How Do You Know When You’re Ready For Kids?

Spoiler: You don't

Right after I had a baby, Managing Editor Maddie decided she wanted to interview me about motherhood. She offered up an open thread for everyone to ask their questions and share their fears and concerns about having a kid, and the floodgates opened. Almost five hundred comments later, person after person expressed profound relief. It wasn’t that they had answers to their questions, it’s that they finally realized tons of other people were terrified at the idea of having kids too.

Society perpetuates this myth that you “just know” if you want to be a mother. All of us know someone who, at least on the surface, seems calm and sure in their decision to pursue parenting. They always wanted to have a kid, everything came together, and they’re so glad to get a chance to explore this blissful new stage of life. And let’s be for real. If we’re struggling with the decision about having kids, we secretly hate this person, or at least envy their clear certainty.

While I spent my early years wanting kids, once having kids seemed like a viable reality (instead of something that should be avoided at all costs), all my certainty vanished. Like, totally gone. I’d worked hard to build a life that really made me happy, and I was worried that by having kids I would be giving it all up. Every part of the decision to pursue pregnancy was filled with terror. And when I finally decided to leap, on the blind faith that David was really sure it would be a good thing for us, I ended up with serious peripartum depression, sobbing through my pregnancy, worried that I’d ruined everything. (More on maternal mental illness here.)

Here is what I really wanted to know: that certainty didn’t make you a better mother. That there isn’t always such a thing as “just knowing.” And that once this tiny human arrived, I was going to love the shit out of him.

So today, we wanted to open the floor to your fears and concerns. If you’re debating having kids, or not, today is your day. But first, we wanted to start with a story from a reader. There are a million stories out there about women who have perfect certainty, and less about the messy reality of facing the unknown.

I’m happily married, thirty-years-old, and just finished my intense MFA program. And while I have little issue with commitment (I’ve been with my husband for ten years), I do tend to freak out at major life or relationship changes. Moving in together? Yep, cried uncontrollably on the porch while talking to my then-boyfriend on the phone. Getting married? Some items I freaked out about: the word “marriage,” being part of another person’s family, and whether being with a man for most of my adult romantic life was a mistake (I’m bisexual; and it wasn’t).

So I’m not surprised to find myself, once again, flipping out. Everything in my life is ready to have a baby, except me.

We are financially stable and own our home. We both have healthy careers and vibrant lives we enjoy, and we’ve discussed how bringing a baby into this will affect these things. We’ve talked about how we want to be as parents. I went off birth control, starting charting my cycle, talked to my doctor, started taking prenatal vitamins, discussed having children with friends, etc. I planned my career post-grad school so that I could take off the entire spring semester in case I had a baby in March-May. The plan was (is?) to start trying this summer.

And I’m still not ready.

Here’s the thing: I can talk myself into it, logically. Everything is aligned, and it’s the ideal situation. (My parents are even moving to the same neighborhood as us—so come fall, we have free childcare.) But I’m not feeling it in my gut—in my heart. There is no excitement for me. Sometimes I can muster something up: the idea of cuddling with a baby, or playing with a preschooler, or even just the joy I know my being pregnant would bring to family and friends. But most of the time, I’m moody, cry-face, and scared shitless.

We are on the precipice of actually “trying,” i.e. not preventing during sex, having sex during ovulation, etc. And I have to tell my patient husband—the one who was ready to move in, the one who was ready to get hitched—to, once again, wait. Wait.

Perhaps the worst part of this? I have no women to talk to; all of my friends who have had children, or are currently pregnant, or are trying to get pregnant? They were the ones who were ready before their husbands. They seemingly had no qualms nor fears—or at least, not enough to stop them in their tracks.

I know I would regret not having a child. It’s something that I’ve wanted, to be a mother. Hell, my entire MFA thesis was a letter to my future, currently nonexistent daughter (who may never exist): How one can be haunted by the future.

And I’m also afraid that if I wait too long to be “ready,” then one day I will suddenly wake up and realize the option is no longer there, that I’ve waited too long.

One thing I learned as a writer: wherever you want to pull away, that’s where you need to push in. Push in, and observe; sit with how uncomfortable or awful or painful it is, and write from this. And so I do.

But writing is not being. One day, I will have to put down the pen and decide: yes. It is time. And my window to do that is narrowing.

When do you jump in with both feet, hair flying? When do you stop waiting to be ready and just—leap?

When does the heart breathe in “fear,” and breathe out “mother”?

Sarah Richards Graba

So if you’re debating having kids or not, now is the time to share your questions and your fears, and talk amongst yourselves. And no. Certainty doesn’t make you a better mother. And terror is normal. (How could it not be?)

P.S. Read Capitulation, Babies, about not being sure you want kids and finding out you don’t need to be sure to love them. Also, it’s a good conversation about fostering. Not all parenthood looks the same. Plus tons more about the Kids/No Kids debate.

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  • vegankitchendiaries

    Now vs. Later is where we’re stuck… Husband has a beautiful daughter from a previous relationship, so it does sometimes feel like procreating is higher up my list of priorities than for him. Also, he was pretty young and unprepared the first time around, so it probably also brings up some anxiety for him to even think about getting pregnant.

    I’m 30 now and I know I shouldn’t be freaking out or anything but the husband says often he doesn’t see us actually trying until we’re 35. Thirty five seems like wayyyyy to long for me – I’d like to start trying in a year or two!

    We’re also in a very uncertain time in our lives. We’re preparing to move across the country to live closer to our beloved and very missed (step)daughter but this will involve trying to make it in a very remote Canadian town with ghastly unemployment rates. We’re not exactly living the high life here in Vancouver, but, you know, we’re holding it down…

    I’d love to hear from APW’ers who have something to say about getting pregnant (and managing!) despite less than ideal financial or logistical circumstances. We have these doubts ALONGSIDE the ‘is this REALLY what I want??’ feelings… it’s so fucking tricky. I quit Facebook this year, mostly because I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the Jones’ fast enough with this stuff…

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      We had less than ideal financial and logistical circumstances, but we were of the opinion that it was now or never and if we waited until the perfect or most ideal time, we would never be parents. You can always have more money saved or be more stable or have a bigger home or whatever. I definitely think there are not good times to have children, but I also have a lot of faith in people, believe that we are incredibly resilient beings and we figure it out and make it work. So even when we have kids during those times when it’s probably a bad time, we manage and make it work because you do what you have to do.

      I think the idea that you shouldn’t have kids unless absolutely certain is ridiculous, because you’re bringing a life into the world which is incredibly huge. Hopefully, one doesn’t make that kind of decision without some hesitation. And as much as one might be a person who knew they always wanted kids, etc, the truth is, life is full of surprises and you don’t experience the journey until you experience the journey. I always imagined I would love being pregnant and I hated (mostly) the experience. I always thought that when I saw my child for the first time, I would feel instant love. I didn’t. But I love my daughter and love being a mother to her.

      • kcaudad

        This is what everyone tells us: you can never be ‘ready’ for kids… but we could be A LOT MORE READY for kids than we are right now! How do you squash that side of the debate? Just go for it?!

        • Meg Keene

          I really think there is often no time when you “just know,” and YEAH, you just have to go for it. But at the same time, if you know that you SHOULD NOT BE DOING THIS RIGHT NOW, that is a cold hard fact that you can know.

          • Rachel

            I 100% agree with this — the I absolutely should not be doing this right now is a feeling I have experiences.

            Case in point:
            While I was in grad school and working full time and planning a wedding: I would be devastated if I got pregnant.

            Or even better: After I just moved back to the U.S. and couldn’t afford to eat without parental help. In case #1, I would be sacrificing career ambitions by broadening my focus from my career school and in case #2, I was financially unfit and vulnerable.

            Now, I am graduated from grad school and employed and if I got pregnant I wouldn’t be devastated. Do I want to get pregnant right now? No. But would I be devastated to be in that situation even though I do want to have kids some day? No.

            That’s the difference for me.

          • kcaudad

            It sounds like I’m in a similar situation to you currenlty – we could make it work, but … Do I want to get pregnant right now? No. But, would I be devastated to be in that situation now? probabtly not… It just doesn’t feel quite right yet!
            Hubs has always claimed to be more ready than me… until I recently asked him if he wanted to start trying soon (hypothetically), and I saw the fear in his eyes as he said, “I thought we decided to wait another year or two…” Guess he’s not as ready as he claimed to be!

          • z

            I had that too. At one point, after I got married, I was getting a prescription and the doctor counseled me that the medication could interfere with my birth control and I might get pregnant. And I was like, okie doke. And then– holy crap, did I just say that? But that is the first time I knew I was ready. Another year went by before we had a stable job situation and started trying, and I definitely was “baby-hungry” by then. But really, that feeling of non-panic and calm open-ness was a turning point.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I don’t think you can. You can always be more ready. Always. And honestly, yeah, that’s basically what you do.

      • Meg Keene

        Yeah. I always say, “There is no right time. But there can be a wrong time.” IE, it’s NEVER going to be perfect and you just have to dive in at some point. But also, if you know deep down in your gut that “THIS IS THE WRONG TIME,” honor that too.

        But this, “you don’t experience the journey until you experience the journey.”

    • joanna b.n.

      I also want to hear from folks who have dealt with this question in less than ideal circumstances. I am 32, my hubby is 35, and just entering his PhD. We have had a lot of clarity on the NOT RIGHT NOW, but as the years pass, I wonder when NOT RIGHT NOW turns into WE DECIDED NOT TO EVER.

      • vegankitchendiaries


      • Meg Keene

        I have known people where it turned into “Oh, we forgot to.” I’ve never been sure if that’s better or worse, and I think it depends. I’ve known people perfectly happy with the fact that they forgot to, and I’ve known people who seem haunted by it. If only there were clear answers, right?

    • Nicole Cherae

      I’m terrified of this kind of situation. I’m just finishing grad school and hopefully will have an academic job next fall. He just started at a new company. We were both working part-time the past six months which decimated our finances. Yet we want to have a baby in the next two years. I’m scared we still won’t have completely recovered financially by then. Is it selfish to have a child when the number in your bank account is less than ideal?

  • Amanda L

    I love APW so much. A few things:
    I was SURE I wanted babies when DH and I started trying in July 2012. Two years, dozens of procedures, bloodwork appointments, and disappointment later, I find myself less sure about what I want than ever.

    On one hand, I KNOW that I will love our child with all of my heart. I cannot wait to get to know their little personality, and see parts of myself and parts of my husband in their little face.

    On the other hand, I love the life my DH and I lead right now. We are financially in a good place, with raises and promotions on the horizon. We enjoy travelling together, have a good excuse to go to Europe every couple years (he has close family that lives there) and worry that DHs anxiety will get unmanageable if we add another human to the mix.

    I think the reason I keep saying ‘well, when we start trying again in December (read: I finish my first marathon and am ready to stuff my body full of chemicals again)’ is this sentence from the OP: How one can be haunted by the future.

    I find myself haunted by my future childless self. Right now I still have a chance to have a child. My 60-year old self doesn’t, and I want to make sure I honor her wishes as well as mine.

    • Meg Keene

      Various reads: The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us (obviously again)

      What if you can’t have a baby (about deciding to stop, after a hugely long infertility journey):

      And, mine, on international travel with a baby: (IE, you can still go to Europe every couple of years if you decide you want to).

      Those reads cover… a lot of ground ;)

      • Amanda L

        And now I shall start a secret Pinterest board entitled ‘Baby or no baby’ and pin these immediately.

        I’m also thinking of tattooing this on the inside of my wrist (not really): Because you are content in your current childless life, attempting to determine what you might regret later strikes me as the best way for you to meaningfully explore if having a child is important to you.

      • Kira Rashba

        Ah, I was just looking to see if anyone had cited Sugar yet. She is the best and I think about ghost ships frequently. That one column probably changed my perspective the most over the last year. Now feeling pretty comfortable – in between freaking out- about trying to have kids in the near future.

      • I think it was both the Ghost Ships article and my friend Liana saying “You don’t have to know you want them, you just have to know if you’ll regret not having them” that led me to this current pregnancy. It’s really still a huge part of what keeps me hanging on. She’s in there kicking me and making me eat dessert with every meal and I just keep trying to believe that I will love her when she comes out, that it will be okay.
        Although that link to the NYTimes postpartum article shakes me a bit. It actually makes me more angry than anything that people (coworkers) expect me to be happy all the time. My husband equated it to when people ask “how are you?” and expect “fine” as a response because they don’t really care, but that isn’t it. If I say just “ok” I get questions like “don’t you want to have this baby?” First of all, how dare you ask that, what business is it of yours, and second why do I have to be gloriously happy to meet your expectations?
        Don’t worry, I’ve started seeing a therapist. I have an appointment today.

        • MDBethann

          I’m 25 weeks along and when people ask me how I’m doing, I reply “functional.” Because while I’m happy to be pregnant and can’t wait to meet my little one and be his/her mommy, I’m tired most of the time, my clothes don’t fit anymore, and between work & our home renovation, I feel fairly stressed. So “functional” is the best I’m going to do on most days with everything all jumbled together. The good news is, I usually get chuckle and a smile then the convo changes (fortunately, most of my co-workers are parents so they’ve been there, done that, and understand).

    • LikelyLaura

      “I find myself haunted by my future childless self. Right now I still have a chance to have a child. My 60-year old self doesn’t, and I want to make sure I honor her wishes as well as mine.”
      This so much. I’m quite happy not having a kid right now, but I’m positive I’ll completely regret it if I never have one(+). I’m more of an instant gratification kind of person, and combined with the fact that I have endometriosis that will make my life miserable while I’m off birth control – not to mention the glaring fact that it is also the leading cause of infertility, makes it super hard to convince myself I want to try. Ugh. Also my husband is being super patient and understanding, but I hate the feeling that I’m holding him back from something he wants…

  • GG

    We are currently in the “trying” stage, and I am still not certain. It’s hard to admit that, because on one hand, this is something I want so badly. Every month that passes without a positive test, I want it more. But on the other hand, I absolutely panic when I think about the day-to-day reality of what a child will bring. Yes, we have enough money and childcare and stable jobs and our own home. But how will I handle sleepless nights? How will I have time to pursue my hobbies? The logistics is mind-numbing.

    I identify strongly with the letter writer’s waiting to feel “ready.” Alongside my husband’s certainty, I often feel torn and confused. But knowing that I have always wanted this, that I want it still, is comforting. And I really agree with what Meg says: terror is normal. Certainty doesn’t happen for everyone.

    • Meg Keene

      Feel you. There is no point in trying to pre-arrange the logistics (and boy did I try). The reality is so different than what you imagine (and often in good ways). I thought I’d never get anything done ever again, which I now think is so odd. Why did I think that??? I do all the things (less lots of down time) now.

      However. DAMN. I wish I’d gotten one of those magical “good sleepers” because the sleep has been AWFUL. Recently settled, but not good. You survive because… that’s what you do. Plus hormones. But damn.

      • GG

        Oddly, this is really comforting for my planner self to hear– there’s just no way to plan for it. And good to know The Things will still (somehow) get done.

    • Ann Onymous

      We are also “trying” even though I’m still uncertain. My husband is 100% certain – he’s has always wanted kids and now that he’s closer to 40 than 30, the desire is even stronger. I, on the other hand, have always been uncertain. I think my/our life would be happy and fulfilling either way. It’s weird feeling uncertainty at the same time we’re actively trying but I don’t know how to make the uncertain feeling go away and I don’t want to delay trying because I’m almost 33. I very possibly could be pregnant as I write this, and I very possibly could NOT be pregnant as I write this. Both options kinda scare the crap out of me.

      • MDBethann

        We tried for nearly a year and a half before we got pregnant, including fertility treatments, so I totally hear you on the “I could be pregnant and I could NOT be pregnant… both options kinda scare the crap out of me.” I was the same way – scared about what either future might hold because both were such huge unknowns.

        Towards the end of March, I suspected I might be pregnant but was completely terrified to learn the answer either way. I remember picking up the test at the grocery store and literally shaking as I took it off the shelf. I was almost too afraid to take the test because there had been so many negatives before. I went for it though, realizing limbo wasn’t really a sustainable state. I shook again and cried when the test was positive and couldn’t sleep because I don’t think I believed it. It took awhile to sink in (to the 8 week mark for me, the 20 week ultrasound for my husband). And we want children, very much. But as another commenter said, some hesitation and uncertainty in making a big decision isn’t a bad thing.

        Best of luck to you and please know that you are far from alone in your feelings.

  • Ambivalence

    I am 42, have no kids and am on my 13th (low key) fertility treatment. I’m *still* not sure if I’m ready, if you can believe that. I’ve learned that you sometimes have to act despite lack of clarity on how you feel. Getting negative results back from the clinic has at times turned me into a a crying heap and others left me happily relieved. We’re now thinking about fostering, totally not sure about that either. But not doing anything will leave us no options; it’s harder to get placements when you’re 55, which is when I imagine I might have a clue about what I want!

    • Meg Keene

      HA. Yes. Exactly. Just…. if only it were as easy as just knowing, right?

  • Kelli

    Boy, what a great topic for an open thread. My fiance and I will be married in October–yay! And aside from the obvious reasons for being afraid to commit to having kids (I’m 31 and he’s 35 and we finally feel like maybe we’re starting to get the hang of this whole life thing and we actually really like spending it together and maybe a kid would ruin all of that), I also weigh heavily our religious differences when I consider whether or not to have kids. He’s “not religious” and falls somewhere between agnostic and atheist, and on most days I consider myself a Christian. And though we honor each others’ decisions and have talked about what we will do when kids are in the picture, theoretical conversations are a lot different than reality, and so sometimes I do wonder if it would just be easier/better to remove What We Will Teach Our Children out of the equation completely.

    • Meg Keene

      I kept replaying advice I’d gotten at 21 when I was pregnant at 32. It sounded crazy then, but saner later. The woman who gave mea advice had gotten pregnant in her mid 30s and she said, “Have kids in your 20s, because your life is already a mess. By your 30s you’ve figured it out, and then a kid just messes it up. In your 20s you have no idea what you’re doing so you all just figure it out together.”


      For a lot of reasons I’m glad I didn’t get pregnant in my 20s, but there is truth to that advice, for sure.

      • Kelli

        YES. I have so many friends who got married and had babies young and I feel like they are blissfully unaware of how nice it is to, you know, have enough money to go on vacations and eat out regularly. I feel like I’ve just caught a fleeting glimpse, and wondering whether I’m willing to have it go POOF.

        • Meg Keene

          YUP. A lot of those friends of mine are discovering that now, in their 30s, with teenagers. Part of me sees the logic to that ;)

      • But what if late into your 30s you’re just as much a mess as you were in your 20s? I feel like I’m predestined to raise a mess because I don’t know what the hell to do.

  • pajamafishadventures

    While I am very much on the fence about kids in general (leaning towards “ugh, no thanks” giving how I do not enjoy being around anything under than 13 AT ALL), I do know with absolute certainty that there will never be pregnancy in my future and I feel no strong desire for a biological tie. That has lead me to some serious research about adoption and while I feel like I have a pretty decent grasp on the legal aspect of it (as much as one can with the variances between states and countries), and while I follow some very informative personal blogs on the subject, I’d be glad to hear from anyone here who has any personal experiences with adoptions, especially if you’ve come at it from a non-religious angle!

    • Adoption?

      Just finished posting a similar comment! I’ve even researched the murky waters of the ethics of adopting from a country you have no connection to. All of this research has left me with tons of questions and concerns, but I still feel adoption is the right choice for us. Right now, the “when” is not as big an issue as the “how.”

      • pajamafishadventures

        For me there are several international countries that I feel personal ties to, and whether I’m leaning towards international or domestic changes frequently (especially as adoption laws change).

        It also sometimes feels like something we will never have our lives in order enough to do. I know there is never a “perfect” time for this sort of thing but I also know there are a lot better times than where we are at right now and it can feel like we’re never going to be able to crawl out of this hole and into financially stable adult-hood, where we could feel comfortable taking on responsibility for another human!

    • Meg Keene

      I did a lot of research on open adoption, back when I was being asked to have a lot of scary tests. If you haven’t researched that, I totally recommend looking into it. Open adoption and Foster to Adopt are the two I was/ am the most clearly interested in. They just felt like fits to me.

      • pajamafishadventures

        While in some ways I lean towards international adoption, I know that I want it to be as open as all parties are willing/able, especially if it’s domestic! I’m also much more interested in older child adoption than in infant adoption.

      • lady brett

        one thing to be aware of is that foster care and adoption (and child welfare generally) vary drastically from state to state (for example, legally, there is no such thing as an open adoption or as foster-to-adopt in some states – though both are things that can happen without the legal framework, that is a drastically different thing).

