I want to be pregnant… but I don’t want to be a parent

Guest post by Cassie Robertson
By: Sean McGrathCC BY 2.0

I’m slightly obsessed with pregnancy — I even scared friends and family by reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting when I was 14. I was 20 when my biological clock’s alarm started ringing, and no one was surprised when I spent my birthday gift card on The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. I have a birth plan in place, know that I want to use a birthing center instead of a hospital, and I drink my morning coffee while watching Birth Day. This offbeat reader wants to be pregnant like WHOA. Here’s the tricky part: I do NOT want kids.

I look at pregnant women with envy; I look at mothers with pity. Don’t ask me how I managed to wired this way. I promise, I’m odd in other ways too. So how does a proudly Child-Free woman cope with the desire to get pregnant? It took me a while to find the answer: surrogacy.

It’s perfect. I get to have my cake and give it away as soon as it cries. But wouldn’t you know it, surrogacy isn’t as easy as you might think.

I was 20 when I first looked into surrogacy. I joined the websites, learned the lingo, and quickly learned that I was ineligible to join any surrogacy agency. First, I am seriously overweight and second, I’ve never had a child.

I do understand why those things are a problem. Being overweight can cause some serious pregnancy complications and, as an untried surrogate, who knows if I even can get pregnant? Plus, everyone swears that I’ll change my mind about wanting kids when I feel the baby kick. I smile, shrug, and say “Maybe.” (I know other Child-free women can relate to that!)

So now, at 23, I’ve decide to tackle the first of the reasons why I can’t be a surrogate. I’ve changed the way I eat and the way I work out. I have a lot to go still, but my desire to get pregnant is stronger than my desire for ice cream.

It’s pretty rough knowing that. I wonder, are there other women like me out there? Women who want to change their bodies to put their bodies through hell and then give away the prize? Most people who know about my desire to be a surrogate either think I’m crazy, I’ll change my mind as I age, or they just plain don’t understand. Trying to explain a biological, emotional decision is nearly impossible.

As every reader on this site knows, pregnancy is an incredibly emotional process. I promise you, it is no different for me. I don’t want kids, so I take the pill, but then I hope that an accident will occur and I’ll get pregnant. I don’t WANT to deal with an accidental pregnancy and be forced to choose between adoption and raising a child, but it would take care of that “never had a child” problem, wouldn’t it?

The less logical side of me is very tempted by that idea. I take pregnancy tests with a mix of thoughts ranging from “This is a waste of money. You’re NOT pregnant” to “God, what if it’s positive?” to “Please be positive.” I don’t tell people about these feelings much because I already know that they don’t really get it. Can I blame them? Even on this offbeat site I’ve never read about a wannabe surrogate mother.

People will still think I’m crazy when they hear my story, but what does that matter? A friend of mine wants children but can’t have them. She’s asked me to be her surrogate when we’re both ready. She’s going to be an amazing mother and isn’t that what surrogacy is all about? If I get to fulfill a dream of mine in the process, then that’s just a great bonus.

Comments on I want to be pregnant… but I don’t want to be a parent

  1. I can definitely relate to the author – I am fascinated by pregnancy. Right now I am only 19 and I don’t believe that I want children of my own – but I do realize that this viewpoint might change, despite the fact that my reasons for not wanting children are legitimate.
    As awed and inspired as I am by pregnancy and the fact that my body was engineered to bring a child into the world and sustain it during its first years, I doubt it will ever happen for me. But once my friends start having kids, I’m going to be the best friend a pregnant girl’s ever had!

  2. You’re so not alone, I feel the same way! I absolutely don’t want children, but I crave being pregnant (and breastfeeding). I’ve looked into becoming a doula, becoming an ultrasound tech, becoming a surrogate. Glad to see I’m not alone in feeling like this, either!

