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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 šŸ™‚

  4. 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.

  5. ah i think you’ll make a fantastic mum when it happens; that was a very moving article šŸ™‚ 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!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!!!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. Aaw, I hope you get everything you dream of! And please let us know how it goes.

  13. 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!

    • 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!”

  14. 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.

  15. 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 =)

  16. 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.

    • 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…

  17. 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.

  18. 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! šŸ™‚

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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. šŸ™‚

  22. 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.

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