Quickies

AI: Babies!

To those of you who don’t know, I recently gave birth to a baby (she is one month old now). Surprisingly, I really enjoy being a mother, staying home, staring at my baby and giving her lots of attention. I use the word “surprisingly” because before giving birth, I would have viewed this behavior as confining and depressing, but I am actually quite fulfilled and happy.

I am not using my current behavior as a justification to let everyone know how much having babies is worth it. In fact, I have plenty of friends who choose to not have children and I’m happy for them! I’ve always wanted to have kids and I had a planned pregnancy. (I have to admit, even though I love my baby, I don’t necessarily like other people’s children–although I realize my issue is likely with other parents, not the kids themselves.)

Even though I did not have any medical issues dring pregnancy, I was plenty miserable and scared of being responsible for a new human being and losing my free time. Now that I have a baby, I want to let everyone like past-me know that I am sleep-deprived, I have less “me” time, and having a kid is hard, but I don’t mind any of this and I feel happier now than I ever did during pregnancy.

Finally, I’m trying very hard as a new parent to not be like “one of those” parents featured on STFUParents or something, but I will admit, I talk a lot about baby poop, about how cute my daughter is, and lots of other baby-only things. There, I admitted it! I find it hard to have an adult conversation without mentioning her OK? HORMONES!

So today’s AI is baby-themed, for parents, future parents, people who are childfree, and even people who don’t want anything to do with any kids.

Do you have children or are you considering it? If you have kids, what would you say to your pre-child self? If you are childfree, what sort of issues do you face and how do you want people to talk to you about it (if at all)? Do you have any funny stories involving kids or pregnancy? Whether you want a child or not, do you have any questions for current parents?

If I have left a question out or phrased something weirdly, please let me know in the comments, because I know this is a sensitive issue for some. And please go easy on me, I just got the first 6-hour stretch of sleep that I’ve had in months!

Mary

Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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71 Comments

  1. Childfree by choice and not regretting at all! I’m pretty much done the child bearing ages so that works out. Lol

    I have been called selfish about my choice. Apparently not bringing a unwanted baby into the world is selfish. Yup.

    1. The only thing I can think of is that parents are offended by childfree people because they feel like the childfree lifestyle stands against everything they believe? Sort of like how some religious people are offended by the idea of atheism.

      I’m not justifying it, just trying to get in their heads. Once people acknowledge their cognitive dissonance, it’s easier to understand other people’s choices. Having kids is hard, even harder if you don’t want to do it, and no child deserves to be brought up unwanted.

    2. I haven’t gotten called selfish much, but my wife has. Her response now is, “Yep! Your point?”

      I’ve seen it in action. It works pretty well, because raising reasoned considerations for why that’s a dumb argument just gets rebutted and rebutted with more dumb arguments (I’ve seen that, too), but the “yep, your point?” leaves so many people stuck that they drop it.

    3. We have a daughter and are very happy that we do, but I sometimes wonder whether the people who berate childfree people are happy being parents (they may hate that you escaped their misery). Part of why I think that is that I’ve heard so many people complaining about their kids pretty much whenever they talk about them.

  2. I realized that talking about my kid in conversations with co-workers has replaced me trying to have discussions about other things other people didn’t care about (my favorite TV or music, for example). So ultimately, I’m not being any more annoying than I used to be.

    To my pre-baby self, I’d say don’t worry when you don’t have that “OMG my life was meaningless!” moment when he’s born. That’s just not who you are. You’ll still love him more than anything.

    1. I work with so many parents that it’s nice to be able to contribute to a discussion now! I’m finally part of the parent club. But I try to be mindful of the other people who don’t have kids and talk about something else with them.

      Pre-baby, I had too much free time. Post-baby, I still have free time, But now I am paying attention to someone other than myself when I watch TV, haha.

  3. I’m wrestling with this question as we speak! I’ve had two losses over the last year and we’re about to start knockin’ boots again for round 3. I keep worrying that that it is selfish of me to want a baby, and that I won’t be a good mom. While in principle I know that it’s my life (and my husband’s life, though he’s amenable to the idea) to live, I keep watching other people’s parenting through the completely fake lens of the Internet and want desperately to reject that idea of what my life is going to turn into. (I have friends who are childfree, friends with kids, and family members who aren’t wise enough to use birth control.) To me, it feels like to be a good feminist/skeptic/ethical person means to adopt or to be childfree. Add in the feeling that my odds of a successful pregnancy seem to be going down every time we try, and I’m pretty much a basket case.

