in a given cycle decline quite sharply. So people’s real life stories, even in their thirties, tend to fall into either the “wow, that was faster than I thought!” camp OR the “cry in the bathroom every month for a year or more, spend a bunch of money on fertility treatment” camp.

      • Alexa

        Thanks for sharing; that’s fascinating! (I say as someone who expected to take a long time because my parents struggled for years to conceive and felt a little blindsided when we conceived the first month of trying.)

      • Kara E

        Pretty much. First kid (36) first try, second pregnancy (1.5 years+–and it ended in miscarriage). And now we’re at the $$ stage. Fwiw, for women 35+ they recommendation is to see a doc after 6 month of trying. Apparently first childbirth messed with some crap…

  • Anne

    Thanks for writing this, Jareesa. APW is really hitting home runs with posts this week! I’ve always been on team “I don’t know” when it comes to kids—there are good, logical reasons both to have them and also not to have them, but I’ve never *wanted* them, or rather, never felt the innate desire many women have for them. I do think my husband would be a good father, and we both grew up in great families with strong role models (and two sets of parents who, let’s be real, DEFINITELY want grandchildren). When I was younger, I always assumed that I’d feel more strongly one way or the other when I “grew up,” but at 30 I’m no closer to an innate desire to have children than I was at 20. It’s refreshing to read an account about having children that highlights similar struggles about whether and why to have kids, that also acknowledges that you don’t have to have an innate desire for children to decide it’s right for you to have them.

    • Ella

      The last sentence – We totally accept that from men, right? Men are totally allowed (even expected) to be uninterested in kids until they have them, but women are “supposed to” feel this biological/spiritual need to be a mother.

  • Anna Lindsey

    This. “I told my husband that I was afraid of losing my identity, going broke, losing our connection to each other, and having to sacrifice our dreams for our kids.”

    I’m currently pregnant (on purpose), but this was by far my biggest hangup with the whole idea. It’s difficult to imagine being able to create the parenthood you want when you’re surrounded by examples of the opposite via personal relationships, the media, society, etc. I really had to just commit to doing it our way and jump. And like the original poster, even though we planned for it, that initial positive was a complete shock.

    Now that we’re in the middle of the process, I’m very excited, but I do have days when I wonder what exactly we’ve set in motion. APW was a huge help leading up to and during the decision-making process, and the thing that really stuck with me was from one of the previous posts or comments on pregnancy (can’t remember) that pointed to Dear Sugar’s column on The Ghost Ship that Didn’t Carry Us. It was huge for me.

    http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

    You’ll never know what would’ve happened in the life you didn’t choose, so you make the best choice with the information available and buckle up for the ride. :)

  • Lizzie G

    As a recently married individual who never thought I would be and now as another who is looking ahead to the future as a maybe parent, who never thought I’d be a parent, this spoke to me on a deep level. Thanks for writing this, and thank you for your perspective! I really appreciate it!

  • Her Lindsayship

    “I didn’t suddenly want a baby, but I did start realizing that what I had envisioned as motherhood didn’t have to be my motherhood.”

    I love this! And I love that this article manages to convey your very personal experience in a very relatable way without saying “You’ll change your mind too you’ll seeeeeee!!” Not that I expect anything less from APW but still gotta appreciate it. Thanks for sharing, Jareesa!

    I’ve been in camp #nokids for a few years now, but I also don’t consider my feelings on that matter to be permanent. I was in camp #nomarriage for a while too, and that turned around for many of the same reasons you describe – my now-fiancé’s behavior eventually made it clear that marriage wouldn’t be some kind of trap, it would be an equal partnership. Maybe someday I’ll be convinced that parenthood could be right for me too. Congrats and best of luck to you and your family!

    • Ella

      I agree. I think the key point is that it wasn’t so much that she didn’t want kids/ didn’t like kids, but more she didn’t want to be a mother, until her picture of parenthood gradually expanded to include a future she wanted. So points yet again for feminism! It also leaves space for those who just actually don’t want kids, which is fine too.
      I had a similar experience with marriage in that I saw it as an anti-feminist choice – but gradually changed my mind as 1. I saw examples of feminist marriages and 2. I met someone who I could see myself being married to.

  • heyqueen

    This speaks to me on so many levels. I’ve read more than a handful of books about feminist mothering and not losing my identity as a person when it comes time for us to have a child. As of right now, I feel like I’d be fine to be childless, but I also know that my mind could change. It’s also not my place to make a unilateral decision.

