Should I Have Kids?


I have decided to be a mother. Someday. Maybe.

by Lydia Keaney Reynolds

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All of the books about pregnancy start at the moment of conception. All of the books about conceiving assume that the reader desperately wants a child. And while there are several books that will provide a robust, and much-needed, discussion of the flaws inherent in the way contemporary American society addresses pregnancy, childcare, and motherhood in general—Jessica Valenti’s Why Have Kids? comes to mind—there is no book, blog post, magazine article, video diary, podcast, or anything else on the Internet that can adequately answer vastly my challenging, personal question: Should I Have Kids? Believe me, I know. I’ve been searching, endlessly, for the better part of the last two years.

I am an attorney, but I almost never spend my days arguing in court. Most of my career—both academic and professional—has been spent researching. If you have a question, an area of uncertainty, you submerge yourself in it. You spend hours reading everything ever written about it. You learn how others have dealt with it. You do not ask whether the question needs to be answered; you do not ask whether, indeed, it is even a question at all.

The pros and cons lists I made, and remade, time and time again, felt hollow and useless. Pros: Profound joy. Cons: Unspeakable fear. Like the size of the universe, some things are too large to conceptualize. Words on a page are flimsy and almost pathetic, like trying to use a five-dollar drugstore umbrella to shield yourself from a hurricane. Perhaps it’s best to just accept the fact that you are going to get soaked.

For our honeymoon, my husband and I travelled to the Greek island of Santorini. On the third beautiful, sun-drenched day of our stay there, we took a boat tour around the island. The boat dropped an anchor off the coast of the caldera, the top of an underwater volcano peeking out of the vast ocean. The tour guide told us, “If you’d like, you can jump off the boat and swim to the underwater hot springs.” The hot springs were an area of shallow, warm water, rising up from the volcano. To get there, you had to swim about a hundred feet through deep, cold ocean water. Our fellow tourists, many of them young couples like ourselves, readily shed their tank tops and shorts and stripped down to bathing suits before jumping off the side of the boat, their tan bodies sliding gracefully into the shimmering, dark green water.

I know how to swim. As a child, I loved nothing more than the smell of chlorine and the feeling of weightlessness I would experience floating underneath the water. But somewhere in my early twenties, I began to fear things like swimming. The sensation of floating and not being able to put my feet on solid earth would feel like a giant hand gripping my throat and I would struggle to breathe, thinking only, I must put my feet on the ground. I had not swum in water deeper than five feet in years, maybe not since I was a child.

J—my calm, caring, safe new husband—jumped into the water and waited for me. “We don’t have to do this,” he said, sensing my anxiety, “We can watch from the boat.” But I wanted to see the hot springs. Most of the other couples had already made their way to the springs and were relaxed and calm on the warm sand. I slowly eased my body into the water and released my grip on the boat’s ladder. I swam to my husband. We got about halfway to the hot springs and the familiar choking feeling returned. You could slip into the water and disappear. You would be gone forever. I tried to distract myself, focusing on the happy travelers in the hot spring, but the terror was tightening my muscles and shortening my breath. There is nothing beneath you to hold you. Who knows what is lurking below you. Do you want to find out? I couldn’t do it. I swam as fast as I could, as if chased by some underwater monster, away from my husband, back to the boat. J, because he is wonderful and loves me, followed me.

From the ship’s deck, I watched the other tourists enjoy the hot springs and I fought back tears—not because I was still afraid of the ocean, but for the deep sense of regret that, once again, fear of oblivion had cost me a lot of joy.

I’m still not sure I am ready to be a parent. I still don’t have the feeling of, “Yes, this is right,” the feeling I had when I said “yes” to my husband’s proposal and when I stood in front of our families and friends and promised to love him for the rest of my life. I don’t think I will ever feel that way about carrying and raising a child. I am, however, ready in the physical sense—I have steady job, a healthy marriage, and a husband who, I am certain, will be an amazing father. I am thirty-two. As everyone (mommy blogs, the Today show, my step-mother-in-law) keeps reminding me, while I may not have to decide today, I cannot wait forever.

But I know this: every single time I picture a future where I don’t have children, I get that same nauseous, angry sensation of mournful regret that I felt that day on the boat, watching the rest of our tour group frolic in the hot spring. I don’t want to spend my life avoiding fear. I need to remember something I think I was born knowing but forget somewhere along the way: how to take a deep breath, submerge myself in the water, embrace the unknown, and trust my ability to get to where I need to go.

So I have decided to be a mother. Someday. Maybe.


The Info:

Photography by Vivan Chen

Lydia Keaney Reynolds

Lydia Keaney Reynolds is an attorney and writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and one very lazy cat.

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  • Lizzy

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It was really eerie reading your piece because it easily could have been written by me – except that I haven’t made any decision yet. I am also an attorney, have been undecided about parenthood for years, and have researched and made numerous lists about it. In theory, it should be an easy decision – my husband and I are incredibly happy, financially stable, my MIL (who I adore) could care for the child(ren) and my husband would make an amazing father (I can just tell) but…I really worry that I would fail as a parent (ahh – deep dark secrets being exposed!). The reasons for that statement are too complicated and personal for a comment here but…they are there. We talk about them in hopes that talking it through will somehow reduce them. It hasn’t worked so far. Maybe it will one day… because I know he really wants children and I really do want to give that experience to him…but that desire isn’t enough to overcome the strong fears that arise when we discuss the topic. If only we could predict the future (and even then, we’d probably wish we couldn’t). This no man’s land sucks.

  • Mary Jo TC

    A better book for this question, better than Valenti’s, which is more about why our sexist culture makes motherhood harder than it has to be than about whether or not to have kids, is All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting. It talks a lot about what exactly makes parenting so hard, and why it’s harder today than in the past, or at least hard in a different way, but also does a great job of discussing the unquantifiable joy of raising kids. I read it thinking repeatedly, “yes, yes, that’s why I feel this way!” and despite the excruciating detail of the hard stuff it made me very very glad I’m a parent—but I’m sure another person could read it and think the opposite.

    I love your metaphor here. Becoming a parent really is taking a plunge into the unknown. It’s a plunge I took without the feeling of certainty you describe from your husband’s proposal. I think we’ve discussed here on APW before how that certainty is not as necessary (or even as possible) as people pretend it is, especially about this issue. Letting go of the need for that certainty was the only way I was able to take the plunge. We’re all making it up as we go along.

    • kyley

      Oh, I will have to add this book to my to-read list!

    • newyork22

      I loved this book! It was very helpful in articulating my concerns about parenthood, also a complementary read that I enjoyed was One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One. So often my question of whether or not to have children becomes a clusterf*** because the thought of two beings to support overwhelms me whereas I think I could support one in the way that I want to. I know my limitations and unfortunately, my fear is a valid limitation. Both my parents passed away when I was young and my dad passed away before my mom. Seeing how my mom struggled with my brother and myself has made me think hard about my capabilities of supporting others. In the end, if I have to be a single parent, being responsible for two human beings knowing all the challenges that an individual faces makes me terrified, but decoupling the discussion into 1) whether or not to have kids, and 2) how many kids to have makes it easier to think about a future with children.

      PS: there are other ways I wish to involve children in my life such as being a great aunt and hosting exchange students!

  • enfp

    Another attorney here:) I was always one of those people who thought they probably wanted kids but was never totally sure, never totally ready. Reading pieces like this on APW helped me challenge the narrative that certainty is a requirement to become a (good) parent. There are some decisions you can’t reason your way through. I realized that there was never going to be a time where I felt more sure, more ready. Waiting another year, another three years, was not going to resolve may anxieties about becoming a parent. And that’s okay – in my mind, parenting is such an unknowable and terrifying thing that some uncertainty is the only rational response. I told my husband that I was willing to go for it (as opposed to ready to go for it). As the writer says, you take the leap and you trust that you’ll get where you need to go. Now I’m 6.5 months pregnant, my baby moving as I write this, finding that the uncertainty has slipped away as my baby grows. Still feeling terrified, but also excited, still not sure where it is that I’m going, but so much more confident that I’ll get there.

    • Lizzy

      This – “There are some decisions you can’t reason your way through.” Thank you for that sentence.

    • Gina

      Also an attorney, also 6 months pregnant, and I agree wholeheartedly. Once I realized that I could not wait long enough to ever be certain, and I took the leap, I accepted that the anxieties are just a part of taking a huge effing step into something unknowable. I love what you said about challenging the narrative that certainty is a requirement. Very few of us are certain!

    • Lydia

      This makes me feel a lot better :-) I think what has been the most challenging for me is accepting the fact that I’m never going to be “sure,” and I’m never going to know what’s going to happen.

  • Roselyne

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I think that the decision on whether or not to have kids is SO important to have before actually getting pregnant.

    I realize that the feeling of “yes, we should do this/no, we shouldn’t do this” isn’t as clear-cut for everyone, but, for me, it was clear. When I was 24, I desperately did not want kids then (and was in no situation to have kids). I was clear that if I got pregnant I would have an abortion. I would wake up at night from nightmares (actual, cold-sweat, heaving-breath nightmares) about being pregnant… so I got an IUD, which resolved the nightmares and the potential pregnancy risks.

    By the time the Mirena was due to come out when I was 29, kids were something I actually really wanted, and so did my husband, so… I didn’t bother going on the pill after the IUD.

