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To ask if having a baby changed your life for the better?

(117 Posts)
Maxwellthecat Thu 27-Oct-16 09:42:27

So me and DH have a lovely life, I run a business and though I don't make piles of money I have worked hard to get to a point where we don't worry about paying all our bills, mortgage and having some left over at the end of the month any more. I've worked flat out for as long as I can remember and now we're finally able to slow down, I finally have the most lovely work-life balance. My husband and I don't have expensive tastes, we live in the north in a small house that we were lucky enough to be able to buy thanks to his parents, neither of us are into flashy cars or designer clothes, the only thing we spend a lot of money on is food.
My husband has a decent marketing job that doesn't fulfill him intellectually but is steady with good pay and he only works 9-5, never on the weekends and is pretty much stress free, which means he has a lot of creative energy left for his real passion writing sci-if novels in his spare time. The plan is to eventually for him to go to part-time so he can do more of this.
Both me and my husband have suffered from mental health issues in the past and we both need lots of rest, self care, patience and space. We've both worked hard on our issues and have finally found a routine that works, my husband is not good with change of plan or mess or noise (he's not been diagnosed but I'm pretty sure he's on the spectrum).
If we were to have a baby it would be like starting from scratch again, my job is physical so I would have to give up a lot of it (especially in the early days) and though we are fine financially for the two of us with a baby we'd definitely have to earn more money which would mean one of us would have to take on more stress and DH wouldn't be able to go part time.
I am really conflicted because I've always seen children in my future but it's always been 'in a few years' but now I'm there I don't want to rock the boat and risk what we've worked so hard for.
On the other hand I don't want to miss out simply because I was scared.
Do you think children always make your life better?
I'm not asking if you love your children, obviously you do and that's not in debate but objectively on a day to day basis are you happier? Is your life more fulfilled??

MyGiddyUncle Thu 27-Oct-16 09:47:39

On a day to day basis are you happier? Is your life more fulfilled??

Mine are 8 and 6 and we're due DC3 in May.

Tbh I struggle to remember what life was like before ds1 was born...this is just normal life now...and I had ds1 at 21 so more of my adult life has been being a parent that not iyswim.

Yes I do feel happy and fulfilled. I'm sure I was before too. But I wouldn't change things for anything now. I don't think i've ever met anyone who regretted having kids (not that they'd say anyway) but i've definitely met quite a few who regretted not having them.

formerbabe Thu 27-Oct-16 09:53:48

Hmm difficult one. No, I don't think children make your life better. They have an adverse effect on your relationship, social life, career, finances, sleep, home etc etc. None of these things are improved by having children. But...you love and adore them once they arrive in a way you never knew was possible. I wouldn't say my life is happier but i absolutely love them beyond words and if I hadn't have had children I'd have felt very sad. But take today, it's school holidays, I want to go to the gym...I can't, my dh is at work, when he gets home I'd love to pop out for a drink and meal with him, I can't. Well I could, but only with a massive amount of planning. I can't work as I have no suitable childcare. It's an incredibly difficult decision and I imagine whatever people choose, there can be an element of regret and what if?

formerbabe Thu 27-Oct-16 09:59:02

Forgot to add...before my dc, I was incredibly broody! I don't think I could have been happy in my life carrying that feeling around forever iyswim.

Purplebluebird Thu 27-Oct-16 10:00:52

I actually find it incredibly difficult to be a parent, and normally feel I'm not good enough for my son. It has given my life a purpose (to look after and raise my child), but it has also made it much more difficult. Some days I regret it, other days I don't. I love my son endlessly, but I feel like I just can't give him all that he needs.

Munstermonchgirl Thu 27-Oct-16 10:01:12

I believe research shows that people
Who are coupled but childless by choice show the highest levels of fulfilment and happiness....

