I've gone from Child-Free to confused and now I'm grossed out

August 14 | Guest post by Annie Oakley
confused about having kids
Plexiglass question mark from GnarledWares

In the break rooms at work, over lunch, next to coffee pots or in store aisles while shopping for high gloss paint, I have proclaimed with unwavering conviction to at least a hundred people: "I never, absolutely never, want kids."

I have countered their what-ifs and you-might-change-your-minds defensively, almost aggressively, pointing out the violating nature if they're imposing their assumptions onto my choices, predicated on the notion that they might have some greater insight than I do into my own ideas.

This stance has come to symbolize a lot more than my choice on children: it represents my autonomy, my position in (or not in) various social spheres, and, to some degree, my rejection of conventionality. Essentially, the decision to be Child-Free slowly nestled its way into my identity, transitioning from choice to an integral aspect of not only my selfhood but also my relationship with my partner. A lot of our lifestyle choices — being heavily rooted in academia, traveling, cat owning and pursuing experience — are wrapped up in this decision.

And thus, my recent confusion about whether or not I want a kid has felt like a lot of very unpleasant things.

Firstly, it felt like a disturbance of reality, a loss of something near-concrete I've had for a long, long time. A definite knowledge — a comfort — turned indefinite and unstable. Replacing a certainty with a question, or even just a shakier version, causes a flutter of anxiety: what do I know? What is my knowledge premised on? What facts can I take solace in?

Secondly, and probably most importantly, I felt like an adulterer. I haven't cheated on my partner, but I feel like I've betrayed him. We have almost a decade of mutually confirmed desire to never, ever procreate. Only two years ago I said to him, "Can you imagine if you'd wound up with someone who wanted kids? How awful would that be?" This agreed upon passion to be Child-Free is a premise of our relationship and, in many ways, a promise. The idea of telling him that I sometimes feel confused or hazy about this vow makes me feel like a liar, a cheater. Nauseated, I worry intensely about how it might fragment or harm our relationship, not because it would divide us — I would never, even if I totally changed my mind, bring an unwanted child into our home — but because it just feels adulterous. Regardless, the idea that I might ever in any way jeopardize any element of this relationship, which is undoubtedly the most essential and sacred part of my life, makes me feel worthless.

Lastly, I question my identity. Who is this person who isn't sure about this anymore? Has she been hiding inside? If so, what else is there? Who am I going to be in five years?

To be clear, I don't "want" kids now. I just don't for sure "not want" them the way I used to. And it should be understood that the idea of ME having kids before absolutely disgusted me in the way that watching someone throw up disgusts me. And for that to become unclear, at times appealing, feels like something in me has devolved, become perverse. Which is not to imply that having kids is a perverse thing, but that for my feelings that were so strong, harsh, and fundamental to shift, weaken, make new allowances feels utterly wrong.

For now, my resolution is that this is something I need to consciously step away from. I hope that, with time, these feelings will pass; this confusion will dissolve into the same clarity it once was. At this point, I just want to not have any thoughts on the topic — no stance or position.

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  1. Do you think part of it is because of your age? I have no idea how old you are, but maybe you're close to the point where you won't be able to CHOOSE to be child-free anymore because nature will decide for you (at least, biologically?).

    Just curious. All of my siblings are in their 20's and swear they're never having kids ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • We've watched my partners sister go through this as well. She swore black and blue for years that she didn't want kids (and attempted to get her tubes tied but doctors refused). Her partner has since had a vasectomy. For a while it seemed fine, but I've noticed lately that for someone who doesn't want kids she sure talks about them a lot. Almost in a self reassuring way.

      For me I think it's a physical hormone thing. When I was in my mid 20s I didn't want kids but I wasn't sure if I would want them later. Nowadays my body is tuned to baby smell, baby sounds and baby faces. Right now is not a good time to have kids, I'm scared as hell, but the hormones are raring to go. I wonder then if women who swear off children feel the same thing? Maybe this is what coworkers have been questioning all along?
      You have a right to not have children, but I think it's easier for men who don't seem to be as biologically programmed to breed to swear off children.

