Motherhood

How Did You Know You Were Ready to Have a Baby?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How did you know when you were ready to have a baby?” I’m very happy to share my answer, of course, and over the past few months, I asked 11 other women to weigh in, as well. Their answers were fascinating (and so different!)…

Ignorance is Bliss

For me, the initial decision-making process was clear. My whole life I knew I wanted children. I played with dolls, babysat for years and cooed after every child that passed me by. After meeting Alex, I felt even more sure about starting a family sooner than later.

Even though none of our friends had kids yet, my arms would literally ache for the weight of a baby. It was a surprisingly physical, visceral feeling. We agreed to try for a baby after we got married, and once we got home from our honeymoon, lo and behold I discovered I was pregnant.

While my decision to have a child was clear, I was still blown away by what a huge life change motherhood was, and I faced ups and downs that came with having a child. I adore parenting, but funnily enough, it’s almost like only in hindsight did I realize what a big decision it actually was.
— Joanna


Starting Young

I always wanted to be a young mother. My mom had me when she was 34 and she died when she was 52. I realized that if she had had me younger, I would have had more years with her. I wanted to give my kids the longest time possible to have a mom. So at the ripe old age of 23 I gave birth to my daughter, and at 25 I had twin boys. My dreams of being a young mom came true. I just hope my kids still want me around when I’m a grumpy 98-year-old.
— Sharon


Accidental Baby

Our son was a total surprise. I call him my juice cleanse baby. At the time, we were using a diaphragm for protection. I did my first juice cleanse (this was many years ago now) when they were all the rage. Well, I lost 12 pounds — I didn’t realize that would affect how the diaphragm fit, but, it did! So, I didn’t have the challenges of deciding to have a child, but I did struggle with motherhood. I love my son and was so humbled to become a mother but I hadn’t been emotionally prepared for everything I was giving up (alone time, time with my husband, casual morning sex) and I didn’t realize the energy and willpower it takes to juggle a career and a child, and just the general ongoing sacrifice of myself for my family that comprises being a mother. It took me a long time to find my own way through those woods.
— Audrey


One Mormon Experience

I was 25 when my first daughter was born. It’s common in the Mormon culture to have kids really young. Financial stability isn’t always a factor, it’s often assumed everything will work out fine. My husband was still in law school; we didn’t question whether we were prepared or not.

My mom had us young; I was the oldest of five, and, growing up, family was the forefront of everything in our Mormon community. Although I love that, the way girls are raised can sometimes be unbalanced. My parents would always talk about their excitement for me to be a mom, but they’d never say to me, we’re so excited to see what you’ll do with your college degree. It wasn’t pressure, it was an assumption; it was just what you do.

I don’t want to make assumptions for my daughter, and I’m always trying to plant seeds, like saying, IF you want to be a mom someday, or IF you want to be a doctor someday. I want her to have a different mindset. I want her to feel open to every possibility and know there is joy in all of it.

When it came to having kids, I honestly didn’t think about it. It’s so silly to admit that, it makes me feel kind of foolish! My friend recently joked, “I put so much more thought into which stroller to buy than whether or not to have a kid.” I’m happy with the way everything has shaken out, but its funny to imagine what our lives would be like if we hadn’t had kids so young.
— Linsey


Deciding to Adopt

Before I even met my husband, I knew I wanted to adopt. I didn’t feel a deep desire to be pregnant, but I felt deeply that I would be a loving mom to a child “who is already here,” as I used to say to my friends. My husband is adopted, so when we started talking about having a family, he was very open to the idea. When it turned out that I had some medical issues that would have made pregnancy tricky, even dangerous, he was one hundred percent pro. When I asked him “How do you feel about being the adopted father of an adopted child?”, he got this very tender look in his eyes and said, “I’ll know how to explain it to her.”

I have many friends who’ve adopted, and each one is a beautiful story, but ours was uniquely fast. We had had one preliminary “how does this work?” conversation with an adoption attorney, but we were busy in our lives and thought we’d wait six months or a year before starting the paperwork and all the other requirements.

Then one day, out of the blue, our adoption attorney called and said, “I have a situation with a birth mom. She’s six-months pregnant and the couple that was going to take her baby found another baby. Would you like to be considered?” We looked at each other over the phone for a moment. It wasn’t our timing. We were still living in my tiny apartment. But we had no reason to say no.

A few days later our attorney called us back with a trill in her voice. “The birth mom picked you!” she shouted. I felt like my heart was bursting out of my chest. Miracle, miracle, miracle, I kept saying to myself.

For the next month, we did nothing but paperwork, or so it seemed. Finances, background checks, original birth certificates, testimonials from friends, bank records, tax returns and meetings with a social worker. I said it was like going to work for the CIA combined with buying a house. At the same time, our birth mom found out her baby would be arriving early. We were in a race against the clock to get our paperwork done before the baby was scheduled to be induced.

We made it by one day. We were in the hospital when our daughter was born. We were holding her within hours. It had been seven weeks since that phone call from our attorney. Seven weeks from no baby to being a mom.

We are so grateful to the birth mom. She made the hard decision to put her daughter up for adoption. I never forget that. And I love my little girl so much. She is a joy to us every day.
— Anne


An Intellectual Decision

I was the baby of the family and didn’t babysit, either. So I never grew up with the feeling that I had to have kids. I just figured after I got married I would one day have the urge. So I waited, and waited… no urge.

As my mid-thirties approached, my husband and I realized that our choice to have kids would be more of a intellectual decision instead of an emotional decision. We felt stable financially, were enjoying staying home on Saturday nights, and basically said, “Why not?” I was worried my lack of urge would make it hard to adapt to being a mom, but I loved my son deeply from the second I met him and have never regretted our decision. I always say I wasn’t ready to have kids, but I readied myself.
— Lanie


‘There’s No Perfect Time’

My husband and I knew we wanted to have kids. When we were nearing 30, my husband suggested we get started. I said, “But things are so good the way they are,” and he replied, “There’s no perfect time to have a baby.” That resonated with me.

There was always some career or life reason why the timing wasn’t ideal, but I realized in retrospect that that would forever be the case, even with our second or third baby. I don’t think everyone has that alarm bell inside that says, “Today is the day.”

Of course the moment our children joined us, our lives made room for them. That’s just the way it is. I think as humans we get apprehensive about change, but then we adapt to it so much that we can’t imagine what life was like before.
— Samantha


A Long-Term Vision

My partner and I asked ourselves what we wanted our lives to be like in 10, 15 or 20 years and we tried to make the decision based on that vision. We decided we wanted to be a part of a bustling, interdependent, multigenerational community of adults and kids, and we wanted to go to soccer games and graduations. So it wasn’t as much a matter of “am I ready to be horribly sleep-deprived; will I find that awesome?” as it was “the life we want to have when we are 50, ideally, has kids in it.”

I think that if we assume that when you are “ready” it means that the adjustment to a with-kids lifestyle will be fairly easy and natural and we won’t regret it, then almost no one is ever ready. It’s sensible to feel ambivalent about that disruption, and a certain pragmatic ambivalence doesn’t mean you’re not ready.

It’s also such a stark decision. It’s not like deciding to go to grad school and knowing that if you hate it you can drop out. Once you have a kid, you have him or her forever. So I think a lot of this question is about trying to predict regret. If I have kids, will I regret it sometimes? If I don’t have kids, will I regret it sometimes? And for most people, the answer to both questions is probably yes. There’s not really a self-awareness quiz that will help us never to feel wistful about the whatever path we didn’t take.
— Emily


Just One Kid

While working at Elle Magazine, I heard so many women talk about the ups and downs of parenthood. So I was able to think and think and think about it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a child. But I wasn’t sure that I didn’t want a child. I was 50/50, completely ambivalent. My whole thing was I wanted to be totally sold on it before getting into it. I wanted to want it.

But, a fertility counselor I once interviewed for a story told me you don’t actually ever want to get to the point where you want a child more than anything else in the world, since usually when women get to that point it’s because they can’t have one. Another doctor I interviewed suggested that instead of thinking “yes” or “no” on kids, it might help to think, “one kid” or “more than one kid.” She pointed out that one kid would provide the joy of parenting in a less intense way than multiple kids and that many of the things I was worried about might not be a factor with one child — my career, my relationship, my finances.

That’s was first time someone mentioned one child as a compromise. So we had a child.

Now I struggle all the time with how to tell people what it feels like to have a child. Before I had decided to have a child, I would get very frustrated when people would say super optimistic things, like, “Once you have one you’ll love them SO much.” I would roll my eyes. But I struggle now because it IS such a wonderful thing. How can I tell people that without sounding like an brainwashed, annoying person who is overly besotted with her baby? But, it’s so awesome. Every single day I feel so happy, like 100% happy, that we had a child. That’s why I never write about it or address the topic of motherhood with a tone of “and we lived happily ever.” It just sounds so ugh. But I’m so, so, so glad we did it.
— Corrie


Deciding ‘No’

Even as a child, motherhood was never something I pictured myself doing. Pretending to be a mother was a role I found boring compared to other games, like pretending to be a spy, a dancer or a teacher. There was so much world to explore beyond the relatively small domestic realm of raising children, I thought. When I got older, I never enjoyed babysitting, either.

I noticed that I wasn’t captivated by the everyday aspects of parenting people envision when they yearn for a child, either — dressing and undressing a baby, bath time, bedtime, playing in the park. I’ve always felt that focusing on those things would involve missing out on intellectual stimulation and that I would resent the repetitiveness, endless housework and other demands that come with being a mom.

Articulating why I don’t want children has been a long, thoughtful process for me because I have been asked to justify it so many times. People sometimes take issue when you say that you don’t want children, so I always felt I had to come up with brash or witty responses to being attacked for expressing this preference, ranging from “I don’t like babies” (for the shock effect) to “There’s so much else I want to do in my life” to “I would have kids if I could have a wife and be a father.” I don’t think I would have encountered the same level of skepticism, curiosity or even hostility about my decision not to have children if I were a man.

People often think of a life without children as empty, but the only times I feel my life is empty are when I am creatively blocked or when I am not able to spend enough time with friends and family whom I love. Quiet and order are important to me. I need both to be able to think and read and write.

When many of my friends started having children, I became more aware of the fact that some day, as I got older, my option to have kids would definitively end. And being in a committed relationship has made me stop and think through my decision once more. But ultimately, my partner and I are both committed to our work, to travel and to having our lives be open to opportunity.
— Meg


A Busy Calendar

A lot of the decision was just finding a quiet stretch in our schedules. After our wedding, we waited a couple of months to take our Italian honeymoon and I knew I didn’t want to be pregnant and miss out on the wine and the cheese and the cured meats. Then, in the year that followed, a seemingly endless string of life circumstances intervened: we had five more weddings we wanted to fully celebrate; I quit my job; we moved apartments; I started my freelance career, making life more hectic and uncertain.

We felt like it made the most sense to wait until we had settled into our marriage and our careers and the mad rush of trips and weddings slowed. I ended up getting pregnant RIGHT after my best friend’s wedding — at the same time she did.
— Stephanie


Hoping Every Month

I was quite sure I did not want a child throughout my twenties. I had a strong gut feeling that I didn’t want someone to need me that much. I had always adored kids, but I wanted my freedom and having a family just wasn’t calling me!

Then something changed for me around age 32. It wasn’t a lightning bolt, it was a slow shift. I decided to take some time to get my cycles in order and see if I could work on general fertility for a while. I dove into the book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and adjusted how I ate and took care of myself.

I started to welcome the idea of a child and let it sit with me. I started talking about it more with my sweetheart. I started to feel more emotionally connected to our idea of a family of three and we felt more sure it was something we were hoping for and not just wondering about.

By the time I turned 35, were were hoping to be pregnant every single month. It was a long journey for us, which took many twists and turns, but we finally found out I was pregnant about six weeks before my 39th birthday. I am now 30 weeks along and due this summer. We are not at the end of our story by any means, and I feel lucky to be where I am every single day. I’ll always remember and respect how long everything took.

My only real piece of advice about figuring out if you are “ready” is to take your time. So many of us rush around all day long and take that same approach with the big decisions in our lives. People always say life moves quickly, but I disagree. I think life moves slowly if you are paying attention. There is so much for us to take from and learn from every single day. If you pay attention, you will know if and when you are ready and even the pondering becomes an important part of the journey. I wish everyone a good and fulfilling path toward their own families, no matter what they look like!
MAV

toby-has-tummy-time-15-days-old

Thank you so much to these women for sharing their personal stories. What about you? Are you weighing the decision right now? If you have a child, how did you know you were ready? I am so curious to hear…

P.S. How many kids do you hope to have (we’re torn!), and would you ever decide not to have kids?

(Top photo by Ruth Orkin; bottom photo of Toby as a newborn. A few names have been changed for people’s privacy.)

  1. Ashley says...

    Wow. Thank you for all of your honesty and truth. Special thanks to Mav and Corrie whose stories resonate strongly with me. As someone in her early 30s who never thought she wanted to have a child, it is confusing trying to reconcile this slight shift. There are a ton of resources out there for those who know they’re ready to give it a shot, but not so much for those cautiously approaching the subject. Thanks again

    • Jessica says...

      I completely agree…I have not always wanted children, but the shift in mentality from my 20s to my 30s has been subtle yet apparent, and it’s a comfort to know others have a similar thought process. It’s not cut and dry, there are so many different experiences when it comes to having children, and it is nice to know I am not the only one going through a journey such as this. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Kasey says...