    My absolute biggest fear about having a child is the possibility that something could be wrong with the baby. I’ve had very personal experience with dealing with an extremely ill child, and it’s so emotionally exhausting.

    I know we’ll have a kid with time, but I swing between being horrified at the idea of having to cater to a child 24/7 and awwing at chubby fingers and fat baby faces. Mr. heyqueen grew up in a large family and loved having 3 brothers to be rough and tumble with. I, on the other hand, have one sibling, and I loved being in a small family. I, personally, would have also enjoyed being an only child. He tends to idealize, and I tend to catastrophize haha. But we’ve had tons of discussions about my fears of motherhood and why I have them, and he’s always been there to talk me off a ledge. TLDR; I’m warming up to the idea of a child…. In another 5 years lol.

    • What books on feminist mothering?

      • heyqueen

        One of my favorites so far has been When Mothers Work by Joan K Peters.

      • Anon

        Seconded! I’d love to read something like that as I embark on trying to conceive.

  • KK

    “I didn’t suddenly want a baby, but I did start realizing that what I had envisioned as motherhood didn’t have to be my motherhood.”
    This is why I am starting to actively seek out examples of different styles of parenting/parents/families. I don’t think I have much of a vision of what motherhood is or what I’d want it to be.
    I don’t have many friends with kids, and even fewer that I get to see parenting on a regular basis. I know the only way to really know what it’s like to be a parent is to actually be a parent, but I still think seeing more parents and style of parenting in my daily life would help!
    So far I’m listening to The Longest Shortest Time. Any other suggestions??

    • Did you hear the episode LST did with the founder of Mater Mea? I knew the blog but the LST episode made me run & read the Mater Mea blog immediately. It focuses on Black mothers, but I find the stories to be universal.

      http://www.matermea.com/

      • KK

        Oh yeah, but I never followed up and checked out the blog – good idea!

      • heyqueen

        I love the Mater Mea podcast! I found it while looking through Podcasts in Color one afternoon, and I binged through all of her episodes.

        • I’ve only read the blog but now I have to add the podcast to my list!

    • Carolyn S

      I don’t have kids but I enjoy Totally Mommy, though I would say it doesn’t really cover a wide variety of parenting (just 2 hosts, both pretty similar, part time working moms living in LA with tiny kids/babies)

      • toomanybooks

        Oh, I listen to Totally Mommy as well despite not having kids (probs ever) just because I like Elizabeth Laime’s podcasts.

    • Ashlah

      I’m not sure if it’s quite what you’re looking for, but I really appreciated the book All Joy and No Fun.

    • Sarah

      I advise not over thinking it ?

  • Jess

    “It feels like becoming a wife and a mother are the two hallmarks of womanhood according to mainstream media, and I just wasn’t with all that. In fact, I’d regularly shake my young fist and rail at it. I was a woman regardless of my marital or parental status—I wanted to have that option.”

    This line may represent so much of why growing up and into my college years and really, until I partnered up with somebody who really wants kids, I was very vocal about not having kids.

  • Not Sarah

    I’ve never wanted kids. I’m now 28. I always thought that I could change my mind once I met the right person, which it sounds like is what happened for you. But even after meeting the right person, I still don’t want kids, even though I could see at times how he would make a good co-parent. That really has helped solidify my no kids stance, which is a great sense of peace at last.

  • Jessica

    I love this Jaressa. It captures so many feelings and thoughts I can relate to. Congrats on the new bambino!

  • JC

    Thank you, Jareesa! I relate to this in that, though I’ve always (thought I) wanted kids, being in a relationship where I can see what kind of family we could create together has fostered a totally new sense of excitement at the prospect. It’s hard to describe? Because it’s not about hypothetical “kids” (even though they’re still very much in the future) but about names, and vacations, and if their hair will stick up in the morning like his, and what he’s going to do when one of our kids likes musicals, and what I’m going to do when one of our kids wants to play football, and the way his face lights up when he looks at babies. It’s so real and so much better.

