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

Posted by
"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. When I told people, there wasn’t a single smug face the whole time. Though with my closer friends there were a few people who felt it was their duty to bring it up. The convos with those few went,
    “But I thought you didn’t want–”
    “Yup. I’m still not sure, but, I am pretty excited!”

    By and large people *get* that babies are nerve-wracking, no matter where on the baby love/baby hate scale you landed before getting pregnant. I’m sure they’ll be gentle and if they’re not… well, they also will feel like jerks if they make a pregnant lady cry, so there’s always that.

  2. While I was never adamant about not having kids, I certainly wasn’t dead set on them either. And I can totally relate to your freaking out and thinking about the reality of what having a baby- and a child- means. I recently posted on fb that I was excited about becoming a parent for the first time in my pregnancy (At 6.5 months). Many people said things like, “I didn’t know you were sad about having a kid”, and “Don’t worry, you’ll be a great parent.” Um, yeah, I never said I would be a bad parent and I’m not sad about having a kid!

    The point is, I can relate to what I see as your realistic view of bringing a new life into the world. It is going to be really freaking hard and a huge shift in life! And it’s healthy to be intimidated by that- any sane and reasonable person should be.

    I think I dealt with it by 1) not talking about it a lot; 2) talking about how excited my husband is, and 3) being honest with those I felt comfortable with- yes, it will be exciting but it’s a huge change and there’s a lot to think about.

    Good for you for being honest with yourself. I think your reactions are completely normal and realistic.

  3. If it makes you feel better, when my friends who SWORE they would not have kids announced pregnancies, I LOST MY MIND WITH HAPPINESS. Not in a “I told you” way but in a “Oh my GOODDDDDDDD I always thought you would make the best mom in the whole universe, half because it wasn’t your whole universe, and now you are pregnant and I am so happy that my head is exploding, I love you I love you I love you.”

    For the record, they were still in the ambivalent place, and apparently me sort of loosing your mind and screaming about what an amazing mother they are going to be… was nice.

    So it might be awesome.

    PS I am not a self editor. So I just say that sort of thing, regardless if it’s the scripted response. It worked out.

  4. Even though I planned to get pregnant, it wasn’t just rainbows and sunshine and baby shoes, it was a big existential crisis. I found that no matter what I tried, NO ONE EVER GOT IT. I found that most people who ask “Are you excited?” are like those who ask “How are you?” but don’t really want to hear the answer. I just saved the serious talk for those who really cared.

  5. Thank you for starting this conversation! I very much do not want to be pregnant, and my husband and I have told everyone we know that we are planning to adopt in the future. I am also very vocal about how much I love Natural Family Planning and how it has helped us to successfully avoid pregnancy for the past three years. It occurred to me recently how mortified I would be if I were to ever accidentally get pregnant. So it’s helpful to know that, if that were ever to happen, I would not be alone in wanting to slap everyone who said to me “I told you so” and tell them to mind their own business, since I would be very upset about being pregnant in the first place.

  6. Look, it’s a well-kept secret that a lot of pregnant ladies, a lot of the time, want their kids JUST ENOUGH not to actually abort them since they’re actually alive in there. But half of the days of my pregnancy, if you had offered me the chance of going back in time and not getting pregnant instead, I would have taken it.

    In fact, now that I’m caring for and loving my beautiful son, I’d still take that chance at least in some moments. Nobody wants to be a parent every second.

    I think it sucks that I can’t admit that more.

  7. My parents told everyone they hated kids for years until I came along. They then told all the ‘I-told-you-so’s that they’d only said that to shut them up about asking when they were going to have kids. And they still hate everyone elses kids 😉

    • That is a totally awesome answer to the told-you-so’s.

      I must remember that one too 🙂

  8. I was not excited about this unplanned pregnancy. In fact, I spent a lot of time being upset and angry about it. Michelle makes an excellent point. I loved my baby enough not to abort her, but I didn’t really feel anything past that. Now I’m 37 weeks and I’ve only just recently started getting excited about her. In fact, my mother in law is convinced I’m not going to be a good mom because I’ve spent all this time BEING HONEST ABOUT MY FEELINGS.

