I thought I didn't want to have a kid… until I realized I do

May 19 | Guest post by Little b.
Phoot by Susan Sabo.
Photo by Susan Sabo.

I have always been the "I just don't think kids are in my future" kind of gal. This was always stated breezily, easily, with absolute confidence. I'm a perennial University student of literature and philosophy (presently earning a Master of Letters); a vegan, tattooed traveler who, being aunty to six terrific nephews and nieces, felt that I was surrounded by enough kid-love to forgo cooking up any of my own.

I was so certain of this that I had even convinced everyone around me that this was how it was going to be. I was not the child-free thirty-year-old that people raised a knowing eyebrow at and said, "You'll see, you'll want your own." Everyone — my mother, sister, brother, partners, friends and, especially, me — believed I was one of those women who would happily kick through this life as the adoring, crazy, child-free aunt who did wonderful, exotic things and was fun to visit because she was so permissive and didn't know what a normal kid's bedtime was supposed to be so let everyone stay up until midnight.

My sister is a home-schooling, home-birthing, additive-checking, vaccination-avoiding, nappy-free, breastfeeding-kids-with-all-their-teeth kind of earth mother who just about lives for her kids. I assisted at the births of three out of her four children. While she has sometimes said she would love to be on the other side aiding me through my own birth journey, she was very supportive of my child-free status. I was never judged. I was left alone. I was terribly sure of my plans.

I have to admit it now, without shame: I want a baby. It snuck up on me and blind-sided me. If I'd seen it coming I might have managed to dodge it.

One day, my beloved and I got a little carried away and weren't so careful in the contraceptive department. We thought "oops" and waited. I desperately wanted my dear old reliable Aunty Flow to show. I checked my undies like a compulsive. She did, with her familiar punctuality, arrive. The very odd thing was, I cried when she did.

I reasoned later that I was under the influence of hormones. I was premenstrual — damn it, I was smack-in-the-middle menstrual, it wasn't that I was sad about not being pregnant. I was hysterical with relief and awash with lady hormones, right? We had two more "accidents" after that. Something unsaid was happening, something neither of us could dare utter to each other, or to ourselves. I caught myself sneaking onto pregnancy forums; I learned acronyms for ridiculous things like BFN (Big Fat Negative in a HPT [Home Pregnancy Test]), BD (Baby Dancing = sex), and so many more.

If my partner came near me I'd switch the web page back to the Brooklyn Vegan blog or McSweeny's. I wiped the browser history and emptied the cache. It was as if I was trawling porn sites and had to cover my tracks. After about three months of these occasional "accidents" which led to agonising two-week waits (2WW for all you TTC ladies out there) to see if we'd had an "accident," the situation came to a head.

We were in the bathroom and I'd just "peed on a stick" and stared deeply into the little window faced with what was clearly a very solitary pink line. I looked up at him and said, "Nope" in my best "whatever" voice. I tried to smile, but my lips wobbled. I was scared I'd given myself away until he said, "I'm sad, too," and that was it. There was some slobbering, hugging and tears that came in a kind of embarrassing release. My secret was out: I wanted a baby.

I wanted it bad. I still want it bad and I hope that it happens. I have to admit it now, without shame: I want a baby. I'm going back on thirty-two years of robust assertions that I was never going to be a mum, that it "just isn't me," that "I just don't have those feelings." I feel like I'm betraying my child-free sisters and I am very sorry. It snuck up on me and blind-sided me. If I'd seen it coming I might have managed to dodge it.

But here I am, yearning to be an Offbeat Mama. I'm longing to see what happens to the daisies tattooed on my belly, I want to cycle to class with a big belly in my lap. I want to see my beloved with his baby swaddled in a sling on his chest, I want to see him asleep with our baby beside him, I want to kiss that baby's hair, in that spot at the back of the head where all babies are just so sweet. I want to see that baby grow, I want to hear it form words with its little mouth, I want to save its drawings in diaries and folders, I want to take it to piano lessons and take it swimming in the sea and hear its laughter rise into the sky like a handful of balloons set loose.

