Motherhood

Motherhood Mondays: One Woman Asks: “I’m Not Sure If I Want Kids or Not. How Do You Decide?”

My good friend Corrie Pikul, a 36-year-old magazine writer and blogger living in Brooklyn, has never been sure if she should have a child. She doesn’t for sure want one, but she also doesn’t not want one. She’s completely 50/50. So, as she gets older, how will she make the decision? Here, Corrie shares her fascinating story…

***

Corrie’s story:

I have to say, it was funny to me when Joanna was curious about my baby ambivalence, because I’ve spent so much time wondering about the opposite feelings—of certainty, of desire, and of urgency. At least, that’s how I imagine it feels when a woman knows she wants to be a mother (am I right? Please tell me!). The only thing I’m certain about is that I lack that feeling, and I’ve spent the better part of the past decade trying to figure out why. It’s my obsession.

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

It’s not that I don’t want a baby. Or that I do. It’s that I’m exactly 50/50—I 50% want one, and 50% don’t. I’m totally, completely middle of the road—which makes making an actual decision feel impossible.

How does baby ambivalence feel? Frustrating. Temporary—it can’t last forever, because eventually age forces us to make a decision. Lonely.

I worry that I’m an anomaly. Why can’t I just get over this, and either throw myself into baby-making, or decide once and for all that I’m not meant to be a mom? Neither option feels right to me. I’m stuck in the middle, and I feel trapped. Baby ambivalence isn’t a form of freedom, because I’m too skittish to celebrate the fact that my husband and I don’t yet have kids. What happens when/if we change our minds? Down the road, we’ll think back on all the money we perhaps blew on, say, learning to scuba dive, and how it would have been better saved for pre-school tuition. My husband and I live in this “maybe” world.

WILL GETTING OLDER HELP?

For a long time, I thought that age would help me answer the baby question. I started thinking (fantasizing?) that, as I grew older, my fertility would naturally decline, and some biological mechanism would kick in that would help me realize that time was running out, and would cause me to feel a strong desire for a baby. There’s cultural precedent for that—women on TV and movies suddenly start talking about their ticking biological clock and how badly they want a baby. So I thought that since I didn’t feel strongly either way, some hormonal change would happen as I got older that would push me in the baby direction. But the question then became: Does that really happen? And if so, how long do you wait for it to kick in?

I investigated the link between age-related infertility and maternal desire for ELLE, and while researching that article gave me the opportunity to talk to some fascinating people (like a laid-back California psychiatrist named Warren Miller, who researches why people have children; and a whip-smart sociologist in Finland, Anna Rotkirch, who has done studies to test the existence of “baby lust”), I wasn’t able to find any proven link between what’s going on in our ovaries and our emotions about motherhood. Although Dr. Rotkirch has found that many women do experience that intense craving for a baby, she hasn’t been able to pinpoint a biological cause of that feeling—it may be related to hormones, but we can’t be sure.

MONEY WORRIES

The lack of a gung-ho, go-for-it, let’s-make-a-baby! feeling may seem like a flimsy “con” to have on the Baby Decision List, but my other worries loom large—and there are so many of them. My biggest concern is money (the astronomical cost of raising kids from infancy to college is another subject I’ve written about), and not having nearly enough of it to support both a child and my own dreams of a fulfilling work life. I’ve seen women leave jobs that they enjoyed because those jobs seemed incompatible with motherhood. And I’m not talking about crazy jobs that required traveling to Hong Kong every other week or pulling endless all-nighters in their cubicles. I’m referring to the kinds of normal careers that ambitious women want and succeed at, and believe that they’ll continue to succeed at before realizing how all-consuming and expensive raising a baby can be. In this country, the cost of full-time childcare sometimes doesn’t make working feel “worth it.” That freaks me out: that having a baby might mean that I wouldn’t be able to afford to work. I hear the word “choice” used a lot in discussions of moms and work—as in, “You make the choice that’s best for you” or “It was her choice to stay home.” But as Sharon Lerner, the author of The War on Moms, told me, for some people, it’s not a fair choice if all the available options are so crappy.

I’m constantly on the lookout for role models of women who are raising children and flourishing in jobs they like (or even love), and still enjoying their marriages. And, frankly, the numbers are discouraging. I feel so let-down sometimes about the daunting prospect of having a baby and finding a way to make the extra thousands of dollars I feel like we’ll need, while working less than I do now (who doesn’t pull 60-hour weeks these days, especially, it seems, in New York?), that it makes me feel like everyone with children must know some secret that I don’t. Or they have some special advantage, like a savings account they’ve had since first grade, or super-rich parents, or parents that live nearby and can babysit for free whenever necessary. Or maybe they have super powers! Seriously, how else would you do it?

That’s why I really appreciated the series Joanna did on mothers who blog, because it showed some of the different strategies women use to balance motherhood and work. It was reassuring to hear real mothers talk about how they’re making all the pieces of their lives fit together. We need more stories like that, of moms and dads talking honestly about the challenges of work, marriage and parenthood.

EARLIER LIFE DECISIONS

It recently occurred to me that all the life decisions I’ve made, all the decisions that helped define who I am, worked against the idea of a baby: I moved away from my parents, who are wonderfully generous and supportive people and who have reassured me that they’d help out with some of the childcare; I didn’t pursue a lucrative career (I’m a writer); I settled in one of the most expensive cities in the world; I married a man who, while perfect for me in just about every way, is as indecisive about children as I am (and who didn’t choose a lucrative career, either).

I never gave a thought to how all of these decisions would factor into MY ultimate motherhood decision, and now I realize how naive that was. It’s not like I thought the U.S. would suddenly turn into a parental utopia like France (check out Sharon Lerner’s eye-opening book for more info about how seriously unfriendly America is to families), but I guess I still thought that whatever I decided, everything would work out.

That’s what everyone tells us, right? “You’ll find a way. You’ll make it work.”

WAITING FOR THE URGE

And that brings me back to The Urge, and why I’d really like it to hit me—bam!—right in the kisser. In the same way that I fell in love with my husband, I’d like to tumble head-over-heels for the idea of a baby. That just seems like the best and easiest way to go against reason and logic and convince myself that all the sacrifices will feel worth it.

***

Corrie, thank you so much for your incredibly thoughtful and honest essay. What do you think, everyone? Do you feel the same way? Do you know for sure you want kids, or are you 50/50, or do you know for sure you don’t want kids? If you do have children, how did you know you were ready? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this fascinating and very personal topic.

P.S. More Motherhood Monday posts

(Photo by Ruth Orkin)

  1. I’m 35. I just got engaged to my lesbian partner.
    For all my life I said a definite “Hell No” to having children. No more freedom, I’ll get fat, I dress androgynous and so I’ll get made fun of, I’m poor, I don’t understand children, I’m terrified to hold a baby, I have a sensory disorder, I can only sleep with pills that I’ve been addicted to for 18 years and will have to stop, I’m prone to depression, I hate mom’s with their Googly bullshit, I hate cute little dresses and loud play toys, I’ll have to go off all my meds, stop smoking, stop drinking, I know I’ll lose friends, my life will no longer be lived for me, I have back problems (possibly MS), I’m easily irritated, I have social anxiety, I’m too butch, I’m too scared, I’m afraid I’ll turn into my mother, I’m afraid people will judge me, I’m afraid of the pain and not sleeping.
    That is a LONG list of reasons why I never wanted a child.

    Then, 15 months ago….I watched my mother die. I held her trembling yellow hands as she suffocated to death in absolute agony from a dying liver, sepsis and pneumonia. I immediately got involved with an abusive narcissist and I left her a month later and put myself into the psych ward. A few months later I met my fiancé. A few months after that I almost lost my brother. A few months after that my Uncle and Mentor died fron Cancer. A month after that, my Dad’s best friend died. A month after that a friend died of Cancer. A month after that, my youngest brother went into rehab for the 3rd time. I lost two jobs, I lost hope and nothing felt permanent anymore.

    One day it hit me.
    Who cares if I get fat?
    Who cares if I don’t sleep?
    Who cares if people laugh at me?
    Who cares if I lose “friends”?
    Who cares of I don’t know what I’m doing?
    Who cares if I have to stop drinking?
    I don’t need to smoke anyways.
    I don’t need judgemental friends.
    The weight is only temporary.
    I can learn how to take care of a child.
    I don’t mind pain.
    I have a good partner.
    I don’t need to be all “googly” acting or succumb to mother/baby rituals.
    What independence am I really loosing? Bar time and parties that only leave me poor and hungover? I can still travel, I can still draw, I can still work and I can eventually take my sleeping meds again.
    AND you know what? I’ll gain new friends, I’ll learn I’m capable of anything, I’ll learn what unconditional love feels like, my arms will get more muscle, I’ll find more inspiration, I’ll give my dad a grandchild and my brothers a niece or nephew, I’ll own my androgynous nature, I’ll finally have the strength to eat right and take care of myself.
    I’ll be tired and poor. I’ll cry and I’ll scream. I’ll hurt and I’ll be left.
    But you know what? Life is so frail and it can end at any moment. All it takes is one person running a stop light or a sudden brain aneurysm, or a small tumor.
    My uncle got diagnosed with cancer and 6 weeks later he was dead.
    I want to give back to the world. I know it’s broken and chaotic. I know the world needs more love. I know that I can provide that by having a child.
    I DON’T know that when I’m 80 and on my death bed, that I won’t regret not knowing what it’s like to have your child hold your hand and call you “mom”.
    I can make a difference. I can say that I tried. I can having some meaning in this world if I fail at my own life goals.
    Who cares if I get fat, I’m only going to grow wrinkly grey and senile anyways….why not be called grandma when it’s time to go?
    Knowing I gave it my best.
    Knowing I left something beautiful behind.
    Knowing that I took a chance even though I was scared.

    So as of today, my partner and I will be getting our first batch of sperm.
    And me?
    Well I’m just going to say “F it, let’s change the world”….

    • Stephanie says...

      Casey,
      Thanks for this. I lost my mom too, and identify sooo much with your comment. I really needed this. I only wish I could be one of your “new” friends. :)

    • Karen says...

      This made me cry!! I hope you, your partner, (and bun in the oven?), are well!!

    • J says...

      I love your story. You made me cry. I’m so sorry for all your losses, but it’s so beautiful how you’ve decided to change the world. I wish the very best for you and so much happiness!!

    • Thank you for sharing! <3

  2. Anna says...

    Happy to have found this and realize I am not the only indecisive one. I’ve been very certain about everything in my life, from choosing my career at age 11 (architect) to falling in love with my partner. Usually the only thing I’m unsure of is what to have for dinner..

    But when it comes to having kids, ever since I was young I haven’t thought much about them. I’ve always felt like they would just get in the way of having a career (especially in a demanding “creative” field), and living a fun and easygoing life. Kids = hard work + stress + designated driver / servant / slave to their every need. Right? But there must be a reason people have them, and I’ve always wondered what that reason is. Over the past few years, I’ve asked a lot of women if they’ve always known they wanted to have kids.. most of them say yes. I just find that so interesting.

