How do I tell people I’m pregnant when I said I never wanted kids?

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"I can't keep calm, I'm having a baby" t-shirt from Etsy seller BumpCovers
“I can’t keep calm, I’m having a baby” t-shirt from Etsy seller BumpCovers

Some women dream of their child — the name, the sex, etc — long before they even meet the partner they make their baby with. That’s not me. I have always felt a selfish twinge when picturing myself having biological children. My friends had children, my half-sister did, and it felt good and right for them.

See, the ten years I spent so vocal about not wanting to bear children, people smiled condescendingly and told me, “Just wait,” muttering something about a clock. I didn’t suddenly freak out and then came baby — more the other way around…

With how nerve wracking this process has been, and how emotional I have become, when I am used to walking a very straight and logical line, I am almost positive I will punch any “I told you so”-s directly in the face. I spent many weeks preparing for news that I’d possibly have a sick child, and it’s been difficult to switch gears.

I’m excited, certainly, and I really, really love me some baby shoes. But there’s a sharp edge of reality to the excitement. Life is daunting and while what’s goin’ on in there is the thing most closely resembling a miracle I’ve ever encountered, I’m also weighed down by the responsibility that whatever my baby goes through is, in large part, my fault.

How can I communicate that I am still coming to terms with the dramatic shift in my life without coming off all doom and gloom?

Comments on How do I tell people I’m pregnant when I said I never wanted kids?

  1. I felt the SAME when I was pregnant. And after my one beautiful child who I adore… I still sort of feel the same. I don’t want to go having a ton of kids, and I don’t particularly enjoying the ooing and ahhing over the whole spectacle, but they way I did it was right for me. As for the I told you so’s, there were a few, but mostly excitement that I too boarded the baby train. Best of luck!

  2. When I got pregnant it was also difficult to share my news (for different reasons than you, but still difficult). I decided that the best way to do it would be a blanket announcement that came across as a little dry. I didn’t want to sound too excited, because I wasn’t, I was scared shitless, but I didn’t want to come across as scared shitless either. I think I wanted to make it sound like I was coming up to another challenge that I was prepared to face. I don’t k is if that’s how it did come across, but I tried. So after calling close family members and friends, I just sent out a series of texts and emails that said “There’s no easy way to drop this bomb, so I’m just going to do it. I’m pregnant.”
    Ta dah!
    I don’t remember a single individual reaction to that announcement. There must not have been anything that impacted me enough to overshadow what I was going through on my own. I hope that you get similar or better results with however you decide to announce.

  3. I felt exactly the way that you do about having kids- then I became pregnant myself. I freaked out, had a panic attack, and thought ‘I have a hard enough time taking care of myself, how am I going to take care of a child?’ I never wanted to have children, then I found myself having one. Something changed in me, especially when I first started feeling the little butterflies, and slight kicks, and I thought that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would tell people that I never wanted to have children, but that I wouldn’t give it up for anything, now that I’m going to have one. I now have a beautiful 6 month old baby boy who is my life. Would I have chosen to get pregnant? Probably not, but now I know what it feels like, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. Though I am of the variety of person who has been dreaming about babies since I was a kid I feel your pain on the “I told you so” Nothing I hate more than that. As if they had somehow had any say in how your life and perspective has changed. I think the best way to break the news would be if you simply say how you are feeling. It is a big thing, I have been planning my pregnancy since I was a teenager, (however weird that sounds,) and I still ended up waiting for another 3 years past when I thought I wanted a child because the very prospect of a tiny helpless being depending on me so utterly scared me crapless. Most people will understand how you feel and hopefully no one will get punched 🙂

  5. You say, “I’m pregnant!” It’s really that simple. Don’t pay attention to anyone that’s judgmental about it. It’s so incredibly common for women to say they don’t want children until one day they do. You didn’t want a baby when you didn’t want one, and now you do. It’s that simple.

  6. It’s very difficult to feel like you can talk to anyone about being really ambivalent about your pregnancy. I even had a planned, wanted pregnancy, but I still spent a lot of the time freaking out and wishing I could yell “let me off this crazy roller coaster!” somehow in our culture pregnancy has become this binary of get-rid-of-it or happy-happy-happy and it doesn’t feel like there’s much room for feelings in between.

    My example will not be very helpful. I mostly kept all my feelings to myself and let everyone be happy for me. I did, however, try to tell myself often that such feelings were very normal, and tried to be generous giving myself time outs to get away from everyone and nap or read books or whatever comforting thing made me feel better. (“pregnancy just makes me so exhausted!” is a great excuse for this!)

  7. Oh my gosh, it’s just like me! I have never really wanted kids and have been very vokal about it. Many of my friends have kids and have gone all “I am a MUM now, my personality is on hold for 5 years” and I’m scared shitless to become like them.