  3. I can totally relate, but I’m the opposite! I really want to be a mother and have children, but I am terrified at the prospect of being pregnant. It’s not a control thing, but more of a “there’s another human in me and that’s fucking freaky. They make horror flicks about this shit.” thing. But when I tell people I’d like to adopt, they do the double blink then ask if I know I’m infertile. I tell them that to my knowledge my husband and I are completely capable of conceiving and then I get the dismissal – “Well, then just get pregnant! That’s how you get a baby, ya know!” Erm, yeah, except I’m totally freaked out about having little bones in my body that aren’t mine! It’s really confusing to everyone that adoption isn’t considered a “last resort” to me. Which is really sad for people who are adopted – do they get the vibe that they’re castoffs? That they only got to have a family because someone was barren, instead of being intentionally and lovingly brought into a family? I agree with the previous poster that said most people don’t understand the disconnect between pregnancy and motherhood.

    • “That they only got to have a family because someone was barren, instead of being intentionally and lovingly brought into a family?”

      This was something I brought up in my post about supporting infertile friends. That statements like, “Why don’t you JUST adopt” are so dismissive of the process of and emotions around adoption, reducing it to a “last resort,” as you call it. In my opinion, adopting should to be a powerful, intentional, and proactive choice — not a default if nothing else works.

      • I agree completely. I remember that point being brought up, but I didn’t comb through that article as closely since I’m younger and my friends are all in the “if it happens it happens” phase and infertility isn’t a concern as of yet.

        I’ve actually had people dismiss my adoption plans in horribly demeaning ways, like the time I was told to “just be happy with what God gives [me[” (I bet you anything if we turned out to be pregnancy challenged that the same person would be urging us to try interventions and adopt).

        As a Christian, I found it horribly offensive, since it’s my belief that we are all related in our humanity, not to mention the numerous adoption examples within the Bible itself. Considering how humbling and awe-inspiring the process is, I’m not sure why it’s considered so taboo.

        And furthermore it pisses me off when people act like adoption is only available to the “poor things” (now, don’t get me wrong here, infertility is a very sensitive subject and I’m in no way ridiculing or insulting the experiences of others, but I’ve heard way too many hushed whispers of “They’re adopting – she’s barren, the poor thing.”) and that to choose such a lifestyle is beneath someone who is reproductively “normal.”

      • “In my opinion, adopting should to be a powerful, intentional, and proactive choice — not a default if nothing else works.”

        I completely agree with this statement. Unfortunately, I feel like “adoption” has turned into a dirty word. Everyone seems to be talking about why they DON’T want to adopt and I’m noticing less and less stories about how amazing it is.

        • Very much related: Stephanie is working on getting more adoption stories here on Offbeat Mama! She’s got some amazing posts in the works…

    • So glad I’m not alone on this!! I am also excited to have a big family, but the idea of being pregnant terrifies me and I have NO attraction to the idea like so many women I know do. My husband is on board with adopting all our kids, but some people just think it’s weird.

    • I find that incredibly sad. There are so many children out there who desperately need homes, and people are putting their own genetics above a consideration that they could really help someone as though that is such an odd thing to do. I think something needs to change in our culture so people routinely give this more thought.

  4. Ohman. I can’t identify with this completely – I reallyreallyreally want kids someday. Not now, totally not now. I’m getting Implanon tomorrow to try to make sure it doesn’t happen until I’m as ready as I’ll get.
    Something I’ve said to people before, though, is that not being able to produce children with my DNA wouldn’t be a huge deal to me. Overpopulation is a real problem, and I want to adopt kids, anyway. Unfortunately, I think I’d be pretty heartbroken if I found out that I couldn’t experience pregnancy. I, too, have spent a fair bit of time watching from the sidelines, doing research and thinking about what choices I’d make. I *really* want to do that.
    I wish you all the luck in the world with your path, it certainly does not seem like an easy one to walk.

    • complete segway/side-issue- Implanon made me as dry as a chip, and I didn’t make the link until I got it taken out. So keep a lookout for signs of the Sahara Desert appraoching your southern hemisphere!