  • Michelle

    Amen to making parenthood what you want it! As I type, we just got back from bringing our one month old to his first baseball game. The vision of parenthood I saw growing up was one in which life goals and dreams were put on hold, and my parents had relatively few interests and friends outside of the “kid zone.” My parents had plans to move tons farm and raise alpacas (no idea where that came from, but hey, a dream is a dream) when my brother and I were out of the house. Then guess what happens? My dad gets pancreatic cancer and dies three months after I start college. His death absolutely has shaped many decisions I have made in my life, but also deeply impacts how I chose to parent. I want my child to be incorporated into our lives and dreams instead of waiting for the “someday,” because my family learned the hard way that someday may never come. We know that our bike touring trips, backpacking, and hiking adventures will be different now that we have a baby, but he will be incorporated into the fabric of our lives instead of being a separate piece.

    • I love this, thanks for sharing :-) My husband and I are big travelers, and we’re looking forward to beginning to travel with our little one, because we don’t want to put that part of our lives on hold. So glad to hear other people are doing it too.

    • Ashlah

      Yes! My husband and I have talked at length about how we will do everything we can to fit our child into our lives, not the other way around. We have examples around us of both (e.g. parents who’ve taken newborns on primitive camping trips vs parents who would never dream of even glamping until their kids are much older), and it’s obvious which ones are happier and which are struggling more with the ways their lives have changed post-kid.

    • Kaitlyn

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your father at such a young age.

  • Alexandra

    I read all the comments. I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my second child, a little girl. I always think it’s kind of sad when people say they don’t want to have children out of fear that the child will have some kind of disability/issue.

    What is life for? To surround yourself with convenience and ease? Plenty of sleep and time for self-actualization? Relationships that are only challenging inasmuch as they prod you towards self-improvement?

    What is life for? To get through it in as perfect health as possible, with plenty of money and anaesthetized pain? To die at the end of old age, painlessly in one’s sleep, surrounded by…I guess one’s surviving pets, since having children was too risky?

    There are many ways to live a meaningful life, and many causes (outside of parenthood) to devote oneself to that will necessitate great sacrifice and difficulty. Having children is not the only way to meaning.

    But never taking any risks is a good way of ensuring there will be very few rewards. These are the things I tell myself when I myself am nervous about the unknown outcomes for this little one kicking my belly right now. I have faith that I will have the courage and the community to face whatever might happen, and try to let go of anxiety about things that are entirely unpredictable and out of my control.

    Whatever she may be, she will be loved.

    • Amy March

      Wow. That’s just about the most unnecessarily judgmental gloss you could possibly put on those comments. How dare you? How dare you tell someone who is afraid she isn’t up to one particular challenge that I guess she must just be looking for comfort and ease? How dare you assume people who don’t decide to have children die alone with pets? How dare you assume the goal is a facile “plenty of sleep” instead of surviving personal struggles, achieving another dream, making time for dedication to people in another way?

      I think you need to seriously check your judgment here. It’s absolutely appalling to read what you think of people who don’t want kids.

      • Alexandra

        There are lots of very good reasons for not wanting kids. I think a bad one, however, is fear of the unknown, and a really bad one is fear of having a child with a disability.

        Also, hi Amy March. I always wonder what it would have been like to take a college class with you actually in the room, if maybe we might be friends…I read your comments every day and consider them highly articulate and well-advised, but I’ve been slammed so frequently and so very, very harshly! Consider my judgment and my audacity checked. Thanks for policing me yet again.

        • Eenie

          Raising another human being is an undertaking, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to decide not to have children because of their fear (/risk) that would bring to their life. What are your acceptable reasons for not having kids?

          ETA: There’s already SO MUCH judgement for people who are decidedly no kids, your original comment came across as “Just wait and see, you’ll change your mind!”

          • Alexandra

            Sure…people’s choices are their choices, and there are a lot of factors. I have a kid myself, it IS a huge undertaking.

            Philosophically, all other things being equal, I think a lot of the people who are on the fence about having kids way underestimate the rewards and way overestimate the cost/risks.

            And I do think, all other things being equal, to make a deliberate decision not to have kids without any other compelling reason beyond just not wanting to deal with the potential problems is…a way to miss out on something awesome.

            Compelling reasons not to have kids? Plenty! Not being in a stable relationship strikes me as a pretty good reason, since being a single parent is generally quite difficult. Though that doesn’t stop everyone–some decide the risk IS worth the reward even in that case.

            Having an extremely compelling career/mission that gives one’s life a lot of meaning and purpose–that makes sense, also. It’s not my choice (and I love my career!) but everyone doesn’t have to be me.

