Why babies change everything
[Photo courtesy of EBM Photography: thanks Emma!]
I’m at that classic age where I’m supposed to start settling down and being sensible. On social media; Facebook especially and on the internet generally, thanks to all those online cookies etc., I’m being constantly exposed to ads or articles about babies. All my friends are either married, getting married, pregnant or already have kids. I’m 31, married and the pressure is on. And quite frankly, I fucking hate it.
I hate being told what to do. I hate people telling me how to live my life and when to do things and comparing me to the “norms of society” timeline which, actually, isn’t normal. There’s no normal or perfect time for anything in life. You create your destiny and decide when and if you want to do something. Why do people stick their noses into other people’s affairs? Their lives are not so damn perfect so what makes them think they can give you advice on yours?!
If you’re single everyone asks you why, tries to fix you up or wants to see you in a relationship as soon as possible. People like to play matchmaker and think being alone isn’t good. We’re sociable creatures and are supposed to date, mate and procreate, yeah I know. When you’re in a relationship, after a year people start asking, when are you getting married and what are you playing at? Once married, they start asking you when you’re having kids and give you fertility tips and tricks to get pregnant. So once kids come along then what? Well, I guess people then start to judge what kind of parent you are by evaluating you by your child’s success and then maybe they’ll pick at your career or ambitions in life blah blah blah. Constantly comparing, competing, meddling and putting on the pressure.
When I started dating my husband his family were telling us to get married within a year. I loathed that. (Don’t tell me what to do, don’t push me because I will rebel and do the opposite!) Five and a half years later we got married. Within a year of marriage, conversations with his family or Russian friends always turned at some point to asking about kids. We’ve been married four years and now every conversation with friends and families on both sides, whether with Brits, Ukrainians, Russians or Germans, is about kids and why we are not having them. What are we playing at? One male Ukrainian friend even sat me down alone and said if I have problems in that area, there is a gynecologist in his family I could turn to. Loads of people get pregnant with IVF nowadays.
For the last three years, whenever I’ve had to go get my thyroxine medication from my endocrinologist or have my annual gynie check up, (even my general doctor when picking up antibiotics last year for swollen glands in my throat!), they all ask me when am I going to start thinking about having kids because I’m not getting younger and the clock is ticking. And yup, I’m very aware thanks that after 35 years old they throw you into the “high risk category” where all the “older mums” get put. And yes. I have an underactive thyroid so it’s going to take longer to fall pregnant and pregnancy could be complicated. Check.
Without wanting to be rude and hysterical (you know, I am British and all) I just want to scream and tell everyone to fuck off and leave me and my perfectly healthy uterus alone. Germany’s birth rates declined considerably after the Cold War and they are on some mission to get young people to start having 2-3 kids instead of just the typical 1 child per couple but I wish they wouldn’t keep pressuring me to help bring up numbers. Leave me out of it. I don’t even know if I want to stay long term in Germany! And why would our Ukrainian friends assume I’m the one with the problem?! Cheers for that! Have they even considered the thought that we aren’t even trying?
“But you’ve been together for 9 years” they say.
It’s like you’re supposed to get through uni, earn a shit load of money, have great career success, find the perfect guy or gal, have the dream wedding, travel and let out your wild side before you then have kids, a home and the whole nine yards and develop into a sensible, mature grown up by the time you’re 35 with a perfect pension plan in place. In that order.
And if you get married and start having kids in your early twenties you’re too young and don’t have life experience!
If you’re 35 and still single, wait nope we don’t call it single, after 28 you’re unmarried, then you’re on the shelf and there’s something wrong with you.
There’s like a 9 year window from 26-35 where it’s generally considered a good time to get married and settle down. Seriously, sod off.
Let’s break the rules and live a little on the wild side shall we? 😛 Well, I’ve totally fucked up on the timeline anyway. I’m doing it all wrong, back to front and upside down so deal with it.
despite every one telling me that I should be having kids by now (even though my career hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet and I’m broke) and the fact I hate that everyone keeps nagging me to have kids, I am actually starting to get a little broody.
This career-minded, freedom-loving, feisty gal that until now never felt one pang of broody emotion in her body or even looked at a baby and went, “awww” is now infected. Those ads, internet articles, friends’ photos on Facebook, medical professionals reminding me of my age and the pregnancy risks associated and all the mums pushing kids around in strollers … they have slowly started ebbing away at my child-proof exterior and now I’m looking with fresh eyes and actively considering what motherhood might be like. And instead of looking at babies crying or kids covered in mud playing in the park thinking, “ugh, gross! Thank God I’m free of that burden” I catch myself thinking, “awww they have a cute smile and I love their laugh. It must be nice to slow down and just play in the park with your child.”
I think I need a holiday!