    I don’t love my baby yet.
    I don’t think it’s the most OMG AMAZEBALLS thing in the whole world.
    I don’t jump up and down at the thought of baby clothes.

    Maybe I will when she gets here, but really, honestly, I don’t like being pregnant.

  9. I actually started my blog partially for this reason. Until I met my partner I’d been vocally childfree. A lot of my friends live far and I hadn’t explained my change of heart. When we made the *official* Facebook announcement I included a link to my blog where I’d written more on the subject and could explain my feelings in a more nuanced way that felt more like an addendum to the announcement.

    Depends how much you’re willing to share publicly of course, but I found it really helpful.

  10. I am in the exact same boat. I was pretty…ok…loudly vocal about me and the husband being child-free. And now, suddenly, BABY. Honestly? I just said it. Most people didn’t have the guts to come up and go “OMG! I thought you were all about no babies!”, and the few that did got a very long look and then I just walked away. ’cause, frankly, it isn’t any of their dang business how and when or what made you “change your mind”!

  11. Me and husband have never been vocal about wanting kids, so I think this surprise pregnancy has thrown up a few ‘Huh?’remarks. On the whole, people have been happy for us though. Some people though, just love ‘I told you so’s and I’m not sure you can avoid it, but certainly try to ignore them. I have had strange comments from a friend who has the idea that I’m less emotionally invested in my baby than someone who has planned their pregnancy. I found this hurtful and started to feel wary about mentioning anything that sounded like I was complaining about pregnancy, before coming to the realisation that I have nothing to prove to this woman, which has been quite liberating. I know how much I love our baby, and that’s what matters.
    Perhaps this could be the way to go when telling people about your pregnancy?
    As other posters have said, anyone genuinely happy for you won’t waste time with making you justify yourself or make you worry about expressing any feelings of ambivalence. The ‘I told you so’-ers just don’t need to know.
    In response to Jessica, we’ve also been using Natural Family Planning for 6 out of our 9 years together and been successful. Until last summer, that is! I’ve been pretty outspoken in my defense of NFP in the past, and to anybody who’s mentioned this ‘failure’ I’ve just explained that we knew the risks when we chose that form of contraception and were okay with that as a committed couple. Just want to say, if you ever did get unexpectedly pregnant, don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed to have not been using a more ‘fail-safe’ method. I don’t think people would be half as judgemental about a split condom or missed pill sometimes. Sorry to go a bit off-topic!

  12. I am in a similar situation. I have always wanted children but my husband has always been against becoming a father until a couple of years ago when we had a big “where is this relationship going?” talk. I made it clear i wasn’t going through life without becoming a mother. He decided to stick around, we got married & we are now 12 and a bit weeks pregnant with our first baby. Today we are going to tell his family the news and i’m a little bit nervous about how they’ll react. He has ended 2 long term relationships in the past because of the baby issue & i know his family will bring this up.

  13. I was raised catholic, and always expected I’d have kids – four or five, I thought, before I’d had any. I had Surprise Kid#1 when I was 19, & Surprise kid#2 when I was 21, both to a bad husband (that I also thought I had to stay with, catholic thing again)I realised that while I loved my sons to bits n pieces, I HATED being a parent, and never EVER wanted ANY more kids (probably due in no small part to the lack of a supportive partner). This I was very vocal about.

    Fast forward 4 yrs after son#2’s birth, and I have divorced, and am engaged to fabulous, CHILDLESS fiance – who desperately wants a biological child of his own. I weighed up that he was such a very good dad to my 2 boys, &such a loving, supportive partner to me, that he deserved support from me in having a baby of his own…and chose to get pregnant, one last time, for him.
    Despite PLANNING this pregnancy, I am hating it (being pregnant) and can totally relate to the whole ‘loving the baby just enough not to abort her’ thing – and am having trouble bonding (30wks pregnant today) and am struggling with the “ah, we knew you’d have more” vibes. I’ve realised that I’m oversensitive to the “I told you so” phenomenon, and percieve it to happen more/be worse than it actually is, though. Most people are very supportive of how hard it is for me to be pregnant again.
    The hardest thing to deal with (from other people) is them not understanding that I do not enjoy this, and am not really looking forward to the baby, and feel nervous and conflicted and regularly upset during this process. When people hear the baby is a girl, they expect me to be over the moon – and honestly, I don’t know what I think – I never meant to have a daughter! I have sons, and only two. I don’t know where she belongs, and I feel guilty that she isn’t wildly joyously anticipated by her mother. I don’t know if I even WANT a “daughter”…why am I supposed to want to have female offspring, and expected to be so much happier that I am having her, because she is a girl?