    I’ve loved reading all these comments .
    When I first started reading this, I was feeling very nervous at the thought of having kids.
    I’m 25, been with my husband since I was 17 (8 years), got married 2 years ago.
    I’ve always known I wanted to be a mum. I used to play mum with my friends at school, always dreamed of being a young mum, but always knew I wanted to be married, with a house, first.
    We finally bought a house (3 bedroom) last year, and I’ve been desperate to start a family. It comes up in conversation almost every week and is on my mind most days.
    Last week we decided we’re probably ready, and maybe after the summer we could start trying.
    As soon as we decided this, I got incredibly nervous. I suddenly thought that although I had been bringing it up for years, maybe it was only because I knew he was sensible and would say we weren’t ready. I started panicking that we don’t have enough savings, haven’t travelled enough, don’t have enough family near us, I haven’t been in my job long enough (I’m a teacher, have only been qualified a couple of years, and was thinking of moving to a different school maybe next year).
    However, after reading all these comments, it’s reminded me that there’s probably not a ‘perfect’ time. We are in a very good place, financial security, etc.
    I then calmed down and thought back to when I got engaged. I had been mentioning marriage since early on in our relationship, always knew I wanted to be married young, was always disappointed when another milestone passed without a proposal, but when he did propose, I got the same panic, suddenly felt I wasn’t actually ready. However I was so happy at the same time, I loved the planning process, and as soon as we were married, I completely relaxed, and knew it was right. I’ve not had any regrets since that day.
    I loved the comment I read, someone said they felt nervous right up to the day their baby was born, then it fell into place. I think this describes me perfectly, and I now am back to my excited stage. I can’t wait to start a family!

  3. Jessica says...

    I will be 24 soon and dating my serious partner who will be 31 soon. I am completely terrified of having a baby. I cannot, I mean, CANNOT picture myself with one and that scares me. And the fact, that I know I dont want one now my bf will leave me scares me even more. I have never wanted kids and now, am still hesitant. I always figured the urge would come, but not now- I am still too young and immature. We talk about the future and if I dont get pregnant by 27/28 then my bf said he absolutely wont have one, because he doesnt want to be that old when the kid is graduating hs. How long do I wait? How do I know in the next yr/2 yrs I will be ready to have one? I read stuff like this article and others all the time, trying to help me envision a life with a baby. I see cool, young moms hiking through the desert with a baby and think, “ya, that could be me.” And then I see my dream of becoming an elite runner, of traveling and writing for a running magazine go down the drain. My bf says my life doesnt have to change, but come on? How would it not? I know I am young and still have some time, but the future is closer than I think-and the baby issue is the elephant never leaving the room

    • Ana says...

      I’m sorry but your partner seems more immature than you. You are the mature person who carefully makes decisions taking all pros and cons into consideration. 35 yrs for a man is not being old. I’m 31 just now, my husband is 34 and we are not planing to have a child for next 3-5 years. You wait as long as you need to. If you are pressured it may not end up well for yourself.

  4. Melinda says...

    I’ve been going back and forth whether I should have kids or not. I just never felt any kind of maternal instinct. I have a huge family, so I was always surrounded by babies. I was babysitting, taking care of them, playing and feeding them, but not once did I think “I can’t wait to do this with my child.” When we were kids, my younger sister always played with baby dolls, baby strollers, fed them with those fake baby bottles and slept with them. I never did that. I don’t think I had a baby doll to begin with. I knew I didn’t want kids since I was 13. My sister knew she wanted them since… forever. I got married relatively young, at the age of 23, a week before my 24th birthday. I told my husband I don’t want kids and he was ok with it. Now he’s not cause he’s turning big 30. I’m 26, about to turn 27, and still haven’t felt the need, the urge, anything to have kids. I’m testing myself with thoughts “This baby blanket would be perfect for my baby” or start knitting baby sweaters in such beautiful patterns, but to be honest, it only made me feel even more sure I don’t want any. And it breaks my heart. It would make so many people so damn happy. My mother is getting old and has dementia and every few months she says she misses grandkids. She’s planning a swing on an old pear tree in the garden, she saved most of clothing she knitted for me when I was a baby. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not putting any pressure on me, she’s only sharing her emotions with me; I just know deep down inside she is disappointed. This brings tears to my eyes for the first time ever. I’m finally saying/typing out loud how I feel. I wish I had any maternal instinct, for the sake of my husband and parents, but I’m afraid that day will never come.

    • I’ve been there. I helped raise my sister through my teens and decided at the age of 14 I would never have kids. I just turned 34, And now it’s like my body is INSISTING I have a baby. Best not to force yourself into a mindset now that may come naturally later. The decision to have a child will affect you the most, so it has to be based on what you want.

  5. Cindy says...

    Thank you all for sharing a bit about your journeys. Having children is something I look forward to with a bit of reservation because of the huge responsibilities associated with being a mom. Reading these stories tells me there’s no single, right way to get started. Best wishes for all the women who shared their learned lessons.

  6. Mrs. M says...

    I am 27 and married for 5 years. I want to have a baby but I am so scared about spoiling my career which is just kicking off. I am scared my body will be forever changed and I am scared that I will alienate most of my friends who aren’t even married yet. All along, I also feel I am being immature about this.

  7. Katrina says...

    I love how the majority of the 11 women polled said “only in retrospect did I realize how much work it would be.” Really? The main reason I avoided children for 10 years was because I knew EXACTLY how much energy, effort, and responsibility it would take. How can you not know or think about that before getting pregnant? Especially when you’ve been a babysitter, or have been told and/or shown your whole life exactly how difficult it is. I’m sorry, but I truly cannot stand women who are like, “Well I always knew I wanted a baby, but it wasn’t until I had one that I realized how much work it was.” Okay then! Whatever you say… But the worst time to realize that is AFTER you’re pregnant. And how young do you have to start having sex to be pregnant by 23? I don’t even want to think about it…

    • Cody says...

      I don’t understand your frustration. How can someone know EXACTLY what it’s like to have a child when they have never had a child before? That doesn’t make any sense. Yes of course you can see from others experiences what it could be like but every child is different. You won’t know what it takes to raise your child until you do it. Also, why would 23 be too young to have a child? Especially if you are married and can provide a loving home to a child? You can get pregnant after having sex once so I would say as young as 23 to be pregnant by 23:)

    • Truthful taco says...

      You’re 100% right. If someone doesn’t have enough experience w children to know exactly view much work it’s going to be, they have no business starting a family. Yes, 23 is too young considering the immaturity factor. That offends a lot people, but only because they know deep down that it’s true.

  8. I never wanted kids but when I met and married my husband, I thought MAYBE. Seven years later we decided we were ready (it was mostly me who was doubtful) and we started trying. To be honest, I really wasn’t trying very hard. We eventually did get pregnant but unfortunately, we lost the baby. That’s when I absolutely knew I wanted a baby. I’d imagined a whole life and future for my child, and it was the hardest thing I’d ever had to endure. We got pregnant again very quickly after, and we’re expecting a little girl later this year. The strange thing is my parents went through the exact same thing before they had me, and that’s when my mum knew she wanted kids.

  9. Clare says...

    Lovely thoughts. I would love it if you could do a post on a variety of women who ultimately chose not to have children, or who partnered with someone who didn’t want kids! It’s such a complex decision to make, one that doesn’t get a lot of airtime in the blogosphere.

    • ThePonderer says...

      I agree, would love to read more stories from women who have chosen not to have children and how their lives turned out. Did they ever looked back? Regretted it? And also, what else came in place instead of kids? Is the only other option career? Or is there something else? I just so so wish to be able to connect with other women who’ve gone through this already.

  10. Lauren says...

    Thank you for the thoughtfulness and openness of this post. It’s nice to really hear from real women instead of just crappy cliches about wanting to be a mom. I am a mom of two and have always wanted to be a mom (specifically a mom of 3!) but my second child, my son, has a malformation in his brain and several developmental delays. He is incredible, brings me joy every day, every MOMENT I am with him, but he takes a lot of work. Just the thought of a typical child that can almost sit up by themselves at 6 months and then feed themselves at a year sounds like a breeze! I don’t feel like we’re ‘done’ but I also have to consider the children we have- am I, are we, being fair to them? I don’t have anything else to add- it was just so nice to read thoughts from multiple women that were honest.

  11. I’ve always wanted kids. I’m 23, single & have no kids but if I could snap my fingers and have anything I wanted I would be a mum right now. I think timing has so much to do with it, it’s just not my time yet.

  12. Love your post!
    I’m a mom of two boys (8&10 years old). I always wanted to have children before my 30. As it’s healthy for woman. And you’re a young mom. And so it was, I was 27 & 29. I will never regret.
    I have to admit that even though we felt ready we probably was’t. But being a mom is forever. Once you’re in, you don’t want to get out :)

    • Truthful taco says...

      Before 30 is a strangely placed goal.

  13. I feel defensive for women who decide not to have children because that is their own choice. And no one should EVER ask them why they don’t want kids that isn’t their business either. And she is right she would not be getting as many questions if she was a man. I am Mormon and it is very heavily taught that we are to be mothers. I agree, it’s a holy calling and by the most important thing you can do in this life, but i wish there wasn’t so much pressure. And the pressure to stay home is there too. It has lessened over the years but still, I don’t want women to feel bad for Wyoming when they have a kids. Women should have careers! And the Church is fine with that but they encourage us to stay home if we can. I’ve been married a year and people ask me “when are you getting pregnant?” And I just want to shake them and yell ” ITS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! In a few years!! I want to be a mommy more than anything! But can we just be married for a second first please?!?!?” My sister says I should respond to that question by saying “how much money do you make? Cause that’s what we are doing tight? Asking inappropriate questions?”

    • Madeline says...

      This is a genius response that should be trotted out every time a random stranger asks a highly inappropriate question! I’ll be sure to follow your sister’s advice :-)

  14. Michelle says...

    My husband and I thought we wanted two kids, but when it came down to deciding to have one, I hemmed and hawed. I just wasn’t sure I wanted a baby, but I felt that my husband married me thinking that I did. He told me that I could choose not to and that he’d be ok with it, but I felt like that would be cheating him of something, and so, since he felt stronger than I did, I decided to do it and once we actually started trying to get pregnant, the ambivalence went away. It took almost 3 years before I decided that I really wanted to have another one. The first one had been so hard to have and to adjust to, and I’d felt pretty traumatised. Even if it is as hard as last time, though, I think it will be worth it to see my little girl holding a sibling in her arms (I’m due at the end of the year when I’ll be 38).

  15. Thanks for doing this post. I’m going to turn 27 and finish school this year (finally) and will have been married for 7 years. This is a constant stress for me and I see myself and my thought process in some of these stories. Thanks for making me feel that I’m not alone in maybe not wanting kids and definitely not knowing.

  16. karla says...

    We had two kids relatively young, when I was 25 and 27. Looking back, having kids just seemed like the next step. We had finished college and began our careers, bought a home, and were responsible. The transition wasn’t easy because I was the first of my friends to have kids and had no idea what was coming my way. I think everyone has a vision of how parenthood will be before you have kids, but most of the time it’s different, be it good or challenging. For me, it was challenging. My first kid was tough and nothing seemed to go smooth. I must have been incredibly resilient to be able to handle some of those situations. We now have a 10 and almost 8 year-old who are awesome. We travel with them and have energy to play with them and handle whatever comes our way. I LOVE that by the time they both graduate high school, we’ll still be in our 40s. Plenty of time for us as a couple to spend traveling, and enjoying each other. We hope to be able to enjoy them longer (and vice versa) during our younger healthier years. Doing it our way was hard in the beginning but easier now, and I’m so glad we had them young.

  17. Hmmm. I totally teared up reading the adoption post… I remember that my husband and I agreed that we wanted to wait a little when we got married. I was so young, only 20, when we got married. We waited, but not for long. And I’m a fertile myrtle, so the very first month I was off the pill, I was pregnant. Our daughter was born just a month before my 22nd birthday.

  18. El says...

    I got married at 31… I’m a week away from 34 now. I have to say I’m glad that my husband and I have had ‘just us’ time. We’ve travelled, we’ve spent long lazy weekends doing everything and nothing, we’ve been hugely spontaneous, we’ve slept a ton, we’ve ticked things off bucket lists, we’ve enjoyed working hard at our careers. We’ve been selfish and self-indulgent. Finally it feels like we’ve got our finances in gear, we’re ready to add another person into the mix, and we’ve seen how much joy it’s brought to friends and family. And I’ve no doubt my husband will be an awesome father. Truthfully, I’m not the most maternal person in the world and I’m the biggest introvert ever (I live for alone time, and peace and quiet, and order). I’ve never had that I HAVE TO BE A MOTHER urge. But… lately… there’s a little whisper in my head saying, “Go on… it could be the best thing that ever happened to you.” And this year, I think I’m going to listen to it.

    • Kelly says...

      Wow this could have been me that wrote this! Thank you for sharing. I’m in exactly the same place! I’m turning 38 this year, I married my wonderful husband at 34, so we wanted some ‘us’ time before throwing children into the mix. But I’m getting older and there is some degree of pressure there to make a decision, which is hard as I am not hugely maternal…..and an introvert like you! Good luck with it all.

  19. i love your motherhood posts. i’m a mama of two (2.5 years and 3 months old) and my foray into motherhood was not a giant “aha!” moment. i didn’t feel it in my gut or my heart even which is exactly how i felt when i got engaged to my husband (who i should say, i am madly in love with). i’m a type-a planner and for me, having kids was just a thing to plan. i considered my age, me and my husband’s lifestyle and finances and just felt like, “yeah, i guess we’re ready.” it may sound weird or like i made a mistake going off head, not heart, but it has worked perfectly for us. to all the potential mamas waiting for that flash that says its time, don’t worry if you take the plunge without it as it may never come if you’re like me! xo

    • Hannah says...