    And now I’m 31, and I have a 9-month-old cooing at her toys while I type this. Honestly, some days are ROUGH (I’m typing this on 4 interrupted hours of sleep, thank you teething+cold+vaccines…), and even with all the support in the world, it’s still a lot of work and effort and just keeping going when all you want to do is lie down but it’s not an option so you get up and go. I wanted this so badly, and we’ll do it again (a few times!), and honestly I’m still really happy we made this decision… but reminding yourself of that might be what makes the 4th night of being woken up every 45 minutes bearable… Having a baby is definitely hard, emotionally and physically, but when you want it it’s so rewarding and really wonderful. I think the key is that it’s rewarding and wonderful when you’re open to the experience and want it, and it’s hard no matter what!

    Regardless, though, there’s definitely not a 1-size-fits-all kind of answer, so… Good luck in your decision-making, and happiness no matter what you chose!

    • Mary Jo TC

      You’re right that although there is no right time, no perfect time, to get pregnant, there are a whole lot of wrong times. There are also a lot of times between, where it’s not wrong, the ducks are mostly corraled, but that feeling of certainty is just not there, and in fact is never likely to come.

      Personally, reminding myself that I wanted this during the hard moments of parenting doesn’t help me. That thought is more likely to trigger self-doubt and recrimination. What works better for me is remembering the sweet, beautiful moments in detail, putting myself back there in a meditative way. I’m glad you’ve found a way to deal with those tired, grumpy moments.

      • Roselyne

        I think you’re absolutely right about the “whole lot of wrong times”. Honestly, I live in a place that does make it easier financially (paid year-long maternity leave, subsidized daycare, reasonable housing/rent, etc), but even then, there were definitely times when it would have been wrong (for me).

        I’m glad you found your own way of dealing with the grumpy moments! Personally, on days like today (explosive diaper requiring the washing of the hallway AND bedroom floors, as well as baths for both of us because it was everywhere… enough said), reminding myself that I wanted this and signed up for it and therefore can’t resent the baby for it is totally helping me be more zen about the entire deal. It’s WAY harder for me to be like “good sweet times!” when I’m covered in poo. “I signed up for it, gotta get through it, it’s not her fault, poor baby” is way easier to channel. :)

    • Jess

      I have woken up clawing at the skin over my uterus in a sense of fear and disgust. I have already looked up where I could get an abortion in my state – just in case.

      You made me feel both less alone in that fear and like there was more hope in the fact that I’ve already decided that I would try to have kids for R one day. Just… not right now.

      Thanks.

      • Roselyne

        Oh, man, I’ve totally done that. Waking up frantically clutching my stomach to make sure I’m not ACTUALLY pregnant…. YUP. (3 times a week, at one point…) Making sure abortion was accessible should it happen, and dumping the guy who said abortion wasn’t an option for him (fuck you, my body)… YUP.

        (The IUD helped with those nightmares. It’s the most secure mode of birth control there is, so that was some peace of mind, but also because I wasn’t taking a pill that reminded me that it was an option right before going to bed. It’s like knowing that I had a super-secure mode of birth control that I didn’t have to think about for 5 years calmed my subconscious. YMMV, but maybe ensuring that you feel like you’re absolutely secure in your mode of birth control might help your subconscious stop giving you nightmares?)

        • Jess

          I’m totally thinking through the IUD. Especially after somebody on Gawker wrote that piece about getting hers, and I was like, hey this is totally approachable.

          We use condoms, and I’m on the pill now, and my brain still thinks about it 3x a day at best. I hadn’t really thought about how it would allow me to stop freaking out… but it totally would!

  • Anon

    So much this. I want to want kids. I want to want them because my husband so desperately does and I’m scared that his patience and my grace period is ending. Because I’m 30 and standing at a clear fork where I have to choose NOW between promotion into senior leadership or stepping out to have a child. I want to feel that absolute certainty that other women talk about when referring to their desire to have a child. I’m afraid that the absence of that certainty means that if I do have children, it won’t be for the right reasons. And yet, I don’t feel like fear or the avoidance of regret is enough to hang this decision on. What do you do when the pressure is mounting from all sides, but no matter how hard you try, you cannot muster up any desire, any wistfulness or yearning for motherhood?

    • Mary Jo TC

      I think it is such bullshit that you have to choose between career ladder-climbing and having a kid. Why can’t someone in a senior leadership position be a parent? The requirements for those jobs need to be rewritten to accommodate families. I doubt a man contemplating parenthood would even consider stepping off the career ladder. Ugh. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      Don’t worry so much about having kids ‘for the right reasons.’ There are some bad reasons to have kids (like ‘to save a dying marriage’ or ‘to please my mom’) and I think as long as you’re not doing it explicitly for a bad reason, your reasons are bound to pass muster. Will you love the kid? That’s more important. Keep in mind also that lot of the women who talk about feeling certain about having kids are only speaking in retrospect, and might not have felt so sure when they were going through it in the moment.

      • Jess

        “Will you love the kid? That’s more important”

        This statement? This statement terrifies the shit out of me. Because I can’t know if I will.

        I know I would be able to take care of a child. I know I would not neglect a child physically, and would try very hard to meet its emotional needs.

        But love? Can I predict love? Can I say what loving a child means or how it looks? Can I guarantee that even if I do, in fact, love a child, that the way I love it will be the way that it needs to be loved?

        No. I cannot do any of those things. I can only hope to be able to love, and that’s a very large gamble that I cannot go back from.

        • Kara

          Exactly. With nearly every other adult decision we make–get engaged/married, buy a house, etc.–there’s always the option to change course. You can end an engagement or get divorced. You can sell a house.

          But you can’t go back after having a kid. There’s no undo, no reset.

          That is what terrifies me. Once you’re on the path, there’s no where to go.

          • Jess

            YES. It’s so final and so serious. This is literally another person’s life – there is nothing else like it.

          • Kara

            Final. Serious. No turning back.

            It’s enough to make me hyperventilate.

          • Meg Keene

            As someone with anxiety, I just want to point out that MOST of life is like that, and if you stop and think too much about it, you will do nothing. (Except hyperventilate.) The first time I became really aware of this was college acceptances. I kept thinking that depending on where I picked, I’d have different friends, probably marry a different person, maybe have a different job. Once I picked I couldn’t go back. So I literally hyperventilated at the mailbox.

            What I learned from that is… everything is irreversible, and we have to get on with it. And also, everything is also more reversible than it seems. Plus, I think our core selves are more innate and more fated for things than we even realize.

            I probably picked the wrong school, I changed my major and moved within the school to deal with it. I probably STILL didn’t really pick the right thing, but I’m not sure if there even was a right thing, so at least I picked something I cared about, and I’ve made the best of it. I married someone I was friends with already when I stood at that mailbox, so JOKE IS ON ME. And I ended up doing a job that didn’t exist yet and no school could help me with, and was more or less cut out for me.

            All that to say, I think I learned that I ended up in roughly the same place I would have ended up anyway, because I’m roughly the same person I’ve always been.

            I think I’ve learned the same thing with a kid. It’s not changeable, and changeable. When things don’t work, we fix them. And now that he exists, we can’t imagine a world where he didn’t exist. (That’s the REAL magic of it.) And I’m probably ending up more or less the same person I would have ended up by any other path, because I think my paths would have circled around till I learned more or less the same things.

            SO. It’s terrifying. But… I think I’ve learned it’s also not. Whatever I decide to eat for lunch today, there is also no turning back from that. Which sounds funny, except as a person with anxiety I could let that immobilize me. So I’ve learned to choose the best I can, and move onwards.

            And I’m on GREAT meds ;)

          • Kara

            You speak with so much wisdom. The funny part (or not so funny depending on how you look at it) is even though I’ve always struggled with some anxiety with big changes, I’ve always been rational. The kids thing though…that, that, I just haven’t been able to manage yet.

          • Meg Keene

            Yeah, because there is nothing rational about it!! Seriously. It’s just… it’s a force.

          • Lydia

            Exactly, I think this is a huge part of my fear. It reminds me of being on an airplane when the captain says “cabin doors locked; prepare for takeoff.” Like, you are now going wherever this plane is taking you, like it or not. Something about that is just terrifying (as you can probably guess, I’m not much fun to fly with. haha).

          • Kara

            Hahaha that’s okay about planes. I always picture the scene from Bridemaids where Kristen Wiig is sprinting down the aisles. It makes me laugh and feel a little better.

          • Bethany

            This is the part that scares me too! That and the loss of self. When we talk about babies, my husband and I (married only about 8 months) talk a lot about our selfishness and a loss of freedom — we’re just not really ready to give up random Saturday trips to the beach in the summer or staying in bed cuddling on Sunday. I *just* conceded to a dog in about six months after we get some more of our life in order, and then I think we’ll consider a kid. I’m *only* 27, soooo I feel like we have time?

        • Mary Jo TC

          I understand that that is scary, you’re right. I mean love as an action, not necessarily a feeling. You can’t guarantee that you’ll feel love toward another person, especially one you haven’t met yet, but you can promise to act in a loving way toward that person to the best of your ability. That’s what marriage is too.

          • Jess

            It’s funny you point that out – the “Love is an action” thing – because I have always always said that regarding romantic love, and I always forget it when talking about parental love.

            I know what it is to be taken care of, and still to feel unloved and unworthy. I don’t want to bring that emotional burden onto potential kids.

            I just can’t guarantee that I won’t, because it’s all I know, and I can’t find out until I’ve gone too far. And that is really final and really scary.

          • Mary Jo TC

            To me this sounds kind of like “I don’t want to subject kids to the burden of being human.” Haven’t all of us felt unloved and unworthy even though we were anything but? Is this not the human condition? I’m not sure that even the most perfect parent, if she/he existed, could save a kid from that.