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  1. Incredibly sweet – Hope you get just what you want!
    I never planned to have children but now that I have them, I cannot imagine my life any other way.

    1 agrees
    • I agree. I always thought I would never have kids and definitely did not plan my first. But lo and behold I love being a mother. I would not trade any of my childfree days and I cherish them for making me the awesome mother that I am. This is only an evolution of who I am and I congratulate those that choose a different path too.

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  2. "I want to see that baby grow, I want to hear it form words with its little mouth, I want to save its drawings in diaries and folders, I want to take it to piano lessons and take it swimming in the sea and hear its laughter rise into the sky like a handful of balloons set loose."

    This is one of the best lines I've read on Offbeat Mama. Thanks for the lovely essay.

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  3. i never wanted kids either, four unplanned pregnancies later i am a proud mom of five and love it.

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  4. This sounds very, very close to what happened to me. I am now the adoring mama of an AMAZING baby girl who has rocked my world in ways I never knew possible. I hope very much for the same for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Yep, I didn't want to be a mum until one day I did. It was hard to reconcile but now that I've had my son and am expecting again I can't imagine my life any other way. Good for you for recognizing that your plans have changed. It's ok to choose to not have kids and it's also ok to change your mind.

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  6. Oh I know this all too well. I was in my 20's and told I could not carry. Up until then I didn't want any. Now I have five.

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  7. oh my goodness. i am CRYING and waving my hands in front of my face right now as if i had just seen the most envelopingly sweet and lovey scene in a movie that i had ever laid eyes on. i feel like my heart could just explode with excitement. congrats to this new offbeat mama-hopeful on discovering a new part of herself, and good luck!

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  8. THIS is exactly the cycle of guilt-denial-secrecy-etc that I went through last year! Trips to the bookstore to read pregnancy books in the stacks (I didn't dare bring one home), wiping my cache to hide my all-night parenting blog sessions from my wife, always having gmail open so I could instantly switch browser windows… always telling myself I was just curious, clearly not actually *considering* parenthood…. then offbeat mama launched and after skipping work to read backposts for 3 days straight, I had to finally come clean. Now we're well into the planning-for-baby stage, and I STILL haven't told several of my closest (and very anti-baby!) friends. I dread their judgment. It sounds so ridiculous to say out loud… I didn't know other people went through this too. Thanks you for awesome post – and good luck with your BD (hehe! sorry Ariel – I couldn't resist) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • Oh the guilt! I somehow deeply internalized growing up that getting pregnant was just about the worst thing that I could do. It would "ruin" my life. That having children was something you did "later". (Read when you are educated, married, rich, successful, blah blah blah, picket fence)

      I'm 30 now and have worked hard for a couple of years to be settle into being comfortable with wanting a child. It was like some deep, dark, secret that I had to not share because I was wrong to want it. It took time for that tight, light feeling in my chest watching my beau with his nephew and imagining one of our own, to be something to revel in, not cause for despair.

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  9. There's so much love in this post, Little b. I wish you the best of luck — any baby you have will be so loved.

  10. I definitely got some tears in my eyes when I read this….but that might be because of my own happy pregnancy hormones from my own happy-but-totally-an-accident pregnancy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers!

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  11. The last paragraph made me cry…so beautiful. A few months after my hubby and I got married, I messed up with my birth control pills. I spent the next two weeks in a dead panic thinking about all the reasons we shouldn't have a baby yet. When I got my period, I expected to feel relief…nope, I sat in the bathroom and cried. Logical reasons not to get pregnant be damned…I wanted a baby! My sweet, happy, awesome, amazing little son is four months old now. Best of luck to you and your partner in your journey. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. This was me too. I never played with baby dolls, hated whenever I was forced into babysitting jobs and was happy to be an auntie forever. My first marriage fell apart for a lot of reasons, but a big one was when i said "No, I will not have a baby" and he felt he needed to find someone who would.