      Thank you for this. I’ve been married for nearly 4 years, and I’ve been waiting for that “I’m ready now” moment. My husband is 6 years older and desperately wants to have kids soon. I haven’t had that moment yet, and I WANT to feel ready so badly. But it’s encouraging to hear that maybe it’s okay to “jump and a net will appear.”

    • Bonnie says...

      Such a relief to read your post. My husband and I have been married almost 5years and have loved it just being us two but feel we should probably move things along. Maybe. I’ve just turned 34 and all our friends are having children and loving it so I’m wondering – should we? I had a friend that asked me – do you not have that ‘burning urge to have children’ and no I don’t. I’m waiting for it though!! But a relief to think it may not happen like that. I like to think of Christmasses when we are older and a big family around the table but the early years – the lack of sleep, the nappies don’t pull me towards the idea of a baby. But then we are secure financially, about to move house, have parents desperate for grandchildren and we love each other and feel we could provide a loving stable home. So maybe why not? Worried about sharing my husband though!! I selfishly love my time with him so much!

  20. Anonymous says...

    I sent this article to my friend who was having trouble deciding whether she wanted to start having kids, and she decided two days ago to start trying with her husband! Thank you for posting this balanced and nonjudgmental article to help women have a real conversation about the timing and impact of having children in our lives.

  21. Jen says...

    Such great comments. Congrats to all expecting and mad props to all you mamas. I need to weigh in on the ‘no’ position – I know there’s some girl out there who’s decided no, but still a little on the fence and scrolling through all these comments looking for me. I was on the fence for about a decade and half. I thought I SHOULD have a baby more than wanted to. My husband felt the same. We bought a big house, moved to a small town – I used to say things like – this kid in this bedroom – this kid in that bedroom. Some serious soul searching led to questions like What do I really want in life? Nowhere on my list of things was children. So we decided no. I’m 41 – have I regretted it, even for a second? Never. I love children though – I tear up for a good baby story – I LOVE halloween when those neighbourhood bebehs come to my door. I just don’t want one. When we decided no, I lost 10 pounds almost instantly – the headache I’d had for 5 years went away and the stomach problems too. I’d been putting huge pressure on myself and now I’m free.

    • amy says...

      Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this comment!

      Out of my four siblings, my husband’s nine and the countless friends, co-workers, acquaintances, TV stars, TV and movie characters, bloggers, personalities, etc, etc, it feels like my husband and I are the only ones choosing not to reproduce. We have only one set of childless friends left. I ADORE children, and am the best auntie I can possibly be. I decided early, however, that I don’t want any kids of my own and found a man who felt the same way. I’m 35 now without any doubt that we made the best choice for us. But sometimes, it can be a lonely decision filled with people who just don’t get it… It’s so nice when someone finally does!

  22. This is such a lovely post, I’m someone who hasn’t hit any kind of maternal instinct yet many of my friends can’t wait! So glad to see so many people that felt the didn’t have to rush into it and I feel much more normal now

    xx

  23. Samantha says...

    These comments are so lovely! I have always wanted children. I felt very sure about that my whole life. My husband and I have been together since I was 19, and he has felt the same way as me. He actually used to say he wanted children much sooner than I could imagine having them. We always used to say we wanted 4, a big, loud family! We got married when I was 25, and he was a surgical resident, so we knew that wasn’t the right time financially, and he was working up to 90 hours a week. I also had just begun my career as an elementary school teacher and was enjoying that. Plus, I was still pretty young and loved hanging out with friends, and being able to take off for a weekend getaway at a moments notice. After we had been married for 3 years (I was 28) we decided to try and get pregnant. It took us a little over a year to get pregnant, nothing was wrong, just took a while. In that year of trying, I desperately wanted to become a mom. It was so visceral. We conceived my son and he was born 20 months ago. Now at 31, we have a toddler and I am due with my second baby this December. I am now sure I do not want 4 children, but we are considering a third after this one is born….maybe. I love being mom, and I love my son in a deep and primal way that I couldn’t have really imagined before he was born. I do miss the spontaneous aspect of my former life, but it is all worth it for us.

  24. KM says...

    I’ve always loved children, and instinctively knew I wanted to be a mother. When I met my husband, it was funny, it was this incredibly physical feeling, basically a craving—like being thirsty and not being able to stop thinking about drinking water. I would walk by playgrounds and immediately see children that looked like my husband, and I’d imagine what our child would look like with both our features smushed together. It didn’t help that it was so apparent my husband would make the best dad ever—all the kids in our apartment building would knock on the door and ask if he wanted to play. :)
    BUT. We got married young. Really young. And we were so poor! I knew it would be irresponsible. So we waited (and waited) and would cuddle up talking about our future-child at night. Seven years after we got married, our son was born, and seeing his tiny face was a revelation!

    Hilariously, I thought having a child would wash all that baby lust away. It didn’t, it’s almost worse! I can’t wait to welcome a second child, possibly even a third child, into our family! I’m head over heals in love with motherhood.

  25. Nicole says...

    I had never really thought much about having children, although I think I always assumed I would one day. Then, about three years ago, two people very close to me died within a few months of each other. First, was a friend I grew up with–she was only 24. She was diagnosed with cancer in October and died three months later. She lived in another state and hadn’t told anyone but her immediate family about her diagnosis or treatment. I didn’t find out she had cancer until I got a phone call from her brother telling me she had passed away. A few months after that, my grandfather, who had been my primary caretaker for most of my childhood, passed away after being in hospice care for several weeks. Those two deaths hit me really hard. I couldn’t shake the feeling that death was everywhere. I felt weighed down and lonely. The following October, my sister-in-law gave birth to the first baby my family has seen in nearly 20 years. I was 25 at the time. My niece’s birth was a revelation to me. For the first time since those two deaths, I felt like i understood that life really does go on and that I could be happy again. And that’s when it clicked for me. I really wanted to be a mom. I wanted to be part of that circle of life. I wanted that hope that babies bring. Now, about two and a half years later, I am about 8 months pregnant with my first child and couldn’t be more thrilled.

    • Nicole says...

      Thank you for this. I am in a similar position and I feel like my biggest takeaway is that life goes on and you shouldn’t wait to do what makes you happy. Best of luck to you!

  26. This post was so perfect to read. I keep internally wondering how I will know when I am ready to have kids because I don’t have any touch of baby fever. I finally got up the nerve to ask my cousin who is currently trying to get pregnant how she knew they were ready. She told me that they got to the point in their lives where they didn’t see anything that they wanted/needed to do before having children, that they were financially ready, and that the desire had become very real. It reminds me (in part) of the woman who said it was more of an intellectual decision than an emotional one. My husband and I value family very highly and have both always wanted a large family, but made the decision to wait to have children before we were even married. We’ve never put a time frame on it, either. We’ve been married now for 2 years, and I’ve lately been feeling so aware of the foundation we have built together since we got married, and of the sweetness of the two of us. We’re learning to structure our lives together as a family of two, and that can only serve as a foundation for whenever we do decide to have children.

  27. Love the realness of these responses. It’s a question we often ask internally, but not one we often ask in discussion!

  28. Jill says...

    A late commenter because this post (and all the comments!) has really made me think! I feel very reassured that many women have made an intellectual decision. I’m 31, have been married for 2 years, and have started thinking about children mainly due to age. It’s a strange feeling because I’ve always loved children but when it’s come time to decide on having my own, it’s been really tough, and I thought this was be something I would just want and know. I know I want to have kids but I’m terrified of how it will change our life and marriage (even though it’s been really amazing so far!) I guess I’m most surprised by feeling this way and it’s so, so comforting to read that I’m not alone.

    • Megan says...

      Jill- If I would have written a response it would have been yours just about word for word! We’re the same age, have been married for the same length of time, and I feel very much the same- surprised at myself for being so unsure! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in this uncertainty! Great post as always, Cup of Jo!

  29. Kelly says...

    Hi Jo,

    So I read this post a while ago and I keep coming back to read the lovely comments. I’m 23, and I’ve been with my boyfriend 5 years, and we’re starting to talk rings. But I want to have some serious conversations about children first.

    We both want kids. But my wanting kids is a visceral need that has been there for as long as I can remember. I started reading parenting books at 10, and still read at least 5 a year. It feels like I have been preparing for this my whole life.

    Counterpoint: I am a vocal feminist, a successful woman in the technology industry. My need to have kids exists side-by-side with an intellectual side that is not just concerned about the timing of it all, but what the support I will have will be, and the expectations of my future spouse. I get very conflicted about it.

    I am going to love my kids unconditionally and want to do absolutely everything for them. That’s how I was with my baby brothers. But I don’t want to be the dominant caregiver, or at least not more that 60-40, not only because I find my career incredibly fulfilling, but because I don’t want to deprive him of bonding with his children the way most mothers get to. Not to say that the dad bond isn’t special, but that I’ve read a lot about fathers as primary caregivers and I think a little of that could be really transforming for him.

    I also don’t want to lose my career. Honestly, I’m going to love being a mom more. I’m going to want to give it up. But college was a very long and (traumatizing) painful struggle for me, and I had to fight tooth and nail for my degree, and I’m not going to let that go.

    I’m 23, I’m a baby myself, but I’m in a serious long-term relationship and I’m financially stable, which is a little bit of an oddity. And I have an 85-year-old grandmother who I love dearly and would be so happy to give a great-grandchild. I know it’s at least 3 years off, maybe 5. But it’s in sight, and it’s all I can think about some days.

    Thank you for this space. It kind of helped to type that all out. Love and hugs to you, your family and Lucy’s, and all the people here in this corner of the internet.

  30. Emily says...

    Joanna – Thank you so much for including the Deciding ‘No’ portion of this post. As an almost 26 year old woman I have known since I was 5 (maybe younger) that I never wanted to have children, and often feel like I’m the only one! As I get older I get more and more opposition from others on my personal choice, and it’s so refreshing to read about someone who knew not having children was right for them too. Thank you for always keeping your posts well-rounded and thought-provoking reads!

  31. am says...

    reading this post and the stories in it were the highlight of my day on monday, and now reading through all the comments today has given me the courage to post my own….

    i love kids, and they have always been a part of my life in some capacity, but since i really started thinking about the concept of having babies, i have been terrified to be pregnant. (i am confident it has to do with seeing the Bennifer-era movie Jersey Girl a thousand times as a 13 year-old, and watching JLo die in childbirth at the opening.)

    my husband and i got married last year. i am lucky enough to love a man who has always wanted children and would be thrilled to have one whenever i’m on board. at the time, i thought i wouldn’t be ready for one for YEARS (i am currently only 24, and never thought i’d even be married until much later, let alone a mom! i still usually don’t even feel like an adult..). a month after our wedding, i started waking up from the mildest scents that totally overwhelmed me drifting in our windows, and craving green olives with white cheeses for breakfast. and achey boobs. SUCH achey boobs. i was blown away by how soon all of these symptoms set in, and knew it only meant one thing. before it was even confirmed, i felt that i could sense the little life inside me.

    i took like, 8 pee tests, and while i finally started to wrap my head around the concept of being pregnant, i felt huge ambivalence. one one hand, i felt fiercely protective of that tiny being, and already felt like it and i were some sort of a team. in those few days since i found out, i started taking prenatal vitamins and felt my hand instinctively reaching for my lower belly as if to comfort it, saying, “hi, you’re safe here”. let me make this clear: i was not at all excited or in the least bit joyous about this twist, but i was already starting to love it. at the same time, i was terrified. like i said, i was NOT ready for any aspect of being pregnant and/or a mom. a few days later, i started bleeding, and was traumatized. i felt so guilty, like i had done something wrong. the concept of doing something that killed it was too much to bear. the tests became inconclusive, and we went to an urgent care with an ob/gyn, where a doctor confirmed the pregnancy was lost – and that this is perfectly normal in these early stages. i felt so guilty all over again, but this time because when she told us, i felt a wave of relief.

    after this emotional roller coaster, i felt somewhat emotionally dead – maybe even despondent – to the idea of babies and having my own children.

    until this mother’s day.

    i woke up again getting hit by a scent that was making me queasy, and found myself a little anxious, but also… hopeful (!) that it was happening again. in the days leading up to mother’s day, i had reflected on how wonderful my early years were with my young mom, and how even though they didn’t have anything together, they made it work. we visited many of the mothers in our lives, that day, and i realized what strong models i’ve had in my own mom, my grandma, my husband’s mom, my aunts… i read Sydney’s posts “hindsight” and “mother’s day” on thedaybook blog, and i started re-reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake (one of my favorites). in the first chapters, a young wife realizes she is pregnant, and felt myself wanting that. i felt myself wishing we could share the news with all the people we celebrated the day with, and excited about the idea of converting the bedroom next to ours into a nursery.

    to top it off, my materal instincts were kicked into high gear all day; our puppy had gotten sick that morning, throwing up all over the house and having diarrhea (turns out, this was the queasy smell i woke up to). it only got worse as the day went on, and that night, my husband took him into an emergency vet while i stayed home with our other dog. in the midst of this worry about our puppy and the chaos of staying up through the middle of the night before going back to work on monday (along with the day-long celebration of -and reflection on- motherhood throughout that Sunday), i got hit with the realization that i want a baby. i want the chaos, and the late nights and the powdery skin and the snuggles. the highs and the lows. i want it all, and for the first time, i am not anxious or fearful or uncertain of whether we could handle it. when he got home from the vet that night, i told him this, and we even started thinking of names (yikes!).

    by the end of this mother’s day it felt like someone had flipped a baby-readiness switch. i went from so-not-even-remotely-thinking about it to – at least psychologically and emotionally – feeling READY.

    i’m not pregnant now, and i know it’s for the best. i’m currently in grad school, working to become a licensed teacher, and feel a pretty strong need to be in a teaching position before getting pregnant, where i will be able to take a maternity leave with minimal income- or work-related stress and thus be free to have pure bonding-with-baby time. still, i now know that i am (we are) ready, and will from here on out be anxiously awaiting the day that the external circumstances are, too.

    thank you, joanna, for creating such a wonderful, welcoming, empowering space for women to connect on cupofjo. thank you too to ALL the readers who have shared their own stories here. <3 <3

  32. Olivia says...

    My boyfriend and I have been together since age 16 (we’re 24 now), and getting pregnant has always been a source of anxiety in our relationship since we started dating so young. I’ve always felt it would be core to my adult identity that I would be a mother, and to more than one child. I love kids–their imaginations, the way they take in the world, their quirks, their incredible development into individuals. I’m also very close with my parents and siblings, and I’m studying child psychology. BUT, motherhood feels more like a future state of the person I’ll become, rather than an immediate desire. I imagine it will be a strange transition in my relationship to move from fear of accidentally getting pregnant to actively trying to do it!

