FULL DISCLOSURE – I talk about vaginas and periods and all that in this post, so if that bothers you, bugger off.
“Well, that all depends on when you want to conceive…”
A female NHS doctor, January 2021
Believe it or not, these were the actual words said to me by a female doctor earlier this year. After having a period that lasted well over a month, my severe health anxiety around cervical cancer made me instantly pay a trip to my GP. One pregnancy test and an examination later, I was reassured that it was nothing more than a hormonal thing, more than likely related to me being on the contraceptive pill. After discussing with the GP that I’d been on the pill since I was 16 due to some ridiculously heavy and painful periods, she brought up the idea of coming off of it completely. I was happy with this – a break from all those hormones wouldn’t have been a bad thing. However, I still wanted to have the extra peace of mind that I wasn’t going to get pregnant any time soon, so (without disclosing the former), I asked if there was any particular contraception she would recommend. She responded with the above. She probably didn’t mean anything by it, but I was quite shocked that she said “when” rather than “if.” Apparently because I have a vagina, that automatically means I will be wanting to have a baby at some point in my life…
Anyway, this brings me on to today’s post. It’s one that I’ve re-written on multiple occasions, because I REALLY don’t want to offend anyone. The overall issue is something that’s been on my mind since my husband and I got married, but it’s only within the last two or three years that it’s really been hitting hard. I remember back when I initially wrote my 30 Before 30, my goal was to have made the decision by the time I reached the big 3-0. However, I’ve since realised that’s not possible. Instead, I tweaked things and wanted to grow enough balls to come and say what I really think about the issue. Look, it may upset people, but at the end of the day, I wanted my blog to be a place where I tell the truth, so that’s what I’m going to do. Here goes.
Since we got married, babies have been a topic of conversation. The three months following the wedding (because apparently that’s the time-frame to aim for), we were asked on multiple occasions “anything you want to tell us…?” As if conceiving a baby is the done thing on your wedding night.
Cut to 2021, approaching our six year anniversary, and it’s something that’s still brought up more often than not. I get that no one means it maliciously, and I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but every time I’m asked “when are you guys having a baby?” or told “you’ll be next!” I just want to cry my eyes out. Mainly, because I DON’T FUCKING KNOW WHAT I WANT.
Let’s start by being honest – I don’t like kids. Any of my friends and family will tell you that. However, when it comes to my friends’ kids, I adore them. I love how funny, cute and just full on adorable they are. Over the years I’ve seen some of my best friends turn into incredible parents to these amazing little people, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. However, does that mean I can see myself as a parent? I really don’t know. The one thing I do know is that I would be a shitty parent. I’m selfish, stubborn, and I’m physically repulsed by anyone who comes near me with any form of illness.
What I’m going to do today is share some very personal thoughts on the topic – and I’ve decided one of the easiest ways to do it is to share the pros and cons. As I mentioned in the intro to this post, I have no intention of upsetting anyone, so please don’t see it as an attack on you, your kids or your life choices. These are my thoughts, and fuck me, I need to get them out some way or another.
(Not Ideal) Reasons To Have a Baby
1: It’s the “Next Thing”
I hate how society dictates this as the “next step” for married couples, but alas, that’s what it does, and it’s seeped into my mind even as someone who doesn’t particularly like kids. We’re married, and we’ve just bought a house. It’s pretty much a done deal that this would be the next thing for us. But obviously, that situation alone shouldn’t dictate things, but because it’s what so many others have done, it’s almost expected.
2: I Don’t Want To Be Left Out
I hate myself for this being one of my legitimate reasons, but this is the kind of personality I have. I remember back at school when everyone had an iPod – so I desperately wanted an iPod. I didn’t even know what iPods were and had no intention of wanting one…until all my friends had one. That, my friends, is essentially how I feel about babies.
In all seriousness, more of my friends are starting to have kids, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared of being left behind. It seems as though there’s a dynamic – from what friends have told me, when you’re the first in your group to have kids, you initially feel a bit left out by the ones that don’t – you can’t just pop to the pub or invite people over anymore. However, as the years pass, and more of your friendship group start to have kids, the dynamic starts to shift. Which brings us to now – classic me, I will do literally anything if it means I don’t get left out.
3: ATTENTION BEBEH
Again, this post isn’t really presenting me in the best light, but I promised full disclosure, so that’s what you’re getting. A baby would be the first grandchild in our extended family, and for that reason, like an absolute self absorbed prick, I genuinely have “extra attention” on my list of pro-baby things. It’s a shameless need for approval that clearly needs some sort of investigating on my part, but it’s true. Maybe that alone suggests I’m not ready to be a parent.