I’ve never been the maternal type. I hated holding babies. I still feel awkward and don’t know what to do with them. I just don’t feel any emotion. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Nichevo. Nichts. Give me a puppy or bunny rabbit to hold though and I’m gushing emotion and love like the flipping Niagara Falls! I think baby talk sounds stupid. (Although I talk baby talk to my pets! I know, it’s weird but my brain tells me it’s totally a different thing!) and babies ALWAYS cry when I hold them. I think they just hate me. I repel them.
Fastest way to make me uncomfortable and break out into a sweat?
Give me a baby to hold. I’d rather run a bloody marathon.
They probably can tell I’m nervous and feeling unsure. Plus I know how ‘protective new mothers’ (A.K.A. sometimes crazy psycho people who can totally flip out at you for no logical reason!) can be so I am scared of canoodling too much or being too cutesy or overstepping my boundaries, hell I don’t even know what the boundaries are! And when my friends all come together and talk about their kids, I feel totally lost in translation. I haven’t a bloody clue what they are talking about. It’s a foreign language completely. I’m not up to date on the latest games, toys, ads, TV shows. I don’t even own a TV! Specialist jargon associated with each stage of a child’s development? No idea. Don’t actually care. But one thing is for sure, all the birthing horror stories I’ve heard have scared the shit out of me. Thanks for that. Seriously, why would you share that?! I’d much rather sit with the boys and talk about the crap they do and drink wine. But because I am a girl, I always get shunted into the women’s circle. Ugh. I don’t have anything to contribute to conversations, my mind draws a blank and I don’t have any experience so mostly I just sit there quietly, observing, clock watching, day dreaming of beaches and cocktails and hunky men in uniforms wishing I were a thousand miles away.
When I was 19 I had an ovary infection and was admitted to Bristol Royal Infirmary and they told me that I was lucky and I should be OK to have kids. Up until that point I was career focused, having fun and didn’t want kids. I was young. But the fear that I might never be able to have kids changed something in me. My perspective changed. I suddenly re-evaluated what I wanted and thought, actually you know what? Maybe one day I might want children. I took for granted my ability to have kids and when that was jeopardized I suddenly realized how important and valuable it was and how it made me re-think what I want in life. I still wasn’t maternal. I still wasn’t ready or sure but I felt grateful and blessed that I still had a chance of one day becoming a mother. There was also a part of me that felt relieved that I could still be seen as a fully functioning woman – in the sense I wasn’t broken and all my machine parts were in good working order making me a great candidate for a future mate 😉 Totally Freudian and Darwinian! 😉
I don’t know when it started. Feeling broody I mean. Maybe a couple of years, it’s been slowly creeping up on me. Maybe it’s peer pressure. Maybe it is the fear of missing my chance. I freaked out big time at turning 30 last year and not being where I want to be in life. These landmark birthdays tend to stir up a lot of fears. Maybe it is the constant repetition from friends, families and doctors telling me what I should be doing. Who knows. But I know it’s started. And I know I am changing. I know I am re-evaluating everything. Including who I am, what I want and even my marriage. My life is turned upside down and everything is totally askew.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about babies, are pregnant, are a parent already or are taking on someone else’s child. Babies make you think about all kinds of things. They make you evaluate everything. They make you see things differently. They change everything.
I don’t think anyone is ever truly ready for parenthood. It is something you have to adjust to and it’s a new role you have to transition into. You’re never going to have enough money to say you’re ready, nor have read and prepared enough and timing isn’t always perfect. Babies are not always planned. Sometimes you just meet someone and think, “wow I’d love to have kids with them” and you just know. Other times it is a gradual process, step by step and seeing where the future leads two people. And you’ll probably still be just as busy but life will revolve around your child’s schedule rather than your work / social life schedule. Maybe I’m just playing out a fantasy in my head right now, trying it on to see how I feel about things?
However, I think there is one thing that should be firmly in place when having a child with someone and that is team work. A solid relationship. A stable environment. You don’t necessarily have to be married or living with someone. Many single parents, who are absolutely amazing, cope and raise wonderful children too. I know single mothers who are serving in the military and that must be incredibly challenging. They are phenomenal parents who need and deserve a lot of love and support from friends and family. Every relationship is different and there is no right or wrong way about doing anything. But it does take two people to create a baby and you will forever be connected to that other person through your child.
In my mind, and I’m not a mother and so I only have limited insights and a narrow perspective on this but, a baby should be made in a loving relationship where you truly, unconditionally and wholeheartedly are in love with that person. You trust them implicitly, their parenting ideas / views match yours and your relationship is strong. And it needs to be strong because when babies come, they will test your relationship and challenge you and your partner in every way possible and they will come in between you at times and even the strongest of couples crack under pressure and little scars are left in relationships.
