Losing my maternal drive: maybe I really don't want children

March 12 2012 | Guest post by Lauren
Photo by schmollmolch, used under Creative Commons license.

For years, it has beaten inside. A rhythmic throbbing that grew so quickly, so loudly, that it merged seamlessly into me. A dull hum that lay within — a backdrop to life's scenes.

I've known for a long time that I want to be a parent. Not knowing in a conscious way… more an underlying assumption. Having a child was never my life's aim, nor an all-consuming passion. I wasn't a girl who played with dolls or developed an impressive collection of miniature infant paraphernalia. I was, in fact, a bookish child — thoughtful, quiet and analytical.

In my teens and early twenties, I envisioned being a parent. I just assumed this was how life unfolded. But I didn't give the idea more than a passing thought. Motherhood would occasionally flicker across my horizon, or dip briefly into my dreams, but it wasn't a concrete vision. It was more a pale, wan ghost of a future, a glimpse of a me, somewhere, down some road.

And then, as I rambled through my twenties, collecting a partner, marriage and career, motherhood began to coalesce into a solid shape. A decade of travel, work, marriage, upping sticks, country-moving and general merriment disappeared in dust. And the hum, the constant companion, burst into flames. No longer a gentle, unobtrusive presence, it now insistently tugged at my being. It was a burning need. My baby radar kicked into overdrive, and an alien invasion of maternal feelings settled in for the long haul.

I read obsessively about parenting, devouring books and articles on birth and conception. I planned, in intricate detail, the first year of my fake-child's life. Staring wide-eyed at pregnant women on the bus (sorry about that, lady in the red coat), I felt a trickle of disappointment as each month bled away. I felt gripped by a wave of unfamiliar fever. I'd never really understood when other women spoke about baby fever, and was chagrined to realize I was seized by it.

I dreamed away several years — the perfect birth, my ideal names, daycare arrangements, finances and a million other over-planned activities. And yet, deep inside, I knew we weren't yet ready for a baby. It pickled my brain — the feelings flew through me whether I wanted them or not.

At times, I grew tired of being hijacked by these uninvited visitors. Other days, the excitement and dreaminess provided welcome refuge from the mundanity of daily life. And one day they simply vanished. Overnight, my captors snuck out of the house and disappeared, leaving little trace of their previously-constant existence.

I have no idea what happened. One minute, I was boiling with the need to have a baby, staring melty-eyed at little ones in the street. The next, I was cold and empty. The desire had extinguished itself, leaving hollow indifference in its place. I riddled over what force possessed the power to do this. Perhaps it was a particularly difficult babysitting session with a screamy, parent-missing girl. Or maybe a heartfelt conversation about parenting with my partner.

But I've barely thought about parenthood. I have however, given a great deal of thought to why I no longer think about parenthood.

Once the puzzlement abated, I reveled in the re-discovery of my old, independent, level-headed self. It was a relief to be freed from the ravages of an all-devouring beast. But that beast, for many months, was a companion. A background friend. Company on a long train journey. A pleasant dream. A happy future. Oddly, I felt a little bereft without it.

After a few days, abandonment panic set in. What if the beast never came back? What if I never wanted children? All those years — 29 of them — of assumptions, of a future laid out, of anticipation: gone. Was I the type to be childless? Was that me? Is there even a childless type? I always, always always assumed that I would be a mother. Eventually, some day… but now I am beginning to think I may not want to be at all.

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. From my own experiences, and those of my friends, I've decided that there are two kinds of wanting a baby: biological and semi-rational. A lot of my friends have seen the biological come and go, and were happy to see it go (semi-rational being absent). In my case, I felt them both, so after much over-thinking, I decided to have a kid, and I'm happy I did.
    I'll never know for sure, but I imagine the consequences of having a child you don't want are much worse than not having a child you wanted.

  2. As someone who's been in the throes of babyfever for the last couple years now, this is hard-hitting.

    We do want to have kids on that semi-rational level that Ms.C mentioned, so it's less a question of "if" than a question of "when." Obviously the hormonal part of me wants to GET STARTED NAOW, but I've had a really hard time trying to distinguish what I want from what the hormones want.

    I tried to explain that distinction to my husband, and he thought it was incredibly odd the way I distanced myself from the hormones, since technically ALL of our desires are driven by our brains/chemicals/whatever, so why would the desire to have a kid be so different?

    But the idea that I could want something with my entire being one day and suddenly wake up the next day and have that be gone… well, it's terrifying. In that "Wait, who am I? What makes me ME?" kind of way.

  3. Wow. This article really summed it up for me. It's very scary to think that I may not ever want kids. I have a friend who struggles intensly being single with 3 children and all of our conversations end up on how difficult it is raising kids. That tends to scare me and make me realize how much I like my quiet time, and that if I had babies that would all be gone in a second. That motherly urge is all but gone and I worry it wont ever come back.

    • Not exactly speaking from experience, but one day children aren't children anymore and quiet time returns. I guess it's a matter of when and if you are willing to give up the quiet time for a number of years and especially if you really want to not have that nice, quiet time without planning it in advance at least for the first few years. My mother is about to have an empty nest, but she never had trouble reminding us that she was also a person and needed her own space. She lived a life outside of her children without sacrificing any of our needs or her own, so it can be done. It's a toss up.

