the invisible baby that follows me around

Sometimes I think there’s an invisible baby in my life. It follows me around, waiting, gurgling and cooing in pointed judgment.

I measure stuff against it. “So if I can get this damn book published by the time I’m twenty-seven. Twenty-eight, maybe. Then I’d maybe be ready.” It reminds me that I’m getting older, faster,  all the time. “What are you, thirty-nine? Oh, twenty-five! Not so different…Your eggs are already shriveling and growing more diseased and lopsided by the second. You’re not a kid anymore. Which is too bad, since you hit the peak of your fertility when you were, like, sixteen, or possibly even younger, when you still had those braces that ultimately didn’t even make much of made a difference. You thought it was cool to get the bands in holiday themed colors. YOU WERE MOST FERTILE THEN. And now look at you! Scrambling around, trying to find yourself or something, as time runs inexorably out. The clock is ticking, woman! Don’t think the clock isn’t ticking, just because you’re covering your ears.”

(source)

People ask me, “So are you guys thinking about kids?”

That’s what happens when you get married. Even in New York City, the land of not-having-to-think-about-kids-until-you’re-30.

“I think I’ll have a baby when I’m thirty, man or not,” said one of my friends at a group event.

“What?” the other twenty-something women cried. “Thirty? That’s too young! How about thirty-five?”

The land of not-having-to-think-about-kids-until-you’re-35.

The thing is– I want to have a baby. Sometimes I want to have one RIGHT NOW. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that. Especially since people from NYC read this blog.

Sometimes I see a baby and I get that melty feeling that women get when they fit scientifically supported stereotypes. It’s like my uterus is talking to me. It’s sort of sly and purring. “Come on…you know you want one…you could have one…”

And then I go home and stare at the wreckage of the book I’m trying to write, and I feel slightly panicky. And then my brain turns to steel and snaps at my uterus to please be quiet until you have something worthwhile to say. I have things to do. Lots of things. I have to make something of myself.

In the world I live in “making something of yourself” means your career. In my mom’s world, it means your family. And my mom is the most obvious and powerful example of motherhood I have. This is all very confusing.

I do embarrassing things as a result. At Bear’s office holiday party (which I was much better at this time), one of his co-workers asked me if we wanted to have kids.

“Yup!” I said, elegantly sipping a Cosmo (I always forget the names of all other drinks when the bartender asks what I want), and balancing on my tall heels without even swaying.

“How many?” she asked.

“Four!” I said.

Bear overheard. “Four?” he said. “That’s a lot! Did we agree on that?”

“Yes,” I said. “We agreed.” I couldn’t remember if we had.

His coworker laughed.

Later, Bear said, “So, four kids…And when are we getting started? Now?”

“OK!” I said. I thought about it for a second. “Or, in like, two years. That should give me enough time.”

Oh god, I thought. Two years? That’s not enough time! I have to make something of myself! I’ll probably need more time! Do I really want to have four kids? That’s really a lot. Where will I put them? What if they have weird personalities? What if they’re not nerdy? Oh god. They might not be nerdy. Then what? Maybe we shouldn’t have kids. We’d get to go out to eat a lot more if we didn’t. Not that we even go out to eat so much. But we should, because there are so many good restaurants on in the Village, and we’re so close to the Village now. Why aren’t we doing that more now? While there’s still time?

That damn clock.

I sit down for coffee with a famous woman writer. “So,” I say, “You have kids. How does that work out, with you being a writer?”

She smiles. She tells me she thinks writing is a great career for a mom. She says she didn’t get a whole lot done when her kids were really little, but that there was plenty of time later. There is plenty of time, in life.

Plenty of time in life, I repeat to myself. Plenty of time in life.

Sometimes I forget this. OK, I forget it every single day. I think I have to figure everything out right now. I think I have to understand everything, plan it, make sure it makes perfect sense. When really, it’s always going to be messy.

I’m not ready to have a baby right now, as much as my uterus wishes I was. Maybe I’ll be ready really soon. I can’t predict myself. But why do I think I should be able to? It’s not like I even know myself that well– I’ve only been alive for twenty-five years, and I’ve only been fertile for, like, fourteen of those. Shit. Fourteen years. My eggs are dying. MY EGGS ARE DYING. TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

God, it is so uncool to think about this stuff.

I hope I don’t see any babies when I go out later.

I kinda hope I do.

* * *

Women with babies– how are you doing? Women without them– do you think about them a lot? Or are they not on the radar right now? If you’re a teenager reading this blog–This post DOES NOT intend to convince you that you should have babies now, just because you happen to be really fertile.  I’m getting a little tired of writing that word, actually– it sounds like I’m talking about a field or something  :-)

Unroast: Today I love the crease where my forearm meets my upper arm. What is the other side of your elbow even called?

 

94 Comments »

Kate on December 16th 2011 in body, life, marriage, new york

94 Responses to “the invisible baby that follows me around”

  1. Elena responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I dunno Kate. I do not have any babies as yet and, to be honest, right now I think I never will. I don’t know how this will sound to you, ’cause when I talk to myself it comes out as awfully bad, selfish and a even a little bit crazy, a kind of against-nature thing to say: having kids comes to me as a burden. I travel a lot, I’ve lived here and there, moving every two years or so…Then I ask my self, is this the right life for a baby? If it was myself, I tell you I would have loved to do a lot more of travelling around with my parents, but I know it can be hard for a kid to never settle down. And then I think maybe this fear that that kind of living won’t be right for a kid is just me falling into family and lifestyles stereotypes…

    Then, I fear I’m not gonna be a good mum and I’m really really afraid that having a baby would mean loosing my life: leaving behind work and hobbies, going out with friends, travelling, sports, etc. But then I think that one day I’ll want a baby, and all of these things will then seem unimportant and it’ll be too late. I then I tell myself “it’s never too late; there’ll always be tiny little girls waiting to be adopted”.

    And so on and so forth…hehehe. It’s a mess…

    Glad to read you again!
    Elena

  2. Kelli responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    It’s called an elbow pit! (at least that is what MY KID says).
    Thanks for the chuckles. Even though this is serious stuff.. LOL

  3. Katharine Lilley responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Hey again! Let me just say, if women waited untill they were ready to have kids very few women would ever have kids! That is very cliche but so very true. We had our first when I was 22- unplanned. Our second when I was 24, unplanned again. Now I am growing number 3 at 28, yep, unplanned again. And I’ve had two miscarriages in between. But all of them were so longed for and wanted. I am a homeschooling stay at home mom so I guess I’m more like your mom. For me, there has been nothing in life so gratifying as being a mother to my children. Even when it is messy and smelly and boring and repetitive and sometimes isolating those are all small picture things. The big picture is we conceived a LIVING CREATURE and I grew it in my WOMB and birthed it into this fallen world and I am raising these children who are the flesh of my flesh and I see my husbands face in theirs….
    That trumps everything.

  4. mylittlesoapbox responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    The timing is never really “right” it just is the timing…

    I’m fine by the way though the first few years with babies/toddlers were filled mostly by those babies/toddlers. I now have two children who are blossoming into lovely gentlemen and don’t need me as much now. So I have more time now than prior to pursue my own projects and interests. Though they are still balanced with the needs of my boys. I will say too that we’re homeschooling so I imagine my life looks a little like your mom’s might have when you were younger but perhaps with more farm and much less city.

    In the end I’m not where I thought I’d be…but I’m right where I want to be and at the core of myself I’m truly happy.

  5. Kate responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    @Elena
    That doesn’t sound even slightly crazy or selfish to me. It sounds practical and thoughtful and reasonable.

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s weird that I WANT to have kids.

  6. Anne Kelley responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    You too, huh? I’m 27, and I really wish I could take that ticking clock and smash it with a baseball bat. I want kids, but can I handle kids + art projects/book illustrations? But if you wait too long, there’ll be no kids… and round and round we go. :-P Yarg.

  7. aria responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    When you get that time is running chill and listen to Billy Joel Vienna one more time. It does the trick for me!

