Since I last wrote this series about having kids, a lot has changed for my husband and me. Dr. G went from feeling neutral about having kids to definitely wanting at least one, maybe three! I am still undecided, but I am sure that I would have either one or none. In the past year, we got accidentally pregnant twice, once when my IUD failed, and once while waiting to get another IUD. Neither of those pregnancies worked out, clearly. We also started the process towards freezing our embryos but stopped it when our fertility clinic had a freezer mishap that destroyed embryos belonging to at least 400 patients. That is the nutshell version of where we’re at with kids, and over the next few posts, I will elaborate.
Why I’ve Been So Indecisive About Kids
I have never wanted to have kids, and when I started dating my husband I made that clear. But my relationship with Dr. G has changed me in ways I never expected. I have gone from being a gypsy to being rooted in one place where I have been nesting in full force. I went from trusting basically no one to trusting someone, and I have taken to married life quite well for someone who never wanted to be married. Being with Dr. G has healed me in many ways, which has opened up my heart to an even more profound love: the love for one’s child.
My husband has also changed over time. For one, he has softened. He used to abhor the idea of pets, but now he is obsessed with his fur babies and has to sleep with them every night. He no longer lives for himself but lives for us as a family and is driven to provide for and protect me (he started learning Krav Maga when we found out we were pregnant). He was never a natural caretaker, but over time he has become very attentive.
We are both better because of our marriage and it’s only natural that we would be walking hand in hand on the path towards parenthood. But here’s where the road splits for us. Dr. G has already achieved so much in his career, but l feel that mine is in its infancy. His life feels perfectly manageable to him, but most days feel like a struggle to me because of my chronic illness and career challenges. He’s ready to move forward with creating a family, but I feel paralyzed by my indecision.
I’ve been indecisive about having kids for no less than 7 years. By year 5, my husband became inured to my relentless equivocating. I have been to therapy over this. We have been to couples therapy over this. You would think I’m Hamlet deciding whether or not to live. But that’s how big this feels to me, like life and death.
I became convinced that I would never be able to make a decision, and I would have to let nature decide for me (with an accidental pregnancy or infertility due to aging). Turns out, I had an accidental pregnancy and it didn’t work out. And I learned that I’m extremely fertile, so I’ve got at least 5 more years where I could go back and forth on whether to try again. And thanks to today’s technology, I can opt to freeze our embryos which theoretically means I could be indecisive indefinitely.
Yes, but . . . it’s not the end of the world. Either decision would be fine. Either path will have its twists and turns but ultimately will not equate to a bad journey. I could have a fulfilling life with or without a kid.
Motherhood Sounds Miserable
The data is damning. I wish I could stop researching it but I can’t look away. I don’t know why we need the research because the anecdotal evidence says it all. There is no shortage of mommy blogs documenting in horrific detail the miseries of motherhood. Breastfeeding is painful and exhausting. Your body will never be the same. No more quiet, no more sleeping in. Poop, vomit, and snot, oh my. It will take you an hour to leave the house, and you can forget about using the bathroom alone. Your weekend glass of wine will become your nightly glass of wine. Sex, what’s that?
Still not convinced? Here’s a snippet of the research:
Having Kids Will Make You Less Happy: And it’s worse for mothers than fathers.
You Will Be Sleep-Deprived Forever: It’s no surprise that parents are sleep deprived, but studies show that it doesn’t get better as kids grow up because parents lose sleep worrying about adult children as well.
Your Marriage Will Suffer: Something’s gotta give, and it’s usually the quality time you spend with your partner.
Your Career Will Suffer (If You’re A Woman): Guess what, women can’t have it all.
You Will Spend At Least 60 Hours Per Week On Mommy Related Duties: Even if your hubby is a great helper, you will still do more of the homemaking, which makes sense because you’re better at it.
Your Kid Will Not Be Exceptional: Most people are average, so you may want to adjust your expectations.
You Can’t Count On Your Children To Take Care Of You When You’re Old: And you shouldn’t ask them to because it can be hard on them and their careers.
Kids Cost More Than You Think: And the cost is rising.
Yes, but . . . you will look back one day when you’re old and grey, and the highlight of your life will be your memories with your kid. Our remembered happiness matters more than experienced happiness, according to Daniel Kahneman. And having a purpose matters more than being happy, according to me.
Am I Even Fit To Be A Mother?
There are many women who seem like they were meant to be moms, and I’m not one of them. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it or won’t be good at it, it just means that it may be harder for me to adapt to it. Or it could mean that it will never suit me, and I will always yearn for the life I left behind.
The closer I get to 40, the more I seem fixed in my ways and content with who I am. I know my limitations and needs, and quite frankly, they are pretty much the opposite of the qualities you’d look for in a mother.
I am an artist that hates mornings and eschews structure. I hate routine; I can’t even eat the same food two days in a row. I like to be alone. I am not interested in being a part of a community and I avoid group activities (mommy groups, religious groups, support groups, neighborhood groups, anything with groups).
I like quiet and the sound of a baby crying makes me cringe. I don’t like kids, and I don’t like kid-friendly spaces, like family resorts, homes with kids’ junk everywhere, theme parks. I can’t cook. I hate clutter, chaos, and I’m OCD about organizing. I have a chronic illness that makes me super high-maintenance and sensitive. I eat a very restrictive diet, need 8 to 9 hours of sleep, and feel gloomy when it’s a little bit overcast. Family has never been important to me and neither my husband nor I are in proximity to our families, so we would have to hire our support system.
Yes, but . . . my husband and I have good genes. We’re not carriers for any genetic diseases, we don’t have mental illness, and we both have a high IQ (which is a great predictor of success). Also, we have enough resources, and we have a happy home. And I’m pretty sure I’d be a good enough mother, so chances are the kid would turn out just fine.
My Worst Fear
My worst fear about having a kid is that I will regret it and therefore resent the child (and probably my husband too). What I imagine I would regret the most is no longer having the opportunity to create art. That is a sacrifice I am not willing to make. I believe that my purpose has always been to be an artist, and I’ve never felt that my purpose was to be a mother. While it’s entirely possible to do both, I think that having a kid makes it harder.
Here is a list of some of my other fears:
- Stretch marks, saggy breasts, broken pussy.
- Postpartum depression that turns into forever depression.
- No more money, no more travel, no more pleasure.
- Flying at the back of the plane with the other screaming kids.
- So much grossness.
- Getting sick all the time from kiddie germs.
- Never sleeping again.
- Ruined designer furniture.
- The decline of my marriage. Divorce with a kid.
- Other moms.
- Mom guilt.
- The kid will hate me.
- The kid will be stupid, ugly, or mean.
- The kid will be unhealthy.
- The kid will die before me.
Yes, but . . . most of the sacrifices would probably be worth it, except for giving up my purpose to create art, which I could make time for if I have only one kid and hire help.
Read the next part: “Why I Became Open To A Kid.”