      3 agree
  2. Amen, sista'! I've struggled with this for a while. I know I don't want kids, but what I DON'T know is if I'll ALWAYS not want kids. It's confusing and, mostly, it's terrifying. You're not alone in this though. And that makes me feel better knowing that I'm not some sort of crazy, confused, child-free freak with no one else understanding. I UNDERSTAND!

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    • Just wanted to say my first name is Meghan, and my son's name is Finley.. And reading your name made me totally happy! That is all!

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      • Ha. For a long time I wanted to name my imaginary kid "Finley" aaaaand then I got married to a guy with the last name Finley. Now I figure… since I don't want a kid, I still get to enjoy the name Finley! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • I'm totally in this boat. For a long time I was of the opinion that I would NEVER have kids. The at 25-26 i had a weird baby fever… I know I still didn't want kids but the desire to get pregnant was overwhelming. Then it passed and I'm back in the I don't want kids camp…. but now my bf has switched to the "maybe someday" team. it's confusing… but you aren't alone!

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      • Does the baby fever really fade away? Because I'm right in the middle of it, and I'd like it to stop.

        I've been adamantly against kids my whole life. Never played with baby dolls, never picked out baby names, and told everyone who'd listen that I was never having children. Now, at 25, I find myself thinking about pregnancy All. The. Time.

        I'm still terrified of childbirth, and terrified of being responsible for a tiny human, and terrified of passing my genes, anxieties, and psychological issues down to my child. I want a career, and travel, and financial security, and independence. And yet, the idea of getting pregnant is almost irresistible.

        My partner has indicated he's "too selfish" to be a parent, and has his own concerns about his own genetics being passed down. But he's also told me that in his previous relationship, his wife REALLY wanted kids, and he eventually warmed to the idea. So it seems like he could go either way.

        Ultimately, I think we could make it work, either way. But the benefits to staying child-free seem to far outweigh the benefits of becoming a parent.

        If only my body would get on board with logic. I'm tired of feeling like an animal, desperately needing to breed.

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  3. I would encourage you to open up to your partner. While it is entirely possible that he is unwavering in his opposition to having kids, it is also possible that his certainty may waver at times too. Given your previous self-described violent opposition to the idea of having children, it seems likely that he would not bring the issue up even if he had come to think that having kids might be something he could be interested in. If you open up to him about your own ambivalence (reassuring him as needed that you would never pressure him to have children) it opens a space for a conversation. Maybe that conversation will end with your partner reaffirming his stance that he does not want kids, but it is also possible that his feelings are more complicated than they once were and you can explore your ambivalence (or ignore it) together. In either case, it might help you to feel less like you are betraying your partner and keeping secrets.

    While I could certainly see where it might threaten your relationship if you decided you absolutely want kids while he is absolutely opposed, it seems like the secret of your ambivalence may be more dangerous to your relationship than the fact of it. Blocking your partner out of significant parts of your psychological life builds a wall that tends to alienate, potentially leaving you feeling that they just don't understand (or vice versa).

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  4. I have a child, but I can honestly say that I have a great amount of empathy for this post. My gut reaction is to tell you to not be so hard on yourself.

    I have a child from a previous marriage. My fiance and I have talked about children. He wants another/a biological child of his own, and 99% of the time I do as well. But there are those days when I am suddenly struck with a combination of revulsion and terror at the idea of having another child. My son is almost five. He's started school this year, and we are finally getting to that time when he is independent (diaper free for almost a year and dear GOD I am so happy to be done with that!) and some days I really don't know if I am ready/willing to start that all over again.

    The other side of that is also that my son was recently diagnosed with disorders that well-meaning doctors have pretty much let me know come from my genes. He's mostly an average little boy, but his sensory disorder & asthma have made life stressful for the last year. I cannot think about having another child without the fear of that child also having these difficulties cropping up. Can our family handle that emotionally/financially?