            I mean, this is a whole new level of hard if you’re a survivor of abuse or neglect or anything like that. I have no answers for that situation, only sympathy. I don’t want to belittle you in any way, just to push your thinking a little, in the hope that it makes parenthood seem less overwhelming.

          • Lauren from NH

            If I may say so, in my experience, people who have experienced no loss, physical or emotional are rare, and when I do encounter them, I am not sure how to say this nicely, but they kind of repulse me because they don’t understand a major piece of the human experience. They lack empathy. Hurt is an important feeling.

          • ML

            I think this is a bit harsh. I know a few people, including my husband, who have not been through major emotional trials or anything distinctly traumatic. I don’t think it means they lack empathy. It just means they are very, very, very lucky. And most of them (the ones in my life) realize that. Small hurts are enough to teach people that big hurts are hard. I would never wish trauma upon my husband to teach him this “major piece of the human experience”. Seeing him gives me hope that a trauma-free childhood exists. Many days, when I consider parenthood, that is a great comfort to me.

          • Jess

            It sometimes feel very overwhelming, and sometimes feels… manageable?

            You’re right, in that there’s no way to protect anybody from hardship or from ever feeling unloved. I’m just super concerned that I will be the source of that feeling, rather than a salve to it.

            I (and probably others) need to hear from people who are pretty ok with being loving, even if they don’t really feel a lot of love, and how they get around that without having super damaged relationships.

            Thanks! I let my fear get in the way sometimes, but it does help to hear that even if I just try really hard to continue to be loving, it’s probably going to be ok.

          • Meg Keene

            I’ll actually say I’m surrounded by a LOT of people trying to give their kids better childhoods than they had. And there is huge huge huge healing power in that too.

          • OhNoThereGoesTokyo

            Please don’t bingo.

          • lady brett

            i also think that you can cultivate love.

            although, perhaps more importantly – and easier, which is handy – you can cultivate joy. because joy is the part of love that your kids can really *see* – i think it is often what people are talking about when they talk about your face lighting up. and the thing is, you can have the joy without the love (it’s a strange and not ideal feeling, but it’s still a good thing). of course, you can also have the love without the joy, in which case it is, i think, hard for the person on the other end of it to know it’s there.

            and of course you can’t guarantee anything, but it’s perfectly possible to find out that you are screwing up before you’ve gone too far. you can’t undo what’s done, but you can see yourself going down paths that are not good for your kid and stop and regroup – we do the same in other relationships regularly, going through rocky times and recovering, which usually takes purposeful effort. it’s not ideal – of course you’d love to just never fuck up – but it is okay.

          • Meg Keene

            This is great.

            For us parenting is just a giant path of making choices. Like, “Shit. The way we did that was horrible. How should we fix that next time?” The advantage of kids starting small (if you get them as babies) is that they don’t remember MANY of your early fuck ups. And by the time they are remembering, you’ve had a few years to figure out what kind of parent you want to be, and how you want to show love, etc etc.

          • Jess

            “you can cultivate joy. because joy is the part of love that your kids can really *see* ”

            Thank you for this!!

            I came to this at the end of some less-recent counseling – realizing that I have never felt like I am enough to make my parents happy, and I am not. But that isn’t because of me, it was because of them not being happy in general.

            Cultivating joy is something I can focus on doing, and feels… doable? Parental love is nebulous to me, but trying to convey happiness? I’ve done that before.

          • enfp

            Yes, this! The idea that you will instantly fall in love with your kid upon meeting them is possibly even more pervasive than the idea that you should be 100% certain about having kids, particularly for women, and just as anxiety inducing. What you’re saying is exactly how I deal with that anxiety. Regardless of how I feel after my kid is born, I can choose to care for my kid in a loving way. And I trust that feelings of love will follow from acting in a loving way. So grateful bell hooks introduced me to the idea that love is a verb not a noun!

        • Meg Keene

          Oh yeah, *of course* you can’t know if you will. But that’s one of those unknowable things that comes. For many/most people it comes right away. For some people it takes time. But that is like predicting the tide. The tide always comes in, even if you’re not sure exactly at what moment. Worrying about the tides is borrowing worry about something so far beyond your control, and so unpredictably predictable that you can’t possibly dream to control it.

          And Mary Jo is right. Even if, one day, all the tides stop coming in, you could still practice love in action. And that’s what really matters.

          (That said, it’s true that there is no undo on kids and that’s scary. I think there is no undo on more of our lives then we think about, but with kids it’s so so huge and obvious feeling. On most days THANK GOD there is no undo. And of course there are always other days ;)

      • anon for this

        Yes! I know some folks have mixed feelings about “Lean In,” but one of things I love about that book is the author advises women to not box themselves in when they’re thinking of having kids– to accept promotions, apply for jobs, keep going, even as you contemplate kids.

        The kicker for me is that even if we try to have kids, it may not work. I don’t want to turn down opportunities, with the thought that I may need to adjust my life when/if we have kids. We’ll deal with it when that happens. For now, I’m trying to just keep on plugging as usual, even though we may try for kids later this year.

      • Meg Keene

        I agree with all of this. And yeah, the narrative that we can’t move up in our careers while having kids makes me CRAZY. I mean, sometimes corporate America sets the rules so we can’t, and that’s bullshit. BUT. If you’re not dealing with bullshit rules, of course you can. I’ve worked harder and pushed harder in my career since having a kid, and… it’s been hard, but I’ve been glad I had the chance to make those choices and made them, HARD.

    • Kara E

      Take the path that makes the most sense right now. There’s nothing that says that you can’t take the career path and switch later. And wouldn’t it suck to take the mommy path and then find out you CAN”T have kids for a while and need the time/cash/whatever to explore other options? I don’t mean to be alarmist, but it’s tough to make decisions based on what-ifs. Especially if you’re already feeling ambivalent.

      I was on the career path, but for now, I’m on the mommy path with a toddler at home and trying for #2. And you know, my track record on path a has made path b considerably smoother.

      • Mary Jo TC

        I mean, what if you take the promotion to senior leadership and then get pregnant? (Doesn’t matter intentionally or not.) Would they really fire or demote you over it and invite a lawsuit? If you take a promotion and continue kicking ass at work, wouldn’t they want to do everything they can to keep you by building in flexibility? Maybe the only way to change these corporate norms is to make them change by being a valuable employee and negotiating hard for your family’s needs.

    • Sarah Richards Graba

      Yep, right there with you, though I think I’ve come a bit further down the path since I wrote in to APW with this exact topic several months ago. http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/08/getting-ready-for-baby/

      You should read this article if you haven’t already: http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/01/choosing-to-foster-children/ This one reminds me that you don’t have to be sure and you could still love parenthood and be a good parent.

      Also, don’t let your career bully you, whether this ultimatum between promotion and baby is put on by your boss or just your own thoughts. I turned down a great opportunity a few months ago that would have been super beneficial to my career because I just wasn’t “sure” if I would be pregnant or not. Well, turns out I’m not pregnant, not even trying currently, AND I don’t get to take advantage of that opportunity. SO STUPID OF ME. I wish I had just said “yes” to the career opportunity and then if I had gotten pregnant, been like, “Welp, I have to deal with this now, so sorry…now we have to work around it.” Like, what the fuck was I thinking?? It made me so resentful of even thinking about having a child. So now I’m going full throttle on career, and we may start a “trying to have a kid” period again in a couple of months, but I am NOT slowing down for the “possibility” of having a child. That is (was) just ludicrous. Sometimes I cannot believe myself.

  • Anon

    Such a timely post. I was never sure if I wanted kids, and I always thought there was a chance I might never want them. I grew up with several relatives who were “DINKs”, so that wasn’t something that was out of the realm of possibility in my mind. As soon as I turned 30, it was like a light switch turned on in my head that YES I wanted kids (it was super weird), and after talking to the husband about it, he felt the same way. So I stopped birth control, we took the approach of “not trying but not-not trying either”, and a few months down the road my period was late. Rather than being excited about this, we were both pretty anxious and then later relieved when I took a negative pregnancy test. I remember the night before I took it, I slept horribly.

    Now I’m back at square one, where that innate urge to have kids has mostly disappeared several months later. Being off the pill is blissful for other reasons (helloooo libido), but I know there’s only so much more time I’ll have to decide one way or another if we want biological kids.

  • themoderngal

    I’m another soul who hasn’t answered this question, though your post almost gives me a bit more clarity. Motherhood isn’t something I fear — I know I could do it and do it pretty well — it’s just not something I’m sure I want to do. You sound like the opposite of me in that regard — you want it, but you’re afraid of how it might go. Perhaps you should examine how you deal with your fears before you try to answer once and for all?

    You may have already come across this in your research, but I wanted to share it anyway … your post reminded me of Cheryl Strayed’s response to a “should I have kids” letter during her Dear Sugar days. Her response won’t answer the question for you, but it may help you reframe your thoughts a little or at least feel more at peace with not being sure one way or the other: http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

    • Sparkles

      YES! That’s one of my favourite Dear Sugar columns (although there are a lot of good ones). I’m always sending it to people. It really helps me to feel grounded in my decisions and trying not to regret things I didn’t do. But I really think it makes the whole kids/no kids thing feel peaceful.

      When we were thinking about trying, I kept coming back to that column to help myself realize that if kids didn’t work out, it was okay.