    Many of my peers have recently gotten engaged, and while I love my partner and we are committed to staying together, I definitely don’t feel ready to get married or have babies yet (I still feel too young)! Because I’m beginning a 6-year doctoral program in the fall, in the past year I’ve been more focused on immediate goals and decisions with applications and interviews. I’ve also seen grad school as something I need to complete before I can begin my “real adult life.” But I felt really heartened and more relaxed when I visited schools and met PhD candidates with children of their own. I have a tendency to over-plan my path, and this made me feel more comfortable with the idea that graduate school is not a detour from real life. Instead, I’ve realized that I can get married and have children when I’m ready, whether or not that comes during or after graduate school!

  33. Sara says...

    This post comes at perfect timing for me. I’m 27, been married for 11 months now. We were thinking about trying our first baby on my 29th. But until then, we are not avoiding pregnancy. So, we kind of let things in the hands of destiny. A few days ago we had sex while I was ovulating. I cannot test yet, for accurate results I cannot test before next Tuesday. Truth is I feel different. When I first thought I could be expecting I was a bit scared. Plans were for me to go to Beijing for 12 weeks this fall, to take a course. Then, I stopped being scared. Unconsciously, i began hoping I am pregnant. My bff says “Believe, if it turns out that you’re not guarantee you’ll start trying”. She is absolutely right. I want to see the + sign on that test. And this is how I found out I was ready :) Thank you so much Joanna for posting this. Thank you ladies for sharing your stories.

  34. Erica says...

    Thank you for this post, Joanna. Like many others have mentioned, it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m 29 and also struggling with the decision. Some days, I think I want to “go to mommy-land” as my friends put it. Other days, the idea of it alone seems overwhelming. I’ve never been particularly wild about kids, yet the prospect of not having any makes me feel incomplete. I was starting to fear that my ambivalence was a sign that I shouldn’t go for it, so I’m comforted by all the stories of women who made the “intellectual decision”.

    Whatever path is in store, I want to say that this has not only been a blog and community for me, but also a great resource. When my husband and I first discussed parenthood, I actually started reading all the old Motherhood posts because I was looking for something more personal than a conception or pregnancy book could offer.

    Joanna, there’s also another theme that you sometimes touch on here that I wanted to ask about as it relates to this topic – and I hope it’s not too personal. You’ve written about anxiety in the past and I also experience mild bouts of anxiety and phobias. (I LOVED the suggestion of dropping your worries into an imaginary Grand Canyon – helped a lot.) How have you balanced that with parenting? Part of my hesitation with having kids is that I think I’ll just love them SO much that I’ll worry like crazy and never have a relaxed moment ever again! Would love to hear what other commenters think as well.

    Thanks again as always.

  35. I started dating my husband when I was 14 (he was 17). We waited nine years to get married. By the time I was 24 I thought I wanted to be a mom because I absolutely loved babies. I wasn’t ready to be a mom (and he definitely wasn’t ready), I just needed to be around kids, so I quit my retail job, started nannying, and started pursuing a career as a photographer. In July, 2013 (I was 25) I had a late period and was really conflicted. I didn’t know what I would do if I was pregnant, and that was a really scary place to be. I got my period, and was so relieved that we didn’t have to make the decision to keep/terminate. A year later, in July, 2014, I had another late period and my body felt so different. And this time I knew 100% that we would keep the baby. I took a pregnancy test, and was disappointed to see that it was negative. At this point I realized that we were not going to get pregnant while I was on the pill, and that it would be a conscious and mutual decision to go off the pill. For over a year I have ached for a baby and thought about motherhood every day. I went off the pill in January and I just turned 27. We have both reached a secure place in our careers and are saving for a home. We are charting and trying to be safe while I’m ovulating, (I’m photographing three weddings next month and don’t want to be sick!) but will start “trying for a kid” (as he puts it) seriously in July. There’s something about July…we will also be house hunting in July, we’re leaving the Bay Area and moving to the county. If finally feels right, and in hindsight the last 3 years have gone by really fast (even though at times I felt like I was just waiting to be in the right place to have a baby). I’m taking really good care of my body in preparation (I cut out wheat and sugar and started swimming), am continuing to build my photography career, and relishing in all of the free time while I have it!

  36. Callie says...

    I found reading these stories back to back was so helpful, seeing each perspective alongside the others. I really appreciated Anne’s story because I’ve been thinking about adoption as a future possibility. I’ve never been sure about being a mom and it hasn’t been a vision I’ve had for myself, but lately I’ve been thinking that maybe I could do this and that maybe I want to. Biologically having children is not so important to me as creating a family (and I’m a bit fearful of pregnancy). Part of the draw to motherhood for me is imagining the children already out there who want someone to love and care for them, that I could be that for a child. I’m trying not to let feelings of it being “the right thing to do” creep in or influence such a personal decision, but I also feel that I could make that love a choice. After all, I chose my husband and now we are a family. Thank you for sharing these stories!

  37. I’m 31 and have had that ache for a long time, but I haven’t felt like I was ready until recently because of relationships, finances, career etc, and I’m still finding that balance between, “How would we make this work?!” and “Fuck it, we’ll make it work!”. My husband and I have been emotionally ready for babies since we married 3 years ago, but we moved overseas soon after our wedding and entered a state of financial and career flux, as well as being far away from the support of our families (and into the scary land of US healthcare, which freaked us out completely as we have universal healthcare in Australia and could give birth in a good hospital for free). We decided to wait. And then, later, we decided not to. Because that ache was just too strong, and I found out I have PCOS, which could mean conceiving takes longer. Because an older, wiser friend told me, “the best time to have a baby is now, and never”. We decided we’d make it work if it happened – and then, after trying for 2 months, I took a job back in our home country for 8 months. I still very much wanted a baby, but I didn’t want to hold back on a great career opportunity for the possibility of it maybe happening, at a time when even though we would love a baby, we’re not in the best position to have one. If we magically conceive in the times over the next 6 months that we’re together, I’d be very happy – because I’ve decided that there is no perfect time. But I’m also not willing to put the rest of my life on hold waiting for it to happen. Next year, when we move home permanently and circumstances are more rationally ‘right’ I think I’ll be ready to make it a focus. Thank you, Joanna, for starting this conversation. I’ve been questioning my choices a lot recently and hearing I’m not alone is so comforting.

  38. My husband and I reached a place on our lives where we knew we wanted to move to a new city, but we also felt ready for a baby. Which should we do first? We decided to throw caution to the wind and did both at the same time. I was pregnant and gave birth in NYC, and when my son was 5 weeks old, we moved to Boston. The adjustment to motherhood is enough of a whirlwind, but moving added another dimension of chaos! But… now we have Wilson, our curious, lovable, spirited boy. If we hadn’t thrown caution to the wind, we wouldn’t have HIM… we’d have a different baby.

  39. Rachel says...

    Thank you for this beautiful post Joanna. I’m young (23) but I already have the physical ache to be a mother. However, I struggle with the decision of whether or not to have my own biological child. I have strong genetic mental health problems (on both sides) and suffer from medication resistant depression and panic disorder. I would be devastated if I had a child who would potentially suffer. All I can do is wait to see what the future holds for me and if I truly am not meant to be a mother, spoil my sisters kids rotten.

    • Elly says...

      Rachel I feel sooo similarly. Similar history but that same ache to have a baby combined with the fear of passing on a terrible genetic burden. Good luck.

    • Hanna says...

      I can completely identify with the feelings that you are having Rachel. My family has a history of depression and I have type 2 bipolar disorder. It took me 10 years to be diagnosed (with time spent in psychiatric wards and being suicidal) but I finally was in 2007. Since finding a medication that works for me and CBT, I have been stable with no depressive or hypomanic episodes since 2008. I am aware that I am very fortunate that this has been possible for me. I choose to see my diagnosis as an aspect of my personality and not as something I suffer from. My husband often says that the difference between me and others is that I am diagnosed and have it in black and white. I suppose that my mind set, about it simply being part of me, is what made the ultimate decision to have a child an easier one. I do not feel as if my bipolar disorder has made my life one that was not worth living (note that I say this from a place of stability and not in the midst of a clinical depression where one’s opinion is often the opposite). What I mean is that I do not think that the risk of my child having a psychiatric affliction is worthy of denying her/him existence. If I thought that way, it would invalidate all the joy and love that I have experienced in my life along with the pain. For me, the pain does not outweigh the joy that I have experienced thus far in my life. Please don’t misunderstand me though, I can truly identify with what you have written. It has taken me time to reach this point.

      I have wanted children since about the age of 5. Before deciding to finally start TTC I voiced my concerns to my husband about potentially passing on an affective disorder (or the increased likelihood of developing one) to a child. He took my hands, looked into my eyes, and said, “What better family to end up in then. If anyone can recognize, find the appropriate help for and, love and support a child with a psychiatric disorder then it is you.” I felt ready to start trying, my husband was not concerned, and my psychiatrist was supportive of the idea as well. I was however concerned about stopping my medication while TTC and during pregnancy so I used my background in the medical sciences and researched the potential side effects of my medication on a developing fetus. I read every article available on PubMed. Together with my husband and psychiatrist I decided to continue taking medication while TTC as well as during a pregnancy. I would however not be able to breastfeed as my medication cannot be metabolized by infants for the first 3 months of their lives. We reasoned that it is more detrimental for a baby to have a mother suffering from a clinical depression and is therefore unable to care for her child than it is to be formula fed.

      I had a beautiful, healthy, baby girl in February 2014. I cannot say that it has been a walk in the park since then but I do not attribute this to my diagnosis rather I believe it is because parenting is HARD. There is no transition period and one is simply thrown head first into it. This past year has been by far the most difficult and amazing experience I have ever had. I did not fall in love at first sight. It took me weeks to develop a true relationship with my daughter, one that stretched beyond the biological instincts of to protect and care for. I do not ( as many mothers state) feel that I have discovered the ultimate meaning in my life. Nor is Saga, my daughter, the love of my life. Rather she simply IS. What I mean is that she is fundamental to my life. She is an absolute truth. She is a natural law in my life. Like gravity. Like the fact that we, as human beings, need to breathe air. Without her the universe as I know it would cease to exist and I would be nothing. She IS and I cannot BE without her.

      I know I went a bit off topic. Sorry. I just wanted you to know that all is not lost when one is diagnosed with an affective disorder. I truly believe that life falls into place, it simply takes time. That said, just because something is right for one person does not mean that it is right for another. We are all unique. There are many ways to become a mother and not all of them involve having a biological one. Or, one may decide to not become a mother and to care and nurture in other ways. For example spoiling one’s nieces/nephews rotten ;-)

  40. Whit says...

    I haven’t read through all 300 (!) comments yet, so I apologize if this was already touched on–

    I am 28 and KNOW I want to be a mother. Always have known. What I am absolutely skeptical about is whether I want a partner. My taste in men is lousy, and because of such I have been single (and loving. it.) for the last three years. My feelings towards having children are so much stronger than my desire to marry, but I’m completely resentful of the societal pressures to raise children in a pair. Want to buy a house? Oh, it’s easier if there are two incomes. Want to raise a child? Oh, it’s easier if there are two adults who can balance their schedules and coordinate childcare. It’s terrifying to think of having to accomplish something so giant on my own. I want to be able to continue working, I want to be able to afford childcare and a house one day, I want to be able to go on nice vacations and buy clothes and not be strapped financially if an emergency hits. I want my child to have a solid male figure without having to be romantically linked to the man.

    Honestly? The most frustrating part of all of this is I sincerely feel like we are slowly drifting away from this norm, however it might take a couple of generations to fully get to a place where people can acceptably parent single-handedly (and not face constant uphill battles doing so…). I wish I could live in that time!

    • Kristin says...

      I could’ve written this word for word :)

  41. Joy says...

    I’m 25, married for two and a half years, and I know that I want to have a family — I just don’t know that having a baby is the way I want to go about it. My husband and I have spoken a lot about this lately, since his sister just recently had a baby, and one of his closest family members had twins last year. I always kind of assumed that I would just get pregnant when we were ready and that it would be great, but as the time for that decision to be made comes closer, I find myself feeling ambivalent about it. When I hold babies, I really don’t feel anything at all. There’s nothing about them that I personally find amazing, and I’ve gotten upset about that fact (I’ve called my mom, melodramatically asking WHERE ARE MY MATERNAL INSTINCTS?!). But what I think it might come down to, is that when I was a kid, I wasn’t playing “mother and baby”. I was playing “adoption”. And not adoption of infants, either, but older children. I have distinct memories of conversing with these imagined children, telling them that I wanted to take them home with me and be their mom. And I really feel like that might be mine and my husband’s calling. I know the babies that are up for adoption will be fine without me, but there are tens of thousands of children in this country who need and deserve a permanent home with people who will love them unconditionally.

