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Does anyone else regret having children?

(403 Posts)
Zahora Mon 29-Jun-09 02:39:04

Does anyone else regret having your child? I loved my old life. My husband really wanted a child and I put it off for so long, just knowing that it's not my calling. I gave in after so many rows thinking I would adjust. It was either that or leave my husband whom I loved very much. My son is 2 years old and it has been such a lonely and desperate struggle. I feel like my wonderful life has turned upside down. I still do not feel like a mother. I look after my son full time, I even breastfed for a year, yet it just feels so ...hollow. It's not me. I miss my old life so much I just feel like walking out and leaving my husband and son. I hate playing in the park. I want to go to a gallery. I hate watching peppa pig- I want to read a novel. I hate going to playgroups - I want to have lunch with freinds. I do everything I can for my son and he is lovely. Yet motherhood so far has left me feeling like I have been conned out of my real life. Will life ever return to normal. Will my son feel that I am detached? I don't think I'm depressed. Has anyone else felt like this?

reluctantprego Tue 01-Dec-15 02:44:07


i really respect your choice and courage to be and remain childfree, especially in such a baby obsessed world....

reluctantprego Tue 01-Dec-15 02:42:11

sunflower, thanks for your reply and you honestly! It's very helpful!!

lorelei9 Tue 24-Nov-15 09:24:09

Reluctant, no, it's not too late. Get it sorted.
I'm childfree btw. Every day I think "no matter what I've got wrong, not making this mistake has saved my life". The major relationship I had was with a man who wanted kids....when I got together with him, I was so young, I didn't think it mattered and thought he'd change his mind etc.

lorelei9 Tue 24-Nov-15 09:21:16

I applaud the courage of posters here
I wish people were more honest in real life but I suppose you can't say "I regret parenting" in cae it gets back to your child
People might be spared from making the same mistake if they heard these stories more often?
I think it's a huge mistake to have a child because the other partner wanted it and know of two cases where divorce resulted in neither parent wanting the children.

Rebeckett Tue 24-Nov-15 08:59:01

Dear Zahora, how are things now?
I hope they got better but I fear you damaged your child emotionally at that stage.
I was in the same situation- desperately loved a man who wanted children. Wrestled with it a long time, saw a counsellor etc. But we had to split. I would have been an awful parent. Since got sterilised so that I never myself in that situation again. I'm outraged that you became the primary carer too. Why didn't he take charge of his wanted child? Why he did he not care what this did to you? Having a child should not result from an argument!

sunflowermeadows Tue 10-Nov-15 11:07:28

I have two children circa age 10 and love them but really hate my life. I have no fun any more. I have no money any more! I can not take holidays, wear nice clothes, go out to eat etc. I have no money to put in a pension and struggle to stay out of debt .I cannot afford to send them to a good school or pay for them to have a car etc later in life.

I never wanted to have children but thought I would feel differently afterwards as people make out that it is so fulfilling and rewarding. But it has been the opposite for me I went from being a happy successful person with enough money to enjoy life and a bright future to being in a situation where I am trapped and cannot think of a way out.

I do not support abortion personally but I would not personally recommend having a child unless you enjoy playgrounds, crafts, crying, etc and also having a lot less money. Your house or flat will become overcrowded and you will have to move or live with shoes and bicycles everywhere. Less time to make money and more things you must spend money on.

If you have a child with a disability which statistically increases as you age your life will be even harder.

reluctantprego Tue 27-Oct-15 23:45:44

I mean, too*
Sorry for the typos. I am in ranting mode : )

reluctantprego Tue 27-Oct-15 23:44:22

ps: I should also mention that I booked a termination and was not able to go through with it. While I suspect very strongly that motherhood is not for me that is such a hard thing to go through with, so I need to be sure (if such a thing is possible).

There is also a small part of me that fears I may regret not having a child much later in life. Say when I am in my late 50s/60s. So if there is anyone on here that I can tell me whether or not they regretted having/not having kid(s) later on, that would be very much appreciated to.