    1. Aw, I wish you the best of luck! Don’t worry about being the best feminist/skeptic/whatever, just do what you feel is right for you. I worried about not loving my baby because I hated being pregnant, but I love her so much, more than I thought was possible. Bad moms don’t spend time worrying about whether or not they will love their kids, that’s the difference.

      We were lucky when TTC, but trying is still very hard physically and emotionally. My heart goes out to you!

      1. Maybe a more accurate statement for me would be that I worry I want to be a mom for the wrong reasons, which will make me a bad mom. The idea of not having kids makes me sad but not knowing why I DO want them is making me a bit nuts. Example: I didn’t really feel the desire to be a mom until my cousins and college friends were having babies. I must be a passive sheep of a person to want it for THAT reason. Most of the arguments about a “biological imperative” are super-patronizing as well. If it’s a cultural reason then I want the option of rejecting what our culture says about womanhood and defining it for myself – I am just kerflummoxed about what IS making me want this.
        Thank you for your encouragement! It is not an easy process for many many people dealing with losses and infertility and it is really hard when that goes unacknowledged. Enjoy your new little snuggle-bear :)

        1. Ah, I see what you mean. I’m not sure why I wanted to be a mom, I just did. It didn’t feel like a choice, you know? I just wanted a little person to raise “right” and to pass on my experiences to. I especially felt the need after everyone else started having kids.

          If I was Angelina Jolie and I could afford nannies, I would have adopted lots of kids and had lots of my own kids. I think having a giant family (in a giant house with lots of help) seems fun!

          1. My lack of desire to have children also doesn’t feel like a choice to me.

            I can ignore crying babies. Easily. I don’t even care. Doesn’t bother me. Even a little. I don’t even care if I’m on a plane.

            This is not a good thing. I’d be a *terrible* parent.

          2. Marilove,

            I also could ignore crying babies, and just didn’t have an overwhelming reaction to them at all. Until I had one of my own, then it just all switched on! It really surprised me. I went from “Yes, a baby, very nice, now I’ll get back to this book” to “OMFSM, a BABY!!! Can I hold it? Please? I NEED to hold it!!!” I thought that might switch back off after all of the nursing hormones went away, but it never has. Now my kids are too big to pick up and snuggle any more, but the urge to is still there. Funny things, hormones.

          3. Ubi, I am the same way now too. Before, I was like, “Babies need to cry it out” and now I’m like, “Shit, the baby’s about to cry! Evasive maneuvers!”

        2. My take– it’s okay to not be all straw Vulcan about something as fraught as the desire to be a parent. It’s not always a terribly rational decision, it’s more often than not an emotional one, and personal to boot. You don’t have to justify or rationalize the desire to be a parent if you have that desire just because the skeptical community says so.

          1. THANK YOU BOTH! I get so frustrated with many people I know and watch every day, who seem to not think about ANYTHING in terms of why, that I overcompensate and navel-gaze way too much on my own choices. Sometimes I really just need to hear that other people are making the same decision I want to make, and that it’s okay to not think so hard about why every time. This really helped me. Thank you again!

          2. My take– it’s okay to not be all straw Vulcan about something as fraught as the desire to be a parent. It’s not always a terribly rational decision, it’s more often than not an emotional one, and personal to boot. You don’t have to justify or rationalize the desire to be a parent if you have that desire just because the skeptical community says so.

            Sometimes it’s not even a decision, sometimes it just happens…

  4. I have one kid after ICSI (IVF) – a rather long, expensive and winding road. I had a good life before he finally came along, and if we hadn’t succeded I reckon we would have lived a fulfilled life anyway, albeit a different one. I love being a mother. But I would also say to my before-self: never mind everybody hyping the Birth as The transcendental, all-changing, spiritual experience. It was tedious, boring, exhausting, and when he finally came I didn’t feel at all like “mother nature” and at one with the Universe. I slept, with iv fluids, totally unimpressed by the wonders of life… And that’s OK, it only got better from then on :-)

    1. I agree with your birth experience. I went through 20 hours of labor before I finally had to have a c-section, and when I tell that to other mothers, I always feel like I have to qualify my surgery as being necessary. The whole time, I felt mostly gross and tired.