    Do I think I’m ready for that right now? Heck no. But it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.

  42. Elizabeth says...

    I admire women who love their career and that’s the reason why they don’t want children now or even later. My current career (events) is all-consuming and takes away from my home life with my husband and social life with friends. Part of me thinks I’d like to start having children so I can get out of my career (not the best reason), but then another part of me feels like I’ve missed out on life so much the last few years that I hesitate to have children because I’d be going from an all-consuming career to an all-consuming home life with yet another person who needs me to wait on them hand and foot.

    Like some other commenters, I live in a smaller city in TX where it’s unusual to not have kids. If you’re married (and have been for a while), it’s expected to start reproducing pretty quickly. Welcome to the Bible Belt. It makes me want to move back to Austin where it’s more acceptable to do whatever you want – kids or no kids.

  43. Cassy says...

    I always knew I wanted children. When my husband and I married, I told him we would start with one and go from there. Since my husband is one of 13 kids when and how many kids we have was entirely up to me…he wanted as many as I would be willing have. I got pregnant with our first child seven months after we married and I was overwhelmed with resentment. Yes, I had been trying to get pregnant but I did not expect to get pregnant within 2 months. Women on both sides of my family struggled with infertility and I expected the same would hold true for me. And the timing of the pregnancy could not have been worse for me. We were moving in a few weeks for my husband to start law school and I had just landed my dream job. It took about 6 months for that resentment to ebb and for my to excited about the birth of our child. When he arrived I wondered how on earth I could have resented conceiving him when I did.

    When my son was four months old, my husband brought my son to my office for me to nurse him (since I worked at the university where he attended law school we had arranged our schedules to allow us to share child care) my husband told me his National Guard unit had been activated and he would deploy to Afghanstan in 6 months. Without hesitation I said I was going to quit my job and stay home with our son while he was gone… oh and have another baby. Which I did. Our second child, a daughter, is 17 months younger than her brother and was 6 months old when my husband returned. I don’t regret that decision. I do miss working and don’t find being a stay-at-home mother to my now 4 children as fulfilling as I thought it would be (or as fulfilling as my Mormon upbringing proclaimed it would be). My husband and I are now planning for me to return to work and him to work part time and care for the children when his military commitment is over in two years. We will both be much happier when we are able to make this change.

  44. Sasha says...

    I have loved kids since I was one myself and always wanted to have a child, whether by birth or adoption. I went through a stretch of singlehood and short term relationships in my mid 20s where I felt very lonely. Whenever a breakup occurred, even if it was only after a few months, I would feel sad in large part because I wanted so badly to meet someone to start a family with. So, imagine my surprise that now that I’ve met my soon-to-be husband, the urge to have a child has lessened dramatically. I think it comes down to the fact that we just have so much fun together, and are really basking in that, and figuring out our dreams together. It’s so much less me-centered. We both want kids (or a kid- we’re both onlies ourselves and like it). So, we will start trying eventually. I’m 30 now, and mentally, if no longer emotionally, the clock is ticking a bit. But it no longer seems as pressing as it once did.

    A few of the older couples I know and think of as great examples of the type of relationship I want to have, people who really seem like soul mates, are childless, and it gives me the sense that if things don’t work out for us physically to have a child, there’s still so much adventure and quality relationship to be cultivated. We are both scientists and acutely aware of human impacts on the earth and the major use of resources by us in the developed world, so there’s become this ethical cautiousness too that hasn’t really overridden the desire to have a child but makes me feel more pragmatic about if it happens, it happens, if not, it’s OK.

    I also am part of a community where very few close friends have kids already, though my best friend had one, my “nephew” when she was in her early 20s. As more friends get married around the same time that we are, it’s exciting and reassuring to think that I actually may have friends going through childbirth and rearing on a similar timeframe. I hope it leads to a lot of love and support, as it has with wedding planning.

  45. KM says...

    four years ago while on vacation in st thomas, my (then-BF) and I decided to get married, expressing our shared desire to prioritize a baby over our wedding (wedding-schmedding). upon our return home (after the WORST.FLIGHT.EVER for me), I learned we were expecting! much to my parents dismay, we planned to first have the babe, then wed (read: i will consume wine at our wedding). as it turns out, just 3 months before our wedding, we found out we were pregnant again: JOY (though no wine for me at the wedding)!!! our little ones are now 3 & 2 (only 15 months apart in age…looking back i would probably space them out more BUT we’re cruising now), and we are seriously considering #3. sometimes you’re not presented the time to think about whether or not you’re ready, but if you’re a human with the ability to love someone else (more than you’ve ever thought you could love), you’re ready!

  46. This conversation is so, so important for women to keep having as we grow up and are supposed to understand so clearly what we want out of life. It’s confusing, scary, difficult, exciting — everything. What a huge decision we’re meant to make with our hearts, a decision that is maybe the least easy of all decisions.

    Thank you to everyone for their honesty and sharing their stories. Isn’t it nice that we aren’t alone in this hardship?

  47. Lillian says...

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately, as it seems everyone we know is having babies ( I’m 27 and he is 36 ). I’ve always wanted children. Just a few days ago, I held the newborn child of one of my dearest friends, and that physical ache Joanna describes has become an overwhelming feeling. From a fairly young age, I’ve always carried this deep sense of dread that I won’t be able to carry a child. It’s something I still can’t shake even though medically there is no cause for concern. And yet it’s the thing I want most in the world. My partner and I have decided to wait another 3-4 years, till we can be in a place where work doesn’t consume our lives, and while I KNOW that’s the right decision for us, I think suppressing this desire is going to be difficult in the meantime.

  48. You know what’s strange? How hard I cried as I read this post. Because I’m 28, and have been dating a wonderful man for 5 years who is absolutely uninterested in having children…ever. And I thought I felt the same way.
    But last year, BOTH of my (younger) siblings got married and BOTH of their wives got pregnant (!!). So now I have one nephew I can coo and laugh with, and another one I’m so looking forward to meeting, although when the second SIL told us Christmas morning, I had to wrestle with jealousy like you wouldn’t believe. My Instagram feed is FILLED with mothers and children…and this past Mother’s Day there was an unexpected pang in my heart as we celebrated.
    I didn’t know it’s what I wanted, until getting it seems unlikely at this point. I know 28 is still young by some standards, but biologically I know my window is closing sooner rather than later. And there’s no way I would want to do it alone. So that means giving up something, and either way it would be excruciating. No one tells you about this part of love, romance, and growing up.
    So, I’m not a mother, and I know myself well enough to say right now I wouldn’t be a very good one (too selfish, too disorganized), but this post still resonated with me. As did the comments.

    • Rachel C says...

      Ashley, your comment hits home to me. The night before this post, my husband and I had a discussion, and mild argument about having children. When we got married, we both said “maybe.” Then it moved to “no” for both of us. Recently, after several close friends having children and turning 30, I started to shift more into a “yeah, I think maybe” but my husband is still 100% camp no children. I have two options – lose my husband or have no child. My marriage and love for my husband overrides my possible desire to have a child, but it’s still hard to accept.

    • Samantha says...

      Thank you for posting this comment! I’m in a very happy, committed, loving relationship with a wonderful man but when we first started dating I was 99% sure I didn’t kids. As time has gone on though I’ve changed my mind. I’m still not 100% sure 100% of the time that I want a child, but more often than not I do. I just can’t picture my life 20-30 years from now without a child. However, my partner is very unsure about having kids. We talk about it from time to time, but he says he feels 80% sure he might not want to. I really only wanted to have children once I met him. I want a child WITH him so the option of leaving is not something I want to do or am even considering. I remain hopeful that he’ll change his mind, and I know its not fair of me to hold it against him since we were on the same page when we got together. I just can’t make the choice between losing him or potentially having a baby when I’m only absolutely certain about my desire for one of those things 100% of the time (him). Sigh. It’s been really tough lately because we’re planning to get engaged/married soon and it just feels like the weight I can’t shake. I really believe that whatever is meant to be will be, so we’ll see what happens!

  49. Kellie P. says...

    Like a few others, I am finding that deciding to have the second baby has been more difficult than deciding to have the first. I think having a completely accidental pregnancy and then miscarriage a year ago (when my first baby was less than a year old) has really thrown me for a loop. I think I’ll just enjoy having my body to myself for a while longer. :)

    • Alba says...

      Oh Kellie, I’m on the same boat as you except I just lost my second baby this week. I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready for another pregnancy again. One blessing may just be enough for me anymore.

  50. Amanda says...

    I am Mormon, as well, so I would be lying if I said that motherhood was not something I subconsciously internalized as an expectation of me. I never really thought I would become that person because I often saw myself as different from the “mold”–which itself is contrived and unrepresentative of Mormon women. From the outside looking in, I probably match the cultural stereotype, though, which I never imagined. I am 28 and have two kids. We don’t own a home and make things work a pretty tight budget. I stay at home partially because I didn’t make enough money at work to afford quality child care. When I thought about having kids after getting married, I never felt ready. Logically it didn’t make sense but I knew I wanted to build my relationship with my husband and someday I would regret it if I retained childless by choice. Infertility was an odd journey for a couple years after that, but now motherhood defines me and I feel full in a way I never did before.

    • Jessica says...

      I love how you describe “the [Mormon woman] mold” as “contrived and unrepresentative of Mormon women.” As a fellow Mormon, I completely agree. I need to remember that when I start feeling guilty for not fitting said “mold”.

  51. Jessica says...

    I’m a physician. I’m an aunt to two nieces who were born to young parents (honeymoon oops!). My mom was a young first time mom. I also have girlfriends, half of whom have struggled to get pregnant. So at the end of residency, I decided at 30 and at one year into wedded bliss that it was the best time for career related issues and early enough so that I didn’t feel like i was waiting “too long” because of my age. Two months later I found out I was pregnant. I also always wanted to be a mom, but that was not the case of many of my female med school classmates…I even chose my specialty so that family could co-exist with work. It has been harder than I could have ever imagined but also better. A struggle and a victory every day, but toddler and baby hugs make it more than worth it as I collapse into bed every night! Plus, I love being a mom to two boys! Thanks Joanna, great post. Thinking of Lucy and her family as well. Take care.

  52. Jenn says...

    For my first baby, I realized while out for tacos and margaritas with my husband that I had forgotten to request a refill of birth control from my doctor at my appointment that morning. I made passing mention of it, mostly so he could remind me to call in a refill request on Monday, and that got us into a big conversation about whether or not this was a sign that we should “pull the goalie”. This was in January of 2012 and we had a big first half of the year lined up with trips to Jamaica, London, and Paris and three weddings lined up before July. But, we went for it and I found out I was pregnant July 4, 2012. It wasn’t terribly thought out, but more of a gut feeling for us.

    Now that my daughter is 2 years old we’ve started talking about when to try for our second. We know we’d like to give her a sibling but for various reasons we’re in a really tough spot right now. It’s a temporary tough spot that we know we’ll have crawled out of by the end of the year, but we’re finding that deciding to have a second is a more intellectual, more difficult decision to make.

    Thanks for this discussion – it’s a great one, like always!

  53. In my late 20s and early 30s, I was completely undecided if my husband and I should have children; I even resented the expectation that I should have to consider the option solely due to my gender and age (the book Maybe Baby, a collection of essays by the editors of Salon.com was immensely helpful during this time of doubt and indecision).

    However my academic, art, and travel-centered lifestyle was affected drastically in 2010 when I started having inexplicable, sudden, violent attacks resembling extremely bad food poisoning. The first was on an artist residency in Iceland, which had us (my husband was with me) extremely alarmed, but it resolved on its own. After nearly identical subsequent attacks in January 2011 and not again until December 2011, we knew something was very wrong. I had lost weight, was weak, and couldn’t hold food very well. This started us, along with various gastroenterologists, down a path of attempted diagnoses via many tests and procedures. I also started seeing a fancy nutritionist, switched primary care doctors, tried acupuncture, started on a battery of supplements, changed my diet (from eight-years vegan back to lacto-ovo vegetarian)–eliminating all sugars at one point (including all fruit!), as well as gluten, products with carrageenan, and high fiber foods–and started seeing a therapist due to the emotionally taxing nature of this stubborn, terrifying illness that had me visiting the ER all too frequently. The only things that would resolve the extremely painful attacks each time were fluids, anti-nausea meds, and strong pain meds. Fast forward through five unsavory exploratory procedures, finally to a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease in August 2012. My gastro doc put me on first on routine steroids, then on meds that suppressed my immune system–which they did, causing colds, but not preventing more violent attacks.

    My savvy, sensitive primary care doctor was obviously concerned and recommended my seeking another (third) opinion at Cleveland Clinic since my Crohn’s symptoms were atypical (I was otherwise extremely healthy, ate well, and exercising frequently). We made the appointment and met with a doc who seemed to think I was a prime candidate for a surgery that would open the strictures in the small bowel without removing or resectioning any of the tissues. The surgeon agreed, and I was scheduled for surgery just following another trip to Iceland, during a sabbatical from teaching at my university. On November 7, 2013, I underwent this surgery, called strictureplasty which I had done at three sites in the ileum. I recovered well from the surgery over the course of the following months and have done extremely well since then, basically returning back to my regular lacto-ovo, gluten-free diet, recovering completely from the depletion and anemia that had marked my previous weight loss and weakness. By all accounts, I was (am) back to being a healthy woman in her mid-thirties.