    I’m now 36 and from just about any angle, in a pretty good position to have kids should I want them.. solid long-term relationship (0f 14 years) with my amazing and supportive partner who’s as much as said he could be a stay-at-home dad, financially stable, career’s in a good place. We’ve already traveled to a lot of far-flung places so might not feel we’re missing out if we end up traveling less.

    To be honest I think I would still be putting off thinking about it at all if I hadn’t just accidentally been unprotected the exact time that I’m probably ovulating. Whoops! Let the internet research begin on odds of conceiving, how to figure out whether or not I might ever want kids or not, etc.. Now I’m not just stressed out about whether or not to have kids, but am shocked by the high rate of down syndrome in women having kids at an older age.. now that’s a scary prospect.

    In any case, thanks to all who shared their thoughts and concerns here, and good luck to all.

  3. There is help available for making a decision you can live with! Self exploration exercises I developed for my clients and readers help you cut through the tangles of pros and cons and figure out what’s right for you and your partner. The word “decide” comes from the Latin root “to cut away from” Every decision involves the loss of the rewards you would have with the reverse decision. “Which decision will I regret least?” is a better question than “Will I regret my decision?” Corrie Pikul interviewed me for her Elle article about her dilemma. The revised second edition of my book The Baby Decision: How to Make the Most Important Choice of Your Life? A Woman Therapist’s Five-Step Program will be available in April or May 2016 as an e-book and a paperback. You can read the first chapter at http://www.thebabydecision.com

  4. jenni says...

    I really need help….desperately
    I have always wanted my own family but I am now 43 and single. I have been to a sperm donor clinic but can’t get up the nerve to continue going. I am not sure if I am just not wanting this anymore or frightened of the whole thing. After all I’d be raising a child alone.

    • Lauren says...

      Have you considered becoming a foster parent for a bit to help you decide whether or not you are comfortable raising a child on your own? We became foster parents to a newborn baby and although we had no intention of adopting, he became such a wonderful part of our lives that when we were asked if we would adopt him it only felt natural. When people ask me if I ever want a child “of my own” I tell them my son is absolutely my own. The foster care program also provides a lot of support for new and single parents.

    • Stephanie says...

      Jenni,
      I know this is a bit off-topic, but as a donor-conceived individual myself, I would like to offer a small insight here and please ask that you consider using an open donor should you choose to go forward with donor conception. Take time to reach out and examine the feelings and thoughts of those who are the adult offspring of this conception option. Also, get in touch with fellow SMBC who have done it. :) Good luck!

    • jenni says...

      I only ever have considered open donor. My thought is first that the child know who they came from

  5. Jenifer says...

    My husband and I are 34, self employed and travel often. We’ve been married for 6 yrs and together for 14 yrs.. And we run a business together, so our relationship is pretty established. We are happy and have a pretty good life.

    I kept waiting for this overwhelming “urge to have a baby” hit me, but it just hasn’t. I realize I’m just gonna have to make a decision. Honestly, I could take it or leave it, totally 50/50 when it comes to babies. I love my freedom, we are very spontaneous and have a very close relationship. I’m scared that having a baby would threaten that, especially the connection with my husband. However, I’m so scared I’d regret it if we didn’t have a baby! I have no regrets in life so far and feel like this could be one. We even had a scare last month, and I was kinda excited about how I was planning to tell him for Christmas Day. Then I finally started and was a little disappointed for a day. It’s just so permanent, having a baby. There’s no return policy. I know we would be good parents. I just can’t commit to a decision. Any advice, guidance?

  6. mich says...

    I”m not sure what to do please help!!!
    I’m 43, single and no family. I’m still fertile and was tested.
    I have been trying to get up the nerve to try for a baby for a year and a half now.
    I’m afraid and I only wonder if this means I’m not sure I want this. It would be entirely on my own and I don’t have much to offer other than being the best I can be.
    NO family…few friends that I can count on.
    Maybe I should just move on? or go for it?

  7. Mel says...

    Thank you for this article!! This perfectly sums up how I feel about the whole thing! Except that I also had to deal with an unfaithful husband and unexpected divorce over the past 12 months so now the whole “baby” thing seems even further out of the picture…and am forced to think about questions like “do I want a kid on my own?” Freaky, scray questions, for which I have absolutly zero answers as I still have 100% baby ambivalece

  8. Before having my children, I was 99.9% sure I wasn’t having them. It was the ‘will I regret it’ argument that won me over in the end. The most valuable thing I have learnt about this decision is that motherhood for you will so different from you think it is. That what you have learnt from observing other people being parents or looking after other peoples kids is so different from being a mother yourself they are polar opposites. It is a huge decision, and so very difficult, how can anyone know if they will regret something. If you are interested in following my journey, then check out my story: http://www.babyboat.com.au/deciding.html – Good luck my heart goes out to you.

  9. I tried to get pregnant for years but no luck, through an insight i came across an email that speaks good about a Dr that used herbs to helped her get pregnant so i gave it a try and contact the Dr, and the pregnancy herbs worked for me also… i feel i should share it here for those of you trying to get pregnant. and for any advise contact him on email fiokporspiritualtemple@gmail.com he told me that he specialize in healing so many sickness and also providing solutions to so many problems, you can also give it a try…

  10. Anonymous says...

    Unfortunately, that urge has already hit me and I’m only 24. My boyfriend is scared to even show me pictures of babies because I think they are the cutest thing ever. That being said, I don’t want kids until I’m in my thirties or so because I really want to see the world and do everything I want to do for myself first. It can be frustrating when your biology is pushing you towards a baby when you personally are not ready for one, interesting how there are so many different views on this. I enjoyed this article!

  11. Anonymous says...

    Wow, This article really hit home for me. I’ve always thought that I’ll have kids *someday* and now that I’m getting older, I’m realizing that *someday* is kind of upon me, and it’s time to decide one way or the other. My husband is also not totally sure about having kids so it doesn’t make the decision any easier. The more I analyze it, the less attractive motherhood is. It just seems like such an illogical choice to take a life that is complete and content and turn it upside down all for the sake of a person I haven’t met yet. But despite the logic, I still want a family. I don’t have this strong urge of needing a baby NowNowNow, but when I think about the future with my husband, I see kids there.

  12. Thanks for the post.i found this article coz I myself was asking the same question.im 29 n feel I might run out of time but feel I’m not ready too. Not being able to work in a foreign land due to work permit issues has put me low.every try that I make to work is chattered.so am I supposed to have a baby coz I have no other job?:(do I really want a baby?i get the feeling sometime when I see my frnds baby pictures.but I’m not definite about this feeling.i feel better that I’m not the only one!

  13. Im having this conversation with my husband right now. We dont want to regret not having kids but dont feel the urge to have one, both a bit scared if im honest. Time is against us, im 41 & hes 45. This just adds more pressure to a decision we cant make. Due to complications I am going to need fertility drugs, so an “accidental” pregnancy is out of the window :(

    • Klimt says...

      I will be 41 soon and my husband 51 . We have been leaving separately for 7 years and maybe because of that the relationship has become more tolerable. We have a needy dependency. Not normal for sure. We bothe want kids, I think he wants kids, not necessarily with me. I think people should be certain, head over hills in love. Economically and emotionally I don’t see me with the strength to have a baby on my own. My dad passed away 2 years ago and if at least he was around. He was the absolute best father ever. He was so tall and handsome. He wasn’t perfect but he was so in incredible and I feel broken and lost without him. I wish could just clone my father and have a baby just like him and another baby just like my baby sister. Why do I struggle so much with make decisions that come so effortlessly to others???

  14. “A parental utopia like France” mmmm Pardon?
    I was born and raised in France, and lived there for 25 years.
    I am always amazed to heard about that French myth for you North Americans. There is no such things a getting a nanny for free (which I heard people fantasizing about), and maternity leave in only 2 to 3 months max.
    Daycare is as crazy expensive as it here, and trust me, if you don’t have your parents close to you out there, you struggle as much as you do here.
    Otherwise, great article. Thanks for that. I AM NOT ALONE!

    • Klimt says...

      Andrea, my sister with your same name, had her in vitro babies in France and she paid nothing!!! it costs over 10 thousand dollars in the USA. Vacation is longer in Europe and so is maternity leave. She leaves near Paris and she never mentioned that day care is expensive. day care in America is bad and almost inexistent, not to mention expensive. in Europe they are trained specifically to take care of children and day care is excellent.

    • Marija says...

      That is why in the Balkans maternity leave is one year or longer, you have free health care but you don’t get a nanny.

  15. It’s as if I wrote this post! My partner and I are exactly the same (both writers) and we feel 50/50 about this too. My aim in life was to travel and forge a career I loved not to have a baby, but now I’m 35 I’m worried I’ll regret it if I don’t… So hard! Good luck to you in making the best decision for you.

    • Jenifer says...

      Curious, did you have a baby yet? How do you feel about it? Im literally in the same boat, completely on the fence and the window is closing.

  16. I felt an overwhelming biological imperative when I was 22, but there was no real partner in my life and I was not yet making the kind of money that would allow me to do it on my own. I realized there was no framework in my life to support a shift that immense and so my decision was easy. None of my prerequisites were ever met, namely a solid partner who actually wanted to parent a child together, so, it never happened. I feel, to this day, I made an exemplary decision.

  17. I’m way late to this party, but I feel like it’s a big enough topic that I must comment.

    I’ve spent probably too long reading through all the comments, but I was looking for any comments that actually addressed the question from the perspective of the one that is supposed to be at the crux of it all – THE CHILD. I haven’t found one.
    Most people who were pro-having kids were like, “Oh, they are so much fun! Try it, you won’t regret it.” and I find this perspective SO selfish, I had to walk away several times, I couldn’t stand it.
    This is a live human being that we’re discussing and whether to bring them into this world! Not a puppy! And they don’t stay babies forever. They turn into pre-schoolers and then – gasp! – teenagers. I have always believed (yes, even when I was in my early 20’s) that only when you’re ok with the thought that you’ll be raising a teen is when you should have a kid.

    I have 2 kids, myself – one I adopted and one I gave birth to. The adopted one actually was a lot less planned than his brother, but it was a really bad situation, and I felt like I had no choice but to try to get him out of it. The reason the poor kid was in the really bad situation was precisely because his mother was of the opinion that you just have kids and things magically fall into place, but finances don’t magically work themselves out, and emotional instability only gets worse when you have a live being depending on you – and unlike a cute puppy that grew up into an unruly dog, you can’t just drop a kid off at ASPCA. When bad things compound and ferment, abuse happens. And if you think that’s a rare case, friends, you haven’t walked the life, and haven’t opened your eyes. Abuse doesn’t have to leave bruises to mess a kid up for life.

    There is a TON of pro-baby rhetoric in this country, with little support for the actual babies and children (and, honestly, parents, as well). But it’s not like US population is declining, so it’s not like every able-bodied woman MUST procreate, else we risk extinction.