    • Katriel

      We are adopting an older child (10 years old) from foster care. It’s been a crazy process, but J is so worth it. We’re in the 6-month foster period before we can apply to legally finalize his adoption (his parental rights were already terminated when he was placed with us, so he is fully adoptable and there is no risk that he may return to biological relatives). The bureaucracy is absolutely insane. It’s taken about 1 year to go from starting paperwork to having a child placed with us. If you’re interested in adoption through foster care, kids as young as 5-ish already have parental rights terminated and are waiting for a forever family.

    • Keri

      Although I don’t have experience with adoption as a parent, I have loads of experience working with kids who are going through the adoption process and/or are adopted as a clinical social worker. I think adoption is an absolutely amazing option for parents and children AND I can’t stress enough that parents really have to look at all of the pros/cons of bringing a child into their home who (may) already have pretty significant formative life experiences. I’m also willing to admit that I’m likely preaching to the choir on this one since so many of you have already referenced the research you’re doing. I’d encourage anyone exploring adoption to research an agency’s placement success rate at 5-10 years post adoption, the agency’s willingness to offer therapy and resources to help the family create a healthy attachment and the agency’s policies on releasing information like psychological and/or psychosocial testing on the children who are being placed. Children with mental health problems, developmental disabilities and attachment disorders CAN be parented in healthy ways however going into it without a clear idea of what you (could) be getting into is dangerous for you and for the child. Some of the hardest, most soul-crushing cases I’ve had have been with children and adolescents with (sometimes multiple) failed adoptions because their families decided after a period of time that they were unable to adequately care for the child. The trauma this brings to a child is tremendous and can be avoided.

      • Libby

        THIS. so much. You took the words out of my mouth! :) I was writing a response when yours popped up, you put it all so eloquently. I’m also a clinical social worker and work in Adoption Preservation – so I work with families that are struggling with the adoption. Adoption is wonderful, but it’s so important to understand the issues that an older child might face so that you are prepared to meet the child where they are. Going in with empathy, understanding, and realistic expectations about this child’s past experiences and it’s possible impacts on them is so essential. Thank you for already being ahead of the game and taking the time and effort to understand the process beforehand.

      • Katriel

        With a 3-month pre-adoptive period with our son, we were able to do a lot of relationship building with his previous foster family, participate in family counseling with him with the counselor he’s had for the last three years, and generally get a good sense of his needs and issues in advance. This is something I’ve really appreciated about the way our case has proceeded. (We’re a “treatment” level foster care family, so we’ve done/ continue to do extra training to qualify for kids of certain behavioral categories, in addition to all the research we did before deciding to do treatment level care).

        • Keri

          That’s spectacular, Katriel! I’m so glad that you’ve been able to do family therapy and that things are progressing well. I’m also grateful that you’re willing to work with ‘treatment/therapeutic’ kids AND that you’ve done your homework. There sure is a need for patient families who are willing to engage in treatment and put in the (sometimes gargantuan) effort to be a safe, stable place for a kid to grow up and be loved.

  • Laura

    We won’t be seriously thinking about trying to have a kid for at couple years at least, but one thing that already makes me nervous is that I just have this deep gut feeling that we’re going to have fertility issues. This is partly based on reason (women in my family historically have) and partly a nagging (unsubstantiated) sense that my body may not be particularly well-suited for baby-making. And then I think, do we have the “what do we do if we can’t?” conversation now – before we know if we can or can’t, when we can think about it rationally – or do we wait until that necessarily hard conversation has to happen?

    • Meg Keene

      I think it’s not a bad conversation to start having, just because, if nothing else, it’s good practice for all the complex negotiations to come.

      That said, I don’t think I know a single woman, in the age of the internet, that doesn’t have a deep down feeling they’re going to have fertility issues, with a bunch of reasons to back it up (raises hand). That doesn’t mean you won’t, but it does mean that SO MANY OF US assume that we will, and statistically, only a fraction of us that assume that we have fertility issues actually do.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        This plagues a LOT of my girlfriends (and myself). It’s definitely A Thing.

        • Nicole Cherae


        • Meg Keene

          Modern American medicine is also crazy jumpy about this. It’s a long story and I’m not going to share it all online, but in short, I’d been classed in the fertility clinic already when I got pregnant. Needlessly, it turned out.

      • pajamafishadventures

        I once said “the fact that I haven’t accidentally gotten pregnant makes me think we’d have problems if we actually wanted to,” when in reality it probably just means “we know how to use birth control effectively”

        • Natalie

          I have had the exact same thought many times.

        • Jessica


          My generation in my family is the first in 3 to not have teen or out-of-wedlock pregnancies. My cousins and I were all hyper paranoid about using contraception.

        • Meg Keene

          Also, because women are not actually taught how their bodies work till they self educate when they actually want to get pregnant… if you’re not 16, it’s damn hard to get pregnant. You’ve got about 2 days a month. Once I figured THAT out, we actually backed off the birth control, because a lot of it was just wasted.

          This book is mostly hippy nonsense worth only reading outloud for comedy, but probably everyone should get it for the 10 pages that teach you how your fertility actually works. I suggest it to EVERYONE, want kids/ don’t want kids/ trying to get pregnant/ trying not to get pregnant/ the works.

          But yeah, good birth control plus not being 16 anymore? It’s tricky to get pregnant without trying. It happens for SURE, but it’s kind of amazing when it does.

          • Laura

            Can I get a hell yes to not being 16 anymore? On so many levels.

          • Sarah

            I don’t know if I’d call the Toni Weschler book dreck–though my husband does refer to it as my moon goddess wiccan primer. It is somewhat out of date–consideirng we know have the Internet alldayeveryday, but it’s a good refernece tool and I’ve found charting very helpful.

          • Meg Keene

            Clarification. If you’re into moon goddess wiccan primers, the whole thing is lovely. If you want facts, it’s also pretty damn good, but you do have to wade around the moon goddess stuff to get to the charts.

            I mean, I love me a wiccan primer, I just feel like I want my wiccan primers in ONE book and my medical facts in ANOTHER, but maybe I’m just picky.

          • Sarah

            :) I understand

          • Daisy6564

            I recommended that book below in the comments. I took it out of the library because it is pretty expensive and I didn’t want to buy it until I was sure it was worth my time. I thought it was really good and I am not into wicca at all, maybe I missed that part?!

            Truthfully, I only read the first chapter completely and skimmed the rest before I got the job from hell and decided that I did not really have time to invest in taking my temperature and charting constantly and that the pill would have to do for now.

            What I liked best about the tone was how pro-woman I found it I guess. The female body is fantastic and something to be celebrated, not fucked with for the sake of convenience. If we just listen to and pay attention to our natural cycles we can manage our fertility in the best way for us, not in some prescribed, one size-fits-all way that we try to with pills and IUDs now. It tries to normalize cervical fluid and menstrual fluid and the like, these things are not disgusting and should not be feared. I liked that, maybe I am a bit of a hippie after all :)

          • Maureen

            Ok I agree that there is SOME hippie nonsense in that book, but I’d say that more than 10 pages are valuable. I highly recommend it. On the other hand, my doctor did tell me to put in under lock and key because it was clearly stressing me out haha

          • Meg Keene

            I refused to even read it. I just made David read it and tell me the five facts I needed to know, and have never opened it since.

            But… I did not respond to the stress of parenting or conception by going heavy on facts. That is not how I do.

          • Jane

            Ha ha ha to this book…all my friends make fun of me because we got pregnant in our first three months of marriage due to this book. We didn’t have premarital sex, so it was my first experience with birth control. I was so sure it would work! Nope!

          • Meg Keene

            That’s interesting. I mean, the science is pretty sound, but you have to be EXCEEDINGLY strict about it if you’re not going to use any other form of birth control. Like, without any other form there are a good two weeks of the month I wouldn’t even think about sex. My instinct is that mixing first time sex with this as birth control is… not going to work so well. That just seems like too many learning curves at once.

            Ten years in, past peak fertility, using it with birth control a fair amount of the time, that’s another story.

          • I love that book and read it from cover to cover. (Nothing Wiccan in it by the way. but it is on the hippy end of the scale, but I like this sort of thing.) I learned SO MUCH about my body. I’ve been tracking for two years, but I haven’t used it as my *only* kind of birth control. I’ve used it mostly for awareness of when I was most fertile. There’s a 5-day range that includes and proceeds the day of ovulation (because sperm can last about 5 days). Anyhow, I personally wouldn’t use this method as the sole method of birth control unless II would be okay with the idea of being pregnant. However, as a way to understand your body and for use when trying to get pregnant……I recommend this book to all my female friends. :)

        • snarkyteacher

          I read once that a couple having sex on a regular basis still only have a 20% of conceiving any given month unless they are trying to get knocked up, then it is a little more because of timing and all of that. Once I read that, I felt a little better if I took my pill 12 hours late (oops).

      • Jules

        So, half the women on one branch of my family (2/4 cousins) have/had fertility problems. My mom did, and that’s how she wound up adopting me. Therefore, I’M TERRIFIED OF HAVING TROUBLE simply because I am close to a handful of women who have. I specifically told the gyno to check for anything funny even though we don’t want them for another 5-10 years.

        And then I feel crappy about really badly wanting children that are biologically ours….because after all, I’m adopted.

        • Meg Keene

          I mean, if I have on theme in what I’m saying in the comments here, it’s PLEASE own how you feel and don’t beat yourself up over it.

          Specifically here. We have a teenage cousin who’s adopted, and she always says that it’s really important to her to have her own kids, because she’s never had anyone around that looked like her. She’s very aware she’s never had people in her life that she’s biologically related to, and she damn well wants to be biologically related to her own kids. And really WHO COULD POSSIBLY BLAME HER? That is the most logical thing I have ever heard in all my years on this earth.

          • Jules

            WAIT A SECOND THAT’S IT.

            My adoption was closed, my family fell apart (brother is kinda-sorta-estranged and reconciling, parents divorced and moved across the country from each other), I am biologically related to NO ONE I KNOW and it sucks. Despite all the love in my life, I’m always jealous of people who, you knows, have families and siblings that look like them and know their family medical history and ….etc etc etc. Damn straight I can want my own kids.

            It felt hypocritical of me at first, but I…..have never put my finger on this yearning before.

            Plus the idea of having a little baby significant other brings warm fuzzies to my heart.

          • snarkyteacher

            Interesting. My dad never wanted kids BECAUSE he knew/remembered his bio family (adopted as an older child). He obviously had some but his concern were the exact opposite…because he knew his family history he never wanted kids.

          • Sarah

            My husband is adopted and he’s always felt strongly that he wants to have someone related to him because he also never knew anyone he was biologically related to. He’s still close with his family and they’re very supportive, but he still felt more strongly about having children he’s related to than I did.

        • donor kid

          I’m a half donor baby (dad’s side) and I want my and my husband’s biological kids. I WOULD use a donor or adopt or whatever else if needed, but I would be devastated if either my husband or I couldn’t reproduce. I feel sort of bad about that, too, but I don’t know anything (ANYTHING) about my bio-dad’s side, and it sucks. In my personal case, anyway.

        • ZOO

          Dude, that’s just biology. Your DNA wants to move out and get its own place, and it’s really hard to ignore. I’m hardly surprised your altruism/guilt can’t overcome 4.6 billion years of evolution. Spoiler alert: neither can mine.

      • Aubry

        Interesting conversation! I am 100% on the other side. Like, pretty sure if I have unprotected sex one time I’ll end up pregnant. Maybe for the same reasons though – all the women in my life are super fertile. My mom got pregnant with me through birth control and when she had a planned pregnancy later she had twins. My grandma had 8 kids before the priest gave her a go-ahead for some form of birth control (cause 8 is enough I guess – LOL). Also my body is build for babies and my husband is basically a viking with a medically proven super high sperm count and one accidantal pregnancy in the books already (his daughter from a previous marriage). Also when I went on to my copper IUD I was about 3 days into my first non-hormonally controlled cycle in 13 years when I ovulated, and then did like freaking clockwork for a year till I switch back to hormones (I get pain on ovulation so I knew – super fun). I will be quite unprepared for any fertility issues we encounter, and feel like I am almost setting myself up for them with my surety. Only one way to find out though and we have to wait a bit until I’m ready for that test.

    • Ambivalence

      Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve learned that all the rational conversations you have before starting fertility treatments will go up in smoke once you go down the rabbit hole. We had those discussions, they’re just hazy memories now. The process makes you nuts and you can only make decisions when you’re in it. That’s been my experience anyway. I’ve tried to say ‘Okay we’ll just do x, y, z and then that’s it!’ and then a friend announces a surprise pregnancy and next thing I know, I’m back in the stirrups. The point about making decisions for your 60 year self really applies. Now decisions are based on pre-empting future regrets. 10 years from now I don’t want to think, ‘It wasn’t totally impossible, and we had the money, why didn’t we just give it one more shot!?!’ I want to at least have retroactive clarity that it just was NOT in the cards.

      • TravelerK

        Interesting. We tried for a year, and after failing got all the tests. They referred us to IVF and our response has been… wait a minute, do we really, really, REALLY want this? It’s interesting, if we’d just gotten pregnant, we would have been happy with that. But after spending a year pondering it all and crying and feeling broken, we’re done. We’re accepting life without kids and now it feels like the right choice.

        I’m so surprised at how this has gone. But hopefully it’ll all be OK. Good lluck with your treatment – I sincerely hope you have the family you want. :)

    • Maureen

      I had the same deep gut feeling for the same reasons – family history and also unsubstantiated theories about my body. I spent 4 months of trying looking into infertility treatments, diagnoses, and generally making myself neurotic. Guess what happened in the 5th month? Preggers! I regret spending that time stressing out and feeling blue. I definitely suggest sharing your feelings with your husband but don’t let it overtake you. If you do need fertility interventions there are tons of options and you will cross that bridge when you get to it. Good luck.

      • Daisy6564

        There is a book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which I highly recommend. It is not just for couples trying to conceive. I was reading it to do research on natural birth control without a religious component because I am interested in finding an alternative to the pill.

        One thing I read that was astounding was that there is a crazy high percentage of women these days who believe they are infertile before they have ever tried to get pregnant, compared to a very low percentage who actually are infertile. (I am not going to remember the percentages given in the book, but something like > 50% think they are and only like 15% actually are). I think it comes from all of our societal panic about the biological clock.

        The book is great because it teaches you about the signs of fertility and the natural functions of the female body. The author starts by talking about how many times she visited her campus health services in college thinking she has a vaginal infection because she had never learned, and the campus doctors still didn’t tell her about, cervical fluid. It made me realize how woefully uneducated we are about human fertility and reproduction. That and the “three holes” scene on season two of Orange is the New Black, which I remember happening verbatim in my suite sophomore year in college.

        • MDBethann

          In my case, DH and I were in the even smaller category of “unexplained infertility” (I think it’s something like 10% of infertile couples fall here). Yet after 3 rounds of IUI with all of the associated hormone shots, we took a month off and ended up pregnant. My doctor said that isn’t uncommon – it may have just been the case that my hormones were just slightly off and the shots helped regulate things. Kinda wish I’d known that a year and a half earlier, but oh well….

  • Kelly Mine-His

    Meg’s description here: “While I spent my early years wanting kids, once having kids seemed like a
    viable reality (instead of something that should be avoided at all
    costs), all my certainty vanished. Like, totally gone. I’d worked hard to build a life that really made me happy, and I was worried that by having kids I would be giving it all up.” sums up my feelings pretty much exactly

    I always thought I wanted kids. Now I’m married, and kids are thing that I could actually responsibly do, if I wanted. But now I have no idea if I even actually want them, or if I just can’t imagine life without them because I have no examples in my life of successful married childless couples.

    When I think about having kids, I’m not worried that I won’t love them or be a good parent, instead I have selfish worries. I think about risking my health (and truly, life) through pregnancy, months or years of not getting enough sleep, and more than anything else the terror of not knowing how it will change me. I hear all the time from women who always loved work and pursed their careers with drive and passion, but then they had a kid and their priorities shifted and work seemed less purposeful and fulfilling. I don’t want to suddenly not love my work, or be the same driven intense me that I am now. I think it’s fine for other women to make those choices, I just can’t imagine that I want to be the me who would make them.

    It doesn’t help that my husband is also unsure. I know he would have them if I really knew I wanted to, but that seems like too much of a decision to make all my own.

    • Meg Keene

      You know, it’s funny that we had the reverse. We didn’t know a lot of people WITH kids (or at least who had kids in a way we could imagine replicating). We knew just a FEW people who made it seem doable though, and it turns out every scrap of advice we got from them was right on.

      In short, models are powerful. And it sucks when you don’t have models of doing things a lot of different ways.

      The changing though. I can’t say don’t be worried about that because, OBVIOUSLY. That parts terrifying. But I can say that I think the way it tends to be framed isn’t helpful. I think the reality is, LIFE changes you. You just change, a lot, over time. And big things re-arrange our insides. Kids do it, but it’ll happen anyway. We’ll lose people, or love people, and things will just change. So I think what I mean to say is, you have the ability to hang on to the parts of yourself that matter. And I’ve found that most of the things that changed were CRAZY amazing changes. Like learning to love someone in a way you never did before. The changes that come with that are good ones, even if you can’t predict all of them.

      • Kats

        About models-being-powerful, gosh, but that’s spot-on. We’re finding as we start this particular roller coaster that there are an awful lot of models out there telling you how “hard” it is, how being a parent is “the biggest challenge,” or “such a struggle” and it’s terrifying. Staring down this past week at that first little set of double lines on a stick with a combination of “oh wow” and “holy [bleep]”, I was struck by how much overwhelming negativity there can be about parenting – all this talk of over-parenting, and under-parenting; of getting it wrong or trying too hard and making it worse. We’re leaning hard into the parts we’re hearing about “crazy amazing” changes, and waiting, and breathing, through the next few weeks as we watch the ride unfold.

        And no, we didn’t “know” we were ready. I don’t think we do now – the timing seemed right, the burden of “advanced maternal age” seemed to both buy us more time and less in trying, and things came together as they do. And if it goes south, we don’t know whether we would’ve been ready to be parents either. We’re figuring we’ll do the best we can, we’ll ask for help from those who have walked this path before, and in between all of that, we’ll try not to drop the sprog on its head and make sure it’s fed and bathed and slept regularly. Good rules for us too, I suspect.

        • Meg Keene

          The negativity is just pretty awful to live with, and awful to watch people living with.

          David and I were away this weekend for our anniversary, and we were out at a hotel pool where some kids were playing. I was enjoying watching them, because I mean NOBODY does a pool right like little kids, and one of them was about three, so I was enjoying seeing what 1.5 years would bring us. Anyway, the poor Dad keeps going “SHHHHH YOU MUST WHISPER” to these poor children in the middle of the summer in a swimming pool. (Times I whispered in a swimming pool as a child = NEVER.) Anyway, apparently he didn’t want to “upset” the “nice couples” by the pool. One couple was us, another couple also seemed unfazed. I mean. If you can’t handle kids enjoying a pool, perhaps you shouldn’t go to a pool where kids are allowed?

          But our whole culture is just SO negatively cracking down on parents for doing it wrong that we’re all trying so hard to prove that we aren’t those terrible parents. And if that means trying to make our kids whisper in the pool (hahaha) so be it.

          • Class of 1980

            Whisper? AT A POOL? What??????????????????????????????

            My wings are broken now. ;)

          • Meg Keene

            It really makes you feel like there is no reason to go on.

          • Class of 1980


      • p.

        “LIFE changes you. You just change, a lot, over time.”

        THIS. This idea just doesn’t get mentioned as often as I think it should. So often the focus is on how kids change your life (and how much kids will take from your life), but I haven’t had a kid (and may not have one) and yet my life has changed so much by other things.

        I thought having a kid would mean less time to spend with my husband. Then he changed jobs and that meant less time together. I thought having a kid would mean no money for vacations, then we bought a fixer-upper and that’s meant home less money for vacations. In some instances (the quality of certain friendships or certain family traditions) kids probably hastened a change, but often I can look back and see that some of these things were going to change anyway.

        • Meg Keene

          Also, see boobs.

          When people are like “but if I have kid my boobs won’t be as awesome.” Sadly, this is true. Even sadder, it will happen anyway.

          • Anony-nony

            I may sound very very selfish and superficial, but this is a real problem for me in the kids/no kids debate. I love my boobs! I love how my husband loves them! I don’t want them to be less awesome! But honestly that’s just one worry that I have about body changes and pregnancy. It took me forever to love the body I have now, and I don’t want to go through all that again.

          • Angela Howard

            It may be harder for you to love your body, but, speaking for my husband, his love for body (and boobs!) did not change during pregnancy or since our daughter was born. And the boobs do get bigger… :) But seriously, the harder part for me has been my image of myself, not his.

          • Anony-nony

            Total honesty here, the “bigger” part is what worries me… my boobs are abnormally large, which is why it took me a long time to love them. The idea of them growing larger, even several cup sizes? I don’t handle that well.