  8. Kate responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    @Katharine
    LOVE the description. Originally I had a lot more stuff about my mom in this post, but I took it out, because I’m still thinking through this. My mom is such a striking example of really strong belief in how important and fulfilling and meaningful motherhood is. But sometimes I think I’m just not as confident as her.

  9. Kate responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    @Anne Kelley
    EXACTLY.

  10. Kate responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I like these comments about “it’s never gonna be exactly right.” I think there’s a lot of pressure for things to always feel right. It’s hard to tell what that pressure’s about or how much the advice is worth.

  11. Jess responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    I think about kids constantly. I’m 25 but my gentleman is 32. Even though we’re in more or less the same place emotionally about kids right now (yes, but when we’re grown up enough to take care of them), all of his female friends of the same age group are starting in on motherhood. (See? They waited til their 30s, or close! And so did my mom! And everyone’s super healthy!) The mid-20s are when the uterus starts working on the brain. And for me, that means that since I want to be a really good mother, I shouldn’t rush out and have them before the deadline. 30, for me, is babytime. The pressure is that I have 5 years left to become an adult worthy of reproducing, which means figuring myself out enough to help someone else do it and maybe more importantly, making enough money to afford all the things a kid needs.
    And yeah, being a writer has always struck me as a great career for a mom. You can do the writing part from home. You can get a sitter to go out for interviews and whatever it is you’re writing on (I’m pretty journalism heavy). But mostly, you’re there. To pick them up from school and make their lunches. Getting your career in a comfortable place before choosing to reproduce is a big deal. But there is no finish line– your career doesn’t end! Even without kids. There are no credits to roll, no fadeout. You just keep on keepin’ on.

  12. Lissa responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Hi,
    I work at a family planning clinic with two midwives, and I was chatting with them about future plans (since I am getting married in June, in the process of applying to midwifery school myself), and they both asked me (separately) if we were planning on having kids. I said yes, and they both told me that we need to start really thinking and planning now. I am 24. They both heavily emphasized that even one year past 30 years old, the rate of conception declines dramatically and complications/reduction in err..”fertility encouraging” options decreases. This conversation shook me to the bone! They both acknowledged that yes, it is obviously POSSIBLE to have a healthy, easily conceived baby past 30, but odds start working against you at that point.
    This comment didn’t mean to fuel your fire of feeling anxious about this whole baby discussion, but more sharing that I feel the same way and share the information and advice I’ve received!

  13. Lissa responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    clarification: …complications *increase* and options in fertility encouragement *decrease*

  14. Raia responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I can remember having this same coversation with myslef and my husband. Now we have a one year old daughter. We married at 25 (me) and 26 (him) and we both have careers, I am a mechanical engineer and he works in software. And I wanted to make sure I had a solid start to my career before kids and wanted to keep it even after I had kids. I was 30 when my daughter was born. Seemed like a good age to me. Then if we decide to try for another when I am 33 or 35, I still have time.

    I am still in the thick of the little baby, new-mom thing and I can’t help but agree with the “you’re never ready” saying. I had no idea how difficult it would be – all of it, the having a baby, having a full time job and a marriage. No idea. My daugher is an adorable, lovely, amazing presence in my life and I love her so much, I tear up just thinking about how fiercely I love her. But having a baby made everything so much harder. I expected the work related stress, the physical difficutly of sleepless nights, the pregnancy, birth and recovery, but it’s also been really hard on my marriage and I wasn’t ready for that.

    I enjoy my career, it feels like the right place for me, but I question almost every day if I *should* be home with my daughter instead. Being at work is a break for me, most days, being at home with a baby all day long is exhausting (mentally, emotionally and physically)!

    Maybe that’s too dark to tell someone without kids, and maybe I am just really tired and cranky, so sorry about that, I really don’t regret having a baby, it’s an adventure I wanted to take. I remember hearing someone tell me that life before kids is like living in black and white and after kids it’s like life in color. Right now, I don’t see it like that.

  15. Emmi responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    I think you will be an amazing mum. I envy your future children!

    I don’t know if you ever watched the show Firefly and subsequent film Serenity, but there are two married characters in the show. They live dangerous, unpredictable lives. They discuss the possibility of trying for a child, and one says to the other, “I ain’t so afraid of losing something that I ain’t gonna try to have it.” That always struck me as very wise.

    When I’m not sure if I’m ready for something, I tend to go ahead and do it anyway. Because what makes you “ready”? We all have plenty of time, until we don’t.

    Babies aren’t that appealing to me, and it’s hard for me to understand why someone would want to sacrifice so much for a person they haven’t even met yet. Does that make sense? I pragmatic myself out of a lot of things. I envy women who know they want to have babies, to raise children. I do not seem to have these instincts.

    Try not to compare yourself to your mum too much? I think when you are finally a mum yourself you will see that there is more of her in you than you knew. And you’ve always got her behind you to help and advise as well :)

  16. Shannon responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    For a long time I said to myself that if I wasn’t in a relationship by the time I was 36 I would take matters into my own hands and have a baby by myself. I’m 36 now, and still single, but that option seems less appealing than it did when it was 30. I see all the people I know who are parenting children as couples and it looks hard, I’m not sure I want to sign up for that by myself. So I’m just going to hope that it happens organically before it’s too late, and if not I’ll just make the most of my independence and relish all of the things I can do as a single woman in this day and age. And I’ll spoil the shit out of my nieces. :)

    The other side of your elbow is called the anticubital area.

  17. Novice Wife responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    “please be quiet until you have something worthwhile to say” = love.

    I often fall into the trap of thinking that if I’m not currently accomplishing absolutely everything I theoretically *could* do – like being the perfect wife, rocking at work, reproducing, etc. etc. that I am somehow failing. But, conversely, when I have been forced to wait for things to come (like meeting the hubster), those are the things that have wound up being the most worthwhile.

    So, re kids, I’m trying to just sit and *be* with that idea for a while. Not rushing in. Not seeing it as something I have to achieve.

  18. midnightsky responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    This sort of view, while I hear it’s a common one, confuses the hell out of me. If I ever start hearing my biological clock, I intend to take a sledgehammer to it. I do not like children; I’m terrified of pregnancy; I can’t deal with lost sleep; I have no patience; it just wouldn’t ever work out. I don’t even want kids, whether they’re good for me or not. I have no maternal instinct whatsoever.

    Despite society trying to convince me otherwise, I think this is a terrific position. I will be one of the DINKs — Dual Income No Kids — who have a fat bank account while everyone else is paying for school and clubs and food and clothes for the kids. I’ll be able to take vacations whenever I want, and it won’t have to be to Disneyland. I’ll have plenty of time to be a Career Woman without the guilt of not being there to raise my kids.

    I don’t really see what kids have to convince me that they’re better than freedom, money, and spare time. It’s miraculous to me that anyone at all wants kids. I hear a lot of mysticism surrounding kids and the hormones that they generate in moms, but I’m just not feeling the push.

    Props to you, but I simply can’t comprehend — although, if everyone were like me, the human race would die out! ^^;

    By the way, as a plan in case you either don’t want to/can’t bear your own kids at the point at which you want to, have you considered adopting at that point?

  19. annajcook responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    As someone who’s looking into my thirties and beyond with a very slim likelihood of parenting, I just wrote a post this summer about the complicated place I feel like I’m in right now, vis a vis families, parenting, and our culture. So … shameless bit of self-promotion here … I thought you might be interested. As a fellow former unschooler, while I’m mostly at peace with not being a parent, I know I’ll miss the intergenerational family culture I thrived in as a child. And I’m not sure yet where I’ll find that piece for myself.

  20. Sonja responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    I had my first baby when I was 28 and am going to have my second in a few months, about four years later.
    I did four years of college, one year of post-graduate work, then I had crappy part-time jobs or was unemployed for 18 months, then I taught for almost a year. I really, really wanted to be a teacher, and I loved it. I also really wanted to be a mom, and I love that too, even though I did give up teaching to be with my son 24/7.
    So – I felt like I had “made something of myself” before I had my son, and that was important to me. I’m also still making something of myself, (even though I don’t get paid for any of it). What I’m making of myself these days is something different from what it used to be, and while I do sometimes miss who I was, I mostly really like who I am now (better than before, actually) and the opportunities for personal growth I have now.
    And even though my son was very much wanted, hoped for, and waited for, I had moments during my pregnancy where I thought “Crap. Why did I get pregnant?! My life is so great, and I’m pretty sure this is going to mess everything up.” I haven’t had a single moment like that since he was born.
    Also, I always thought fertility peaked at age 25, so just tell your uterus that next time it pesters you.