    So, you have children for yourself, really, presumably. But then people don’t approach it the same as any other life-altering thing. If you kinda sorta not opposed to have your own business, do you quit your day job and start one? Nope. You’re going to either really want to be a work-for-yourself person or be thrust in a situation where you had to do it.
    If you kinda sorta like puppies (or kittens) do you run out and buy one? Everyone will say it’s a bad idea, right? And a kid is so much more than a dog (or a cat) and yet I KNOW there will be people who are going to be insulted and tell me it’s not the same thing at all and having babies is so natural! Yes, so is getting a headache, yet we tend to reach for aspirin/drug of choice/natural remedy when we do.

    I get it about getting older and feeling like your choice will be taken away from you, but honestly, does it seem wise to have a kid just because you may not be able to later? I feel like a lot of women have kids because of so much talk of how you’re not really a woman if you don’t. And it’s so sad.
    I have some friends who remained childless past the “point of no return”, and some have regrets, some don’t, but those who do have an occasional regret realize they made the right choices, because it’s not the absence of a child that is regrettable, but absence of the environment that would have been right for a child – one has a spouse with a debilitating chronic illness, one is a single artist, and one is a career woman with a super stressful job. They all realize that their life choices did not provide the best environment to raise a child, so they were smart and didn’t.

    • Johanna says...

      Thank you so much for this comment. Recently I’ve been having a hard time trying to decide whether or not being a mother is the best choice for me. In my late teens and early 20’s I dreamt of being a mother. Always thinking that I desperately needed a baby in my life. I’m 30 now and my boyfriend is 44. He has 3 girls already and he’s not sure if he wants more. He says it would be really amazing but he’s just not sure. So now he’s afraid that he’ll be holding me back from becoming a mom and making it so I run out of time. I told him that honestly, it’s my choice. And now, being 30 and still not really having a solid career accompanied by lots of debt, I’m not sure now I want to be a mom or that I’ll be ready to be a mom for quite some time. He’s afraid that if we don’t have children that I’ll hold it against him and carry around animosity. But really it wouldn’t be his fault. I admit I’ve always wanted to be pregnant and experience all of those things every pregnant women go through…but why? Is it because I truly want to be a mother or is it experience envy? With the way things are going in this world as well, I’m not sure I’d want to bring another human being into all of that. Like you said, we have to think of this whole mom thing in an unselfish way. Honestly at this point in my life I’d rather have a dog but even that I’m not ready for right now. Society has definitely put too much of a strain on women in their 20’s and 30’s on the subject of marriage and children. I shouldn’t have to worry that my life choices will be held over my head.
      Again thanks for your comment. Your point of view was very helpful. :)

    • Rachael says...

      I appreciate your response and feel you are not only in the know, but correct on most points. I really can’t stand the parallel drawn to puppies/dogs and dumping them at the ASPCA or shelter I guess. To me, it’s no different. A life is a life and a commitment is a commitment. To honour your promise and follow through on your intention of caring for and protecting a living soul is of the utmost importance. I really appreciated your unique perspective having one adopted child and one biological. Thank you.

  18. I love this post so much! Thank you so much for linking back to it today. :) It perfectly sums up the way both my husband and i feel. It also makes me feel like we’re less crazy!
    And occasionally, I do get that feeling, or we decide “Yes, we want babies!” (usually when we pass by a dad and son playing catch or a new mom shopping at a cute baby store, ha). But the next day or week, it’s totally passed and we flip back to “No, let’s travel the world instead!” (usually when we pass by a toddler throwing a tantrum at Target :)). I don’t think I’ll ever feel 100% either way.

  19. A friend just shared this post with me and I can so relate. My husband and I have struggled for 5 years with infertility and that makes the decision so much harder. We wanted kids so we jumped in and then it didn’t happen. More treatment. More expense. More emotional exhaustion. Still no baby. Then we took a break and started to wonder if this was happening for a reason. Maybe we DIDN’T want kids of our own and being positive role models for kids in other ways was enough. I struggle with trying to fight the battle of infertility or accepting it. Years ago we would have not had another option. Or taking advantage of medical advances and doing more and hoping. When you have more time to think about it and you have to make such a clear decision to be assertive just to try to “get” pregnant, not knowing if you will even stay pregnant, it really changes your thought process. All of our friends are through the baby having phase already so we feel very behind. And start second guessing our decision to keep trying when it’s such an uphill battle sometimes. It’s hard to not feel resentful to those who just made the decision and were pregnant. We made the decision to become parents and then the decision was essentially “unmade” for us and we have to keep making the decision again and again each month. More thought and more time without kids makes it harder. Thank you so much for writing this post. I’d love to know if there is an update. There isn’t much written about being on the fence and being unsure like where we have been. I also read Maybe Baby and found it so helpful to read other perspectives.

    • Katy says...

      This is our same experience. We were on the fence for 8 years before we decided to “pull the goalie.” Three years of infertility later, and we’re forced again and again to reevaluate how much we want this, if at all anymore. Is 50/50 enough? I’m not sure. So glad I found this article. Helps me realize I’m not alone.

    • AH says...

      Did you ever end up having children? (Sorry, realize this is an old post but I’m in the same boat so am curious!!!)

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. I never felt I had to have kids but one thing that sealed it for me was realizing our child would grow up with no family. My husband and I have no family other than each other and the thought of having no support for us, and no family for the child was absolutely too much for me. Im 41 and very much at place with my decision. It’s hard enough on me not having any family.

    • janice says...

      It’s on older post so not sure you will see this Chris but I am the same. No family at all. It’s so painful and I didn’t want to have a child feel this same pain I feel. People say you make a family for the child but it’s never the same. I’m glad to hear you are at place with your decision. I am still struggling with it

  22. I’m 35 now and I’m 50/50 on my decision. My husband has 3 girls already and I have to have iui to have one. He is a go for it but I can’t grasp yes or no. Does anyone have anymore advice to veer one way or the other? It is consuming my everyday thoughts and emotions trying to picture myself with one and knowing if I say no I’ll never have one. Why does it seem easier to ignore the fact and not have one then to just do it?

  23. This is exactly the way I feel. I love children, I work with children everyday, and yet I don’t know if I want to have kids or not? I don’t understand why I don’t know. I thought maybe I was just immature for my age. I was a late bloomer and so I figured, it will just take me longer to feel that urge. My theory is you either have the urge or you don’t and there is nothing that can change it. But urge or no urge, those are just feelings. Although feelings are important, they aren’t everything. Maybe we just need to think more logically. Do I want to have a family someday when I’m older? Family to sit down to dinner with and to invest my time with. It’s impossible for me to say no to this question, so hopefully the rest will work itself out. For to be able to have a family someday when those who are older have passed away, I must first create a family. This isn’t the only path of course, families come in all shapes and sizes. A family could be a close group of friends, or an aunt who has no children of her own but is very invested in her nieces and nephews. But if assuming I do have the ability to have children, I suppose that is how I know I want them. Maybe the urge will come later.

  24. I know this posting was written a long time ago, but I would love feedback. I feel stuck, 50/50 as Corrie describes. I am 30 and I LOVE kids. They are so cute and I cherish the time I spend with my niece and nephew. But seeing them also is exhausting and satisfying enough. I am newly married and I always thought we would for sure have children, but now I am less and less in love with the idea, and see my life turning into one big stressful, financially burdensome, chaotic sacrifice. I know I sound selfish, but we only have one life, and I just don’t know if children fit in mine. The tough part is that my husband has never wavered and never will. He recently discovered my unsure position, and now is telling me that I need to let him know soon because both of us shouldn’t waste any more time if we are not on the same page. Kids are a dealbreaker for him. I’m hurt because I know I love him, and I would be 100% happy with just him forever, but he doesn’t feel the same. I would never have kids to keep a man around, but at the same time, because I am torn, I am not really sure what answer to give him. What if I say no, we divorce, and then I change my mind and end up wanting children but I am with someone else who is not my soul mate? What if I say yes, and then change my mind and crush my husband? I feel pressure and I don’t feel certainty at all. Any advice?

    • Zoe says...

      Although I am still young I understand how you feel! My boyfriend is certain that he wants kids and I’m completely undecided but have always leant towards not really wanting them. Our age gap doesn’t help! He’s 30 and I’m 21. It’s a horrid situation to be in, not wanting them to leave you but at the same time not wanting to make a decision that’s wrong for you! If he really loved you he would stay with you regardless of your decision. At the end of the day if he’s just trying to find a woman to procreate with he can’t love you enough or he loves the idea of children more than being with you. Do what’s right for you not him! If you have them just to keep him happy then you won’t truly be happy yourself!

    • Michelle says...

      Hi Michelle, I am in a very similar situation you described here a year and a half ago. Except I was not placed in that situation of having to give an answer. But I feel I am stopping my husband from what he really wants in life. We love each other very much. I want him to be happy, I just do not know if I can make him happy the way he desires. How did your story unfold?

    • BB says...

      I would love to know how your story is going. I find myself in this exact situation right now at 34. Can’t stand the thought of leaving my boyfriend of 10 years but he’s starting to wonder about babies and I’m still not sure. I lean towards no but knowing what that means for my relationship makes me feel truly ill.

    • Kathy says...

      Hi, I know this was all written a long time ago, but this is the exact same situation I’ve been in. My husband is 43 and myself 36. We have now separated and I hope he meets someone who is as enthusiastic as him. He started to want them so badly but i was ambivalent and was waiting to get the urge which never came. Any time I talked to family or friends they just kept saying we should get on with it ASAP. We started ‘trying’ but then I started seriously worrying about what it would be like. It would definitely be me who would be doing most of the care giving, and I didn’t always get much emotional support from my husband. I love children but the feeling that I may be doing it to please him more than myself wasnt feeling right. Eventually my anxiety bubbled up and within 2 days he decided he wanted a separation. Having kids is obviously the most important thing for him now. It’s felt very confusing and sad, but ultimately it hasn’t worked. I was getting ill, our couples counsellor pointed out to me I had been fighting my gut instinct (I wish I’d spoken to her before!). We still love each other, we were best friends, but we only live once. We’ve given each other 5 happy years. Now I hope he still has time to meet someone to have kids with as he would make a great dad. And I hope I meet someone who is more on the same page as me.

  25. I am almost 34 and undecided about children and like the author, the question about whether to do it or not do it is a daily torture (especially when surrounded by so many people who have already done it and are always trying to convince YOU to do it, too) – this article perfectly describes all the thoughts and feelings I have about this subject – I’m not alone!! Go fig.

  26. Wow! Look at the level of response to this blog – clearly this resonates for many. My husband and I have been trying unsuccessfully for a baby. At the begining I had a crazy urge for children. He’s never been keen. As time has rolled on and I’ve got older I’ve got less certain, just as time might run out for me. Too much time to think can be a bad thing. Do I really want to risk messing up our fun lives and our good relationship? But as time continued to roll on I’ve got less time to be ambivalent. If we don’t get serious about fertility treatment now it might be too late soon and then will I be sad? The trouble with modern life is we have too many choices!

    • Kim says...

      Wow it’s 2016 and this is me now to a t. I am curious what direction you went. I seriously would love to know what happened to all the 50/50 women in this discussion. I now know I am not alone.