            But I”m glad to hear that your husband’s love for your body didn’t change, despite your own feelings. It’s one of my guilty-secret fears about pregnancy, and I know it’s unfounded.

          • Angela Howard

            Mine were pretty big to start with as well. In some ways I think that was an advantage with regard to my husband because he was obviously a boob man to start with, so he always he appreciated them getting bigger.

            My daughter is 6 months old and is still nursing. I didn’t really notice my breasts growing during pregnancy except when I got new bras around 12 weeks. Then I was a bit horrified at how big they were in comparison to my daughter’s head when she was born. I didn’t notice them jump in size when my milk came in a few days later, but I know they did. But seeing them every couple hours when I was feeding her, I quickly acclimated to their new size. Mostly now I occasionally catch a profile view of myself and realize how top heavy I am right now, but it isn’t on my radar very much.

            I am giving myself a hard time internally because I lost 30 lbs before I got married which I had pretty much kept off until I got pregnant and I’m having trouble motivating myself to do that again to lose the baby weight. I’m trying to be kind in my self talk until I’m ready to do what I know needs to be done. The hard part right now is how nursing, being tired, and my body image have sapped my sex drive.

          • Victwa

            Um, not to overshare, but my boobs seem pretty much the same post-baby as they were before. I mean, they grew and stuff, but they went back to basically being the same afterward. So it is possible for non-boob-changing to happen during baby-times.

        • MDBethann

          Exactly this. I stopped being as gung-ho about my job and wanting to advance in my organization when I got married. I used to LOVE all the work travel and I really wanted to move up the ladder. But once I met my DH, fell in love, moved in together, and then got married, I realized I didn’t want the stress that promotions would bring and I don’t enjoy the work travel as much anymore because HE isn’t traveling with me (travel is a lot more fun with my honey). I was honestly grateful that I’ve been on a project for over a year that doesn’t require travel, and if I get to blame not traveling or seeking promotion on Baby, then so be it, but the soon-to-be baby didn’t change things, life did.

    • Bibs

      Just from my own experience here, of course (but hearing from others really helped me, so I share): I actually became much more driven and passionate about my work after having a baby. I quit my bureaucratic boring desk job after maternity leave and started a business, largely because of becoming a parent. The perspective parenting gives me changes my thinking about work, along with everything else. I think of the kid as my little bull-shit meter, because when he arrived I absolutely lost all patience for nonsense and BS of any kind. So yes, I left my job, but I did it to focus on work that I’m passionate about, and I work harder now than I ever have because I’ve made the choice to be a kick-ass working parent, and I made the realization that it makes me a happier and better mom.

      • Erin

        This is so awesome to hear- thank you for writing this. Your words give me hope and inspiration. Best of luck to you, your family and your business.

      • Meg Keene

        YES THISSSSSSSS. I know so many women that this is true of. One of my friends was like “Well, if she’s gonna be in daycare I’m going to make some good goddamn money.” And her career jumped lightyears ahead. No time to waste.

      • z

        I was hoping I would get that motivation! But really I’m my same old lazy self. Although I do have less patience for time-wasting and find it easier to cut out things I don’t value.

        I think it’s pretty normal to have a mid-30s career plateau, when working just isn’t new and exciting anymore and you’re kind of settled in for the long haul. It just gets a little ho-hum when I contemplate the 35 years separating me from retirement! For a lot of people that plateau coincides with parenthood, and though parenthood may make it worse, it isn’t necessarily caused by parenthood. When home-life is interesting, exciting, and challenging, a slightly boring job can be the perfect fit.

        • Nkosizana

          So true, I have friends who say I’m getting a haircut because it’s what you do after your second baby (?!), I’m changing careers because it’s what you do as a mom, I’m not drinking because I can’t take alcohol since I had the baby…I’m in my late 30s and all the same things are happening to me and I don’t have children… it’s all just age…

      • Sarah Richards Graba

        Thank you! I love this: “my little bull-shit meter”; this is something I’m trying to approach, that having kids can actually make you a better person overall, and not always in that cheesy way. But in really practical ways as well. (Which, of course, is championed at and why I’m so drawn to this community!)

    • Celesta Torok


  • Adoption?

    I’m pretty much sure I want to adopt a child (or maybe even a sibling group) and FH feels the same way. In fact, we have talked a lot about it and he ONLY wants to adopt. I’m already worried about explaining this to my parents who are the kind of people who, let’s just say “have expectations.” I’m also worried about the expense and intensive process of getting approved for adoption. Will we be rejected because we don’t make enough money? Should we start the process 2 years before we think we will be ready because it could take that long? Has anybody on here ever chosen adoption even though it was not a necessity?

    • MEM

      We talk about adopting as well and would also like to hear from anyone who has gone this route. We are pretty firmly in the “no kids” camp but are still hooked by the idea of adopting an older child.

      • Katriel

        The great part about older child adoption is that once your homestudy is open and approved, you can keep it current as long as you want while you wait or search for a child that is a good match. We were ready for a kid by the time ours opened, and searched aggressively (adoption events, relentless social worker pestering) for a match. I know other families wait to see what kids are presented to them, to see what feels right without having a specific timeline in mind.

        We opened our foster-adopt homestudy in Jan. 2014, started emailing about specific kids immediately, were offered two interviews in Feb/Mar, were interviewed in Apr, met the child in May, had extended visitation in Jun/Jul and he moved in this August. So, essentially 8 months from opening homestudy to placement. YMMV based on how aggressively you search and how constrained your criteria are. We were open to 5-10 yo boys of any ethnicity and no major physical handicaps but with behavioral challenges and sibling groups (no more than 2).

      • Katriel

        Also – RESPITE CARE! If you’re not sure about kids, but you have a love for kids in the foster care system, become a respite family. Respite families take kids for 2-14 days at a time so that foster parents can get breaks, travel, etc. You do both the kids and the foster families a huge service while dipping your toes into what it may be like to parent children who have experienced trauma.

        • Jessica

          Just riffing off of that–my BIL does temporary child placement for families with volunteer families. It’s basically volunteer foster care when a parent(s) fall on hard times and they know they need to get their shit together before really being able to care for their children first. The BIL organizes the volunteer families with kids and will do the pick up and drop off. They are all usually a part of the same church or denomination, and it can end whenever the parents say they are ready.

          I’m sure there is a lot more to it, but it seems like a really great thing for kids to feel protected and taken care of. I’m sure it impacts the kids a lot, but 2 weeks in a different family’s house beats 2 months or 2 years of not knowing when you’ll see your mom or dad next.

          • Katriel

            Yeah – this is great too. In my state (and several adjacent states), this program is called “Safe Families” for anyone wanting to do some more internet research on the topic.

        • Adoption?

          Wow. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I’m going to start researching.

          • Katriel

            To become a respite parent, you do almost the entire homestudy you would to become a foster parent. In most state, you will not have to pay your homestudy costs, the state will cover them. So you’ll do background checks, assorted forms, in-person training and a home inspection. After that, your social worker will get a sense of the age of kids you can take, how many you’re willing to respite at a time, and how long/ how often you want respite kids in the home. For example, some families do only weekend (like Fri-Sun) respites, others are open to a week at a time, etc. Then when families ask for respite, you’ll be on the list of people they call to find a temporary placement. In my urban area, there are NEVER enough respite families, so here at least, you’d get more calls than you’d probably want to take.

          • lady brett

            also, in some places (like mine) there is no separation between respite and foster licenses…which mostly means that you’re going to have to be super firm with “the system” if you are serious about only doing respite, because if you have a bed they will try to fill it!

    • moonlitfractal

      Also, does anyone have experience adopting a child when you already have one? I know I’d like more than one child, but my current pregnancy has been extremely difficult (I was hospitalized in the first trimester, for example) and my husband rightfully doubts we’ll be able to care for our child during a second pregnancy if it goes as badly.

      • Chalk

        I’m in exactly your same situation. I doubt I’ll ever want to be pregnant again (or that my husband will want to go through this again with the added complexity of already having a kid), but I want more than one child.

      • Jennie

        I think I’ll be in your same situation. My pregnancy has been low risk (so far) and uncomplicated. AND for a number of reasons, I think this is my only pregnancy. AND we’d like two kids. The plan at this point is to adopt our second kiddo. That’s as far as we’ve gotten since kid #1 has yet to arrive. Basically echoing your question about others who’ve adopted a second.

      • Meg

        I have never adopted, though my husband and I plan to do so in the future. However, I am one of five children in my family, which includes three birth children (myself and two of my brothers) and two adopted children (my third brother and my sister). My brother and sister are #s 4 and 5 in the family and transitioned pretty seamlessly into our family. Every child (adopted or not) has challenges but overall it was a great experience for our family and there is no “second-hand” feeling about it.

      • Ann

        One of my youngest cousins is an adopted 4th child where the 3 older children are biokids.

        It has been… hard. I think it’s been made harder by the fact that my aunt and uncle had 3 biokids all with similar temperament and the youngest is COMPLETELY different. They claimed it was their parenting that made their first three super calm, obedient kids. Uh, no. Seems to be largely genetic. They’re in a super conservative circle, and having a kid who insists on marching to her own drummer has been hard on multiple levels. It’s getting a bit better as she reaches adolescence–they’ve learned a lot about accepting a child who is completely dissimilar to both of them. (Awesome side note: when this girl was 5, and I was over for dinner–I was 24 or so at the time–their father pointed out to the girls that he did not want them to turn out like me. You know, with a career and living in sin with my now husband. Later that night, my sweet, 5 year old adopted cousin whispered in my ear that she wanted to be just like me. <3).

        Extra complications involved adopting a child of color into a white family in an all white community, particularly since it comes from a place of "saving a poor child by raising them Christian." If you're going to adopt a child of a different race, make sure they have adults in their lives who look like them. This has been hard for my cousin, but again getting better–largely based on the efforts of the other adults in her life (and she has a lot of us). My aunt and uncle have NO friends of the child's race, but many of the rest of us do.

        All of that said, I am so happy that my little cousin is in my family. We all love her dearly, and she benefits from having a huge, loving family who bring more diverse people into her life.

        • snarkyteacher

          The adopting a child of color concerns me because we are both white, our families are largely white (by marriage we finally have some diversity!) and I wonder how the child would feel. Since many, many children in the foster care system are children of color, we know that any child we have will probably be a different race than us and, years away, are discussing how we might help the child feel comfortable/help the child if s/he is tease or anything. Working with (mainly) minority children the last two years has made me very aware of my whiteness and brought forth new concerns to worry about.

    • lildutchgrrl

      Adoption is my first choice, and it has become the choice for our baby family. Neither of us knows that we have any fertility concerns; it’s certainly possible that a pregnancy could be carried to term. But I really really don’t want to be pregnant. I have strong philosophical views about the matter, and some emotional less-rational feels as well, as well as some health concerns. I’ve had to explore and come to terms with the concept that adoption is not always (some say ever) a happy event for all involved; that it happens because something has gone wrong. I’d recommend a LOT of reading in conjunction with your first steps with an agency (if you go that route) — adoption professionals will be used to answering questions, but the reading will help you know which questions to ask. We started pre-planning before we even got married, and we’re just about ready (3 years? later) to submit our homestudy application. It could take another 2 years after that, but it could also be less. (This uncertainty is frustrating, to say the least.) So start your research now, even if you’re not financially ready or 100% sure, and find out about the wait times for your particular circumstances.

      • lady brett

        reminds me of this adoption quote:

        “A chid born to another woman calls me mom. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”
        -Jody Landers

        • Class of 1980

          Wow. Great quote.

        • Meg Keene

          Oof. Yeah, and for the adopted kids I’m close to, it’s not lost on them either.

        • Heather

          That’s incredibly eloquent.

      • snarkyteacher

        “I’ve had to explore and come to terms with the concept that adoption is
        not always (some say ever) a happy event for all involved;” I think this is the toughest part and what I’ve struggled with also. But the reality is, any child can have issues/troubles and when you choose to adopt a child, you are giving them a chance. To me, that chance is worth the heartbreak it may cause me.

      • Lizzie C.

        You’re pretty much my brain-twin, aside from the timeline. We’re enjoying a few more years of child-free adventure before starting the adoption process (for an older child, hopefully a sibling set). But that doesn’t stop me from reading adoption blogs and agency literature to get a feel for it in advance.

    • Jules

      I’m adopted. Also, my cousin and his wife are attempting to adopt a child. They’ve been on this road for ~18 months, and they’ve hit a few hiccups: had to switch agency (?) due to moving and start the process over, social worker told them they needed to lose weight first, etc. Not an expert on how long it takes, but it could take awhile….it just depends. My parents got us quicker than what was normal back in 1990 because they had no race or gender preferences. They had about 3 months’ heads up for my brother and literally 2 weeks for me. Haha.

      I *believe* the social worker just wants to know you can support the child. My cousin & his wife don’t make very much. She does freelance graphic design work and he’s a school counselor.

      No one I know has ever adopted not out of necessity, but I think it would be wonderful if people did. Makes adopted people feel a lot less like secondhand kids.

      • LikelyLaura

        Lose weight? Really? Interesting…

        • Jules

          I don’t think they passed the medical part of it? Had to do with being in good health. Not sure about the details of their process, although they should have had their first home visit last week.

    • snarkyteacher

      This is our plan, almost exactly. It is stressful and still years away for us! I’ve started mentioning it here and there when the kid questions come up (they started before we were even engaged for pitty’s sake). Our, not set in any sort of stone plan is to start the process when I am 30-33 (25 right now) and the older we are, the older the kid we are open to. From what I’ve heard and read, foster care to adoptions are “easiest” and as long as you can support a child, you won’t be turned down for financial reasons.

    • Lizzie C.

      We’re in the same boat and are committed to adopting older kids in a few years once we’ve checked off some bucket list adventures. In the meantime, our friends and cousins are having kids, and we’re starting to get the side-eye from our parents. Whom we haven’t told about our plans.

      My mom is fairly liberal and her sister adopted 3 kids, so I think she’ll get on board. But my in-laws are traditional, sometimes close-minded, and worried about the “family line” dying out. I also thing there’s stigma about adopting kids out of foster care, and I can picture well-meaning relatives asking about drug exposure, abuse, neglect, etc. that’s just none of their business. For now, every time our parents gush about their friends’ grandbabies, we sink down in our seats a little more.

  • joanna b.n.

    Wishing I had more clarity on this question for myself. Delighted to have the chance to hear from others in similar places. :)

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I went back and forth. And yes. I absolutely believe that had I not chosen to become a parent (and I’m grateful that I was in a position to choose motherhood), I would be just as fulfilled and just as happy. My life would be very different from what it is now but I never thought I couldn’t have a great life without kids.

    • Meg Keene

      I think I would have had a great life. I also think I would have missed something huge and life changing for myself (learning to love someone like that), not to mention the massive mourning thinking about my kid not being in the world.

      However, I wouldn’t have pursued other dreams. That’s sort of key to me. I’m doing what I wanted to do (and what I was doing). I’m actually arguably doing it WAY more successfully, because now, for me, the fire is on. I’ve had to say no to things, stop wasting time, stop doing things that are not good for me, and focus on paying the bills. That’s been AMAZING for my work. So, same dreams, with more focus, and I think more results.

      Without kids, we would have traveled more on our own (we traveled a bunch, we still do, but it’s different), and slept in a lot more. Those things would have been nice. Not AS nice, but damn nice.

    • Bibs

      I went back and forth and back and forth. And honestly, I both haven’t regretted having a baby for a single second (even when it is HARD), and am convinced that life can be fulfilling and full of love without children too. It is what you make it, no matter which path you choose. I struggle with the choice, I struggled with pregnancy, and I feel more myself as a parent than I ever have before. But I think I could have had a wonderful life either way.

    • Kristie

      A friend of mine who was on the fence about kids got pregnant by accident. She mentioned that, though she feels fulfilled now, she doesn’t think she would feel any less fulfilled had she not gotten pregnant. She admits that her life would definitely be different (more traveling, specifically, which I assume is a nod to the fact that her surprise pregnancy kept her from going on a trip to Africa she had been planning) but she doesn’t think she would feel anything missing.

  • andee

    It’s so ironic. You don’t know if you can even make a baby happen until you try, but you should be pretty sure if you are going to try because if you succeed congratulations! Oh crap it worked. It’s a like a mind trap. We’re ideally waiting until 2017 (I’ll be 32 then) so we can pay off our house. Yes it makes me feel like an asshole to delay a baby for financial reasons, but not having a house payment would open all sorts of doors. It’s a gamble but I don’t feel so far on the losing end that I’m not going to roll the dice.

    • Meg Keene

      I don’t know how much of a gamble that is. When you look at the actual fertility (and downs) charts, you don’t see a real spike in trouble till around 36 (and even then, they are pretty small numbers). Getting pregnant at 32 is not any kind of late. I had a baby at 32, and I didn’t feel old in the slightest.

    • Christina McPants

      Depending on the area, day care can cost as much as a mortgage. That makes sense to me.

      • Meg Keene

        Yeah, it’s almost rent for us. That said, it’s WAY worth it. And out here when people try to argue it makes it not worth it to stay home, I tend to raise an eyebrow, because the people bringing it up always make WAY more than what daycare costs in a month. I’d pay more if I knew it would mean his caregivers were paid better.

        • Kara E

          We have a nanny, terrible for us financially right now, but absolutely right for us in all other ways. Our kiddo basically got kicked out of daycare at 10 months because she was so miserable–and making everyone else miserable too. She was also sick for 75% of the 4 months she was there. Right now, we’re saving a lot for retirement, but every other penny I earn (in my part time job) goes to our amazing nanny. Also, we live in a state (CO) where the average daycare costs MORE than the state university/college. So…my job is basically the means to paying my nanny and our very far future retirement. But, I like my job, love my coworkers, and would never have this kind of flexibility or environment elsewhere, so I’m sticking with it for now.

          • Meg Keene

            I think so much of parenthood is just figuring out what WORKS, you know? What works for everyone involved, baby included. I wish we thought less about right and wrong choices and more about “is everyone happy?” Because happy baby / happy mama, happy mama / happy baby, it’s sort of a endless feedback loop and you keep adjusting and re-adjusting.

            AND. I hope you remind yourself that staying in the workforce does lead to higher lifetime wages, so you’re not JUST paying the nanny. (Though, I feel you. If we had a nanny one of our salaries would have to go for that.)

  • We are an interesting predicament, I think. My husband works one of those soul crushing jobs, pushing paperwork – completely unfufilling. So we have plans for him to quit someday soon(ish) and pursue a job in food/bar service with the ultimate dream of opening a gastropub. I don’t see how a baby would fit in to this dream and the long hours and days he will be working and I will continue working my 8-5 job because a restaurant is very risky venture.

    We are very 50/50 on having kids. I think we would be good parents and would enjoy raising children, but we don’t feel a strong pull to do so. Our chance to have a bio-babies could easily come and go.

  • Tania

    Two week’s ago we discovered I am pregnant after a ridiculously short time of not not trying. My husband is glowing. I am terrified and mourning the forthcoming loss of our life where it is just us. I am surprised at my reaction. I thought I’d be excited. I wanted kids and I’m getting old and have many friends struggling to get pregnant. So currently feeling a little guilty for not feeling more excited. And, being a worrier, am constantly worrying about something going wrong. This must mean that deep inside I really am wanting this, right?

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I don’t think it means anything other than how you currently feel. We’re allowed to have complex feelings and it doesn’t always have to mean anything huge. I got pregnant fairly quickly and I was sort of …thrown by that. And honestly, I went through a lot of emotions when I was pregnant — excited, happy, nervous, what the fuck did I just do…all of that. It didn’t mean anything. They were just different emotions I had to something that was incredibly huge. I would suggest give yourself room to just be and just feel and don’t overanalyze it so much esp at this stage in the game.

    • Bethany

      I feel exactly the same way! Except I’m 38 weeks pregnant…

    • b.

      I obviously can’t speak to whether you really want it or not, but you sound like me. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out when my fear is because it’s really something I don’t want to do, and when it’s just my normal fear of change. As a worrier, it’s hard to tell the difference. For me, trying to think, “does this fit my pattern of worrying? Is this something that I actually wanted before it was right up against my face?” helps. We’re not ready to try, but I think we’re in the “getting ready to get ready to try” phase – sorting our home and careers and finances out – but when I think about having a baby, even though I’m pretty sure it’s something I want, I still feel scared. I can imaging feeling just like you when it finally happens – thinking “I should be excited but I’m mostly not”, while my husband gets super excited.

      So anyway, I think it’s normal, if it’s normal for you, and trying to understand the difference between “this is not what I want” and “this is my fear of change” is helpful.

    • that’s all totally normal, and i don’t think those feelings are talked about anywhere close to enough in our culture. have you heard of sheryl paul and her website ? She has a whole e-course on motherhood/birthing a new mother. she specializes in transition work.