            Having some sort of debilitating mental or physical illness would probably give someone a very good reason not to have children, although my quadriplegic cousin and his wife decided to adopt two of them and they’re having the time of their lives raising them.

            Coming from an unresolved background of abuse in which one doesn’t feel one could raise children without harming them–also a pretty good reason.

            And…gosh, lots of other reasons.

            I always think it’s a lot like the stock market. You can keep your money in lots of different types of investments or just stick it under the mattress, and the choice is yours and many different scenarios are best for different people in different circumstances and with different goals. But to just say, well, I’m not going to invest in the stock market because the economy could tank and I would lose all my money–yeah, I mean, there’s plenty of people with that attitude, and the economy COULD totally tank and people HAVE lost all their money. But…by not investing you’re risking something, too. Risking a huge lack of reward.

          • Amy March

            Seriously with this?

            I take great offense at your question “aren’t we better than that”. I think your definition of “better” is really off.

            But then God forbid someone single dare procreate because apparently that tops the list of acceptable reasons to be terrified of having a kid?

            It seems to me like you’re trying to say that you think the rewards of children are worth the risks, but can’t seem to do that without judging and disparaging everyone who assesses the situation differently.

          • emilyofnewmoon

            Okay actually the stock market analogy is totally false, and putting a child in the “risk/reward” category makes it sound like you view having a child as a means to have cool life experiences, which seems way more selfish than someone choosing not to have a child. Also, here is a great thing: whether someone chooses to not have a child because of career, health, relationship, a genetic factor, just doesn’t feel like it–the reason isn’t really your business. The end result is the same: no child. So I’d say, enjoy your children, and back out of other people’s reasoning. Women get enough nonsense about their life choices, and it’s not like the world is lacking in babies.

          • Eenie

            Yes. This. You worded this better than I could :)

          • Alexandra

            Well sheesh. Been reading outraged comments all day in my email. Couldn’t respond to anything until I got home from work. Kind of have my tail tucked between my legs now.

            I dunno. Can’t really manage a rebuttal, except that I think in a general way it’s wise to try to make one’s life about something larger than oneself in some way. There’s lots of ways to do that, but having kids tends to be the default.

            I didn’t realize that was such an incendiary view. I can’t really change my mind about it, but I appreciate the bracing shock of how differently a lot of people see it. Good to know–I have a dear married friend who is childless by choice and also a dear brother who doesn’t want children. I’ve never brought up any of my thoughts on the subject with them, or anyone, really (none of my business), but now I know to be especially circumspect.

            And now I’m going to delete my original comment, because I don’t really feel like reading anymore outrage directed at me. I think I got the message.

        • LJ

          I think a lot of people who are commenting either (a) see raising a child with a disability as a horrible entrenching thing (as if a fully able child is a cakewalk?) or (b) just attached to the tone of your initial comment without looking at the overarching message. This is an internet forum, occasionally tone and meaning get misinterpreted.

          If that fear of disability is the only thing holding them back I agree with you – education about what raising children who aren’t “fully able” (god apparently I lack the vocab to say this tactfully, please correct me if needed) would probably help them to see that you don’t just lose everything forever. You have a very valid point that living a perfect life is different from living a whole life – this is pretty central to Buddhism, and people who don’t want anything other than a Perfect Child probably have some stuff to work through personally. But, if they’re not having a child because they can’t guarantee perfection, there are probably lots of other things stopping them as well. People just took offense to someone saying that their reasons aren’t good reasons, when you meant a different message.

          • rg223

            Sorry to jump in, but for everyone’s knowledge: the word for “fully able” would be “typical,” currently.

      • heyqueen

        And honestly, if someone decided to not have kids because they did want an easier life, I can’t blame them! If you see your life as one in which you sleep in and travel all day, who am I to judge you? All women are not meant to be mothers, and assuming otherwise is regressive and stupid.

        The same people who judge you for being childfree will never be there to help you if you do end up having a child. So I think that judgment is so full of BS. That comment was condescending and patronizing.

        • Alexandra

          It probably was. I can get a little condescending.

          I don’t blame people for not wanting to have kids because they want an easier life, exactly. I definitely understand the inclination. I guess…is an easier life really the best goal, though? Is that really something to aspire to? Aren’t we better than that? There are lots of paths to meaning, and of course lots of them don’t involve having kids. But they all involve some kind of self-sacrifice.