    How does this all relate to my questioning whether or not to procreate? In short, I think I would not have chosen (or would have put off the decision indefinitely) to have children were it not for this island of difficulty and growth in my (our) lives. I had lost control over my body, my schedule, my life, to a terrifying and unpredictable situation. I had experienced many kinds of deprivation (foods, sleep, comfort). I had experienced my husband’s incredible capacity to nurture and stand by me. I had learned how to adapt, and be grateful in the face of extreme difficulty. In short, I had experienced many of the downsides and byproducts of having children, and thought that if I could live through all of that, then I could do it again, this time with a natural, loving outcome: having a child and a transition into parenthood. I became re-centered. Thus we started trying to conceive as soon as I was well enough. We endured a miscarriage at six weeks last summer, but were fortunate to become pregnant again at the soonest possibility thereafter.

    The uncertainty surrounding the Crohn’s and the entire drawn-out experience surrounding the disease strengthened my family, my husband, and me, and recontextualized the (comparably banal—for me) discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth, and now (the larger challenge of) life with a newborn. We presently have a wonderful (gassy, nocturnal, hungry) and heart-meltingly sweet 4.5-week-old charmer: Elliott.

    Crohn’s disease, like many autoimmune diseases is never actually resolved; rather it goes into periods of dormancy. I am fortunate not to have had too many complications during pregnancy and after the birth so far. But I live knowing that it can wake up at any time, while knowing what I can do to try to keep it asleep. These involve measures of maintaining healthy habits, taking personal restful time, and keeping stress at bay to the best of my ability. This does have me questioning whether I’m at the brink of what I can handle right now, asking the question: could we possibly do this pregnancy-birth-newborn thing again? And this time alongside having an existing child? We will see.

    I would never have thought, while going through such a trying time, that I would, in hindsight, be grateful for this disease, but without it, I think I would not be a mother. Thanks Joanna, for asking your readers to chime in on this vast, compelling (often wrenching) question. I’ve been meaning to write all of this down for some time, and you’ve given me good opportunity to do so.

    • Kim says...

      I have Crohn’s Disease too. 13 years now. I have what my GI doctor calls an aggressive version of the disease, and the past several years have been tumultuous. Right now I’m in the process of switching treatments again, and I’m considering (another) surgery.

      It’s ironic that I really want a baby at this point when I am so sick. I think that it’s the hardest part of this particular flare-up. My doctors say I shouldn’t consider it until my disease in remission. After years of constant sickness despite my best efforts, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever be at the point where I can even make that decision.

      I’m not sure if I’ll ever be where you are: my disease relatively calm, a baby in my arms. But thank you for the hope.

    • Katy says...

      Fellow IBD-er over here. I’ve just come out of a 5-year stretch of colitis-induced insanity sort of like you described. I’m 27 now and I would LOVE to have children. But I’m terrified of carrying a child in my body and getting sick. Or of having all the crap I’ve put in my body (steroids, pain meds) somehow affect the child. Like you said, these diseases don’t go away so I know I’ll always have it. Any advice anyone for dealing with that fear?

  54. Sierra Kate says...

    It’s so comforting to read that I’m not the only one freaking out about having babies! I just got married last month at 32 and have spent a ton of brain space flip-flopping about when to start trying. On the one hand, I know I’m not getting any younger and I often ache for a baby. But on the other hand, we just got married! I worry that I’ll miss out on time for just me and my husband since we got married “later”. I still want to travel and explore life and I often worry that our finances aren’t amazing as we’re paying off debt, but I don’t want to be just starting out as a parent of a toddler in my late 30s-early 40s since we want at least 2 kids either. It’s helpful to know that other women don’t necessarily feel 100% ready before taking the baby step!

    • Carol says...

      I got married at age 32 as well, and part of the reason I was willing to get married after only 8 months of dating was baby question. I got pregnant 2.5 years later, and feel like this is the perfect time. We have a couple years of marriage behind us, and a lovely home. The earliest I would have wanted to have a baby was age 34.

  55. Kalli says...

    My husband has dreamed about having kids of his own since his baby sister was born, when he was ten years old. I, on the other hand, am awkward around kids and was pretty reluctant when he wanted to start a family immediately after we got married. I must’ve read 100 birth stories before I made up my mind that I was not only ready to give birth to a child (talk about daunting!), but to bring a beautiful little one into our lives. And I’m so glad we did!

  56. B says...

    As a girl in her mid-twenties, working in NYC, I constantly struggle with this topic. The working world (especially in Manhattan) doesn’t seem very inviting to moms. I’m less scared about when I’ll be ready and more scared about how I’ll do it all.

  57. Fern says...

    Since you asked– it was your sister and Paul’s story. My husband and I had been discussing it for a while. There have always been a million reasons to wait for a better time. He is in med school, I work hard for very little money, I haven’t found my life path, we don’t know what residency will look like, etc. When you posted about Paul’s death, I read his essays and watched interviews. It hit me like a ton of bricks; we want this now. All of the sudden I realized that we will always and never be ready. In the end, it became so clear that shouldn’t wait one more minute. That night, my husband’s 30th birthday, we took a long walk and talked about it. Now, 6 weeks later, I am pregnant. We’re so happy and scared and inspired and nervous. I think about brave Lucy and Paul all the time; I am so grateful that they shared their journey with us.

    • Tessa says...

      This is really beautiful. I wish you and your family the best!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my goodness, I am moved to tears reading this comment. Thank you so, so much for sharing.

    • Sarah says...

      I’m tearing up, too! How kind and honest and true. True to yourselves, and true to Lucy and Paul’s stories, too. Wishing you and your partner so much love and luck!

    • Such a lovely story! Wishing you every happiness!

    • You got me right in the heart strings and the tears are flowing. So happy for your family. <3

    • Katie says...

      I knew I was ready to have a baby when I read Fern’s comment. I also read Paul’s essays and was so touched by his words. Then when I read Ferns’ words “we will always and never be ready”, it really hit home and I realised that family is (for me) the most important thing in this world and well, all the rest, I can figure it out. We are now pregnant and feel so grateful and so very very lucky.

  58. Jessica says...

    I was very nervous about becoming a mom until we actually started trying and it didn’t happen right away. Then when it did happen I ended up having a miscarriage early on. It was so hard to have started dreaming/planning and have that all taken away even after only 10 weeks. I’m pregnant again now at 15 weeks and although cautiously optimistic feel very ready to be a mom this time around. It’s exciting to see relationship with my husband change and see each other as a family unit rather than individuals who love each other very much. We’ve been together 9 years, married for 4. I’m glad we waited as long as we did and I’m excited for November!

  59. Joanne says...

    My husband and I have been friends for over 20 years, together for 11 and married for 7 years. We never ached to become parents until we had a miscarriage in 2010. That’s when we knew we wanted to add to our family. We kept trying and after a few years without success we decided to relax, have fun, and travel more. We got pregnant that year in 2014 and our son is 15 months now :)

  60. This has probably been one of my favorite Cup of Jo posts ever! And that’s saying a lot because this is truly my favorite blog of all time. I love that each perspective you shared is different. There’s no mention of what’s wrong, or what’s right, just women sharing their experiences and perspectives. It’s so comforting to read through this post, and the comments, and to see that there are others who feel the same way I do, and there are those who don’t, but there is a common thread of respect running through it all. So thankful for this space, Joanna!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, hayley. that means so much to me!

    • KM says...

      Agreed! Absolutely one of the best posts. The responses are so honest, and I love discovering how other women arrived at their (incredibly personal) decisions.

  61. Lesley McKinney says...

    Thank you for this post. It was so very helpful to read the stories of other women. I am 29, getting married in one month, a psychotherapist just two years in to practice and loving my career. I really want kids, but continuously struggle with the question of “what if I never feel ready?” This post really helped calm that concern. I trust my partner and myself to meet any challenge that needs a solution head on, and that makes any time a good time for me. <3

  62. Paige says...

    I’m currently pregnant with my first child. My husband and I got married young and wanted to travel and establish careers before starting a family, so getting pregnant wasn’t in our near future. I often thought about what it would be like to “accidentally” get pregnant, and the idea evoked stress and confusion. What would it mean for my career? For our future plans? Once I used a (okay, eight) pregnancy test and found out that I was indeed pregnant, I was flooded with overwhelming joy and relief. It felt so right, even though it wasn’t what we had thought to be the most practical timeline. My husband and I dialogued consistently about the areas in our life that “weren’t ready.” We don’t own a home, have a large savings, or have accomplished the goals we thought we would have. We soon realized that being “ready” is relative, and while we still have goals we want to meet, it in no way hinders our ability to be great parents. While we weren’t actively preparing to become parents and have some what elementary knowledge on the ins and outs of all things baby, this kid is going to have two parents to love the heck out of her, who are committed to each other and to her. To me, that will guide us. Everything else will fall into place.

    • Oh, this is such a great comment! Congratulations!! I’ll be rooting for you, your husband, and your soon-to-come little one! :) Blessings!

  63. Em says...

    My husband and I married young (20). He is in the military so we make enough money to live but not really to do much extra. We had decided to wait 2 years after we got married before we were going to start trying for a baby. After marrying in August, we went to his hometown with almost his entire family for Thanksgiving. We saw my in laws with our nephews and there was nothing like it. My husband is also the youngest of 5 so his parents are much older than mine. We decided we couldn’t risk our kids not having as many memories of his parents as possible. We started trying in March, got pregnant in June and just had out little man in March. He is the hugest blessing and if we had decided to wait, we would’ve gotten a completely different (although I’m sure that baby would be great too) baby than we ended up with, who I wouldn’t trade for the world! We can’t imagine our life without our baby Sam!

  64. Helena says...

    For me it was a very physical feeling, like I just knew in my body that I wanted to get pregnant. I had played with the idea for several years, but the timing was never exactly right. It coincided with me not really feeling great with my work environment and suddenly I felt that I needed to be pregnant. From that day it was full on baby fever, my stomach (uterus) actually twitched everytime I saw a pregnant woman, babies or buggies etc. I still had some doubts mentally, like, what if I’m not meant to do this, what am I giving up, and so on, but my body sort of forced me into trying for a baby. Now, two years later, my husband and I have two children and I actually still feel the twitch when I see a pregnant belly, even though my son is only five months old. So I guess for me my body took over and made the decision for me.

  65. I really recommend the documentary First Comes Love by Nina Davenport about herself- a 41 year old single woman living in NYC who decides to get pregnant and have a baby by herself. It’s so touching, honest, real and beautiful. I saw it recently on HBO and loved it.

  66. Amelie says...

    I have given this topic a lot of thought. I am 31, but my husband is 9 years older than I, so the topic has come up often. I think people idealize and romanticize having children far too much, and it’s just not realistic. A lot of mothers get completely wrapped up in the all encompassing unconditional love a child has for it’s mother when it’s small, and irrationally think that will never end. It does. And yet most mother’s don’t seem at all prepared for it. Certainly they are adorable and sweet when they are very young and they NEED you, but they quickly grow out of that stage, and into adolescence when they’re not such a big fan of you anymore, and soon enough, they leave the nest for good, and it’s just you and your spouse again. And you have to figure out your life without them, which is a giant transition, that a lot of mother’s don’t make well. I guess I just don’t see the big pay-off. You invest your blood, sweat and tears into these little people and there are no guarantees that they’ll turn out normal, or you’ll have a good relationship with them, and you can’t rely on them to take care of you in your old age – I *hate* when people try to use that as a justification for having kids. It just seems like a thankless job to me.

    • Kim says...

      Well put. I agree wholeheartedly.

      My friends and I were discussing fertility recently and more specifically about a friend of a friend who was having trouble conceiving, how sex had become joyless from trying so hard to become pregnant, going through various failed rounds of IVF, and after all the years of stress and disappointment she finally became pregnant.

      And all I could think was: “What if the child turns out to be a f*ck up?”

    • Anna says...

      I am 26 years old, and though of course there have been times where we have felt less close, I still enjoy a wonderful relationship with both of my parents, and I’m pretty sure they feel the same way towards me and my siblings. I am also looking forward to becoming a parent and seeing my parents as grandparents and my siblings as uncle and aunt. I love the idea of building a family and watching it change and expand. I definitely don’t think parenting is a “thankless” job! I don’t rely on my parents for everything anymore, but I absolutely still love them unconditionally.

    • Boni says...

      It is such a fun journey at every stage! My children range from 17-3 and each stage has been amazing. The dinner conversations just get more and more interesting as they grow. That feeling of being so proud of them you almost burst is the best. As a mother you want to raise your children to be kind, capable individuals that will have a positive impact as they go through life. Each one has their little quirks, like everybody does, but it is so worth it! :)

  67. Perfect timing. I recently became engaged and even more recently, had a late period that really got me to thinking about our future.

    I am as confident about having children (preferably two, one of each lol) as I am about marrying my darling. But having that late period was shocking, because all I could think was, “We’re not ready. I’m not ready to give up our together time. I’m still selfish, I want to keep having lazy days off watching movies and eating in and skateboarding and ahhhhh.”

    And also due to his history with a past girlfriend who aborted their pregnancy and left him, I had another level of worry. What would he think? When I told him that there was a possibility I was pregnant, his reaction made almost all the worry disappear. His whole family was behind the idea, so contrary to how I felt initially, I was sad when I started my period mid pregnancy test.

    Lol that’s probably too much info! But thank you for the posts I love to read these kinds of stories. We may not be growing our family yet, but it sounds like there’s never really a bad time for it. First let’s get out of the 5th floor apartment.

  68. A beautiful and moving post! I’m in the intellectual decision camp, my daughter is 8 months old and although my life has completely changed (I was getting my pilot’s license when the morning sickness kicked in), I am SO glad she came along.