      1. I’m glad for all those who are lucky enough to get that exhilarating feeling when it’s over! But one might like to know that it’s also quite normal if it takes some time for that love to grow ;-)

  5. I’m 26 and happily child-free, hopefully always. But I’m the oldest of my generation in my family and have been hounded for grandbabies for over a decade. It finally eased up in the last year since I seem increasingly resolute, and my family’s teenagers are just rotten, so the adults think maybe I know what I’m talking about after all.

    I’m curious about the prevalence of parents who insist it’s worth it and how many of them really mean it, how many are trying to convince themselves, and how many are trying to convince others because misery loves company. I don’t think I’ll ever really know the answer to that, though.

    How about this: have you ever feared losing your individual identity in becoming a parent, and how do feel about it since then?

    1. To your first point: I think it depends on who you are talking to, and I suspect that it’s less “misery loves company” than that people don’t want to admit that they might not enjoy the experience as much as they think they are supposed to, so they oversell it.

      That being said, I am someone who thinks that it’s worth it. But, I’m also fortunate. I have a good job that allows my fiance to stay at home with our daughter, who has no medical problems , is a rather even-tempered and happy baby, and who began sleeping through the night by the time she was 3 months old. In other words, while our situation could be better (while I can support us, money is a bit tight), it is nonetheless really, really good. I know parents who, either through medical problems or trouble with their child’s behavior, or their own unreasonable expectations of how they are supposed to be as parents, have trouble.

      I was, myself, rather uninterested in the idea of being a father for a number of reasons, one of them being that parenthood had always looked miserable when I would watch others. But, as time went on, I did see parents who were genuinely enjoying it (interestingly, they were the ones who didn’t routinely lecture others about how it “is worth it”), and that made the idea more attractive to me.

      To your second point: Yes, I feared that. After my daughter was born, I came to the realization that I was still essentially the same person that I had been before her birth (just with less free time), I was still an archaeologist who played chess and enjoyed watching Doctor Who, and as such, I was able to adjust to the fact that I had a new person depending on me because at least I still knew who I was.

      My fiance had a bit more trouble, though, as she is a stay-at-home mother right now. This was largely because we live in an area with a horrible job market, and it simply made more sense for her to be at home with our daughter than to be trying to find work. However, she also was someone who has been loathe to leave our daughter alone with anyone (including me), meaning that many of her pre-birth activities were now not getting her time. She felt as if she had lost a good deal of her identity initially, but this has improved as she has become more comfortable with not being our daughter’s sole caregiver, and being willing to go out to do volunteer work or spend time with friends while I am at home with the baby. If I were more selfish or worked a job that prevented me from being able to be at home (such as being a professor rather than a preservation consultant), then I think she would still be having difficulties.

      1. I would add one thing: Being a parent isn’t for everyone. It’s something that I enjoy, and it’s something I consider worth doing…if you want to do it. I know many people who have no interest in being parents, and that is a perfectly honorable position. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is likely trying to convince themselves more than they are trying to convince you.

    2. I did fear losing my identity, and I treated parents with a bit of disdain and pity for not being able to do whatever they wanted, but since having my own baby I have come to see previous-me as a bit patronizing. I’m the same person, essentially, I just have a kid now. But that is just my perspective, I feel lucky that I enjoy being a mom so much.

  6. I am the father of an 8-month old girl. Up until my partner and I began talking about having a baby, I didn’t think that I would have children, and then, as we discussed it, I began to think that it might be a good idea.

    So far, I am happy with the decision. I doubt that this will change.

    However, if there was one thing that I would tell to my pre-parent self, it is this: not everything changes. Yes, everyone will tell you that it will, but they are wrong. You will still be the same person that you were, with many of the same likes, dislikes, and interests. Odds are, you will have and keep the same job/career path (not true for everyone, but true for me, and probably for most fathers). You will have less time for your own pursuits, that is true, but it won’t vanish completely, provided that you and your partner work things out so that you both get breaks.

    What does change is your perspective. This may make things seem completely different even when they are, in fact, not. You are taking on a lot of new responsibilities, and this will, over time, change you, but you would be changed by other factors if not these ones.

    In other words, I would tell myself to be as prepared as possible (knowing that you can never be truly prepared for this), but to ignore the people who try to frighten or awe you with stories about how you will be inexorably altered as a human.

