baby

"I'm not 'ready' for kids. Here’s why I’m choosing to have them anyway."

This post deals with stillbirth, and could be upsetting for some readers.

When I was young, I was sure I’d be a devoted mum someday. I also believed I’d be married with a five-bedroom house and a Ferrari by age 30. 

While I didn’t understand what things cost, or the challenges of transporting kids in an Italian sports car, I also did not know that being a mum didn’t come naturally to everyone. 

I thought that at a certain age, women were sucked into some strange, kid-centric universe. Where even the snottiest tots seemed adorable and baby poo was as inoffensive as mayonnaise. 

Watch: The things pregnant people never say. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

Believing this time wasn’t far off, I spent my post-school years protecting my freedom like it was a disappearing coastline. This meant partying, travelling the world, pursuing career goals and sampling different boys like they were gelato flavours.

I felt that if I shook off that restless energy to experience the world, I’d be ready to settle down and start a family. And I was right, to a degree. The years went by and I grew tired of partying, tired of dating. 

I found the one. 

We got married. Two wedding anniversaries and my 35th birthday came and went.

I waited and waited, sure that any moment I’d be pulled through some interstellar gateway, only to pop out the other side as a baby-obsessed version of myself. 

But despite promises by society, the media and Hollywood, I didn’t change into a child-loving goddess. I found that for me, the drive to multiply was not innate. 

The truth was, I didn’t even like most kids.

Listen: The Outloud trio discuss the difference between being child free by choice, and childless by circumstance? Post continues below. 

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Aren’t all women supposed to be maternal?

My whole life, I’d been bombarded with the idea that being female meant being desperate to be a mother. Clearly, I was malfunctioning.

Parenthood clarity therapist, Ann Davidman, has made a career out of helping people decide if they want children or not. In a recent article for Vox, she speaks about these societal pressures and their impact on people like me who are unsure.

"We, unfortunately, live in a pro-natalist world where the message is that everyone should want children and should have them," Davidman says.

"This can add a layer of shame because it can often seem like everyone else came to their decision with ease."

I agree with Davidman: I felt ashamed and unworthy of motherhood. Kids were part of my life plan, but without maternal longing, wasn’t it reckless to have one? 

Shouldn’t motherly yearning come before conception and childbirth? 

The 'right time' is a myth for many.

My maternal instincts were supposed to turn up and tell me when to make a baby. They were meant to take away my uncertainty. How could I move forward without them?

According to Davidman, I wasn’t alone.

"Many assume that a time will come for each of us, at which point we’ll 'just know'. Even though it is the case for some, it’s a myth to think it’s that way for everyone."

I found that several friends and family believed this myth too. They also thought their doubts would go once, 'The time was right'. 

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Talking to those women who’d never 'felt ready', but had kids anyway, quickly busted this myth. I had so many questions. How had they known it was time? How did they know they’d made the right choice?

I was stunned to find they hadn’t known. Unexpected pregnancies, pressure from partners, fears of the ticking clock, were among the reasons they’d had kids. 

Their choice had been made with their 'heads' and not their 'hearts', but they were no less loving or devoted mothers. 

These conversations showed me there were many routes to motherhood. And for the most part, how you got there didn’t make you less worthy. 

Choosing whether to bring a helpless being into the world is arguably the most important decision you’ll ever make. Questioning if you’re up to the task, shows you get that.

Despite not being 'ready', I decided to have kids anyway.

My chats with friends and family showed me that the baby-obsessed female was just another ill-fitting stereotype. One that made those like me feel undeserving of motherhood. 

I understood that I may never feel 'ready' to have kids. No one could choose for me. I’d have to take responsibility for my own life and this huge decision. 

In the end, my husband and I opted to try for children, but our journey has been tough. A shock diagnosis of stage IV endometriosis led us straight to IVF. When our first cycle resulted in a pregnancy, we were ecstatic, yet the happiness was brief. Our baby girl, June, was stillborn at 21 weeks, due to complications with placenta previa and my endometriosis. 

Our heartbreak over losing June has cemented our plan to have kids, but no child will replace her or take away the pain.

Amelia and Alex. Image: Supplied.

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I still don’t love children.

Even with my newfound clarity, I’m still not that clichéd child loving chick. 

While I adore friends and family member’s babies because they are born of people I love, I’m still happy to pass them back after a quick cuddle. And random kids on the street can sometimes be annoying. 

So, if you’re like me and questioning if you want kids, don’t beat yourself up. 

Despite what society tells us, you’re not alone. There may never come a time when you’ll feel 'ready' for children.

For many of us, this concept is a fallacy. 

The path to motherhood is often more complicated than that. While some women dream of babies their whole lives, others like us are unsure and might never feel that maternal pull.

Some will decide not to have kids and that’s okay too. But for those of us who do, we are no less deserving of being mums.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24-hour support line on 1300 072 637. 

You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

Join the community of women, men and families who have lost a child in our private Facebook group.

Amelia Clarke is a content writer and marketer working for travel, fashion and beauty brands and not-for-profits. With firsthand experience of endometriosis and stillbirth, she’s also a passionate women’s health advocate.

You can read about Amelia’s year of life-changing travel in her blog here

Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram/@experiencesareforever.