    • Meg Keene

      There is nothing wrong with feeling how you feel. Your only job is to own it, without guilt.

      Actually, you have a second job. To watch (and ask your partner to watch for you), and if you feel this tipping towards depression, get medical help immediately, hopefully with no shame or guilt. It’s vitally important.

    • Christina McPants

      31 weeks pregnant and my feelings during this thing have run the gamut from elation to utter despair, that I’ve ruined our marriage, etc…

      I had a bit of a mourning period after I got engaged, that I’d never travel to Australia to teach yoga or quit my job to make jam or join the Peace Corps or do those other kinds of solo journeys that are much more complex when you’re part of a couple. You’re allowed to do the same for a life without the forthcoming tiny pooping tyrant (as I affectionately refer to the baby).

    • MC

      Y’know, it seems like on this thread there are a lot of women saying that their male partners are more sure than they are, and I have to assume that all that comes from biological difference. Like, (cis) men can be sure that they want to be a parent, but they just cannot fathom on most levels what it is like to carry and birth a baby. Like Meg says, women have good reason to be wary of pregnancy and childbirth, and men just don’t have that. They can be sympathetic, sure, but it just ain’t the same.

      And then there’s SOCIETY, which basically teaches men that fatherhood is easier than motherhood, so men don’t get a lot of the messages that women do about all you lose when you become a mother.

      I think it’s fascinating – as a 20something, I know plenty more men that are gung-ho and certain about parenting, while often their female partners are more hesitant. And it’s like, OBVIOUSLY.

      • Anonymous

        Or how about the studies that show that having children is *good* for men’s careers, while harmful for women’s? Maybe men can be so ecstatic because it means a raise is in the works :-P

      • My husband argued that people say to him all the time “you better take care of her.” He’s feeling tons of pressure from that expectation, but I can’t feel even a little sorry for him on that level. What about the fact that I have to carry the child through the pregnancy AND can’t support me, the baby or all of us? Any independence I ever felt I had is completely gone. If it were my responsibility, I’d lose our house and have to move back in with my parents. I have no doubt about it. So, while my husband feel societal pressure to take care of me/us, I am a failure on all points – feminist independence, career success, financial security, happy pregnancy. Sometimes I think he’d really be better off without me. It’s a good think that’s not how he feels and that he wants this baby, probably more than me.

  • HannahESmith

    “I’d worked hard to build a life that really made me happy, and I was worried that by having kids I would be giving it all up.” Yes. Well, sort of. I feel like both my husband and I are still working on making a life that makes us happy. I still want the ability to change our lives, which are still in the work in progress stage. We’re 28, and I know we have time, but there are so many more things I want to do.

    My father also worked 28 years at a job he hated to provide for our family. While it was very admirable, and I am so grateful, I am so scared of ending up the same way. I spent most of my twenties being a responsible adult, but I now find myself craving risk, adventure and change. I’m not ready to give up those possibilities by having kids. Yet I know I want kids. I’m guessing I’m not alone in these feelings.

    • Do you have to give up risk, adventure, and change when you have kids though?

      • HannahESmith

        That’s a good question. I guess maybe you don’t have to. However, I do think you have another little person who’s future you have to think about does impact the decisions you make. I guess my assumption is that when you have kids, they become your priority.

        • They definitely become A priority. And adventure with just a carry on becomes a little harder because of all the things that make having them easier that you have to take with you. But I think teaching them about risk, adventure, and change can be a priority as well.

        • Meg Keene

          What Giggles said. She’s a smart one.

          My job is to give my kid values I can be proud of passing on, and hopefully a childhood I can be proud of. That means letting him meet a lot of kinds of people, that means letting him see his mom go for something she loves, that means taking him with us when we see the world. I’d be doing him such a disservice if I stopped building a business, or traveling, or socializing with all kinds of people, because he was here now. It’s not that those things are so important, it’s that those are the things that make me ME. And my job is to let him see what building a full life looks like, not to become a shell of myself, because I think that’s what parents should do.

          • HannahESmith

            So true. The problem is the risks my husband and I want to take right now are with our careers, which makes me worry that we wouldn’t be able to support a child. We both have stable jobs that are very unsatisfying. Fortunately, I am 28 and I wouldn’t want to have kids until my 30s. I have to hope that if we take risks with our careers now that those risks will pay off and kids will be a possibility financially speaking by the time we’re in our early 30s.

          • Meg Keene

            Oh for sure. That’s so much time. I was a secretary when I turned 30, and I’d just finished a national book tour when I got pregnant at 32. Things happen fast, when it’s time for things to happen fast.

            Also, you don’t have to have all the money in the world for kids. And you have 9 months to figure it out.

          • HannahESmith

            That does make me feel so much better. Thank you!

          • NTB

            This comment is literally LITERALLY making me feel all kinds of better about my life. <3 Thanks. I love this site.

          • Meg Keene

            Also, I just realized I was still 31 when I got pregnant. That’s how fast things can go, right there.

          • love this, thank you.

  • Eh

    I have always wanted kids. My husband wanted kids too but was terrified of all the things that could go wrong. Then he decided that he had to let go of the fears or we might never have children (he always said he wanted to wait a year after we were married so he could get used to being married but he changed his mind after six months and didn’t want to put it off that long). We decided to wait to start trying until after a wedding I was in this summer (lol we actually started “trying” when we got to the hotel after the reception). Unfortunately right before the wedding, my SIL had a second trimester miscarriage and it has been very hard on our whole family. The miscarriage happened just as my husband and I were getting excited about trying, and then it hit us in the gut and reminded us that this is going to be a difficult journey. On one hand I am excited to be trying but I am still very terrified.

  • scw

    I want kids, my partner wants kids, and our families are very supportive of us having kids but we don’t feel any pressure from them, so I know that in a lot of ways I have it easy in this department. what I am terrified, terrified of is the pregnancy and birth. pregnancy is (hopefully) still a little bit down the road for us, but I’d love to hear recommendations for literature about pregnancy that is realistic but comforting about the process.

    • Meg Keene

      You know what? Being terrified about pregnancy is probably just smart. Here is the truth: we have modern medicine on our side so RAH RAH we are very lucky. Before modern medicine, lots of women died in childbirth. It’s smart to be a little scared of it.

      I wouldn’t have been born without modern medicine, and I wouldn’t have made it out of labor (at least with a living baby) without it, chances are pretty good on both fronts. And that’s why I’m very leery of some of the places the “natural” childbirth movement leads to. BUTTTTTT. I did make it, and I had a really positive birth experience even.

      I don’t have a lot of good books to recommend, I found them mostly nuts in one way or another. But I do recommend taking a good birth class, and getting a good doula if you can. For us, the doula was mostly just supporting David, I didn’t have any contraction breaks to get supported during. But being tapped into the doula/birth community is what got me through six weeks of protracted labor.

    • emilyg25

      I really, really like Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, by Penny Simkin. It’s still kind of terrifying, because pregnancy and birth are huge and weird and amazing. But it’s pretty balanced and lays out all your options. It might be good for you if you’re one to take comfort from factual information.

    • Christina McPants

      My insurance company sent me the Mayo Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and I actually found the information pretty decent. I also enjoy Pregnant Chicken as a blog, though it can be a lot of baby item reviews. AVOID BABYCENTER, it’s got some crazy. I have also heard not good things about What to Expect.

      • Meg Keene

        Oh, I had “Your Pregnancy Week By Week” (we share an editor, oddly, and it’s the second best seller after the terrible What to Expect). I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it, though I used “Your Baby Week By Week” a ton in the early months.

        • MDBethann

          I’m glad to see someone else say “What to Expect” is terrible. I was given a second hand copy and it is incredibly bossy, if a book can be bossy. I’ve flipped through it a few times and look something up if I’m curious, but it is overly proscriptive and I’m not impressed. And the “best results” diet they promote is fairly extreme (I say this as someone who belongs to a CSA, cooks nearly all of our meals from scratch, and buys very little packaged food outside of basic pasta, rice, crackers, etc). Balance and moderation is key to anything in life and ugh. Again not impressed and am glad I’m not the only one.

    • I’m with you, I’m TERRIFIED of being pregnant and I can’t even really process birthing.

      I spend a lot of child conversations trying to convince my partner that we should wait until science makes it possible for him to be the one to carry it. heh. I don’t think he’s into the idea so much.

      • Lizzie C.

        Ahahahahaha! Where’s the research foundation for that science? I will throw money at it!

    • Jennie

      I think a big part of the reason people are terrified of pregnancy and birth (and death for that matter) is because we see it so rarely in our culture. Sure, people of certain age have friends who’ve been through it, but there is a lot of pressure for the people with good experiences to keep quiet and those with bad experiences have so few healthy ways of processing that they share in sometimes inappropriate ways what happened.

      As a pregnant person and as a doula, I recommend becoming familiar with what normal pregnancy and birth looks like. You can read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, fact based books like ‘Mayo Clinic Guide’ and ‘Pregnancy, Childbirth & the Newborn’. Ina May’s book is based entirely on out of hospital births and while the location of birth is not where 99% of women (in the US) birth, I think the stories can normalize the process and reduce a lot of fear.

      If you find yourself pregnant at some point, find a good childbirth education class that teaches you about the process of birth and supports different ways of birthing (medicated and unmedicated). AND find a birth doula. A doula will meet with you during pregnancy, help you prepare for your birth and then be there with you during the birth. That person will also come to your home to check on you once you’re home with your baby.

      Like Meg said, pregnancy and birth CAN be scary, there can be serious complications associated with pregnancy; those of us in countries with good medical systems are lucky to have access to the kind of care we have access to. But it doesn’t need to be scary and many women have normal, uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies. Fear does not improve outcomes, so doing what you can to reduce fear while protecting yourself with good/thorough care providers is SO important.

      • Bibs

        I completely agree that a doula is a MUST, especially for first time parents. Regardless of the type of birth you’re hoping for (not “planning for”, that’s pretty impossible), a doula is a huge psychological help as much as physical. I had a medicated, some what intervention-y birth, and the doula was key to keeping all of us calm and focused. I hired her because I wanted at least one person in the room to know what the hell was going on, and I’m so glad I did.

  • Teresa

    I knew my mind had changed when I burst into tears watching Tammy Taylor tell Coach Taylor she was pregnant and again each time I watch an episode of My Grandmother’s Ravioli (Mo Rocca hanging out with old people and their families really gets to me!). I have begun to talk about it to more people than my husband, even drunkenly telling his aunt and cousin my secret baby names at a family wedding last month. We know it is probably a thing that will happen. But, holy shit. We are terrified. What if something is wrong with the baby? What if we get so overwhelmed with baby stuff that we start to seriously neglect our marriage? What if it just sucks? Do we have to move to the suburbs? What if we start trying and it doesn’t happen? We are 30 (well, I’ll be 30 in 2 weeks!) and have a rough 2 year plan to keep traveling and then re-evaluate the status of our desire to stay in the city/have a kid, but I’m afraid to wait too long because…complications and risks. So, we know that we think we want kids, we know that we are terrified, and we know that we don’t know when we want to have these kids or where we want to live when we do that. Just because you know doesn’t mean you really do!

    • AnonM.

      We have recently decided to start trying within the year, and we are located in NYC.

      I used to UNEQUIVOCALLY INSIST that we must move away, to a smaller, cleaner, less…everything place, closer to family, before I’d have a baby. I refused to ride the subway pregnant! It just wasn’t what I thought I wanted or could handle. And though we have long-term, fuzzy plans for moving away to a place that’s a little of a better fit for us, right now husband’s amazing, magical unicorn job is here, and it might be a few more years before we can move, and we may end up here forever, though I hope not. We don’t love it, but sometimes we do, and often we really like it, and on the other days we stay home :)

      Once we, as purely a thought experiment, dropped the idea of We Must Leave, and said simply, What If?, it opened us up to truly thinking about if we wanted children and what it might be like for us as we are now, instead of being blinded by our bias against our location. It won’t be the same for anyone else necessarily, but reframing the conversation (and reading The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us, as Meg recc’d below) did wonders. For us, we realized in very short order and complete agreement that the are no more forseeable WRONG times to have a child, and that soon may well be just as good as any other time in the future. Certainly we can’t count on it being exponentially better at this point with our work and housing situations, at least not in the next few years, and we have good health. And our personal preference is to have our children younger if we can (we’ll both be 30 next year). So, it’s looking like trying within the next 6-8 months. And having a baby in the city! Who knew.

      Tl;dr: We reframed out conversation re having a kid in the city, and it really shook up the convo for us and led to progress. Good luck!

  • Mary Jo TC

    I do think All Joy and No Fun is a great book on this topic. It thoroughly describes the challenges of parenthood, but also why parents nonetheless are usually very happy about the decision to have kids. It explains in a non-condescending way what non-parents are missing out on. I found it easier to take this book seriously than relatives saying ‘kids are the greatest’ ‘you’ll die alone’ etc. I think reading it could really help someone who’s on the fence.

    Thanks so much for starting this thread. Ambivalence about this is sooo normal, but so taboo. I was less than 100% certain when we decided to get pregnant, but did it anyway, and had some difficulty with people making me feel guilty about feeling ambivalent during the pregnancy. I don’t regret it for a second, but I do miss a lot of things about my life before the baby, and mourning those things was/is important.

    • Meg Keene


    • vegankitchendiaries

      Buying that book!

    • Thanks for recommending this! I’m not on the fence but I could definitely use some material about this that isn’t as polarized as a lot of the stuff out there.

    • lady brett

      i really want to read this.

  • Christina McPants

    I started writing a response to this and then scrapped it because I didn’t think it was the “right” thing to say. But here’s what I’ve since thought.

    I’m 33, 7.5 months pregnant with our first. It took 7 months of trying. 7 really hard, emotional months. At the time, I didn’t doubt we were doing the right thing. Now I’m pregnant… and I do. Frequently. I don’t think it’s just the hormones. I’m terrified I’m not going to be a good parent, that the fact that I’m going to be the breadwinner and my wife gets to stay at home with my daughter-to-be will lead to her rejecting or resenting me or all that other crap.

    But I think having kids is still a Sorry/Grateful situation. There’s never a right answer. But man, at the time, how I *wanted* it. And I still do. And I’m still so excited, but I’m sure I’ll be watching the ghost ship and be regretful / happy. I still don’t feel ready. But eventually, you have to jump, trust that you’ll fall where you’re supposed to and that you got enough wily ducks lined up first.

    For practicality’s sake, it’s important to remember that you probably won’t get knocked up immediately and build that into whatever time frame you make. It takes a while, even if you’re tracking everything and trying. (Ladies who got knocked up on the first try, I am not ashamed to say I *totally* resent you) In the 7 months that we tried, after we’d bought a house and renovated a kitchen together, my job began offering paid parental leave, I got a raise, we got a dog and my wife expanded her business. That time wasn’t wasted, but I think I’ll always remember it as holding my breath.

    • lildutchgrrl

      Massive <3 for Sondheim.

    • Alison O

      However! You might think it will take you a year to get pregnant because we hear pretty often about infertility in the media these days, and then you’ll get pregnant right away. This happened to two friends’ of mine, and it really took them aback.

      • Christina McPants

        Very good point. I went into our process with very high expectations after having heard a few too many ‘boom, pregnant!’ stories, which made the next few months of trying that much more difficult. It’s something like a 15% chance each cycle?

      • Crayfish Kate

        Yes! Also happened to two friends of mine! Both got pregnant on the first try, so they didn’t have much time to be wishy-washy b/c…it was happening regardless.

    • Sarah Richards Graba

      Thanks for bringing up Sugar. That article is helping me so much right now.

  • Mac

    My husband has always wanted kids and I’ve always been on the fence. When we got married I made a request that for one full year at least we not mention kids – when we might have them or even if we were going to have them. After that year I was open to the idea of kids for some reason. I’ve known since high school that I have some reproductive issues that could make it difficult to conceive so my Dr. advised that it would probably take awhile to get pregnant and it would most likely require some sort of medical intervention. So we decided then (last summer) that we would try in the new year to give us plenty of time. And to everyone’s surprise I got pregnant right away. Like RIGHT away. So fast that I didn’t even realize I was late, I just thought my body was working itself out after years of birth control pills. And I found out during the very first week at my brand new, dream job. When I saw the “pregnant” result I just stood there in disbelief. Not happy disbelief either. When I showed the test to my husband I couldn’t even speak, I just cried. I have moments of being really happy about it, but mostly I’m terrified. It hasn’t helped that this pregnancy has been really rough. My husband is over the moon and I feel horrible that for the most part I can’t reciprocate his enthusiasm. It feels really good to write that…

    • Dom

      I think the biggest thing is that you can say “yes, we will start trying now and see what happens” but getting pregnant is a one shot deal – it only takes once. So no matter what you plan and hope is going to happen it is just still up to chance. Being terrified in a situation you have no control over what the future might bring is completely normal, in my opinion.

      Luckily, pregnancy doesn’t last forever and babies grow quickly. Hopefully more happy moments are coming your way!!

  • emilyg25

    I was certain I wanted to be a mother and I was STILL terrified about it. Hell, I’m four months pregnant now and that terror hasn’t really gone away. It’s an amazingly vast, irrevocable unknown. Of course it’s scary!

  • BB

    My husband has a form of auto-immune arthritis. This means lots of things. It means that if we wanted to have biological children, we would need (want) to do genetic testing to make sure it wouldn’t be passed on. Additionally, my husband would have to go off all of his medication for at least a year before we started trying to conceive because the medication is toxic to sperm. This means pain, crushing fatigue, brain fog, and likely inability to work a full time job (even on the medicine he can barely do this). Then, it would likely take an additional year to re-balance his meds once he went back on. Even ignoring this, most of his medications are severe immuno-suppressants (with a large cancer risk), which means that with a child (read: germ vector) around, he could be sick frequently, and could even die from relatively trivial infections. This weekend we decided that we can’t have children while he is on these immuno-suppressants because beings sick and/or being afraid of getting sick all the time sounds like hell (ignoring all the rest of the on/off drug issues), and quality of life is important. It would be a shitty way to live for both of us. It’s not that we wanted kids right now–we don’t–it’s just that I feel like the decision has been taken away from us. How have other people dealt with this? In particular, I’m (already) tired of pregnancy jibes from coworkers/family members because it feels more raw that it would if we were just choosing not to have kids.

    • AllieEm

      So, so, sorry to hear about this. I too have an autoimmune arthritis with a strong genetic component (maybe the same as your husband, AS?).

      All I can say is that I was really worried about becoming pregnant for the same reasons, and had a pleasantly surprising conversation with my rheumatologist about new drugs on the market, etc. And that I had options and that having kids was do-able, health-wise.

      I can’t say anything about coming to terms with the decision not to, as we plan to have kids. But I can sympathize with how scary it can be to deal with this stuff and that there’s not an easy answer.

    • Marcela

      Fellow creaky here. I’m just jumping back onto biological immunosuppressants after years of going almost completely drug free. One of the big things my doctor and I talked about was the risks of being pregnant with my RA. I got all sorts of tests done to check if I would have difficulty carrying to term (miscarriages can be common with certain forms of RA) and I found out how many of her patients who do get pregnant have an almost complete cessation of their inflammatory processes to the point where they feel great during the pregnancy. That took a huge load off my mind as far as being scared of the actual pregancy side of things.
      Now whether or not I feel I will be able to deal with the tiny human when it comes, is a completely different story. My husband and I are going to have to have some long conversations about what my limitations will be due to the fatigue and suppressed immune system and compromised mobility.

      Good luck and if you ever want to talk about this stuff, let me know!

  • I love this. Completely. And I love that this is a discussion here.

    We talked about trying for a year before we actually stopped preventing. It took us about six months to get pregnant, and I remember the first few months of not getting pregnant silently thanking the universe that I had another month of not being pregnant. And since we did get pregnant (found out in January, due in September) I have been scared out of my mind. I’ve struggled with minor depression during the pregnancy, but more than anything, I feel worried that I won’t love this human enough when he or she arrives. It’s a terrifying feeling that no one is really willing to listen to, because it doesn’t fit our narrative about pregnancy.

    • Christina McPants

      I can’t remember the name of the HuffPost article, but it was by a woman who was pregnant by accident, with anxiety issues and a traumatic birth. She talked about not loving her baby a long time after birth. It’s actually completely normal (especially for the partner not birthing the baby), especially when you’re so sleep deprived and hormonal. But it was only through her piece that I was introduced to the fact that this might even be a possibility.

      • Thanks Christina! I’ll take a look for the article.

        I’m lucky to have a friend who openly talks about not liking her baby for the first couple of months. But holy cow, I can’t imagine how hard it is to be that honest in the face of a narrative that glamorizes/shames women about being a mother.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Been there. It’s hard. I didn’t dislike my baby but I didn’t love her. I had to develop a relationship with her, a bond with her and that took time. Now there aren’t enough words to express how much I love that little girl. It happens and I had some friends who were extremely supportive which helped.