      • I totally agree! Most people who have children are only spending a fraction of their time actually raising them. Even though I will be a parent for ever, the "baby" years are short and intense. My parents have an empty nest and are having so much fun! I have also noticed that my mom somehow looks more fabulous and happy in the last 10-15 years than I ever remember. So, I feel very positive that we can look forward to more time as a couple, and time alone again.

    • So, ironically, I became pregnant literally days after I posted my original comment. I have to say that my feelings still haven't changed much. At 3 months I am in a bit of denial. I am not doing anything to harm the baby, but emotionally, I am not ready and a little resentful that this is happening out of my control. (And I know, you're never really ready for a baby) The few people I have shared these feelings with reassure me that since I can't feel or see the pregnancy it's normal to question it. I don't know. I am sincerely hoping that I see the light at the of the tunnel.

  4. This is really interesting. I think it conitnues to apply even if you have a kid. I have a son and am not sure I want another child. Sometimes I get baby fever and will want a baby, but I don't know if I am in for having more than one CHILD for all of life. It's crazy how I want very different things on different days.

    • Yes!! I have a 3 year old and after struggling through a very unexpected post partum depression, I pushed a 2nd kid back a little further than originally planned. Then I pushed it again. And finally last week I had to make the call to schedule my IUD removal and I just.couldn't.do.it. Do I want a squishy little baby? Yes. Do I want a sibling for my daughter? Yes. Do I want a WHOLE OTHER KID? No! (gasp!) So I finally just said, I may never be ready. And that's ok. We're going to stop planning and just play it by ear.

    • You nailed it. We weren't yet planning for a baby when I got pregnant but I was quite excited nonetheless. And I was very sure I want two kids back then. Now with a very energetic one-year old, I don't know whether the time will ever be right for the second one. My baby is certainly the dearest treasure I've ever had, but now I also know how much work it requires. And once it starts getting a bit easier, you really think twice about getting through the same thing again.

      • I second that motion. For a few months I was considering having another child, mostly out of biological need I think, and now taking a long hard look at how my son behaves at 2… Well, crap, I'd have to do ALL OF IT ALL OVER AGAIN! :O It's scary. The idea of an only child looks better and better even though I loved the baby phase. It's the not-baby, not-toddler phase that is freaking me out.

      • I wasn't planning my son, either! He was a welcome surprise. I think I just assumed that I would have two kids because that's what people do. I am loving the baby phase, and my son is still under 1 so I have a long time to make a decision. But with having two working parents it seems like it would be nice to dedicate all of our time and attention to our son.

  5. I liked this, but i want to know whether now that the biological urge is gone, the desire is still there at all. Now that you're free of the hormonal push to procreate, do you and your husband still want kids? What kind of conversations do you have about it? I'd love to hear how your choice progresses as your rational mind (like the commenter noted above) takes over and you plan your future out with more clarity.

    • The "this" button never works for me, but this, this, this!
      In a lot of the conversations my husband and I have about kids, I am mostly driven by a very strong hormonal drive to have kids. He is more on the rational side, and we often have to work to see eye to eye. I can't explain why I need kids so much, just that I do, and sometimes has a hard time making me look at the situation rationally.

      • Just a note on the "this" button — I've found if I reload after clicking, then it works. Have you tried that?

  6. I went through some of these feelings strongest in my early 20s and while I definitely do not feel that my body is over it's "baby cravings" as I like to call them, I am much better overall at recognizing what my body is telling me and deciding if I should listen to it [and the "OMG DO WANT!" both conscious and unconscious internal monologues that follow the body's signals] or not, just in general.
    Having decided personally that I'm in no position to both provide for and enjoy raising a child of my own, I've been able to consciously use some of my maternal instincts to help support and nurture myself, my friends, and the few children and young adults that are already a part of my life.
    I'm not certain yet that I won't still have a child myself someday, but I'm realistic about the likelihood of my lifestyle changing dramatically enough to allow me to make a different choice. And I recognize that I can still contribute to the world around me using the instincts, abilities, and skills I would be otherwise employing as a parent, as a mentor instead, and I can do so in a way which ensures that I may remain healthy, stable and sane myself. Not going to be everyone's way, but it's a way that thus far, is working out for me.

  7. Not even parents want to be parents fervently 100% of the time. I think you're just coming off your high. Also, there's really only so much stuff about pregnancy and child rearing that you can read before it starts to become redundant. You're just getting from that stage where you are having fun "expecting to expect" to that part where having a kid actually has to become a real-life thing, or not. The real-life part is scarier, and it's not always fun.

    When my husband and I started to try to conceive and having a kid became an actual real-life thing we'd have to face, it was scary! Suddenly it mattered that I'd never been to Paris, etc.

    Anyway, you can either just have a kid anyway or not, whatever you'd like. Either way, you'll be mainly happy with your life, but you'll also think wistfully sometimes of the other option and wonder how your life would have gone.

    • That's such an important thing to remember! No matter what you choose, it's okay to have those wistful moments where you wonder about the alternatives. It doesn't mean that you "chose wrong" or anything! Thanks for the wise reminder. 🙂

  8. Childfree is a great life choice. I can totally see its appeal. I do think you have to sort of "strike while the iron is hot" when it comes to having kids. I had baby fever right after I got married, to my surprise: at 24 I was obsessed. I have 2 kids. I still sometimes have the overwhelming urge to procreate, but now that I have kids and we're thisclose to being beyond the baby phase. It's hard to justify more kids at this point, but I'm sure glad I've got the ones I have.