  69. Karmin says...

    This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately. We’ve been married 2.5 years (I am 30, he is almost 33), and we’ve been talking about it more often. I don’t feel a huge desire to have one, but I also don’t NOT want one. Most of my friends got married years ago and are already on their 2nd or 3rd kid, and they seemed to just “know” that’s what they wanted. Part of my problem is I’ve had some medical/physiological issues that have made me deal with that part of my body more than most people probably have…and that worries me for a pregnancy – although that is probably superstitious. I’m terrified of all the risks and things that could go wrong, and that is really what is holding me back more than anything. I’m not one of those who is wild over all kids, but I do love my niece and nephews, and think I would enjoy having a little family if it happened. I just don’t know how to get over the fears of what could go wrong, and as long as I’m content in my life as is, it makes it hard to make that decision.

  70. Joanne says...

    Joanna, thank you so much for creating posts like this. I’m 23 years old and I don’t see myself having children for quite a while, but I still get so anxious at times about how I would handle that decision. I worry about how I’ll manage to balance my family and career, how I’ll take care of myself while caring for my future children…the list goes on. I love this supportive community you have nurtured, so thank you for your warmth and authenticity :)

    • So with you on this, Joanne! I am close to your age (24) and have the same thoughts and anxieties, especially about taking care of myself, my marriage, my career, and my child all at once. It’s intimidating. So thankful for this post, the comments, and all the different perspectives!

  71. Megan says...

    In college I was convinced I just wanted to focus on my career and not have kids. Then for a short period after college I lived with my sister and brother-in-law and my sweet nephew who had just turned one. I LOVED it. I decided then that I wanted to have kids and changed my career goals. My husband and I did wait til I was 30 to have our first. But that’s because I was working full time and getting my masters at night so it would have been very difficult to throw a baby in the mix. But once I graduated we started trying and now I have my sweet 2 year old and we’re trying for our second.

  72. Claire says...

    I knew that I wanted children but when my husband and I got married (we were 27) it wasn’t on my radar. And then, much like wanting to get married – it just clicked. I thought “I need one of those” after holding my niece at Christmas and my husband agreed. I’m really happy that we had 4 years to just be married and spend time with each other, but now that we have a little boy it’s hard to remember a time with out him. I’m also glad I didn’t have a lot of friends that got pregnant before me or had baby fever. I find myself among a group of people now that are all on number two and it seems contagious and almost competitive. I think that pressure for our first one would have been hard.

  73. Jill says...

    I’m in my mid-late twenties, married, and have no inkling to have children at this point. In the area I live, it’s incredibly common to get married young and have children shortly thereafter. I relate to Meg when she feels the need for brash or witty responses when the subject is unwelcomely broached in ways like, “Just wait til you have babies…” or “Oh you’ll love it!” or “When are you going to start making babies?” (Perhaps I should send them an unprotected-sex schedule if it appeases them?). I don’t know where I stand on if I want them or not, and at 27, I feel like I’m still young enough to be undecided as long as my partner and I communicate. But I certainly feel like a revolutionary woman – can we not respect the variance of perspectives? It’s not an ethical dilemma! Thank you for this post.

    • Jaclyn says...

      Honestly, whenever someone asks me when I’m going to have a baby, or if we are trying yet, even it’s my super sweet elderly Aunt, I just want to yell, “fuck you!”

      We don’t go around just asking people when they last had sex or if they have their period so why do people feel the need to ask when you’re going to have a baby which in my mind all 3 of those topics are in the same category.

  74. CH says...

    Joanna, this post could not have come at a better time for me. My husband and I have been talking about when to start trying for a baby and just this past weekend I admitted to him that I was actually quite stressed at how often I was going back and forth between right now, a year from now, two years from now… he reminded me that this is a big decision. That everyone knows it is a big one, and a hard one, and I wasn’t alone in being worried about it. Reading this post just meant everything to me, what a wonderful community! Thank you.

  75. DC says...

    Beautiful stories.

    My little girl is almost 2 and there are days when I still wonder if I’m “ready!” I just try to enjoy the happy little moments of everyday, and take the frustrations in stride. Every time you think you know how your kid operates, they change and all of a sudden you aren’t so ready any more. Keeps life interesting.

  76. Ally says...

    I am so grateful to have this forum of interviews and comments from
    thoughtful, reflective and open-minded women on such a sensitive topic. It can be hard to have this discussion with people directly in one’s life without a biased response one way or the other. Thank you for continuing to use your space in thoughtful and generous ways for all women.

  77. I TRULY enjoyed this post. As a 24 year old who is struggling with whether or not I actually want to have kids, it’s great to hear the accounts of those that were feeling the same feelings and ended up on both sides in the end. Thank you for this post.

    http://www.fossypants.com

  78. When I recommend your blog to others, I always describe your posts + the comment sections as feeling like “a conversation among girlfriends.” Posts like this are the reason why! Thank you so much for the sense of community you give us.

    I have always known that I want to become a mother someday, but I am not ready yet. I imagine when I am, it will feel similar to how it felt to meet the man I want to raise them with…I’ll just know.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this comment makes me so happy!

  79. Mimi says...

    Anne’s story *sob*. That was my favorite one. :)

  80. I recently had my first child, just before my 27th birthday. I had wanted a baby for a long time, feeling pangs of jealousy when others announced pregnancies or births. I know how you feel when you describe the physical ache because that’s how it felt for me too. We agreed years ago to wait until we were married and had bought our house (instead of our 1 bedroom apartment). I had time to settle into my job for a couple of years. We officially started trying on Mother’s Day last year, which was a crap day for me then. I will experience Mother’s Day as a mother this year and I am so happy. Thank you for the lovely article Jo.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations! that is so exciting. i’m happy for you.

      thank you to all you amazing readers for sharing your stories and thoughts.

  81. Thank you so much for sharing these perspectives with us Joanna.

    I find it so interesting that so many people are talking about their feelings towards babies (positive or not), but not their attitudes towards. I have to admit that I’m completely uninterested in babies, but I really like kids. I’ve taught kids, babysat kids and volunteers with them and from the age of about 4 I really enjoy spending time with them. I’m lucky that my partner feels the same way, and it’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll adopt, if we decide to have kids at all.

  82. Rae says...

    Even as a childless woman married to an awesome guy for a number of years with no inclination to have kids, I love reading these kinds of articles and comment threads. It’s a much more balanced and supportive read. More “go you! this is what worked for me,” less “my way is best and all your kids are going to end up on meth.”
    I grew up playing with dolls, playing house, babysitting, the works. I assumed I’d have kids. However, as time went on, I realised it wasn’t part of me. I love kids, but have no internal yearning to be pregnant or be a mother. I keep expecting to feel a shift inside of me, but as I come up on my early thirties, still no dice. I reserve the right to change my mind, but at this stage, I’ll be shouting support from the sidelines as my friends to fill the earth with their incredibly sweet progeny.

    • Ashley says...

      I feel the same way. I’m 26 and *everyone* in my life is having a baby (11 friends in one year!). I’m so happy for them. Their excitement is so tangible and precious and I feel myself getting caught up in it. I am so eager to be around them and to help the parents out but when I’m left alone with the baby I find myself thinking something like, “euuughhhhhhhhhh.”

      Everyone says I’ll change my mind about motherhood. Maybe I will someday. But right now I’m thinking I’d like to swoop in, be helpful for an hour or two, and then go back home.

  83. Lucy says...

    I really love this post so much. In my case I’m 27 and single right now, but I do want to have children, I really love kids so I hope I can find the right partner soon to start a family with.

    Greetings from Mexico!

  84. Anna says...

    I am so grateful for the timing of this post. I am pregnant with my first, due in November, and it was very much an “intellectual” decision rather than an emotional one. It is such a relief to hear from other women out there who also don’t have a strong biological drive to reproduce. How did women do this before the age of the internet? Without it I don’t know how anyone could find such solace in kindred spirits.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a lovely comment, anna. and congratulations. you are going to love that baby so much. i remember when i was pregnant with toby and feeling overwhelmed, my mom told me, “when you visit me this time next year, you are going to turn to me and say, ‘i cannot believe how much i love this child.’ ” and it was true x a million. lots of love to you. xoxo

    • Courtney says...

      Anna, I just wanted to chime in that I’m in the same boat. My first is due in early October and mine was also an intellectual decision. I knew that the life I pictured way down the line involved a family with children, but I just kept waiting for that physical “ache” to kick in. I’m 32, which I realize isn’t super old, but it’s old enough that I was finally like “maybe I’m just going to have to take this plunge and wait for the maternal instinct to catch up.” Best of luck to you. And Joanna, if you see this, I know my pregnancy hormones are ranging because your mom’s words to you totally just made me cry.

    • I had to comment because, for my husband and I, it was such an intellectual decision too. We were having so much fun together, no baby-fever had kicked in, did we REALLY want to do this? We decided that we would regret not having a child when we looked back and so we took a deep breath and got on with it.

      Our son is 5 now and he is without doubt the best thing that ever happened to us. We know we would still be incredibly happy without him but we are so flipping grateful that we took that chance. Parenthood is incredible. I wish you the same joy!!

    • Ariel says...

      Also in the intellectual decision boat here! As a young professional couple who are loving life together, it’s hard to imagine bringing a baby into the equation. But, it’s almost impossible to picture a future one. I know that there will never be a time that is perfect, but it’s definitely a scary leap to make.

      Thank you to all those who have contributed their stories, it definitely makes me less scared to take the leap and more reassured that it will be the right choice when we do!

    • joe says...

      I’m 35 and it is exactly the way i feel. thank you for writing it. I’m pegnant with my first, due in early December.

  85. These are clearly very intelligent and articulate women. Some of the answers did make my skin crawl, especially the one that explained having one child as a “compromise”

    It’s so interesting that Joanna describes the physical ache. I wonder what that is like!

  86. After 6 years marriage we finally have one, because our medical problem, we never thought that we will have one and happy with no child. Surprisingly, we are more happier after our baby born but decided one is enough so we can focus on her future :)

  87. Taylor says...

    Joanna, I love the way you described your want, need to have a baby – that you literally ached for the weight of a baby in your arms. I read it, and I thought, “Yes, that is precisely how I feel.” I have always wanted children. My now-wife and I have been together for nine years, and we are just so ready for our next adventure. That want has just become more and more palpable over the past couple of years. We are waiting to find out if she gets a job offer in the fall, and then we will start trying. Because getting pregnant for us inherently involves clinics and donors and doctors, we’ve already made appointments to get things started, and just knowing that makes me so giddy and goofy happy.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      very exciting!!!

  88. Hannah says...

    I was 25 and got pregnant “by accident”. My partner and I had been living together for two years. We had never discussed having a baby, I didn’t long for motherhood and I always felt kind of awkward around babies. But there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to become a mother at some point, I just hadn’t planned it at that time in my life.
    It was really bad timing, we lived in a tiny apartment, I was still in school and we didn’t have a lot of money.
    But as someone said, there is never a perfect time to have a baby. It’s true, you make it perfect as you go! And we did. Four years later we had our second child, also “an accident”.
    If someone had told the childless me, in moments of sadness, that these two beautiful creatures would enter my life, it would have made everything so much easier.
    All things change, the only constant in life is the love for my children. They complete me.

  89. Linda says...

    Growing up I was never one of those girls that loved playing with dolls, babysitting or even liked kids in general. That changed when I met the love of my life. I am a child of divorce and an absentee father, but felt that this man was in it forever with me and a family. I suddenly wanted it more than anything I’d ever wanted in my life. It was a long road – 5 years, but I eventually had my only child, a beautiful girl. That man, it turned out was not in it forever, but I was left with the REAL love of my life – my amazing daughter. A love like I have never known.

  90. I’m pretty “newly” married- i.e. 8 months married and thinking of having a baby next year. I don’t think that we’re “ready” but we figured that there isn’t such a time as being fully ready anyway. I’m adopting the attitude that when the baby comes, i’m going to be ready…

  91. I love this post, because I literally just wrote a piece last week about how ambivalent I was with regards to having kids! My advice is to ask yourself, “will I regret NOT having children more than I will regret having them?” If the answer is yes, then you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

    Misadventures in Motherhood

  92. Liz says...

    My husband and I always wanted children. Long story short, we started trying after we were married 2 years and ended up having twin boys through IVF after our 6 year wedding anniversary. I keep thinking about a 3rd………I think you should have another post on how did you know you were ready for another baby. :)

  93. Kellianne says...

    Hi Jo! I agree with the other comments: this is a lovely post.

    I noticed there were a lot of Mormon women piping up about not feeling pressured by their religion to start a family. As another Mormon reader, I thought I might add my voice: doctrinally, our church believes that the decision to have a child is between a couple and God only. So while people in our church might have kids at different ages and for different reasons, it’s not a decision our leaders try to make for us. So the term “religious expectations” is a little misleading, although Linsey may have felt cultural expectations from her parents.

    I don’t think I’d bother explaining that if it weren’t for my own experience. My husband and I recently decided we want to start a family, but our decision came after financial planning, assessing the strength of our relationship, research, studying, some serious soul searching, and praying ( a LOT of praying!). Feeling like my husband and I have made this decision with God’s guidance totally changes my peace and confidence level in our parenthood-to-be. I know not everyone is religious, but hopefully you can imagine that this would be a meaningful experience.

    Point of story, if/when I walk around with a baby in my arms as a young Mormon mom, I wouldn’t someone to assume I’d made that decision by religious default–not after I’d put so much effort and heart into it. I’d feel a little robbed, or at least misunderstood.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, that completely makes sense. thank you so much for explaining your thoughts. i really appreciate it. xo

  94. Jessica says...

    This is a lovely series, and I do enjoy reading about all the different decisions, but it seems like all of these women are choosing to have babies on the younger side, aren’t they? Or is mid-twenties average now?