  21. bethany actually responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    It’s not uncool to think about having babies. It’s totally normal! It’s what most people do, eventually, with their lives! It’s a biological imperative, even! You are programmed to want babies, especially babies made with a handsome, strong, good provider like Bear. We might be postmodern women with smartphones and college degrees and career plans but all our DNA knows is, “There’s a good candidate RIGHT THERE, in our bed. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR!?”

    I agree with those who said there is never a perfect time. Having babies when you’re young is great, because you have a lot more energy and can take the sleepless nights better, and when your kids are teenagers you’ll still be relatively young yourself. Having babies when you’re older is great because you’ve done a lot of living and gained some wisdom, you’re more patient and it’s easier to go with the flow.

    I had my first daughter when I was 29, which was about five years later than I would have liked. I was married, we were both ready for a family, but my husband was in the Navy and he was deployed and overseas a LOT during those five years. So first of all we had the problem of not being in the same room very often, which is kinda necessary for making babies; and second, we didn’t really want to have a baby knowing that my husband was going to miss half of the first year of her life. So when we finally had our daughter we were VERY ready for her. And I think the extra years we waited were really beneficial to us: we were stronger in our marriage and very confident in our desire for a family (no doubt or second-guessing); we were able to do a lot of traveling that we might not have been able to do with kids; and I was a calmer, more relaxed mom than I would have been at 24.

    We had our second daughter a year ago, when I was almost 36. Being pregnant at 35 was a LOT harder physically than it was when I was 28, and I’ve had easy pregnancies. Although doing the baby thing now—sleepless nights, cutting back significantly on my own interests and hobbies temporarily—has been easier in a way, because I know there’s an end in sight. I’ve been through this before, and I know it won’t be this way forever.

    Anyway. I guess I just wanted to share my experience with having babies at different ages. Whenever you do start a family, it’ll be challenging and crazy and perfect. And that’s pretty much the truth no matter what.

  22. Lilli responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Hey Kate, I’m 17 and, although there’s no way I’d want to have a child *right now*, I must admit I can definitely see myself being a mother. Which is probably contrary to what everyone expects from me, seeing as I’m supposed to be the highly academic, career woman to-be, whereas I actually think that I would much rather get married and have lots of children.
    I must admit, I agree with a lot of people who’ve commented and said that the time can never really be right, everyone I know who’s ever had a child has said they felt far too young and inexperienced, which includes a friend of mine who became a father for the first time at 45!
    I think you’d make an absolutely brilliant mother though, and you’d probably have amazing children <3 x

  23. Melanie responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    First of all, it is most definitely not uncool to think about. If you want kids you’ll know when it feels right to start trying. I have always known that I did not want to have children. I love kids, and worked with them for many years, I just don’t want to give birth to any of my own. I may adopt later when I’m done traveling and being selfish, but most likely I won’t. From what I’ve seen so far from the blog you would make an outstanding mommy. Being an outstanding mommy is pretty much the most imporant job on the planet.

    I agree with all of the comments of there never being a right time. There will always be something that you could use as a reason not to have children. You’ll know when it feels right and you’ll go for it.

    I have so many other things to inappropriately overthink about, I’m kind of glad I got the no kids thing figured out early. :)

  24. Layla responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Is the baby like the dancing one that used to appear on Ally McBeal? Did you ever see that? It was creepy.
    I’m 30 and I never want kids, I’ve known this since I was about 12. I want my life to be lived for me and to enjoy it, and I don’t want to spend it looking after someone else and never getting to do what I want, never getting a lie in, always having someone dependent on me. I have no illusions about what having children is like – I think if you want them, be prepared to give up yourself for them, at least in the early years. The idea of that is my idea of hell. But if you really want them, I’m not sure there is ever a “good” time, just go with your heart, I think, on things like that.

  25. Anne responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    There is “plenty of time in life”… but the sooner you have them, the longer you have to enjoy them. Kids are completely awesome and they totally add so much richness to life. I had my first at 20 and my fourth at 30, guess I’m not cut out for NY. It certainly is not the only thing I plan to do with my life, I’ve got plans, but I feel pretty certain no other achievement in my life will ever come close to touching this mom thing.
    As far as confidence in your mom abilities…. Being a family is hard, really hard sometimes, but you just love, screw-up, forgive and love some more. You’ll be great.

  26. tirzahrene responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    When I think about who I am and what my future looks like, it has never not included having my own kids. Even when I was married to a man who had me convinced that I’d be a bad mother and should just be stepmother to his five and didn’t actually want my own kids.

    So yes. I’m going to have kids someday. Hopefully biologically mine, and if not, they’ll still be mine. And I hope it’s reasonably soon because I’m 30 and pretending that that fact doesn’t make me PANIC.

    It helps that my mom had seven kids between 28 and 42. It also helps that for every “Your fertility declines!” thing I read, I have a friend who tells me I’ve got plenty of time.

  27. katilda responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    i always call it my elbow pit.

  28. Tara responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    I’m almost 31 and more single than I have ever been. I want kids, but, uh, I guess I’m screwed. But I sort of don’t care. But I sort of do. I want to adopt, but will probably never have enough MONEY to do that (why god why can any idiot pop out a child with no prerequisites but those who want to adopt need a zillion dollars?)

  29. Cassie responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    I had that invisible baby too. And my husband had it even more than I did – he wanted kids way more and way earlier than me. I was content to be like you, pushing it back to invisible deadlines I set for myself.
    Then we both had careers, we bought a house, and my period was late. Totally unplanned. And now we’re having twins (I think I mentioned that in another comment.)
    I’m not really sure how we’re going to handle it all, but it will be an adventure! And many people have told us that there’s never a good time for kids, that we’d always have an excuse. So sometimes, I’m grateful that it happened this way!

  30. Caitlin responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I’m 27 and a writer as well, and in the past 2 years I’ve started having the most vivid dreams – I’m sitting in a chair with a little baby boy on my lap, and he turns his face up toward mine and says, “what time is it?” My heart swells with love and I wake up.

    I’m embarrassed at how transparent my biological clock is in its maneuvering.

    I can see both schools of thought – establishing your career before having a child, and having a child and figuring out your career as your go along, setting up footholds as you gradually start to have more time. I’m about to get married and terrified that I’ll somehow be “left behind” intellectually by my husband as he works and I spend my time changing diapers. But I also can’t imagine the end of my life without the love of a family I created with him.

    So, in a word – confusing!

  31. Sarah responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    It’s all okay.

    Honestly, and practically, you lose maybe 6 months of mental space/energy/wherewithal for non-baby related life-goal or dream or career things after the birth each child. After that, you just have to manage your time. You can still write a book if you have a baby, and you can do it without gypping anyone. You just have to work smart.

  32. Erin responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    I’ve been noticing lately that “Life is Short” is a pervasive meme in advertising, which I’m sure helps to serve the purpose of getting you to buy something you don’t really need, but it’s kinda……..wrong.
    Life expectancy has never been higher. There are exceptions, but we can reasonably expect that our lives will be long; so, the long view is the more reasonable one.
    My husband and I had to run out the clock on our own childhoods before either of us were ready to start a family. First baby at 36, second at 39.
    All is well.

  33. alex responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    I’m 18 and I definetly DO NOT want to have kids right now! That idea is just so unattractive. Eventually I will have one. Maybe at 30. I don’t blame you for wanting a baby. Some are so sweet and adorable. :)

  34. Also Kate responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Oh my god. I think of it less as an invisible baby (how cute!) and more like my uterus is a fucking asshole sometimes and wants things that are not good for me. Like MANY BABIES RIGHT NOW (I am 24). I like to explain to confused friends that it appears I only have enough blood to operate a) my brain or b) my uterus, and that at odd moments (like when walking through craft markets and finding hand-embroidered onesies) the blood flow shifts immediately from the brain into my ovaries and all I can think is MUST…. HAVE…. BABY…. NOW.