  9. Like a lot of the other commenters, this really rang true for me as well. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one out there that was left confused when the intense bio-desire exited stage left. I know I'll end up having kids someday but it's more for my partners benefit, Having a child and being a Dad is his life's ambition. I'm sure I'll love the squirming poop machines( ;o) ) and enjoy being with them but. . . Logic has kicked in and hormones have kicked out. I don't want to give up my motorcycle, my horses, or my job, even for a year. I know it's selfish but maybe when Selfish Steph gets tired, baby crack Steph will come back. . . Until then, after a lot of soul searching, I'm ok being child-free.

    • I have one two year old and am pregnant with a second we were unsure we wanted…but I have never even considered giving up my horses. I ride until I am so big I cannot get on and I am back on as quickly as possible. I think it is good to remember that selfish parts don't go away even if you have kids. The kids just get Papa time and I get horse time or hike by myself time or just time to read a good book! We are excited to have two and teach them both to ride and snowboard and skateboard and kayak and all the things we love, but I will still take me time. Everyone needs it, parent or not!

  10. I want to be you! After several years of unexplained infertility (yippee!) I have swung from 'GODDAMMITNOWNOWNOW' to, 'meh, seems like a pain.' Although our families are not blatantly pressuring us, we feel it (not many offspring on either side). I've said many times that if I could just turn off the biological pull, I would. It would make life so much easier.

  11. I keep refreshing this page in hopes of reading other people's wise comments – only fair to contribute too I suppose.

    I just realized over dinner on Saturday night that I am having a slightly similar feeling. I've been baby-cracked-out since I was 15, even when my mother would have me babysit her friend's grandchildren for a week at a time. Her idea of birth control I guess.

    My husband and I married young (23 and 26), and we have both expressed excitement at having children, as well as wanting to have them early on. We set several goals of must-do's and nice-to-do's before we begin trying to conceive, and set a time line. We've achieved the vast majority of those tangible goals and are making progress towards the others.

    And then over dinner, when we realized that our timeline was quickly approaching, the baby-crack hormones made the quickest departure I could imagine. I almost felt dizzy with it. For me, it appears the easiest way to get rid of the baby-crack hormones was to seriously start planning for timing, and what that would have to look like. That's not to say my conscious mind hasn't decided that that is still what I want – it is – but the hormones have gone from surging, to almost silent. And after the 10 years of feeling that desperate need, that silence is eerie.

  12. I really appreciated this article. I had my first child at 24 and another 2 years later, and it has been rough. At times I feel like I'm losing my maternal drive. I remember distinctly thinking I'd never have kids, then boom the fates have another plan. I'd say go with the flow and be happy for what you have, you never know what life will throw at you.

  13. I really needed to read this posting today, thank you.

    I've only in the last year started to get the biological baby urges (they started when I turned 31). Up until then, and in between bouts of hormone-induced baby-gawking, I was pretty sure that I didn't want children.

    I just got laid off and my husband and I aren't going to be financially ready for kids for at least two years. This delay has sparked a new-found panic that I may miss or may have already missed my ideal child-rearing years.

    I still don't know what we're going to do, but the reason I needed to read this posting is that I have no one in my close circle of friends to talk to – they all had kids when they were in their 20s. Anyway, knowing that others out there have to grapple with these urges is comforting.

    • I'm in the exact same boat. I was 31 when I started having baby urges after not knowing if i wanted one for so long. Then my husband and I realized we shouldn't have one for awhile due to my husband going back to school to change careers. Now I'm wondering when we'll ever have one. My husband seems to think that i'm still young (just turned 32) and that we have plenty of time to have a family. It is true, we do have time, but I have no idea how hard it will be for us to get pregnant, how difficult it'll be physically to have a kid if we wait until I'm 35, and if we want two kids, at least one of them is going to be born after i turn 35. He's also 5 years older than i am, so he will be an older father. I know that people have kids when they are older all the time, but I, well, I guess i just don't know if I want to do that. Plus, I can feel my baby-wanting hormones waning. I sort of just feel like throwing in the towel and saying let's forget the kids. I don't know…

      • I can't speak from experience, but everyone always says that if you wait for the right time, it will never happen. If having children is really that important to you, you will make it work.

        • Agree!! Our life is so chaotic there was never going to be a right time. Of course if your decision is to stay child free, that is awesome too. Many of my close friends made that decision and I will not lie…I sometimes envy them!

      • it is such a dilemma. I've never been all that keen on having a baby, but then you realize that in your late thirties, you are forced to plan. That makes it much less fun and puts it straight into the "tasks" list that we all work with.

        My partner seems to think we've got time. I'll be 39 in six months. I'm not ready to have a baby but having donated ovum when I was in my twenties for women in their late thirties/early forties, there isn't time for me to play around any longer.

        I desperately want ten more years to travel, work, and be free. I want to be a parent, but I don't desperately want it.

        What to do?