    • mere…

      Thanks for the article. I feel like “Motherhood isn’t something I fear — I know I could do it and do it pretty well — it’s just not something I’m sure I want to do.” is exactly where I’ve been sitting for the last 18 months of my life. The suggestion to re-frame the questions I’ve been asking is a new perspective I needed because I kept asking myself the same questions and repeatedly coming up with “ehh…”.

    • Jess

      Still in love with that Cheryl Strayed response. Every Kids article here somebody posts it, and I go back and re-read it, and fall in love again.

    • Lydia

      I love that Dear Sugar response. It was definitely something that was (and is) in the back of my mind as I consider all this.

    • She referenced the “ghost ship” response in the new Dear Sugar podcast where the discussed this question again. It’s a wonderful podcast. She even brought on Mr. Sugar. ;)

  • Lauren

    Lydia, if you don’t have a child – if you conclude that you don’t want to have a child – it’s going to be okay. It will.

  • kyley

    Oh boy, do I relate to this! I too have spent hours scouring the internet looking for a discussion of how people decide to have kids, why they decide, how they wade through the murky uncertainty arrive at a firm “Yes! I want kids. Now.” Maybe the secret is that a lot of people never get all the way to firm footing; maybe everyone is just jumping.

    I do think we’ll never be able to say “Yes” to kids the same way we said “Yes” to our partners. Our yes came, in part, from how familiar and well-known our partners are. We already know the whys (why we love them, why they will make us frustrated or sad some days, why they feel like safety and home, why we are so happy to be building our life with this person) but having children can never, ever be a known entity. We can always only figure why we love the tiny human that is our child, why parenthood feels hard and scary and beautiful and fun–we can only know these things once they arrive, and as we figure it all out together.

    • Meg Keene

      I’ve said this a bunch, but I think a lot of sane people (by sane, I obviously mean, people like me, people I like ;) are just jumping.

      I just don’t know HOW you could say a firm yes to someone you don’t know yet and a life change you can’t possibly fathom. On the plus side, on most days, I feel like the parenthood yes was the best yes of my life (including my very very very good yes to my partner). And you know, some days I want to carve out my own eyes. But sometimes I want to carve out my eyes with him too, SO THAT’S NORMAL.

      I don’t think every time is a right time to jump, because there is no perfect time. That always seemed kinda of like bullshit to me. There isn’t a perfect time, but there are plenty of not good times. (Now, mind you, I’ve known tons of people who got accidentally pregnant at the wrong time and it all worked out.) But if you’re choosing to choose, I do think you should look for that opening where you’re like, “Well. Shit. Ok, I can take a deep breath and dive!” Even if you don’t know what’s next.

      • Heh

        See even then, I’m terrified that the time I deem “divable” is going to wind up being wrong! Or that there will be a right-er time later in the future. I suffer from crippling indecision in most aspects of life (wedding planning was a nightmare!) As such, I’ve always secretly hoped I’d get knocked up so that the choice element was removed ;)

        • Meg Keene

          That, my friend, sounds like an anxiety disorder. Which I have! And yeah. It’s hard. There is NO perfect, but sometimes it’s hard to tell your brain that.

          • Heh

            You hit the nail on the head big time. Anxiety legitimately runs in my family, but I’ve never sought medication or a proper “diagnosis”, though my sister has. I know this isn’t exactly the time or place, but do you have thoughts on treatment for this kind of thing? I guess I’m (ironically) “anxious” to even consider the possibility of medication, but I would love to know what works for other people *cough open thread cough?*

          • Sarah

            Just to chime in on the anxiety medication that I resisted so long for the same anxiety reason…It helps soooo much. Look into it. My quality of life is so much better. From experience, I had side effects for the first two weeks to a month, and then I just felt…normal. Like a normal person who doesn’t worry about stupid things. So freeing.

          • C_Gold

            Can I ask if when you all say “anxiety medication” that would also include anti-depressants? I have issues with both anxiety and depression, and I take Zoloft. I feel like it helps with both issues, but given that anxiety is currently more an issue than the depression, I just want to make sure there’s not some whole class of awesome drugs that I’m missing. :)

            Also, I took a mindfulness & meditation for depression/anxiety class a couple summers ago, and it was the best decision I ever made for my mental health. Can’t recommend that sort of thing highly enough.

          • Meg Keene

            Yes! I take an anti-depressant, though I know people who take anti-anxiety meds (that is a whole other class of drugs). You can, as far as I know, take both as needed. And you can have anti-anxiety meds just for use during panic attacks. (I took those once. I was… happy…. and out of it. Ha.)

          • Sarah

            I was referring to anti-depressants and the occasional xanax/valium for panic attacks, if you get them.

          • Meg Keene

            GET TREATMENT. Like, yesterday. That’s my general thoughts on anxiety disorder. It also runs in my family (Ha! In both of our families!) and I’ve watched what happens when people try to just handle it on their own long term. (Short version of the story: nothing good, and it doesn’t get better over time, and it does really impact the people around you.)

            I’ve worked on mine with both meds (I can’t do it without meds) and therapy. I even had to be on meds in pregnancy, which was the safest option for everyone involved. The meds were 110% mandatory, but once I started dealing with the root issues, it was a life changer. I’m still on meds, and I may be forever, but that doesn’t bother me. They make me my healthy self, they’re safe, and what other medical issue would we feel weird about taking our medication for anyway?

            (And I’ll chime in with Sarah, it can be tough finding the right meds, though I lucked out there. But even once you find a fit, you’ll have side effects for the first 2-4 weeks, and then it should just be NORMAL. Like you have your self (and sane brain) back.)

          • Lydia

            I agree 1 million percent. And I’ll add this — if you have an anxiety disorder, it’s not like taking medication is going to change your personality and make all your big fears and worries and indecision disappear. It just makes them more manageable, something you can approach more rationally, without racing thoughts and sweating palms. At least, that has been my experience.

          • Meg Keene

            Exactly. Also I can go from big crazy uncontrollable questions destroying my brain and my life “Example: Will I be able to love my child??” To having the exact same question (I am the same person, after all) and feeling like “Well, logically the answer is 99% probably yes, and also, worrying about this helps nothing.” I still have the question, I just let it sit there and move on with my life. HUGE RELIEF.

          • Heh

            Thanks guys…is it insane that I legitimately feared the personality change thing? I feel certain I’ll be me, logically, but my brain wants me to believe I won’t, to the point of avoiding treatment for years. I find one thing that really helps me make decisions is running it by other people, and while it’s sad that I trust a majority opinion more than I trust myself on something as personal as anxiety, I think that doing something about it will help me get over that. It’s a stealthy beast, anxiety, and very easily mistaken for “sensitivity” when you’re a kid and being “high-strung” when you’re an adult (p.s. totally didn’t mean to hijack this conversation, but the feedback was very much appreciated).

          • stella

            I absolutely thought that too, that medication would somehow change my personality. The first time I took it (after the few weeks of gross side effects, which not everyone gets) I said to my therapist “I don’t really feel any different, I just feel like myself really, but more normal” (after a time of extreme anxiety) and he said yep, that’s how most people feel.

          • Sarah

            Yeah. I get you! Its easy to say “this is just me” and live with the fear/pain, but it just doesn’t have to be that way. I also went from the super sensitive child to the neurotic adult.

          • stella

            Not that I have anything against medication where needed (I am on it now, in fact) but don’t let worry about taking it put you off of seeking treatment. There is good evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy is as effective as medication, if not more. I know for me, learning new patterns of thinking and ways to deal with the illogical thoughts has been what has really helped me. It’s a process though!

          • Meg Keene

            I find CBH really helpful with anxiety, but with anxiety and depression I think most people can’t get back on the right track without meds. To me that is as wild as treating cancer without, you know, drugs. CBH and therapy is super helpful, but it won’t change your brain chemistry totally on its own. For those of us with serious issues, it’s not going to be enough. That said, meds don’t have to be forever. And CBH and therapy can help you get there.

          • stella

            Yes, combo is great, but if the fear of being on medication is putting you off seeking treatment, CBT alone is a great start.

          • Caitlyn H-M

            The great thing about medication is it doesn’t have to be a permanent choice. For my sister, she just needed it to help her climb out of her hole, and now she battles anxiety in other ways. For me, I think it’s permanent- going off it leads to a terrible cycle of not being able to sleep, getting more anxious due to lack of sleep, getting anxious that I may never sleep again…it goes on.

            And really, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from some therapy.

          • I’ll jump in here to add that facing my anxiety head on has been one of the best uses of time in my entire life. It’s still a big part of my life, but not in the crippling way it once was. I never found meds that really did the trick for me, (although I have lots of friends who have been immensely helped by them and I think they are an incredibly positive tool.) I’ve been in talk therapy for about 8 years now. I eventually outgrew one therapist (who was amazing for many, many years), and found a new one.

            I’ve recently realized some things that are easy for me to control that affect my anxiety a lot more than I was aware–namely food choices–but I couldn’t have seen that or made the changes without turning it into some strange and negative covert way to “get skinny” without all the talk therapy.

            This list might help you find someone in your area: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_search.php

      • While I do think there a lot of sane people that are just jumping, I also think that there a lot of people that also just KNOW they want to be parents–otherwise it’s pretty hard to explain people struggling through infertility. These people obviously know they want to be parents and are trying really hard, but are unable to. I am also in the very firm, i KNOW I want to be a mom and have children sooner rather than later.
        And while I’ve always known that I wanted to have a family, I will say that having our dog–whom I love immensely–has taught me that love comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s hard for me to imagine a world in which I can love my dog SO much and not be able to love a human being just as much? SO maybe start with a pet : )

      • In my real life I don’t actually know any of these people who jump. My friends who have kids have always been very open and clear that they wanted children. And my ambivalent friends still haven’t decided. Which feels like a lot of pressure on me to forge into the ambivalent unknown.