          I think that’s what I was trying to say. For a lot of people, having kids is the most self-sacrificing thing that they’ll ever do; it also tends to result in a lot of meaning and give life a sense of purpose. But you know, it’s true–YMMV, not everyone finds any meaning in having kids, it’s totally possible to regret having them, and there’s plenty of ways to live a life.

          • Eenie

            You don’t have to be a martyr to find meaning find meaning in life. I think having an easy life is a fantastic goal. Having enough money, time, emotional reserve, and energy to do the things I want to do and find meaningful would make my life easy. Who doesn’t want that? I do not need to “sacrific” myself for my potential future kids. That sounds like a horribly miserable life that I would regret and lead me to resent my children. YOU don’t feel this way, but assuming that everyone else will or should is very judgmental.

            I feel like you think you are in the minority holding the opinion that everyone should have kids because they are the only meaning in life, but you are not. The majority of people judged me when I didn’t want kids, and it’s very frustrating.

            Your frequent use of “Aren’t we better than that?” is one of the things making you sound condescending. Your definition of “better” is not the same as everyone elses’ and implies that anyone that doesn’t make the same choice as you is worse.

          • heyqueen

            Excellent comment. I think this mindset of self sacrifice and finding greater meaning in children also stems from this idea that women find their ultimate purpose in life via children. It goes hand in hand with the idea that women are inherently more giving and can subject themselves to a life of being a martyr because the love of their child is this source of energy that renews them unendingly. So any woman who expresses otherwise or says she wouldn’t be bale to handle a less than idea situation looks selfish and shallow. And maybe for some women, the love of their children DOES constantly renew them. But I usually find women who espouse those ideas often have perfectly healthy children.

          • AP

            +1. I want an easy future, and I don’t apologize for that. My first few decades of life were ROUGH. At 32 I’m only just now in a happy stable marriage with good emotional health (most days) and financial security. I’ve never had that before, and I’d like to hold onto it! Tossing an upheaval bomb into our lives, either through career change or a move or a baby, is a terrifying thought to me right now. I’m sure soon my husband and I will be ready for a change, but that change might look like renting out our house and moving onto our sailboat. If we decide not to have a child, it will be because we want other things more, and hell yes one of those things might look to others like “an easy life.”

            Believing that the meaning of life necessarily includes hardship and sacrifice is what kept my grandmothers, my mom, and me in abusive marriages. Realizing that I deserve (everyone deserves) happiness and “ease” has been the most profound shift in my life. Bring on an “easy life!”

          • emilyofnewmoon

            Hell yes! The “women are born for ‘meaningful’ toil” narrative is deeply engrained and harmful. Great point!

    • heyqueen

      It’s great that you’ve found so much meaning in your children, but it absolutely rubs me the wrong way that you think it’s ok to invalidate another person’s reasoning for not having kids. Not everyone who has children gets a huge amount of joy out of it.

      Any reason someone gives for not having a child is a good enough reason.

      • Alexandra

        Sure, I mean, don’t have them if you don’t want them. It’s a big undertaking. I’m not sure I’m trying invalidate other people’s reasons for not having them? More like push back a little on the I don’t want a kid unless it’s exactly the kind of kid I want train of thought?

    • Eh

      Some people can’t/don’t want to “deal” with a child with a disability or medical issue so they don’t want to roll the dice with children (if that is the case, it’s probably best that they not have children). My niece has Down Syndrome. They had screening for DS done and according to the test she wasn’t at high risk of having DS. They found out at the anatomy scan that something might be wrong (but not any specifics) but despite weekly ultrasounds and some MRIs and other tests the doctors did not determine she has DS until she was born. My niece has an older brother and another (childless) family member said that my niece should never been born (e.g., her parents should have stopped at one or aborted her) because she takes attention away from her older brother. This family member has made it clear that if you suspect that your children might have medical problems or disabilities than you shouldn’t have children (so if you have a genetic disorder that could be passed on to your child then you shouldn’t have children at all, or if you find out something is wrong during prenatal screening you should abort). I have a disability and a medical condition that are genetic so I know that my children might get them (and my daughter does have the medical issue). Since I know my children are at higher risk I can prepare for the idea of them having the same issues, and I also know that treatment and support for these issues are better now than when I was a kid. My niece and my daughter are loved and provide so much joy to people around them. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