  14. It's a little different for me. I was baby cracked out from the time I was 16 on, fast forward just a few short years and two crappy serious relationships and I'm engaged and wedding baby cracked out. Then BOOM was I being childish this WHOLE time? It all got so serious and I ran from it. I called off the wedding and he moved out, and I felt happy and okay with all of my decisions. I loved him but realized I was 23 and had plenty of time for this stuff. Then we had a drunk night of loving make up sex, and my next call to him was 5 weeks later. I am still not baby cracked out, I kept thinking that excitement would come back and even though I love every single one of her little kicks and him, I feel like I'm drowning and I feel so ashamed because of it. I left a public pool because I responded to someone's "are you excited?" with NO even though I meant to say YES!!!! Of course I am!!! Because I was for so long, and shouldn't I be now?

    I already love her, I love him, but that euphoric everything is going to be so fun and perfect and oh my god i have to have this NOW NOW NOW went away months before I conceived. I'm still embarrassed by my lack of enthusiasm but not everyone blissfully enjoys pregnancy anyway, right?

    I guess what I'm saying is shoot, baby cracked out or not you may still have those babies you dreamed about for so long! You just might not be as excited when it happens haha.

    • I actually get this; I was almost 22 when my son was conceived, and he was unplanned. I'd had the baby-rabies since our friends (in their late 20s) decided (and succeeded) to have a baby, and it was bad. I mean, like, nearly-ruining-a-good-relationship bad.

      I'd finally calmed the hell down and realized we had time. We weren't even married. We were talking about saving up to go on a trip overseas. And there was this really great, peaceful moment. No more weeping over late periods. No more making my fiance, who didn't know if he wanted kids, totally uncomfortable. More enjoying the life we had.

      Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant.

      Whoops.

  15. I too was baby cracked out for all of my 20's but I was married to someone who wasn't ready or ever wanted children. I couldn't squish the urge and decided to divorce him (for several reasons) after ten years of marriage. I felt sad and realized I was 29 single and probably wouldn't find the one who I was meant to have kids with. Baby fever left, I went through a fun 6 months of single hood before I met a man fell so completely in love that it was all consuming, we met and married in 9 months and within days were pregnant and my baby fever was replaced by happiness and excitement. I focused on the crazy journey ahead and have never gone down the what if path. Sometimes life changes our desires but, ultimately life is what you make it and sometimes it turns out beautiful. I love both my husband and baby with all my heart and soul! I know however if he hadn't come along I could have been content single and childless, however; married to the wrong person and childless made me bitter. Food for thought.

  16. I am 34 now and I have never had any biological urge to procreate. After a lot of thought, I decided to get pregnant for the above-mentioned semi-rational reasons (3 month along now). Mainly because I was afraid to regret it if I waited too long and it wouldn't work out anymore. So…no, you don't need the hormone thing to do it. You can just do it anyway, if you decide to.

  17. I am totally baby cracked-out right now. During my early and mid 20's, I was a little freaked out about babies. Some of my friends started having them and I was not at all interested in the prospect. I was also in the middle of changing a career and planning my wedding, so maybe it just wasn't the right time. I knew I wanted children some day, but it wasn't that fever.

    Now, in my late 20's (30 in June!) I've had baby fever for the past year or so. I don't know when it first started, but when another one of my friends became pregnant, it all escalated inside of me. It's hard because while my husband wants kids "some day" I can't really explain how I have this urge to have them RIGHT NOW.

    I don't know if the urge will go away or not. I sort of hope it doesn't because it's making me actually confront the fact that I want children instead of letting my husband's uncertainty drive the discussion. It took about six years of dating for us to get engaged, so I hope the baby thing doesn't take that long…

    • This sounds a lot like me and my husband, right down to the six years of dating. He has an easier time sticking with the status quo and not making a decision until it's too late and options start to disappear, and I wanted to make sure we made a conscious decision to either have, or not have, children.

      Our solution: if we're not trying by my 30th birthday, we'll schedule a vasectomy. It's really put things in perspective for him, in a good way – not having kids becomes a conscious decision instead of a lack-of-a-decision, and it gives him a bit of the biological clock feeling. While my fertility has an undefined, natural deadline, his now has a well-defined artificial one. It wouldn't work for everybody, but it's really helped put things in perspective for us.

  18. I always semi-rationally knew I wanted children. It has always, since I was 16, been a rational thought, not something I felt. I spent my 20's single and happy with no real deadlines. As friends started to get married in my mid 20's I got the first pangs of fear that I might not make this future a reality. Then I made the rational decision that if I never found a partner I would foster or adopt. The fear part subsided because I rationally knew that I could control my future.

    Fast forward a few years and at 27 I met my wonderful partner and guess what? Baby-crack! It was only about three months into our relationship when I started feeling it hard core. I can't even look at babies in public because I am afraid my face will give away the baby urges inside.

    I always rationally knew I wanted to be a parent. It was not until I found the right potential dad that I really started to FEEL it. We are not ready to have kids yet, not for some time. But it is still kind of cool that my body so strongly reacted to him. If is goes away at least I still know rationally that I want kids.

    • Can someone please explain to me the rational reasons to have children? I'm being completely sincere in this request because regardless of how I feel hormonally, I can't think of a single rational reason to have kids.

      • The only semi-rational reason I can think of is to continue the species, although that doesn't really affect the individual concerned. Another "rational" reason I've heard is to have someone to take care of you when you're old, but that's ridiculous as there are so many reasons your children may not want or be able to look after you!