This is quite literally the hardest decision I have ever been faced with. I have read that, in the case of children, it is better to occasionally regret not having one than to spend a life time resenting/regretting a living child. Any thoughts?

reluctantprego Tue 27-Oct-15 23:38:34

Dear Ladies (and men),

Thank you for your honesty and bravery. I applaud you! I made an account on JUST to reach out to all of you, in hopes that someone will reply to me.

I read almost all of your posts from many years ago (2009-2015) and I would love to hear from some of you (especially Zahora) all these years later and ask if you still feel the same?! Do you still regret parenthood??

I’m currently pregnant (just 8 weeks) with my first child and have always known that motherhood is NOT my calling. Given my age (late 30s) I finally gave into all the family and social and partner pressure and "agreed" (against my better judgment) to get pregnant. But my gut instincts tell me that I have made a HUGE mistake that I will regret for the rest of my life! It is not too late for me to terminate and I desperately need to hear from folks like you here about whether or not it got better for you "with time??"

Do you still regret having your child/children? Did it get easier with time? Were you ever able to get your old life (freedom, sanity, sense of self) back? PLEASE be brutally honest with me. I LOVE my life the way it is. I am a freelance writer, and I travel a lot. I am an introvert and NEED a quiet and clean environment (impossible with a kid). But most of all, I just suspect that raising a child is NOT part of my purpose/destiny and that I will end up resenting (or worse) this child and ruining both of our lives in the process.

ANY feedback from you ladies would be SOOOOOOOO appreciated. It is not too late for me to “undo” this mistake.

Thank you and good luck to all of you brave and amazing and resilient women (and men)

Much love

croton Thu 24-Sep-15 09:04:06

I find this thread hard to read and often avoid reading it because I feel so insanely jealous of the childfree people who come on here and have realised having children is not for them. I wish I had had that insight and strength to trust my intuition and confidence in myself. I can honestly say I regret having my children and it has made my mental health so much worse. In fact my life in general is 100 more difficult without much reward. It's also hard that I have to constantly pretend and whilst I am trapped in my own secret hell because admitting it is so taboo in this society. Anyway, I found this which made me feel a bit better. At least I am not alone in my feelings

thisisnow Sun 13-Sep-15 17:25:47

lifeinruins you're post was so refreshing to read. I do sincerely hope you manage to find some joy somewhere. Maybe you will enjoy having older child?

Viewofhedges it's so hard isn't it. It's not like you can give them back once they're here.

I'm currently in a slight depression I think. Feel far too young to be pregnant but I don't think it's going to be miraculously different when I'm another 5 years older. Already planning how I can leave the child with my OH and told him this is a possibility blush I am a horrible person.

Viewofhedges Sun 13-Sep-15 16:11:09

Very glad to have found this post. I'm 38 and DH is 43 and we've been told we need IVF to have a child - but we just can't decide if we should. Neither of us has an overwhelming desire to do so and the older we get we're worried about having a child that has problems. Deciding whether or not to have IVF is the worst thing - once you're on the fertility conveyor belt everyone simply assumes that you want children 100%. I feel a creeping sense that if we had one, I would really struggle, but people keep saying 'oh, when it's your own it's so different.' I'm grateful to all posters here for admitting that actually when it's you're own it can be difficult too. This is such a hard decision.

Shakey15000 Sun 13-Sep-15 08:14:58


Bloody hell, you write well. Firstly, there's not a lot to add to what you articulate so well. What screams at me from your post is the seemingly complete lack of power over everything. Your career, your house, your body, your mind and your immediate future. Is there anything that you can regain control of? Not necessarily a massive one, just something for the psychological aspect?

I'm sorry you're so tired sad it really doesn't help does it? I think it magnifies and skews everything. And I know it's a clich??/platitude but 18months is a really daft age where it's difficult to see day light at the end of the tunnel. All consuming daily nightmare of ridiculous milestones to try and reach that NO-ONE tells you about.

