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Deeply unmaternal and terrified

(91 Posts)
unmaternal Sat 19-Feb-11 09:13:06

I have recently discovered that I am pregnant. I wasn?t particularly trying to get pregnant, but I wasn?t exactly not trying either. I have never had the desire to have children, but my partner does, and he is very indecisive so, as I am now 35, I just thought we should stop using contraception and see what would happen. Stupidly, I didn?t think I would actually get pregnant, but here I am.
I now find myself completely horrified and repulsed anytime I think of actually having a child. I am hoping that somewhere down the line that some sort of miraculous maternal instinct will kick in and I will begin to relish the thought of having a child, but, until then I don?t know what to do other than pretend that none of this is happening as it seems to be the only way that I can function on a daily basis without falling to pieces.
I have never been, in any way, maternal and really have no interest in infants ? I generally like kids (depends on the child) once they reach beyond about 3, but am always more than happy once they are gone away.
Has anyone else ever experienced this ? and does that maternal instinct just kick in somewhere down the line?I?m terrified.

Cyclebump Sat 19-Feb-11 09:21:51

Wow, I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you.

I don't know if it helps but...

I have always wanted children but we did the same thing as you, not trying, but not not trying. I have always been the person who visits new mum friends, changes nappies coos at babies etc. But even though its what I always wanted I spent the first couple of weeks after getting my BFP freaking out with a 'what the hell have I done' expression. I was scared and felt dreadful but apparently loads of women feel like that when it come up positive whether they've always wanted kids or it was a surprise.

It doesn't last forever, getting a positive is scary stuff, you never know how you'll react and it's absolutely no reflection on what kind of mum you'll be x x

munstersmum Sat 19-Feb-11 09:23:44

Don't set too high an expectation on yourself. Put relish the idea to one side and consider acceptance as a great start. Maybe try to seperate out childbirth v creating a family unit. I'll agree most other people's babies are not that interesting (awaits flaming smile). You will find your own way once baby arrives and your own definitely turns into an interesting character way before 3. Good luck.

Deaddei Sat 19-Feb-11 09:31:39

I never particularly wanted to have children-didn't meet dh till 33, got married at 35 and had dd at 36' ds at 40.
I have always found motherhood hard-I have no parents, didn't go to group antenatal classes, lived in the sticks. Had no friends really.
I did find it hard bonding with dd as she was a miserable baby.
We moved when she was one and I met some great friends through toddler groups. After ds I had PND.
I still think I'm unmaternal.......but love my children, enjoy them so much more now they are 14 and 11 as they are more independent.
I think I hate the idea of people being needy and dependent on me.......my own mum wasn't too maternal in hindsight.

AlpinePony Sat 19-Feb-11 09:35:18

You can be as mumsy or non-mumsy as you like. You don't have to breastfeed, go to baby yoga, buy cath kitson pinnies and bake jam or give up being you for the next two decades.

My son was born last year when i was 36 and i still ride my horse, have been skiing, drank cocktails with the girls, gone back to work and all the other me things.

I love my child as much as the next woman and there are plenty of cuddles and fun involved, but i'm still me - and want to do it all again.

Congratulations on your pregnancy.

My name is PD and I am a Deeply Unmaternal mother of 4 DSs grin!! How on earth did that happen wink?

Sorry, I don't mean to be flippant but your OP has struck a chord with me and I recognise my own feelings when I was pregnant for the first time.

I have not had a broody moment in my life and I do not particularly 'like' babies: I love my kids, but looking after a baby is relentless, boring and stressful at the same time and only with hindsight seems to 'pass in a flash' (I came v close to feeling I'd lamp the next person who said 'enjoy them while they are small' one).

Older children are much more fun, more interesting, less anoying or at least annoying in different ways and you can shout talk to them.

FWIW, I was 37 when I had my first DS. DH and I had been together for 7 years, we had done our going out/travelling/Sunday paper in bed (I still miss that, mind) and I had to make the conscious decision that it was now or never. IMO the change if lifestyle is harder for some older parents as we are quite set in our ways and like our creature comforts too much wink. Considerate and empathic infants are not...