    Everyone knew I wouldn't be a mom and that was okay. It was an accepted fact about who i was. Part of my identity. It was something that bonded me and my (current) husband.

    But when it hit me, it HIT me and I wanted a baby. Our first is turning 1 in a less than 2 weeks. It's a thousand times harder than I ever could imagine, but a thousand times as sweet.

    I hope you get your baby soon. x

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  13. Your scenario reminds me so much of what a friend of mine went through. She was adamant that she didn't want children… until she did. And she yearned for them – yesterday, if not sooner.

    She's now an Offbeat Mama to two wonderful children and she's honestly one of my own mothering role models. She seems like a complete natural and it's so wonderful to watch.

    I do hope that you get there yourself soon!

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  14. Thank you so much for this. I have been back and forth and my bf (soon to be husband) isnt sure he wants kids. I have been back and forth over my life but I am no 100% certain that I will be a mother one day.

  15. This post was so beautiful. Good luck. My boyfriend and I had quite a few contraception "accidents". Even though was I kidding, I had a ovulation/fertility tracker app on my phone. Each test that came up negative was harder than the last. Finally I was talking with my mother and aunt and they asked me if I had any plans to have children and I sort of broke down. I let them in on my secret that I had been trying to conceive for almost a year. My mother was in shock and my aunt gave me the best advice that I've ever gotten; uterine massage. My family is from Mexico and lucky for me know so many natural remedies. My aunt recommended I go see Doรฑa Cleme, a well known masseuse in the Mexican neighborhood they live in, and that I get a uterine massage. When she was done she said my ovaries were back further than they should be and that my uterus was now a bit high, but that she had massaged it all to where it should be. Three weeks later I was pregnant! I am now 8 weeks pregnant and although the morning sickness is horrible I can not wait for this new adventure!

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  16. People change their minds! It's cool! I think there's been so much polarization in the last few years – the intensely pro-kids crowd shouting that anyone who doesn't want them is selfish and the intensely CF crowd who likes to make fun of people with kids – that everyone has lost sight of the fact that having kids is a perfectly reasonable choice and not having kids is a perfectly reasonable choice, and everyone gets to choose for themselves. And everyone has the freedom to change their minds, too. (Hopefully before they have kids or have a tubal.) I say everyone should chill out and do what they want to do and not feel bad about it.

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  17. This was so lovely to read. Apart from the great story of changing your mind and your outlook, it really reminded me of all those simple reasons of why I want this baby of my own (I am due Christmas day. yay!). I wish you the best of luck, and hope we hear some more of your journey again on offbeat mama.

  18. This was wonderful! My husband and I suffered through indecision for a long time about whether we did or didn't. Our little girl is now 16 months and it is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also achingly wonderful as well. Now we are on the fence about having another since we said that we were only going to have one. It is hard to decide these things sometimes. I hope that you get that baby, it sounds like you will be a wonderful Mum.

  19. Thanks for sharing. This was beautiful. You put my feelings into words…you made me cry a little.

  20. This really touched home with me.
    I never wanted to be a mother until I got pregnant. I use to tell everyone how awesome I'm going to be, living alone in my studio, making movies, living off coffee, traveling the world. Then I got pregnant, a complete accident and now I have a five month old boy. The best thing that has ever happened to me.

    I wish you the best!

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  21. This really hit home with me. I discovered my desire to be a mother through a similar situation. I was way too young, not old enough to be a mother really, and always told everyone that I wasn't a motherly type. But, then, in a mix of meeting the man of my dreams and having an accident- and finding myself honestly sad when I wasn't pregnant- I knew. I can't, in all good conscience, have a baby for another couple years while our money stables out… but, in the mean time, I'm so happy to know I shared a similar experience with so many of you amazing ladies. And, hopefully, I'll be able to call myself an Off-Beat Mama one of these days.