  27. Never met a mother who regretted having a child. Met plenty of older women who regret not having had a child. I think it’s always worse to regret something that you did NOT do. My .02.

    • D says...

      I know people who regretted having a child. I hope I am not one of them. I was 50-50. I got married at 42. My husband and I decided not to actively try or prevent having a baby – carrying on the 50-50 approach. I did not expect to get pregnant, but knew I would feel better if I could tell myself I’d tried. We got pregnant within four months. I love our little one but I wish we had taken the hard time to decide for ourselves. It’s a huge sea change to be a mother and personally I don’t recommend wading into those waters until you are no longer 50-50!

  28. Thank God I stumbled upon this article. My husband and I married in June 2012. I’m 26 and not sure what I want yet either. My husband says he wants kids. When I see kids or my coworker pregnant I think “oh how nice that would be.” Other times I think “oh labor sounds terrible, you don’t have time to do what you and your spouse want to do anymore it’s all about the kid, I got my masters in speech language pathology and would like to still work at least part time how will we work childcare?” My mother says “oh you’ll get an urge” but I don’t know that I will and it’s nice to see I’m not a freak of nature. At first we said baby at 28 or 29, but I think it won’t be a bad thing if we do decide to have a kid to wait a little longer than that to get our life and finances in order. Thanks for writing this and thanks to all the ladies for sharing their experiences. I’m glad I’m not alone.

  29. Yes, Is Motherhood For Me? A great question. I have had the great honor to work with women for the past 25 years helping them get clear on what they want. The population of ‘not knowing’ is invisible. I look forward to the day where there are more resources for these women. Check out MotherhoodIsItForMe.com to see if this resource will be helpful. I’m always available for free 20 minute ‘Get Clarity,’ sessions to help you figure out your next step to making a decision. Ann Davidman

  30. I’m completely 50/50 as well. Everone told me that the broodiness would kick in as I got older but there’s no sign of it yet. I’m only 28, but my boyfriend is 11 years older than me so I feel like if we’re going to have children then it should be in the next couple of years otherwise he’ll be an old man by the time they graduate University!
    My sister is 4 years older than me, she has 2 children and she is a superwoman! Both she and her husband have very successful careers and a lovely family. They do pay for childcare and rely on occasional help from both our family and her husbands but I think that this has actually benefitted the childrens’ temperatment as they’re so used to being with different carers and lots of different children that they’re confident and advanced for their ages.
    The only thing that has made me even consider having children is my neice and nephew. I love them unconditionally and I can only imagine the feeling of having my own child. I strongly believe that my partner and I would make fantastic parents, but is that enough? We’re financially secure, we both have solid careers and my family are very supportive, so there’s no reason for us not to. But I’m selfish! I’m used to my own space and I like silence now and then! Could I really adapt to a child being dependant upon me? Would it happen the way that we’re led to believe? I just don’t know.

  31. hmmm…does anyone have regrets about how they were raised? Or remember times when their parents were selfish, and should have put their children first? Or when they could have encouraged us, but failed to do so? I mean…we’re all human right. Having children MADE me have an amazing empathy and understanding for my parents. We all fall short of perfection- since perfection isn’t really the ultimate goal…Love is the ultimate goal. I have children because, I wanted someone to come out of my love…someone to love, nurture…someone I could share my love with. I’m not talking lust, I’m not talking cuddle love either- I’m not talking “Eros” here…it’s a sacrificial love. A love that opened my true heart…my true colors. A love that challenges me every day and into the night- to give give give- even till it hurts! There’s something uniquely special about this kind of love for the other. One may never experience this love, until they have children- or love someone else so much that they give up their own ‘life’, so that the other may fully live. It’s humbling, peaceful, stressful, and will make you scream and shout and fight and…choose! Yourself? Or the other? That is the real question. What’s hard for women? The fact that even more so than any man, we are faced with this opportunity when it comes to having children. It’s our “curse”? No, it CAN be our salvation. Handed to us in a pink little baby’s body. Is it terrifying? COMPLETELY!! Is it worth it? DEFINITELY! So much of the time these days we live for ourselves. We are hardly faced with the grief of giving up for the other. We agree to live and let live. We keep our ways, and we let others keep theirs. We agree to keep the rubbing, grinding, and the sand (that could polish us) far away. It’s just not comfortable. We want certain things. A career, the job of our dreams, or at least one that pays well. We want to live life with a clean car, and our children should be sent to college. But what really matters? What if my children never go to an expensive college? First of all- did they work for it? Or even try? What if they are smart, and work hard…but they can’t make it to a college? Is their life then not worth living? What’s the point of being alive? To “live the dream”? what is “the dream”? I thin the most important thing for ANYONE on earth. Is to Love, and be Loved. That’s what having kids is ALL about- or at least that’s what it SHOULD be about. They’re bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh…and I should love them. Because of my love for them they will wake someday and love someone else- the way THAT person deserves to be loved. That’s why I have kids.

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  33. Woow, great article. I thought I was the only one feeling this way (ok, not only one, but in a small, small percentage) and now I see I am not crazy. To me the scariest is, what if it happens that now I don’t want kids, and it hits me this, biological clock or whatever when it will be too late. Only then there is a possibility of regret :( I know I don’t want to be alone when I will reach old age, and maybe I want family and few kids… But I don’t know, now I don’t, and slowly I am ‘running out of time’ :(
    Really bad feeling. I will definitely look at all of this blogs and people you have mentioned, maybe someday I will decide for sure :)
    Thank you :)

  34. I’m 35 and married. I have not felt the urge but recently have felt upset at the thought of not ever having children. My husband doesn’t especially want kids but wants me to be happy. I know he would be a good dad but he has no burning need to have a child. So I feel the decision is mine and I can’t make it alone especially as I am 50/50 like Corrie. I like kids, they seem to like me but I like my life as it is too. I like holidays, doing what I want. I know I would have to give up things and I’m not sure we could afford it financially either. Some of these comments are so refreshing I’m sick of people saying you’ll just know when you are ready as clearly this is not always the case. The other one I hate is you’ll manage e.g. practicaly and financially. Well, I might not. If you have doubt, should you never have a baby, miss all the wonderful things? I really don’t know. If I was 20 I could say yes confidentally one day i will have them but I am now 35 and running out of time. At least I know others feel the same.

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  36. I am 24 years old and am recently training in my dram job; I can see why there is a 50/50 want and dis-want of children. I mean if I had a child right now, I would more than likely not be able to continue my dream job, and well to tell you the truth I don’t see my partner wanting kids right now either. I am really young still, but I really don’t see myself having children in a couple of years or maybe not ever. It has come up in the conversation with my partner, that well, if we end up of old age and not been able to have children, than that we should adopt.
    Thank you for this article

  37. As a 29-year-old professional woman who has been married for 3 years to a man with a very large Italian family, I’ve felt the pressures since I first starting dating my now-husband. My husband has wanted kids since he was one himself because of his upbringing, but my childhood was very different. While his mother stayed at home to raise him and his sister, my mother was doing her residency on the opposite side of the country for the better half of my toddler years. This is the example I got and the one he did, so clearly our views differ. We disagree over it a lot, because I feel more fulfilled by my career than the prospect of motherhood, but it’s a decision that every woman has to make for herself. I’m glad I’m not the only woman who doesn’t have the answer, even at my age, because I, too, was hoping for an “urge” to kick in!

  38. Interesting read. I am someone who has never been maternal,never wanted children, however falling pregnant at 18 and circumstances, which I won’t go into, meant I kept the pregnancy and have spent the last 18 years raising my child as a single, working, parent. I am now about to turn 37, my son about to turn 18, and I am now in the debate of whether I want/should have another. Is this because I feel I am getting to the age of where my choice will be made for me, and I am someone who is pro choice as never had the choice before? When I think of another 18 years of what I have been through, the youth I lost, I think this is my time now to have the freedom I never had, that I think hell no! Do I want one because soon I may not be able to decide? I have no massive URGE to have one, just sometimes I think it might be nice, then the reality of the last 18 years kick in…..do I sound confused….I am

  39. WOW.

    For the past hour, I have been completely enthralled by reading every single reply post to this article.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to the author for creating this amazing opportunity for all of us to share our thoughts, experiences, dreams and struggles. I am so moved and inspired by all of these stories.

    Here’s my quick one:

    I’m 31 years young. In the past 1.5 years, I have gone from not EVER thinking about motherhood to thinking about it EVERY DAY. I know intuitively, in my heart, that I will birth a daughter, and even the thought of her brings me so much happiness. I am open to the possibility of other children too, but focusing my energy on one seems easier!

    I don’t know if I’ve even met my husband/partner/babydaddy yet, but I meditate and breathe into the confident knowledge that whoever this man is, he will be in my life and ready to have a family with me when I am in that place, too. Which is rapidly approaching- I can feel it like a freight train.

    With patience and trust, I KNOW that everything will work out beautifully.

    And I truly hope that you all experience every joy possible, whatever road you choose. We really are so blessed to be living on this beautiful planet. Enjoy :)

  40. I’m in the exact same place right now and it’s putting a lot of stress on marriage. He definately doesn’t want a kid but I’m 50/50. I want to live the exciting life that we are planning but I want to have the family memories I’d have with a child. How do I make this decision? I feel like I have to decide now before I’m too old (I’m 27). If I decide that I really want a child then I need to leave my husband and seek other options without seeming desperate. On the other hand if I decide not to have a child then I can continue living my life. I know I’m not ready for a kid now but what about in the future? What if I leave my husband and either find out that I can’t have children or I can’t find anyone to love and build that family with me? Then I’ll have lost both that dream and the man I love. I wish there was someone who could just tell me “do” or “do not” or some sudden strong desire either way. No matter which decision I make I’m worried that I will regret the things I will be giving up.

    • BB says...

      I am dying of curiosity – – what did you decide to do?

  41. The urge or knowing didn’t happen to me all the way through my late 30’s but I planned on having them because I knew I would regret not doing so. One day I did get struck by something more in the form of getting tired of the monotony of myself and years of doing the same thing. The thought of 30 more years of me myself and I drove me to I’m doing it now! At 41 & 43 I had my two kids with my partner and it’s great. But if I were 25 again I would still wait!

  42. I am really really worried about how I feel about this topic. I’m nearly 34, in a stable relationship (engaged to be married next year) and my partner would like a baby but isn’t pressuring me into it in any way. What worries me is why I don’t have the “normal” feeling of wanting a baby with the man I love etc. I am totally aware that my time is running out but my biological clock doesn’t seem to be noticing or urging me into wanting a baby. It’s not that I don’t want one though. It’s just that I don’t feel ready for one yet…..why I really don’t know. I get so upset about this sometimes and feel there’s something wrong with me. I know when I get older I will regret it if I don’t have any. I love children and I have a 2 year old niece who I adore but I just don’t have that urge to have one of my own like everyone else around me does. Everyone tells me I’d be a fantastic Mother and I believe that I would be too so why isn’t that feeling there for me? Is it natures way of telling me maybe I shouldn’t have kids after all for some reason? :(

  43. I definitely can relate to Corrie’s story. I recently turned 35 this past February and married in May. My husband and I have always discussed, and continue to do so, our indecisiveness on the matter of having children. It is very hard to know exactly what I am feeling. Do I not want a child because of my financial situation, or do I not want a child because I am terrified of the enormity of the lifetime responsibility that it entails? I think both. My husband and I are drawn to the idea of raising a family and instilling our values upon them. We have all the confidence in the world that we would be wonderful parents and that we would work well as a team. But then we think about the daily realities of raising a child and are both quickly transformed into a state of fear. I am just scared or do I not want children? I am also at an age where I need to make a decision relatively quickly. I often feel like I will regret not having a child, but to me, that is not a good enough reason to have a child. It is a confusing time for both my husband and I. Bringing a child into this world is a serious matter. We would want to make that child’s life as beautiful as possible, while still enjoying our own lives. Confusing, indeed

    • Helen says...