    The point being, I don't think anyone is EVER 100% gung-ho about having a child or not having one. Not for their entire lives. Being "child-free" isn't a definition of who you are. It's one opinion that you happen to have. As human beings we are fluid people. Our perspective on the world changes as we grow and learn and experience life. If it doesn't then I would worry you were being too dogmatic.

    Does that mean you should become "a breeder" right this second? Absolutely not. It's a conversation to have with your partner even if you're not certain where you're going to end up. I'm sure your partner loves you for ALL of you, not just one part. (regardless of how important it may feel).

    But also, think about WHY you are having what feels like a sudden change of heart. Are you hitting an age where those "I want a baby" hormones are kicking in? If so then it may just be a chemical reaction that's going to pass, and life can go back to "normal". Or has there been an occurrence in your life that has triggered this change on an emotional/psychological level. If you can figure that out then you can figure out, again, if this is a passing phase or a genuine change of heart.

    I think the biggest thing to remember is that you are MORE than just a person who is child-free, and people who love you will understand that and at least be willing to discuss what you're going through.

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  5. You're not the first woman to feel like this. Many have been in your position before and have had the same feelings, as surprising those feelings may be to you. Some women's biological clocks kick in, and then the hormones take over. Then it doesn't look so bad to have a kid and they even start to look…oh my god…cute. For a long time I didn't want kids, or at least not want any for a long time since the world was such a crappy place in my eyes. But low and behold, my hormones kicked in at 29 and then it was almost

    1 agrees
  6. You're not the first woman to feel like this. Many have been in your position before and have had the same feelings, as surprising those feelings may be to you. Some women's biological clocks kick in, and then the hormones take over. Then it doesn't look so bad to have a kid and they even start to look…oh my god…cute. For a long time I didn't want kids, or at least not want any until a lot later in life since the world was such a crappy place in my eyes. But low and behold, my hormones kicked in at 29 and then it was almost an urge. Like a fix. My pregnancy wasn't planned at all, but I can tell you I'd been suffering with the feeling of wanting a child and not wanting one out of fear of loss of freedom and self, for quite a while up til then. Nobody could see me with a child since I'd always come off as extremely independent and not wanting to get tied down. I still don't feel like I'm a mother, and I still worry about losing my identity, but then again I have a beautiful child I'm raising and I marvel at her learning every day. Some things change, you adapt, you work it out, you find ways around things. A child can be around cats, can travel, can go with you pretty much anywhere except bars. What happens to women and hormones can also happen to men, especially when they hit their 40s. If it's eating you up so much then sit down with your partner and let him know how you've been feeling and how confused you are. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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  7. WORD.
    I know it's easy for someone to say it and hard to believe, but you're not some sort of traitor for having mixed feelings. And you don't have to answer to anyone if you decide to move from the "strong feelings against" camp to "ambivalent/no opinion" (or even to "strongly for".)

    Like any other opinion, it's really nobody's damn business how you feel about it if you don't feel like sharing. But if it helps, come up with a few noncommittal lines for when it comes up (as it does often around me.) For me, "People can do whatever they want, but I'm not sure it's for me" or "I just don't think the whole baby thing would jive with my life right now" does just fine. It expresses a little doubt but doesn't seem to negate your previous position.

    I'm strongly child free about 90% of the time. The other 10%, I'm totally confused or unsure or sometimes hopeful. And it's really tough to reconcile moments of "YEAH! I could do this!" to "Ugh, babies." But you know what? That's okay. This wouldn't be such a big decision if it were easy to make! I'm allowed to waffle. And so are you.

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    • You always have good advice dootsiebug!

      I guess mine would be: It's ok to change your mind. It's ok *not* to change your mind. I would not worry about "cheating" on your previous opinions, though I know that is easier said than done.

      Hey I was convinced I wanted to be "a spaceman" growing up, and now I am…not. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just don't feel bad or guilty whichever way you ultimately decide to do or not do.