  19. Thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for your wise comments on my article! It's such a relief to know that I'm not alone in feeling this. The notion that this is a hormonal vs rational battle, and needing to sort out which feelings are hormonal and which belong to the heart or head really hit home for me.

    I was also struck by the idea that as we started to seriously consider having children in the next few months, the realities of sleepness nights, what we'd have to give up, and everything we've not yet accomplished became very clear.

    It's definitely going to be quite a journey for us as we sort through our feelings. I'd love to do an update in a few months, if y'all want to read it.

  20. I was always ambivalent about having children. I had a short bout of baby-crackdom, from about age 25 to about 27 (maybe less). But before then, and after, I always felt uncertain.

    Then, I got pregnant at 33, and was ABSOLUTELY THRILLED!!! I had so many plans and so many dreams of the "way things would be", it was SUCH an exciting time. And, then, unfortunately, my son died at birth. For about a year I wanted to try again, but then my fiance and I split up. Then I was desperately searching for a new relationship, which didn't materialize, thank goodness – I was in NO shape to have a relationship, or a child for that matter.

    Then, I turned 40. And I realized, I may never have another child. And I was actually fine with that. In fact, I thought it was a great idea to not have a child. I thought it was such a great idea, I had my tubes "tied" (not exactly the procedure, but close enough analogy). And I think it was a great decision for me.

    I'm an Offbeat Auntie, and my 3 year old nephew is SO great, funny, smart, always trying to negotiate to get what he wants. But I see what his mother goes through every day with him, especially now that she and her husband are splitting up, and I realize, I don't want that. Don't get me wrong, she LOVES her son, and is SO glad she had him. But, it's hard, harder than anything I could ever imagine.

    No matter how it turns out, you'll make the right decision, just by virtue of the fact that you are putting so much thought into the decision. And being an Offbeat Auntie is certainly not the same as being a mom, but it has its own special place too.

  21. I don't know about anyone else, but I have this type of intense feeling about stuff and then it goes away. Like a year or so ago I was intensely interested in having a wedding, but it died down. Now I'm intensely interested in getting and decorating a house, and that is starting to die down a little.

    For me, I'm just that kind of person, I obsess over things for a while and then eventually I don't really care much (except for dogs, I have always obsessed about dogs!)

  22. I've never felt the baby crack feelings that so many women speak of. I definitely believe they are real, they just never came to my neighborhood.
    I knew early on that I was not going to have children; that desire just was not in any part of my being. However, I finally gave in to my husband's request (demands/pleads/etc) to have a child after 5 years of marriage. How two people could date for three years, get married and never discuss kids is an entire OTHER conversation.

    Our daughter is now 16 month old and I tell people all the time that parenting isn't as terrible as I thought it would be.

    The point I'm coming to (in a very round-about way) is this: I am pregnant again with our second child. This child was a decision made by me for my daughter. I (BOLD – UNDERLINE – ITALIC)… I don't want another child, but the rational part of me wants her to have a sibling, so sometimes that rational part can make a decision without the help of emotions.
    With this decision, I've fully joined the parent club by doing something completely and TOTALLY for my daughter. I know I will love this other child and be an awesome mom to both, I just laugh when I think about what the me of 5 years ago would think if she saw me.

    • So, are you glad you "gave in" to your husband?
      Did it change your life in the way that you expected?
      Do you think you'd have been happy without children?
      Do you worry that you will regret having children and will resent them or your husband at any point?

      I ask because I've spent the last 10 years saying I did not want children, but my fiance definitely does. He says that if we didn't have children, he'd still want to be with me, but he still believes he can convince me (and he might). I've told him several times to really think about it and if he absolutely needs to have children which I can't promise him, he should decide if he wants to stay together.

    • I know what you are talking about exactly! I also am pregnant with a second I did not feel sure about wanting. But I did want my daughter to have a sibling as my husband and I are both very close to our siblings. Funny the things we do for love. I know it will all work out but I cannot help but think ' what have I done!' occasionally.

  23. I am so GLAD that other women seperate the "biological need" and "actual want" for a baby.

    I mean, a baby is pink and squiggly and adorable, what's not to like? Then again, this is a small human who you have raise and be responsible for for ever! Aaaah!

    I have always had big ambitions, and settled comfortable down in my child free-ness. I have worked very hard for 3 years and may finally have my big career-chance in august. Having a child now is NOT an option.

    The deal is that my biological clock have been ticking loud for a year, and we thought we could try conceiving this spring. Now that I FINALLY have my big career-boost that I have bled for, why am I so sad that I have to wait 1,5 year to conceive?

    Damn you, bilogical clock!

  24. I never read or post on Offbeat Mama, but today I felt like browsing. And sure enough I found an article that spoke to me.

    I'm 29 myself, and when I was 23 – 27 I had an overwhelming desire to make use of my baby bucket. Oddly enough though was as my boyfriend and I became more committed my desire to procreate waned significantly. It was a little alarming because at first I thought it was about HIM. It wasn't and it isn't (I'm planning on proposing to him), but I can't get myself excited about -having- a baby. Regardless, I still wanted to be a mother so I started to explore the prospect of adoption.

    Some friends have balked (called me chicken or said it wasn't fair to waste a working uterus), but the more I think about it I realize that's what I really want. The novelty and wonder of being pregnant faded, but my desire to be a mom is still there.