4: I Have the Pregnancy Announcement Planned
I have had our potential pregnancy announcement planned out for years now, and, not going to lie, I’m gagging to put it into action. Again, it’s definitely not an excuse to have a baby, but I’ll tell you my dream preggo announcement in case it never actually happens. Obviously, it involves Tilly. She’s going to sit her fluffy little butt in front of a sign that says “I’m going to be a big sister!” along with a scan picture underneath.
5: Babies Make My Ovaries Cry
I mentioned that a number of my friends have had kids over the last few years, and I blame them for having the cutest babies. Every single time I’ve given their babies a cuddle, my ovaries have just exploded. I can’t even. They are just the dreamiest little cutie pies. The squeaky little baby noises they make, their cheeky smiles and their dreamy big eyes – it’s all just too much. Combined with seeing all of the adorable little outfits in clothes shops (mainly Disney, obvs), it’s almost like the prospect of babies being all cute and squishy overrides everything. Which brings me nicely onto the next few points…
(Pretty Legit) Reasons To NOT Have a Baby
1: I’m Not Parent Material
Where do I start? I have no patience and I’m selfish. I love the little things us child-free adults take for granted, like sleeping, having money and having a tidy house. I genuinely don’t think I could cope with not drinking for a whole pregnancy and the months after. Oh, and like I said, I don’t like kids. Yes, I love my friends’ kids, and they’ve told me that when I have my own kids, my outlook will change. However, I don’t trust myself. It’s quite the gamble.
Again, I’m probably biased as I don’t have kids, but from the outside, they just feel like little germ machines. Maybe, just maybe, I could deal with the explosive poo-namis at some point (let’s ignore the fact I can’t even cope with clearing up my cat’s shit at the moment), but when it comes to them actually being ill, that’s a different story. Of course, they go to school/nursery and mix with other kids, they have no self control so will happily put their hands in or on anything within sight, of course they’re going to get sick. What I’m saying is, mentally, I don’t think I can cope with that. My friends with kids have told me that when it’s your own kids, you don’t really care about the infinite stream of bodily fluids that comes out of them – you just get on with it. Again, it’s me. I don’t like those odds. I really don’t trust that the maternal instinct will kick in when my hypothetical child gets sick.
Okay, before I start, I’m well aware there are loads of people out there with OCD who are parents, and who do an amazing job. However, when it comes to my personal situation, I really don’t know if I could cope. My OCD instantly gets worse during times of stress and when I’m tired, so I can’t imagine that a big ol’ dose of pregnancy hormones will make things any easier to deal with. In all seriousness, this is one thing that really scares me. I’m scared that my OCD will worsen with pregnancy hormones in general, but I know for a fact that if I felt the tiniest niggle, twinge or just generally felt that something wasn’t right, it would be an instant panic attack. I’m scared my anxiety will go into overdrive and beyond when it comes to the birth itself, and I’m scared that my OCD will get even worse after this hypothetical baby is born.
Plus, there’s the fear that I will pass my OCD onto my hypothetical child. I wouldn’t ever want to hide my illness from them, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want them to see me carrying out compulsions and experiencing panic attacks because they licked one of the toys at the doctors’ surgery. More than anything though, I would not want to pass OCD on to them. I want to be able to cuddle them and make them feel safe whenever they’re sick, not get irrationally angry because I’m probably going to catch it. I want them to be able to be kids and do the things that kids do without me running up to them with a bottle of hand sanitiser every time they touch something I deem as “contaminated.”
Again, I know there are so many parents out there with OCD who do an amazing job, and their kids are happy and healthy, so please don’t think I’m discriminating here. I’m not. These are genuine fears I have about my ability to be a parent.
Phew. That got a bit depressing. Apologies. This was meant to be a light-hearted, dark humoured, self loathing bit of an essay that would probably make a killer stand up routine if I had the balls to ever attempt to become a stand-up. However, I did what my main goal was – to get these thoughts out. They’ve been floating around my mind for years now, and I’ve never had the courage to put them out there generally, let alone in a full on blog post. The naive little fucker that I was when I originally wrote my 30 Before 30 wanted to have the decision made. Babies or no babies. Like it was that easy. Two and a half years on, I’d love to have a magical ending to this post where I tell you that YES, WE’VE DECIDED WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY YAAAAAYYY! But, nope. Sorry, spoiler alert.
I still have no idea what I want. But maybe that’s okay. Because you don’t have to know for definite whether you want kids, and more importantly, it’s no one’s goddamn business but yours and your partner’s. So, as we come to the end of this post, I have a few final nuggets of wisdom.
On behalf of all women, please stop asking us when we’re having a baby. You don’t know the full story as to why they’re not pregnant. Yes, it’s been the “done thing” for however long, but it’s not okay. They could have experienced pregnancy loss or fertility issues, maybe they have a medical condition that means it’s difficult to conceive – or perhaps they just simply don’t want children. Whatever it is, it’s none of your business. So please, think before you speak.