My DS is 8 now (8???? How the HELL did that happen) and I've been posting on this thread for what seems like a million years but I can still remember the gamut of emotions ran. He's quite a clumsy kid physically, always has been, but it was only the other day that I realised I had ( at some indistinguishable point) stopped holding my breath whenever he was approaching a potential trip hazard. It sounds ridiculous but I'd been doing that since he could walk. Utterly exhausting! But I used to think that if he hurt himself it would equate to me being exposed as a terrible mother and my secret would be out. I guess what I'm trying to say is that lots of "things" to do with being a parent pass, though maybe not noticeable at the time.

Would it help perhaps to note some of yours somewhere/anywhere? As a possible control thing to feel like you're inching along?

And if nothing else, please keep posting here thanks

leftfork Fri 11-Sep-15 11:21:11


Thanks for sharing all of this. I was in this position after my second child when the overwhelming feeling of grief at having lost everything about myself completely engulfed me.

Your point about the psychologist is one I fully appreciate.

It sounds as if you want to focus on your studies which is good but if the only reason you don't want to return to IT/programming is you think it has moved on too quickly then you might reconsider. I am a data analyst so appreciate your comment about being out of the field too long and your level of achievement. As I see it at the moment, and I may be wrong, programmers are very much in demand. Also there are companies that are still "catching up with technology" that might value your skills. You may have to go in lower than you left but is it something that you could consider/look into?

I'm sure you have heard it before but you have to just take each day and be kind to yourself. Can your family do anymore to help at this time?

Three years ago I wanted to walk out of my house and never return, couldn't imagine how I would get through another day, didn't want to get through another day. Going back to work for me was my key to finding myself again (I'm not proud of that but for me it's a fact). I'm still working on finding my contented self, there are moments but it's not consistent. Maybe I will never get there. The working on it gives me another focus that isn't family orientated and gives me hope.

I don't know if any of this helps and I don't know what your answer is but I hope you find a way to get through this crushing time.

Hero1callylost Sun 06-Sep-15 21:06:28

life I don't have anything helpful to say but just wanted you to know someone is reading and feeling your pain flowers

lifeinruins Sat 05-Sep-15 03:52:27

I need to put this "out there". Unlike many people on this thread, I am not technically a SAHM. I am currently studying at university, doing an honours level degree part time. This is for a career change. It's tough and I must have top marks in order to proceed further.

I used to have a career in IT. I had a 6-figure salary. I knew for many years that it wasn't for me, that I didn't enjoy it, and so I started studying part time - slowly preparing to step out. I had a small but beautiful Victorian-era house. I could afford my own mortgage, my own lifestyle. I do have a history of anxiety and depression though, but I learned to manage it.

I married my best friend, whom I love dearly. I always thought that I had to have a child - my biological clock was saying so, my family was saying so - it was just "one of those things", even though I am not maternal and don't like children - but I was convinced (primarily by my mother) that it wouldn't matter because it is different with one's own child.

I got pregnant on the night we got engaged. My husband wanted the child - me: well, the timing was horrid (I just changed, jobs, was in 3rd year of my degree, we were planning a wedding and honeymoon and to just enjoy being a couple)... but I wasn't going to have an abortion. So - we had a beautiful baby girl. Because there was no way I could have enough time and energy to hold a fulltime job and study successfully enough to be able to achieve the level I needed, it was decided that I would leave my job and IT and concentrate on the studies and motherhood. My husband makes a very good salary, and we could afford it. What we could not afford was a larger place, so we all moved into my small house. It became very crowded, the decor haphazard, but it had to happen (partly of me - I refused to move out of my home when I found out I was pregnant. I am very home bound, and, by then, with my biological instinct having calmed down, I already realised what a horrible mistake I made. That I didn't want a child at all. That I treasured my life as it was. But it was too late.)

My daughter is 18 months now. She goes to a good child care place 4 days a week. She gets sick with minor colds a lot, which she has to stay home for quite often, but we have support from both grandmothers. I get to study - something I enjoy a lot.

And, still, I am MISERABLE! I love my daughter, I am a very good mother. I don't lose it with her, I am practicing respectful parenting, I keep my depression at bay most of the time, when I am around her.... and I HATE MY LIFE.