    Thankfully, my girlfriend is reasonable and has no biological clock ticking as of yet, and reminds me that we still have a few years yet, and we are not ready to begin the process of having babies, whatever that turns out to look like for us. But still. Holy hell. This started around 21 and I have no control over it. Hopefully it makes me appreciate the sleepless nights a little more when we finally have infants of our own?

  35. Amy responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    I’m 37 and I have two daughters, ages 8 and 6. I really wanted to have babies before age 35, thanks to all the articles and news stories I read/saw about women and fertility.

    I spent the better part of the last decade dealing with babies and young children. Wiping butts is not too bad. Feeding and bathing infants is incredibly sweet.

    Heading off tantrums and meltdowns suck. The terrible twos lead into the “Oh-My-God-Threes.”

    I am sick of hearing “MOM!” hundreds of times in a day.

    They’re also both extremely intelligent and get fantastic grades. Proud Jewish (have I mentioned their dad is a Doctor? Oh yes…and I always made honor roll…) Mom.

    I love my older daughter’s sweet voice, bouncy hair, and flair for the dramatic. She draws so well, and writes fantastic stories.

    I also dislike her flair for the dramatic, tendency to cry at the drop of a hat and that she forgets homework, loses her lunchbox, gloves, sweaters, etc.

    I love my youngest’s husky, earnest voice. Her literal streak and her adult teeth which are coming in as crooked as her baby teeth were…and now with overbite! We’ll probably correct it later, if she wants, but I think it’s awfully cute.

    This child is, unfortunately, also the reincarnation of Genghis Kahn. Why oh why did I name her after one of King David’s warriors AND Judith…the woman who cut of Holofernes’ head?

    She is a scary child. Strong willed, feisty.

    And what about me? I put a lot of dreams on hold. My career (marketing/graphics) is totally dead in the water. I’m working part time at a job I dislike because it’s all I can find. I spent a good chunk of my life following my husband around and taking care of babies. Now, I’m close to 40 and…I have nothing.

    Except, I had the babies I said I wanted. That I sometimes take for granted and wish would leave me the hell alone so I can paint, or write.

    Then I feel guilty for pushing them away so that I can be me for a little while.

    I think this push and shove, give and take will go on for many years.

  36. Anna responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    I don’t intend to have kids until my late 20s or thirties either. I do, however, have found that deciding when to have kids comes from spending time around people who do. My next door neighbor just had her (totally adorable) son in October, but she waited until she was 29 and had a home and a steady income to do so (she’s a psychologist and her husband does… something math-y that involves him being gone for at least two months total each year…) Thanks to her (an my mother, who flat-out said if I have kids when I’m 19 like she did she’ll *ahem* beat my ass) I know that it is better to wait until you’ve found your niche in life before you have children (my mother, who didn’t wait ended up not being able to go to college or find a steady job she loved until she was in her 30s)

  37. dustwindbun responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    midnightsky, thank you for saying it – I feel just like you, but am too tired today to put it quite so coherently. I’ll be 30 in a month or two, and the closer I get to the classic ‘baby urge’ age, the less I want one. All the things that, say, Katharine (above) described as so great about babies for her just sound awful for me. Like, ick, instinctive revulsion. I am glad that other people out there want to have babies, because that way I don’t have to!

  38. craftosaurus responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I have an entirely different perspective: I would very much like to be a parent (thankfully my husband agrees), but I have no ticking biological clock to speak of. I have no desire to have biological children, only inexplicable gut certainties that pregnancy and childbirth would be ill-advised for me.

    And for an extra layer of angst/self-doubt/whatever, we haven’t had a lot of “when are you having kids” questions. I suppose one could chalk that up to folks being respectful our us being clear that we don’t want to discuss it, but of course the thought creeps into one’s mind: what if they all think we would be horrible parents?

  39. Emily responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    My mom had me when she was 37. She got married a month before I was conceived (though this was in no way a prerequisite for her and my dad to have me, it just happened that way). She always emphasized that she hopes I can do what she did, and get all my fun living times as a free, independent woman out of the way before I came around, not because I would totally shut down the free woman that she is, but so that she would be totally comfortable with hanging out with me at home in the country for most of her time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that she did what I think is enviable: she set her life up so that she was just yearning to have a child to share it with. I mean this in no way to say that women who have unplanned babies are bad, or anything like that– every woman has her own approach and finds what works for her, which I totally support and think is awesome. I do think that I’ll follow in my mom’s footsteps, though, and wait until I’m a bit older. I want to be totally sure that I’m ready to be a mother, and ready to give up my own desires and sacrifice sleep, sanity, etc. on occasion… it is such a big change, and I have infinite respect for the women out there who do it tirelessly.

  40. Katharine Lilley responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    The thing is Kate, confidance comes from experiance. I’m sure your mom was not the person she is today when she first had babies. I have changed SO much from the time I had my first baby. I was anxious and frusterated a lot. Now things are a heck of a lot easier. It comes from doing it for nearly six years.

  41. Marie responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    I have a very visible and occasionally- ok, usually- obnoxious toddler that follows me around. Who must have known I was thinking about him, cuz now he’s on my lap. And I’m a few months younger than you. All I can do is echo the sentiment that “It’s never the right time” because children completely change your life, so when is it going to be a good time to turn your life upside-down? Tomorrow? 10 years? At the same time, don’t make the mistake of thinking your life is over once you have kids. You train your kids to be human, and you can take them anywhere you go. I’m planning on taking a 2-year-old to Puerto Rico this summer.
    Also- the news inundates us with news about genius children and people who have made millions by the time they are 21. That isn’t typical. I plan on living a long time, so putting off my Ph.D is no biggie- So I’ll be 32 instead of 28 when I get it- I’ll also have raised a young child. It just took me 18 months to come to peace with that.

  42. Birdy responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Kate, how are we always on the same brainwave? I dont comment much but we are almost always thinking the same thing! (And our guys say the same things… its spooky…)
    Anyway, we’ve been married for a little over two years and people are ALWAYS asking me. Our MECHANIC asked me one day! lol
    For a while I was kinda bent on the DINK idea. And now the baby/kid thing is bugging me more and more. But I go back and forth “You can’t afford it!” “Sure we could” “Nope, no way. And you won’t be able to do anything you like to do anymore.” “oh, yes you could. You would be awesome parents!” “Nope nope.”
    And I’m only 23, I have plenty of time, even with the whole shrinking egg thing! But my mom had me at 24, and my mother in law had my husband at 23. ACKKK!
    But next time someone asks me, I’m going to say, “What do you mean? I have a 27 year old!” lol

  43. Jennifer Jo responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    You can continue to “make something of yourself” with kids underfoot!

  44. San D responded on 16 Dec 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    For a long time I figured that I didn’t want to be a mother because I felt that motherhood changed my mother from the woman my father married to someone else. I didn’t want to experience that transformation. By the time I came to terms with that, and realized that change is inevitable whether you have children or not, I could not have children. When people ask me if I have children I usually glibly say “no I had ovarian cancer instead”. My sister had her children early, and her children are wonderful, productive adults who are producing some lovely grandchildren, whom, because she had children early on, she is able to enjoy and keep up with, because she is a young grandmother. I, on the other hand, am reveling in my freedom, with the extra time and money that being childless affords me. As I was a teacher for over 35 years, I did have the enjoyment of other people’s kids, and a few are in my life permanently, and have brought me great joy as they include me in their family lives.

  45. Carolyn responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 8:28 am #

    The outside part of the elbow: the olecranon process – process of the ulna that forms the outer bump of the elbow and fits into the fossa of the humerus when the arm is extended.