For me, the long view was important: I wanted children, adult children at some point, grandchildren maybe. It was never about 'having a baby'. I have had several miscarriages, allsorts of pregnancy complications and still kept going because of the longterm 'goal' if you want.

I have also never experienced any kind of 'rush of maternal love' at delivery; a rush, yes, the sense of achievement was huge, but I had to get to know my boys to love them.

My advice would be not to overthink things too much if you can help it and just let the pregnancy progress in its own time and see how you go. Keep lurking/posting on MN - the Nest of Vipers was an excellent reality check for me when everybody around me was cooing about how wonderful it was to have a baby and I was struggling with marrying up everybody elses expectations how happy I 'ought' to be and how little I was actually enjoying it. BTW, I have never had PND; this was all noraml kind of resenting the way my life had changed forever stuff.

It will be FINE <<gavel>>
smile

OmicronPersei8 Sat 19-Feb-11 09:45:49

I have a friend who would describe herself as unmaternal. She has two DC and says now that she loves her own children but still doesn't like other people's DC. grin

It seems unimaginable because really, it is. I'm another person who was ttc but spent the whole 9 months of my pregnancy in shock. I went shopping straight after getting my BFP and bought lots of skinny, not-pregnant clothes.

I suppose having a baby changes your life like falling in love does - you can be very happily single, but then you meet someone and change bits of your life and be very happily part of a couple. You might want to hold onto aspects of your single life, but at the same time you might enjoy a night in with your partner just as much as a night out with friends.

And congratulations on your pregnancy. smile

frankenfanny Sat 19-Feb-11 10:12:25

I always felt like you- only liked kids when they could hold a decent conversation and didn't need anything wiped.

My DP wanted kids and I fell pg by accident but I think DP made sure there was an accident IYSWIM. Felt nothing but repulsion for the first trimester- but once I got to 20 week scan had a picture of baby and could feel it move the love kicked in. Can't say I enjoyed the rest of pregnancy or childbirth ( terrified) but took an academic interest in all things baby. Didn't do shopping for baby stuff or think about family life, whether to BF, anyhting really except how was I going to manage getting back to work.

What I did feel, unexpectedly, was a bond with the unborn baby like nothing ever. When he was born I must have got a huge dose of love hormones as I had no problems bonding and found everything else came instictively. mY mother even gave me the backhanded compliment of saying how surprised she was what a good mother I was being. I went back to work when he was 11 weeks though.

I am assuming that, at 35, your career is quite established and you would have no problem returning to work. With one child it is quite possible to arrange childcare and carry on enjoying your life much as before, though your DP must be fully on board and supportive.Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of bumps in the road but there are so many rewards. And you might find you don't want your old life after all ;

I hope my story helps. I hope you come to enjoy your pregnancy as a first baby is such a special time that you don't get back.

Be good to yourself. And big congratulations grin.

Janoschi Sat 19-Feb-11 10:23:43

Sounds just like me too. I'm 28 weeks and having a right panic. Went to look at prams yesterday and couldn't believe how phobic I felt about pushing one... I just cringed with the embarrassment. Like other posters here, I had a violent, totally non-maternal mother. I'm hoping the hormones kick it soon! Good luck!

ShowOfHands Sat 19-Feb-11 10:33:26

I'm a non-maternal mother to a 3yr old.

I don't like babies.

I don't particularly enjoy other people's children.

I don't mind children once they have something to say for themselves but I'm glad when their mothers take them home.

DD wasn't a baby, isn't a child and has nothing to do with the above facts. She's my family. It was quite a revelation when I had her because I couldn't imagine how I could be a mother when I didn't have any natural desire to be one. Well I'm a mother by incidence. DD is part of my family, part of me, part of my marriage. I have that fierce desire to protect her in spades, that overwhelming love for her in bucketfulls. But I'm not maternal and don't yearn for children still. I just love her as the wonderful, unique person that she is.

I can't explain it. But I can tell you you're normal.

Tell your midwife you feel this way. They can and will support you and if they don't, change your midwife.