        In other words, I have basically been recruiting all my ambivalent-but-leaning-yes friends to have kids at the same time as me.

    • emilyg25

      Yep, I just jumped. And actually, I jumped into the unknown when I chose my partner too. I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to marry him! But at a certain point, 90-95% was good enough. :)

      • Meg Keene

        I didn’t feel that way so much when we got married, but I did when I emotionally made the big commitment. I think there is a modern idea that we all get perfect lives and perfect choices (well, if we just choose carefully enough), and… I think that’s not exactly how it works most of the time. You make the best choice with the information you have, you jump into the unknown, and if later on it’s not totally working out, you adjust. I think it feels like with kids you’re not going to be able to adjust, but you can! I think for 99.9% of us (on most days ;) it’s not that we wish we didn’t have our kids, just that we need to fix the way things are not working. And THAT we have the ability to change, even if it’s slow and takes work. Just like with the rest of life.

        I mean, really, ALL of life is taking the cards we’ve been dealt and doing the best we can with them. I’ve found having kids to be really… more of the same on that. Though it does seem so CRAZY final when you’re making the choice, once it’s life… I think you just make choices and make it work and have good days and bad. Like… well… life!

        • Karen

          YES. I do really think that the idea that we are in control of our destiny so if we’re not COMPLETELY HAPPY we did something wrong is a (stupid) feature of modern society. Where did this come from? I don’t think it’s helping anyone.

  • annon

    While we are in a wonderful place physically (love how you put it!), mentally it’s a giant trip. I recently found out I’m pregnant – unintentionally. Let me tell you the questions and doubt won’t stop once you get pregnant either. I’ve found the most important thing for me is to be honest with everyone around me.

    • Lian

      Good luck with this situation annon. I can imagine that that is quite shocking.

  • grace b

    Gorgeous. Thank you.

    Also, I too went from a kid who loved swimming to an adult who maybe didn’t fear water as you’ve experienced but definitely held back around many a swimming pool.

    I think that we know that there is an infiniteness to water and a deepening of ourselves that occurs when we explore it.

  • Annie

    All of this. I’ve always wanted to have kids, but I’m also afraid of how it will change everything. It was easy to decide to get married, because my husband and I had been dating for years and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Having kids is harder because you really don’t know what it’s going to be like until you literally have a baby. The unknown is what gets me every time. But I’m so glad to see this post and the comments below and know that others are dealing with the same kind of fears and anxieties and hopes and decisions.

    • Lian

      I’ve also always wanted to have kids, and I am still sure of this (lucky me, I know). But now that all of the ducks are neatly queuing up, I’m also starting to get very nervous. Everything will change, and that’s hard!

    • emilyg25

      My experience is still very new, but personally, having a kid didn’t change everything. I am still me. My husband is still him. We still have the same priorities and values. Things do shift a bit. The less important stuff fades away and the important stuff becomes really important. Some things take more planning or will have to be put off for a bit. I’m sure other women have had different experiences, but personally, I do not feel that motherhood has significantly changed me. It’s just added a dimension to my self.

      • Meg Keene

        Yeah, I agree. As time goes on, I do feel like motherhood has changed me more, but in a GOOD way. (And let’s be honest, I would have changed anyway.) I recently found a T-shirt from my just pre-pregnancy days, and thought, “Oh, I remember that girl! This person is so much calmer and better and richer and more sure of herself.” So that has been nice. But again, I would have changed in big ways anyway, and who’s to say I wouldn’t have ended up somewhere similar anyway?? I hope I would have, just by a different path!

        However, all that said, who I *am* hasn’t changed. What I do every day hasn’t changed. My values and core self hasn’t changed. How we spend our weekends has changed (in some good ways and some bad) but that will KEEP changing and fast. Having a baby is so different from a toddler is so different from a preschooler is so different from a school kid, etc. And I think being forced to really LIVE life in that way has been good for me. In the 7 years before kids, my weekends could always be about the same. Now they’re always changing and I’m forced to keep up, and that challenges me in good ways.

        But did it change **everything**? No. Not even a little bit. Same me, same world, still keeps turning, everything still keeps changing. Same.

        • Annie

          Thank you both! This is very reassuring to hear.

  • Lauren from NH

    Most commenters are discussing the emotional side of things, which is a major component for me too, but on the other hand I also think about climate change and whether the world will keep turning and if it will be a better place or a worse one. I am not trying to be dramatic, but as I understand it, climate change is irreversible, and considering that barely any effort is being made to stop it, I imagine it will continue to accelerate. Does anyone else think about that in their personal internal kids debate? Everyone wants to leave a better world/better opportunities/quality of life for their children, but I guess I wonder if that is even in my hands.

    • lady brett

      yes. that is so terrifying.

    • kcaudad

      once you go down that road, there is no turning back. it’s just a dooms day spiral downward.
      my advise: don’t let yourself go down that road!

      • Lauren from NH

        I am not freaked out or overwhelmed by it. But it is part of reality in my view.

        • kcaudad

          As Meg Keene said to another comment:

          The tide always comes in, even if you’re not sure exactly at what moment. Worrying about the tides is borrowing worry about something so far beyond your control, and so unpredictably predictable that you can’t possibly dream to control it.

          • Lauren from NH

            I mean…I can control if I have kids and how many. I am not talking about the general positives and negatives of life, those do ebb and flow I agree, but rather I am talking about the general sickly state of our planet and the systems that govern it. Completely ignoring that I think is the problem to begin with.

          • Meg Keene

            I think I’m with Kcaudad on this. I actually spent much of my anxious childhood worrying about this, and what I learned from that is… well… I need to worry about things I CAN control. Like recycling. Or teaching the child I’m raising to be kind.

            If you genuinely think that no more humans is going to make the planet a better place, then I honestly think that’s a clear choice! I don’t happen think that. I think good humans will make the planet a better place, so if I’m going to raise some, it’s my job to make them good ones. (Birth, adopt, whatever the choice is. I think raising loving humans is actually one of the biggest things I do have within my control.) As for the pain and sorrow of being human, I can’t shield kids from that, nor would I try to.

            The next generation is coming, and they’re going to have some real shit to deal with, and the best I can do is throw myself into doing something to raise some good ones. Again, I chose by birth, but… I wouldn’t rule out foster to adopt. And if I didn’t choose to have kids, I’d probably be down at the local high school teaching the kids like the ones I grew up with theatre, and trying to use that to help them have better lives, and make better choices, and deal with the pain and suffering of the world.

          • Sparkles

            This is our perspective on this too. My partner and I talked about whether or not it was irresponsible to add to overpopulation, but ultimately we decided that we’re both engaged, socially and ecologically responsible, intelligent people, and the world might do well with the kids we raise. Which sounds a lot like bragging, but seems a lot more reasonable when you think about all of the people you meet every day who aren’t engaged and interested citizens.

          • Alison O

            This thread is interesting because when I read Lauren’s initial comment I thought about my own feelings that basically the world is pretty shitty and there’s a lot of pain (and there’s a lot of joy, too, but my personal belief is if you don’t exist you won’t know you’re missing it because there’d be no “you”), and why bring a person into that? I lean heavily toward fostering or adopting for this reason. Like, someone already exists, and seeing as they’re in the position to be adopted there’s a good chance they’ve already gotten the shaft in some way at a young age, and it would be a more fulfilling and simple on some levels (and more challenging on others) to ‘raise’ that person than a new one I created because I wanted that experience for myself, I want a baby that looks like me and my partner, etc.

            This is as opposed to the sentiment I would have felt in the past, which is more what you’re touching on–the desire not to contribute to overpopulation. That’s not unimportant to me, but…maybe I feel a little bit like, well, too late for that? And I’m just not very militant anymore on multiple fronts.

            Something that has influenced my thoughts on having kids this year is that my partner and I have had sort of a falling out with his dad after a betrayal on his dad’s part. And it just strikes me as increasingly twisted that people bring others into the world and then mess with them, to varying degrees. And then they’re like “but I’m only human”, and I’m like, if you’re so flawed maybe you shoulda kept to yourself and not foisted your flaws on others, kthanksbye.

          • Lizzie

            My thoughts exactly. All of them. We’re brain twins.

    • Lindsey d.

      Definitely. Climate change was probably my number reason not to have kids. It’s still something that scares me to death. But I’m five weeks away from my due date right now, so it clearly wasn’t enough to tip the scales.

    • emilyg25

      Yep. It’s part of why we’re only having the one. For me, the desire to have children was completely irrational, so there’s no way I could say no to it completely. But I do have rational concerns that are limiting our family size—the environmental impact of American people, our finances, the time and energy I think I’m capable of giving, the sorry state of the world these days. One is our “have your cake and eat it too” kid number.

      • Meg Keene

        You know, there is a funny reverse of this in Jewish culture, that flipped my head around about it. Whiplash like WHOA. I was raised to think of it this way, but within Judaism there is this idea of the mitzvah of leaving the world with more Jews than you started with, doing your part for a tiny and dying religion and culture. The third baby in Judaism is the “mitzvah baby.”

        I’m not saying we’ll do that. (Our joke is we already did the mitzvah, because I converted, so TA DAH, more jews!) But it’s just been a really interesting head shift in terms of how different cultures think about these questions.