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    • I love looking at this as a percentage. I went from 80% sure I wanted to be child free to 75% sure I want a kid. Now I'm pregnant, and I'm still sitting at something like 75%. Often, I feel guilty and scared about the fact that I'm not 100% like some women seem to be, but for the most part I know that the 25% is the part that will keep me independent and myself through the whole child-rearing process and long after this little one has grown up and left the house.

      dootsiebug – I loved your comment from top to bottom. Especially what you've said about being allowed to waffle, because hell yes you are.

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      • I've never been a mother, but as someone who's been close to a lot of women who have–they definitely may seem to be 100%, but everyone has doubts. I think women are afraid to say it for the very same reasons you are! "I'm SUPPOSED to be 100% into this, I'm a bad person if I'm not 100% sure." Not so! Even women who have always been on the "lets have babies" side have moments where they're not sure they can do it, where they're not sure they're meant to bring another life into this world, where they're not sure this is all happening exactly how they want it to, where they're scared they did it too soon or too late or too hastily or without enough gratitude or whatever.

        I feel like that's a big part of this site; the assurance that you're not crazy or bad or wrong to have doubts, confusion or downright terror. You shouldn't be scared to wonder if this is right for you, because there are so many other people out there dealing with the same questions.

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      • I'm exactly the same, and a funny thing happened early in my pregnancy. I posted to a very non-offbeat pregnancy message board about my inability to be 100% happy and certain about imprending parenthood, and how my emotions about it were all over the place. And I got so many replies from other women saying how they felt the same way but were too scared to be the first to say it in case they looked like bad people/women/mothers/etc. I think it's a lot more common than most people realise.

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    • I too proclaimed loudly and proudly that I would never ever have a kid. I don't like children. I don't relate well to them. Many of them are cute and cuddly as babies, but my interest fades in anything between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. Seriously.

      Now in my mid(late) thirties, I find myself married to a wonderful man. Both of us were old(er) when we met, and it's the first marriage for both of us. I knew going in that he wanted kids. He knew going in that I didn't.

      Recently we've started trying, although to be honest, the idea freaks me right the heck out. I would be a terrific mom, but I am the breadwinner and would feel guilty about my husband giving up his autonomy to become the stay-at-home caregiver. I still don't like children, but I hear it's different with your own. I hear you love your kids with 100% of your being, but my question remains… what if I don't? I don't feel that I'd resent my partner for giving birth to our child, but that I'd resent myself for not staying true to who I thought I was – child-free and happy.

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      • You just described my situation exactly, right down to me being the bread winner. Only thing is that I'm also the organized one that keeps the house clean and I can't see my husband being very good as a stay at home dad because he's not detail oriented, even though he is willing to play that role. Also I'm terrified I won't like the kid or it will have some kind of developmental problem that I won't handle well, or I'll resent my husband for making my body go to hell from the trauma of childbirth and ruining my life with a kid it turns out I don't like. I'm so darn unsure if I want one, and he's so damn sure he does and I don't want him to resent me if we don't. So anyway it goes back and forth and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, so we're trying but if it doesn't happen then we're not going for fertility treatments cause I'm gonna take that as I sign. This is probably the most inarticulate thing I've ever written, but I feel really inarticulate about it lol

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  8. I can relate to this so much, not only because I previously was very serious about not having kids, but also the feeling of "If I'm not *that*, then what am I??" I find the older I get, the less I am attached to my beliefs. More fluidity with time. I've had enough things happen to me that I never, ever, expect, that I now realize there's a lot I don't know about this world. I'm open to finding out what comes up. I look back at my hardline positions on issues with a little humor and compassion.

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    • Maybe you are just mellowing out some as you mature, broadening your prospective, becoming less black and white in your thinking. And if that's true, that's not a bad thing. It is probably serving you well in other parts of your life.

      You can still not be interested in having kids and not be disgusted by the idea. There's a lot of middle ground and it is ok to not have kids even if you think "Yeah… I could do that. There might even be good points to having kids. But I don't wanna."