    My best advice is, go inside yourself and just be guided from there. I feel the worst when I try and think of outside feelings/influences. I feel most secure when I go “fuck ’em” and concentrate on my baby, however I wish to.

    • I have to thank all of you ladies who posted about feeling ambivalent and upset about their pregnancies even though they were planned. I am a little over 10 weeks and I am absolutely terrified about the whole thing. All I can think of is how I have NO IDEA how to take care of a baby, how horrible labor and birth are going to be and how life as I know it with my husband is never going to be the same again. I am definitely mourning the loss of my current life and I feel horribly guilty about it! I so want to feel happy about it so that everyone doesn’t think I’m some kind of weirdo or look at me with disappointment in their eyes.

      Unfortunately my parents are very upset with my reaction to my pregnancy so far. I don’t want to talk about baby names, or talk about decorating ideas or ooh and ahh over baby magazines! I just want to forget that it’s happening! And being of “advanced maternal age” at 40 years old, and being terrified of hospitals and testing, I am facing a long road of invasive tests and blood work. I know I could turn down the more invasive tests, but I want to know way in advance if there is anything wrong.

      It’s a real shame that those of us who were on the fence about having children and found ourselves pregnant aren’t allowed to talk about how nerve wracking or terrifying the prospect of becoming a parent is! We are all expected to dance a jig and scream about how happy we are and never say anything bad about it.

      I applaud all of you ladies who had the courage to tell the truth about how you really feel and know that you are most definitely not alone!

      • It is nerve wracking, I admit it, it’s hard work too. I had an oops pregnancy at the age of 44 and was considered a geriatric pregnancy. They put me thru every test, but I tried to view it as an experiment and tried to see the coolness of all the medical tests and how they worked and what they meant. I didn’t dwell on needles, and such, most of it wasn’t terribly invasive. I also got gestational diabetes and even that I tried to see as an interesting medical experiment.
        Now, 15 months after Ian was born, I can say it was that hard, sleep deprivation was the worst part, but the first year of motherhood has flown by and now this child is walking and talking and is funny as can be and it is getting easier. Take your time, mourn the losses you feel, then find your boot straps and pull your chin off the floor. You can still have a social life, it just takes planning, my child has been to steam punk world Faire twice, wicked, Pennsic , which is two weeks of Renn camping,and a lot of car trips and weekend parties. It’s just a bit different. You can still be you and have a child. I also work full time as a flight attendant and as a landlord and I do this as a single Mom without family nearby. So, it can be done.

  14. I had 44 years of not wanting babies and was adamant about it. Then one day in June I realized I was 12 weeks pregnant and I was perfectly ok with it, I didn’t allow myself to get excited until after all the testing to see if he was healthy. So a few weeks before turning 45, I had a beautiful baby boy and I am a proud proud Mama. The funny thing is, no one has given me a hard time or even teased me about not wanting babies….and you know what, now I am a huge fan of babies, I think I can even like pink now…it’s funny how life throws things at you and you either change your thinking, give something new a try or you could possibly lose out on an awesome experience. Just enjoy and stop judging yourself for loving the way life has changed for you and understand anyone who gives you a hard time is probably facing their own fears of parenting.

  15. I put a picture of my sonogram on the christmas card I sent out, and I wrote, “Happy Holidays, from Keven, Liset, and Wee Little Baby!” I know it shocked a lot of people since I was only 20 at the time, and unmarried, and still in college. But it seemed a good way to break the news! Plus, it caused everyone to call my baby bump “Wee Little Baby” since she was so tiny! : )

  16. A wonderful book on this subject is Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich. She did the whole suburban housewife thing in the fifties before coming to terms with her homosexuality, finally leaving her husband and becoming an advocate and amazing poet. In this book, she examines the mother culture, and the false hypothesis that all women should be natural mothers by dint of their biology. Very helpful to know that others have doubts and fears too, and that what’s “natural” for some is not at all for others.