  5. Wow, this is really interesting. I actually know a lot of women who would love to be pregnant without the actual child rearing attached, so I understand where you are coming from. However, since you love the idea so much, have you ever considered getting your nursing or doctorate degree and perhaps working in the maternity field? That way you can work with pregnant or birthing mothers every day, so even if you can’t or aren’t prepared to have one of your own, you can experience birth on a different level.

  6. This is a really fascinating post, thank you for writing it.

    I know it sounds awful but I’ve always assumed that surrogates would be people who desperately need the money or a good friend/family member helping someone they love. It never occurred to me that someone would WANT to go through pregnancy just to give the baby up.

    I’ve been interested in the mechanics of pregnancy for a while and I’m AMAZED at what our bodies can do, but that wonder never translated into a feeling of wanting to be pregnant for me.

    Pregnancy to me is a means to an end, and although there are enjoyable moments and I like bonding with my baby in utero, being pregnant is not something I am liking. Being sick, emotional, tired, giving up your favourite foods and drinks, not sleeping and aches and pains are something I would gladly skip if it were possible. I havent experienced labour yet, but I wouldnt say I’m looking forward to that either! Just hand me the baby thanks.

    That being said, I am so thankful that there are people like you in the world. Without surrogates many couples would not have been blessed with their children. Its been so enlightening to get a glimpse of why surrogates do what they do.

  7. Thank you so much for writing and sharing. I can completely relate to your story. I started my period at age 15 and by age 16 I was already craving the experience of being pregnant. I had large career ambitions though, and severe wanderlust, and so I faithfully utilized multiple forms of birth control — all the while experiencing the reactions you would have when I would take pregnancy tests and they would end up negative. When I was about 22 I talked to a gay friend of mine about carrying a child for him and his partner, but I was living overseas at the time in a rural part of East Africa and it didn’t make logistical sense. Not only that, when I was honest with myself, I started wondering if I could actually give up the child at the end of term. Nevertheless, the STRONG desire to be pregnant continued. Well, I am now 35, been happily married for two years, and am 31 weeks pregnant. We got pregnant last year, but had a missed miscarriage at the end of the first trimester. I must admit, it is an amazing experience and I am enjoying it all, despite the tremendous hip pain and the anticipation of labor pain. That said, I think I built it up to be such a huge thing for so long that there is no way the experience can live up to those nearly twenty years of wondering what it would all be like. But it is amazing. I hope you get to experience it one day, if you continue to want to.

  8. I would love to be a surrogate mother, sadly however in Australia its currently illegal to be paid as a surrogate.

  9. Wow, I can not tell you enough how much this article hit home for me. I’ve been on the fence about having a baby for the past year. I keep having this weird urge to get pregnant even though it would be a bad idea at this point. The idea of surrogacy has crossed my mind on several occasions, but I am also overweight and have never been pregnant. Anyway, I’m still on the fence like I said.

    I wish you the best of luck on being a surrogate for your friend, I think doing this for her is the most beautiful gift.

  10. I am so happy to read this! All my life I have always said I wanted to be a mom, but have been taking a good hard look at that idea. I’m realizing I want to be the badass auntie more than I want to be a mom… but I want to get pregnant! I have read so many birthing books and have birth plans and just want to give birth, not necessarily have the being a mom part that comes with it.

  11. this is really interesting. i would be interested in knowing why the author wants to be pregnant. wasnt mentioned in the article. i talked to a lady who loved being a sorragate for the attention! which makes sense when people aren’t asking you stupid questions they are super nice to you.

    i also think it’s really cool to want the experience of pregnancy. its definately a journey.

    • I wish I had a better answer for why I want to get pregnant than a simple “Because.” I want to feel a child growing inside of me. I want the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. I’m guessing it’s a biological thing because if I looked at pregnancy from a strictly pro/con list (especially with not wanting to keep the child) I would NOT want to do it. It shouldn’t sound good to me, but it does.