      I second (Third, fourth, something) the comments saying that you should talk to your partner about how you're feeling. Maybe he's feeling uncertainty too and the two of you should discuss and reconsider whether you want kids (And maybe you'd still decide that you don't want kids. Or maybe you'd decide you do). Maybe he still definitely doesn't want kids and, as long as you don't definitely WANT kids, that's ok too. One "definitely no kids!" person and one "Kids? Eh, I could take 'em or leave 'em" person is as workable a situation as two "definitely no kids!" people.

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  9. One of my biggest life learning curves has been understanding the concept of middle-ground; whereby I am not legally bound to my current interests or convictions. The first stage of encountering new thoughts is exactly like you described–it feels adulterous. The second part though, is where you kind of mellow out and realize, just because this thought is living in my head right now, doesn't mean it's what I'm going to do or is representative of my convictions. And really, feeling free to think those thoughts is what will make you more secure in your convictions eventually. Maybe you do decide to have kids, maybe you won't. Either way, having the freedom to explore your feelings and thoughts will make your convictions stronger than they could have ever been before. Embrace it!

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  10. I went through this. My partner and I had been together for nearly 10 years when my grandma passed away and the urge to continue that family line came upon me in earnest. I talked to my partner but we weren't on the same page anymore. We weren't upset with each other, we just knew that it was one of those issues that neither of us should ever have to compromise on. 6 years later we're both married to different people, both happy and still friends. And I have a 7 month old son sleeping in the other room. It was a hard road, but like he said, even though we loved each other, either of us "compromising" our desired lifestyle would have left us bitter and resentful in some corner of our mind.

    It's ok to change your mind. We all do about so much. We change cliques, music preferences, taste palate, career goals all the time. Your childfreeness defines who you've been. But it doesn't have to determine who you will be.

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  11. I totally understand. I come from a large group of friends that bonded over our child-free lifestyle and choice to not have them. My partner and I were adamantly against bringing kids into our life. When one of our friends found herself pregnant, she admitted to me that they had been questioning for a long time, and decided to try for one, but felt ashamed to share that thought with anyone. I couldn't understand.
    And then one day, despite all precautions, I found out I was pregnant.
    I didn't feel obligated in any way to bring this child to term, but we found ourselves questioning our decision. And decided that we weren't as child-free as we thought we were. We wanted to have this child.
    But when it came time to share the news, I felt like a turncoat. And now I understand my friends feelings. Its not that I felt that people would hate me, it just that I felt ashamed with myself. Like I had betrayed a deeply held belief with myself, and how dare I.
    I guess, for me, I had to get it into my head that people are fluid. Not everything I have every believed in is what I believe in now. It is ok for me to change my mind, or at least not be as adamant in my decisions. There are gray areas!

    1 agrees
  12. Don't worry about having doubts! I have a child, and I don't want children about maybe 40% of the time. During that 40%, my son doesn't magically disappear. He's there all the time.

    So, if you don't have children, but you kinda think you might want them maybe, it doesn't change anything material. A child doesn't magically appear as soon as you think you might want one.

    Nobody feels 100% thrilled about their life's direction all the time. It's totally okay to think "what if" without being sentenced for thought crime.

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  13. When I was fourteen years old I decided I was never having children, for many reasons. Toward the end of college, after helping with and participating in some women's health workshops (and hanging out with a lot of mothers and midwives), something started to change. I relate completely to the whole turned-upside-down feeling. Not wanting kids had become part of my identity, and I was really confused by this wavering in my decision.

    What I really had to do was dissect where these feelings were coming from. Did I want kids because I am a woman and society tells me I am "supposed to" have them? Did I NOT want kids because the activist community of which I was a part told me I was not supposed to want them? What did I really want? It took a while to sort that out.

    In my case, the shakiness intensified into a full-blown desire to have kids. My partner of four years absolutely did not want any, ever. We ended up splitting up, although for much more than just that reason.

    Now I am with the most wonderful partner, and he and I are excited to one day have a kid or two together. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the most important part for me was to be honest with myself and figure out where the desires were coming from.