  17. I spent a long time being on the fence about having kids — I hadn’t decided yet if I did or didn’t want them so it wasn’t anything I talked about with anyone. One day something did switch in me that made me jump to the side of the fence that was “yes i want kids”. It’s only been the last few years where I’ve actually been “want right now” however I keep holding back because my husband and I rent and don’t have a lot of cash and I keep thinking “we should wait until [something happens and we’re millionaures etc]” but then I get sad because I don’t have kids yet and I see so many cool kid things I want to do/see/etc. We’re still decdiing if we should be saving up for a house or use that money towards kids which is our main decision we’re coming up against now but I’m getting closer to “have kids now” because I have the rest of my life to buy a house and only ~10 years to still be able to have a child. I feel happy when I think of having a kid now (though then I do stress about being stuck renting but again, I tell myself it won’t be forever in the end).

    I was discussing this with my mum who is visiting me at the moment and she’s pushing that we should be saving for a house. I mentioned to her that we’ve been thinking of having kids because having the extra cash instead of a house deposit would be more useful than a hosue with no spare cash at all and she just LAUGHED. “I can’t imagine you having kids!!” and “You’ve never been around kids!” and “You don’t even like kids!!”. The thing is though – I don’t like OTHER PEOPLE’S kids. I like animals but I’ve noticed with myself I’m never really comfortable around pets that aren’t mine (eg. i can’t cuddle them and flip them around and treat them the same as my own pets because I have different rules to what’s acceptable than what other people do if that makes sense, and I feel it’s the same way I feel with kids. I can be more open with *my* kids than I can with someone else’s but I can’t do much abotu that when I don’t hav ekids of my own to prove it with…).

    I feel that when I am pregnant, I’m going to get the same attitude from people like I did when I got married because I’m not into making a big spectacle of things. We got married at a registry office (all i wanted was the piece of paper that said YOU ARE MARRIED,not the overpriced party that most people have) and the government officer that took our details and certificate and ID stuff actually asked me “Do you want to get married or is he forcing you?!” in a serious tone as if she was worried, because I wasn’t the excitable gushing bride most other women are and it annoyed me. I’m going to be the same when I’m pregnant. I don’t need to be like a teenage girl drooling and fainting over [hot famous guy of the moment] to show that I’m happy and/or want the pregnancy.

  18. Embrace it – say you guys were right so you have bet them to saying I told you so…and say youre really excited about it! Then no-one can rain on your parade. Congrats by the way!

  19. Good luck and try not to stress too much. I felt very much the same. I spent ten years saying it was wrong to have a biological child in most cases and done for selfish reasons. Now here I am pregnant. I had nightmares about telling people for weeks and went through unbelievable emotional turmoil trying to come to terms with my own self inflicted guilt. When I did finally tell the closest of friends they were excited and supportive. I suppose they wouldn’t be real friends otherwise. I have yet to make the everyone announcement and am also not sure the best way to do it. I do believe though that the stress leading up to it is usually worse than what happens after. Be brave and don’t take any shit. 🙂

  20. i’m pregnant and a new addition to a social group that does not embrace children. a couple of the men have already been snipped, and the other women all swear they neither want nor even like kids. yeah… hanging out with them is gonna be reallll fun in 4 months (if we’re ever invited again).

    but anyway, if any one of them were to announce that she were pregnant, “I told you so” would be the last thing out of my mouth, even if i thought it. what kind of a crappy thing would that be to say? i’d ask if she were keeping it, i’d ask how she was feeling about it, i’d ask how her SO was feeling about it, and i’d offer up any advice i have from my own current experience if she wanted it. i’d be supportive but i wouldn’t snicker. pregnancy isn’t always planned or asked for. sometimes it just happens and you cant “i told you so” to someone for that.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.