  7. I love kids and always have. Now that my wife and I are having difficulty, and are facing expensive intervention, I feel like for the first time in my life I’m on the crappy end of a priviledge differential. It sucks.

  8. Oh thank you so much for posting this. I’m at a stage on life where I am desperately clucky and want to have and cuddle all of the babies, but at the same time terrified of our financial situation, and losing my freedom and the pain and having to deal with poop and no sleep. Thank you for letting us know that it’s okay and that you are surviving and thriving. I’m sure you are doing a great job parenting your daughter and I wish you all of the luck in the world as you steer her into adulthood.

    1. Finances are a concern to me too, because my state has the highest childcare costs in the nation. But in the end, having a kid was worth more to me than not, and if I were to wait until I had the money, I would be too old. Thanks for your well wishes! I hope whatever you decide works out for you!

  9. The “losing my freedom and the pain and having to deal with poop and no sleep” was the easy part. (Just pretend you’re in boot camp — for 2-3 years. And sleeping through the night is vastly overrated.)

    Much harder was facing the fact that there’s no real guide to how to deal with your kids. I remember looking at my firstborn a few days after he was born and realizing, his life is in my hands, and I have no clue how to not screw him up. Sometimes the experts’ advice was useful, and sometimes it was ridiculously wrong, but there was no way to really know until afterwards, if then. (Of course, some experts are wrong 100% of the time.) The same with my own intuition. No matter what you do, you’ll be screwing up half the time, and sometimes you’ll decide afterwards that there was no right thing to do. To the extent that either of my kids turned out all right (will turn out all right?), it’s probably as much in spite of anything I did as because of it.

    And it never ends. My younger son (age 19) has lost his way in life, and I have no idea what to do. We’ve taken him to all kinds of experts, my ex and I have tried all kinds of things, to no avail. All I’m left with is trying to show him I care and hoping for some sort of miracle (you should excuse the expression.)

  10. My own baby has just passed the three week mark. While I love her to bits, I’m also suffering terribly from sleep deprivation. So, parents with new babies, please give me hope – at what age did your baby start sleeping for longer stretches at night? I’m not even talking about sleeping through the whole night, but anything longer than three hours! When did a routine start to develop? Did the number of dirty nappies ever decrease?!

    1. My baby started sleeping for longer stretches around 3 weeks. She slept 6 hours last night! Wow! And she’s only 4 weeks. To be honest, when people say “slept through the night” they mean a 5 hour stretch. So i fed her at midnight and 6am.

      I breastfeed her on demand during the day, and at night I will give her a pacifier and rock her for a minute to see if she will go back to sleep first. What helps me at night is that we feed in the lying down position, and my husband takes care of all diapers, so I am able to fall back to sleep.

      We change her before every feeding, or every other feeding. I think she goes through 6-10 diapers per day? They’re mostly urine, no problem. She is definitely starting a routine though.

      1. My daughter, lo these many years ago, started “sleeping through the night” at about four or five weeks. It was technically 5-6 hours, but that much sleep at one stretch felt like all night after a month+ of three hour stretches being the best we got.

        My daughter’s son is one week old today. So far, she and her husband have a worked out routine where she does the middle of the night feedings on her own, and then after the first early morning feeding at 6am-ish, her husband takes the little fella away and she sleeps like the dead for three hours until his next feeding. For now, that works for them, but of course with babies, this week’s routine is next week’s memory.

        I do hope my grandson takes after his mom in the sleeping department soon. His mom and dad are both looking tired, if also happy with their precious little dumpling.

    2. Having a baby is such a mixed bag. I did not care for the baby stage. My child was colicky. If you have never been around a colicky baby, you probably don’t know what I am talking about. I just remember baby was a lot of work. Not to say I didn’t love my baby. I could have done without the screaming and could have used more sleep. If I could pick an age that I could stick her at and freeze all time, it would be right now at five. I love this age of development. Of course when I make mention of this, she says she has to grow up. Apparently at five it is not nearly as endearing an age when you can’t reach anything and need Mom and Dad to do stuff.