      This is weird – my birthday is also in February and I got married in May. I will be 35 in 2018. My husband of one year (we’ve been together 8 years in total) is as 50/50 about the baby question as I am. I know you posted in 2013, but could you please let me know what you decided? I am leaning towards having a baby because I think I’d regret not having one, but as you said in your post this doesn’t seem a good enough reason… It would be very interesting to know what you’d decided. I hope you are happy in your decision, whatever it is though!

  44. I definitely can relate to Corrie’s story. I recently turned 35 this past February and married in May. My husband and I have always discussed, and continue to do so, our indecisiveness on the matter of having children. It is very hard to know exactly what I am feeling. Do I not want a child because of my financial situation, or do I not want a child because I am terrified of the enormity of the lifetime responsibility that it entails? I think both. My husband and I are drawn to the idea of raising a family and instilling our values upon them. We have all the confidence in the world that we would be wonderful parents and that we would work well as a team. But then we think about the daily realities of raising a child and are both quickly transformed into a state of fear. I am just scared or do I not want children? I am also at an age where I need to make a decision relatively quickly. I often feel like I will regret not having a child, but to me, that is not a good enough reason to have a child. It is a confusing time for both my husband and I. Bringing a child into this world is a serious matter. We would want to make that child’s life as beautiful as possible, while still enjoying our own lives. Confusing, indeed

  45. I came accross this post at the perfect time!!!! It feels reeeeeeeeeeeeeally good to know I’m not a weirdo for feeling ambivalent about the baby-wanting phenomena.

    All my friends, LITERALLY, with the exception of my best friend, have jumped on the baby-making wagon. They all seem so happy and certain that motherhood IS the life “meant” for them. My best friend is only awaiting for her deployment to be over so she can catch that ride too.

    I, on the other hand, have always felt like I personally don’t need a child to “complete” me or to make me happy; and I would say that I’d only have a baby if my partner wanted one. Now I have come to that bridge; my husband wants a baby- desperately, whereas I do not…. yet.

    To be frank, after personally experiencing all my friends go through this, now I’m even more unsure!!! =( It seems like motherhood sucks the life out of you and completely steals your identity as an individual woman. All of a sudden your only label is “mom.” They love it- even bask in it and genuinely see it as worth it. I hate it, and I don’t know that it would be “wroth” it for ME.

    I know I want one at some point, I mean, I think I do. I’m just not sure how to reconcile my concerns with motherhood. I do believe kids bring a certain je ne sais quoi to a home, and are true blessings.

    In the meantime… tick, tock, tick, tock =(

  46. Great article and great feedback from all particpants, thanks for sharing. I found this page by doing a google search “to have or not to have”. I’m 36 years old and happily married. About a year and a half ago, I felt the urge really strongly for the first time – for a couple of months, and it scared me – my husband and I were happy as we were and these feelings seemed to contradict my gut. I waited, and they passed and have not returned since. I’m googling this topic today because as my age is progressing, I’m mindful of how I might feel if we do not have kids. I think not wanting to is a combination of the fact my husband and I met later and I feel incredibly lucky we found each other and have the relationship that we do. I would have concerns of what parenthood would do to our relationship – don’t get me wrong, I know it would bring tremendous highs also, but I’m protective of it. I think society and current trends bring so much pressure – I love watching One Born Every Minute and the whole curiosity around pregnancy makes it quite alluring as to what it might feel like. But it’s afterwards is the big picture and I don’t feel parenting is for everyone. I’m not sure I’d be the most patient parent and don’t feel it’s fair to bring someone into the world who would experience resentment when they never asked to be there! The attention and congratulatory highs parents-to-be experience look very attractive, but the full story of the rollercoaster of parenthood afterwards never really gets fully dicussed, unless there’s true honesty at work – which I’ve found to be rare. I love my life, travelling, enjoying time by myself and nuturing our dog which we rescued, fulfills me. Having carers for later in life isn’t a good enough reason to have kids (which so many people have given me as the incentive to be a parent!) When people ask if we have kids and we say no, they assume we can’t, and look floored when we say it’s our choice. It’s like being from another planet sometimes, and the feedback is that we’re either selfish or child-phobic. We consider ourselves to be neither – we’ve taken lots of time to explore and debate this and adore our 6 nieces. I had aunts and uncles who were unmarried or without kids and they’ve made a huge impact on my life – I think I can do the same without feeling the need to reproduce in order to leave a legacy. Like another poster, researching gives me food for thought and I do thank all here for their really great posts.

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  49. Loved reading this and all the comments. Really makes me feel I am not that weird after all, and someone else in the world shares this dilemma. I am still completely undecided.
    Any updates Corrie?

  50. This all rings so true with me also. I am so 50/50 it has become an annoying persistent itch in my day, every day. I am now 38. I raised my younger brothers and never doubted that I would have my own children. When me and my husband started trying it never happened. After 4 years and fertility tests showing that nothing physical was wrong I accepted that we would not have children. I have never wanted to be pregnant but that’s obviously non negotiable. Then it happened. Christmas eve I just had a feeling. Christmas day I tend my mum in floods of tears, I didn’t know why I was so upset but thought maybe just shock. Anyway boxing day I miscarried, I was relieved but kept it too myself. about a year later I became pregnant again, I couldn’t look at my husband. I went to Dr in floods of tears again and said that I couldn’t go through with it. 7 days later I had an abortion. I never ever considered that happening to me. We got through it and 4 years later I still hold the guilt of that single act but I know without a shadow of a doubt that I made the right decision at that time. Today my husband said, shall we have a baby? I do want to give him a baby, we would be amazing parents. Time is not on our side and I still don’t know. My overriding decision apart from being a mentally incapable mother is well I regret this? I will just have to wait and see . I don’t think there is a right answer just that we are programmed as girls to have babies and the guilt is not having them. good luck to you all.

  51. I think that people, including myself, are a bit overly focused on knowing their future. As we face decisions that feel huge, overwhelming, and extremely confusing, what we really want is certainty about what the very best decision will be. Which decision will result in the most possible happiness, and conversely, which decision will will avoid the most pain? That idea might seem simple, but by recognizing this thinking as errant and trying to change, I’ve been able to make life decision with less agonizing. You’re not going to make the perfect decision every time, and there isn’t only one life trail that you must follow perfectly in order to find happiness. Not to be a pessimist, but both sides of your decision will bring great pain and frustration. But instead of focusing on that, realize you’ll have beautiful, blissful moments both ways. When I got pregnant, I had no feeling of excitement. But I knew that having a child, loving it, and raising her to be a strong, good woman was a worthwhile endeavor. Aside from my husband, she’s the greatest blessing of my life.

  52. I am very much in the same boat, feeling 50/50 now that I’ve found a wonderful partner and we’ve been happily married in our little house with our little dog for two years now. (Sounds weird, but loving our dog the way I do has been part of what’s opened my mind to parenthood!) For a long time, independent of one another, both of us felt that we didn’t want kids, but we’ve come around as our partnership has grown and we’ve watched our once chronically irresponsible friends from our 20s become great parents. There is some comfort in that– if they can do it, we tell ourselves, we can do it too.

    My husband’s hesitation comes in large part from the fact that his father was a deadbeat and he is afraid that he doesn’t know how to be a dad. He always says, “Knowing what NOT to do isn’t the same as knowing what to do.” I’m a little more confident in my abilities as a mother (I’m a teacher and pretty experienced with kids, although babies are another matter, and I have a great mom) but I can’t decide if I am/will ever be ready to give up my very comfy current life. I imagine that every mother, whether she’s always known that she wants children or not, goes through a mourning period for her past freedoms– sleeping late, leisurely meals out with her partner, spontaneous trips etc.

    It does upset me a little bit to see the posts that say “If you aren’t 100% sure, you shouldn’t do it. Kids deserve 100%.” But I wonder how any thinking person can be 100% excited about making the kinds of sacrifices that parenthood requires. If you aren’t at least a little bit reticent about giving up some luxuries and freedoms that come with being child-free, are you being realistic about how much it will change your life? What is wrong with saying, “Wow, motherhood looks like it takes a lot of sacrifice. That’s scary! Is that really what I want?” I’m wondering how someone could NOT ask those questions before getting (intentionally) pregnant.

    Finally, just as any major life decision is a leap of faith– marrying my husband was one of the best decisions of my life, but I also know that nothing in our life together is assured, and I accept the hard work and occasional frustration/unhappiness that comes with a committed relationship– having a child is an unpredictable undertaking. I can’t be 100% sure about it because I don’t know exactly what it will bring– our child could be disabled; I could have triplets; my husband could lose his job, etc. It is leap of faith in the truest sense, and I think it is totally natural for intelligent women to question the pros and cons first. Not being “100% sure” at the outset has nothing to do with how committed a mother will be once her child arrives. If anything, a couple’s weighing their options so carefully and even owning up to feelings of uncertainty means that child is being born into a rational and loving situation.

  53. This is perfect. It describes exactly how I feel as well! Thank you for putting these feelings into words to help me explain my feelings to others.

  54. This is perfect. It describes exactly how I feel as well! Thank you for putting these feelings into words to help me explain my feelings to others.

  55. Wow, I have to say. I feel EXACTLY the same way Corrie does. Except for one thing, I am already a stepmom, which makes it a little different. But what a relief to feel that I am not alone. I am 36, and married and since my husband and I first started thinking about having or not having a baby we have been in this flux. Do we or don’t we? How can we possibly afford it? How will this change our family? We are both ambivalent. And I am exactly 50/50 and without the “urge” to have a baby. I have never had this urge, except maybe once briefly in my 20’s. To Corrie, I feel your plight every day and know that there are other women like you. I have a successful and not so lucrative career too, and one that I am happy with, as does my husband. Part of the drama is that I feel I will have to choose one over the other, baby or career? I wonder how many there are out there like us quietly struggling with this life choice. Thanks SO much for sharing.

  56. I am in the same boat. 33 years old complete 50/50 oddly a lot of people don’t understand that. It does bring on it’s own set of troubles. In laws and parents asking to be grandparents. All my friends are now mothers well most of them. And I have a gut feeling my husband and I would be GREAT parents. At the same time I know how selfish both my husband and I can be.. Do we really want to give that up?
    It’s so hard to make such an life altering change.. Money issues and other issues haven’t even surfaced we know we can make do .. shoot my mom did his mom did i know we can. but the quesiton still lingers.
    Do we want kids.
    The only result i could come up with is a cut age for both of us. If we don’t have kids in the next 3 years no kids. then we can adopt. will that work?