        • Dawn

          I know this reply is late, but I wanted to chime in to say that some Christiam sub-groups think of it that way. Yes, some of them seem crazy. But some don’t.

      • dragonzflame

        I’m an only child, and I always said that I would definitely have more than one. Reasons, but not necessarily ones shared by others.

        I also have that concern about too many people eating up the world’s resources, so I’d certainly stick to two (couldn’t afford more than that anyway), but I think of it as increasing the number of nice, caring people in the world to balance out the ones that couldn’t give a stuff about the planet. Two more people who don’t judge people, who are body and sex positive, and can touch lots of lives in good ways.

        …That said, I’m still on the fence about taking the plunge into parenthood, but it’s more a fear of the unknown and making the biggest change that you can’t take back. And for all the narratives we have to the effect of “being a mother was the only thing I ever wanted to do and now I am complete” I doubt it works that way for the vast majority of us.

    • Sara

      Try thinking of it this way: your kid could also be the one that grows up and learns how to stop climate change! The next generation can (and will) also be an agent of change.

      • Lauren from NH

        I thought I was going magically martyr myself to save the whole planet too when I was younger. Now my life is hardly over and I will probably do something more worthwhile than my current desk job in time, but I am not about to change the movers and shakers and save the world and somehow I doubt my potential progeny will either.

    • Jess

      I don’t know if I think about climate change because of the scale, but we are the first generation to be likely to have less economic success than our parents. I’m scared that will continue to be true for the next generation.

      I’m scared of the amount of war going on, and whether our country will be healthy, whether the options we have today will get better or worse, whether we finally pay attention to the issues POC face and try to fix them, whether if I have a girl I will have to take her to an OB/GYN appt before she leaves for college so that her first time sitting in a hospital gown and spreading open her legs isn’t during a “time of trauma” the way my mother did for me, whether if I have a boy I will have to counsel him on the ways that society treats women and how he needs to rise about that kind of aggressive talk even though he hears it from his friends, worried that my teen wouldn’t feel safe bringing their same-sex partner over for dinner because the world has made them feel unsafe. I’m worried that I have gone to see the national parks and mountains and coral reefs and that I won’t be able to share that with anyone else.

      So, yes, I have a lot of fears that extend way past whether or not I am capable of even parenting.

      • MDBethann

        I have a 2-month old and wonder a lot of those things myself and did ‘all through pregnancy. However, I had the same thought as Sara did below – what if my child(ren) help to make the world better? Besides, those of us who think about those problems and want to fix them should have children too, or else only the “thoughtless” people (sorry – couldn’t think of a better term) are the ones having children and then we are REALLY in trouble.

        I have known for years that I wanted to be a mom but was, since my mid-20s, flexible with regards to the how. It took awhile to get pregnant, and we are in our mid-30s with our “ducks in a row”. While we wouldn’t change a thing and adore and love our daughter more than I ever imagined I could, I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry or wasn’t scared about the world in which she will live. That said, she’s the best thing I’ve ever done (tied with marrying my DH) and I would do it all over again (though hopefully without the post partum vertigo)

    • cschell

      You make a valid point Lauren. I have a good friend who has been studying climate change with leaders in environmental preservation for years now and talking to her recently made me realize that my way of life (middle class American) will be ending soon. I have always been interested in “alternative” housing and sustainable practices such as local urban farming and smaller houses but the older I get the more passionate I am about a more simple lifestyle. In about 30 years this will be a reality for most of the world and for many the end of a middle class consumerist lifestyle will seem like the end of the world, but, my mother grew up without electricity or plumbing and her mother built her own house and grew most of the food they ate, not by choice mind you, but my grandmother had 5 children who all survived and attended college. If we did it before we can do it again. Children need safety, love, healthcare, food and education. As long as my children have these things I wouldn’t mind having less material things.

      • cschell

        Check out Tumbleweed tiny houses. This is my plan if things get real. The Roma people lived in spaces smaller than this for thousands of years. ( as does most of the world)

        • Lauren from NH

          I have looked into a lot of those kinds of things. It can be pretty tricky in that to do a tiny house or small house you need land, or someones back yard if you are thinking trailer (that might be pushing it for me), and land is hard to come by in metropolis’. But if you live further out, you are probably looking at a bigger commute with less access to public transport. I love the principals and hope it becomes more attractive and feasible going forward.

          You’ve probably already stalked it out, but linked to tumbleweed is the Little House in Little Rock blog, from woman who build the Whidbey plan. She almost couldn’t get a mortgage because banks couldn’t understand her small house in the context of the bigger is better house market.

          • Sarah

            Yep – mortgage companies will very rarely give you a loan for that type of house.

          • Kara E

            But…you can find a lot of small houses in most cities. Short commutes, small homes. In fact, I’ve been begging people to buy them in my neighborhood because developers snap them up and turn them into McMansions (like the million + monstrosity going up across the street from me). Seriously, the house I lived in (with roommates) in DC for years was less than 800 sq feet and included a converted attic space. With new windows and better insulation (which I would have done if I owned rather than rented), it would have been the most shipshape thing ever (and ship sized).AND you’re not causing all that well built material to go into a landfill. I also lived up the block from a great co-op unit.

          • Sarah

            Oh definitely, small established houses are the way to go. And I’m a fan of the tiny house/trailer idea too. I’m just pointing out (since I work in the mortgage industry) that a lot of lenders can’t give you a mortgage on things like pre-fab homes, log cabins, geodesic domes, yurts, etc. Even co-ops are sometimes hard to find financing for. But I’m totally with you – rehabbing/updating an older and smaller house is much much better than knocking it down to build some 3000 sq ft monstrosity. For sure.

        • Lizzie

          Also, a multi-generational home is probably more sustainable than each family nucleus in its own home, and less alienating than sending aged parents off to a nursing home. Grandparents, kids, and grandkids can share resources and support each other. Plus, free childcare!

          • cschell

            Very true! In Denmark and Sweden communal living is more common and seems to work very well. It especially seems like a good way for children to socialize with other children (only child here who will probably have an only child so I think about these things)

    • Heh

      This weighs in big time when I’m debating having kids. I have always known I wanted kids, but in addition to being a serious over thinker, I’m also someone who carries around a lot of guilt about things I can/can’t control. Climate change is one of those. I feel so selfish even considering bringing kids into this world without making serious changes in my lifestyle, in preparation for what looks like inevitable change at this point. Yet, I find myself battling sustainable living for the planet vs. sustainable living on my income. As a college student, my future was one big mental pre-pinterest board of the contributions I was going to make, and the natural lifestyle I was going to pursue…but it’s really freaking hard in practice. I feel like I’m just waiting around for culture to shift so that it becomes “the norm” and thus affordable, but that also feels slightly delusional. I’m doing everything I can to prepare for life as a parent in a changing world, but sometimes I wonder if I could really adjust when sustainability shifts from lifestyle choice to necessity, and whether my desire for kids will still feel justified.

    • Greta

      It is something I think about a lot too. As an environmental activist I am pretty saddened by the state of the world right now, and how much is being lost. I’m really uncertain if I want to bring a child into this. Especially when I read all of the reports that say here’s what this place will be like in 50 years – in 50 years I’ll be in my 70s, but my kids will be in the prime of their life. Not to mention the ecological impact of bringing another human being onto an already overcrowded planet.

      And yet, and yet, and yet… is it enough to tip the scales? Do I still want this experience for myself? Oh choices…

    • Lydia

      I also think a lot about this, though I didn’t discuss it much in the piece. I have a lot of concern about what the planet will look like in 70 years and whether it will be a place that anyone wants to live. But then I think about all of the amazing advances in science and technology in the last 70 years (or hell, even just the last 17 years) and I have some hope that perhaps the future (while it will certainly be warmer) may not be such a terrible place to be.

    • C_Gold

      Oh God, I think about it A LOT. I have no wisdom. I want kids, but I feel like the end of civilization could be upon us. The only thing I think that makes me feel better is that I imagine many, many other generations thought they could be seeing the end of the world, and they did not. (My dad, for example, thought nuclear war would kill everyone before he’d ever even have the chance to have kids.)

    • Sarah

      My partner has several reasons for not wanting children, but this is absolutely his number 1 reason. In my head I agree with him, but my heart knows that one more kid out of what 8B and counting? won’t matter. His compromise was adoption, which I also agree with in theory, but that doesn’t feel right to me either. I have a feeling we’ll end up spending our years seeing the world, brewing beer, and making art. Hopefully that makes the planet a better place, just in a different way than hoping my kid will somehow cure cancer or invent cheap green energy.

    • Elodie

      This article and book really helped me realize that the world actually is getting BETTER in so many ways. Despite the doom and gloom we hear all the time, there are so many ways that this is the absolutely best time to be alive in the history of humanity. Reading the book infused me with a sense of “YES! all our little things we do to try to make the world a bit better actually are adding up to something!” And makes it much less scary for me to think about having kids.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/12/the_world_is_not_falling_apart_the_trend_lines_reveal_an_increasingly_peaceful.single.html

      • ML

        Yes, while I agree that a lot of stuff in the world is f’ed up right now, I just don’t see it as an argument to not have children because every historic period before us has had immense challenges as well. Of course if you don’t want kids, that’s more than fine, but using the global scale of suffering to decide something so personal does not resonate with me. Maybe it makes me a selfish global citizen! I accept that. Having children is not rational.

    • I’m so glad you said this. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I actually had to take a break from the news (and I’m something of a junkie) because I was just getting despondent. I think about even more than climate change, but just all the terrible things out there in the world.