        1. Okay and now I see that this looks like a reply to CmCl3…

          @ CmCl3: I didn’t care for the baby stage, but I wish you well while you go through it! Baring some sort of health issue, baby will likely start sleeping better through the night as time goes on. There are certain developmental steps that many babies will go through where they will sleep more and less, especially if they are in a growth spurt requiring more food/milk/formula and ultimately more diaper changes. Hopefully your daughter is just in a growth spurt and will settle down for some sleep soon. Diaper changes will decrease with time. :) With my daughter, when she was a newborn, we were changing her about fifteen times a day, but within a couple of weeks the number of changes went down. There is all kinds of different thinking about a routine with baby. It can be quite a controversial topic in some circles. Best of luck with that new little one! I hope you get some sleep soon. As you can see from my post, I thought the baby stage was a lot of work.

      1. I agree, I would not enjoy having a baby so much if I had either PPD or was dealing with colic, so I am lucky in that respect. I certainly don’t want to minimize those issues.

    3. For my daughter, a routine began to take shape around four weeks, and by three months she was sleeping through most of the night (often with one wake up during the night). But this is different for every child, and the habits you set within your home have a large effect…and what works with one child will not necessarily work with others. Trying to get your child into a routine helps, as does having a few bedtime-specific activities (for example, in my house, we feed her dinner, then give her a bath or a wipe-down, put her in her pajamas, and then sing a specific song before putting her down into her crib). To a degree, you have to set the routine, but do it through watching your child’s cues to make sure that it’s a routine that your child can live with.

      The number of dirty diapers does decrease. Also, when you start introducing solids, the feces gets smellier, but less runny and easier to clean, so that is nice.

  11. As a father to two girls (15 and 11), I would have to say that being a dad has been tremendously rewarding to me. I have loved watching my children grow up and become unique and interesting individuals. They are a fascinating combination of me, my wife, and their own selves. What I have lost in self identity, I have more than gained in my identity as a member of this family, because I think we make each other better people than we would be on our own. It’s obviously not for everyone, and no one should be judging anyone else on that lifestyle decision. Unhappy parents do not make good parenting choices. Like most important things, it’s a never-ending series of tradeoffs. How those tradeoffs balance out is going to be different for each person. For myself, I think it was a really good decision. A lot of that stems from having had a pretty good family life as a boy. My parents are good people, who made a lot of good choices for me and my sister, and there was never any question that they loved us. I have a lot of great family memories from my youth, and always saw myself carrying that forward into the next generation. So far, so good!

  12. Mary, parents talking endlessly about babies is just another form of nerdery. Geek on!

    —-
    I’m not a parent, but I am an uncle. Most of the benefits and almost none of the responsibilities.
    I’m also an oral historian of all the cute things my relatives’ and friends’ children have said and done. I think sleep deprivation interferes with long-term memory formation, so I remember details and boring stories that my friends have totally forgotten. I’m sure when you start bringing your daughter to book club, she’ll do and say things you would both rather forget, but never fear, I’ll remember them for you, and remind you at every opportunity.

    1. Aunts and uncles definitely play and important role in helping out tired parents! I have a neice and nephew myself.

      I have a funny story about my pregnancy. Before we announced the news to family, we went shopping at Target and I was peeking at the baby section when we ran into my husband’s cousin. And before I could hide, my husband says HI and calls him over to chat…in the baby section. The cousin was like, Um, do you have news? And i said, “Uhhh no we are buying clothes for our cat, that’s why we’re in the baby section.” Seriously. I kicked my husband after that, haha.

  13. Wife and I are in the “no babies” camp. Happily. We don’t hate kids, but we don’t want to hang out with them all the time, let alone ALL of our time. We’ve been together for seven years, married for two. It was a discussion we had before we got engaged, we talked a lot about it while we were engaged to make sure we were on the same page, and we do occasional check-ins to see how we’re feeling. In our initial conversations we talked about how it is conceivable (eh? eh?) that one or both of us would change our minds and that we’d talk about it if that happened or started to happen.

    There was a period of about three years starting after we got engaged where it seemed like everyone, family, friends, coworkers, friggin’ everybody, asked us when we were going to have kids. Constantly. Even if they already asked before (family and coworkers, not friends so much). It was infuriating. It was infuriating because it was always followed up with some variant of, “oh, you’ll change your mind.” Bonus points if they used the full, “You’re young. You’ll change your mind.”

    After a few years of “rather die, thanks,” and moving away and then moving farther away, that’s stopped.

