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Advice from Women with Children, please??

By Anonymous January 27, 2009 - 1:46pm
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I have been doing a lot of stock taking lately, wondering what the meaning of life really is and why we are here, etc....
I have never really wanted children, never really felt any kind of bioligical clock at all. I got pregnant at 17 and had an abortion as I felt that my life would have been ruined at the time and have NO regrets about this. To me, this was NOT a baby.
But now I am in a great relationship. We have wonderful dogs who lead a fantastic life full of hikes and the best of everything. We have been together 4 years and are talking of marriage. We have spoken about the possibility of kids but I have always said no as I have felt that I have too much to do in my own life; that they are noisy, messy, ruin your sense of peace and order, may ruin your body, your sleep,etc.. All childish reasons, I now feel.

I think that one of the problems is that nowadays, we have too much choice and control over whether or not we get pregnant. A hundred years ago, I would already have had a TWENTY ONE year old child!!!!!! (the idea of this FREAKS me out as I am very youthful and still get carded!)and may also have had to marry the guy who got me pregnant.
My therapist feels that my fear of having a child is all connected with my becoming pregnant when I was little more than a child myself and also that I was one of many children growing up and have issues of jealousy.
The thing is...now I am 38 and am starting to feel that life really is about the continuation of our genes and that when a couple is bright, attractive, nice, liberal, artsy, intellectual and focuses on why not to bring children into this mortal coil, that maybe they should as they are very thoughtful and TRULY understand the pros and cons of it all. Maybe we DO have something to pass on to a child. Most people in the world seem to want children and many have them without really asking why. Look at poeple like Britany Spears and her little sister for that matter.
To get to the point, I am wondering if anyone who has kids can really explain what is so wonderful about it? I have known women who have said that they regret it! Do any of you?
Does it make you feel that death is ok, that part of us continues, does it make you feel more complete.
I am not asking you whether I should do this or not, but to tell me why you did.I would love to hear any responses! I don't want these last few "good" childbearing years to pass me by, without at least, really considering seriously if this is for me or not.

Add a Comment12 Comments

My kid sister cannot have children. So, she's a great "other mom" (not yet stepmom) to her boyfriend's son.

My youngest sister cannot have any more children, as she had her son just before she turned 40, so she's a great mom to her only child.

I was told I couldn't have any more children after my first one, but I had 3. Go figure!

One of my best friends simply doesn't want children, and neither does her husband. Some people just don't and there is absolutely nothing wrong or selfish about that.

Frankly, this is a personal choice and no one has a right to tell you if your choice is right or not.


January 28, 2009 - 6:57pm

I started writing down my answers, but the best thing to tell you is everyone is different. Just because I had a certain experience doesn't mean you will. Being pregnant, breastfeeding, night-time feedings are all temporary situations. The bigger issue is do you want to have another little human being in your life & are you able to do whatever it takes to do what is right for him or her.

January 28, 2009 - 10:41am

Anon, I have just a slightly different take on all this.

I, too, was a strong, happy career woman in a marriage with my best friend. He and I talked about kids and how they would change us, and we were unsure for a long time. I, too, searched for something that would make me "know" it was right. I just wasn't born with the "I always wanted kids" gene. I was born with the "Someday, maybe" gene.

Here's what I'll tell you. If a person who had no dogs asked you why you had them, you'd barely know where to start. (I have three.) Explaining the intangibles about having a dog is easy, but I think understanding them is hard. That person without a dog might say, "but they bark, they shed on your clothes or your furniture, they're expensive, they get sick, they pee in the house sometimes," and on and on. You could try to explain how none of that makes a bit of difference -- and, in fact, how all of that is actually beside the point, you know? But somehow, the person without a dog still doesn't understand until they love one of their own. I just don't know how you can actually communicate such a thing so that another person almost experiences what you're saying.

I think it's the same about kids. We can try to pull it apart, to ask the questions, to listen to the answers, and to have intuition about ourselves -- but I have the feeling we never get the whole story unless we go ahead and take the leap. The unexplainables are just too big. But I think that in the end, the noise, the mess, the difficulty -- they all end up being side issues, just like the barking or the dog hair.

I will counsel you this way, though: If you think you want to try, don't wait too long. Don't spend all your time going back and forth and looking for the answer that helps you know for sure -- it just may not come. And those last years of fertility are special. If you think you want this, you need to go for it before it's too late.

We waited. We waited too long. We tried, and then we found out we had some small medical issues on both sides. We addressed those, tried some more, no luck. We made the decision to explore adoption, but it gets complicated when couples are "older" (I can imagine your distress at thinking that you are an "older" couple, and I shared that distress!! But it's a fact in the adoption world).

We ended up without children. We're very happy, even though I wish we'd been able to have some. We dote on our 15 nieces and nephews and spoil them with our time and love endlessly. So you'll be happy either way. But there IS a deadline for biological kids, and if you decide it's important to try for them -- to bring a smart, cute, artsy kid into your world -- don't wait too long.