    • "waste a working uterus"? Wow. That's wrong and insulting on so many levels. Good on you for going with what's right for you. (Did these people never consider that the babies and children up for adoption are deserving of a loving home, and to not adopt them would be a "waste" of that home?!)

  25. I was never particularly intersted in having kids. I played "house" as a kid, but always under the premise that I was an older sister taking care of younger siblings. With 30 approaching soon, my partner and I decided in that semi-rational state to "try' and see what happened. We had decided long ago that if we tried and we couldn't have kids then it wasn't meant to be and we'd move on. We both felt particularly strong either way, more of a "meh, let's see how it goes."

    We got pregnant on our first shot.

    I now have a 12 week old baby boy who is an absolute delight. I cannot imagine not being his mother. While it's not a baby-crack obsession/love, it's this quiet amazing deep love and joy that I have, where I look back and think, 'wow, how could i have thought I wouldn't want this?'

  26. Wow! I totally agree with you. But I still want the kid. Actually I don't want a baby. I dread the whole process. But I want a family and that's how they start as screaming infants so I am resigned to it. My coworkers give me a hard time about it, "HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE BABIES? You can't have a child and feel this way!" This bothers me because I don't hate babies, I just don't think they are adorable. They are a huge responsibility, beyond any full time job and not PETS! I think my one coworker thinks her kid is a poodle and not a person. My mom assures me I am not odd just rational. I hope she's right. But I completely understand the choice to not have kids. But for me I know when I'm older I'll miss not having the family.

    • I was kind of surprised when my mother in law told me she didn't care for babies but liked kids, but I totally get it. The baby time goes by so quickly even though it might feel like forever at the time, and most of their life they'll be a cool little person, and then big person! So I think you're better off wanting a KID then wanting BABY! 🙂

    • You can always adopt/foster a non-baby kid… I think especially if they are young it could be very good for them to stay with one family, and you don't have to deal with the screaming, hairless poodle…. 🙂

      That said, I really know nothing about this, sorry if I lead you down a wrong track. I always felt that I would want to help kids who weren't just born, because you so rarely see anyone stepping up for them, preferring babies instead.

  27. I had overwhelming baby rabies during the middle part of my 20s, which was made worse by teaching adorable preschoolers. We hit the semi-rational stage (two decent jobs, health insurance, mostly permanent home) when I was 28. I didn't want to have kids after 32 and I knew I was not going to going to great lengths to get pregnant. My husband and I planned a vacation to Vegas, came home, and I had my IUD out.

    I got pregnant pretty much immediately, spent the next 30ish weeks sick, in pain, and on partial bedrest. I lost my job because I was out on disability for so long. After that came a horrible birth experience and severe postnatal depression. Having a baby made it very clear to me that I someone who probably should have chosen not to have kids. I love my daughter to bits, but I'd never do it again.

    The upside is when you spill all that, you usually quell any further "Your kid needs a sibling." business.

  28. I didn't want kids growing up. But even I, a person who wasn't that into having a kid of my own, entertained the notion for about a year. I read a ton of books, looked at names, planned rooms, etc. But I also knew that we weren't ready or really driven. When we as a couple, finally sat down and said "Let's make a firm decision. Yes or No". Like flipping a coin, you realize you DO know the answer, and for me it was an emphatic NO! So we didn't. I'm nearly 40 and zero regrets. If you ever want to bring a child into your life you can adopt or volunteer or spend time with the many kids out their (some probably in your own circle of friends and family) and need it.

  29. I always thought I would have kids someday but devoted most of my growing-up years to childcare. I began babysitting at the age of 9! And worked as a professional nanny for over 12 years. I really enjoyed the children I cared for but never became attached. I actually found it quite easy to jump from family to family because taking care of children was my job, not my life.

    I got married at 34 and my husband and I are childfree. We did struggle a bit with our decision but intellectually understand that it would be unfair to bring an innocent life into the world, and into the arms of a babysitter.

  30. What I have to say echoes a lot of what twenty-something had to say, but this is definitely hard-hitting being that I am a couple years into my own "maternal drive." Right now I am also 2/3 into my 1st year teaching, and this shit is hard. There have been days when those little puppies (29 of them, ages 6-8) really gave me a run for my money. I have felt so hopeless I've wanted to cry. When little so-and-so hits another kid for the millionth time, it gets old. When the whining or the fake-sick excuses or the unnecessary screaming make me lose my patience. When they're rude to each other, or rude to me, or rude to their parents, or rude to someone else's parent, or rude to the principal . . . But even through all that, I still want a kid! It seems quite irrational of me. Reading your piece really hits home, because I feel like my identity is so wrapped up in wanting to be a parent. Nothing, not even many misbehaving young children in one room with me for hours on end, has seemed to make me "un-want" children. Not yet.

  31. Great article! I really needed to read something like this because for a while now I thought I was losing my mind a little bit, my story is the same as many of the others but basically wanted kids desperatly between 17-23 now at 25 I could not think of anything worse to do to myself and my life, my 39 te old partner wants babies yesterday but I don't want to give up my awesome job/life/home/whatever, I used to like hearing friends talk about the gory details of raising kids but know I have to tell them to keep it positive because evey story about a sleepless night or a major tantrum puts me off even more, it does not help that I work with some of the most gorgeous children ever created, I would much rather take a few of those ones home instead of having my own…( obviously not in a dodgy kidnapping kind of way though)

  32. I had a long, soul-searching "do I want to have kids ever?" period my freshman year of college. I am not exactly sure why I was thinking about it then; I had never really wanted kids that much, nor really a family of any kind. Maybe it was becuase I was 18 and had never even been on a date, and I felt that my prospects for any kind of future family was basically nil.
    But then I met my now-husband, and after our first year together the baby-craze hit. It was a shocking revelation to me, since, again, I had never wanted kids before, but I could easily see myself happy having children with this man in the future (or even right then!), and it was such a nice thing for me to accept that and be happy in it.