    … from your nursing-student blog-reader… who is also a single mother of two young’uns. See? You can still do stuff after babies! I’m at the top of my class and I run our Student Nurse Association at school, all while raising two kids… That being said, it would all be a lot easier if I hadn’t married, had kids, and divorced before I was 27! But things work out the way they should, I think…

  46. P Flooers responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 8:55 am #

  47. jensketch responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Don’t wait – because you’re never perfectly ready.

    Also, you don’t want to be 60 when you’re kids are finally in college and you’ll be dead and not really able to enjoy your grandkids ;)

    basically what Jennifer Jo said.

    Also, if you take parenting seriously, there is nothing wrong with being a good parent as a job, either. :/

  48. Dee responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Before I ever grew up I knew I wanted 6 kids. I had six kids. I didn’t do it right. I got pregnant at 17 but I was responsible and sure of myself. I had lots of energy and I read everything. I had the next two in the next two years and the third one died of SIDS at four and a half months. It was devastating and I cried for the next thirty years whenever I thought of him or talked about him. Now I don’t cry but I wonder what he would be like as a man. The next one came two years later and then I was though with that part of my life and left it behind and moved to California where I met and married the love of my life. We had two kids together and we have been married 34 years. My life always revolved around my kids – no doubts – no regrets. I too home educated my kids and now I am raising a grandchild and still being a home educator. That said when you know yourself and decide what is right for you whichever choice you make – have kids now, later or never. Life is good. Don’t let what is expected of you run your life. Do good, be good.

  49. Raven responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Throughout my teen years, I thought the biological clock was a myth . . . until mine rang.

    Let’s put the biological facts in order. Your eggs, at 25 are not dying. And there’s now evidence to suggest that we continue to produce eggs throughout our fertile years, that the previous belief our eggs were with us from the time we are born, isn’t entirely true. We have a lot of eggs in our ovaries at our own births, but we make more.

    Also, the average population of human, female primates doesn’t see a significant drop in fertility until around 35. The fertile peak is actually closer to your “ready” date (27-30). At age 33, I’m the one who needs to be worrying. I have a child, as I’ve mentioned before. She’s 11 now, and already hitting puberty. For the last few years my alarms have been going off with incessant need. You have one invisible fetus following you about, I have two, and my partner’s been . . . unavailable . . . for fertilization thanks to a demanding work and school schedule. (I was upfront, and told him I wanted a second child within five years–it’s been six years, and two miscarriages since.)

    Honestly, the idea that simply because we can bleed and get pregnant at a young age, doesn’t mean we’re ready. And at 25, your eggs aren’t dying, they’re getting juicy and plump, and your fertility is heading toward its peak; that’s why you’re feeling the demand.

    Have your babies when you’re ready, just know, that there isn’t really any such thing as “ready” when it comes to having babies, and sometimes they come before you plan, no matter how careful you are*. You can be more financially solvent, you can feel you know yourself better, or have experienced things you want to sans children, but you’re never ready for how a baby will change your life, or the unexpected challenges presented by being parents. There are things you will say and do that you never thought possible before, and that’s not necessarily a negative.

    My suggestion: create a list of reasonable, achievable goals for two years, consisting of things you believe will be drastically different or less enjoyable with a child in tow. Do as many of them as you can, and then start welcoming children into your life.

    *(My daughter was conceived with my long-term partner who was, at the time, not only deemed medically infertile by the local university where s/he was tested, but also in the process of transitioning from male to female, and on testosterone blockers and progesterone pills to alter her hormones to allow for natural body reshaping. I got pregnant anyway; this daughter of mine wanted to be born.)

  50. Marti responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Here’s the truth. Children are time sucks and money sucks and energy sucks. They are black holes of need that never end, even when they hit adulthood. Even when you want them, and love them desperately after you get them, they are still all those things.

    Some people are better than others at working around all this to keep a part of their own soul for themselves. The process of parenting can be all-consuming,, and not in a good way, either.

    For me, the worst of it all was the unrelenting boredom of being the parent in charge of small children. It just eats through to your brain. I finally began to enjoy my kids when they got to be teenagers, and started becoming people.

    I know I am the minority view. Most of your readers will be scandalized by my comments. But I am brutally honest and dare to say what a lot of parents secretly think – that kids are not always the golden reward we had fantasized about. They are not always the endless joy and beauty your womb tells you they will be. Look around you — how many of other people’s children would you really want to own yourself? And you think yours will be ever so much better?

  51. Marina responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m 27 and expecting my first baby… uh… any day now. :) I’ve had baby fever for about five years, like, random crying jags about how sad I was that I couldn’t have a baby RIGHT THEN, even when I knew it would be a terrible idea. I don’t know how my husband put up with it. But he did, and this was the right time, and now we are having a super highly planned baby. And I don’t have any fewer career plans than I did a year ago. If anything, knowing I will have a child to support has kicked my career plans into high gear. It is now unacceptable to me to stick around in a job that pays less than I’m worth–I have a baby to support. And it is now unacceptable to stick around in a job that doesn’t feed my soul–if my job wears me out, I won’t have enough energy for my child, and what kind of role model would I be anyway? My career plans have moved from “it’d sure be nice to make a living doing what I love, but I can get by” to “I am going to do whatever it takes to have the truly stunning career of my dreams.”

    It helps that my husband is the one who plans to be the primary childcaregiver and “homemaker” (even though I hate that word). It works out really well that I hate most housework and he doesn’t mind it, and I am way more ambitious than he is. (And oh my goodness, coming home to a clean house and a hot meal after work, best thing ever.) So there’s no reason for me to “take time off” my career.

  52. Danielle responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I had my first baby at 33. I was all-career-all-the-time before that, and so was my husband. I never felt “ready” but I realized that when I thought about my future, kids were definitely in it. As each year ticked by, I think I finally realized I would never just one day wake up and say “I’m ready”. Instead it was being content with being the least ‘not ready’ I could be. We decided we weren’t going to get any less “not ready”, so we embarked on what has turned out to be the most amazing, wonderful, fulfilling journey I could ever imagine, and my son is only 10 months old. We both went back to work full time and I’d be lying if I said it was anything close to easy. I’m glad we just made the leap, and after our son was born I said to my family “If I had known how amazing this would be, I would have had a baby years ago”.

  53. Lynelle responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I don’t have kids, never intended to have kids, never particularly wanted kids… and if you take that in combination with the medical issues I’ve had since I was 18 that would add a number of extra risks to the process of producing babies, it’s probably just as well. I like children, I just never had the NEED to have children of my own. I’m 33 now, and I don’t regret it yet… mostly I just hope I don’t regret it when I’m 50. Or 60. Or 80. When I have nieces & nephews, I hope to build close relationships with them so I’ll at least have someone to visit me in the nursing home when I’m 90!

  54. Laura responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Loved this! When you’re ready, I’ll babysit!!!

  55. Dee responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    @jensketch btw I’m 60 raising an adopted grandchild who at 12 is the love of my life! we are home educators and if she wants to go to college or trade school she will be able to do it. she was a drug addicted baby and we faced the issues of her birth head on and now she is quite “normal” when she was a baby and toddler and young child she had temper tantrums and freaked out at loud noises and changes. I like to think we loved her past it. I intend to live long enough to meet her children. There is no perfect time. :) just time.

  56. justmama responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    I’d like to weigh in with some info from the “other side”. I’ve been where you are (sorta)…my babies are all grown up now. As a matter of fact, my girls are each hearing her “talking uterus”, the nosey neighbors and well-meaning friends and family members. This conversation has been playing a lot lately in my world.

    Motherhood is the “toughest job you’ll ever love” (sorry, peace corps…but it’s far harder than anything else out there). That being said, it is also the single most rewarding and life-changing thing I have ever experienced. And I say that in a very good way.

    The laws of physics apply to motherhood. “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction”.
    For every sleepless night with an infant, there is a wonderment of mother love that will overcome like nothing you have ever experienced. Something about those tiny fingers wrapping around yours…
    For every toddler tantrum, there is a moment of wonder watching this little person take on and conquer the big, bad world.
    For every homework fight, there is an amazing moment of discovery and conquest. The sense of achievement on the part of the child carries over to mama, particularly when the subject has been a difficult one.
    For every moment of teenage angst, there is a time of discussion that shows the depth of this young person that will truly astound.
    Then, there is the moment you realize that your “baby” is an amazing grown-up…amazing you with their intelligence and graciousness, their caring and concern. There is nothing to prepare you for that moment…no way to describe it except to say, “damn…I am SO blessed to have had a part in THAT!”