January 28, 2009 - 10:27am
(reply to Diane Porter)

I echo Diane's message about trying to answer someone's question, "what is so great about having kids? Do they make life more meaningful?" with using the pet/dog metaphor. Of course, raising a human being vs. an animal does not compare...but putting the question out there in terms that are understandable makes sense. You have dogs you love, and I assume Diane's post resonated with you--it would be hard to explain to a non-dog lover the same answers to the questions, "what is so great about having [dogs]? do they make life more meaningful?" It is hard to put into words the answers to these questions, whether you are talking about dogs to a non-dog person, or talking about children to a non-kid person. I, for one, was a "non-kid" person before having a baby, and I DID NOT understand how women could breastfeed, how they could stand snotty-noses and changing diapers. It was beyond me! However, I have cats that I absolutely love, and it is no problem cleaning up hair balls and kitty litter. That's where the comparison ends, though...it serves just enough to understand that there is a world out there that is indescribable, with feelings that are intense, about a living human (or pet) that you love.

I'll tell you this---as much as I loved my cats, and never thought I could be without animals....the love of my son is a million times more powerful than I ever thought possible, and my beloved cats are far down on the priority list (I never thought that would happen!!).

Oh, and regarding weight gain. Yes, it will happen (it's supposed to!). Breastfeeding helped me take the weight off, no problem. Keep exercising throughout pregnancy (per doctor's orders), and you'll be fit and healthy. (Most doctors recommend exercise throughout pregnancy, barring any health problems). There is a lot of support for breastfeeding, and it is such a small amount of time compared to the child's life that it really is a non-issue. You do it, you have support...then, it's over. Once you have a child (if you choose), the other women with newborns literally come out of the woodwork (!), and it's wonderful support to breastfeed in a group of women while the babies goo and gaa, and you talk about your sore nipples or Obama or the weather or the economy...

Everything works out in the end. If not, then it's not the end.

Do you need any other information or resources that we can send you?

January 29, 2009 - 1:55pm

Your questions are awesome! I didn't put this much thought into it before I had children.... maybe I should have. In any case, my first pregnancy ended up being nothing that I could have ever expected, and it changed me completely as a person. I got pregnant the very first time we tried, after I went off the pill, and I was pregnant with identical twin boys. That initial surprise turned to shock when we found out 14 weeks into the pregnancy that one of the boys would not survive outside the womb and would most likely die during the pregnancy and cause a miscarriage. It's a long story, and not one you'd ever be prepared for by any of the pregnancy books on the market, but in the end we ended up with the boys being delivered by emergency C-section three months before their due date. One lived for 21 hours in our arms. The other miraculously survived the horrible pregnancy, delivery and a subsequent massive brain hemorrhage -- he's now about to turn 14 and is the most extraordinary kid.

Even after the nightmare we experienced while bringing our boys into the world, I got pregnant again (a little girl that time) just 4 months after they were born. I remember friends and relatives thinking we were insane to attempt another pregnancy so soon after the trauma that we experienced. But somehow, sometimes, you just move ahead in life and don't think too hard while you're jumping off that cliff.

I guess that's really what it's like having kids.... jumping off a cliff. You can never, ever be prepared. No matter how many answers you seek. There are risks around every corner -- before they're born, when they're learning how to cross a street, when they're learning how to drive. But there are so many joys too. Far too many to count. And even in the midst of mind-numbing grief, when I had that tiny, miniature hand of my one-pound baby boy wrapped around my index finger during his 21 hours of life, I felt the inner peace of having known him and having given him all of my love during that little window of time.

There's no greater honor than having brought a life into the world, and helping to guide that life for just a little while, whether that time spans 21 hours or 21 years.

January 27, 2009 - 10:51pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks everyone for your great responses.It's interesting how the common thread of joy and sacrifice comes through in your posts.
I have so many more questions....but these answers help a great deal.
It seems that no one out there regrets their pregnancy , happily.
I had a friend once take me aside when I was about 25 and she was around 40 and she said that she had real regrets as she felt tied to a man she didn't love and felt she had lost her freedom, with her two boys. But maybe that was just her....and she may have been unhappy anyhow.
How did any of you deal with the feelings of loosing your freedom? Did you have family support? Did any of you still have an occasional glass of wine while pregnant? I can't stand the idea of not being able to have an occasional drink. Did you have help so you could go out sometimes alone or with your husband after giving birth?
Do your husbands help a great deal? I can't stand the thought of having to get up every night while my man snores! And mine is a wonderful guy! He just doesn't wake up no matter what! I had a little dog who suffered from seizures and my boyfriend lay asleep while I jumped up within seconds(sometimes even before the seizure would start!)to help him.
I believe that the work should be split 50/50, especially as I am the one who is forced to give birth!
Did any of you struggle with weight gain? Is it ok to continue to work out and hike while pregnant?
Does the nine months creep by or is it over in a flash?
Did all of you breastfeed? I am a little squeamish about this as I am quite modest and also the idea of it sounds painful and weird.

Thanks again, girls!!