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  14. It's okay to change your mind. Or not. Your identity is comprised of many things, not just whether or not you have a child.

    See, it feels good for me to finally say that. I have a daughter. She will be my only child, and for a while, I struggled with the idea that motherhood didn't have to consume me. I didn't want it to. Still don't. I want motherhood to be *part* of who I am, not all of who I am.

    As for traveling and having experiences, yeah, you can do that with a child. My partner and I work in China. Our child was born in China. At four weeks old, we took her home to visit family and now we're headed back to China. We're taking her on vacation to Beijing this October. It's doable. Life doesn't stop when you have a child.

    1 agrees
  15. Its okay to change your mind a million times. You're allowed, as you age your body is chemcially/biologically trying to tell you to procreate whether your personal tastes agree or not. But stick to your guns. and you're right, dont think about it— if its something you're never going to do, then its something thats not worth wasting your thoughts, time, and breath on. Go on witcha self girl! Have a happy, baby/kid free life thats you've always devoted yourself to. And if the thought creeps back up, reassess, and then decide again. You never know… your partner may be feeling differently too, you might just have to talk about it to him—- with as concrete sounding as your relationship is, I dont think you should worry.

  16. I think as we age and mature we see the world with more options. Perhaps you felt pressured to be completely black and white about the stance of children or not having them and that definite stance became a mantra. Any mantra we recite over and over can actually lose value as we age and decide the world has more options. At twenty I was sure I wanted kids but, wasn't sure when so I just told everybody when I grow up I will decide. It worked for me I know have one at 32. So maybe it isn't that you want kids so much as you are willing to look at the options your life could take now that you are aging. Just stop and think about your life what it is like and what options maybe you were closed off too…perhaps it is other choices even that are making you fixate on this one. Good Luck Jenny

    1 agrees
  17. This is the antithesis to the post I wrote for OBM last December. Things that helped me: give yourself time and be honest with yourself + your partner; don't be afraid to change your mind just to prove a point.

    Best wishes.

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  18. For me, it was mostly a question of "when" rather than "if," but I COMPLETELY relate to the anxiety about your identity turning upside down. When the baby-fever hit in my mid-twenties, I began to worry about what other feelings might be "lying dormant" that I didn't know about! Did this also mean that I could suddenly start disliking my cat or or switching political views out of nowhere?? Scary stuff.

    It took a long time for me to be really truly okay with and ready for a baby, and it's SUCH a personal thing that's SO different for everybody. It sounds like we're at different places on the kid vs. no kid spectrum, but rest assured that whatever you choose, you're still you, and you have a bunch of ideas and kindness to give to the world no matter what.

    (Oh, and whenever I feel guilty about betraying my younger self's "ideals," I stop and think for a second about whether I would WANT to be the exact same person I was at 18. And then I shudder a little bit.) ๐Ÿ™‚

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  19. I've always loved kids, since I was just a kid myself I was always the oldest one looking after the littlies/playing with the kids at parties/the babysitter…. Then I worked in Early Childhood education, and loved my job but went TOTALLY off the idea of having my own! This feeling stuck around for years, and me & my partner's life was crazy and we wanted to go off and adventure and do all this fun stuff (that we never got around to, due to him becoming sick). So we talked, and decided NOT to have kids and that we would both be happier leaving it til our lives were more settled with careers and a house and perhaps adopting or foster care.
    Then, a few years later (flash forward to 2011) I fell pregnant. Totally unprepared for that, we had been using reliable protection for years and it failed. Even though I thought I knew what to expect with babies, I was scared half to death. But I couldn't 'NOT' keep the baby.
    Today, I am a SAHM to our daughter Caelin, who is 10m old. It is FREAKIN' tough. My partner is studying Paramedicine, and is only in his first year – we live in a tiny 1brm flat, we are broke all the time, and life is sometimes really really hard. BUT we have this bundle of joy, snot & toothy giggles to keep us entertained & sleep deprived.
    And I think she's definitely here for a reason, she's very determined about things, and for some reason she chose us. I have had to put my career/education on hold at 26 years old, but I love my daughter like crazy and it's a love I would never had expected.
    I don't know yet what I'm going to 'do' with my life after I have raised her, but I sure as hell ain't gonna sit around having more kids…. yet… hahaha!