    Now, when coworkers ask if we have kids and I say no, I get a lot of “good call” and it’s dropped. Which is nice. Occasionally I’ll get a follow-up, “why?” to which I respond, “Don’t want ’em.”

  14. I have a kid who just turned two. I love her and all that, but until I went back to work, I felt incredibly isolated and in need of intellectual stimulation. I’m working now, but making a little less than daycare costs. I was in moms groups for a while when I was a stay at home mom, but all we ever talked about were kids, and I felt I didn’t have much to contribute. There was also a lot of judging and passive aggressiveness and talking smack about other parents behind their backs. I realize that I was looking at the situation through the filter of self-loathing and self-doubt that I always operate under, but I felt that I was a crap parent. My kid wouldn’t eat or sleep. She still doesn’t sleep through the night and I just weaned her around her second birthday. So, yeah, I’m crap at parenting. Another part of my isolation is that I live in a city where I don’t know anyone, and my husband works 12 hour days. So it was just me and baby all day every day until I went back to work. I still feel isolated and like I’m shit at being a mom, but it’s not as bad as it was.

    If you get sick of talking about kids at work, then talk to me (or a parent like me, I guess). I want nothing more than to just talk to grown ups about grown up stuff.

  15. Man, was I oblivious when my siblings had small kids and I had none. I still cringe to remember some of the thoughtless stuff I said, and the thoughtless things I assumed (luckily very rarely said outloud). While I’ll never understand people thinking childless people are selfish (selfish? Selfish not to burden the world with more people when even the parents aren’t that keen to take on the job of child-raising? Reallly?!!), I also know that my attitudes before having a kid were pretty arrogant. I thought of having kids as like choosing to buy a boat – a slightly frivolous and self-indulgent “choice” that should absolutely not be anyone else’s problem if things became difficult.
    Once I realized I wanted a kid, and had one, I slowly began to realize:
    1) Having kids is not the same sort of “choice” that buyng consumer goods is (as Mary and onamission5 said above). Sure, we’re SO lucky now that we in the developped world can (mostly) choose not to become parents by accident, but having kids is just something that lots of people just want to do for reasons that make no rational sense, but are nevertheless really important to them. It is part of being human (even though not wanting kids is also part of being human!). Having kids isn’t the same as buying a boat. That should be embroidered on a cross-stitch sampler :-)
    2) People in North America really want to put parents-with-kids into a separate, “kid-friendly”, fenced-off area of life, from which they are only allowed out to mingle with non-parents if they carefully tuck their kids out of sight (i.e. babysitter, daycare). While I love spending evenings out with other adults without my kid, I also love spending time in multi-generational groups which are not ALL ABOUT THE KIDS.

  16. Hi Mary, this is Felicity. I am glad you’re enjoying being a Mom and spending time with your daughter. I look forward to meeting her someday.

    So, I’m 42, married, and never seriously thought about having kids. I don’t remember ever having a serious urge in that direction. I occasionally see a really cute kid and think, Aw, I wish I had one (most recently at the Waltham Steampunk Festival when I saw an adorable toddler wearing a jetpack), but 100x more often I hear a kid screaming bloody murder in the grocery stpre store, or spend time with a super-energetic young person, and I thank the FSM that I never procreated. I am sure the joy outweighs the pain in the long run, but I just don’t “get” it.

    The only time I feel the slightest twinge of guilt is when I worry about fundamentalist religious people (e.g. the Quiverfull movement) taking over the world by out-breeding the rest of us. I feel some responsibility toward the next generation and those that come after, to promote science and secular values and to fight against bigotry in all forms. I can only indirectly influence the young people whose paths cross with mine, but I hope it is enough.

    1. Hopefully I can bring her to a book club soon, although I’m cautious until she’s had all of her vaccines.

      Like I said, I don’t really like other people’s kids that much but that is more because I have an issue with how they’re being parented. Which is also why I wanted my own kid, so that I can put my parenting to the test. When my baby cries, I get a lot of satisfaction from figuring out what she wants and fixing it. But then again, I have ALWAYS wanted kids, so I do not try to convince people who don’t have them otherwise!

  17. 31 and childfree by choice, and circumstance. Very happy. My 3 sisters all have kids. They can keep ’em. haha.

    I don’t dislike kids or babies at all and in fact am very grateful that I have many friends with babies. I love spending time with them.