  57. I am in the same boat. The practical side of me thinks it would be financially irresponsible for me and my husband, but I’m also fearful that I’ll regret not having kids when I’m older. I hope I can feel some certainty either way. My rationale right now is that I’d rather live with the regret of not having kids, than live with the regret of having them and wishing I didn’t. That sounds terrible, but it’s how I feel.

  58. I’m 31, and getting perilously close to 32. I’m single, with a string of complete failures at relationships behind me and that doesn’t seem to be changing. So I have what I refer to as “situational infertility” Also, I have barely managed to hold on to a job over the last few years, none of which have paid enough consistently to cover the rent on a place I have with roommates. Yes, I went to college and yes, in theory I should be making a lot more money, but as they say, it’s a tough economy. To top it off, I have serious health conditions which will probably make life past 50 a heck of a challenge and even now affect my day-to-day life.
    I have such an overwhelming desire to have a baby, but with no money, no spouse and no stability it doesn’t seem like a good idea. My mom makes helpful suggestions to freeze my eggs, but that runs at least ten grand which would wipe out my savings and then some. I guess no home ownership in my future, which frankly seems like the better investment given the course my life has taken.
    I get my baby feelings out by giving love to my friend’s babies and by nannying occasionally. It’s nice to pretend they are mine but it’s hard because I know the truth- they go home to their real families and I go home alone to a cat.
    I feel like the only way things will change will be if I magically meet an incredibly rich guy who is super supportive and willing to help me with not only deciding that my middling achievements are not impediments to loving me and that my health issues won’t matter.
    I’m getting to the point where guys would rather date 24 year olds. I know when I was 24 I was dating 32 year old guys and perfectly happy about it, so maybe it’s not my bed to cry in but what I wouldn’t give for a great, age-appropriate man who wants a baby and a family.
    I’d give anything for a baby, but I realize my whole life would be different. Even if I couldn’t have one, I’d be so happy to adopt one. Without a fairy godmother to wave a magic wand, I don’t see things changing anytime soon. And that breaks my heart.
    I’m ever hopeful that the fairy dust of good luck, happy healthy babies and good marriages will sprinkle some of that magic in my world, but it seems like wishful thinking.

  59. It’s like you were reading my mind! Every time a friend announces a pregnancy I am certainly overjoyed for them, but it also awakens a lot of questions in me about motherhood and whether or not I am ready to take the plunge. Like you, I have moved away from my parents and family, neither my husband or I makes a great deal of money (for where we live, specifically), and we live in a little apartment in a major city. We make enough to support ourselves, but the thought that we are years away from upgrading out of our 1-bedroom makes me wonder if my time will be up by the time I feel financially responsible enough to care for a child. I feel a lot of pressure from family or from friends– especially those that aren’t living in downtown NYC, Chicago, or Boston– to start a family and it is frustrating because as much as I’d like to, I would never want to bring a baby into a situation I know we aren’t prepared to handle. And although it might be selfish, I like our life of travel and restaurants and sleeping late. I’m not in that big of a hurry to give all of that up either.

  60. I totally loved this post! I’m 30yrs old and my husband will be 32 by the end of the year. We both want children however I am the one on the fence about it, too many questions come to mind, people asking us why we don’t have kids yet, then we get comments like “come on hurry up have kids because your biological clock is ticking”, “it’s a sin to wait/not want to have children” and I find that the more people sit there and tell me that I should have kids the more I feel I don’t want them. (being middle eastern people are nosy and like to tell you what to do – I’ve finally learnt to block them out)

    It takes me some time to warm up to children too but once I’m comfortable with them I’m ok. I then think I’m not too into peoples children but I would be more into my own kids. I have babysat my cousins, I have changed, fed, burped you name it done it all when I was younger and would spend the time at their house.

    However the way this new generation is scares me and I think that’s where my fear is, can I control my kids, will they listen to me, will they fight with me and my husband (of course) however, this is all part of parenting but the real question is can WE raise a good, loving, strong honest child.

    Money we have, and I have been thinking this over for a few months. I have read books on pregnancy, the physical changes that occur during pregnancy and what to expect before and during delivery. Yes I have done my research and know how much a child can change our lives. However my feelings are still like a yo-yo

    We have been married for 2yrs and 3months. Someone please help shed the light.

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  62. I didn’t have a chance to wonder or make a decision about becoming a mom before I got pregnant. I was 21 and DID NOT want a baby at the time. In fact, I was prepping myself to break up with my long term boyfriend at the time and instead found myself ‘in the family way.’ During the pregnancy (in 2nd trimester) I started to really love and look forward to the baby. Oh God, I can’t tell you how much I fell in love with him after he was born.

    I ended up later having many health problems unrelated to pregnancy or motherhood and today I am 33 with only him, my one child. I shudder to think about my life without him in it. I’m so glad for the ‘accident’ and when I think about how close I came to NEVER having a child, I almost cry.

    And screw giving up some travel, or sleep, or money… that’s the least of the impact. What you don’t get to do any longer is think always first of yourself. And that’s a good thing. I would probably be much more of an ass of a person if I wasn’t his mom. Nothing has developed me nor come remotely close to giving me the fuller perspective on life and love and purpose.

    That said, my sister DID plan her pregnancy. She was always very “Ew, kids.. I’d rather sleep in.” But she later decided to do it and she’s bowled-over happy.

    Anyway, good luck

  63. Nice article indeed. Must say even i share the same feelings. The thought of getting pregnant scares me, although i do enjoy watching babies, in someone else’s arms!!! At 27, with a good job and a wonderful husband I am a scared I cannot be a responsible mother now. Iam not sure if this is how most of you feel. Anyways, waiting for a day when I would love to have a little angel on my own..:)

  64. Anne says...

    I can understand your problem. In this world of so many choices it can become so complicated.

    In our grandparents day there was no choice and many children, who were loved regardless of financial hardship. It was part and parcel of the circle of life and no thought went into when and how many.

    In the next generation choice became the norm and we chose to be empowered with thoughts of our own lives and wants. We had the responsibility on our shoulders of making the choice of when, where and how many. We began to think of what differences it would make to the child and the parent. What privileges may have to be given up and how could we do the best possible for our children.

    It seems that this age was followed by so many stories of heart-ache of those unable to have children naturally. The wonder of infertility treatments coupled with the pain of high failure rates. Women having allowed their biological clock to tick felt cheated that the choice had now been removed for them. We, it seems are now going towards a time where choice is limited again.

    We now have the power to over-think every decision in our lives. There is rarely a perfect time to have children as they do burden us financially and emotionally. BUT what they give back is so much more important. The swelling of pride when they achieve is ten-fold for me than any self achievement I have made in my life. The feeling that you have created this being and taken the time to sculpt and nurture them into a worthwhile member of society is priceless. Yes, there have been sacrifices and yes I did choose when and how many(two as it happens) to have. One for each knee is my mantra. I chose to have that many as I can give them so much more financially and emotionally than if I had six or just one.

    Before I decided to have my children I had never been, and to this day I am not, a baby person. I did not want a baby I wanted a child. In the same way as you should not get a puppy unless you want a dog then you need to think of the long term. The baby stage is hard for many but it is something you get through. As to whether the urge gripped me, yes it did. It to me was something completely out of my control. Something primeval in me changed the way I had always looked at babies. But, I do believe that if I had let my rational mind take over I would have talked myself out of having babies. There is never a completely right time, do think things through but choice can be a burden and no matter what time will tick on.

    I can say that I did eventually get the urge for babies one day. I went from not being interested to be

  65. After being married a few years we were pretty sure we didn’t want to have kids. Our life was great just the way it was and I’m not one to fawn over other peoples kids so I was a bit worried about my mothering instinct not kicking in.

    Plus, I loved my job, my husband traveled sometimes with his, and we didn’t make a ton of money and lived in a tiny city duplex.

    One day we decided that we *did* in fact need a little on in our lives, and since we were nearing 30, we probably needed to get on that right away. So we got pregnant.

    With identical twins.

    So much for seeing how we did with one before adding another one!

    Pregnancy was pure hell and I swore I would never do it again. But from the moment they were born we were totally in love. Everything kicked in as it should and I not only wanted to drop everything to be with them all the time, I wanted another one.

    Their brother was born after another hellish pregnancy when they were 22 months old.

    The curve ball of having kids was nothing compared to the curve ball of having twins diagnosed with autism and then leaving my job so I could keep up with their rigid schedules. There are days I feel like I can’t do it, that I’m not cut out for this. It’s hard.

    But, everything has been worth it and I really can’t imagine our life without them. Any of them. And I wonder what exactly we were thinking when we said we would never have kids.

  66. Anonymous says...

    Me tooo! I just always expected that I would want one and then go have one. Now I am 39 and some months and I still haven’t had the urge. I am thinking about going off the pill, not to try and get pregnant, but just in case I need my own normal hormones circling around to make the baby urge happen. Just like the saying that “life is what happens while you are busy making plans” I might end up on the other side of my fertility without trying to fall pregnant because I never decided if I wanted to. I spoke to my mum about who reminded me that the pill wasn’t around when she was young …so I think that as a culture we haven’t had a lot of practice deciding if we do or don’t want kids as it just used to happen. Thanks for letting me know that I am not alone on this one.

  67. Anonymous says...

    I can’t thank you enough for this post. It put all my confusing, yet overwhelming thoughts, on paper. Thank you!!!

  68. Anonymous says...

    I’m almost 30 been married for 6 years been with my husband for over 9. We are both 50/50. I’ve never had an urge one way or the other and neither has he. We both want the joy of a child but we also like the financial and time freedom to pick up and go wherever we want whenever we want. We finally have careers we both enjoy and neither of us wants to sacrifice them for a child, but that sentence also makes me feel horribly guilty. Why does it?
    We always get picked on by friends and family because they can’t believe we don’t have a kid yet and why don’t we want one and so on. It makes me feel even worse for not knowing how I feel. I shouldn’t have to make excuses for WHY I feel the way I do.
    You are not alone. I’m not scared to have a child (I get that alot “oh you’re just scared”) I know I would be a great parent and a good mentor/teacher. I just don’t know what it is, I feel like I’m a “broken women” for not having such a strong maternal instinct and it doesn’t help that people make you feel like a bad/broken person on top of it.

  69. Anonymous says...

    Love this post and the article links are quite interesting… I posted a link to this on my blog thebitterbabe.wordpress.com

  70. Wonderful story. Babies are precious.

  71. This was really refreshing to read. My fiance and I do not have a super-steady income and while we do not live in Manhattan, Chicago is not a cheap place to live either. I am afraid of bringing someone into this world if it means a lower quality of life for the child and for us. I don’t want to be frustrated with my life because I made the decision to have children. My fiance wants to have 2 kids but fears that we will never be able to because of the financial situation and cycle that we seem to be stuck in. Finally, this may sound extremely selfish, but I am going to say it. There are things in life you can’t do when you have kids, or they become much more difficult. There are so many things that I want to do in my life and I am not sure if having children will fit into my goals or allow them to happen. It is a serious conversation I have had with my fiance many times. We both feel the same way about accomplishments and having a fulfilled life and whether or not children can and will fit into the equation. I know that people say “your life changes so much” and I have to think it would make mine much more difficult.