    But now we're a year into our marriage, and that baby-craze is gone. We had talked about having kids before we got married, and both agreed we would, and now I feel like such a bad person because I no longer want to. Part of it is that we recently got dogs after only ever having cats, and they seem like so much work and worry and it's unfair to them that we are gone all of the time and I resent them when I want to play games or read but they need to be walked or fed. I simply know, rationally, that I am not ready to expand our family, and I don't know that I will ever be or ever want to again.Another big part of it is that I am not perfectly happy and comfortable in my life right now; there is a lot going on (school, work, new house, dogs) and I have never dealt well with stress. But a future with kids seems more depressing and stressful to me, wheras one without seems at least more hopeful.

    The other problem is that my husband still wants kids (because his mind hasn't changed like mine), and the guilt I feel about that makes everything even worse. I can see me agreeing to have kids for him, but I can also see that leading to resentment and depression in me (which I'm already having to fight because of the dogs, stupidly).

    Anyway, it's my life story and I'm sorry it's so long, but it's nice to get it out there, and maybe some of you amazing ladies will have something comforting to say.

    But it felt so nice to see that my sudden dirth of baby-fever was probably entirely hormonal. Now how to deal with that change within my family.

    • a) Please tell me your screen name is from "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."
      b) I, too, fight depression because of my dog. "Ugh, I don't want to go out, but I don't want you to poop in the house, either… Maybe I can just stand by the door holding your retractable leash… Then I got outside and you pooped outside…" It's not stupid, it's just the Nature of the Beast, so to speak.
      c) The depression is just one of many reasons I feel like having kids would be Bad News for me. My husband wants kids while I have made no secret about the fact that I am uncertain. In fact, before we got married, I said to him – more than once, actually – "You need to accept that I am up in the air, and that in the end I may decide I don't want kids." He insists that he "could get over" not having kids, and I am not sure if he is minimizing what his disappointment would be, or if he doesn't fully appreciate how big a decision it is, one way or the other. On the one hand, I do see many great potential outcomes of having a child; on the other, I know that I have limited patience with myself, so how would I be with a kid. Heck, I spent a week and a half babysitting friends' perfectly normal 3-year old whom I like, and I was losing my mind with boredom and impatience, and she never even had a major tantrum or anything huge to complain about. I worry that I am almost 30 and the "prime breeding time," to put it crassly, is waning fast, but I feel it's too important a choice to rush into – despite knowing that sometimes kids "just happen" and it can work out just fine.

      tl;dr. You are not alone. It sucks, but we'll figure it out.

  33. "Motherhood would occasionally flicker across my horizon, or dip briefly into my dreams, but it wasn't a concrete vision. It was more a pale, wan ghost of a future, a glimpse of a me, somewhere, down some road."

    This was me, only it never became more than that. Eventually I realized the desire to have children was just never going to take hold. I'm okay with that.

  34. Whew—that was quite a read! The writing was self conscious; you analyzed your analyses! I think it's important to consider that obsession with something–in this case, motherhood–is not the same as a natural desire for it. And the cessation of the obsession has nothing to do with wanting or not wanting a child.

    If you can find a way to ease up on yourself (therapy, yoga, meditation), your natural being and authentic self might emerge, with your realer and clearer desires.

    Good luck.

  35. I too really wanted children throughout my youth and young-twenties. By my mid-twenties, I had changed my mind and convinced that I was Child-free by choice, for the rest of my life. I planned to travel, and do things, early retirement. To take care of my aging parents. And then I accidentally got pregnant, and here I am with a 10 month old, and trying to conceive another. Go where life takes you and try not to worry too much about it. If you are worried that you will never get the urge to have children again, maybe you are just trying to convince yourself that you don't want children still. Otherwise, you wouldn't be so upset about it. Sounds to me like a small voice is saying to you, "Yes, I still want to have children, but I'm worried that I will have to give up the life I've made for myself that I'm really enjoying right now…."

  36. I want to This all these posts, because they all speak in different ways, but from the heart.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one that's confused. I had a small baby crack moment for 1 year a while ago when a baby was the wrong time. Since then it hasn't reappeared and both hubby of 2 yrs and me are still unsure. I think he will go along with whatever I want, but I don't know what that is. Starting to get annoyed with the cryptic "you'll know". I'm 35 next, so I know practically that the time should be soon if it's going to happen. I've never been I must have children, or hate them either. What I know at the moment is I am definitely waiting until we have the house that we bought sorted so we can move in. That will put me in 35 land but we'll see what happens then. Maybe I'll want to nest, who knows. I have also considered adopting. We are a growing population and there are unloved children that need love. I don't think we are scared to not have kids but I do have friends who seem to think that we won't be happy knowing there is no-one after us. I think I'll be ok with that too if that is our decision. *sigh*

  37. How do you separate out the biological and rational reasons for wanting children? Hormonal birth control! Taking the pill is like making your body think you are already pregnant, so you can't get pregnant. For me and other people I've talked to, the extreme baby craziness doesn't happen when we're on the pill. Without the crazy hormonal urges, we can make a rational decision over whether or not we want children. (But also remember that hormonal birth control is not for everyone, and even people who do well with it generally can react differently to different formulations.)