    Then I get to go home without them :D

  18. The hardest part of becoming a parent for me was feeling like I don’t fit in. I felt like my choices on what I wanted was almost a betrayal of all the feminist activism I did previously. I feel like the feminist skeptic community looks down on my lifestyle. I’ve had so many people assume I can’t possible be a feminist or we must be religious wackos. And I must be oppressed – because a REAL feminist would never choose to forgo paid work or desperately need help finding a childbirth attendant who will treat me like an autonomous adult and support my desire for an unmedicated childbirth, or want to nurse a child for 2+ years. Sometimes I feel like the feminist skeptic community focuses almost exclusively on the birth control/abortion side of reproductive freedom (which I am ALL about and advocate for on a regular basis) and not at all on the rights of pregnant, birthing and breastfeeding women and the needs of parents in the workplace and the challenges of parenting as a skeptic/atheist/non-theist in our culture.
    I am a stay at home mom. We have three children. We practice child led weaning, the family bed, baby wearing, homeschooling. I love being a parent, and I feel ridiculously privileged.
    But then I don’t fit in with many of the other parents who have those things in common because of our atheism and feminism. Luckily I have recently found more families like this, and I’d love to see more about these topics on Skepchick.

    1. I have to admit, I did not understand that breastfeeding would be something I enjoyed doing until I did it. Of course, my baby latched on quickly and we haven’t had too many issues, and now we’re pros, but now I get why women would want to do it for more than the minimum amount of time necessary.

      If I didn’t have student loans, I would probably consider staying home, but unfortunately we need the income. So far, I’m having a blast, but then again I am more of a homebody so I don’t feel isolated at all.

    2. Hi Erin, I don’t fit in either, so we’re in good company. ;P

      My parenting and reproductive choices are not up for public debate so I’m not going to post many specifics about them, but I wanted to say that I feel you. Parenting is hard. Parenting without a support system outside of your own tiny sphere, where every decision you make is put up for public ridicule *no matter what decision it is* and everybody thinks they know someone who did that and fucked their life/kids all up? Really fucking hard.

      Basically, after doing this gig for some two decades now, I’ve decided that absolutely nothing anyone does regarding reproduction is going to be okay with everyone. Have kids, don’t have kids, have just one, have a bunch, free range, helicopter, crunchy or not crunchy, nothing you do will ever be satisfactory. So, do what you do with compassion and empathy, do it with awareness and understanding, but just do what works for you.

      My sister is child free, I’ve got a passel. She gets slut shamed for daring to have sex while not wanting to be a parent, I get slut shamed for having had so many kids back to back. She gets told she’s selfish for having a kid-free life, I get told I’m selfish for using so many resources. She gets told she’s immature because she knows she doesn’t want kids, I get told I am immature for thinking I get to decide that I do. She gets pissed at the family for treating her like she’s less than or unfulfilled because she isn’t a mom, I get pissed because I get treated like I am invisible and incompetent for being one. Neither of us can win for losing, so all we can do is try to support each other and agree that all those other family members have Serious Issues with women making their own decisions, no matter what those decisions may be. Judgmentalism: It’s fun for the whole family!

  19. I am constantly getting the “you’ll change your mind” thing. I’m 35. I have never, and I mean it, never, felt that “biological clock” thing. I’ve seen it, in men and women, I believe it exists, but I have not felt it. I have considered for some time the idea of taking in foster kids or adopting, sometime when I have the space and the time. I worked in child and youth care for a while, and I saw how horrible the lives of some kids in foster care were. I figure those kids need homes more than I need to be pregnant. I do not need to be pregnant. At all. Not even a little.
    But I have gotten “you’ll change your mind” or people just simply not being able to grasp that there is a WOMAN who does NOT want children! Inconceivable! Overall most people aren’t too bad, they just say “okay” and some seem mollified by my sort-of plan to foster/adopt.
    I often find myself made a bit uncomfortable by being asked why I don’t have children. I wonder if they’re going to jump down my throat about the answer, for one, but I also wonder if they’ve ever upset anyone by asking them. I mean, what if I was someone who desperately wanted kids but couldn’t? Or if I had lost a child? People are strange about these things.

  20. I should add – my mother was very unhappy with my decision not to have kids. She pestered me for a long time, constantly trying to find a way to convince me to have a kid. Finally I said “Look, you’ve fought for women’s rights all your life. You fought for my right not to have children. Allow me to exercise that choice.”