ShowOfHands Sat 19-Feb-11 10:36:05

Oh Janoschi, prams are fricking dull. I never went and looked them, just borrowed one from a friend but didn't really use it in the end. I used slings instead. I'm a bfing, sling-using, lentil-weaving hippy mother because it feels right. I suppose people would look at me and think that I'm fairly maternal. But I promise you I'm not. I know how to raise dd though because she's the child I was supposed to love and raise, not because I have anything built in to equip me to do this.

AlpinePony Sat 19-Feb-11 10:36:15

Yes, still not a fan of other people's children and have never liked babies. Love the fact that,this one is rapidly becoming a toddler!

BlackType Sat 19-Feb-11 10:40:58

I never liked babies much, and was a bit spooked by the idea of it when I was pregnant. Once my own were born it was, of course, utterly different - but I still preferred them once they became toddlers and more interactive. I'm still not interested in other people's babies now. I don't mind them, but I don't have any desire to coo and cuddle.

It took me a long time to connect my first baby with me (that sounds really bizarre, but it seems impossible that the baby that's been inside you is the same baby that is lying in a cot). But I never cease to be shocked by the way they make you feel once they're there. Love doesn't begin to cover it.

eviscerateyourmemory Sat 19-Feb-11 10:44:39

Im not a fan of babies either, but I found that I really liked my own.

thirteenyearssixmonthsoffun Sat 19-Feb-11 10:46:54

name changed to protect the guilty- and in case ds sees

I fell pregnant, accidentally, at 31. I was desperately, desperately unhappy all the way through- but for some reason xp and I never considered abortion.

I remember standing on the edges of train platforms, hiding money to just disappear with, you name it. And every time I woke up, I'd feel no movement, and half hope that the baby had died. When I felt the kick I would be overwhelmed with despair (xp was bad- but not as bad as me)

I spent the night before my baby was to be induced sobbing in the maternity wing

...and you know what, when he was born, I looked at him, recongnised him and actually said: oh, it was you all that time! if I'd known that it was you, I wouldn't have wasted the last 42 weeks weeping

I'm crying now, tho this was years ago.

Although I tried to hint to a few people, no-one believed how utterly miserable I was. I hope you have more luck and look for help and reassurance harder than I did.

much love and hugs xxxxxxx

doricpatter Sat 19-Feb-11 10:53:25

Oh I sympathise! I've got two now and I still have no interest in other people's offspring. People try to pass me new babies to hold and I recoil, don't know what to do with them, don't want to self-consciously entertain them, panic if they cry. But my own I care for happily, we've got lovely, tactile, affectionate relationships. When I was pregnant with my first I told the midwife about how much dread I was feeling about my lack of maternal feelings and she gently suggested that my flood of tears was probably a good indication that my hormones had it all under control. She was right - somehow I became fiercely maternal. Don't get tied up about the "rush of love" though, because it doesn't happen to us all. Good luck

MollieO Sat 19-Feb-11 10:57:24

I don't like children. I quite like Ds who is now 6 and has lots of things to say for himself. I could have happily missed the first three years of his life though. I don't think being immaterial is a bad thing.

bingeddybongo Sat 19-Feb-11 11:41:39

Hi unmaternal, you actually moved me to join the site just to say this... I'm not pregnant, but with a fabulous husband as desperate as mine to have kids, it's only a matter of time. And I know I'm going to feel exactly like you. I'm also utterly terrified of pregnancy.

Anyway, I have no advice to offer, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your feelings -you and the others who have responded with empathy! - because it is of enormous comfort to me to know that I'm not the only one who feels like this. Thank you, and very best wishes to you for a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Congratulations, OP!

I was never particularly maternal. I love my DSis' kids because they are kin (and have easy-to-like personalities) and I was happy to cart them around as babies. But generally, babies never held the slightest interest for me.

But when I met DH, I decided I wanted to have a family with him. When I got pg I surprised myself by how quickly my doubts turned to interest in what was happening to me and curiosity about the whole business of babies.

