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

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.

Comments on I thought I didn’t want to have a kid… until I realized I do

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

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

  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! 🙂

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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) 😉

    • 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.

  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. 😉 Cheers!

  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. 🙂

  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

  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!

  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 Doña 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!

  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.

  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!

  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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