I pop 10 pills a day to keep the depression at bay. I've seen a psychologist but there's nothing really that can be done because I am not being delusional - my life has changed in exact ways I see, with some good things (you know, those moments of connection with the child, watching her grow, etc etc), but many of the changes I hate and, overall, the good does not in any way, shape or form make up for the bad. I can't lie to myself, I can't forget about it, I can't ignore it.

I used to be a beautiful energetic person, who took a lot of pride in her appearance, was VERY fit, and was sexual. I am too tired now - I don't have energy/time/or am sick with the latest virus my daughter brought into the house, which saps energy even more. I have not enjoyed sex since the day my daughter was born. I participate in it for my husband's sake. I live in jeans and jumpers - those that I don't care whether they get stained or not. I don't even remember what is in my closets, let alone remember how to dress up (and, oh boy, did I used to - I used to favour gothic clothing and make up).

My house I already mentioned - there are things constantly in need of fixing, cleaning, it's got plastic boxes and computer things everywhere, because we have no where to put them - and no energy to really sort things out and throw things out. My beautiful house is no longer a place of pride and joy for me - it's still my home though.

Because I have left my career, and because of where I was in my career at the time I left (transitioning from a programmer to a project manager, but not having yet enough time in the manager's role to be able to get job as one, and, now being out too long from a position of a programmer - 5 years away from cutting-edge stuff is a VERY LONG TIME in this industry), I don't think I could possibly get a job which will allow me to support myself... and this is something I always was able to do.

I am holding onto my studies, but I am so, so exhausted. I am not sure I can keep that up and it's still 4 years before I can actually start working in the new field.

My husband is exhausted too - he always understood me, understood my mental health issues, was always supportive, but he is feeling hopeless. There's nothing he can do (any more than he already can, given that he has to hold down the job to pay for us all).

We've all been living with the idea that "it's going to get better" - but, 18 months later - it isn't. Every time I have to spend more than 1 hour on my own with my daughter I end up looking at the clock every 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes counting down to when someone else can take over. I always have to push the thought away of "I'd rather be elsewhere, do something else". Lately, that something else has been "sleep". I just want to sleep. It's depression and I am tired of fighting it, and I have assignments due, so I can't just sleep the days away.

We've started talking about my husband and daughter moving out to his mother's. He doesn't want to. His mother, of course, wouldn't want him to. I don't want him to. But I don't want to be paying this price. I don't want to be a shadow of myself. I want my life back, so much (even though I know I can't have it back - because I want a life with my husband, whom I love... but without my daughter!!!!) I love her too, very much... but I love myself more! And it's selfish and horrid, but I do!

I do.

Hero1callylost Fri 28-Aug-15 23:10:09

Heard about this report on the radio the other day -

It's so important to have a support network.

Hero1callylost Fri 28-Aug-15 23:06:07

Shakey yes thank you, that helped - you understood exactly what I didn't express very well! I get what you mean about acknowledging it. I was just reading another thread about "recovery" meaning acknowledging that depression is here to stay. I guess in a way it's all about working out what techniques work for you - which takes experimentation and hard work - not always something you can focus on in the midst of family life. I find the concept of acceptance difficult - I'm pretty sure my mum had depression (we're not close enough to talk about it) and there were some parts of my childhood where it was truly awful living with her mood swings, so I've spent my life wanting to be the opposite and to NOT identify with that behaviour. It's difficult to admit that maybe that is part of me and that it will always be lurking.

Sticky I think it just helps to have a ramble about it sometimes smile

I came across this article, I identify with a lot of it.

stickytoffeeface Thu 27-Aug-15 23:41:59

My dd is 7 months old and I adore her. Love her completly but I can't believe how she can make me so happy and so unhappy all at the same time. My life is so different, I'm now the kind of person who wondered whether there was snot or food on a cushion but whatever it was I could turn the cushion over! I've never been hugely social but at least I could go out when I wanted. Now I am so lonely - everyone is at work! I can't just pop out, jump on a bus, drop by the gym, go back to sleep in the morning, go out for a glass of wind that turns into two bottles...