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  20. Thanks everyone for giving such honest comments. I have always been in the camp of not wanting children as I love my child free lifestyle. Now i find myself pregnant and honestly I am struggling with my emotions from swinging to being extremely piss-off as I can no longer go out drinking with my girlfriends to being guilty for such selfish thoughts. My husband is so happy that we are pregnant but I am terrified that I am not cut out to be a mum.

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    • I don't think popping out a kid changes your whole personality (or should). There are certain areas of your life you have to change, but you can't stop being you all together! DON'T FEEL GUILTY!

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  21. I feel for you and I can relate to your ambivalence. Only, in my case I always knew I wanted kids and the ambivalence didn't hit until my son was actually born (ha!). It passed by month 4, but it was very upsetting to suddenly question whether the path I had chosen was completely and utterly wrong.

    You say at the end of your post that you want to take a step away from the whole topic, but I would suggest exploring it head on. You clearly have an extremely deep bond with your partner, and if that's the case it sounds like it would be beneficial to talk about this with him–who knows? perhaps he, however hardened on the idea he may be, has also wavered a time or two in his beliefs.

    You are both academics, no? Perhaps approaching it in an academic, research-y way would be more comfortable for you (and your partner) and would allow you to disentangle your guilty feelings from the facts about what you want out of your life.

    Another thing that occurred to me was that this could actually be a biological, hormonal issue. Women's bodies are pretty interesting and perhaps you've had some hormone shift as you've gotten a little older that is affecting your emotions.

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  22. It can go the other way too. Both my partner and I want children. I want them in a 'I think about the reality of it' kind of way while my partner is still at the 'When I'm I'll grown-up I'll have kids' kind of way. I do worry that when it gets to the time that I'll feel ready that he will change his mind about having children. The thing is is that nobody is really sure. People change their minds all the time about things that they once considered fundamental to them.
    Allow yourself your feelings and don't feel guilty about them. As long as you continue to share with your partner you'll be okay.

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  23. Identity is fluid. I thought I was many things in my early twenties to later discover I was many other things in my thirties. One of them being a desire to be a mother.

    2 agree
  24. Thank you! I'm 27 and I have been going through these thoughts for a while and it has been freaking me out. My mom will tell you I was never that little girl playing mom to my baby dolls as I was too busy coloring all over myself and fighting space ninjas. I'm also 15 years older than my youngest brother and while I was never forced to help out, I changed enough poopy diapers to last me forever, but I'm not as rigid as I was. I'm waffly about it now. Most of the time, probably 79.9% if there haven't been screaming kids at work, I come up still on strongly against as I like the freedom to play video games until four in the morning or not eat all day if I want. I like the idea that once I'm finally finished with my degree in a year or so that I can travel without accommodating a pile of baby stuff. But then I see a cute blanket or find a name that I love or sneak a peek at offbeat mom and I'm like hey, that could be fun. And having a kid doesn't mean I'm going to turn into MY mom. (Note my mom is awesome sauce. I just never want to BE her. I want to be ME.)

    Also, absolutely DO talk to your partner!! I know everyone has been saying this, but for a long time I WAS the oblivious partner to the waffler. My girlfriend and I have been together for 8.75 years as a couple and I had thought we were on completely the same page as I always looked at parents before snidely saying to her 'That will never be us. We will be on a beach sipping margaritas' or something to that effect. And then out of the blue she told me that she had kind of wanted kids on and off since her nephew was born. He is five. This conversation happened within the last year. I was thrown and upset and felt betrayed and it brought up all my unrealized issues but we have grown together as we work back and forth on if this is a choice we want to make. I know eventually the discussion is going to have to become yes or no instead of hypothetical but in the mean time I appreciate that this has become just another facet of our plans for our future, like how many dogs I'm allowed to have if she can have chickens or if we want to try packing up and moving to a different country. I know a lot of my male friends are hitting an age where they feel more like being fathers but don't feel societally able to change their minds being male. But that's a whole different post.

