Not sure if you want children? You’re not alone.
I wasn’t sure I wanted a baby. I agonised over the decision and it nearly destroyed me. While I’m now the happy mum of a gorgeous six-month old boy, I find myself constantly thinking back to life before my son and the paralysing indecision that took over my whole world.
When I hit my 30s, the ‘ticking clock’ syndrome hit hard. I’d tell myself that the decision to have children should be based on more than external pressures but the truth is, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be ready to have a child. So I took a ‘let’s see what happens’ approach and quickly fell pregnant.
Hotels room are never the same after having kids. We discuss, on our podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues below.
Despite a textbook pregnancy, I spent the entire nine months feeling incredibly anxious. While I can now recognise how incredibly lucky I was to conceive, I couldn’t look past the enormity of my decision at the time. I questioned the entire world of motherhood and whether it was really for me. Perhaps it was pessimism talking but parenting seemed like very hard, unrewarding work. Everywhere I turned I was met with complaints and rants on the countless challenges of having children. Newborns in particular were a source of anxiety.
“The first few months are hell”, people would insist. “Say goodbye to sleep and try enjoy it while you can,” they’d advise.
Yikes! I would dread talking to others about the realities of the months ahead and did my utmost to avoid the many panic-mongering blogs and articles flooding my feeds.
To complicate matters, my ambivalence surrounding babies and motherhood filled me with a deep sense of guilt and shame. I spent hours discussing my fears with my therapist, trying to accept my feelings and be ‘ok’ with the uncertainty of it all.
What if I hated being a mum? What if I regretted my decision? What did that say about my maternal instincts (or lack thereof)? While a big part of me wanted to share my huge dilemma with others, more often than not I’d shut down, nervous that I’d be judged for my ambiguity. Unfortunately, the taboo of women not wanting children is still alive and well in 2018.
Months after having my son, I vaguely overheard a breakfast TV segment on society’s expectations of young women and their desire to start a family. I quickly turned the volume up and heard a statistic that I wished I’d heard prior to my pregnancy. The expert claimed that a very tiny portion of women are either completely confident in their decision to have children or not to; the vast majority of women are actually completely undecided, like me. If only I’d known that sooner.
I can now look back at my guilt-ridden pregnant self and scoff.
“What was she so worried about?” I wonder with pity and regret.
Thankfully, once I gave birth the unconditional, nurturing instincts did kick in along with all the wonderful, delightful aspects of being a mum. I can now truly appreciate the incredible miracle that is childbirth and my heart hurts for women who cannot, or struggle, to conceive.
But the truth is, just like the myriad of lifestyle options now available to women in 2018, it’s okay to question our choices. Whether it’s a decision to have children or not to, we’ve come a long way since women were expected to do the ‘right’ thing and devote their lives to dutiful homemaking and child-rearing. Similarly, it’s okay to not be sure about becoming a mum. If only we were ok about sharing that.