How do I know if I want a baby or just want to experience pregnancy?

September 6 2018 | Guest post by Astrid

Way back in 2011, we talked about wanting to be pregnant, but not necessarily to be a parent. This was one response that I felt might resonate with some of you.

How do I know if I want a baby or just want to experience pregnancy?
This will be true. Is it worth it for me?
Tired AF T-Shirt from Birch Bear Co

I am 28 and I am in a serious relationship and I have the strong urge to have a baby. However, like this woman, I feel I am more interested in the feeling of being pregnant and giving birth than actually being a parent.

This scares me because I am really bad with sleep deprivation. We recently adopted a puppy, and the one month we spent house-training him and not sleeping through the night (with him waking us up whimpering at all hours of the night) was probably the worst month of my life. And I wasn't even working at the time. But the sleep deprivation affected me so much it threw me off-balance and really started making me question things. I know that it's a temporary thing, but self-sacrifice as a parent lasts forever.

I am actually afraid I won't be a good parent at all because I won't be able to cope with the responsibility. But I ask myself, how does this make sense with my current, very raw urge to be pregnant?

I completely understand that I am not alone with this feeling. I don't know what research says, but it must be the common biological instinct that some women have about wanting to experience what it's like to have life growing in them. My idea is that this feeling makes us feel loved, important, and very much needed — which is not so easily felt on a moment-by-moment basis in everyday life. Being pregnant, having life growing in you, and depending on you and your body — all those things happen and it makes us feel important and cared for and by… maybe the universe itself?

It's like experiencing strong love. It's a feeling most of us are chasing I think. In my case, I am starting to think that's what it is for me.

Otherwise, my urge to become pregnant should be accompanied by a mature desire and readiness to BE a PARENT. For now, I only have the biological urge. So I am writing here hoping to find some clarity, being thankful to be able to share my very personal experience, and maybe find similar mindsets.

How do I know if I want a baby or just want to experience pregnancy?

  1. Maybe it ultimately doesn't matter. Once you're a mom, instincts will kick in that you've never dreamed of. Chances are that you'll be a great mom, even if you can't quite picture yourself this way now. It's unlike anything you can imagine before you're going through it.
    And while I can't deny that sleep deprivation is hard (mom of two terrible sleepers), it's a finite time that will be over sooner or later. So my advice would be to go for it if your urge is that strong.

    6 agree
  2. Obviously this might in NO WAY relate to your situation – and I hope it doesn't – but I just want to share my strongest feeling of wanting a baby or being pregnant. It was a few years ago and my 8 year long relationship seemed very stable from the outside. We looked at houses and discussed names for our future children and I wanted SO HARD to become pregnant that I started collecting baby stuff. Because I just wanted to feel that unconditional love towards someone. Because I didn't feel it towards my husband anymore. Because a year later I divorced him and felt incredibly free. My baby craze disappeared after the divorce and I can see what a substitute the idea of being pregnant was for a real, supportive relationship.
    Now I'm in a new loving relationship and I still wish for us to have children in the future but I'm not as obsessed as I was last time.
    Good luck figuring it out!

    11 agree
  3. I'm not a doctor or an expert on the subject, nor do I have children of my own but a thought popped into my head while reading this.

    If all you know for sure is that you have an urge to be pregnant but you don't know if you want to be a parent, why not become surrogate? You get to have the experience of being pregnant while also helping someone else start a family. I know on an emotional level it would still be incredibly challenging, but it's something to think about/research?

    9 agree
      • Yeah I've thought about that (I feel the same way as the author). I think the only way to be a surrogate without a previous viable pregnancy is to be the surrogate for someone you know/trust already.

        3 agree
  4. I remember when that same urge hit me, and I was around the same age you are now. At the time, it felt super urgent! That makes it so difficult to figure out what you really want. I suggest waiting for awhile, perhaps 6 months or a year, and see where that takes you. If the urge to be pregnant subsides, you'll know it was more of a physical reaction than a desire to parent.

    4 agree
  5. When you listen to what people have to say about being a parent, you usually hear something like, "Omg, I'm so tired and I'm sick of being touched constantly and why do they watch me poop and this is so freaking hard!!! But I wouldn't trade them for the world and this is the best thing that's ever happened to me."