    Though I am not pregnant, we are planning to start this autumn, and are expecting a ton of “told you so’s”. The thing is that I don’t “need” a child, I just want one ;0) I will continue my job and do other stuff as well, but expect even more “this will happen, because it happened to me” crap.

    Good luck!

    • Your personality won’t go on hold, so I wouldn’t worry about that. It turns out that, after you’re pregnant, you keep waking up every day still being a person, with wants and needs and opinions and everything.

      Still, it can be nice to have friends who make a few accommodations for you when you’re a new mom. You feel tired, overwhelmed, and lonely, and I’ve been grateful to my few friends who’ve really stuck by me through these first few months. I’ve tried really hard to maintain my old partay lifestyle. I’ve shown up at bars at midnight, nursing infant in tow. But man have I ever appreciated the friends who said, “Listen, I really want to see you! I’ll come over in the afternoon and bring snacks. Don’t clean your house.” Then they’ve talked happily over a screaming baby, given me a hug, and listened to whatever boring child rearing news I have, without accusing me of “putting my personality on hold”–which, Lizzy, is a pretty hurtful thing to say about your friends.

      Anyway, those kind of friends you keep for a lifetime. I hope you have those kind of friends.

  8. The DAY before I found out I was pregnant, I told my sister that I was NEVER having kids because I was too selfish. I liked picking up and leaving whenever I wanted. I wanted to have people over my house after midnight and not worry about waking a baby if things got rowdy. I wanted to spend my money on ME and not a baby. I wanted to be able to sleep in for the rest of my life. I wanted to live the life of a childless married couple. The next day, I was eating sushi and I didn’t even make it out of the restaurant before I was in the bathroom throwing up. I got to the car and it dawned on me. I was LATE! I told my husband and he just said “Candice, you’re pregnant. I know you are.” I went and bought testS because I wanted to prove to him he was wrong. He wasn’t. I am pro-choice, but it never even entered in my brain to abort. I prepared for the worst. I cried, daily. I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I was only 26! I can barely get myself out of bed and take care of me. How was I going to take care of a baby?! I called my mom and told her and she thought I was joking. Then I started crying and she knew I was being serious. Then I called my sister, and she told me “well, since you’re telling me, I guess you’re done being selfish?” We both laughed. Then, I started planning for the birth of my baby. It was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not. Fast forward to today, the child I never wanted….I can’t live without. She’s my world. She’s 5 and her sister is 3. Yeah, there was another HOLY SHIT, I’M PREGNANT AGAIN?!?!?!?! scenario. That’s it though, I got my tubes tied. My kids are my world. Sure, there are days when I just want my freedom back, but it’s only a day (here and there). I wouldn’t change it for anything. The people I told I would never have kids, minus my sister, have never even said peep about it. They were so happy that I was bringing a new life into this world, either they forgot or just didn’t want to bring it up. I hope it’s the same way for the OP, because punching the I told you so’s in the face while pregnant might not be a good move (wait til you’ve had the baby ;))

    • Punching is best done while pregnant. They’ll feel like they can’t hit you back! Unless you’re one of those people who believes in fighting fair and all that jazz :-P*

      *emoticon used to emphasize the jesting tone of this comment

    • Thank you – this is how I currently feel still being selfish but on the edge of wanting that baby maybe. I know they must be a good thing or people would stop having them!

  9. I think that we do a huge disservice to women when we expect that their reaction to pregnancy must resemble something full of sunshine and miracles. It’s even more troublesome when you want to process the (normal) feelings of doubt and frustration and someone tells you, “You should be thankful do you know how many women would LOVE to be complaining about this.” Grr.

    I think you should find someone who recognizes the “gloom and doom” for what it is…processing. Good luck!!

    • Word. I got pregnant after trying (ie, being pregnant was what I wanted) but even I had that panic and depression period. Had another after the baby came, too. You can’t make such a major change to your life without mourning the life you used to have, even if the new one is what you want.

    • I have friends who have said exactly that because they are having issues getting pregnant.
      If we get there, I am totally going to block them from seeing anything pregnancy related on Facebook, because they all bitch when anyone complains that pregnancy isn’t that great – apparently no-one should make these complaints because it might upset someone who wishes they were in your shoes…
      Gah.
      I’ve not had a baby, but I know pregnancy is just not easy for some people.

  10. Sweet monkeys, thanks for asking this. I’m not pregnant, but after 10+ years of ADAMANTLY saying I didn’t want a kid, it dawned on me a few weeks ago that I maybe sorta kinda do. Husband and I joke that we’ll have to tell people “it was unexpected”, since the realization itself was, but other than that we have no idea what to say if it happens.

    • I’ve been adamantly child-free for a while, but in a sitting-on-the-fence way. I haven’t said no forever, just no for now. Except the outside world sees the no, not the “for now”.