Having a baby is never a solution to fixing relationship problems.
I’ve often heard things like, “if we have a baby it will bring us closer to together” or “we’ll be alright if we just have a baby.” Well, my observation is, no. It won’t. Far too often the couples who said this ended up separating and the kids got hurt in the process. Never do that. You are going to be spending far less quality time together when babies come along, you’ll sacrifice a lot and you’ll have less energy, less money and less freedom so why would you think the relationship would be better? It’s going to take a hit, big time. It’s numbing or avoiding issues at hand instead of addressing them and finding a better solution.
No. I’m not pregnant if you’re wondering and never have been. But I am questioning everything because I am broody, I am aware I am in my thirties now and I do want children. Not because I want the label ‘mother’ but because there’s some part of my brain or body that is saying, I want to nurture and raise a child with an amazing man and watch that child grow, see them develop and learn and teach them all we know to then go on and fulfill their dreams and see the amazing person they will become. Not because I am afraid of being lonely in my old age. Not because I am worried what others will think if I don’t have kids. Not because I will feel less of a woman if I don’t reproduce. Not because I am scared I’ll miss the boat. No. I just think it is very exciting, possibly wildly erotic, to mix my DNA with someone else’s to create a new little person. A concoction: 50 % you and 50 % them. And then to watch what happens together and share that. How that little child then becomes a person in their own right and experiences life. To voice their own opinions and have their own perspectives. To totally argue back with me and prove me wrong on issues. To help me learn and see things from other perspectives. To raise them the best we can then watch them leave and continue their life journey without us. Isn’t that exciting? Or maybe I’m just weird.
I am however, aware that with this new broody feeling, I am also feeling lonely and need and crave love. But these are the wrong reasons among others to have a child so I’m keeping tabs on my emotions and figuring out what I need in life to make me happier.
Wrong reasons to have children:
I’m afraid of being alone when I’m older
My partner is always away and I’m lonely
I need someone to love me
I was an only child and I want to do things differently
I’m afraid of the chance passing me by
It’s the next logical step in the relationship
It’s what our friends are doing
Everyone keeps telling us we should be having kids
A baby will fix our relationship
A baby will bring us closer together
I want a wife, kids and a house by the time I’m … (insert age)
I want my children to complete my dreams for me
I want to do all the things with my kids that I never did / could do
I have so many plans for our children’s lives
A baby will be cute, fun and we’ll play happy families
A baby will secure my future (economically, politically etc.)
It shows I am a good role model and helps with my image
There are probably hundreds more I could list but you get my drift right? You shouldn’t be having kids to fix your issues and fears. You should be happy in your life, comfortable with who you are and want to bring a child into the world to teach them about life and all the wonderful things they can go on to do. Not to enforce your ideas of what they should do onto their shoulders but to let them learn, grown and discover a world all by themselves.
Bottom line: I’m not ready for a baby with my husband. Financially we are not very stable, not on our feet and I could list a whole load of reasons why the time isn’t right. Those are just excuses to justify my one reason. Because when it comes down to it there is only one reason why I am not ready yet, even though I am broody, and that is because I am just not sure I want kids with my husband. And when I started feeling broody, that’s when I started thinking, doubting and questioning everything. Like I said, babies change everything. They change your perspectives.
I had a pregnancy scare in 2014 and instead of being excited and hopeful as I hoped I would react, my initial reaction was dreaded fear, panic, feeling trapped and I desperately hoped I wasn’t. I prayed a lot that I wasn’t.
I was surprised and shocked at my reaction and decided to dig down deeper and look at my own psychology and what the hell was going on. It was a good wake up call. Turning 30 in 2015 and freaking out about where I’m going in life was another issue and further highlighted hidden fears and suppressed emotions. I had to sit down and talk to my husband and address major issues in our relationship that we’d been avoiding. We’re still working through issues, looking at the weaker areas of our relationship and doing a lot of talking, evaluating and soul searching and it’s going to take time so babies are a long ways off yet.
And to all our friends and families who keep nagging us about kids, all I can say is: We’re not ready. Even after 9 years together and 4 years married. We’re not ready. Plain and simple. So back off … please. 🙂
Babies change everything. Even just thinking about having them. I think the baby conversation is an important discussion to have in any relationship and to keep having that discussion and checking you are on the same page, reading from the same book. You need to be heading in the same direction in life as your partner. You can fulfill personal dreams and goals but you should be heading the same way and wanting the same things as a team with similar views on parenting. And if you want kids, you need to feel secure, stable and really want to have kids with your partner, not because you think it’s what you should do. It’s a huge step and will change your relationship and to weather the storms and survive, your relationship will need to be solid; with a lot of trust, patience, respect, love, compromise, faith and commitment.