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  22. Oh, wow. That made me cry too! And I seriously had all those same experiences. That was a crazy, confusing day for me when I first found myself sobbing while on the toilet because I wasn't pregnant, but realized for the first time that I wish I were.

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  23. I understand perfectly. I got to age 44 without hearing a clock tick, happy with my life, traveling, partying and living life to the fullest. I was uncumbered by the thoughts of wanting a child.
    …and then I was 44 and knocked up and thrilled. I now have Ian who is 5 months old now and we are so happy and content. Being a Mom rocks!

  24. I'd love to say something more eloquent than "This" after such thoughtfully phrased and eloquent post, but, um… well, "This". I've always been in the same big ol' 'Kids are fine as long as they're someone else's' boat… up until I had a phantom pregnancy earlier this year as a side effect of some medication for the ongoing Mystery Gynea Condition Of Doom and found myself suddenly missing something that never was. I know it's completely the wrong time, but damned if I don't feel my heart sink every time 'Aunty Flow' comes to visit these days

    So from one "Traitor to the Babyfree Crowd" to another, Little B? I hope it happens for you ๐Ÿ™‚

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  25. I discovered wanting to be a mother the same way; a negative pregnancy test that made me surprisingly sad. Going back on a life of "I'm not having kids" is hard, it's almost like letting go of an ideology and is hard to admit to those you have so vehemently told about your childless plans.

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  26. ah i think you'll make a fantastic mum when it happens; that was a very moving article ๐Ÿ™‚ It might take some time but i believe it will happen for you.

    p.s. forget the pregnant cycling though lol – i'm 20 weeks preg and my centre of gravity is all over the place and i have NO balance, it's almost like trying to cycle drunk off my head everytime I get near a bike!!

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  27. I so feel you on this. I didn't want kids, at all. I would commisserate with kidless friends about going to friends' kids birthday parties. Oh, don't get me wrong, I liked kids, and they liked me, but I didn't want one of my own. And then, suddenly, my husband and I decided we did. We spend 24 glorious hours basking in our planning and baby dancing, and then we got pregnant. Best thing that ever happened to us. Good luck, and remember to enjoy your time with your boy friend, even if it doesn't always result in the baby you want.

  28. Hello, my name is Carrie. I dislike children and secretly trawl Offbeat Mama. Thank you, B, for writing this and helping me come out of the closet. Best wishes to you and your beloved!

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  29. This is almost how it happened for me. I was a freshman in college though. Before that, I didn't want children ever. But the first time I thought I was legit pregnant, the first time I had ever missed my period. After that, I was a little bummed. I realized I wanted a baby. Over the last three years, it has gotten worse. Now every month I buy pregnancy tests, hoping for an accident, since I know I need to wait until I get my degree at the very least to try on purpose. I know the feeling though, all too well.

  30. My situation was a bit different. I spent many years pushing my desire to have a baby out of my mind because i was in love with a man who was dead against ever having children. I had everyone believing that i just didn't want kids. Then after much soul searching i came to a decision, i couldn't go through life without having a baby. I told him my decision and i left, it hurt like hell as i couldn't ever imagine having a baby with anyone but him but it was what i had to do for me. Much to my complete and utter shock he said he wanted us to stay together and he put all his fears about having children aside and now a couple of years down the track we are married and about to start making a bubba!
    Best of luck with your baby making!!!

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  31. Wow — so beautifully written! I felt the same for the most part too. Perhaps not quite so certain in my child-freeness because I feel like I went back and forth quite a bit but it wasn't until we also had a few 'accidents' that I realised I really wanted a baby too. Now we have the most precious little boy! Whom I've currently sent out on a walk with his daddy because he's been attached to me all.day.long. and I want some me time but seriously, I love being a mum so much — wouldn't trade it for anything!