  72. Robin says...

    Having a child based on your fear of being alone down the road is a selfish one in my opinion.

    People have children for all different reasons. I’m midway through 27 and single, and I’m 60/40 to not having children, but I want to know for certain that I’m having a child for the child’s sake, not for my own selfish desires.

  73. i know that being a mother is the hardest job in the whole world & the most wonderful too :) i am a working mother of a 1 year old daughter & trust me its all worth it! the joy of coming home after a day’s work just to see her makes me smile ear to ear for hours!

  74. Anonymous says...

    First I would like to say that I respect all points of view and I don’t want to offend anyone. I believe this post is very interesting but truthfully I am shocked by how many women don’t want to have children. I mean, I understand that it is not something obligatory. So if you don’t feel like having children… don’t have them. Just because other people have them it doesn’t mean you are made to have them. This URGE is basicly knowing – you want one or you don’t. Because after reading all these comments, it makes me feel that if you ever have children with all these doubts, that they will take your precious time away from your super career, or your amazing free time, IT’S TRUE they will take that away but when you know you want to have children you DON’T CARE because you forget about being selfish, you forget about these things because YOU LOVE and WANT them! Money is not the issue, it’s an excuse. If your parents thought the same way you guys did YOU WOULDN’T BE ALIVE. All I want to say is that if you don’t want to have children, don’t, it’s ok. Because it’s much worse having them without wanting them!

  75. tj says...

    I love you for writing this! It feels like everyone has kids these days, including my 21- and 23-yr old friends (I’m 25). I’m in no hurry and don’t have the urge yet, as for the future, who knows.. I wish I could read all the comments but there are just too many! Thanks for sharing your story.

  76. Joanna, I’ve been consumed by my baby ambivalence for the past year. Lately, this indifference is all I can think about! I’ve written about it here: http://www.michellewoo.com/2011/07/09/on-children/
    There’s a quote in Sex and the City that resonates with me. Carrie tells Charlotte: “.. if I really wanted to have a baby, wouldn’t I have tried to have one by now? I wanted to be a writer, I made myself a writer. I want a ridiculously extravagant pair of shoes, I find a way to buy them.”
    I, too, wish I was more sure.

  77. Anonymous says...

    Thank you SO much for this blog. I related to it SO much. I’m almost 27, a PhD student, and got married 8 months ago. I really like kids, in fact, I teach music lessons to kids of all ages. However, there are days when the kids really grate my nerves and I very happily leave their home after their lessons are finished. My husband also likes kids. Probably on almost a daily basis, he tells me, “I want little you’s running around!” Some days I am in LOVE with the idea of having a baby. Others, I am not. At all.

    Part of my apprehension with having kids is the way I was raised. My mom had me at 24 years old. She was absolutely desperate for kids because she had 2 miscarriages before she conceived me. She gave up her blossoming career in broadcasting, she gave up her career in singing in off-Broadway shows in NYC, she gave up everything. As I grew up, I noticed more and more that she loved us, but she resented VERY much giving up everything and how it affected her life.

    That really, really scares me. I am a career-driven woman, always have been. From a young age, I’ve always wanted to be a working mom, but I cannot fathom putting my child(ren) in daycare. No offense to anyone who does, it’s just that I was not raised in the USA, so the concept of daycares is a bit foreign to me. One of the biggest factors aside of having a job that would let me set the hours (which my future job would let me do) would be to have family nearby so they could watch the children if needed. That is part of my culture and my husband’s culture. We grew up that way. The parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. all help in some part to raise the child(ren). They are an extremely close-knit group.

    But, for now, I still have time to decide… 3 more years of doctoral school to go. Maybe after that’s all done, I’ll feel the urge, but presently, I could not even begin to imagine having a baby even though I love them.

  78. Anonymous says...

    At 28, I feel EXACTLY the same way… I’ve always wondered if it was normal to be so 50/50 regarding something so life changing. Thank you for this post!!!

  79. Amy says...

    Thanks so much for sharing. I have been 50/50 since my early twenties. I’m 31 now and it has pretty much occupied my thoughts ever since I I was 29. I’m still on the fence and keep waiting for it to hit me so I’ll know. I worry that it’ll hit me when I’m 40 and it’s too late and then I’ll go my entire life with regret and emptiness of not knowing what it’s like to be a mom. My sisters and besties all have kids and I am constantly questioning why I don’t have that strong desire to want kids. I thought I was the only gal on the planet with these emotions!!!

  80. Anonymous says...

    “You have to REALLY want a child before you decide to get pregnant or else you’ll be VERY miserable”

    Really, this is completely untrue.

    It sounds crazy, but sometimes an unplanned pregnancy can be a real blessing. And I say this as someone who is fiercely pro-choice.

    I was 50/50. Then I got pregnant by accident. I kept the pregnancy because I’m in my late twenties and in a long-term relationship with the man I knew I would have kids with eventually, if I ever had kids. It just didn’t feel right not to. It was just the path my life took, and I was ready enough to welcome it.

    I now have a five month old daughter who is the light of my life. And to be honest, I’m STILL not 100% sure I ever wanted children. Because before you have one, “kids” is this abstract concept that you think will end your life as you know it. What I didn’t realize until I had her is that I wasn’t giving birth to “kids” as a concept. I was giving birth to an actual person. And she is a pleasure.

    While my life is very different now, I still have my own desires and goals independent of motherhood. She is my world, but I am still a person. Still the same person, essentially. The baby did not, in fact, eat my brain the way I was afraid she was going to. I really haven’t sacrificed all that much. We weren’t really ready. We’re not terribly financially secure. But that’s okay. There are a lot worse things than growing up a little poor, with two parents who love you and love each other.

    If she hadn’t come along by accident, I’m not sure I would have ever had kids. And that would have been fine. I wouldn’t have known what I was missing, and I’m sure there would have been great adventures that won’t happen to me now, at least not in the same way.

    But that’s life. You don’t get to experience everything it has to offer. There simply isn’t time.

    I may have regretted not having a child, but maybe not. But I certainly don’t regret a phantom child-free life that isn’t the one I have now. Now I know my daughter, and I’d rather have her.

  81. I must admit, I’m exactly this way too – completely 50-50. Only though, about my 2nd child.

    i don’t understand it. the first child instinct came pretty naturally, and now I’m so divided. And not even a wee more inclined to the other side.

  82. Ivy says...

    you have no idea what it is like to have a baby until you have one. you can not understand the experience through watching other people. before i had my son i was comfortable with my selfish life, living for me and only me, but i always questioned “is this all there is to life?” and i wanted more, but i had fear of this baby ruining my “routine”. well, i have never been happier for someone to challenge my routine. i am a better person for it. i am better at problem solving and i don’t obsess about personal issues nearly as much. you have to be open to changes and challenges if you have a baby, but you also will never feel this amount of love in your heart if you don’t. you have to be willing to let go of selfishness.

  83. I would have to say that, yes, without a doubt, I know (and have for a long time) that I want to me a mother. I get mommy-urges on a frequent basis – it’s just not the right time for me and my husband (we’re both in grad school). While I’m not a mother yet, I imagine that you really should KNOW that you want motherhood before getting into it. For one thing, there are far too many people in the world who have kids and really shouldn’t. For another, if you decide later that you want children, there are many children that need a loving home – adoption is always a good option.

  84. Jen says...

    Having a child is utterly exhausting… just like starting your own business… or going to school and working full time. Anything worth anything in life is work and is exhausting. From experience, I can tell you that it makes you grow in a way that nothing else can. You will grow, become more patient and more creative/resourceful. If you can be a parent, you can handle just about be anything that life may throw at you. It also makes you appreciate the simpler things in life and realize what’s important and what is not. Your child will motivate you like nothing else can. It is a beautiful experience. Do I miss my old life? Absolutely. Do I love my daughter and look forward to all the things we will share as she ages? Absolutely!

  85. Having a child sounds absolutely exhausting–I can’t imagine doing it….let alone if I wasn’t all in. In case anyone is interested, there’s a great blog at babyoffboard.com about not having children–in case you want to read a little on that side of the argument.

  86. bezzy says...

    in the past i’ve even felt like there was something wrong with me, like i was broken for not having a lifelong passion for motherhood.

    i’m 27, single, & graduating from medical school in a few months. i’ve thought about this a lot in the last several years. until about 3 years ago i felt almost 100% apathetic about motherhood.

    recently i have been praying to know what is best for me. this has helped me love/accept myself either way, and i feel like i’m gradually gaining a strong desire to be a good mom someday.

  87. Anonymous says...

    I’m in my 30’s, like many of the readers here. I’m married with one infant daughter. I had a very successful career before choosing motherhood full-time. Personally, I enjoy not feeling torn between giving my all to two bosses (work & child). We can’t give 100% to multiple sources. My child/family deserve my 100%. Work will still be there when these precious early years of my child’s life are only memories.

  88. To me, family is very important, and I can’t picture my future without kids and grandkids. It just sounds so empty. My husband and I have always been on the same page in that regard, and our first baby is due in July. And believe me, we both have had to come to terms with changing and giving up our current lifestyle (not being able to do what we want, when we want, just the two of us). I do think it’s important to note that even though we both really wanted kids, and felt like it was a good time, we were never 100% sure, if that makes sense. There are always fears and doubts. I think it’s a leap of faith: having kids is never going to be convenient and it takes sacrifice. But I think that’s what makes it so meaningful. So don’t worry if you don’t feel 100% that you want kids, it will work out. It won’t be perfect, but if you do decide to have kids, you will find a way to make things work. I really do believe that (let’s hope I’m right, because there is a lot we have to sort out in the future, on top of having a new baby!)

  89. Anonymous says...

    Actually you can probably have a kid and try to make the world a better place in your spare time, and teach the kid how to do that, too. You can’t lose.

  90. Anonymous says...

    DON’T HAVE A KID THE WORLD IS A TERRIBLE PLACE AND THEY WILL DESTROY YOU.

  91. Anonymous says...

    HAVE A KID THEY ARE AWESOME.

  92. I think I’m on the fence as well. At this point in my life, I’m not married, I’m single and I’m still pursuing the big goals in life- and I’m living at home- it doesn’t feel right to me to even think about having children. I’ve always assumed when I got married I’d know for sure, but who knows. In our society and our economy I don’t think it’s that uncommon for people to feel cautious when it comes to bringing a child into this world and, frankly, I think that’s wise and responsible. There are too many people out there not giving this issue enough thought and consideration, and I commend you for it!