When DD was born, I didn't get a rush of love as such, but just felt that this was right.

Now (she's 13 months) I love her with a passion and she is a constant source of delight. I've also become genuinely more interested in other people's kids at best and at worst at least a lot more tolerant.

Like someone else said, don't push it, but try to at least come to terms with your situation and you will probably surprise yourself.

You'll be fine. smile

BlameItOnTheBogey Sat 19-Feb-11 14:23:35

I remember being in the delivery room, ten cms dilated and knowing that ds was minutes away from arriving and thinking; I don't want a baby. In a minute they are going to hand him to me and I am going to have to pretend that I am excited.

Then he was born. They handed him to me and my world changed. I couldn't stop crying because I instantly felt like he belonged.

I have two now. At times they are annoying and yes, children can be really boring. But I love them more than anything in the world and just thinking about them makes me smile.

It will be ok. Your own child will be nothing like anyone elses. It's true that other people's children and babies are snotty, shouty and generally annoying. For some reason, it really is different with your own.

ethelina Sat 19-Feb-11 14:27:45

I am totally non-maternal, I'm pleased that I have a son but there will not be any more.

Sparklies Sat 19-Feb-11 14:34:02

ShowofHands describes me to a tee - I've never felt particularly maternal either. I knew I wanted children at some point, but it was an abstract concept. Other people's children (especially strangers) bore me and I never understood the clucking and cooing. Babies were interesting in a "wow, mini human what has features of my friends" sort of way. Still mostly feel like that too - I'm more interested in the new parents being so happy!

When we first bought a baby toy when I was heavily pregnant, it sat in the corner of the room, glowing with these lurid colours in amongst the more adult tones of our house and looked so out of place. It looked like it belonged to someone else. I felt like a fraud buying baby clothes and it was totally surreal.

And when DD1 arrived? She was family. So what she was a baby, she was also a new relative. And I love my family. I remember feeling the biggest surge of love and relief when I first looked at her tiny hands and saw they were miniature versions of mine.. and mine look like my mother's. Then I knew it was going to be alright and it was

Now 28 weeks with DC3..

Icoulddoitbetter Sat 19-Feb-11 14:39:49

I always knew that I was going to struggle with the whole mummy thing and I have. I'm not maternal at all, still don't like anyone elses children, and there are days (sometimes weeks) when I really struggle at being a mother. But I did want children, and I know I want more. I completely adore my DS, he is a wonderful little bundle of fabulousness.

I agree with one of the other posters that I may be harder to become parents when you are older as you are so used to doing what you like, and are set in your ways. I regularly feel very very sad that my backpacking and regular gig going days are over, even though I did loads of that before DS came along.

OP you're normal and you'll be fine, honest!

Petsville Sat 19-Feb-11 14:44:30

I'm also completely non-maternal, but have 6-month-old DS. My experience is pretty much what ShowofHands said. I still don't like babies, or small children. I went to one NCT meet-up and got so bored I could feel my brain leaking out through my ears. BUT DS isn't "babies", he's my son, whom I love and whom I can't imagine being without.

I hated being pregnant and was wretched and anxious all the way through: I'd agreed to it because DH has always wanted children. No maternal instinct kicked in at any stage, and I didn't have a rush of love when he was born. However, as soon as he was born I realised that keeping him fed and clean and safe was a practical problem, and I can solve practical problems, so I focused on that for the first six weeks of his life. When I next had a few minutes to examine the state of my feelings, I realised that I'd started to love him when I wasn't looking.

Also, on a practical level, DH is completely devoted to DS (besotted, even), gave up work when DS was born and is SAHD, so my career shouldn't suffer too much (and I never had to be alone at home with a small baby, which was probably important for my mental health). That was and is important to me: if it's important to you too, make your plans now with your DP for how the two of you are going to manage.

BlameItOnTheBogey Sat 19-Feb-11 14:51:03

Petsville has a good point. I also approached DS as I would a new job; e.g. know nothing about this, feel out of my depth but if I put my head down and learn I'm sure it will be ok. And low and behold it was just fine.

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