    I live in Los Angeles and my boyfriend and I both work in the entertainment industry, where it’s really common to not get married until at least 30, and to not have kids until mid-to-late thirties. I think it’s a combination of LA-typical flightiness with a need for “making it” in one’s career before settling down (which can take a looong time). I’ll be 30 in 6 months, and while I don’t feel like my biological clock has started ticking, we have discussed it. I know that window for fertility won’t be open forever, but I have some time still. But now, when I hear our neighbor’s baby cry, I notice I have an urge to want to console them rather than just wrinkle my nose at the noise and shut the window.

    It’s a scary, nebulous idea until a child actually arrives, I think, and I’m slowly coming around to embracing it rather than using that as an excuse not to. Of course, we’re far from being financially stable enough to support a child, but after almost 2 years together, we’re starting to talk about the future and speak up about what we want in life, and we both do see children in that. I’m sure we’ll feel more pressure once we actually get to the marriage part and once more of our married friends start having kids (only one baby among his group of friends and one among mine at the moment), but for now, I’m fine with the “someday” concept.

    • Corrie says...

      Hi Jessica — Corrie here, one of the commenters from Joanna’s enlightening round-up. I started thinking about The Baby Decision at 30, but didn’t decide to try for one until age 35 (I worried about my fertility and didn’t want to put off the decision any longer). When I asked my ob-gyn at my first visit if my “advanced maternal age” made me one of her riskier patients, she burst out laughing and said, “Every woman in my practice is at least your age!” And it’s true: The moms I meet on the playgrounds here are mostly in their mid-to-late 30s or early 40s. I think having children later (because of career, relationships, etc) is very common in cities like NYC, LA (and Boston, and SF), even though it may be late for other parts of the country. Spending all that time thinking was helpful for me, personally–but I am a bit of an obsessive.

    • Dani says...

      Re: Jessica & Corrie
      Maternal age in different areas of the US (world?) would be such an interesting read! I live in Texas and had my son at 30. Now, at 33, a lot of times I feel like one of the oldest moms at preschool pickup! Other moms that look close in age to me will have a 10yr old also, or three other kids or something, and meanwhile I’m just on my first! I take comfort in the fact that people in larger/more northern (?) cities don’t feel the need to start having kids as young.

  95. Sarah says...

    My husband and I always knew we wanted to have kids but neither one of us grew up around kids to know if we would actually like it. We agreed to start trying summer 2014 and I was the one talking about it and pushing for us to actually do it. My mom got diagnosed with cancer and was getting worse, so I became frantic in that we absolutely had to try immediately. I have PCOS and was positive it would take at least a year, but my husband would always say he felt like we would get pregnant right away. So we tried and he was right! But then we both were instantly unsure and worried about how we would be as parents. Truthfully, I felt worried up until the day we welcomed our baby girl this past February. All fear and worry instantly left me and I was and continue to be filled with joy and gratitude. While my mom did not make it to meet her granddaughter, I often find myself being guided by her parenting style, which was love unconditionally and give your cares to God.

    • Sarah, I am sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. That must have been a really difficult time. Love to your family.

  96. Brittany says...

    Great article thank you for sharing! To be completely candid people who comment that it was their husband’s idea make me incredibly jealous. My husband and I have always both agreed that we wanted children and initially the time line discussion was just about not ‘rushing’ too fast and missing out on the first year or two of marriage. Now he is turning 32 and I turn 29 in November and I’m wondering when is right? My biggest concern is that I want BOTH of us to be ready because as many have said above I want a PARTNER in it, I do not want him to feel like I rushed him to have a baby. At the same time, do we wait forever? As many others have pointed out there is no ‘right’ time to have one! I’m sure I’m over thinking things, but I truly wish he was just begging to be a dad and start a family haha

  97. Em says...

    Love this post so much! My husband and I discussed whether we wanted to have kids for a full year, then have been trying for the last 4 months or so. Funny how your decision becomes crystal clear once you start trying and don’t have instant success :)

  98. Anne says...

    Perfect timing, Joanna. I don’t know how you do it, but this (and all of these amazing comments) was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you!

  99. Tamara says...

    I am 29 with two children- ages 3 years and 9 months. For me, all of the big decisions in my life have come easily. They have not been without stress or hang-ups, but I think part of this has to do with my openness to change. My husband and I met when I was 20, dated long distance for a year and a half until I graduated college, at which time I moved from Arizona to Virginia to marry him. Since that time, we have been through two deployments (he is in the military), moved from Virginia, to Hawaii, to New York, to Maryland and just two weeks ago moved to Northern Virginia. Shortly after we started dating we knew we wanted to get married. We discussed wanting two children, and that we would like to wait about three years before trying. Between life, and moves, and deployments, and four months off birth control, timing worked out, and, almost to the date, we got pregnant at three years. I wanted my children close in age, my sister and I are 16 months apart, but I nursed the first for a year, and irregular periods, and yada yada yada, they are 28 months apart. And I love it! We also bought a house somewhere in that mix, which has been a fine decision even though we only got to live in it for less than two years before we had to move again. Such is life.

  100. Alana says...

    My younger brother was born when I was 20 years old and one year later my parents got divorced. To me, they were a perfect couple so my vision of relationships and family totally fell apart. This got me a little skeptical about marriage. My fiancé and I became father and mother to my brother and it had different effects on us: My fiancé now wants as many children as my uterus could generate. But I don’t.

  101. Kathryn says...

    I just wanted to say that I’m mormon as well and had an opposite experience. My parents were very nervous for me to have children. They wanted us to wait longer but it happened as sort of a scary surprise that later we were very happy about. I always knew I wanted to have children but I have type 1 diabetes which complicates things. Mormons don’t expect their children to have children right away because that’s how things “should” be done. It’s because they are so excited for their children to experience the crazy joys of parenthood that they have experienced. It’s considered a very sacred and elevated calling to be a parent or nurture and care for others in general.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for sharing your experience. i’m so glad to hear from other mormon readers about all the different experiences within the religion. i really appreciate your sharing your thoughts.

  102. Joanna,

    Thank you so much for creating this space. It’s amazing having a warm place to go to connect with so many women, and hear their voices. You’ve really given us a wonderful gift, and I hope you know how much it means to us.

    • I completely agree! I was wondering that exact thing yesterday and it was just perfect to read this this morning. It’s so reassuring to read from others who are feeling the same way as you do. I appreciate your blog tremendously!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, that makes my day. what a sweet note.

  103. This is great! It definitely shows that everyones plans in life are different. My husband and I have been married for 7 months (as of yesterday) and we’re 26 & 27. We’ve decided we will aim for kids by 30 and give ourselves a few more years to grow as people and just get prepared for the next big chapter (if it’s even possible to prepare for lol). But, we did just get a puppy and already I can tell that we are going to have a blast together as parents ;)

    x. Morgan

    • Morgan says...

      What a great attitude to have!! Enjoy your puppy :)

  104. Elizabeth says...

    This post is so beautiful. Thank you for seeking out and sharing so many different perspectives.

  105. joe says...

    I thought I’ll never have kids. Never wanted, never felt the urge.
    My husband ןs a wonderful man who “born to be a father” but he accepted my wish.
    Now I’m 35 and 10 weeks pregnant.
    I took my time and lately understood I need something more in my life. as much as I love my job, I don’t want to dedicate my life to it and apparently something is missing for me.
    I can see us as a little family. I am very much afraid from this huge change but I hope to complete a health pregnancy and to have my new family.

  106. Funny how it varies so much from individual to individual! I read a statistic this morning that 51% of pregnancies are unplanned (eep!). I am 32 and currently pregnant with our first. We have been married for almost 3 years and we definitely wanted to have kids, but also wanted to feel like our relationship and lives were in a “groove” before we started trying. It was very important for us to establish ourselves as a married couple and get our lives somewhat on the track we would like them to be before inviting kids into the picture. I personally knew I was ready when I sat back one day and thought about what a full life I’ve had already. I would be at peace if I died now because I have already been able to experience so much. Sure, there are plenty more things I want to do in life, but I would be happy doing the rest with one or more added to our family. We always said that we wanted to fit kids into our lives and not have to try to fit our lives around our children. I think our first milestone of this accomplishment will be bringing our baby to Haiti with us next year. I’m ecstatic about the adventure ahead. :)

  107. Candace says...

    I’m an older first time mom~ I am 39, my husband is 47 and we have a 2 year old. For me, it was circumstances. In my twenties and thirties I was in a relationship with a wonderful man, who did not want children. He was eleven years older, an artist, and together we had this very whimsical life. I tried to convince myself that I would be happy with just the two of us…
    I went on a meditation retreat up in northern Canada on my own when I was thirty four. On my return, I KNEW that I had to leave my husband. I yearned for family.
    It happened so quickly~ the sad separation, living on my own for maybe the first time EVER, exploring the world in a new way, traveling solo, and accidently meeting the perfect man and father. I called my ex-husband when I found out I had a positive pregnancy test. He was so loving, and told me that it used to kill him when he would see how happy/sad I was as my girlfriends had children. He admitted he struggled with the decision to have family just for my happiness. In the end we had different roads to travel.

    • Joanne says...

      This is so beautiful… Thank you for sharing.

  108. I have been absolutely surrounded by pregnancies lately (both purposeful & accidental) and I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood. I’m not anywhere close to ready, but I know it will happen for me. I want my own, but the adoption story above is so beautiful. This line nearly brought me to tears: “I’ll know how to explain it to her.”

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful, diverse stories, Joanna. I’d love to see a similar piece from fathers’ perspectives.

    • Sara says...

      I ‘d love to see this from a man’s perspective as well!

  109. annie g says...

    I’m with Samanatha: we are so afraid of change, imagining what we think will happen. And then, here they are and you simply cannot imagine not having them there. Of course there is stuff you miss – you haven’t stopped being yourself – but things sort of slot into place. In the end, we all have to just wait and see. There are no givens, no promises and no certainties.

  110. Barbara says...

    The day I overhead my husband’s answer to the question “what would you do if you know you’ll die tomorrow” …he answered “have a child”

  111. Kathryn says...

    I am also Mormon (or LDS), but my husband and I didn’t feel pressure to start our family right away. I wanted to finish my bachelors, we travelled all over Europe, and it wasn’t until the end of my husband’s second year of med school that we started growing our family. We had a lot of fun, just my husband and me, but at the end of the day, being a wife and now being a mother brings me the greatest, purest happiness I could ever imagine.

    I love the quote: “The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home” – Harold B. Lee

  112. Taylor says...

    There are so many ways of being ‘ready’ and we are currently trying to find the right compromise point between them all.

    Emotionally, we are 100% ready. We want a baby so badly, and are so eager to begin a family. Absolutely no reservations there. Financially–not so much. We’re getting there, but it’s important to me that I can make choices for my child’s life rather than having his or her upbringing dictated by what we can afford. Right now my husband is a full-time student and I make $35,000 a year in Houston; we obviously need my income, but I want to be a stay-at-home mom. Time-wise, we’re halfway there. We have our own at-home business on top of my job, and plan to transition to just that within two years at the latest. I love the idea of providing for my family and doing something I’m passionate about while getting to be home with my kids; it’s what my parents did, and I’m excited to watch our business turn into something that gives us the same opportunity.

    I always thought the logistics would happen before my emotions did…we’re 24 and want kids while we’re young (like mid-20s), so we’re both working hard to make the money happen. I already feel a little mom-guilt that it’s not happening fast enough…hah. And I don’t even have a baby yet. Crazy!

  113. Sarah C. says...

    We had our first 5 months ago. I never said, “I have to be a mom”, and my husband felt the same. We always said, “if we decide, and it’s too late, well, so be it”. Then of course, we got a little too casual about protection, and here we are. When I found out, I was ENTIRELY panicked. Could I love a little one? Could I be a good mom? Was I ready to give up the time with my husband? But when I told my husband, and he immediately burst into an enormous smile, I knew it was what he wanted. Believe me, I still spent the weekend in shock, disbelief, and a little grief, but now that our son is here, it’s hard to imagine ever wondering if I could love him enough.

  114. Beth says...

    My husband and I married when I was 21 and he was 24. Although we were both young, we knew that we wanted our children to have a relationship with their great grandparents, four of whom were still living at the time. When I was 23, our daughter was born. Two years later, while I was completing my master’s degree, we welcomed our son. We’d always hoped for three children but while trying for a 3rd, our son was diagnosed with a progressive, incurable genetic condition. Suddenly the decision of whether or not to have another child became increasingly complex especially as we didn’t (and still don’t) know whether our son’s condition is sporadic or recessive. While I feel incredibly blessed to have my two children (now 5 & 8), I still yearn for a third. We’re currently exploring the possibility of fostering and are trying to remain open to whatever the future may have in store, whilst simultaneously cherishing each and every moment we have with our son.

  115. Brenna says...

    As a medical student approaching 30, I would love to see more articles about women with less flexible careers balancing motherhood.

    • Madeline says...

      Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I don’t have kids (yet), but this is my number one concern. I would LOVE a post about this.

      (Incidentally, I am just starting down a path towards medicine. This is a career change for me at age 28).

    • Lisa says...

      I’m a lawyer and I had two kids within the first five years of practice. the “balance” is tough. I try to do it on wider scale – not did I succeed today, but how was this week? My husband has a more flexible schedule and has been our primary go-to parent. It works for us. though there are days I wish I were home, I know it wouldn’t be a good fit. You know, though? My kids know I love them. They know I am there and engrossed. Also, it is so much more intimidating to imagine the balance then just realizing you make it work for your family once your baby is there.