    It is said that motherhood changes you. I take issue with that. I think it re-defines you, perhaps makes you re-define yourself. I know that I have learned more from my children than I could have ever knowingly taught them. I’ve met people, been places, garnered knowledge, and had amazing experiences that I never would have had if I had never had these children in my life.
    I am a better, richer (in experience, not cash), gracious, concerned, engaged and dare I say, wiser, person because of the experiences motherhood granted me. Oh, and any liberality and coolness I may possess is a direct effect of having walked through the fires of motherhood! Just ask my eldest daughter. :)

    While I wouldn’t presume to say everyone should be a mother, I know that from a personal standpoint I benefitted tremendously. My world is a much brighter place because of my children.

    (For those moms who think they can’t take another “mommy, mommy, mommy….ad infinitum”. I had days like that, too. Then, I got that phonecall that made me think I might never hear that word again…over two weeks passed before I heard “hey, mama!” again. I will tell you, there are no sweeter in the English language…)

    There is a reason women have these feelings. Without them, the human race would cease to exist. It’s hard, it’s wild, it’s wonderful, it’s hard, it’s sad, it’s silly, it’s….(well, you get the picture)
    Wishing you all the best…whatever you decide!

  57. exmish responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    I strongly second what everyone said about there being no perfect time. The flipside of what people are saying about establishing a career, etc. before having kids is that you also become more set in your ways, more comfortable with things as they are – and from what I’ve seen, less flexible with accommodating a little newcomer. :)

    I also completely agree with what has been said about life continuing on After Children. World travel? We’ve taken our kids to Hawaii, the Bahamas, Ghana. Career/personal development? Why not? :) I think once you have children you may find that those things no longer seem So Important. Not completely undesirable, just not as necessary for life satisfaction.

    It is challenging to stay, um, intellectually enriched :) when you are sleep-deprived, nursing often, and so forth – but not impossible. And once your children get older, you will find yourself learning along with them, especially if you homeschool. (I have four kids – ages 5, 8, 11, 13 – and I’ve read something like 105 books this year….not counting the ones I read aloud to the 5-year-old. *grin*)

    I have found that for me, parenting has brought out a depth of character, a richness of personality, and reservoirs of compassion that probably would not be there if my life were just about me and what I want.

    Don’t be afraid! :)

    (And, FWIW, I sobbed my guts out when I found out I was expecting my first. We thought it would take longer to get pregnant when we took the goalie off the ice. Um, yeah, try 6 weeks. I was 24, married 5 months, graduated from college and teaching ESL at a language institute. And it all worked out….and now I’m parenting a teenager! Yipes! :D )

  58. Angela responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Becoming a parent is not the end of you. At least it shouldn’t be. It’s just an addition to who you already are. The baby years are a little absorbing and at times overwhelming but they fly by. The joy and variety and spice brought into my life by by little boys far outweigh things lost. But not really much is lost. Just shifted. As my little ones get a little bigger I find that this is a much smaller piece of my life than I had imagined back in the days when to much pregnancy talk would send me into a panic attack. That said, take your time, because at 25 you have it. Strengthen your marriage. Have few successes all your own, but don’t worry that you have to have ALL of your successes before becoming a mother. You will eventually find your footing.

  59. Another Kate responded on 17 Dec 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    I’m 19 and aboard the never having kids why does anybody do that train. Intellectually I get the argument about maternal instinct and parental satisfaction, but I don’t understand it at all. Being pregnant and having and raising a child is, to be indelicate, one of the worst things I can imagine happening to me. What I find interesting is that while I don’t feel the biological ticking and almost never find babies “cute”, I melt when I see guys out in public with their kids, just being awesome dads and so involved and caring. But this in no way overrides my desire to not procreate, not even in the moment.

  60. Sasha responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 3:16 am #

    I want kids more than I want anything else. And I know that’s not a common opinion and that women want to wait. I’m 20 years old and all I’ve ever wanted was to be a mother. I don’t want to wait until I’m 30, and I don’t want to plan when to have children. I think when you know, you know- Just like when you decide to get married. I’m waiting for that moment before I have kids, but not for “the” magical age.

    Ps. Kate, I have read your blog everyday for the past year and I want you to know, though you ask a lot, you AREN’T crazy. We all think these things and if more of us could talk about them society wouldn’t be so screwed up.

  61. Mandy responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve always wondered why in the world it would be considered “selfish” to not want to have children. It’s not as if we have a population shortage!
    I’ve never been strongly inclined to give birth, and the older I got, the more certain I became that I didn’t want kids of my own. In my case (and my husband agrees with me) I felt that if I was going to have children, I should really, REALLY want them. We were neutral on the subject and that just wasn’t the right attitude.
    So, I got a tubal ligation when I was thirty-two. My doctor did me the courtesy of not questioning my decision, or trying to talk me out of it, “because you might change your mind later.”
    I’ll be forty-six in a couple of months, and I’ve never regretted my decision. It was the right decision for me. I would never presume to tell anyone else what was right for them.

  62. Julianna responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I have a 5-month-old daughter and I am 31. This may be TMI, but I had a Mirena for three years, had it out and never even got a period, I got pregnant so fast. So if you have a fertile mom, chances are good you’ll have no problem in your early thirties.

    Also, if you look for a rational reason to have children, you’ll probably never find one. On the other hand, almost no woman holds her newborn for the first time and thinks “gee, I really regret this.” This may sound corny, but it’s like discovering a part of your heart you didn’t know existed. My love for my daughter is completely overwhelming. But yes, it will completely overturn your life. One thing you seem to have a supportive partner; that will make it easier.

    Balancing work and baby isn’t easy but I’m lucky in my schedule at least: I am an ER nurse and I work 11am to 11 pm three days a week. Speaking of which, the inside of your elbow is the antecubital region, much-beloved by people like me for easy vascular access.

    Anyway, good luck to you. You’ll figure it out. :)

  63. lynellekw responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Mandy – I appreciate you leaving that comment, it’s reassuring to know that other women felt similarly to me & haven’t come to regret their decision!

  64. Kate responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    @Everyone
    I’ve been busy the whole weekend and feel like I’ve been missing this whole conversation! Reading through these comments, I’m thinking a few things:

    It’s interesting how women who don’t want to have babies sometimes feel that there’s a lot of pressure to have babies and women who do want to have babies/already have them sometimes feel that they’re being unusual or weird for wanting that. There’s pressure either way! Why is there always pressure??

    So it must really just come down to what works for you. I definitely don’t think people are selfish for not wanting babies (what a strange, stupid idea) or lame for wanting them (hooray for making a whole new life!).

    I don’t believe in TMI– I think that sharing stuff that might be uncomfortable means you’re sharing stuff that other people might really need or want to know, but can’t easily access. So thank you!

    I love hearing all of these different perspectives. It makes me realize even more how many options there are in life. It sounds like a simple realization, but it’s one that obnoxiously eludes me a lot of the time.

    I know I want to be a mother someday, so hearing from women whose lives are enriched by their kids is encouraging. It’s even a little thrilling. I also appreciate learning more about how complicated, frustrating, or just plain weird life with kids can be. Again, the thing that feels most important to me is how varied people’s experiences are, even when they’re similar in certain fundamental ways.

    I also like hearing from the people who said they didn’t want to have kids– I love that you know that about yourself and are confident expressing it. That’s badass. Really. Like anything else that has to do with being a woman, and probably more than everything else, it takes a lot of self-awareness and awesomeness to be yourself when you are stepping away from conventional ideas about femininity.

    In certain circles, in certain areas, it’s also badass to be a young, educated woman who is confident enough to express her desire to be a mom. Interesting how that works.

    As always, thank you everyone, for sharing. The conversation happening here in these comments is inspiring me to have other conversations, with my mom, with my friends. It’s good stuff.