      But then I think that life is ultimately about joy and love, and I try to let those guide me above all. I’m too much of an emotional person to make this kind of decision with my head rather than my heart.

  • C

    Lovely post. I’ve never struggled with whether or not to have children. My problem is the WHEN. When I was 20, that question was easily answered: WHEN was a long time away, when I was finished with school and in a good career. WHEN was a magical place that I would feel ready to be selfless, to take on this huge responsibility, to forever and irrevocably change my life. But now I’m 30. I still like my freedom, maybe even more than I did at 20. The past couple of years have been the first time in my life that I’ve ever had disposable income. I can go to concerts and nice dinners and craft beer tastings and fabulous (albeit short, because work) vacations, and buy pretty shoes and purses and sparkly things, and I can afford cable (!!) and Netflix (!!!) and sleep late on weekends. I thought I would be over all of that at 30 but… I’m not.
    And then there’s work. I’m an attorney. Biglaw. Some days, when I’ve been pulling 100 hour weeks for months on end, and I’m on my second all nighter in a row, I don’t feel capable of even taking care of myself. How the heck am I supposed to be responsible for a tiny human??? I know they say to Lean In at this stage in your career, but honestly, leaning in just makes me feel more unprepared for parenthood.

    • Jess

      I’m totally in the “Um, How could I ever actually be in charge of a human life and making it feel loved?!?!?!” camp, but I wanted to share this anecdote because it’s humorous and relevant.

      My dad likes to say, “And that’s why it takes two people to make a baby.”

      He was a really involved dad whose career (while good, and often involved) often took a back seat to my mom’s. They’re both reserved when it comes to emotions, but he did like 80% of the driving to and from activities, staying home with sick kids, play time after work.

      So, you don’t have to go through it alone, and you don’t have to step back if you don’t want to. You also don’t have to have kids at all, only if it’s a thing you want.

    • Mezza

      I’m in the exact same place as you are. I’m an attorney (not biglaw, much more flexible field) and I love my job. I have health insurance and disposable income for the first time ever, and it’s pretty great! My life is full of stuff I enjoy, and it’s hard to imagine voluntarily disrupting all that to have a baby. We’d be the first of our very close social circle to have kids, so it actually feels like we’d be disrupting more than just our lives! But at the same time, I’m turning 30 this year, have been married for almost 2 years, have an extra bedroom in my apartment, and am basically in a good place for a baby. And I do know that I want kids. It’s just a matter of choosing to get started (which, full disclosure, is a bit more complicated because I’m married to a woman).

    • Lydia

      I actually used to work in Biglaw and left about 3.5 years ago to work for a smaller firm. My hours are still demanding at times but nothing compared to the 100+ hour weeks for months on end. I could barely take care of myself during that time — I have no idea how people took care of children (although many women did, of course).

      As much as I love Sheryl Sandberg’s book and thought it was importantly and timely, I feel like I’ve been “Leaning In” my whole goddamn life, and I’m ready to lean back for a little while. If/when I do end up having kids, I think I will want to take a step back for at least a few months.

      And the money thing…another big concern. I sometimes don’t understand how anyone ever has enough money to have children, especially in NYC, even though I know so, so many parents (hell, including my own) give their children wonderful childhoods with a hell of a lot less.

  • Alexandra

    Never used birth control, so three months after the wedding we got pregnant (we were abstinent until marriage). Huge misgivings. What have we done? Everything is going to change! We don’t have the money for this! I love my career! I don’t want to mess up my relationship with my husband!

    The first six weeks of our newborn were pretty awful. Then baby learned to sleep through the night (sort of). Four months later, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me except my husband.

    I’m extremely conservative (pro-life, religious, etc.), but strangely, having a baby has made me see this issue in a much more nuanced way. Pregnancy, childbirth, and the first six weeks of a newborn were incredibly difficult. Experiencing these things with every possible advantage–a loving husband, plenty of money, a wonderful, supportive community–was still the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It made me understand why some wouldn’t want to do it.

    It’s a huge cliff to jump off. We just never looked down. For us, the payoff has been huge. I can’t say enough good things about motherhood, even though it did change my life irrevocably. But I can also understand not wanting this.

    • kcaudad

      “I’m extremely conservative (pro-life, religious, etc.), but strangely, having a baby has made me see this issue in a much more nuanced way. Pregnancy, childbirth, and the first six weeks of a newborn were incredibly difficult. Experiencing these things with every possible advantage–a loving husband, plenty of money, a wonderful, supportive community–was still the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It made me understand why some wouldn’t want to do it.”
      I don’t think this is ‘strange’ at all! Maybe that’s because of what happened to me. I was not as ‘conservative’ in my actual personal life, and I/we did it before marriage. Then, I was faced with the reality of potentially having a baby with a person I was with, and realizing that would be horrible. I could only imagine how my life could’ve be different… Now, I never want to have another women not be able to have that choice if they need it! *IMO -These are the reasons men in politics or people who’ve never needed abortion options should NOT be allowed to make the laws that govern these very personal choices for everyone!
      (steps off soap box)

    • StevenPortland

      You describe having kids really well. Almost every day there is a period where our two kids push me to the very brink of sanity. If someone saw only those moments they certainly wouldn’t want to choose to have kids. But every day there are also periods where our two kids make me overwhelmingly happy and amazed. The good by far outweighs the bad in my opinion. And, as trite as it sounds, you won’t really, fully understand these two extreme feelings until you are in the midst of it.

      • Meg Keene

        The bad is so much worse, but the good is SO MUCH BETTER (then you ever knew it could be).

        Parenthood, man. It’s a tripppp.

  • anonbecausepersonal

    Hm. I have so many thoughts on this topic, but the hard part is that, obviously, there is no right answer.

    But I’ll share this: I had an unexpected pregnancy shortly after I got married, and while the whole thing was too surreal for me to probably even process the full extent of my fear/anxiety before she was born, now I’m so glad my kid is here!

    I think of it a lot like the Dear Sugar sister life “ghost ship” that I know has been linked a couple times in the comments on APW: http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

    It’s similar to how I feel about a lot of things in my life (marriage, my current career path, the city I live in, etc.) Of course I’m missing out on so many things with each one of those decisions, and there are hard, hard times. But there would be those uncertainties and hard times no matter which decisions I made. Because life.

    I suppose the part I find difficult about our cultural narrative is how having kids is path 1 and the rest of your life is path 2. In my mind and in my experience, those two things are not so separate. Obviously having kids is a BFD, but I’d venture to say that kids/no kids is not the biggest differentiating factor in my life. My life changed a lot more because my partner came into it, and how I spend my actual days would be so much different if I worked a traditional job in an office instead of running my own business in multiple locations (for example).

    That’s not to say that anxiety and uncertainty surrounding this issue is unwarranted, obviously. But I wanted to throw it out into the universe amid all the messages that tell us the biggest dividing line among women and in life is the border between having kids and not.

  • Sarah

    I’m still 5+ years off from the kids thing…but this reminds me of things I’ve been dealing with lately in taking the plunge to go to law school. Basically I am terrified that I will fail, but deep down I know that I will love the work and it will be fulfilling to me. So, I am doing it anyway. I have anxiety issues and I just keep telling myself that fear is not a good enough reason not to do something.

    • Lawyerette510

      One thing that got me through law school was knowing that they wouldn’t have let me in if they didn’t think I could graduate and pass the bar. Just repeating that to myself when I felt unsure or overwhelmed was really helpful. Law school was one of the best experiences of my life, and worth all the effort and tears.

      • Sarah

        Thank you! This really helps. Actually, since I’ve gotten accepted to a few law schools now, I feel much less fear and much more excitement. It’s like, what??? They actually want me??? Holy crap, I can do this.

  • kcaudad

    When I was in my mid-twenties, I desperately did not want kids then. I got an IUD, which resolved the fear of the potential pregnancy risks. I later wanted to want kids because my husband so desperately did and I want to give that experience to him. I just didn’t want kids at that time.

    As soon as I was 30-31, it was like a light switch turned on in my head (ovaries?) that YES I want kids soon. But, after bringing it up to my husband, we realized that we have flip-flopped positions… now he wants to wait and I want kids soon. I think it’s partly because several family and friends have young kids and are pregnant; so the ‘baby fever’ has hit me now!

    Although there is no right/perfect time to get pregnant, there are a whole lot of wrong times. There are also a lot of times in between, where it’s not quite wrong, but that feeling of 100% certainty is just not there, and in fact is never likely to come. I have been 100% certain about very few things in my live. People have said to me that you just have to take a leap of faith and go for it! Once I realized that I could not wait long enough to ever be 100% certain/ready, I accepted that the anxieties are just a part of taking a huge step into something unknowable.

    At this point, we’re just waiting for a ‘more right’ time or a ‘less wrong’ time to have kids. People tell me that you will know when the time is rigth… we’ll see!

  • Sarah Richards Graba

    Thank you for your lovely piece. So many echoes of my own current experience. I’m the one who wrote in for this Open Thread back in August: http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/08/getting-ready-for-baby/ (Update: no baby, not trying, still not sure. I’ll be 31 in March. Yup.)

    In addition to the Dear Sugar piece that others have already recommended, I also find this one on APW to be helpful to re-read for myself. http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/01/choosing-to-foster-children/

    I think for me it’s coming down to the fact that I don’t need to be sure. And whatever I choose will be ok. I’m still deathly afraid of regretting the decision to not have kids, and even more afraid of having kids. But. Whatever happens, it’ll be ok.