    • Violet

      Okay, hold up. Since the inception of birth control, people who have access to it choose whether or not they want to have kids. Each choice has pros and cons, which are unique to that person. A pro for having kids for you is meaning in life, fine. As you said, for other people, that pro might be not much of a draw, since they find meaning in other ways. For you, a con to having kids is the effort, but in your case, that con doesn’t outweigh your pros. So far, so good. For other people, that con does weigh outweigh whatever the pros are. (Maybe even in some cases, because they don’t have any pros at all in the kid column.) But this can be true without it necessarily following that their ultimate goal is to make their life as easy as possible. People actually used to like having lots of kids because they could work the farm/go work in a factory and therefore actually made the parents’ lives easier in some ways. (Getting this from “All Joy and No Fun.”) It’s all about context. That’s why people are perturbed you keep implying that the sacrifices you make for your kid are somehow more noble than other sacrifices people make in their lives. Or assuming that people who avoid this specific challenge in life are only trying to make their lives as easy as possible.
      For that matter, even if someone’s ultimate goal was to lead as easy a life as possible, would that be so bad? What’s wrong with some people wanting to make their lives easy? Does it affect you? It takes all kinds.

    • Emily

      It is common for the siblings of disabled children to not have biological children of their own. I’m curious if you have lived a day-to-day life with a disabled person. It is very difficult. In my opinion, (having lived daily life with a disabled person) it is a responsible and reasonable reason for choosing not to have children.

    • Laura

      oh my lord – this is so offensive to me! perhaps others think life is for travelling, reading literature, cooking elaborate meals with friends, volunteering in their communities, diving into meaningful careers… this is what you dismissively characterize as ‘anaesthetized pain’ and presume that these people who dared to live without children will ‘die surrounded by surviving pets because having children was too risky’?

      how’s the air up there? on the highest horse i’ve EVER seen? perhaps these people will be surrounded by extended communities of loved ones, cherished colleagues, nieces, nephews, friends and loved ones – because they too will have lived good and worthy lives. and even if they outlive every one of those people – will they not have mattered? are there lives somehow worth less?

      fair point to you, you throw in 2 sentences about ‘many ways to lead a meaningful life’ and i applaud your resolve to love your future child no matter what, but people should not have to justify why they don’t have kids. i see this all the time in the abortion debate – people feel the need to explain why they terminate a pregnancy…when ‘because that’s what i want’ is reason enough – full stop.

      it’s not lazy or cowardly to not want to have children. and it’s not necessarily ‘sad’ to weigh the risks of having a child with a disability and decide that’s not a risk you’re willing to take. for lots of people, that’s realistic and responsible. and your sweeping (rude) generalizations of people who make that choice, choose not to have children (or end up that way due to circumstances) is extremely judgmental and uncalled for.

    • Kaitlyn

      Wow: die surrounded by surviving pets, because having children was too risky? Oh my gosh. That is so callous and cruel towards those of us who lost our children to death, or who are unable to conceive.

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  • educateallCO

    I totally could have written this. I have a 2 year old now, she is awesome, my career is awesome and I couldn’t be happier!

  • Sherry Nolan

    I would like to say thank you to Drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com(link sends e-mail) for the love spell, my Husband was cheating on me and was dating another lady behind my backs. I contact Dr. Lawrence for help to stop him from having an affair with the lady. Dr. Lawrence spell not only stopped my Husband from seeing this other lady but my Husband also accepted of being guilty and said sorry to me that he will never do it again and by the grace of GOD today he is a change man his contact email is Drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com “””””

  • lady brett

    love this and congratulations!

    especially “what I had envisioned as motherhood didn’t have to be my motherhood.”

  • LJ

    APW… can I suggest that you need to do a series on parents with children with varying degrees of able-ness (ability seems like the wrong word? Unsure on vocab) to show people what raising children with physical, emotional or mental disabilities is like? This is some of the most negative chat I’ve seen on here recently. Lots of people on both sides getting offended very quickly. I think it’s safe to assume that more education of what the risks ACTUALLY are and what the “worst case scenario” (I use quotes because “worst” is an ableist phrase but it’s what many people who commented would consider it) and what the “average” scenario both look like, and how they contrast. This is definitely something people seem to want to talk about.