      I dont want to have to lie and pretend it was an oops if its not. I know I was an oops and that caused all sorts of mental issues for me as a young adult. But once you tell one person it was an oops, you have to tell everyone the same story…

  11. As someone who is currently pregnant with a baby that I want and planned for – I feel you.

    As I got that positive test back, the panic set it. And while it’s lifted slightly, and continues to lift slightly with every milestone, it’s STILL THERE.

    The first time I hung out with my childless friends after my pregnancy was made public, I spend the whole next day crying and mourning the life I’ve always known. I keep trying to reassure myself that this is OK and normal, but since it’s my first, I haven’t been on the OTHER SIDE of pregnancy yet.

    The other commenters are already reassuring me, saying that they can’t even remember life before their kids. But it’s hard, yanno? To try to imagine that endgame when you have NO IDEA what you’re in for.
    (I’m rambling…)

    • It really is like anything else in life. You make adjustments, and eventually they feel normal.

      I’m pregnant with my second right now, and I’m STILL freaking out about how much life is going to change with one more kid in the mix. And I worked as a preschool aide before having my daughter. It’s still intimidating because no matter how much or how little experience you have, every baby and every family is different. So there is nothing wrong with freaking out a bit (or a lot, I’ll confess to a lot). There are things I miss from being child free, and there are things I will miss about only having one baby. The trade off is there are (And will be) lots of other things that I get to experience with kids than I wouldn’t/didn’t without them.

  12. I agree with other commenters… Most people probably won’t mention that you talked about never wanting a kid because they are too excited that you’re having one. Try not to build it up too much in your mind and just announce it in a way that feels authentic to you. 🙂

  13. My husband and I decided early in our marriage that we wanted kids. But, I also felt that our plans for a family were nobody else’s business so (at my behest) we told people for years that we weren’t interested in having kids. When we did start trying it became apparent that we had fertility problems so it was easier to keep up the facade with the world at large that we still weren’t planning a family. I personally found it easier to go through fertility treatments in relative anonymity with only close family and friends in on our secret. When we finally achieved our pregnancy (through IVF) and told people our news, very few even remembered that we’d said no kids. To those that did question us we just smiled and told them the truth that we had been lying for years! It all worked out very well for us in the end. We now have a beautiful 5-month-old daughter and are planning on making new siblings for her next year.

  14. I wish I had of read this when I was pregnant with little V! I too also said I NEVER wanted children and was also always told “you just wait” which annoyed me to death. I just decided one day that my feelings had changed and my boyfriend of many years was on board so we tried (and succeeded quickly) to get pregnant. My problem was everyone assuming that it was an accident! I still get comments from people to this day about always having said I didn’t want children and it’s just as annoying as being told I’d change my mind.

  15. I spent yrs proclaiming I never wanted to get married… But then one morning I decided I don’t want to just live with my partner and get pregnant out of wedlock at some point. on my mom’s side of the family i am one of two cousins who got married first before having a child. I didn’t want to be like the other 22 cousins who had kids, then got married because family pressure told them to.
    I had plenty of “I told you so’s” being shoved in my face but I just told them why I married him. Nothing fuzzy and romantic about it. He and I just didn’t want to get pregnant then get married. We knew we wanted kids together so that was inevitable, so we found marriage inevitable too. They kind of backed off at that point.
    What sucked next was when everyone was hounding us to get pregnant we shared that a doctor had told us it might be difficult to conceive. We were told to wait a yr before we started to worry (although we weren’t trying to get pregnant anytime soon, i just found it unusual that at 23 I still only got 2-3 periods a yr and had mentioned that to my dr asking if it would pose any problems later)
    When we announced we were pregnant only 6 months after our wedding we heard the “I told you so’s” again. Really annoying. I think people just like thinking they are “right”.
    Sigh. No idea how to really shut them up though.

  16. Make a video announcing it with Lyrics Born’s “I Changed My Mind”… 😀

    And then include a message expressing exactly what you said here!

  17. Fuck ’em! You’re the one living your life. Let them be smug all they want.

  18. Okay, this is going to sound crazy, but hear me out. What if you didn’t tell anyone you were pregnant, then when you have your baby, pretend you had no idea at all that you were ever pregnant, and submit your story to I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.
    Ha ha ha. Now that I’ve made that silly suggestion, everything else will hopefully sound like a much better idea.
    (Disclaimer: I don’t mean these comments to be offensive to anyone who seriously did not know they were pregnant until they went into labor. I have a feeling there’s going to be someone here that’s had that experience and is going to think I’m calling them personally ridiculous. I’m not. I’m calling the idea of pretending you didn’t know you were pregnant ridiculous.)

  19. I hate “I told you so”s because they’re generally a result of the person having been obnoxious about YOUR thoughts and feelings in the first place.