    I’ve also realized that if I was the father of the child and not the mother, I would probably be ready to go ahead and try for a kid. So there’s that. Basically I have this unexpected attachment to my body and that I despise the societal role/expectations of motherhood. If I were a Dad, it would all be so much easier. I’m not saying being a father is easy, but I think for me and my personality, I would be better suited for it than the Mother role. (Which means, if I do have kids, I’m going to have to seriously reinvent what motherhood means to me, unapologetically. Which is hard.)

    So I’m figuring some things out. I think you will too. This is a good place to think things through. (Also: therapy helps.) Feel free to contact me directly if you want to talk more.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I have totally said that out loud before: “I want to be a parent the way a man gets to be a parent.” Meaning without pregnancy and childbirth and sexist expectations. I will say that the parts of motherhood that depend on your body changing are mercifully brief in the grand scheme of things. I was surprised at how quickly my body bounced back, but that’s different for everyone.

      • Sarah Richards Graba

        Haha, yes, it would be slightly easier if I didn’t have to worry about carrying the damn thing. I think part of my hang up is that I suddenly have this emotional attachment to my body that I didn’t really expect; for instance, I have no qualms about tattooing myself, getting crazy-dramatic haircuts, etc. But pregnancy brought up this whole other weird thing for me… like my body would no longer be “mine” to do what I wanted with it (smoke, drink, get tattoos, dye my hair, eat whatever I want, etc.). Even for a temporary amount of time! Like, 9 months is nothing if I live for 80 years, right? But still, it got to me.

        Also, I don’t think that fatherhood (and masculinity in general) is without its own sexist societal expectations that are very real and very damaging. I just think that knowing my own personality and where my strengths lie, as an individual I would be better equipped to deal with THOSE sexist expectations rather than the ones that are placed upon motherhood. I’m kind of a “tough love” but very affectionate person, and much more interested in raising older children than babies, and pretty much sure that I would want to continue working and basically just do family stuff in the evenings, which is a bit more “masculine” and stereotypical of “fatherhood.” At least, it’s more acceptable to act and think that way as a father.

        • Kara E

          My husband gave up alcohol and lunch meat and crap while I was pregnant (at least in my presence). Was quite nice. And I have several female friends who are the breadwinners for their families and do the even only thing.

          • Sarah Richards Graba

            That’s nice of your husband. I’ve had friends who have done that as well, and it does seem to help to have a partner become “abstinent” with you, for support!

            I am definitely not the breadwinner, which is probably why it’s a little complicated… it would make sense (and probably be easier for everyone else BUT me) for me to be a stay-at-home parent. But yeah, it just doesn’t work for me.

        • Kayjayoh

          This was me for years, and I figured I would just have to get past that when I found someone to spend my life with, who also wanted kids. Then I fell in love with and married a man who emphatically did not want to have children. And so I relaxed and let go. Part of me will always want children, but most of me is happy to not *have* children (in the physical sense). Instead, I put my parenting energy towards helping raise the children in my life, such as my nephew (who lived with me for a large part of the first 6 years of his life).

          • Sarah Richards Graba

            That is so lovely that you put the “parenting energy” into other children in your life. I love this. I’m a teacher, so I believe firmly in the “it takes a village” mentality; it’s impossible for parents to be expected to do everything that we “require” of parenting nowadays, and sets all parties up for failure and disappointment. Much better to lean on a support network, including those in your life who are perhaps biologically without kids, but are parents and “co-raisers” in another, magical way.

          • Kayjayoh

            One thing I know (and by “know” I mean “am pretty sure of”) that the reason I am able to give so much love and attention and energy and resources to my nephew (and now my niece and nephew from my husband’s side), my godchildren, and my other friends’ children is that I don’t have to focus all of that on my own offspring.

            On the “it takes a village” thing, I think it is super important for there to be people who truly love children who *don’t* have them, in order for the whole thing to not fall down, and the parents who don’t have those people in their lives have a much harder time. Often the “loves kids, doesn’t have their own” people are the grandparents, because their kids are now the adults. But it can’t just be the grandparents. The world needs the “aunties” and the “uncles” to keep the energy going. :)

      • Kara

        YES! That’s what I want–“to parent the way a man gets to parent”!

        No body changes, no breastfeeding/pumping/judging for not doing said thing, no tearing, no squirmy thing (which always reminds me of Aliens). Another advantage for men, besides their easier plumbing ;).

        In all seriousness though, this is why many people have suggested that we consider adoption.

    • Kayjayoh

      “I’ve also realized that if I was the father of the child and not the mother, I would probably be ready to go ahead and try for a kid. So there’s that. Basically I have this unexpected attachment to my body and that I despise the societal role/expectations of motherhood.”

      Yes, yes, yes to all this.

  • Daisy M

    Thank you. This is a very timely post for me on my personal journey of life and it really spoke to me. Simple and beautifully written.

  • Daisy M

    MEG AND TEAM! I was wondering if there is a current post or a potential future post where readers can discuss books that helped them shape either their decision on having children or how they approach life after children, etc. I’m not talking books on “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” or “How to Get Baby to Sleep at Night” although I suppose that’s life changing for some so why not?
    But I am seeing books in the comments section that I know and am reading (such as Why Have Kids? which I am currently reading and love) and new books “All Joy and No Play” that talk about parenting more in the abstract, that get your brain thinking about society is shaping our thoughts on parenting, how parenting has shifted throughout history, etc. I don’t want an instructional guide on how to parent! I want someone to open my eyes and my brain so I can explore what kind of parent I want to be! I would love a separate discussion on that!

    • Mary Jo TC

      Whatever gets going here, I’d be thrilled to participate!

    • Greta

      second this!

  • I always knew I wanted children, more than anything else. Yet when it actually came to attempting to make said child, I’d freak out for a day or two after ovulation every month thinking “Holy crap! What if our entire world just changed?”

  • stella

    I could have written this. Where did the little girl who would choose to ride the naughtiest pony, jump off the highest bridge, climb the sheer rock face and taunt my afraid-of-heights big sister go? What happens in our twenties to bring these sudden, illogical fears that begin to take over our lives and dictate what we do, or don’t do? Thanks for sharing.

  • cashela

    This resonates so hard right now. Especially the last line. Our current timeline is 3 years and then we’ll start trying. And I admit to being on the fence about having kids and scared. We’ve pretty much agreed that if it happens. It happens. If it doesn’t. It doesn’t. Both of us have some health stuff going on that will make having a kid/getting pregnant difficult so we’ve kind of accepted no matter what happens things will be ok.

  • “I fought back tears—not because I was still afraid of the ocean, but for the deep sense of regret that, once again, fear of oblivion had cost me a lot of joy.”

    This unexpectedly brought me to tears. Thanks for a beautiful piece.

  • Lizzie

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one wrestling with this. I admit, it feels like an indulgent struggle, because so many women don’t get to choose whether to have children, thanks to lack of access to birth control or abortions, or to fertility problems, or many other things. My grandmothers might not have understood what all the fuss here is about. But I feel so lucky to get to agonize over the question of having kids, and to know I’m not alone. There’s so much nuance in the comments here that other discussions of the topic miss. High five, everyone, whatever your thoughts about having kids.

  • Kara E

    So…it’s kind of funny, but I did that Santorini swim thing and and it (quite literally) took my breath away. Jumping into a sea and swimming AWAY from the boat it was just not what I do. I’m a strong swimmer (like former life guard and all that) and I too had a moment of breath-taking panic before finding my rhythm. Pretty much like the birth of my daughter.

    FWIW, the hot springs are SUPER iron-laden and that swim suit was basically ruined, much like the socks I wore to the delivery room.

  • laddibugg

    I want kids. I wish it could still be ‘someday’, but at 36 years old, that day is today. I know there is always adoption, but …
    I always wanted to be married before, but we are (I am) running numbers and with our current salaries it might be better if we were not right now (but maybe in a year two). For various reasons it seems more attractive to keep our finances technically separate at the moment.
    We’ve been ‘doing it’ often and deliberately for the past year, but no baby yet…going to give it a few more months and then going to get fully checked out.

  • Amanda L

    “…every single time I picture a future where I don’t have children, I get that same nauseous, angry sensation of mournful regret”

    Wow, that hit home. My husband and I have dealt with infertility for the better part of three years. We made a mutual decision not to try anymore, and I am working through the grief. I can identify with the sentence above acutely.

    With that said, I also have times of immense joy when I think about the things that I will be able to do if we never have children. I will get to be that awesome aunt that has her niece and nephew come stay with her for weeks at a time. I will get to see Fiji, and go to Europe every other year, and not stay awake nights worrying about whether we’ll be able to pay for college. I’m sure for people who are already parents, they would trade those things. But for those of us whose dream of being a parent is on life-support, I will take a happy, full life of volunteering, loving on my niece and nephew, and travelling my little heart out.

    • Kara

      How heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for the loss of that path. If you choose to become a parent another way, you can still do all those things. Just might take a little more cash.

  • Kari

    To be honest it sounds like you HAVE decided to have children, it’s just a question of timing.

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  • Leela

    Lydia, you have articulated my own thoughts and fears so much better than I ever could. I have an anxiety and panic disorder that makes a lot of normal life activities very difficult (or even impossible) for me. For the past year the anxious part of my brain has zeroed in on the kids/no kids issue like a homing beacon. I’ve spent my adult life thinking that by the time I had to address the issue of having a kid, I would somehow be better. The time is now, and I’m not better. Thank you so much for writing this. It made me feel so much less alone to read it.

  • Leela

    Reading this made me feel less alone. Thank you.