  93. Celia says...

    There is nothing certain in life… Not marriage, not your job, not your health. Nothing in life comes without losses and gains. The same can be said of motherhood. You lose a lot but you also gain a lot. Whatever decision you make, you will live and learn from it. Make the decision that gives you the highest degree of peace and aligns best with your spirit. The only thing I can tell you is not to let yourself be controlled or discouraged by fear. Fear prevents us from growing and evolving as human beings. If we let ourselves be controlled by fear, we would never do anything in our lives. No matter how hard something is, you have all the resources and talents within yourself to overcome it. Good luck and be happy and at peace with whatever you decide!

  94. Anonymous says...

    Raising a child is difficult, challenging and rewarding at the same time. There are moments of unbelievable frustration and depression as well as moments of unbelievable happiness and gratitude. It’s not for everyone. As a mother of a 20 month old, I’m still trying to balance it all. Work, my daughter, my husband, my mother, my job, etc. I think one of the things I have found to be most disappointing and frustrating is the lack of help and babysitting and general assistance by family members and friends. So many people swore during my pregnancy and baby shower that they would be there and babysit and give my husband and I a break to go out to have dinner, go to the gym, see a movie, etc. I can tell you NO ONE IS THERE. Everyone is always perpetually busy and unavailable. It’s just me and my husband. The best advice I can give to someone considering having a baby is to finish school, travel, establish yourself career-wise and financially etc… do all the things you want to do so that you can have more choices when you do have your child. It’s impossible to know what being a parent is, until you are one. Spending time with your nephew or niece for a couple of hours is not the same thing as being totally, completely responsible for every aspect of another human being’s life. It’s a lifetime commitment and lots of stress and it will be a while before you can see the fruits of all your labor. But believe me, one day you will understand and see. I am confident of that.

  95. I can completely relate to this post and many of the women who have commented. I wrote a post about my career/baby planning woes on my blog, the delicate utility. http://delicateutility.blogspot.com/2012/02/five-fingered-filosophy-for-friday.html
    A friend recently mentioned to me that though we may find some role models we will never find someone with the exact same situation that we have to follow after and essentially use their script for parenting, careers and marriage. I’ve boiled it down to – we each write our own story. It might be similar but it won’t be anyone else’s. That hasn’t answered my baby question, but it has helped me to not feel like the people with children, careers and lives in NY have a secret they are keeping from me.
    Thanks Corrie and Joanna for sharing!

  96. Jenny says...

    I was very unsure about having children for a number of reasons. I was also unsure about getting married, but after eight years of dating we made that leap and have been married for almost nine years now. I’m a big fan of liberal return policies. What if I change my mind? Having a child is definitely a forever commitment. I think even more so than getting married. Even though I was really unsure about having children the thought of never having children seemed weird to me (and to my husband). Two years ago we had a baby and being a mom is amazing-more than I ever could have imagined! I have chosen to stay at home for now. I’m still unsure about that decision. Things seem a little out of balance, and it’s hard on our marriage. Now we’re unsure about having a second child for a number of reasons. Imagine that! But having an only child seems weird to me (and to my husband), so I’m pretty sure we will try to have a second one.

    I think if you’re not totally against having children then you actually do want them and are just scared. And I totally get that.

  97. Jayna says...

    I disagree about having to be 100% sure. Nothing in life is ever such an extreme; most of our experiences, hopes, dreams, relationships are shades of grey as we ride an unpredictable roller coaster. Why wouldn’t you want to share that ride with another, adorable little person who looks like you? Motherhood is not easy. But as with most things, the tougher the task, the sweeter the success/rewards. And let me tell you…when that kid says “I love you” for the first time to you…it makes the dirty diapers, sleepless nights, etc. etc. WORTH IT.

    You won’t regret it. It makes you a bigger and better version of you because your heart grows when you have a child. When you become a mother you live not only for yourself, but for another human being. FULLY. COMMITTED. Your heart literally walks outside your body…truly a feeling I cannot describe accurately to someone who is not yet a mother.

    And yes, if you let this experience pass you by…you will always wonder “what if”? And you will never get that same feeling no matter how many cats you own or how many times you travel to the West Indies (or New Zealand, or Paris, or Rome). No matter how much money you make in your high-profile career or how much quality time you spend with your man…all of that can never compare to watching a baby grow and learn and discover the world.

    I admire your honesty and I hope you can appreciate mine. I stumbled upon motherhood as I turned 30, after a short engagement and only 8 months of wedlock. I am a scientist and did not want to give up my maiden name, my 1o years of college, my publications and nerdy friends to slip on an apron and bake some bread. Kids were fine but labrador retrievers, just as cute. Ha ha. Wait until you push that squirmy, warm soft baby out of you! Hypnotizing.

    Motherhood is a gift. A gift full of guilt, worry, second-guessing, exhaustion, frustration… but I believe in love. and a little baby is capable of producing so much love. Love between you and your spouse. Love from your own immediate family. Love from strangers. Love inside you. How could I not vote for LOVE? I can’t!

    Good luck.

  98. Anonymous says...

    I was very much in the 50/50 crowd too. However at 40, my husband and I were pregnant so we went with it even though we were both terrified and excited. We’re grateful for our son and that we are a family. However it was really hard to give up my career that I worked so hard at; it was like going from 60 to 0 in 10 seconds flat. But as one door closes, another one opens, I started my own business and have been doing it successfully since my son was 9 months old and I’ve been able to learn so much more about things I would have never bothered with.

    I know that my life would have been happy, fulfilling and just fine if we hadn’t found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant (I didn’t know the pill is ineffective if you are on an antibiotic!). It’s absolutely great now too, it’s not that one is better than the other, just different.

    There is no right or wrong answer, and it’s pointless to worry about potential future regrets. Human nature is such that we always strive to find meaning in our lives, children or not.

  99. I’m a 58 year-old grandmother and i can remember wanting children when I was a child. i bore 4 children and enjoyed it so much! Now my children are having children and being a grandmother is so rewarding! I hope you make a decision soon. being an old mother wouldn’t be fun.

  100. Oh I have never been more grateful for that “urge to have a baby” than after reading this. Yes, I am not a big risk taker, so after a few years dating, getting married and changing careers while being supported financially, I got the urge. It was so easy. I knew I wanted to have kids with my husband and I basically told him when we were going to start trying. Feeling like we had some money, or rather security, really helped to just jump at the idea of a baby. For years we struggled to make ends meet and the idea of a baby didn’t even tempt me. But then, all the puzzle pieces were there and ta da. The urge, the baby and now the hard work.

    Sometimes it is hell raising two kids, but those heart melting moments make it worthwhile. It is not rational, it is not even smart to have children. They really take everything from you and you are more than willing to give it to them. That’s the bottom line feeling that I have always had, even when I wasn’t ready for children. I always knew I would give them all of me. At times I felt angry for giving it all up, but at the same time, I know it is the only way for me. It is all or none for me. Kids take it all. But I am also willing to give it all. Perhaps that made the decision to have kids an absolute yay for me. I just absolutely knew I couldn’t live any other way.

  101. So, I saw in my blog roll on Monday it was “motherhood monday’s” and I thought – ‘oh yeah, forgot she does those posts. no need to click further’. But then I read the topic, and I clicked in. So here I am, comment 454 because, well, I guess I thought I was the only one who struggled with this decision.

    I just turned 41. In my early 30s I felt a bit of a clock ticking, but my husband didn’t. In my mid 30s we moved to a smaller city and thought perhaps the bells would go off and we would say ‘It’s TIME”, they didn’t. Then I thought at 39, ’40 isn’t too late, maybe I will decide then’, I didn’t. Suddenly I found myself to be 41, and all those ‘someday’s turned into days gone. For me for many reasons, the door has closed. I am sure if I had decided a child was something I wanted, I would have loved it and my life would have been so much richer for it ~ we both feel that way. But neither of us wanted children enough.

    Deciding not to have children is harder I think than deciding to. I will never carry and grow a child within my body and bring it into the world, I will never fit into a society that whenever you meet someone new asks ‘do you have kids?….OH’, I will not have children to love and be loved by and if all went well take care of me when I am old, and I will always feel a bit sad about all this. I always knew I would live with the man I loved long before I married him, I always knew I would travel and move to interesting places, I never ‘knew’ that I wanted a child.

    Lately I also wonder what part birth control played in my emotions – having been on them for over 20 years, I wonder – do in some ways they numb the ‘urge’ or was it just not really there.

    I envy those who ‘knew’, but for me, it has been a decade of trying to decide, and then blink ~ there it went and my youth behind me – this one decision became much weightier. I just wish I had ‘known’.

    Thank you for putting this topic out there. I often feel I have no one to talk to about this and specifically have a couple of childless friends my age targeted for some discussions hopefully soon – I guess I feel the need for validation. For me I only wish it had been 50/50 and not ‘why don’t I want to do this, what’s wrong with me?’. What I don’t find comforting is when someone who said they never wanted kids, then had one and can’t imagine life without them. I feel selfishly betrayed, and once again regret not feeling ‘it’ and having done ‘it’.

  102. I never had baby lust or the urge. I did always imagine my life with kids but I never gave it as much analysis as you are, and that’s for better or worse. Some people need to be more prepared than others and this is one of those things that will TRULY change your life forever.

    I’ve heard it before and I’ll share it here: there is no convenient time to have kids. It’s true. You can talk yourself out of it everytime. It’s a leap of faith. Best leap of faith I ever took!

    And if it helps at all, my ambivalence and fear about having a baby lasted right up until the night before my daughter was born. I was on bedrest and knew I’d be induced the next morning. My husband crawled into the hospital bed with me and at that moment I mourned the loss of our life as we knew it. I would have stopped time if I could. In that moment, I didn’t want to become a parent. I didn’t want things to change between me and my husband.

    Now, 20 months later and 6 months pregnant with #2, I can still relate to that feeling (and, believe me, I did when baby #2 came as a surprise). But being a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s hard as hell. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. And my relationship with my husband has only gotten stronger. We have evolved in a very dramatic way and will continue to do so for a long time (parenthood forces this issue). An evolved and evolving life is always what I wanted and it’s what I now have.

    This quote come to mind (it’s one of my favorites):

    Only when she slept
    … was I free to think the thoughts of one in bondage.
    I had wanted to be someone—not just
    someone’s mom, but someone, some one.
    Yet I know that this work that I did with her… lay at the heart of what mattered to me — was that heart.
    And still there was a part of me
    left out by it, as if exposed on a mountain by mothering.
    – Sharon Olds

  103. Nora N. says...

    It just hit me, this desire to have a baby, to be a Mother. Before my husband I was the “not until I have my career, have my life in order, have a great partner, and am married”. Before college, and even during, I was still anti children. I had not one maternal bone in my body..kids were just there, and i liked them at a distance. I was 20 when I met my future husband, and when he introduced me to his son, I fell in love. All of a sudden these maternal insticts kicked into overdrive and I just Knew that being a mother was what I was meant to be. I finished college, married my husband, and I am now a happy (but tired lol) mother to a 5 wk old beautiful boy and I just know that this was the best time of my life. Sometimes it just happens. You think you’re certain of what you like and want, and all it took was one man with a 3 yr old boy to change my mind in 2.5 seconds.