  32. This sounds so much like me, without all the accidents. Just the thoughts. I'm only 24, but for the last 7 years I've been staunchly CF (or so I thought) , but over the last few months, being surrounded by lots of pregnant friends and happy families, I've found myself turning around. After years of saying I never want them, I too feel an odd sense of guilt at this, like im betraying myself and giving in to everyone who said "Oh, you'll change your mind." Not for several more years- I still haven't done so many things I want to do, travel outside the states, go back for a Masters, get married- but when I'm about 29 or 30, I think I'd like a kid. I think. It terrifies me, but I feel some pang when I see all these people on facebook with their kids, loving their lives. I feel like Im missing out.

  33. Ok, this amazing post makes me want to hop on the confessions train as well. 2 years ago, when I was a crazy student living in a crazy flatshare, I accidentally became pregnant and had an abortion. I still feel a sharp sting whenever I bring it up, but the sadness is all mixed up with a feeling of…joy?
    I never did want kids AT ALL until that moment, probably because I never really believed I could be a mom. When it almost happened, I couldn't keep the baby at the time but cried and cried and cried of happiness and relief: I could and wanted to mother a child when the time would be right. Until then, I secretely stalk OBB and birthing sites almost daily. Although my boyfriend's on board with the plan , I think he would freak out on the depth of my obsession!

    1 agrees
    • Oh wow, that was exactly what happened to me. A bit over a year ago, I got pregnant accidentally (I mean, I did everything in my power to avoid it but it wasn't enough!). Until then, like you, I thought I didn't want kids (although I wasn't really sure). But since then, I'm somewhat obsessed with the idea of having children. I know it wasn't the right time and I made the decision that was right for me at the time but I almost wish I would get pregnant again, even though it's still a terrible time… Glad to hear someone else had the same experience!

      • Gosh, are you both me?
        I had an abortion a little over a year ago. The absolute devistation I felt afterwards made me realise that I did want kids after all. Even my partner (who previously hated the very idea and kept joking about getting a vasectomy) realised that he wanted kids too.

        I'm absolutely itching to start a family but my husband is making me wait. He's thinking about us doing a years Working Holiday somewhere and you're not allowed to be pregnant or have kids while doing it. But, that wouldn't be for another 6 months – and only if he doesnt decide to just work on building his career here instead.

        He's still iffy about timing even if we didn't go overseas. He thinks we're too young (I'm 26, he's 27), doesn't want to be renting when we do have kids (housing prices are currently outrageous here and it makes no sense to buy anytime soon) and wants to wait until he has a more stable job.

        Close friends of ours are having a baby any day now. They're the first of our friends around the same age to do so and he's mildly interested in seeing how they cope. (Very low paying single income, renting a smaller place than us etc)
        I'm hoping to be able to point and do a big "SEE! They can do it and we're in a better position!"

        1 agrees
  34. Thank you, Little B, for sharing this. I too, never thought I wanted kids of my own (I have two step-daughters) but lately I've found myself feeling the opposite. A very select handful of my friends know, and I finally confessed to my husband the other day, that some days I do want a baby, while others not so much. It will be a while until we make a final decision on the topic, but it is so great to know there are so many other Offbeat Mama readers who have been there.

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  35. Wow yes yes.

    I too never wanted children until one day..I was pregnant. I was super careful (condom and birth control) but it still happened. I later, lost the baby and the father of that potential child as well.

    Part of me is sad and went through a lot of emotional stuff thinking why? how? huh?

    But yep…I was so content to not be a mother and now…I have been bitten by the bug. Its so strange to flip feelings like that.

    I am glad you were willing to share your story =)

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  36. I was the exact same way. My identical twin sister (mother of two boys) told me that "she always knew she would be a mother". She's maternal, takes care of me as the one-minute-older twin sister and just has that natural maternal instinct. I, on the other hand, never saw myself taking care of another human being. Being responsible for another person's life just seemed so scary and I felt that motherhood would "cramp my style". I hadn't quite gotten to the point in my career where I was happy yet and didn't feel comfortably financially.
    And then, ooops, it happened. And between reading the words "pregnant" on that little stick to now as my baby is getting ready to turn 1, my life feels full. My business is going well, we're doing great financially, and I don't even remember why I was so scared and hesitant in the first place. As soon as she arrived, everything else seemed to fall in place.