      • I think it is definitely a biological/evolutionary impulse to want to feel a child growing inside, but maybe you’re not feeling the whole parenthood thing because you’re simply not there yet. You didn’t mention in your post whether you have a partner but I think the whole family aspect is very dependent on being able to envision yourself raising children with your partner.
        Truth be told, I am trying really, really, really hard not to be condescending but… when I was 23, I knew that I wanted to have kids but I couldn’t see myself with anyone, couldn’t see myself actually raising those kids. But at the ripe old age of 31, I have a partner that I’m raising two kids with and plan to raise more. I know age is just a number but a lot of emotional development happens between your early 20s and your 30s.

        (I really went back and forth on whether I wanted to put myself out there and pull the “big sister” card but I really can’t stop thinking about this! Damn OBM, so thought-provoking and driving me to distraction with all this stuff I never thought about before…)

        • Interesting point, re: age. I had my son at 22, but I didn’t start going really domestic-crazy until things were pretty set-in-stone with my then-boyfriend at the tender age of 20 (it was a rough year when that went down).

          Before we were together I knew I wanted to get married and have kids someday, but I wasn’t overly eager about it.

        • That’s such a sweet way to put it! Whenever I tell people I don’t want kids, I usually follow it up with, “But I’ll probably change my mind when I’m older and have 20!” I expect that my mind/body will change. I just find it fascinating that this is what I think now (and have for a long time). I’m not partnered and I also realize that I’m running out of people my age to date that don’t already have kids. The ones I’m interested in who are childless definitely want them. So, we’ll see how it goes.

  12. I will agree with all the women who found this fascinating. I can completely identify with the feelings this writer is having, even though I have a son, plan to have more children, and would never consider surrogacy. The drive to “be pregnant” is so strong in me (and in a lot of woman I think) Maybe it is biological, maybe is is societal (not to get too intro psychology on you but our society does in a lot of ways exalt pregnant women). I want to be pregnant really bad, but when I think about having a newborn, in our current circumstances, I know it is not what the rational side of my brain really wants. I understand the thrill of holding a pregnancy test and hoping and wishing, despite what your rational brain may think, that it is positive. I think the writer of this has, quite correctly decided to leave her rational brain in charge. I commend that and I hope she gets to experience pregnancy, which despite all its ugliness has a lot of the sublime in it.

  13. I know how you feel! I desperately want a child but am not financially ready, and so have seriously considered surrogacy. The only problem is that it’s illegal where I live and every time I mention wanting to surrogate to anyone they tell me I am crazy!

  14. Totally fascinating. I can ID a little, in that I think I’d be great at pregnancy and breastfeeding, but I’m not interested, and not sure if I will be interested, in giving up sleep, eating out, going to concerts, all of those things that take time and money. 😛
    (and I’m 34, so theoretically the bio-clock should’ve been ticking by now?) ;p

  15. I somewhat understand how you feel. I do have two children already, so we differ there, but I LOVED both my pregnancies and would do it again in a heartbeat. I loved everything about it. However… I don’t want anymore kids.

  16. As a 2X Gestational Surrogate, both times with twins, it is VERY important to have given birth before you are a surrogate. I don’t know any Agency that will approve a woman to be a surrogate without at least one birth “under her belt”. And this is not an unfounded issue . . . some women (like me) seem to not be phased with pregnancy, others have a very difficult time throughout the whole pregnancy . . . and it would be great to know how your body may react ahead of time. With that being said, in IVF multiples are more likely and there are several surros out there that have carried there own with no issues only to find twins a bit harder . . . .

    I have to say, for me, Pregnancy is awesome and Surrogacy is AMAZING so it’s know wonder you’re so interested .. . . it’s the same feelings that cause women like me (who thought they’d only be a surro once) to do it 2 or 3 times.

  17. You aren’t alone. I’ve got the same desire – I want to be pregnant, but do NOT want kids… thought I was a weirdo, too!

  18. I think it’s awesome that you want to be a surrogate!!! I think your desire to carry a baby comes from that great thing genetically encoded into us that says, “Survival of species.” I remember learning about it in school, & have written about it in some short stories I’ve done, but it’s really nice to see it (or read about it) in reality! & btw, it’s never weird when you are willing to help people who can’t have children create a family. It’s wicked awesome & we should turn you into a super hero…I mean come on superman might save you from a burning building, but it’s not like he would go through 40 weeks of backaches, morning sickness, & swollen ankles just to squeeze something out of his body to make you happy, & help complete your family. I say you go for it & get a cape while your at it! Good luck with you & your friend.