  21. On a similar note to the “childless people are a danger to the lifestyle of people with children” idea in comments above, I once talked to a friend’s friend who was ranting about how terrible it is for children whose parents split up. To me a divorcee. We’ve divided childcare between me and my ex, we communicate, help each other out in practical matters, around school, etc. And despite things being a bit rough, emotional and demanding during the breakup years, I’m happy it worked out this way. My 8-year-old daughter is generally well-adjusted, intelligent, has no problems in school, is creative, musical, surrounded by people who love her. She has a new sister courtesy of her step-dad and has gotten over the “it’s not fair me staying with mummy/daddy phase”.
    My advice to my pre-baby self might be “use actual birth-control” and “watch out for anger-management issues” or “don’t be such a self-centred prick”, but all the poop/sleep/babycare – I’d say to treat it like parallel parking – just keep doing it and it gets to become a habit. We even had a phase of *active nappy-changing* – on a park bench, in the snow, on a train, in the car… take it like a challenge and all the practical obstacles can be overcome. Also: separation of parents can be good for a child if the parents don’t act like dicks and actively fight the “who’se a better parent, who does our kid love more” breakup drama.

  22. Up until a few years ago, I was fairly ambivalent about the idea of having kids; it seemed like it might be a rewarding thing to do, in an abstract sort of way, someday, maybe. But approaching 30, I find myself thinking about it a lot more, and being fascinated by my friends’ children. Helping them explore the things that excite them seems so rewarding.

    Last Halloween, I dressed as a mad scientist to give out candy. A group of trick-or-treaters came by my door, and I asked them what they were dressed as. One of them, a tall girl who looked about 8 years old, proudly announced, “I’m the goddess Demeter! Are you a scientist? I love science!” Having a daughter like that would make it worth cleaning up an awful lot of baby poop.

  23. My wife and I are child-free, and always will be. Neither of us have an ounce of desire, and we’re old enough now, and together long enough, that people have stopped asking when we’ll have kids. It used to be the constant barrage of “oh, but you two would be so great as parents” and I think enough people got to hear my rants in reply that they gave up hope!

    Of course, I deal with it better than she does, for a number of reasons. I’m a guy, we get far less pressure to procreate than women do. I’m a hermit, so I don’t feel as much need to interact with others, and am therefore not “the other” in a room full of parents nearly so often. And she has fewer peers, and her friends all drift away eventually on a tide of hormones and diapers.

    When I think about what it would take to want to raise a child, it would be much more like ordering a car. I want factory options!

  24. I’m in a slightly strange position. I don’t have children of my own yet but I REALLY want to and my fiance feels the same way. However, I’m polyamorous and my boyfriend of over 3 years has a son who is soon to turn 6. I am not the father of this child, I am not his step-father, and I am not really his uncle. Defining our relationship is weird. I love this little boy to bits. I have a lot of parental-type feelings about him and an incredibly strong feeling of responsibility for him.

    Some people (especially my boyfriend) were under the impression that spending more time around the kid would make me less likely to want my own children, but it has not at all. I come from a HUGE extended family and a history of babysitting for my whole neighborhood, so it’s not like I didn’t know how much work children are. I’m VERY aware of it. I see it as training. I want my own kids, and spending time with other children only makes me more and more prepared for it. I can’t be FULLY prepared but I can go into parenthood with as much experience and information as I can manage. I think that’s a good thing.

    Also, any children I have (myself, or via my fiance) will be VERY planned, since as a transguy it’s impossible for me to become a father by accident.

  25. I echo what has been said, didn’t think I’d like kids, a kid came despite my other plans. Love the little things to death now.

    Liked to travel, still like to travel, now take them traveling for not much more money than I used to travel myself.

  26. Hi
    I am currently 10 weeks pregnant with my first, and as I’m in a lesbian couple it took a lot of planning! I was wondering if any of you knew of a good site for skeptical parenting advice (i.e. things with scientific evidence to back them!)- so far my searches have only led me to the Wrong Kind of Skeptics (anti vax etc).

    1. It’s not necessarily a “skeptic” site, but I got a lot of information from BabyCenter (not the forums). Also, the MayoClinic had good information, and you can’t go wrong with womenshealth.gov (from the HHS). Good luck with your pregnancy!

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