  38. I was really hoping there was some sort of closure at the end of this, because I'm struggling with this exact situation and I'm getting really scared that time is running out now that I'm in my 30s. I could have written this article. I think it was my years of nannying? I went from baby fever to I Hate All Children these days, but what if I regret not having them because I wanted them for so long? Ugh.

    • Conversely, what if you have children and go back to (or never leave) the I Hate All Children stage? That sounds worse than regretting not having them. Either way, it seems like if you're not sure (and by "you" I mean anyone in this situation) then whatever you do you'll have regrets, because there'll always be "what if…?".

  39. I wanted to have babies/ be a mother from the time I was a little girl, loving, feeding and changing baby dolls, stuffing faux pregnant bellies under my barbie dolls dresses- and my shirts as a teenager, babysitting/cuddling my nieces and nephews, and even random peoples babies to get a baby fix, making plans for my future children with names and stuff I want to teach them, researching schools and homeschooling stuff, etc. I got married at 18, and have been with my husband (who I adore) for 10 years now, but he kept making me wait to have children because he wasn't ready yet. Now I'm 28, turning 29 soon (hubbys still not ready yet), and I feel like just a few months ago I still had those really strong urges, but then all of a sudden they disappeared! Now I'm scared that I missed my window. I feel indifferent about having kids all of a sudden, and i feel as though if I got pregnant now, I wouldnt be as ecstatically happy as I would have been for all of those years before. Im starting to think now that I don't even want kids anymore, which is crazy for me. I'm super upset about it because its all I ever wanted, and I would have made a great mother, but now my mind is like…eh. Like…I should have given my body what it needed back when it was ready for it, and now I surpassed my bodies ideal biological time frame for having children. I'm sure we will have children someday, but I feel I won't care as much, or want them as much now.

  40. Thank you for this post, and thank you all for the genuinely heartfelt comments. Reading through this was almost like attending a group therapy session! It was helpful to hear that there are others who struggle with this decision, no matter which way you decide. I have always wanted to be a mom, and even though I'm 41 & the hormonal urges may have calmed a bit, the "rational" side still feels that drive. I'm married to an amazing man who is about 7 years younger than me, and he just doesn't feel the same drive. This was something I knew when we first started dating, but I decided that I wanted to be with him more than I wanted kids. I too wish there was a switch I could turn off to make these feelings go away, but the maternal nurturing instincts are part of who I am. I loved reading what "thirty and not a bio-parent" had to say about redirecting those instincts to help those who are already in your life. I'll work on finding a way to do that. Thank you all for sharing your stories. Glad to know that I'm not alone here. ❤️

  41. Not sure how old this post is.. but I am in the exact situation. I have been in a biological RAGE for kids for YEARS. Even became a labor and delivery RN to be closer to babies…like insane (I was already a RN and still love my job) Tried to conceive, didn't work, was devastated.. and WHAM baby fever escaped me.. went through a depression and confusion.. and now several months later I'm still feeling like hmmm maybe I don't want kids or if I do I want them several years from now.. Such a strange phenomena, sometimes I fear it will smack mean the face again. Glad I'm not alone!

  42. Thank you for bravely sharing your experience with us. I'm relieved to read someone else going through this! I was always maternal and broody from a young age until the age of 24. I was always everyone's go to babysitter and I worked in a preschool nursery with new born to 6 year olds. Everyone always commented on how I would be an amazing mother, I was brought up where having children was a given. My husband and I spent our first date discussing whether having children was on the cards, we both wanted two children, a boy and a girl and funny enough we both had the same name picked out for a boy! Anyway a few years into trying to conceive I had an emotional breakdown, suffering with terrible depression to the point I actually tried ending my life. I think most of this was down to the fact that we were having fertility issues which included miscarriages into the double figures followed by the passing of my grandmother it all became too much. Anyway once I had gotten through that period in my life and started getting better I realised my urge for children was no more the only thing left was an after thought of my life long dream to be a mother. My maternal instincts had completely left me, I no longer found babies cute and found older kids irritating. What had happened to me to make me feel this way? I know when trying to conceive I shut myself away from parents and children due to the heartbreak, disappointment and jealousy surrounding infertility but why can I no longer stand kids and I can't visualise a future as a mother any more. Could this be my minds way of cushioning the blow that I'll never be a parent by defensively making me believe that I don't want or like children anymore or could I have done a total 360° flip and changed my mind about wanting children? We have been trying to conceive for nearly 7 years, I've seen 5 doctors who have all said that because I've had pregnancies before which ended in miscarriages that conceiving wasn't the issue and they weren't concerned but it's been about 5 years since my last pregnancy. The past week I've started to feel mildly broody again confusing me even further. I have no children, happily married, have our own home and I already own 70% of everything needed for a new born after wanting to prepare absolutely everything when we first started trying to conceive, I just wanted everything to be perfect. I didn't actually comprehend infertility until I suffered with it myself.

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