January 27, 2009 - 4:28pm

Hi anonymous,

You ask a great question. Having a child DOES change your life forever. It is truly the hardest job you will ever have and you do have to give up a lot of luxuries in life that you never considered as luxuries before. And I will be honest, you will miss them. Also, it's really hard to care for someone when you aren't feeling well yourself & the pain from my c-section that still comes back from time to time. That being said, my daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me. Her smile seems to fix everything and she has the best laugh that totally cracks me up. I am very lucky to have her in my life. We have so much fun together & she makes me see the world in a wonderful new way.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask me or others more questions on this.

January 27, 2009 - 3:35pm

Wow---what a powerful question! I wrote about why I choose to have kids in another recent post ("Where is My Biological Clock?"). You may also be interested in reading a similar post regarding "How Does Your Marriage Affect Your Children". Both of these posts have excellent insight from all who responded!

Similar to what many other women have said, I just knew that I wanted a future with children. I wanted my husband to be a father. I wanted my relationship with my husband to be that of "parents", and raise a child (or children) together. As the above post, I wanted my parents to be grandparents. I don't know---there was never a strong biological or emotional "pull", but just could not imagine any other way of living without a family.

I also have friends who do not have children, and they are very happy! I don't believe they think/feel that they are missing anything. We talk about it sometimes, and they say they feel guilty not wanting to have kids in this society, which I can understand.

I never felt the need to "pass on my genes" or anything, and prefer not to think about the celebrity's lives...who knows what is fact or fiction when it comes down to what pictures/stories we see and hear. It's not really relevant, in my opinion!

I don't think anyone is ever really ready to have children at first. Not financially, not emotionally. It's impossible to prepare for the unknown. Your marriage can change for the best or worst. Same with your finances, your body, your career, your self-image.

Personally, we have ups and downs with all the above "categories", but our lives have improved 110% with having a child! I feel closer to my husband, I am more confident and assertive, I changed jobs/careers and it was the best decision. I feel like I see things more clearly than I did before; I have more perspective maybe? My son is just the love of my life, and I love being near him (most days--ha!) and watching him learn and grow. The world is different. And, again, I never had the biological urge to even have kids; I actually never was a kid/baby-kind-of-person, so this is all strange to me!

I don't need to tell you the downsides to having kids, as anyone can tell you that it is physically and emotionally exhausting (I can't seem to stay up past 10pm anymore...so uncool)! Some marriages are strained; finances have to be re-worked. New friends will be made, both for your child and yourself...and this extreme protectiveness comes over you that you would not believe! I have new insight as to what my parents were going through as I was growing up.

Do you have any new thoughts?

January 27, 2009 - 3:19pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for your comments. I was in therapy as I used to have issues with insecurity, a few drinks too many, career problems, etc.. Also, I believe that we can all benefit from therapy. I really just see it as a way to get feelings out and a way to deal with issues. I happened to discuss the abortion also in my sessions though it was not a major topic of conversation. I haven't been for a while though.

My boyfriend is also a little on the fence about kids. He always thought that he would meet a girl who would convince him to have a child....and he met me!! LOL! he wants one more than I do though. He thinks also, that I would be a great mother. I am extremely maternal with my dogs; caring, compassionate, bring them to bed with me, spoil them, etc..

How did you deal with the sudden change in status , suddenly being a "Mom" and not a "cool girl"??? Did you have issues with breast feeding? How did you deal with pregnancy in general?
Do you feel now that there is more "meaning" to life?

Thanks so much for the time and effort you have put into answering my questions!

January 27, 2009 - 3:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Sure---this is a fun topic! :)

I agree with your philosophy of therapy, by the way.

That is funny that you are both on the fence about having kids. You do sound like you would be a good mother--you are already doing your research, weighing the pros and cons...

I had a very hard time with the status change, but honestly, I've always had a problem with this. I'm the type of person that wants to "fit in" beyond everything else (probably why I got pregnant in high school...LOL!).

I look younger than I am (still get carded), and felt like when I was pregnant people were looking at me as a pregnant teenager. I started sharing some of my feelings with some trusted (older) colleagues, and they basically shattered all of my fears! They told me that I don't really look as young as I think I do...ha ha! I talked about feeling "too young" (and I was 30!) and was just told over and over again "You're not". I guess one day, I just believed it. Same with becoming a mom. I actually remember 2 weeks after I delivered, my son was at home with my husband, and I went to the grocery store for the first time. I walked in feeling drugged---I thought the whole store should stop to look at me...I'm a MOM! Couldn't they see the change?! It was the strangest feeling in the world.

So, once I became a mom, I joined a few mom's clubs, and instantly felt "cool again". Other moms who are in their early/late 30s who have kids, and also used to be cool. I "fit in" with another group of women, who are smart, have degrees, know what's going on in the world...but also like to have fun, go dancing, go out for drinks, etc. I found it to be the best of both worlds. I actually have more friends now, feel more confident and happy with my friends than I ever did before.

I did have issues with breastfeeding. Do you mean in public? I was never able to breastfeed in public, even though I consider myself an independent, strong, liberal woman. The mom's groups were a good semi-public place to breastfeed; otherwise, I just breastfeed at home and pumped (so I had a bottle to bring along with me in public). I only breastfed for 3 months; I would do things differently next time.

And, yes, I do feel like there is more meaning to life. Absolutely!

Good luck and best wishes!!!

January 27, 2009 - 3:31pm
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