          • swarmofbees

            I had a similar experience with my daughter. Pregnancy was a truly amazing experience – in that I was amazed at what was happening. But, I didn’t necessarily feel bonded with my child before birth. When she was born I felt like I loved her, but didn’t like her yet. I don’t make friends easily, so it was somewhat understandable to me that it would take me a little while to like this new person in my life. I thought she was a perfect creation, and I was overwhelmed at the whole birth process. But, I still remember the first time when I looked down into her crib and was truly happy to see her. My husband had changed her in the middle of the night and so she was wearing something extra cute. It was in that moment that I finally felt a bond with her. This was at least a few weeks after she was born, but I can’t remember when exactly. I still remember the guilt I felt for not thinking the moment she was placed on me in the hospital was the best moment of my life. Mostly I was tired and doing my best to go through the motions of life and motherhood and didn’t feel I had the capacity to focus on my emotional life. It can also take a while for the real rewards of motherhood to kick in – smiles, laughter and hugs. Some people love newborns, but not everyone. Now almost three years later, we have a great bond and I not only love her completely, but I also like her.

          • anonanonanon

            My sister talks about a similar experience right after birth… she has 3 kids and said that the 3rd kid was the only one that she actively wanted to hold and see and be with right after birth (or for the first 2 days, really). Part of that could be because of being in labor all day before having c-sections for the 1st 2 kids. But, she was the first person to admit to me that someone wasn’t elated to see their baby 2 seconds after he/she was born.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I also didn’t bond with my baby while pregnant. The experience of pregnancy was so surreal that I could not emotionally do that.

          • Meg Keene

            GOD ME TOO.

      • Meg Keene

        Also, there can be really serious maternal mental health issues after birth that can be serious problems (and are still not taken seriously enough). Those can really get in the way of forming a bond with your baby. There needs to be way less shame and way more treatment, if you ask me.

    • AnonM.

      Jessica Valenti wrote a wonderful piece at The Guardian after the birth of her preemie baby, about learning to love her. It’s great, and so are the supportive/”been there” comments. Really great.

      • Meg Keene


    • Meg Keene

      I just. I really have been there. I wasn’t to reassure you that you WILL. In fact, your mind will probably be blown with love. It might not be right away (it was pretty fast for me, but isn’t always) but it will come and one day it will knock you over. (I’ve known people for whom it took two years, and that’s the LONG end, but it came.) It also might not look like a hallmark card, but it’ll be no less real for that.

      What no one tells you is that how you feel during pregnancy really has NOTHING to do with how you feel as a parent. Pregnancy and parenthood are just… not the same thing at ALL.

  • Jessica

    Again, APW hits things at the right time. I just wrote a letter to my husband about meeting some new neighbors of ours who have an 11 month old, and they made parenting look so COOL. He’s a stay-at-home dad who is happy to do that until the kid(s) are in school because he doesn’t love the work he was doing. She moved to our state to be closer to his family but was able to keep her awesome, high-power job and work remotely. They have a dog. They have 1 car. They are super chill and can talk about something other than their baby, even while we were following her around the yard to make sure she didn’t get into anything she shouldn’t. They made me feel like being a parent was not something that sucked up your personality and spit out a crazy person (as great as APW words and stories are about being able to stay yourself, it’s always different actually seeing this in action). This was kind of the thing that slid me into “yeah, this could be us” territory from “oh God, what will happen to us” land.

    • Yes! Meg’s early essays on parenting, plus some other bloggers I love, helped me understand that our lives don’t have to be about the kid, which was always my fear. That my life would become about this human and I wasn’t allowed to have an interest in anything else. Also, reading “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman helped a ton.

      • Jessica

        We’re still a few years from trying, but I have been bookmarking relevant stuff. “Bringing Up Bebe” is probably a book I’ll buy, read, then buy copies for my parents and friends.

        • You may have this bookmarked already, but Liz’s series “babies are scary.” was incredible. This series was one that helped my husband figure things out.

          • Jessica

            Oh goodness yes. Thanks!

          • Love this thread in particular. I’m definitely going to check “Bringing up Bebe” at the first opportunity. Thank you!

      • AnonM.

        “Also, reading “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman helped a ton.”

        Like, multiple tons. SO MUCH. :)

      • dearabbyp

        Got “Bringing Up Bebe” yesterday qt the library and stayed up way past my bedtime reading it. And then reading parenting blogs trashing it and realizing that it was then probably the right approach for me. :)

        • I have been loving Bringing Up Bebe. It figures that americans would trash a book that might actually work. In talking with my mom about some of the approaches in the book, she replied that it’s just common sense. I guess at least as a baby I was raised a little more french than I knew. Things like “the pause” and creating independence by having your baby sleep in a different room (why does everyone I speak with insist we put her in bed with us????)
          I’m still only 22 weeks pregnant but it’s the only thing that makes me think I can maybe handle some of this parenting thing. All the woo woo freedom ideas that my friends seem to come up with just make me feel overwhelmed and completely unable to deal.

          • MDBethann

            I am at only 25 weeks, but we don’t have room in our bedroom for a bassinet & I am not doing co-sleeping (DH and I are both pretty restless). Baby is going in his/her crib in the room across the hall from night 1 at home, period.

    • MC

      We’ve had kind of the opposite experience – we were very wishy-washy on kids until we met some awesome adults who don’t have kids and still have a full, rich life and are caretakers in other areas. And they’re very willing to talk openly about their decisions to not have kids of their own. That made us think, “Oh, this is how we would do it.” So important to have role models.

      • Jessica

        Role models are the best! I personally am the one who didn’t really want kids–it always seemed to me being a mother is a burden and I would be the one to have to do double duty, even though I love working and wouldn’t want to have to worry about picking up a sick kid or staying home or whatever. I don’t really know where I got this idea because my mom was definitely not the primary caretaker for several years of my young life (oh media representation). Husband is the one who really wants children, I’m terrified of pregnancy. So we are having one and plan to adopt one of the opposite sex. I’ve already made him promise that the girl gets my last name, so it’s like a signing bonus.

        • aldeka

          I wish I had a role model.

          My fiance very definitely wants kids in the next 1-3 years. I’m hesitant. Part of my reason for hesitation is financial and job considerations, but the real reason is that no one else in our cohort of friends has kids, or is anywhere close to having them (as far as we know). I don’t want to be first.

          We had one acquaintance who’s a little older than us, and after he had a baby I never saw him again. Now he lives up in Petaluma and has a different friend circle. I’ve heard so much about parents making friends around their baby/child’s activities, that they only become friends with other parents… I’m afraid that our single and DINK friends won’t hang out with us anymore if we become parents.

          • Jessica

            I totally understand that fear, and I don’t think it’s misplaced at all. I think it takes more work in a friendship when one couple has kids and the other doesn’t.

            I know a few people who are about 6-10 years older than I am who have kids that are in school. It’s sometimes easier to be friends with them than with the folks who have toddlers because the older kids can entertain and problem solve themselves. They can adapt better to all-adult situations with a book or with a video game once the obligatory chitchat is done.

            Re: Friends when I have kids: I foresee not hanging out with some friends once the kid comes along because they don’t like kids. I foresee it hurting people (including husband and me) and feeling lonesome and shitty. I also can see rekindling friendships or planning special days with old friends or trying to get old friends and new friends together because kids will not be the only thing we have going on in the future (but babies do take up a lot of time and some toddlers demand attention).

    • Meg

      Yeah I was initially really scared about becoming a parent because my sister has made it out to be the worst thing. Constant complaining from conception to kindergarten (well first grade now). However I have some friends who had a baby a few years ago and they really haven’t changed. Seriously we hung out for an afternoon and the mom just casually nursed while we all talked about comic books like the old days. Having role models like that really helps.

      • Jessica

        My SIL didn’t really help–for 2 years the only thing the in-laws could talk about was our niece. It was ridiculous. We would try to change the subject and it wouldn’t last for more than 3 minutes before it was back to the baby. I also don’t really agree with how their raising her in some areas, so that was a barrier to me as well.

  • S. Elizabeth

    As always, thank you for reading my mind and opening up a forum to discuss these fears. I’ve been married for one year and while my husband and I both want kids someday, I’m feeling very ready to start trying, while he remains in the “let’s have another couple of years to ourselves” camp. I’m 27 so biologically there’s no rush, and he makes some pretty valid points about how much we’ll lose when we have a little one (freedom, finances, sleep), but I’m so focused on what we’ll GAIN – and my heart continues to yearn for it at embarrassing proportions – that it trumps all the negative. I know it’ll be insanely hard. I’ve got a niece who reminds me regularly just how hard it is to get toddlers to go to bed. But the best things in my life have always been things I’ve had to work for. I’m not afraid of sweat and tears; what I’m afraid of is putting too much strain on our baby family of two, by rushing forward to that happy “next” thing instead of giving the present more time to just be.

    My question is this – how foolish is it really to start a family just one year deep into a marriage? Are there parents out there who wish they’d waited longer? Or who were happy not waiting at all? Any tips on staying present in the moment, when all you want to do is focus on the joy ahead? I know it’s all so individual, but I appreciate advice from those further along the path than me. Thanks!

    • msditz

      This is a very technical answer, so I will preface it by saying that every couple is different and I know people that had kids mere months into marriage and are so far doing great. However, I very clearly remember taking a sex and human relationships course in college, and one of the studies in the readings was about divorce rates and having children. Basically, if you have a child before your one year anniversary the divorce rate is high, before your 2 year anniversary the divorce rate is better, but still on the high side. After being married 2 years the divorce rate levels off and there isn’t that much of a difference after 3 years, 4 years, etc. (Also, sorry for being vague — I realize “high divorce rate” isn’t very exact, but its been almost 10 years since I took that course!)

    • dearabbyp

      Yeah, with any luck I’ll be expecting and/or due by our first anniversary. So I’m i your boat.
      But I’m 32 and we’ve been together 5 years and we lived together for 3… lots of conflating statistics to mess with our heads on our expected divorce rate. Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Committed” has a great bit about how she was basically checking off all the things they had going for them (statistically) for and against divorce, but ultimately they are just statistics.

  • Kristie

    As a young (23) woman surrounded by friends who are certain, and plenty of others who are certain for me, it is refreshing and encouraging to read about other women who are–like me–uncertain. The hubs is sure he wants to at least start thinking about kids in a few years, and I’ve had multiple discussions with him of all the reasons, fears and anxieties leading me to be unsure/leaning towards no kids. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’ll come around and catch “baby fever” in the next few years, and–while it’s entirely possible–I have my doubts. I feel guilty. Like I’m robbing not only him, but also our families, of the children/grandchildren that I owe them. I so envy my friends with their confident certainty that children are in their future, but I suppose I’m doomed to a life of uncertainty.

    • Anonymous

      “I’m pretty sure he thinks I’ll come around and catch “baby fever” in the next few years”
      Do not feel guilty about others’ second guessing your decisions (or indecisions as it were). The best you can do is explain (possibly repeatedly) what your feelings are, preparing them not to anticipate one side or the other. Make sure he’s okay with either outcome. You’ll feel much better for it.

    • MDBethann

      You don’t owe your families children/grandchildren. period. full stop. You should do whatever your husband and you feel is best for you as a family because you are the ones who have to live with your decision every day for the rest of your lives. Best wishes to you!

  • Molly P. Kopuru

    We both want kids, but I’m still pretty terrified, mostly of pregnancy and childbirth… We’re planning to start trying in about a year and a half or so, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be prepared for it when it happens. I just know that I (and we) want children, so I’m willing to take that leap.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I get over fear of pregnancy and childbirth, as mental roadblocks to having children, by pointing out to myself all the people I know who purposefully had a second (or third…) child, including my mother. They knew how awful pregnancy and childbirth are, and still found parenting (and becoming a parent in that way) worth it.

  • HannahESmith

    I also wanted to mention that there was a really great recent episode about parenthood on the TED Radio Hour (one of new favorite podcasts).

  • kris

    This is a pretty timely thread for me. I have been in the NO-KIDS camp for my entire life. Like, to the extent that I am actually repulsed by babies and children. I’m 27 and my husband is almost 30 — we just got married a month ago and I cannot explain what has happened in my brain but I am, out of NOWHERE, not able to stop thinking about having a baby. It’s been a complete 180 for me, which has been honestly sort of fun. We have one set of close married-friends that just had a baby and I wonder if that has effected my thoughts on the subject (although I have an older sister with kids and that never swayed my stance). Hmm. Anyway, it can’t happen for a couple of years since my husband just started med school — THAT will be a whole extra logistical and financial warp to throw into the parenting mix…we’ll see!

  • It feels really awesome to read an account of someone being terrified of having kids and being a mom but doing it anyways. It feels like any time I bring up being terrified of having kids, I’m met with responses like “you know, you don’t HAVE to have kids.” Not helpful. I know I don’t have to have kids, but I want to and feel like I can want that and also be terrified of motherhood and being pregnant.

    The thought of creating a life, nourishing it with only my body, all the hormonal changes, and having the babies cells even lodge themselves in my brain for life? Ack! ACK. And then having a little human who depends solely on us to nourish it, teach it to be a good and decent human, keep it alive and the impact that that will have on our lives and relationships? SERIOUSLY ACK.

    I’m almost in my mid-thirties and I feel like it’s crunch time. I have talked with friends about this who say things like “you know, you don’t even have to think about it now, you can wait until you’re 40 if you want!”

    I know I want to have kids in the next couple of years… but I also know I’m going to be terrified the entire time and I just want that to be okay. :(

    No one ever says “You know, you don’t HAVE to take that job” when you get a new one. It seems really weird to me that the first reaction I get to talking about being afraid to have kids is “You don’t HAVE to have kids, you know”.

    • lady brett

      hard is not the same as bad. scary is not the same as bad. often hard and scary actually go hand in hand with truly great things. (hard and scary, of course, can go in hand with awful things, too, i just feel like it is so important to remove the assumption of negativity from uncomfortable and difficult things).

      • Meg Keene


      • We are firmly in camp of wanting kids, possibly wanting to adopt, and scared shitless about all our parenthood options in general.

        THANK YOU for this comment.

      • SO MUCH YES.

        Some of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life have been ones where when it’s happening i’m like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, SELF. AHHHHH!”. I’m moving forward in my decision to have kids with the expectation that it will be another one of those choices. I just want to talk about the feels I have honestly while I am doing that!

      • Alison O

        I agree in the abstract and with regard to some tough experiences in my life. But it’s tough for me to apply to the kids question because I’d say the best experiences, the most similar big open-ended ‘risks’ I’ve taken, like moving in with my partner in a crappy city after just a couple months of dating instead of moving to SF for a job that would probably have led me to being an environmental lawyer now (and within a year of an atrocious breakup that made me wonder whether I’d ever find love again…now I sound like I’m on the Bachelorette…), and four years later forgoing grad school (which wasn’t law, ha) w/ great financial aid packages to move to LA with him for his job, actually weren’t very hard. It’s not that the alternatives weren’t great and viable in both cases, so the choices weren’t inevitably no-brainers, but at the end of the day I felt really secure in my choices, and not just after the fact but before they were finalized. We’re not in a life situation to really be considering children RIGHT NOW, so there is still time for the miracle light of clarity to shine down upon me (us) and make the choice easy, but I’m not expecting it to happen and some good ol’ muddling through will need to take place.

        • Meg Keene

          I… have never been all that sure in all my life decisions. But this was the one I was least sure of. Because this is the one you can’t undo. Big risk, big reward, I guess?

          • Kara

            YES. I’ve said this so many times. You can get married (not always the case for everyone :( ), and you can get divorced. You can buy a house, and you can sell it.

            As a responsible (ie outwardly appearing “ducks in a row” kind of) adult, you can’t undo having kids.

          • Anna Lindsey

            I completely agree. I don’t think I’ve ever been 100% sure about any major decision in my entire life. Thankfully my poor husband can somehow deal with this charming facet of my personality, even when I begged him to reassure me that I always had an out if I wanted it (I didn’t).

            I was so thankful to have a friend there when we got engaged to lean over and whisper, “It’s okay if you’re freaking out about this. It’s a really big deal.” I feel like there’s not enough of that with regards to having children. Instead of people telling me, “Everything will change, but it’s worth it.” I want to hear, “It’s okay to be totally freaked out about this. Things will change, but you’ll still be you.”

          • Celesta Torok

            My husband and I have said that a lot in our “should we have kids?” conversations. You can’t take a kid back.

      • Louise

        This is so true! I am not a parent, but I am learning this through a different life-altering experience. I moved to India last year to help start a new, progressive (read: counter-cultural) international school. It’s not parenting, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it was definitely scary. But I’m finding there’s a lot of value in discomfort…and I’m way less scared than I used to be! So, there’s that too…hard CAN get easier and scary can get less scarier.

    • Meg Keene

      Yeah. This whole “kids as extreme choice” thing happening right now is actually not all that helpful. I mean, god bless choice (though I remain unconvinced that our brains are actually set up to MAKE this choice). But the fact that if you have kids it’s a special snowflake choice, and if you don’t have kids and are pondering it you’re supposed to “just know” because you “don’t have to.” Such… BULLSHIT. For lack of a better descriptor.

    • Hope

      I am glad you are thinking about this now and not waiting until you’re 40 to start thinking about it.
      As a 38 year old who now, after 2 years of trying to conceive, finds IVF as her only way to have a biological child I would not like to have started this journey at 40. It is possible to have a child at 40 but you’re a lot more likely to be traveling the expensive and hard road of fertility treatments and miscarriages than you are at 35.

      • Sorry you are going through that, I imagine starting at 40 would have been quite a bit harder. Good luck with your fertility journey, I hope your IVF takes!

        I’ve heard 35 is the year before you are officially “advanced maternal age” so I’ve set that as my deadline. Partners on board so i’ve got another couple of years to get ready, but life can be funny sometimes, even if you are doing your best to prepare.

        • MDBethann

          We started trying when I was 33 and got pregnant right before I turned 35 (about 18 months or so of trying, including 3 IUI cycles – pregnancy occurred during a month off). I am considered a “high risk” pregnancy because I’m 35, but while that might mean a few more ultrasounds and strong recommendations for genetic testing (the odds for certain chromosomal disorders increase after age 35, though the disorders are still more common in younger mothers), but otherwise my pregnancy has been okay (first trimester nausea and several nasty head colds aside). But it can take longer to get pregnant when you’re older, so it is definitely something worth considering in terms of when you start trying, because every couple is different and it is definitely one of those instances where you have no idea how long it will take until you actually try (even if you already have a child or two).

          • I didn’t realize 35 was considered a high risk pregnancy. I was knew that 35 was the start of advanced maternal age but being considered high risk isn’t something my brain made the connection with. I’m glad to hear things are going well. :)

            I always think about trying being like “boom, you’re pregnant” and it is important to consider that there is a whole time frame that you might not conceive within and you don’t really know what your timeline looks like once you start trying. Hmm.

    • Hillary

      “It feels like any time I bring up being terrified of having kids, I’m
      met with responses like “you know, you don’t HAVE to have kids.” Not
      helpful. I know I don’t have to have kids, but I want to and feel like I
      can want that and also be terrified of motherhood and being pregnant.”

      You have no idea how much I needed to hear another person say these words. This comment is perfection.

  • hip-hop anonymous

    Thank you for this post and all the comments (that I’m going to read the shit out of when I get home). We just got married this summer and circle around the baby talk. Our older siblings both have have kids. I’ve watched my niece and nephew grow with all the joy and challenges and feel that’s its really opened my eyes to how difficult it really might be to raise a child (let alone children). My in-laws *just* had a baby after a long struggle with infertility and are over the moon about it. Babies seem easy to me, it’s the kid thing that seems really challenging. Sure, babies are time consuming, exhausting, sticky, etc. but their problems seem relatively easy to solve (change the diaper, feed them, rock and cuddle until soothed). But kids who are not old enough to be left home alone while their parents are at work? Kids who have to deal with bullying and cyber-bullying and college tuition?! Fuck, I don’t know what to do about that stuff and we’re just starting to pay off our own college loans, let alone take out some more for a little bastard that’s not even here yet. I barely know what I want to do with my own life, how the hell am I supposed to provide guidance so somebody else can live theirs? It also freaks me out that I have all this education that somehow might be sacrificed in rearing the little darlings. And yet, I think if we don’t have any children, it will be a huge loss. My husband is an amazing man and the idea of not creating a little miniature with his smile and kind eyes makes me sad. It’s such a strange place to be – when I was younger, there was no doubt I wanted kids. And now that I’m in my early thirties, when many of my friends are feeling the tick tock biological clock, I’ve got nothing.