    • Anon

      Part of the issue is that disability is SO varied, along with individual parents’ circumstances, that I’m not sure a series like that would do very much to help or even really educate, since it would be a false sense of representation. In my life/world, I know very close family members and friends, and now friend/family parents, who were born with, developed, and/or are raising a child with several varieties of disability (from cerebral palsy to severe learning disabilities to blindness to BPD) and their stories are incredibly diverse. And if you switched up the parents of each of those scenarios? The diversity becomes exponential and ever changing.

      I think it’s very important to talk about it, but showcasing a series of real-life scenarios as representative could be problematic as well, unless handled extremely deftly and with a significant amount of caveats and qualifiers. Talking about ableism is/can be a real challenge and I worry that a place like APW could only go so far while staying true to their overall mission and content style. If that makes sense!

      • LJ

        It totally does make sense! I’m just thinking about the immense amount of ableism in this thread and what APW could do as a networking/educational tool to educate people and lower its prevalence…. I am not a marketer or communications specialist so I am SURE there are different scenarios that would work much better haha. Maybe a support worker who has a diverse background insofar as families worked with, so she can mention what seems to work and not work and what the actual “success rates” are for happy families when confronted with this reality?

      • LJ

        I also think there are major issues I’m seeing in this category on this thread….

        A good chunk of the people, through ignorance not malice, are ableist and consider “the child could have a disability” as a reason not to have children…..

        and they get subjected to anti-ableist people telling them that disabilities aren’t the end of the world and even so, there’s usually a very low risk of having a child with any…..

        And then the ableist/first group gets offended that the anti-ableist people dare tell them they should have children because disabilities aren’t a big deal, and how dare people tell me how to run my life because if I don’t want to have kids then I won’t have kids.

        LIKE HOW FAR ARE WE FROM THE POINT NOW…… -_-‘

        • heyqueen

          I think the honest truth is that this is one of those agree to disagree issues. There’s tons of grey area. It’s touchy, and each individual on both sides of the issue has reasons why they feel the way they do.

          • LJ

            Yeah, totally, and I am very much on the “you do you” truck….. I just dislike the way people talk about disabilities – people who parent children with disabilities and the children themselves are unfairly portrayed and that needs to change. Often, people are deciding they don’t want children with disabilities because they see martyr parents and children who appear to not live good lives…. that is not how it actually is. If you don’t want a child, don’t have a child. You don’t need to say “I could never have a disabled child, that would just take over and ruin my life” because how the heck do you think the parents of disabled children feel reading that? Especially those who do think they live full and rewarding lives…..differently-abled children don’t have to “ruin your life” and it’s perpetuating a non-truth.

            I’m not phrasing this great, I just think people don’t realize how what they say can interpreted.

      • Katharine Parker

        I don’t think we should expect any single narrative of raising a disabled child to be representative of all families with children with disabilities, just as no one narrative of raising any child can be representative of all parenthood. But one thing that has rightly been called out for ableism in this comment section has been people assuming that disabilities are tragic and parenting a disabled child is burdensome. Alternative narratives that challenge that harmful trope, and that challenge the ableist narrative of the able-bodied parent as sacrificial hero to disabled child, could be beneficial.

        A great place to start, although not about parenting, is Rosemarie Garland-Thompson’s recent piece in the New York Times, “Becoming Disabled.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/opinion/sunday/becoming-disabled.html?_r=0

  • Alex Eichler

    This is so good. Thanks!

  • Penny7b

    Thanks for writing this. I’m also on Team (Probably) No Kids, but have been shifting a bit recently in part because I’ve also noticed that my concept of what motherhood is might not necessarily be the only option. I really appreciated reading this.

  • Sheryldthompson1

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  • I’m 23 weeks pregnant, and I feel like you wrote exactly how I feel about kids. Over the years I’ve gone from wanting kids to not wanting them to being ambivalent about kids, all while loving on my friends’ kids.

    I think the biggest shift for me was watching a few women I respect and admire become mothers, and still be the same people, just with tiny humans. I’ve realized that there are many ways to be a mom, and you can create your own path….solidarity fistbump from me. <3

  • EB

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey so far. As someone who has always figured that I will have kids someday but who also isn’t at all sure whether I actually want them, it is encouraging to hear your perspective. And congratulations!!

  • Eun

    Baby person sounds so serious lol