    I’m not even sure if it’s possible to truly escape the “I told you so”s. Those types of people tend to find something or other to target. A day after having my 1st child, I had people asking me when we were planning a 2nd. And I’m like, no way, no how. And I keep getting the whole, “Oh, you’ll change your mind” crap. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But it’s not their place to tell me what I’m going to do.

    So yeah, I get the frustration. Hopefully, they’ll just congratulate you and be excited for you because they “knew” it was going to happen anyway, instead of rubbing the “I told you so”s in your face.

    At any rate, I just wanted to throw in my support and wish you the best of luck. I was terrified with my first up until about 3 days after I had her. But then things settled down and now we just do our mother-daughter thing as best as we can. And it feels right.

    • “it’s not their place to tell me what I’m going to do.”

      MUST REMEMBER THIS.

      And you know what? I think you can get away with telling them its not their business, too.

  20. I honestly feel the same way even pregnant with number 2, although in the past 3 years I’ve discovered its not that i don’t want kids, i just dont want to become the stereotypical mom. I still don’t particularly like kids ( apart from my own), in fact i find them annoying and obnoxious ( I’ve felt that way since i was 9 or ten) any way with baby number one my husband told everyone, he was super excited, i begged him not to tell anyone, it almost felt like a dirty little secret to me; with out his encouragement i probably would have ignored the whole situation ( more because i was embarrassed because i had so adamantly not wanted kids and then here i am the first of my friends to have them) with number two i literally didn’t say a word to people outside of my family until it was completely obvious that i was pregnant and not just putting on weight. Like i said before it really comes down to not liking other people’s kids or those annoying women who dedicate every breathing second to being the perfect, trendy tv. mom, its like they’ve been replaced by a robot…. eww.

    • I don’t really like kids either! ha! I rarely admit that to anyone because I LOVE my kid.

  21. The original poster mentioned something about the child pssibley being sick, and this seems to add to her anxiety about telling people. Or maybe I’m reading it wrong and she WAS worried about a problem, then switched gears when she learned there wasn’t a problem? I don’t have a lot of advice about that part, except maybe don’t tell everyone about the potential problem. You might end up having to talk about it a LOT more than you need or want to.

  22. If it helps any, I was firmly in the No-Babies category before my first pregnancy. When I announced it, I was delightfully surprised by how supportive and excited most people were. There were a few who were really taken aback and snarky about it, but after 6+ years, I have realized that those people were not supportive in most situations and they have drifted from my life.

  23. Well I’m not pregnant yet but we are trying and I am in the same boat as I have spent a very long time saying I don’t want children – and with my ex, yeah thank god I didn’t! But with my husband, I totally do, but yes am really scared about potential ‘ooh we told you so’ and ‘ah so you’ve decided to be a ‘normal’ woman then’ or other crap. or people telling me how my life will change or my personality will change etc.

    My plan – so if it helps is: If anyone trots out some rubbish as illustrated above, I am going to say:
    “Do you feel that saying that is going to make me feel good or are you just trying to inflict your personal baggage upon me? Either way, I don’t appreciate your comments, so stop”. I appreciate this is the blunt version, but honestly I think that’s going to be the most polite thing I will be able to do – as otherwise like the OP I may well start feeling that I want to start with the punching!

  24. I always knew I wanted a child and even thought I’d welcome an “oops” pregnancy. Well, I got that oops pregnancy and I will never forget screaming my partner’s name from the other room whilst holding the positive pregnancy test. He had to scoop me off the floor after I dropped to my knees saying “I don’t want this, I don’t want this” over and over. Yes, quite the drama-queen. We both decided it was a happy accident and told people so but the comments about our shotgun wedding and unplanned baby still stung a little. But ya know, life is messy. Anyone who can’t understand that shit happens, hearts change minds and paths become redirected obviously hasn’t had much experience living. Oh, and that “holy crap, what have I done?” feeling doesn’t fade after your child is born. Sometimes I look at my sleeping daughter and feel the floor fall out from under me with the realization that her whole life’s happiness is wrapped up in me. No pressure 😉

  25. I once asked my parents why they waited so long (10 years after marriage) to have kids. I got an answer that I never expected: “We never wanted kids”. It was a weird feeling but I understand… They had abusive parents and a hard family life. Considering what they went through as kids, they did a great job raising my sister and I.

    I’m now pregnant with my 4th unplanned pregnancy with my husband. There are days when i think to myself “i can’t do this” But my kids are my life and I love them to pieces. Also, we still have friends over late and go out all the time. We just make our kids part of it.

    When we told people about this pregnancy they looked at us like we are crazy! 4 kids seems to be socially unacceptable. Ultimately, i know how certain individuals feel but it rarely impacts my life. Be strong for you and your family. And every feeling you are having is normal. Best of luck!

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