    • hip-hop anonymous

      Not to mention the fear of how your body changes – especially when I feel like I’m just starting to figure out how to take care of my own. I selfishly don’t want to sacrifice my hard work on the altar of parenthood.

      • Kristie

        I don’t think it’s selfish at all! Body changes are one of the reasons I’m hesitant about kids too. I’m working really hard to try and exercise more and eat better to finally love my body, and the thought of weight gain, and wider hips and stretch marks makes me want to bawl.

      • Meg Keene

        God, it’s hard. But boy is it coming for us all anyway. Parenthood speeds it up a bit, but it’s coming. Gives you grace though, your stomach looking not like it once did. So that’s… the upside?? Sigh.

      • Victwa

        Well, I don’t want to sound obnoxious and smug, but I do think this is one of those things that everyone just assumes will happen but doesn’t HAVE to. My stomach does not look any different than it did before I got pregnant. I am sure many people will then add that their experience is different, and yes, I’m sure people have many different experiences– but that’s just the point. That might not be your experience at all. I mean, sure, my body put on weight during pregnancy and my boobs changed but honestly, I weighed my same pre-pregnancy weight about 3 months after giving birth, and no, I wasn’t being insane about it– I was just eating healthily, breastfeeding (big help) and exercising. Same things I did before I got pregnant. Again, I’m not trying to say that this is anyone’s experience except for mine, but I DO want to add another voice in there to say that no, this is not a guaranteed happening (body changing irreversibly) if you get pregnant.

    • Heather

      “Sure, babies are time consuming, exhausting, sticky, etc. but their problems seem relatively easy to solve (change the diaper, feed them, rock and cuddle until soothed). But kids who are not old enough to be left home alone while their parents are at work? Kids who have to deal with bullying and cyber-bullying and college tuition?!”

      This is a panic for me. I can do babies. TEENAGERS? Gah. I figure I’ll love the kid(s) enough when they arrive that I’ll muddle through the crappy parts. But scary. Oh, the scary.

    • Sarah Richards Graba

      Thank you for this comment! Totally strikes a chord with where I’m at. I actually teach teenagers and college students, so I’m less scared about that part of life, and like you I think the baby thing will be manageable. (Also, I’ve heard the hard parts, like getting no sleep, do go relatively quickly in the big picture of things. And, having just finished grad school, there were friends of mine with newborns who were getting more sleep than me. So.) But I’m afraid of that toddler age, where they are so needy and illogical and perhaps not quite old enough to ship out to school. I feel like daycare of some sort is definitely where I’ll be looking. But yeah. I have issues with toddlers.

      I think back to my parents and also my in-laws and realize now that they didn’t know what the fuck they were doing either, and we all turned out ok (relatively). I guess if people waited until they felt like they had life figured out so they could guide another life, a lot less people would actually procreate.

      Ok, and this: “It’s such a strange place to be – when I was younger, there was no doubt I wanted kids. And now that I’m in my early thirties, when many of my friends are feeling the tick tock biological clock, I’ve got nothing.”

      Um, yeah. Totally with you there.

  • ruth

    Can I just say THANK YOU to Sarah Richards Graba for writing that letter! I’m a writer too, and you put words to so many things I’d been feeling, but hadn’t known how to express – from the fear around major life changes like moving, to being bisexual but happily monogamously married to a man (no one talks about this!) to feeling like everything is ready for the baby (home ownership, financial stability, good health insurance) except for my own mind and heart, which are still completely in turmoil. My husband and I are currently trying – actually, I hate that word “trying;” it sounds way too type A for what we’re actually doing – having lots of fun in bed and gleefully not worrying about getting pregnant anymore, lol – but at heart – we’re both utterly terrified too. I feel most days like I’m play-acting at being a grown up – like a kid prancing around in her mother’s big shoes, doing grown-up things like paying taxes and filing insurance claims, but deep down, I still feel like a kid inside, and I’m utterly humbled and awed by the immensity of the responsibility of parenthood. Thank you for making me feel less alone in this.

    • Kara E

      /like a kid prancing around in her mother’s big shoes, doing grown-up
      things like paying taxes and filing insurance claims, but deep down, I
      still feel like a kid inside, and I’m utterly humbled and awed by the
      immensity of the responsibility of parenthood /

      I’m there. And I have a one year old.

    • Sarah Richards Graba

      Aw, thanks! Always glad to connect with a kindred spirit.

      I think I would feel a bit better if my husband was terrified along with me, and though he’s talked to me about his fears around children (because I made him!), he basically always comes back to the idea that things will work out. He is very Zen about this while I am left still terrified.

      On a side note, you should totally check out The Chronology of Water by Lydia Yuknavitch–she is a writer who is also bisexual and in the book discusses ending up with a man and the complications that come with that (issues with heteronormative roles/values, privilege, etc). Also, she’s a beautiful writer. Though, there’s a really heartbreaking stillbirth she writes about, so maybe wait until after you’re not possibly going to get pregnant? ha

      Thank YOU for making me feel less alone in this!

      • ruth

        Thanks Sarah! I will totally check this book out in the future. And thank you – appreciate the kindred spirits :)

  • Magdalena

    It is so interesting to me to see that there are others as my who are not afraid of commitment itself, but of major life changes. It was also hard for me to decide to move in with my husband (then boyfriend), same thing happened with the wedding. I love kids, I continue to babysit because I enjoy it, and I know I want to have kids; but every time I start to consider it seriously, fear is the only thing I can feel. I’m building my career, there are so many things I want to do, places I want to see, and also living abroad and thinking about raising a kid in a different country than mine, and what that means for me and my husband.
    I think eventually, I will stop being afraid and I will take the leap but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with this thoughts.

    • Sarah Richards Graba

      Thanks for this. I’m having a hard time finding others like me in real life, so I’m glad I can find them here on APW!

  • Lauren

    Wow, what timing – we just spend the weekend with a friend and her six month old baby. And I wondered throughout the weekend if I can really deal with a baby. I know that parents/all humans have ages that they prefer to others (babies, toddlers, school aged, etc….) and that it’s okay to prefer older kids to babies, but being around this fussy baby for a couple days made me worry about whether I would just kind of… lose it if I was responsible for a little person like that. I get stressed pretty easily and I like my quiet, I like being able to shut off and go lay on the couch and read a book, and I could easily picture small children totally overwhelming me in that regard. And that for years on end? It’s intimidating, I won’t lie.

    • Erin

      For years on end…

      My mother once told me that “prior to having children you think you’ll get your life back once they grow up, but what you don’t realize is how your life totally changes and that it’s impossible to return to life before kids.” It’s an impossible decision to make rationally when you have no way of knowing what those changes entail. I hear you, Lauren.

      • Meg Keene

        That is… a odd thing for someone to say. Or an odd way to phrase it. I mean, yes. It changes you forever. But that ship has sailed. Getting older is hard, and life is going to change you forever with a lot of hard knocks kids or no kids. But you don’t lose your life, unless you choose to lose your life, I’d argue. Your life expands. You have kids you love like mad in it. You make choices based on their interests as well as your own, by choice. But it’s still your life if you choose to keep it your life. It’s your life EXPANDED (and more tired).

        So yeah, you don’t return to life before kids. But you’re NEVER going to return. We only pass this way once, and things change in huge ways as we get older and we can never go back. So live the shit out of this moment, kids or no kids. That’s the real message. It’s your life, and it’s your ONE life, and you better fucking grab it by the horns, and do it now.

        • Marie

          But, don’t you feel like maybe you don’t quite know the perspective Erin’s mother is speaking from as she’s a mother of (seemingly) adult children and has peers in similar situations — whereas you are the mother of one very young infant? I feel like there’s a different perspective that even you have yet to experience.

          • Meg Keene

            Here is my greater point—you can never get your youth back. The reason I find the statement odd it that is OVERWHELMINGLY true for all of us, kids or no kids. YES, you never get your life back pre-kids. But my point is, you never get that back PERIOD. I’m actually framing that from the experience not of having a toddler, but of being almost 35. Life is hard. Life is hard with or without kids. We age, we lose people, we gain responsibility, we lose freedoms. So my point is, yes, we never get our youth back. But skipping kids doesn’t mean skipping out on aging and loss and responsibility. It just means that the loss of our youth takes a different form.

            Aside from that, “giving up your life” is only one way to frame motherhood, and it’s important to point that out. There are moms of toddlers who frame it that way, there are moms of grown children that frame it that way. And then there are moms of all stripes and ages (I’ve talked to lots of them) that choose a different framing on the same experience.

          • Marie

            I don’t think anyone said having kids meant giving up your life — in the original post, the comment read that having life before kids is impossible to return back to. Of course, it goes without saying that it’s impossible to go back in time, whether or not you have children. And yes, with time we tend to gain responsibilities and encounter more challenging situations so life tends to get increasingly more difficult. But I think it’s a fair point that having kids is a different kind of life change in that you now have responsibility for another human being’s upbringing. And that brings a different kind of difficulty.

            Mostly, my point is that I think you’re still quite new to this parenting thing and it can be a bit frustrating to read your comments as it comes across as though your experience is the end all be all. Hearing and validating people who have had multiple kids and whose kids are older is important.

          • Meg Keene

            I gotcha. And look, talking to people with a ton of kids in different life stages or way different situations is my favorite thing, and I love learning from older moms and thank GOD they are there to share life experiences, and stories from further down the path.

            And yes, please don’t read my comments as the be all end all. That is one of the VERY MANY reasons I don’t want to do a parenting site. As a person who’s good at having opinions and sharing experiences (and who frankly thinks that the ONLY thing we can do with parenthood is share experiences, because there isn’t a way to tell people how to do it) having a parenting site would be a awful match for me. Because I am really good at creating a strong point of view and sharing it, that’s how I built APW, and I don’t think that’s a good match for parenting. I can do this like…. once every few months, and share experiences, and probably share way too many of them, and then there is a reason there won’t be another post on parenting kids/ no kids that I’m involved in for months and months. Everyone should go somewhere else, that really deals with this, and hear a zillion other points of view, most of which won’t have ANYTHING in common with mine.

            The reason I do share a bit now and then and chat in the comments is I think that a lot of ways parenting is talked about are really pretty scary and negative, and I think that there is a lot of space to choose a different path there. IE, I love talking to mom’s who say things about giving up a life, and then asking a whole bunch of whys, and trying to really learn from their experience. I just often find that the surface way women in our culture talk about parenthood is often pretty negative (I don’t actually know why that is, but all moms in our culture do it, us young ones too) and when you sit those same people down for a deep chat it turns out that there is SO MUCH good under the surface. And sometimes bad shit, and we learn from that even more.

          • Marie

            I can appreciate that. It’s very true with parenting – there a million ways to do it, and so often each of those ways either implies or straight out states that the other ways are wrong. So daunting. Simply sharing, as you put it, is probably the best approach one can take.

          • Meg Keene

            I short, of course you’re right. And that’s why I don’t do this very often. Part of me thinks I should do it NEVER because god forbid I seem like I know what I’m doing (DON’T). But every so often it seems like it might be helpful. It might actually just be a disastrous exercise I engage in every few months, if so, please ignore. But of course you’re right, and that’s why I mostly avoid it.

          • This is precisely why I love reading your opinion Meg. I am exhausted by the blame that society lays on us as women and mothers and, while I’m sure there are other lovely women with opinions on the same page as yours, I don’t know where to find them.

          • Erin

            And for the record, my mother is overwhelmingly positive about motherhood despite challenging circumstances (lest you think otherwise from her comment!).

          • Meg Keene

            I think that, in part, was my point too. Right or wrong ;) I often find the bad thing I say is the one that gets picked up, when the good thing is huger, if that makes sense. But they’re both true.

          • Sarah Richards Graba

            Thanks for bringing this up! I think this was one reason that motivated me to write in, because I was having a hard time seeing what were all the different ways of having children, and being ready to have children, rather than just the stay-at-home moms (my mother and mother-in-law and some friends), or supermoms (many of my friends), or just this unquestioning “yeah, duh, we’re gonna have kids” attitude. And those models didn’t seem possible for me, so I was like wtf. But reading others’ experiences in the comments here is really enlightening and rewarding and it’s so great to see so many varied approaches. And so many WAYS to CHOOSE. I think that’s another thing I’m struggling with right now: how can I approach this choice intentionally, on my terms. I’m learning.

          • Meg Keene

            Just realizing you have a choice, was pretty revolutionary for me. And also realizing that some of the ways people were talking about parenting around me were maybe not the most… helpful, and just because they kept framing it a particular way didn’t make it the one and only reality, also helpful.

            I think REALLY what I’ve learned as a parent (and thought about during this convo actually) is that the way people talk about parenting has a lot to do with… the way society pressures us to talk about parenting, for lack of a better way to describe it. Like, in real life I know some things are socially accepted to say (complaining, oddly), and some things are less acceptable to say (good things often, oddly, unless they’re like glowing Hallmark things, which are also ok) and I frame my conversations in ways that are acceptable. I think over time, that becomes habit, and it means that what we say and what is true are not always exactly the same thing. Which… sucks. Because language shapes the way we perceive our world, so it’s a cycle.

            I don’t know why any of this is true. But I think it’s really really hard, online and offline, to have honest conversations about motherhood, unless they are really one on one. Which sucks. The few people that pull it off, say, are basically my heros.

          • Erin

            I don’t think my mother’s comment was in reference to any
            sense of lost youth. I think she was speaking to the idea that, I interpreted,
            Lauren was touching upon- losing quiet, losing alone time, having a sense that
            you might have to set aside some things you enjoy in raising children, and that
            you can’t get back to who you are at 25, “until the kids are grown.”
            You’re right, Meg, in saying that time is going to pass and we will be changed
            by the events of our lives regardless of the presence of children. We
            experience each stage exactly once, obviously. But I think my mother was trying
            to point out that some of the perceived sacrifices might also wind up as places
            of joy, or at the very least change you in unexpected ways – ways that you
            wouldn’t be changed without having children, and that those changes are not
            necessarily bad things. Marie touched upon it when she said bringing up a human being is a different kind of life change that brings with it a different kind of difficulty.

          • Meg Keene

            Yes. I really feel you on that. I also really want to sit down and talk to your mom about this now. Maybe you should pick her brain and report back to all of us ;)

        • “We only pass this way once, and things change in huge ways as we get older and we can never go back”

          I’ve been thinking TONS about this idea for the past year+. How I can’t go back, I can only go forward and life will never be like it once was, and I just have to keep moving forward and build the life I want with the realities I have now. There’s no going back…only forward.

      • Meg #2

        A friend once said:”Having Max [her son] ruined my old life. But my new life is better.”

        Her old life of parties, late nights, international business trips, weekends away, white couches and clean clothes was ruined by having a baby. But the new life that came along with Max was better, more fulfilling and happier.

    • sara g

      Yeah, I am just so worried I don’t have the patience for kids. Hell, I get frustrated with my cat for yowling its head off to the point I want to punt it across the room. And a baby is 100x more demanding than a cat. I love my peace and quiet and alone time too much. =/

      • Meg Keene

        If it makes you feel better, having a kid has made me infinitely more patient. That, I did NOT expect. I’m super duper patient with him, and I’m not a patient person. Maddie has commented that it’s chilled me out in all aspects of my life, and I think she’s probably right.

        It’s a weird thing. Because where did that come from? It doesn’t happen to everyone, clearly, but whoa it’s been big.

        • Ally

          I’m definitely going to show this comment to my husband. Me chilling out would be one huge plus in favor of babies.

        • MDBethann

          That’s reassuring, because patience is one thing I’m DEFINITELY worried about as parenthood looms in 3.5 months.

    • Meg Keene

      I mean, childcare. Babies are not my age either (though it’s true, your own is different to some extent). But he went to childcare and I went to work and it was ok.

      • Lauren

        After a year, definitely, but before that… I don’t think I would feel okay about it. Luckily, the fiance is a total boss with babies and little kids and we’re in Germany (we’ve talked about moving to the US after his current contract ends, but that would coincide with baby-having, and no, that will not be happening), which means he’s entitled to paid paternity leave and can take on the lead at some point. Said friend from last weekend was also very enthusiastic about going back to work after the first few months, but told us that she is surprised by how much she loves being a mom, so there’s that too.

        • Meg Keene

          Keeping in mind most parents (certainly outside the upper middle class) in the US have to go back to work WAY before a year is up, I wrote about daycare here: we love it, it’s one of the best things we’ve EVER done for our family or our kid. I would actually be super sad to think of him missing that first year with his caregivers and his friends, it was very very important for him. And being back at work was a necessity for me, but also the reason why I’m a happy parent. I would not be a happy parent if I’d felt pressure to stay home that first year.

          I think it’s REALLY important to separate out being a mom and childcare. I love being a mom, I have a child in daycare. Those are not mutually exclusive. I am no less of a good mom because I have a (very very happy kid) in early childcare.

  • I’m one of those “always knew” people. But still, every month (before we knew we were infertile), I had a moment of “oh crap! what if it worked??” after ovulation. Sometimes you just have to jump.

    • lady brett

      i’ve learned a lot of weird things from fostering, but by far the main life lesson has been that: “sometimes you just have to jump.”

      in a similar vein, it has taken us from a decision-making process based on the question “why?” to one based on “why not?” the results are bizarre, but wonderful (for example, we again have 3 kids in the house, and i feel more grounded and sane than i have in a year or more – despite having done almost everything we said we would never do (again)).

      • That’s interesting. Changing the question from “why?” to “why not?” would seem to be just the other side of the pro/con list, but I can see where it would instead completely turn it all on its head.

      • Alison O

        I agree with Giggles that the why/why not distinction is interesting. I think the challenge for me with moving from why to why not is that the why nots for me are a lot more tangible and predictable than the whys.

      • dearabbyp

        PS I would love to hear more about your fostering experience. I’m ready for KIDS (less for a baby) but I’d have to do some convincing of the fiance. Tell me you have a blog! I always love your comments!

  • Scaredy Cat

    THIS. Thank you for this. I am terrified of having a baby. In my heart, I want to be a mother. But I am freaking scared. For so many reasons…

    1. Babies terrify me. Any time I’m around a baby, I’m totally overwhelmed. And they sense my fear. They know. I avoid holding other people’s children at all costs. How will I know what to do with someone that can’t communicate with me and is counting on me to figure everything out? If I could have a four year old, I’d be great!

    2. I am fairly confident that I will hate being pregnant. I know some people love it. I don’t think I will be one of those people. Partly because…

    3. I have some genetic issues that may make pregnancy very difficult for me. Mainly, that I have a higher risk for miscarriage and other complications. Just the thought of that possible heartbreak gives me such anxiety.

    I keep thinking, “You don’t have to worry about this right now. Just finish your dissertation. Then it’ll be baby time.” But as much as I think I do want to be a mom, I don’t think the fear will go away by then.

  • I’m in a sort of “baby limbo” period myself, so this is timely. It isn’t helped by some surprise life changes we have coming up that I cannot share in a public space yet that have nothing to do with reproducing. My friends are having babies and we’re still in the “let’s go to music festivals” stage, and with our recent curveball, I don’t know that we will have kids. And we have a lot of existential angst about not having children that is weird to have.

  • Jessica

    Random question: Could someone explain to me the trend of having a “birth story” to share? A lot of people I know who have recently had children will go to groups and share their birth story at like, a dinner party or small group or something. Am I missing something here? When did this start?

    • ART

      I’ve never given birth so I don’t really get it either, but I have friends who are all about that, and/or blogging it in great detail. I do hang with some really cool ladies who are major advocates for a pregnant lady’s rights during pregnancy and childbirth and for normalizing all kinds of things like difficult breastfeeding and whatnot. I have learned a ton from them and totally get why telling birth stories would be important to that work as an advocacy thing. I’m not sure if that’s the context you’ve seen it in, but I can imagine that could be part of it? Apparently there’s A LOT of room for disagreement in current childbirth practices and my friends are all “SMH!” to various things that I’ve never heard of, like a doctor making a woman do X during labor when it’s maybe way better to do Y…again, I haz the ignorance because I haven’t been through it.

      • Jessica

        I could see it as an empowerment thing for sure–like, we’re all here talking about wanting vs not wanting kids and all the baggage that comes with those decisions and it feels very empowering to talk about this stuff instead of assuming it.

        I’m going to go ahead an contribute my confusion to never wanting to talk about birth or pregnancy ever. It terrifies me and I don’t understand why people would want to talk about it. But to each their own and more power to them!

        • Meg Keene

          I think it’s terrifying when it’s unknown.

    • M.

      I don’t think I would ever share my birth story (when/if I have one) with an audience of strangers, but on the flip side I do know that I have found reading them to be INCREDIBLY helpful at demystifying and normalizing labor/delivery and showing how many ways births can happen and still end with a healthy baby. I didn’t know there were stages of labor (transition?!) before stumbling on birth stories online, or that once your water broke you didn’t necessarily have to RUSH to the hospital because IT’S TIME, etc. The stories seem to me to be potentially more helpful for women who haven’t given birth before, rather than in the context you’re mentioning. But again, the search for solidarity leads to groups and sharing of all kinds!