    The bad parts of being a parent are pretty easy to understand. Exhausted, broke, tons of responsibility (and liability), fear of illness/childhood diseases/death/loss, etc. There's a lot to make a person say, "DO NOT WANT."

    The good parts of being a parent are harder to understand. Watching someone discover the wonder of the world, enjoying their giggles more than any other sound, the unique way children look at the world, etc. If you haven't actually experienced that, it's hard to really relate because, according to every parent I've ever spoken to, nothing else in life is like it.

    So my suggestion is to look at the aspects of parenting and ask yourself if you want it. Maybe make up a list.
    Do you want to be exhausted for years? Do you want to take the risk that this little being you love will be taken from you? Do you want to feel their hug? Do you want to read the same book a hundred times and watch them enjoy every single time? Do you want to worry about how to pay for diapers or college? Do you want the unconditional love of a child? Do you want the struggle of watching that child turn into a teenager? Do you want to hold their hand when they're scared? Do you want Saturday morning snuggles with Cheerio breath? Do you want to teach a small person about all the things you love and watch them fall in love with it too?

    Keep the questions going. Evaluate how you respond to them. If you want the good stuff, does that outweigh your desire to avoid the bad stuff? Only you can decide that. Talk to your partner about how you're responding to these questions. Get them involved (but don't let their feelings dictate yours!).

    12 agree
  6. I had a similar urge when I was in my late twenties. Ironically, once I met my husband at 29, I knew I still wanted kids but the urge to have them receded. Then a few years later I didn’t want to have kids. I watched other people (family) with kids and it all just seemed awful. The screaming, bad behaviour, throwing food, tantrums, backchat etc. It all just put me off. We were so happy just us and the cat and I couldn’t face the disruption of it all. I also wasn’t massively maternal and didn’t think I’d be a very good mum. My husband was amazing about it. Didn’t pressure me. We had a frank conversation and decided we would take it as it comes.
    Then, at 34, I felt ready. I got pregnant quite quickly. I hated pregnancy and my labour was really not a good experience but it was all worth it. For me, once I got pregnant I felt this absolutely all consuming protectiveness. And once they put the baby in my arms, that was it. All the doubts went. Then you’re just amazed and terrified about this little human who is utterly reliant on you and the sheer responsibility of it is overwhelming.
    But the reality is that I haven’t slept properly since he was born. Breastfeeding was amazing but so tiring. Nothing prepares you for the tiredness. But somehow it’s all just worth it. Every minute the experience life and the world around them is like you’re reliving it yourself. Everything is amazing. You see things in a new light. You read the same books over and over, sing ‘the wheels on the bus’ until you never want to see another bus again, you’re constantly exhausted but somehow for me that doesn’t matter. It’s hard but it’s so worth it.

    5 agree
  7. I got a huge primal urge to have a baby in my late twenties. I was in a stable, loving relationship with the man I knew I would marry and we were both working. Yet, I just felt it want the right time for us. I had stuff to do! I obsessed about being pregnant for around a year. I looked at baby items online, and made lists of baby names. I got mushy over other people's babies in a way I never had before. And then it just ebbed away. Not the desire to have a child, but rather the urgent, primal *need*. We got married, we both got our Masters degrees, and at the age of 34, I felt we shouldn't leave it much longer so we started trying and were very lucky that it only took around 6 months. We now have a beautiful, funny, charming 9 month old girl who makes my heart burst every day. The first 3 months of her life were the hardest thing we've ever done (she had bad colic), so much so that I'm not even sure about having another child, but the joy she brings to our lives is like nothing else. I wasn't particularly maternal, and before the urge struck me, I had zero interest in babies, but I knew it would be different with my own, and I was right.

    1 agrees
  8. I would wait a year & see how it goes. If your desire changes then maybe consider being a surrogate? I'll be honest w/ you though.. being pregnant sucks -I hated being pregnant! I counted down until my babies came. (I love the kids not the process of growing them.) The :back feet neck aches,constipation, squashed bladder, all day sickness making you sick, puking, sore boobs, heartburn, and ribs kicking is horrendous. Not to mention you may never have a flat unblemished stomach again! I am happy w/ my body- glad it's strong but my skin never went back because I'm small &the skin had to accommodate almost 8 lb babies. I will have a lumpy yet small stomach for the rest of my life with deepstrech mark divits. I don't hate my body , but it would be nice to have smooth stomach skin again..

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