  19. I turned 20 earlier this year and I’ve had a weird envy of pregnant women since I was 17. I want so badly to be pregnant. I want to be boat sized and waddling and just beaming. But I do not want kids. I love my sleep and my sex life and going to the clubs. If I ever decide to have kids it will be when I can happily give my whole life to them and I’m just not ready for that. That doesn’t change the way pregnancy scares become three day hormonal riots. I commend my boyfriend for coping with the parts of this I let him see but there are really no women in my life I can talk to about this. It helps to know I’m not the only one who feels this way, I had wondered if there was a name for this, a disorder. But I imagine that others with this issue aren’t very forthcoming, like myself. Out of fear of being judged or called depressed, empty unstable or even unfeminine.

  20. Very interesting! I absolutely did not think anyone else would feel the same as me. I desperately want to be pregnant, feel pregnant and look pregnant. I really DO NOT want to be lumbered with a kid for 16 years (or more!) I’ve had several scares, and whilst taking pregnancy tests, I’ve been wishing I was pregnant, but hoping I’m not. It doesn’t even make sense to myself. But just knowing that I’m not alone, is comforting. Surrogacy is a very good idea in this situation… but I think I would be attached to my child by then, whether I wanted them in the first place or not.

    • Do you mean 18 years? Or do you raise them until 16? I don’t mean this in a patronizing way at all, I am just genuinely curious as to what you mean by this.

  21. I am 16. I face this problem every day. I want to be pregnant more than anything. I am not sexually active, in fact, I’m abstinent. I have only told 2 people about this, well, now, 2&a website. My former best friend, and my current boyfriend. I can control my feelings&I know all of the things that come with pregnancy. I can wait to have kids, but I want to be pregnant right now.

  22. I truly appreciate those who have an interest in surrogacy. I have the conserve of the emotions of the original poster. We want a child of our own once we feel financially stable to provide for it, however pregnancy is not so enticing for several reasons. First and foremost would be that I suffer from tokophobia (severe fear of pregnancy) which would likely exasperate into my second full nervous breakdown. Also, I am heading for a Phd/DVM that will mean a lifetime of working a lab with teratogenic chemicals and being around large and unpredictable animals, both don’t bode well for a growing baby. Also, my mother had 7 late gestation miscarriage before I was born, something that doesn’t shine favorably on the fertility of her daughters.
    To anyone willing to grant the gift though surrogacy has my utmost respect and admiration.

  23. I’m so glad you wrote about this. I want kids someday, but for now I’m in that stage of my 20s where being pregnant seems so glamourous–even having a baby. But having a CHILD scares the bejesus out of me. I don’t want kids. I want pregnancy. I want babies.

    Thank you for your honesty! I know a lot of women who choose to be child-free, and others who are in the same boat as you of wishing to pursue a career and lifestyle of surrogacy. The misunderstandings and sheer ignorance they have to face shows enormous strength; I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your goals!

  24. I completely understand what you’re saying! I have told people since I was 13 that I want to be pregnant and the response was always people trying to talk me out of having a teen pregnancy and me having to explain that I am smart enough to not do that; I just ended up keeping it to myself. I am newly 18 so I still don’t intend to do surrogacy quite yet, but I plan on having a couple of children and then afterwards I’ll most likely do surrogacy.

    While I intend to have children in the future, I really do see what you’re saying because even now I want to be pregnant SO badly, but I do not want children until I have a very stable job, home, and environment in general. I wish I could be a surrogate now, but that’s just not in the cards. I don’t have the resources to even be pregnant and there are also the restrictions you’ve mentioned. Plus, I know very well that I am nowhere near ready emotionally.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I squealed a little when I saw this because I finally found someone who gets it. Thank you so much for this article.

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