Everything about me has had to change which I expected to happen but I never realised to what extent my life would be different. Its so refreshing to read what people have written here as I find it so difficult to put into words but have been sure that other parents must feel the same. Some days I do wonder if I made the right choice. I have never been at all maternal, never 'got' babies, but I realised I did want a family and my dh felt the same. We thought about it, we made sure we both wanted it and were prepared for the change to our lives but its such a shock that first day you're sat in the house with just you and your baby. I am amazed at my love for our baby and she delights me every day but I hate the repetitivness of each day. I hate when I make a plan and it doesn't work out because she's having a long nap.

The thing is, I think I would like more children (thats if we ever manage to start having regular sex again) and sooner rather than later as everything has already changed. I know adding more children won't do anything for my quality of sleep! But my life is now about children, what difference will adding a couple more make, I'm in it now.

Sorry, I know a lot of this has just been rambling!

gg1234 Thu 27-Aug-15 00:35:09


I think it an old post .But still I want to put my views .I love my lo to heart.But I seriously regret being a mum .Its hard and it a job of loads of patience .I have lost my old life and the FREEDOM I had in my life .
My hubby hasnt lost much of it .So thinking this I ended on one kid only .

leftfork Tue 25-Aug-15 17:24:35

Re: meeting up - I'm London based and would welcome the opportunity to meet up.

I posted on here perhaps 3 years ago and have followed this thread since then. It's a supportive place to come on the really overwhelming days. I have to say that things have got easier as the kids have got older (both at school now) but the underlying feeling of regret is still there. Contrary to some folks here, I think I have found it easier having more than one. They get on really well and are happy in each other's company which helps A LOT. That said I realize that I am lucky that they get on really well.

Candlefairy101 Tue 25-Aug-15 16:23:50

Wow I've just finished the whole entire thread.... Only took me four days lol!!

I found it really interesting reading some true options on motherhood and not the butterflies and candy floss that a lot of mumsnet threads are due to the fear of being judged confused

I understand that's this thread has been going for years now and is love to hear how much or if your life's have changed for the better smile

Shakey15000 Sat 22-Aug-15 23:25:23

Hi all this is Shakey1500 with an extra 0 courtesy of Jeffery smile

Hero, fully recall the screaming days (even the silent ones).

Like you, I suffered from depression a couple of years before having DS. Actually, I prefer to say "I suffer from depression" as in, to acknowledge it you know? Like you I don't take meds and manage it myself. And it certainly wasn't easy in DS's early years. I find it easier to acknowledge it because it's easier to manage it that way. Deciding that depression would always be a part of me helped/helps enourmously. I understand what you're saying. Some days it was difficult to decide whether it was my depression making everything thing seem bleak OR just the equivalent of a normal, functioning stressed out mother's "bad day". I found that attributing a bleak day to something mundane like "I'm feeling like this because of lack of sleep, no more" or "because I'm stressing about that bill that needs paying". But for it to work for me I have to give the depression it's legs every once in a blue moon and have a duvet day.

Sorry, I'm waffling! Not sure if any of the above is useful in anyway, but no, you're not alone smile

Hero1callylost Fri 21-Aug-15 13:05:02

just joining this thread to watch. I had a bit of a flip out this morning - had this overwhelming urge to scream all my frustration out so screamed into my hairdryer at 7am this morning and gave my DH and DS a massive fright and they came running through from the next room. My throat hurts. Really feel tipped over the edge lately by not just parenting and toddlerish behaviour (DS is going through a hitting mummy phase which is wearing me down in itself) but everything that goes along with it - money worries about childcare costs, worrying we're putting pressure on the only member of our family who can help us as she's slightly ill, a few job issues being stressful.... it all seems so much lately and I struggle just keep a basic household routine going. So I just need to lurk to know it's not just me...

I'm questioning the line between parenting being stressful and everyone struggling to some extent, and where that turns into mental health issues. I have a history of mild depression though have managed without any meds for the last couple of years, but just feel like parenting is tipping me back over the edge.

There are so many moments of utterly glorious shining bright joyful moments in parenting that keep me going and keep me waking up wanting to try again today, but the relentlessness of it all is just making me cry a lot lately.

thisisnow Wed 19-Aug-15 21:46:34

Thanks Borrowed it is good to know others have coped

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