  65. Kate responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    @Marina
    Awesome, about your husband. I’ve been meeting more and more young women whose boyfriends/husbands have the goal of staying at home with the kids.

    When I think about being a mom, I imagine myself being the primary/constant caregiver. I don’t really have another image in my head. I think that’s true for a lot of people.

    My aunt and uncle recently adopted four of their grandkids (@Dee–you made me think of them), who were in desperate need, and they are a fantastic family. There are a lot of ways to be a family, and too often, I think we only imagine one version of the possibilities.

  66. Emily responded on 18 Dec 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    I’m 26 now and a year ago I thought I never wanted to have kids and now my hormones are like BABIES NOW!!! I like I’m ready now except for that whole having a husband thing haha :)

  67. Beauzeaux responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Your eggs are not dying. Having a baby because you’re worried about your eggs is not a good idea.

    I’ll be the only one saying that having kids is not all it’s cracked up to be. A baby will NOT make you happy. More likely to make you crazy.

    The thing to remember is that whatever you decide, you will have regrets. People with kids miss their freedom. People without kids miss that connection. There’s no free lunch. Every decision is like that. You have to decide (at some point) which regret you’re willing to live with.

  68. Sari responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 3:06 am #

    Wait ’til I get back to NY. We’ll have babies at the same time and then start a super awesome home/un-school co-op and you’ll have time to write and I’ll have time to do, erm, whatever I’m doing. Photography. Who knows?
    ;-)

    Seriously, though… this is a fairly constant conversation I have with myself, and that S and I have together. The funny thing is that he is the one more in a rush since we have that age gap to factor in. He doesn’t want to be the oldest dad on the block!

    So. I think we’ll start with a puppy…

  69. Lisa Furst responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 9:48 am #

    This was a great post. I am about to turn 40, and I decided, several years ago, that it was really okay with me to not have children. Like many women, I simply assumed I’d have children. I’d have them when I was “ready.” And, somehow, I’d know when “ready” was. Then, six years ago, I met a man who is the love of my life and my life partner, who does not want and has never wanted children. And starting a relationship with him in my mid-thirties meant that I had to decide whether or not I wanted children, with him or without him. And I realized, over time, that the period in which I most wanted children was when I thought that having them would prove that I was a “normal” woman and not some kind of freak. And, since I’ve made the decision not to be a mother, I notice that I really do enjoy the children in my life (my niece, the children of friends, etc). And I really do enjoy that I am not raising them, but get to be a special adult in their lives, nonetheless. For example, I’ll be able to contribute to my niece’s education, financially-speaking, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to if I were a parent myself. My biggest fear about not having children? It’s not that I’ll somehow miss connections with babies, or with children, because I have those little critters in my life already. It’s that someday, when I’m old, I might not have a younger relative who can help me at the end of my life. And that raises, for me, much more of a social/political question than a personal one.

  70. San D responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 11:50 am #

    @Lisa
    While I don’t have any children either, I DO know that having children is no guarantee that they will help you at the end of your life. Ask anyone who works with the elderly, they are always astonished as to who doesn’t show up to visit their mother or father.

  71. CarbonGirl responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Oh Dear! these comments are wicked depressing. I feel like you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Kate, loved this line, “In the world I live in “making something of yourself” means your career. In my mom’s world, it means your family. And my mom is the most obvious and powerful example of motherhood I have. This is all very confusing.”

    That sums up perfectly how I feel.

  72. Kate responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 11:52 am #

    @Lisa
    Well said.

  73. Kate responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 11:53 am #

    @Sari
    LOL! I love it! Sounds like a plan!
    Also, yes, the puppy is smart. I’m loving having a kitten to take care of :-)

  74. Kate responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 11:55 am #

    @San D
    Also a good point. Sometimes, when I’m being particularly crazy, I think, “what if my future kids don’t want to take care of me when I’m old?” Yeah. Oy. But I always think it’s probably a real possibility. Kids are known for making their own decisions in frustrating ways!

  75. Kate responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 11:59 am #

    @CarbonGirl
    Ha! I haven’t seen/heard someone say “wicked” in a long time. Great word.

    Yeah, it can always seem like things might suck, no matter what- but maybe it’s just how you look at it. Sure, certain things will always go wrong, but certain other things will go fantastically right, depending on which decisions you make. I’m getting emails from young women who can’t wait to have their baby, and are excited about their futures, and emails from older women who are content with their decision not to have kids. I have read pieces by women who regretted the decision not to have kids when they were younger, and pieces by women who wished they’d taken more time for themselves before having kids. There are so so so many ways to look at this, like everything. But like everything, I think in the end, it just depends on how you’re feeling about yourself and your life. Do you like yourself? Do you like where you are? Then things are probably OK.

    That’s me– oversimplifying YET AGAIN.

    :-)

  76. tirzahrene responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Kids are completely a black hole. They will always need and want as much as you can give them and then some.

    But you know what I learned from ten years as a stepmom slogging through all the parts where I was tired, where I didn’t like them, where they were never satisfied?

    That for me, it’s completely and totally worth it. That I want this. That for me, family is where it’s at, and for me, family includes children both biological and otherwise, if I can have them.

    I know I’m going to be over my head and have lots of times where I hate my life and think I was the world’s biggest idiot. And I’m okay with that. Because it suits me.

  77. Val responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    You know, for a long, long time I had the feeling that because we started having kids young, like I should DO whatever I was really supposed to do after they got a little bigger.

    I graduated college at 40 not sure what to do next, what was it I was supposed to do? You know, for real, after the kids?

    Well, then Tim, the ninth child, was born at 7:00 on a Friday night in August. The next morning, I sat in my bed with Tim on my lap and knew right then: The thing I was supposed to do? I was doing it.

    I might do other things too, but this wasn’t just a stop along the way to the real thing. It was the real thing. It sounds lame, but this family is anything but.

    So have your kids and know that life happens. Raising them will make you an even better writer because they’re going to add a richness, texture and depth to every aspect of your life and your relationships with your parents and your husband.

    It’s absolutely not an either/or deal. love, Val

  78. Kate responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    @Val
    So very very not at all lame.

    xoxo

  79. Dana responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m glad someone else said it first, but I’m going to second the “Your eggs are not dying, you are in a good time” bit. In fact, I’ve heard that under 20 is just as hard on your body as over 35! That said, I’m 37 and just starting to try to get pregnant. I never thought I particularly wanted kids, and when my friends had them, I was glad to not be them. And, I’m a teacher; I really like kids, but never really wanted them for myself. But, I found the love of my life a few years ago and got married last summer- at 37. I’ll be 38 in two months. I think that 40 is really the point where it starts to be too late to even try- but then there are many celebrities who manage it, with or without technology.

    Anyway, just relax. I totally get the “wanting to accomplish things” bit too. It’s why I never went to any high school reunions. :) You have time, so hang in there!

  80. Kayla responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    I’m 23 and engaged, and some days, I REALLY want a baby and other days I want to wait several years and get some other “life experiences” in. Gah! Babies are so cuuuute.

  81. P Flooers responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Val rocks! And she’s exactly right. Its absolutely not an either/or deal. (Val, you know I love you!)

    I tell my daughter to have babies the minute she wants them, even if she’s still “young” by our new social standards. Which is, what, have babies by the time you’re 35? Is that right? Well, as soon as you meet your babies you are going to begin growing up in a way you didn’t know needed to happen. I don’t think its common to finish growing all the way up until after you have babies. And as soon as you meet them, they change your life in such a way that you wish you had more time with them. And the only way to have more time with them is to go ahead and have them. Its one of those funny life paradoxes.

    Also, yes, babies will destroy you. Which is okay, because they rebuild you into a better version of yourself. Don’t let the demise of life as you currently enjoy it stop you.