    • Alison O

      I can’t speak from personal experience, but I have heard a lot of women wonder aloud why nobody told them about the details of what labor can actually be like. Like, the pooping. They would have liked a heads up about the pooping.

      • Jessica

        Can we get a cross stitch pattern for a pillow– “I would have liked a heads up about the pooping.”

        Also, things I’ve learned from stuff: They used to give enemas before home births so you literally did not shit the bed. Enemas are actually the quickest way to get hydrated, so you’d be good to go on hydration right before you lose all those bodily fluids.

      • Jen

        Haha, I learned about the pooping on Scrubs! I don’t think I’ve heard it anywhere else.

        • snarkyteacher

          Same! I was shocked when I heard that!

    • Cara

      I find birth stories informative, but not told in person! I’d much rather read a stranger’s than get the lowdown from an acquaintance in person. A good friend actually posted a link to her birth story she wrote which was kind of interesting, and you didn’t have to read it if you didn’t want to, but it also was a little more than I needed to know about her… Some people really like to share too much, though…

      • Alison O

        Something else I’ve noticed with friends who’ve had babies is that the experience of pregnancy and birth has been really liberating for them in terms of body hang-ups, or like cleanliness / appearing “put-together” kind of anxiety (not full blown, but on the spectrum). When one of them told me about their particularly bodily fluidly eventful labor (and then breastfeeding issues down the line), I was thinking to myself, I would have never thought I would hear X talk about barfing and pooping and having rock hard boobs etc. etc! I’m a huge fan of laid back openness about this stuff, so I thought it was awesome they seemed to have chilled out a bit. Lord knows children will bring plenty of yucky and uncontrollable stuff to the picture that it helps to not stress about too much!

      • Meg Keene

        Well. Except, I’ve found, after you’ve given birth everyone wants to swap in person. And its’ nice.

        • MDBethann

          I feel that way about pregnancy. It is like it is a club and you can only learn the secrets about pregnancy from women who have previously given birth once you are pregnant yourself. I’ve joked that no one tells you about pregnancy before you become pregnant because some things, if you knew about them, you might not want to become pregnant. ;-)

    • moonlitfractal

      I don’t have a birth story, but I’m in the last trimester of a difficult pregnancy and have a lot of fear about labor and delivery. One thing that’s helped my anxiety is hearing and reading detailed accounts of how other births went. Every birth is different but it still…sort of illuminates all the dark scary unknowns. So I’m not sure how it is for the women telling the story, but I find listening to birth stories has helped and continues to help me.

      • Meg Keene

        I’ll tell you what women told me in the third trimester of a difficult pregnancy: it’s work. But it can be good. It can be empowering and life changing, even. I mean, HOLY HELL was mine painful (no contraction breaks) but next time I’ll look forward to it, because I know at the end the world is blown open. I had everything go wrong and it still was super empowering.

        Also, epidurals. GOOD SHIT.

    • Bibs

      All good responses, and helpful to me also when I was pregnant. I underestimated how weird the labor process would be from an emotional stand-point. You literally walk into a building (or your bedroom, or bathtub, whatever) as two people and some number of hours later, emerge as three. In between you are so focused on what’s happening that you can’t really process the huge transition that just happened. More than anything, I found talking about the birth itself (to a very, very small group of similarly situated, supportive new moms) to help me process the experience and understand what had happened better. It’s some crazy shit, and I needed to talk it out.

    • Meg Keene

      It’s a huge HUGE life changing scary painful thing, so sharing it makes a whole lot of sense. DAMN I wish I’d heard more birth stories when I was younger. I read a ton of them when I was thinking about getting pregnant, and I’m so glad I did, and really recommend it. I also took a birth class, which helps.

      Here is gods truth: EVERY woman who’s given birth has a birth story to share. But it only recently been ok to share it more publicly. Lock new moms in a room together when no one is looking, and we’re all swapping birth stories though, for sure. We just don’t do it when other people are around. The internet has made doing that not in back rooms possible. Which, thank god.

      I’m a writer so you can bet that I wrote my birth story down (our birth story), and it’s right in the drawer right next to me. It’s personal and I’m a private person with a public profile, so it’s not going anywhere, but I’m so glad it’s there. And it’ll be the kids one day, if he wants it.

  • Cara

    Ah yes, the #1 topic in my mind lately: do we have kids, if so when do we start trying, and why are we delaying? We got married almost a year ago, and always said we wanted a couple years to wait and just be married. But now I feel like if we’re going to do it, why not now? What are we waiting for? It’s not like we have anything in particular we want to accomplish before having kids, and we’re only getting older.

    On the other hand, I am terrified of one aspect of pregnancy, childbirth, and having kids in general: vomiting. I don’t want to worry about morning sickness, I hear a lot of people puke during childbirth, and kids can be germy creatures that not only get sicknesses and throw up, but can pass that on to me. I’m too selfish right now, and want to avoid sickness! (I also started reading What to Expect Before You’re Expecting, and got overwhelmed… Having a surprise baby sounds way better than planning and going to the doctor to be checked up to make sure everything is working right, and I felt pressure to lose weight and generally be healthier, and then it started on finances and I threw in the towel. Holy cow.)

    • Amy

      The vomiting thing is a fear I have too.

    • Mary Jo TC

      Plenty of women vomit a lot, and some don’t at all. I wasn’t even nauseous for a single day of my entire pregnancy, and didn’t throw up during labor either. (Sorry, don’t hate me.) But the first stomach bug the kid brought home from day care is another story. I guess my point is just: don’t make decisions based on things that might or might not happen to you, but that either way, are temporary.

      Don’t read What to Expect. A better bet: Emily Oster’s Expecting Better. You can see the Cliff Notes version on Slate.

  • Deify Plums

    I’m amazed at how timely APW posts are for my life. I really need this thread this week, but I’m worried that I’m a bit too emotional for it right now.

    We got married in May. Before the wedding we decided that we were going to talk about “kids?!?” next year, that we aren’t looking for more than one major life change a year, and that we wanted to give our relationship more of a chance to solidify into what being “married” actually meant.

    And that’s basically what I’ve told everyone who has asked. I’ll sometimes get a little pushback (“you aren’t getting any younger”), but I’ve said that I’m well aware of biology and this is what’s right for us. So, it’s been on my mind, but with an eye towards figuring out what I really want, so I can go into the conversation in a year with that very clear. We have great friends and examples from both the Child Free and the Babies! side of the equation, which helps me see both paths as real possibilities.

    Then I spent the weekend with a bunch of female friends. The woman who set my husband and me up started in on “baby yet?” and did. not. drop it. Another friend (CF and confident in the decision) kept challenging WHY this was such a social expectation. Another friend is getting major pressure from her mom to have a kid, but she’s totally not ready yet.

    The conversations really got to me. To the point that as I was talking to my husband last night, I broke down. He was great. He offered that we could make the decision now, if that would make me feel better, but still not act on it until next year. There’s another family wedding coming up and he said he would talk to his mom ahead of time so she and her sister wouldn’t bombard me.

    I know that some of this is because I’m 37. And before I met my husband, I had come to accept that I probably wouldn’t be having kids. But now it’s back on the table. And I’m terrified of both choices. I love babies. I love kids. And I love the life we have now. I just need to find a way to be less of a head case about the whole thing …

  • Merk

    I’m firmly in the camp of wanting kids eventually, though I don’t know that we’ll start thinking about it seriously for another 5 years or so (only 25 now). My biggest fear in thinking about having a baby is that I won’t get enough sleep and I’ll just fall apart. Even now, I have a hard time functioning if I get anything less than 8 hours. If I get 7.5 hours of sleep, I often feel like a zombie for the whole day. Has anyone out there had similar fears going into pregnancy, and did you find that things played out differently than what you’d originally imagined?

    • Aubry

      Just posting a fist bump, but without insight – sorry! When we had our dog as a puppy i was miserable for months. He was hard to housetrain (as is typical of frenchies) and we had a good 6-8 months of having to get up in the night to let him out. I was basically a tired bitch for the whole time. I remind C of this when he says he wants a baby. From what my mom says (who had post-partum depression with the second set) you just kinda get through it. Like when you stayed up all night studying and you cant imagine staying up past midnight nowadays. maybe one of those “it just works itself out” BS answers but maybe not!

    • z

      I had that fear, because I really do need my sleep, but actually it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I really think something just shifted in my body and brain to allow me to get by on less sleep for a while. Of course it was still pretty bad, but nowhere near as bad as I thought. The body has its ways.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I had that fear, and it was justified. The sleep issue has been the worst part of motherhood so far, without a doubt. My 14-month-old still doesn’t sleep through the night, or what I call through the night. There was a point when I’d been back to work a month and he was still getting up to nurse 3+ times a night and fussing so that I had to replace the pacifier in his mouth every 2 minutes–I was miserable, crying while getting dressed in the morning, feeling exhaustion in my bones, extra irritable. My husband insisted I get counseling, and I did, but I told the lady it was pointless because all I needed was just more sleep. Also, sleep when the baby sleeps = BS

      We’re considering baby #2 now and thinking about ways to do it better, and I think there are some things I could have done differently (but of course you don’t know that the first time around). Next time I want to night wean sooner and insist on help at night from my husband sooner.

      Sorry to be the person complaining about how parenting sucks, but I felt moved to speak my truth. It’s not something you can prepare for. It does get better. You get ENOUGH sleep, but ENOUGH isn’t as much as you thought it was, and doesn’t feel as good as PLENTY. You do get through it.

  • Marta

    I know I eventually want kids; my husband is more or less interested. I just don’t know if I want to actually have a baby or if I want to adopt. We go back and forth – I don’t really enjoy babies, and I do really enjoy sleep. I teach high school, so I am much more in tune with older kids who can speak and do some things alone. I just don’t know ANYTHING about adoption, and everything I find to read up on it is sort of vague. I want a definitive “this is the way it works” kind of document. If anyone knows of where I should look for this information in California, that would be great!

  • Anonymous

    My husband and are talking about having kids in the next year or so, and while I have all the pretty standard worries (money, loss of the freedom, do I know what the heck I’m doing? etc) I’m also currently (and have been for a while) coping (ish?) with depression and general anxiety and my biggest concern is how to deal with that and pregnancy/motherhood. I’ve been trying to psych myself up to actually see a therapist but the thought of talking to some random person about my issues is panic inducing. I’m worried that if we have a kid I’ll basically have to deal with a giant cycle of panic attacks. I’m worried I’ll get incredibly depressed and just shut down. Basically I’m worried it will get even worse with a baby and I’ll be bad mother if I don’t deal with these things, but I don’t really know how to deal with them.

    • LikelyLaura

      Yeah, I get this. Other than just general encouragement – because man it’s easier said than done – I might suggest talking to your doctor about medication. Even if it’s just so you get past the initial fear and make the appointment with a therapist, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Another option is to ask your husband to do some research on local therapists and make the first appointment for you. That way you only have to show up.

    • Anonymous

      Dude. Call a therapist. Just think of it as outsourcing your anxiety support from in house (aka your partner) to someone else. It’s a relationship saver, and it will give you tools for those times when you do get incredibly depressed.

    • emma

      Therapy and/or medication can be so, so helpful. And as someone with depression and anxiety problems, I can personally attest to that. I put off getting help for so long, because I had such anxiety about actually getting the help. But I think the comment about outsourcing the help is spot on. My partner is uber supportive, but he isn’t trained to deal with it. Let someone trained help you sort out the messy stuff, so your husband can help with the healing.

      Also, a lot of clinics have walk-in triage. I think that can be helpful for getting the first appt set because you can just show up and talk, and don’t have to stress about or risk bailing on an upcoming appt.

      (incidentally, my depression also led to my diagnosis of B12 deficiency, which is so important for pregnancy! so, another reason I’m glad I went in)

      • Hope

        Yes. Everyone woman who has depressive tendencies and/or is interested in pregnancy needs to read this book:

      • M.

        “(incidentally, my depression also led to my diagnosis of B12 deficiency,
        which is so important for pregnancy! so, another reason I’m glad I went

        Especially important for mamas-to-be (and, well, everyone) eating a plant-based diet!

    • Meg Keene

      PLEASE PLEASE see someone now. First, you need to deal with your meds situation before you get pregnant (and tell them you are thinking of getting pregnant) because, like me, you are at high risk of partum and post partum depression. I wasn’t new to treatment going into it, so when it hit, I was relatively equipped to manage it. I watched women in groups who had never dealt with meds and such before, and they were in a bad way.

      Second, YES. Having a kid means you have to deal with your shit. I grew up with someone who hadn’t had a chance to deal with their shit, and please don’t do that to a small person if you have a choice. I started dealing with my shit when my kid was born, because I knew I didn’t want to raise them without doing it. But if you’re not partway down that road yet (aka, no meds, no experience with therapy, no dealing with your panic attacks and depression), I would say you’re not ready.

      We’re all the best mothers we know how to be, but when you know better you do better. And you know enough to know that you need treatment, so PLEASE get it. On behalf of all kids with deeply depressed mothers, please look into your options. I know it’s so scary, but just take the first step.

    • Hope

      That is a valid concern and worth addressing, even if you never were to have babies. Maternal depression is not good for babies. Please do seek out help. You don’t have to tell the therapist anything you don’t want to, or before you want to. Their job is to make you feel comfortable. I am a therapist. If a client wants to sit there for 5 minutes and say nothing, and then get up and say, “I’m done for today, this is all I can do” that is honored. It’s on your terms, at your pace. Depression and anxiety are highly treatable.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the link. I’ve been looking at my insurance’s listings and it really only has names, not the little blurbs. Also, what exactly is the difference between a therapist, psychiatrist, and psychologist? And should I be looking for one of those specifically or does it not matter as much?

        • MDBethann

          I am not in the field so I can’t get too detailed on the differences, but one of my BFFs is a trained psychologist, so I know enough about the differences to get you started (but definitely no more than that). A psychiatrist is a medical doctor and the only one of the 3 who can write prescriptions for medications. A psychologist should have at least a master’s degree or even a PhD; they can’t prescribe medications, but they can work with your primary care physician to get you on medication if you need it (I know some people who, after initially seeing a psychiatrist, get their anti-depressants refilled through their primary care physician).

          Honestly, your best bet is to talk with your primary care physician or another medical doctor that knows you well and that you trust to see if they have recommendations or thoughts on the route you should take (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist) and if there are any specific people they might recommend that you see. I’d also take the list of names on your insurance company’s website & see if any of them have websites for their practices – many practices do, especially if they are multi-person practices, so you might find some more information that way.

          Finally, be persistent as you look for someone. In some parts of the US, certain types of practices (like psychiatrists) can be tough to get in to and it may be worth it to get a recommendation from your primary physician because it might help you get in to see someone who otherwise might not take new patients (a friend of mine in a more rural part of Pennsylvania ran into this). Another option is to call your local hospital and see if they have suggestions.

          Best wishes to you!

  • jmoco

    I wish in so many ways that I this one of the topics unsearchable by the internet. There’s so many rules and lists and forums out there about fertility, pregnancy and parenthood it makes me crazy. It reminds me of when I was planning my wedding and how I wanted to read ALL THE THINGS and then I realized it was making me neurotic. I feel exactly the same way with deciding to get pregnant, trying to get pregnant and eventually surviving the next 9 months/18 years of motherhood. If only I could stop myself from Google/Facebook/WebMD and just remember to relax like my mom was able to 32 years ago.

  • sara

    Oh my gosh thank you. This: “While I spent my early years wanting kids, once having kids seemed like a viable reality (instead of something that should be avoided at all costs), all my certainty vanished. Like, totally gone. I’d worked hard to build a life that really made me happy, and I was worried that by having kids I would be giving it all up.” This is so me. I am 5 1/2 weeks pregnant now. Earlier this year I had an unexpected pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage and I felt… relief. I love children. I have a good job, a great husband, a house, and I’m not getting any younger. Before we were married I really did want children like, ASAP, and my husband wants them desperately. So I agreed to not try not to get pregnant… but I’m not feeling a lot right now. I’m hoping it kicks in eventually.

    • BatTab

      Same. I just learned I’m pregnant (surprise!), and until having kids seemed socially acceptable and something friends were doing, I had no qualms about wanting kids- just not yet. When the pregnancy announcements started popping up on Facebook from acquaintances my age, I got freaked out and insisted we wait and wait. Then, my pills failed me somewhere along the way, and boom, positive pregnancy test. My husband and I check all the socially acceptable boxes- married, check, financially stable, check, good jobs with health insurance, check. But damn, I’m terrified. I don’t feel like I built the life that really made me happy yet- it was still a work in progress. I am young (24). How am I supposed to parent, in some way shape or fashion, when I still feel like a 5 year old dancing around the house in a princess dress with lipstick all over my face?

      My husband is elated, and is going to be an amazing father. I just hope some of his excitement eventually makes it over to me.

  • NTB

    Hi. Can we talk about the whole ‘home ownership’ thing related to being ready to have kids? After my husband lost his job last year, it has become really hard for us to save for a down payment, and where we live (Denver) housing is absolutely insane / totally inflated. Any renters with kids? Thanks.

    • Penfield

      I don’t have kids yet, but my parents had three (oldest sibling is seven years older than me, the youngest) and they didn’t stop renting until I was one or two. :) I wonder if there is a generational difference here. The trend is that these days people get married later and have babies later and maybe seem to be more established in their careers and their finances when they do so. Maybe that makes it seem more like home ownership should go hand and hand with starting a family?

      • Meg Keene

        I don’t think so. It may depend on your market. I’m not sure I have ANY close friends that owned a home before they had kids. Oh, nope, one couple. They worked in horrible corporate jobs for years, scraped everything together and bought at the bottom of the market. Everyone else rents, or rented till their kids were way older than 2. Most of us don’t even realistically figure we’ll buy soon, or be able to.

        I know people with three kids in a tiny little two bedroom apartment, even. TIGHT.

        • Penfield

          Oh certainly, I know that lots of renting parents existing today (probably more than nonrenting) and that in some markets many or most parents are renters. I was just curious how the general trend of having babies later might impact, on average, the number of families who own before baby as opposed to after, and whether such a trend might slowly be having an impact on our *sense* of what’s related to what. It may be the case that in markets where buying is very difficult, you wouldn’t see such a shift, even a gradual one.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I think it’s a class trend, not generational. And class also being tied to race. But that’s another discussion.

        • NTB

          You have inspired me to think more critically about the topic from a race and class perspective. I think there is truth to what you are saying. I also think it’s difficult because my career started about 3 years later than it should have (thanks, recession!) By the time my parents were 30, they had a house, 2 kids, and two cars. They lived modestly, but I don’t think things are necessarily the same today — circumstances have changed quite a lot.

    • Jane

      I’m nine months pregnant with our first child and living in Hawaii, where the median home price is around $700,000. We actually are deliberately staying out of the housing market and choosing to rent two bedroom apartments as cheaply as possible for the forseeable future. We put our savings into mutual funds and fully fund our retirement. We figure we might be able to afford a house here in ten to fifteen years.

      The kid(s) are just going to have to live in a small place and get used to playing outside a lot. Denver and Hawaii are both great places to raise kids. Who says every kid needs his own room, or that they need a play room?

      • Erin

        I sometime think less is more, you know? Too much space, too much privacy can be isolating- not to say that some isn’t needed and necessary. But I wonder if too much independence so early means missing out on the importance of sharing.

      • NTB

        Hi. This is awesome. Thanks! Here in Denver, any neighborhood worth living in (schools, transit, etc.) is pricey. I appreciate your perspective coming from a place like Hawaii. My husband is from Chicago, so anytime his family compares Denver to Chicago, Denver is always cheaper. But to me, Denver is still really expensive (overpriced) for what it is. We are also staying out of the market, despite pressure from friends and family, who are really pushing the “you need to have a house before you have a baby!” agenda. Thanks again. Best wishes to you and your sweet family. <3

    • Meg Keene

      Um. US. There are tons and tons and tons and tons of renters with kids. There are renters with whole families, and grown kids and teenagers.

      I actually have never seen any logical tie to kids and home ownership, so this line of thought is always a little lost on me. Also, home ownership in the Bay Area right now is a bit of a joke, if you don’t want to pay double what a house is worth, so it’s just not something we’re willing to consider.

      Frankly, balancing jobs with a new baby (though staying home would have maybe been even worse) I was so goddamn glad that we also didn’t have to deal with owning a home. Something went wrong? We called the landlady.

      • We are renting a 1 bedroom in Manhattan, and for a long time we thought we had to move out of the city and buy a house before we could consider kids. Lately, we’ve been wondering if it we’re going about this all wrong, and we’ve started considering if it would be nuts to have a baby, stay where we are for a little while, and make adjustments as we need to.