    I wish you the best and know that when your time comes, you'll be able to cherish every day with that baby.

    • Juliet those are exactly my feelings right now. I'm so afraid of the "cramping my style" thing, but mostly of not being able to handle the responsibility. I can't even keep up on my laundry! lol Also I'm starting a small business (makeup artist!) and I'm about to turn 30, so I'm feeling the pressure to "decide already!".

      What you wrote gives me hope that maybe a baby will not totally change the direction of my life, but add to it.

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    • Hi Juliet,

      This was really good to read. I have so many fears, I am driving myself crazy at the moment worrying about it. I think one of my biggest fears is, "what if I have a baby and then I realise that I feel trapped and just want to run" and "what if I'm bored out of my mind by the endless child conversations". I like kids for a while, but I've always been happy when I can give them back… I can't imagine loving someone I've never met yet and the thought of being so responsible – heck, I can barely look after myself most days! It's good to see that other people have had the same fears and that these have turned out to be unfounded.

      I guess I'm just worried because although I've always said that I didn't want to have children – and have told myself that and even felt that… I guess there has always been a hope deep down that my feelings might change one day. I'm 30 now and it worries me that this change hasn't happened yet.

      It was also good to read that you have a successful business – I worry that having a baby would totally change me and limit me in terms of what I can do / achieve. I would love to hear how things are going for you now? It's helpful to hear how people think it is worth it, as you so often seem to hear all the negatives…

  37. I just gave birth (weird expression by the way now that I think about it) on Saturday and this story made me cry. My husband and I had just gotten married last summer and weren't planning on having kids for a couple years because it just wasn't the right time for so many reasons. Well after a bunch of dentist appointments and antibiotics, I found myself peeing on a stick and I realized that I also wanted it to be positive. Then when it was I had to get permission from myself and my husband to be happy. We're in debt and I'm not happy with my job but we are so happy to be parents by mistake.

    1 agrees
  38. I never wanted children either – until I did. And then I wanted them desperately.

    I'm happy to report that after a singleton, and twins, my ink still looks good (though I've got most of it on my back.

    I look forward to following your blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. oh, i'm loving this post and all the comments! i relate 100%. i too am a traitor to the childfree cause. (and i've gotten a lot of crap for it, too.)

    "Oh the guilt! I somehow deeply internalized growing up that getting pregnant was just about the worst thing that I could do. It would "ruin" my life. That having children was something you did "later". (Read when you are educated, married, rich, successful, blah blah blah, picket fence)" — totally agreed, Christa. now i have a baby and i'm delighted.

  40. Good luck! I hope it happens for you. At least since you are both being honest about it now it won't be "accidents" anymore. My first(shoot both of my boys) were unexpected. I was unprepared, unsure how I would do it. The only thing I knew was that once I found out they were coming I knew I was going to love them. I was prepared to be childless. My DH was told he only had a 5% chance of ever having a child naturally due to exposure to radiation while he was serving in the Army. Guess what- we beat the odds not once, but twice (guessing that the doctor was wrong or he healed or something). It'll happen. Just relax and enjoy the BD.

  41. I just wanted to say this made me cry. Mainly b/c i am coming from the same mindset. May the spirits bless you will a beautiful healthy baby. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  42. I'm 23 and until I was 21 I always said I would never have a child. Nope, not for me, too stressful, too uncertain, too expensive, there are already too many people in the world, etc…

    Then I found out that I have cysts in my ovaries, and the estrogen of a post-menopausal woman. Then I realized how much I wanted a baby, like my life depended on it.

  43. This was me over the past year. Never wanted children.. still don't much like children, but I found myself wanting my (and my spouse) child. Now I am a 34 week pregnant 34 year old. I am terrified and couldn't be happier. We grow, sometimes we change our minds. Good luck!

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