    1 agrees
  25. I'm in my early 20s and right now I REALLY don't want kids, but I also realize that I haven't undergone the "BABIEZ NAO!" hormonal surge that women often talk about, so I don't know if that stance will change and it absolutely terrifies me. There are things I want to do with my life that don't involve children, and I wouldn't want to resent some being that I was responsible for bringing into the world for me not to be able to do those things.

    The ONE thing that makes me pause is that I think my mother "deserves" grandchildren. I do have a brother, but is it fair to make him shoulder the burden? My mom has never come out and said anything like that, and I've made no secret of my "plans", but I just feel selfish that I can't (won't) give her this one thing.

    I think it's normal to question these sorts of life-altering decisions, and it's possible that you'll go from "NO WAY" to "well, maybe" to "HELL YES!". But it could just be ambivalence, knowing that you only have a short time frame where you CAN make this decision before your body makes it for you. So I echo others in saying don't be so hard on yourself, talk with your partner, and try not to let this decision define who you are!

    • Remember that grandchildren aren't always biological. Your mother may get to know a family with young children. I had 2 sets of non bio grandparents.

  26. Wow. I really appreciated this post and the comments to follow.

    From childhood I swore off having my own children and later met a great partner who wholly shared my views. After 7 years of living a happy child-free lifestyle with the occasional second thoughts, I let my guard down for one afternoon. Bam, now I'm pregnant. We're elated, but it definitely took several weeks of serious conversations to be sure that the decision to have a baby was the right one for us. It wasn't easy to go from random daydreams of babies to an unplanned reality. Luckily, we haven't had any "I told you so," moments from friends.
    I definitely second the opinions to talk with your partner. Having had discussions prior to pregnancy was an enormous help to our relationship during our decision making time.

  27. I know this was posted awhile ago, but I am really glad I found it. For years I've been shouting the "No kids" mantra, and it's only in the last year – I'm 25 – that I'm starting to question it. Mostly, I'm afraid that I'll change my mind too late, and regret my childlessness forever.

    But then I think of all the reasons not to have kids, that I've been repeating for years: I want to have a career and I want to travel; I might never be financially stable enough to raise a child; plus my man might be sterile (he went through chemotherapy) and even if he isn't, both of us have so much chronic, genetic disease in our families that having a child doesn't seem responsible.

    I'm just so glad that other women agree that it's okay to feel like this. It's okay to be ambivalent. But I do need to talk with my partner. Woof. In any case, thanks for the good advice, Offbeat Mamas!

    2 agree
  28. My cousin was in the "never having kids" camp for a long time. Now she has definitely shifted and is talking about trying to get pregnant. People change their minds. In our family at least, no one throws her past comments in her face. It's a very personal topic, and we want her to be happy!

    My advice – try not to stress about it.

  29. I'm on the opposite side, but I completely understand. Until I was 22, I absolutely, 100%, never once questioned that I was going to have kids. My partner at the time forced me to stop and think about it. It was painful, I cried a lot. And now I'm in the middle of a debate that's lasted three years so far, "Well crap, I don't have any idea if I want kids. I could go either way." It's been really frustrating, I'd like to have an answer one way or another, but I know it doesn't really work like that.

    Now I'm very careful to not state things as absolute truth, even about my own identity.

    1 agrees
  30. Good luck to you with your decision. For those wishing to conceive, Julia Indichova offers wonderful support from her website and books. She also helps people deal with all sorts of issues related to children.

  31. We grow and change both as individuals and in all of our relationships in our lives. It is fine that you solemnly swore that you didn't want kids. But you've changed your thoughts on that. You've grown in a different direction and that is okay. Don't beat yourself up or over-analyze it. It's normal to change throughout our lives as we grow!

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