  82. Virginia responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Oh man, this post and this whole comment thread is so well-timed for me. I spent all of my 20s not being remotely concerned about kids — I had this “eventually, I assume I’ll want one, but right now, that is not at all interesting to me” stance because I was so very fixated on career, career, career. And specifically writing a book, like you (as we’ve discussed! :) . I’ve hit a lot of the career goals I set out for myself, but the book thing is proving to be a LOT more elusive than I thought it would be. So cut to: Right as I’m realizing the book goal is going to take longer than I thought, I turn 30 and it’s like someone flipped the baby switch. All this business about uteruses exploding at the sight of infants — I get it now.

    I am still not a baby person. I prefer kids once they can talk and entertain me and I know I’m going to hate sleepless nights and diapers. But I nevertheless want a baby, like, pretty much now. Two things are slowing down that process: My husband isn’t quite there yet, and I firmly believe in being on the same page before you take that kind of big life step (and not rushing people to be ready for things before they really are!). And I keep worrying about what it will mean for the whole career/book goal.

    The first thing needs to work itself out, and that’s fine by me. But the second is my problem — and so I’m finding it very reassuring to read these accounts from moms who are saying both that it IS really hard, harder than you’ll ever expect (because I hate when people dismiss my fears like, “oh no, it will be so easy!” — they are full of lies) and from the moms who are saying that you really can do both and yes there will be a period of months where one has to take major precedence over the other, but ultimately, it works. Phew. Thank you, I really needed to hear both of those things!

  83. Kate responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    @Virginia
    As usual, knowing that you’re going through something similar makes me feel about fifty times better. You’ve heard it before, I’m positive, but I have to say it: you will be an amazing mom.

    Also, I’ve heard that occasionally women publish books after having kids. Once in a while.

    :-)

  84. Laura responded on 19 Dec 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    As a smart seventeen-year-old from a loving home, I feel like I’m not supposed to admit that I long to be a mother. I’m certainly not trying to get pregnant — I’m not even sexually active yet. I know that parenting hugely time-consuming, utterly exhausting, quite expensive, and ultimately the biggest responsibility a person can have. I’ll certainly wait until I’ve got my feet firmly planted on the ground before becoming a mother, but that doesn’t mean that often very physical longing for a baby go away.

    Still, I can’t imagine me waiting until anywhere near my mid-thirties or even later to become a mother. Part of it is my aforementioned impatience to have a child, but difficulties in conceiving and the heightened possibilities of problems with the pregnancy or the child also scare me. My mom wanted to have a few kids and started trying to get pregnant in her mid-thirties. She had (in this order) a miscarriage, me!, a baby with a chromosomal disorder who died shortly after birth, and an ectopic pregnancy. Of my aunts (both by blood and marriage) on my mom’s side of the family, one is in her forties and struggling to get pregnant, one gave birth a a son conceived with in vitro fertilization when she was in her forties, one gave birth to twins conceived with in vitro fertilization when she was in her thirties, and one gave birth to a daughter conceived naturally in her thirties and is worried whether she’ll be able to have the other two she wants before it’s too late.

    I do want to emphasize that I’m not trying to scare you, Kate, or anyone else into having a baby in their twenties. All I’m trying to do is share where I’m coming from. There is no “right” time to have a baby, and I totally agree with what some people said here about energy vs patience with the younger/older mothers debate. I think every woman should decide when she wants to become a mother, or if she wants to become one at all.

  85. Mandy responded on 20 Dec 2011 at 1:27 am #

    @Carbongirl

    You are the best and only judge of what will make you happy!

    Don’t do something just because it seems like the next logical step, or because you think you ought to, or because someone guilts or nags you into it.
    Make your decisions based on what YOU want. Life is not a dress rehearsal. (I know, cliche–but so true.)

  86. P Flooers responded on 20 Dec 2011 at 7:15 am #

    @Laura, you are not wrong to point out the physical issues of birth when you are older. And no matter what our society says, our biology says getting pregnant is supposed to happen when we are much younger.

    The science is irrefutable on this. We are meant to have babies when we are younger. Its gets much more difficult to conceive and deliver a healthy baby, the longer you wait. Sure, you can do it, but it gets biologically more difficult. The risk of fetal chromosomal damage at 22 compared to 32 more than doubles. Most babies are healthy. But the risks, and not just chromosomal risks, all go up after 30. Even more so, I think, for first time mothers older than 30. The sociology of this issue is one thing. The biology is another.

    For all prospective mothers, have you seen Ricki Lakes’ movie “Birth”? Also, check out “Birthing From Within” by Pam England.

  87. What Do Women (and Men) Want From Work? | Beauty Schooled responded on 20 Dec 2011 at 8:21 am #

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  89. Alix responded on 20 Dec 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    I really wasn’t sure I would be a good mom, but I arrived at my late 20s, already married for 7 years, and decided that I wanted kids (I, too, had that baby following me around).

    Kids are not easy. It’s even worse when it turns out your partner really didn’t want them. I worked and my kids went to daycare, and then I was divorced, and worked AND went to school and my kids continued going to daycare until they were latchkey kids by the time they were 8 and 12. We were really poor during that time (enough that I sometimes worried about having enough money for food some months). During the time I was in school, our family time was often doing homework together for a couple hours each night…which sounds horrible and boring, but the kids remember that as being fun, and so do I.

    It turns out that what kids require is love, caring, and lots of talking. Other things fall into place as long as you give your kids plenty of love and caring, and talk, talk, talk. At least, it did for us. We certainly didn’t have any money, and I never was able to have more time with them than my job would allow.

    I raised two lovely, productive adults, pretty much alone, as their dad bugged out on us. One finished her RN a couple years ago (and is contemplating grad school); the other is starting his second year in the Armed Forces. They’re both intelligent, smart about money, involved in volunteer work, and happy. Apparently, being a “good enough mother” is just fine. I would have liked to homeschool and be a housewife, but that just didn’t work out for us.

    Despite the difficulties we went through, I wouldn’t trade my years with the kids for anything; that time was one of the most fun of my life so far, which may seem odd when you think about the difficulties we had, but it’s true.

    For those of you who have kids (or will have kids), keep in mind that the years that they are small and willing to listen to you go by very, very fast. Talking about difficult things is a whole lot easier when they are tiny, and then you have something to build on as they get older.

    Those of you who choose not to have kids, I know you will also be just fine. Kids are a lot of work. They are a joy, but joy comes in all sorts of ways and it doesn’t have to be kid-shaped to be real.

  90. Sarah responded on 20 Dec 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Amen to everything ‘midnightsky’ said, including: “If I ever start hearing my biological clock, I intend to take a sledgehammer to it.”

    I think whatever decision you make, own it. That’s what I intend to do with not having kids!

  91. Joceline responded on 20 Dec 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    The cubital fossa! Thank you Anatomy Lab.

    Also, I think about when my biological hourglass’s sand is going to run out all the time, and I’m only 22 and still in school. There’s so much pressure to do everything and have everything and be the best at it that it trickles into even the most well-regulated minds :)

  92. erin h. responded on 22 Dec 2011 at 12:33 am #

    Oh, I can identify with this post so strongly that it’s a little scary.

    I’m 28. I’ve been married for five years, and I’ve always known that I want to be a mom someday. I think if you’d asked me 5 years ago, I would’ve predicted I’d have a kid by 28. Yet, here I am– two dogs, no babies.

    I too want to feel “ready”. My husband and I both have jobs that we love, but they don’t pay a whole lot. Our health insurance isn’t great, and I’m worried about the cost of all the medical care associated with pregnancy and childbirth. And how will we afford for me to take time off?

    I’m also fairly terrified of the physical process of HAVING a baby. My best friend died in childbirth (yes, that does still happen) when I was 20, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with my fears. And honestly, I worry about the ways in which pregnancy will change my body (and I feel so vapid and silly admitting that). My grip on positive body image is often tenuous, and I’m not sure what it will do to me to suddenly have stretch marks and saggy belly skin. Maybe it won’t be a big deal, but what if it is? What if I’m never able to make peace with my body after it’s had babies?

    Bah. Neuroses. Some days I’m able to brush them off, and some days they pile atop me like so much wet cement.

  93. Eat the Damn Cake » the time before responded on 02 Jan 2012 at 10:22 am #

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  94. Eat the Damn Cake » I don’t want to want to have a baby responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 12:56 pm #

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