        Some days, that idea seems brilliant, and others it seems like the dumbest thing we’ve ever said.

        • Mezza

          Yeah, I also struggled for a while with how to reconcile the fact that my job will probably never let me leave NYC with the fact that we want a kid in the next couple of years. But we have friends who had a kid while living in a one-bedroom in Queens, and then they moved to a two-bedroom and had another kid. We have a two-bedroom now, so I know we could stay in the same place at least until we had more than one school-age kid, and probably even longer.

          The thing that worries me more than living space is daycare cost. These same friends are seriously considering moving back to the Midwest because putting two kids in daycare here is like double their rent. I keep thinking there has to be a secret life-hack for Manhattan daycare, but probably I will just have to come to terms with the cost.

          • Yes, daycare.

            There’s so many NYC specific things that freak us out about children. Daycare costs, riding the subway with a stroller/infant carrier/toddler, lack of space, distance from family being chief among them.

            I sure hope there’s a super secret life hack for any/all of those, but I think it’s as complicated and simple as learning to make it work.

          • Kathleen

            Skip the stroller, go with the infant carrier. I specifically requested a light-weight stroller so I could haul it up and down subway steps, and never even bothered trying. I just put the baby in the sling and never had any problems (though admittedly we moved out of NYC when he was still tiny).

          • The stroller just seems so difficult to transport on buses and subways. In my neighborhood, there are often well meaning strangers who offer to help women carry strollers up and down stairs since the stations don’t have elevators. But I don’t like the idea of not being able to just get my kid from point a to point b without help from passersby.

            The infant carrier makes a lot more sense.

          • Mezza

            Yeah, I would definitely not use a stroller I couldn’t get up and down the steps by myself. Then again, I’ve hauled all sorts of awkward, heavy-ass items through the NYC subway, and a kid seems way easier than most of those.

            (For some reason I JUST got the notification of your comment. Thanks, Disqus.)

      • dearabbyp

        We moved last year to LA from the Bay Area, so we were able to get a 2 bedroom, and as I like to tell my fiance, and his family, and anyone who gives me guff, “babies are small.” It gives us a little breathing room since 2015 is supposed to be baby year. Yikes.

        My friends who still live in SF (in a 2 bed that they got before things really went nuts) actually paid a designer to come rework their space — they said the only thing they can’t take with them is the paint. They feel so much more ready for baby (3 weeks!) and I think it is such a brilliant idea and will be looking for similar in LA when the time comes if were still renting (likely).

        • Meg Keene

          I mean, two bedrooms are not even that bad! I know lots of people with babies in one bedrooms, or plans for it, because it’s not like you have a option to move if you’re in SF anymore! Actually, who can afford more than two bedroom anything in the bay area anymore? (Not… us??

          Three kids in a two bedroom apartment is where it does get legit CRAMMED.

          • NTB

            “legit crammed.” I laughed out loud. I am using this in the future! Consider it borrowed (stolen.) ;)

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        The notion of tying kids to home ownership is so STEEPED in classism it’s ridiculous. Renting in many places is the NORM.

        • NTB

          Hi…I totally agree with you. My husband’s family is pressuring us to buy, and we are NOT ready. Your comment makes me feel less alone in my thinking. Thanks :) :)

      • NTB

        Meg, thanks for your perspective. As always, you’re right on point. We are encountering a lot of pressure from family to buy a home, and I just don’t see the financial benefit right now, as where we live (Denver) it is not a buyer’s market. In fact, I feel like we would be paying on the high end right now, and I don’t want to buy just to buy. We plan on renting for at least another 3-5 years until the market cools off. Thanks for your always refreshing ideas. I never thought of juggling the pressures of home-ownership and parenting at the same time. Thanks. :)

    • Aubry

      UG yes it is so stressful. The thing is, I REALLY want to buy a place. Like, the yearning that other people have for babies, I have for home ownership. Where I live (North Vancouver, BC) the average home price is over 1 Million. I’m looking at about 450K for a decent 2 bedroom condo to 550K for a small and cheap townhome. Anything we could live in for a few years (and potentially have that kid I’m on the fence about) would cost at least that much. If we aggressively save for 3-5 years I could afford that, but not to go on vacations or anything. I find it really important personally to own a home, but objectively don’t think it is nessisary for succesful child rearing. Lots of parents i know of older kids/teenagers are renting and have been the whole time they have been parents with no ill effects!

    • emilyg25

      Sorry I’m late to this. We rent and are expecting our first kidlet in January. We LOVE renting and have no plans to change it any time soon, even though we live in an area with plenty of affordable real estate and most of our friends own. Home-ownership just isn’t a priority for us, and it certainly wasn’t a goal to complete before we procreated. We rent a lovely little house and have a great relationship with our landlord.

      The only issue I see is that having this kid will make it harder for us to save for a down payment, but like I said, owning a home isn’t really a goal of ours. It was so much more important to us to have a baby. I guess it’s easier for us because even though we fall outside our local norm on this, we don’t really care. :)

  • Jenni

    My guess is that my fiance will be ready to have kids first. I know he’ll look forward to being a dad (he once said his second career choice would be a stay at home dad). I know I want kids–I want to provide for tiny humans and usher them into adulthood with tons of books and love. (I’m already ga-ga over my goddaughter.) I want him and me to raise our children together.

    But I’m terrified of pregnancy and giving birth. I know that when it comes I’ll handle it one day and one push at a time. But it really scares me.

    And I just …. don’t feel a burning need for kids. In contrast, I DESPERATELY want a dog. Like right now. Once the logistics are in place we are going to get one! I just … don’t feel that way about kids, and I can’t foresee it happening.

    My parents had me after six years of marriage. I asked them, how they knew they wanted to have kids? When did they feel that they really wanted us, not in a vague, that-would-be-nice-someday kind of want, but “yes, now is the time, I WANT a child.” They kept thinking I was asking about logistics, like financial security and career stage, and that there’s never a perfect time to have a baby … but that’s not what I meant, and they didn’t really understand. I just don’t know if I’ll ever WANT a child. And sometimes I worry that this ambiguous-lack-of-want will be bad for when we do eventually have kids.

  • Callie Vita

    It’s such a terrifying conversation to have- not the “yeah, I want a baby,” but the, “so how will this work” conversation.

  • Super Duper Anonymous

    I know I’m really late to the game on this, but one of the things that really has me on the fence about motherhood is being fat. I’m 5’10” and 250 lbs. and I don’t really know what to expect from being plus sized and pregnant. So much of the literature obsesses over weight and weight gain that it’s hard to imagine getting pregnant without having so sort of moral panic over the health issues I might be causing my baby. Can anyone share their experience with being both plus sized and pregnant at the same time?

    • LikelyLaura

      My good friend had a baby last year and was/is heavier than that (but a similar height). I know she would make “jokes” from time to time about what she thought other people were thinking about her, but to be honest, she had a dream pregnancy health-wise. She was even working overnight residency shifts up until her due date. (It was really amazing to me – I’m pretty sure if I got pregnant, I’d be MISERABLE and useless the entire time). The kid is perfect. So I’m positive there were some rough moments, but when don’t we have those in life. And yeah being overweight and pregnant can be risky, but hell, pregnancy is risky for anyone.

  • Midori

    As many people have mentioned already, how does APW always manage to read my mind?!?

    Anyways, we just got married last month after being together for more than 7 years and living together for about 6 years. He’s 38 and I’m 32. We are at a good place in life where we have great jobs that we love and make good money from, live in a city that we like and enjoy our freedom immensely, traveling or taking up new adventures on a whim.

    Although I know that having babies will for sure change our lifestyle and freedom, I think I’m much more deeply worried about what having children will do to our relationship. What happens when you’re sleep deprived and don’t have the energy to talk, let alone have the crazy, mind-blowing sex (or any sex at all) that is so important in a healthy relationship? I know that my body will change (and that it will change whether or not there is a baby), but I’m so afraid that it will change in a way that I won’t be able to feel confident in myself, and that I can no longer expect my husband to find me attractive unless I can recover back to a pre-baby state. ARG!!! Too many things to worry about, but not a lot of time left on my clock to ponder I suppose. Our relationship struggled through many challenges and obstacles before we were able to be where we are, and that’s why all these fears are popping with the baby question.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing!

    • Mary Jo TC

      If your relationship is solid and you have good communication, there is no reason to fear a baby will drive you apart. I say that as a mom who struggled with lack of sleep and sexual issues thanks to recovering from childbirth. Tiredness made us both irritable and snappish sometimes, but we also learned to apologize and forgive. The first year was tough for sex, but it was harder on me and my self-image than on our relationship. A decent man knows he’s not entitled to sex and can make do with periods of abstinence.

      If you’re really worried your husband won’t be attracted to you plus 10 pounds (or 30+), then that’s either your own body image issues, or he’s an asshole. That’s not an issue about having a baby or not.

    • Kathleen

      “but I’m so afraid that it will change in a way that I won’t be able to
      feel confident in myself, and that I can no longer expect my husband to
      find me attractive unless I can recover back to a pre-baby state.”

      It’s possible that post-birth, you won’t feel confident, and I suppose it’s possible that your husband might not find you as attractive. But it’s also possible that you’ll find you’ve never been more confident in and your husband never more amazed by your body once you’ve seen what it can do!

  • Bridgette Gregory-O’Connor

    I think this article goes in tandem. All the reasons why you shouldn’t have kids, and the reasons you want to sprinkled in.

  • laddibugg

    I’m ready for kids because in a few short years, regardless if I feel ready or not, I won’t have the option.

  • My struggle with this is that I’m really young. Which isn’t so much a struggle as it is just something that triggers a lot of thought and observation about our culture and how we like to contextualize “motherhood” and being a woman yadda yadda…not to plug my own stuff but I literally JUST wrote about this the other day here: . I’ve naturally kind of done everything o nthe younger side, I’m 24 and my (older) spouse and I are thinking in like 2 years we will have a kiddo. What’s odd for me is feeling truly ready at this age when it’s not the “norm”. I also struggle with the expectations and timelines and ideas for where I thought my career would be by the time I became a mom.

  • Julia’s mom

    I wasn’t going to comment….I rarely do. But as a 38-year old mother of a healthy 8-month-old, one who came at not-the-perfect-health-time, and not-the-perfect-financial-time, and not under the conditions as set out in “What to expect before you’re expecting” (DO NOT READ PREGNANCY/PARENTING BOOKS THAT SCARE YOU!) – you don’t have to know it, have it, be it – before you take the leap. In the words of APW: “You don’t need all the things” to have a happy family.

    I have a husband that I felt comfortable would be a good father; he had a wife that he felt comfortable would be a good mother. We’re not perfect; I am not the most patient, I am not cut out to stay at home, we don’t live in a neighborhood with a perfect public school. But you get a good foundation – two people that will work to be good parents – and you go.

    Up until the day she appeared in the world, I had many of the same worries and anxieties that I’ve read here (plus some genetic uncertainties) but she’s here now, and in the last 8 months I’ve found very few of my concerns to have been warrented, and the ones that sometimes pop up are totally manageable. I don’t want to sound flippant, or like people’s concerns aren’t valid, I just want to make the point that there’s this idea that everything has to be just-so or it isn’t “right” for you to be a parent. And in my experience, that’s just not true.

    P.S. If you’re worried that you won’t be a good-enough parent: that’s a sign you’ll be a good parent.

    • E

      You are awesome – thanks for this refreshing reassurance. Many blessings on you and your family.

    • Abby J.

      I think it’s just a bad idea to read “What to Expect” at all. Too much terrifying stuff.

      We had the same experience – we’d been married for a year, mutually agreed the time for children was “Not yet” but I got pregnant unexpectedly and we decided, after much tough discussion, to keep the baby. We’re so glad we did. Parenthood, I think, involves a whole lot of figuring things out on the fly. I was terrified during the pregnancy that I wouldn’t be a good enough parent, but now that she’s here and she’s almost one, I think we’re doing ok. We love her more than anything. I fail at being patient alot, but I’m getting better.

      It’s going to be ok.

  • Kathleen

    When we were trying not to get pregnant, I found myself with baby fever. (I constantly imagined myself with a toddler on my hip. Is that weird?) I was the one who kept saying, “Why not? A baby wouldn’t be so bad right now!” My husband didn’t have an answer for “why not?” but was just generally not ready, and kept saying we should be married a couple of years first. I kept insisting that no switch was going to flip at “a couple of years” that would make him magically feel ready for kids, or less scared at the prospect, and that we should be working to identify WHY he felt like he wasn’t ready and addressing those issues, be they logistical, financial, etc. He was terrified by the thought of an unplanned pregnancy, and I just kept thinking that if it happened, we’d make it work and (eventually) be thrilled about it.

    Magically, shortly after our 2-year anniversary, the switch flipped, the timeline had been accomplished, and he was ready. And all of the sudden, I was NOT. The choice seemed so enormous, so life-changing, that I didn’t want to make it. I would have been totally cool with an unplanned pregnancy (“Guess it was meant to be, here we go!”) but the idea that I was actually expected to DECIDE to get pregnant – to CHOOSE to create a new life – seemed like way too much responsibility. How can it be MY CALL to create a NEW PERSON? Isn’t that a little above my pay grade?

    And I just sucked it up and figured, that this is something I want (generally, long-term), so I shouldn’t let cold feet scare me. We stopped avoiding but weren’t necessarily trying hard (timing intercourse for fertility, etc.) and I figured that because of PCOS, I’d need to really work at getting pregnant, right? Leading cause of infertility in women, right? 6 weeks later, I was pregnant. (I kept saying it was unexpected but not unplanned.)

    And now he’s 16 weeks old, and it’s all gravy. Since I knew I wanted kids, I basically just had to shut my eyes and jump, ready or not, or I never would have gone through with it.

    • Marcela

      “but the idea that I was actually expected to DECIDE to get pregnant – to CHOOSE to create a new life – seemed like way too much responsibility. How can it be MY CALL to create a NEW PERSON? Isn’t that a little above my pay grade?”

      So much THIS. I think someone posted in the happy hour a while back about how the fact that we now have control over when to have kids makes it so much harder to actually make the decision.

  • oldmom

    Can I give an older per perspective on this topic? I’m 60 years old. I have 3 children who are now grown and on their own, living across the USA. I’ve worked for large companies, small nonprofits, owned my own business, and been a stay at home mom. My were children were in day care sometimes, sometimes not. I look forward to possibly another 30 years of living.
    When you consider 90 years of living, 9 months of pregnancy is nothing. One (or 2) days of labor is a drop in the bucket. A child’s infancy flies by. Before you know it, they are in school, and soon they are off to explore all of life’s wonders on their own. Those years of being an active parent will constitute only only about 20% of your total life span.

    I love working. I’m an active volunteer. I have wonderful husband, and fabulous friends. But nothing compares to the joy of having children. It’s not always easy. There are heartaches and disappointments. But the joy, adventure, and excitement of every stage of childhood far outweighs the hard times.

    Life is a grand adventure. The only constant is change. Don’t be afraid that you’ll “lose your life” because you have children. Your life will change – but life is full of changes. Just remember: You will grow old. And so will your children. Before you know it, they’ll be grown, and those childhood moments will be just a precious memory. Life is a gift. Children are a gift you give yourself.

    • msditz

      I just read through all of the comments, and I think no one has, or will, say it better. As a first time mom to a 4 month old who still sometimes wonders how this is all going to play out, your words are everything to me right now. Thank you.

    • z

      When I was pregnant, I didn’t have any food cravings– but I craved the company of women in their 60s and 70s for just this kind of perspective. Not even to explicitly discuss this, but just to soak up the calm and wisdom from their presence.

    • ruth

      Thanks so much! It’s wonderful to hear from someone who is farther down the road on this parenting journey, because I think it’s easy to loose the big picture perspective when you’re right in the middle of the pregnancy / infancy / toddler stage. So thank you :)

    • Sparkles

      This is exactly my perspective about this whole thing. And I’m glad you’ve been through it and share it (like most of us on here, I’m at the beginning end of this whole adult-hood thing). I quit my job two months ago and although that was terrifying, I was thinking the other day about how huge my prospects for the future are. There are so many things I can do with my life, and raising a family is only a small part of it. Who knows what opportunities will come up, or what I will choose to do with myself. Like you’ve experienced, I expect there will be a countless number of opportunities and adventures.

      At 5 months pregnant, I keep worrying about how I’m going to get through those newborn months of sleeplessness and constant attention. But then I look at my nieces and nephews, who were tiny babies two and three years ago and I marvel at how quickly that happened. It makes me a little sad, because newborns are beautiful. But it also means that life goes on, and the journey continues, and new things will come up.

    • SK

      This was beautiful and so very helpful. Thank you.

    • ferrous

      I am pregnant (12 weeks) and losing my shit over career/domestic/LIFE change fears, and this is the first thing I’ve read that is helping to calm me down. Perspective, I lost it. Thank you for this post.

    • crystal

      Thank yoIu for this post – like everyone else has said, it’s a great longer term perspective that I think many of us lose sight of. Last night I had a conversation with my live-in BF that he doesn’t know if he will ever be ready for kids. It’s not that he DOESN’T want them, he just doesn’t want them soon and doesn’t know when he will. It’s now got me in a bit of a panic. I’m not ready for kids any time soon either, but I’m 80% sure I will want them at some point. So do I take a gamble on a man I love, knowing he may never get there?

  • KISig

    My wife and I know we want kids, but as lesbians, the whole process is so daunting! I can’t just go off birth control or stop using condoms. We have to figure out how to find a sperm donor, and figure out how the sperm gets in, and what it will all cost and what our insurance will cover, and if that doesn’t work, what adoption agencies will work with gay couples and on and on and on. I don’t even know how or where to start figuring it all out…

    • Mezza

      Yep. It is daunting for sure. Does your area have an LGBT center? The one near me offers a seminar/support group/thing for family planning for lesbian couples (and a separate one for gay male couples). It was super helpful to just ask a few different people how they did it and what the options were. And I was actually astonished to learn how cheap it can be, if you go the less-medicalized route! I went into the meeting thinking we’d learn how much we’d have to save, which would give us a vague timeline, and then it turned out the timeline could be “right now” if we wanted.

    • spinning2heads

      It’s worth asking your doctor who they’d recommend for a fertility specialist. Sometimes specialists will call the insurance company for you to figure out what’s covered, and they already know all the jargon. And then you at least have that financial piece figured out.

  • Nkosizana

    I think people who have children are not the best people to ask about the pros or cons of having children…my friends tend to get very defensive after they ask me when I’m having children and I tell them I don’t want any. Like the author of the article, I can remember a time when I thought I’d have one, but time marched on and I woke up one day and realised that I could question that notion along with all the other notions I was raised with…I know that if I had a child I would be crazy about my child but I have a million and one reasons why I would prefer to walk the road less travelled and deal with the consequences…I’ve suffered from depression since my teens and my self-work has led me to a better place – I think if I had had a child in my 20s or early
    30s that child would hate me right now; I like to spend the money I earn on my husband and myself; I am an anxious person and having an extra soul in the world to worry about fills me with dread; I don’t live in the country I grew up in and I don’t want to raise a child with a totally different culture to the one I grew up in, my husband already has kids so the decision is guilt-free!… and I’d rather not have a child and have the odd pang, than have
    a child and spend years taking care of someone who, let’s face it, probably won’t appreciate it…yes ‘oldmom’ had a very full life but your most productive years are in your 20s/30s/40s when most women are consumed with child rearing…

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  • Brittany Woodward

    I am with someone who I’ve known for years. We have been together officially for just a little over a year. He is significantly older than me. Our relationship is no where near perfect but I love him to death. We both work in decent jobs with a decent income that allow us to live comfortably. He has a son from a previous marriage. Since we have been together I told him that it is important to me to have kids. He has brought it up a lot lately and wants to start trying. I am terrified at the idea. It scares me so much. We are not married and the age difference. How do I know it’s right?

  • LizzyFN

    Having these discussions with other women is so important. I’m getting married in 7 months, and we are trying to decide whether we want to start trying to have a baby more or less right away. I’ll be 30, he’ll be 32, and we are both certain we want kids and more concerned (especially me) about timing. There is a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now. My fiance will defend his PhD a few weeks before our wedding, and if all goes well, we will be moving to a new city for his job. We are definitely NOT financially stable, although I’m started to worry less about this since so many people have great families and never reach economic ‘stability.’ The two things I am most afraid of are being pregnant and a new parent in a place where I haven’t establish a support system yet, and my health. I have chronic tendinitis in my wrists and it makes ordinary tasks painful – holding and changing a squirming baby all the time genuinely fills me with terror.

  • Carla Savannah

    Great information. This would go along perfectly with what i teach within my book “How do i know when i’m ready to have kids …and more kids?” xxx Carla Savannah