Formerbabe is right though- it's not really that it makes your life better. More that it changes things so that you can't really imagine how life was before and produces emotions you never felt before

Fwiw I know people who live full and happy lives both with, and without children (and conversely I know people who aren't happy, both with,or without children) so I don't think being a parent is the key factor in whether you're happy

Maxwellthecat Thu 27-Oct-16 10:02:00

I'm not broody at all btw, I love babies and I am lucky enough to work with mam's and babies so get lots and lots of baby cuddles which is beyond lovely but I also love that moment when they've all gone and I can have a cuppa in peace.

DocMcFanjo Thu 27-Oct-16 10:03:14

It's really difficult to look at the pros and cons on this one because the pros are so intangible and the cons are very very tangible.

In "selfish" terms my life isn't better- less disposable income, much much less time to spend as I choose, less one on one time with DH, new stresses.

But then We have our two girls who are just the loves of our lives.

So the overall picture is of immense love, laughs and joy mixed in with exhaustion, responsibility, chaos and tedium.

Higher highs and lower lows. All I can really say is that life has changed. I think if I was not just supremely happy with my before life but, perhaps crucially, could ill afford for it to change, then I might have reconsidered having then. Maybe.

ElspethFlashman Thu 27-Oct-16 10:03:47

No I think in many cases having babies make your life a bit shit for a couple of years.

Particularly if you have just achieved some peace and quiet. That gets exploded.

I also worry about your DHs hobby. My DH loves reading - that's his hobby. He really struggles to do much. Our house is loud and someone is always looking for Daddy. Or crying. At night he is too knackered to read more than 5 mins in bed. So in order to get any writing work done, your DH would have to physically leave the house, most likely.

formerbabe Thu 27-Oct-16 10:04:47

I'm not broody at all btw, I love babies and I am lucky enough to work with mam's and babies so get lots and lots of baby cuddles which is beyond lovely but I also love that moment when they've all gone and I can have a cuppa in peace

After reading this op, I'm wondering why you are even considering having children...is it because you think it's the "done thing" and what society expects as the next step in life?

DocMcFanjo Thu 27-Oct-16 10:06:28

Good point Elspeth.

Reading is my passion too but I can count on one hand the number of books I've read in the past 3 years.

I hope to resume it in the next 10 years or so (seriously).

ElspethFlashman Thu 27-Oct-16 10:07:17

I will say our lives may be much less peaceful and much less our own....but there is a tremendous amount of laughter in our house. Kids are goofy and funny. We simultaneously feel a decade older and a decade younger.

But just trying to figure out how to shower.....I don't love that aspect at all.

lauryloo Thu 27-Oct-16 10:08:06

It's really hard work, but I definitely feel far more fulfilled. I have a 3 year old and a 16 month old with sn.

Maxwellthecat Thu 27-Oct-16 10:10:22

Formerbabe
Yes and also more. I'm not broody now but I only get one life and what if I don't have children now then I can't and I've decided I've made a mistake?
I'm not that arsed what society thinks but I am worried that I am possibly being selfish or prioritising little things that don't matter.

Kittyp75 Thu 27-Oct-16 10:13:44

We had our first ds1 when I was 40 and DP was 39.
We waited 22 years as we didn't think it would be possible after DP had Hodgkin lymphoma, and decided against ivf to avoid disappointment. We just accepted that it would just be the 2 of us.
I have a career in nursing and DP earns good money.
Found out I was expecting and was over the moon (after the initial shock and 4 pregnancy tests later)
I have had to go part time as DGP are much older and childcare is difficult. It's been hard and we have had to adjust, the sleep deprivation was the hardest thing to overcome.
I wouldn't change a thing, but I'm not planning on having any more either grin

Areyoufree Thu 27-Oct-16 10:14:22

You can't explain it. It makes no sense. Kids drive you crazy. You can spend all day battling with them over every fucking little thing (that's the wrong spoon, my socks are too lumpy, these pancakes aren't the same as last time), wrestle them into bed, have to run upstairs every 5 minutes (I need a wee, I lost my blankie, my sister hit me). Finally you sit down. Finally they are asleep. And what do you do? Look at pictures of them, or pop upstairs 'just to check', and watch them sleep. I don't choose to love them - they are hardwired into me. And no, I wouldn't change a thing.

LucyFuckingPevensie Thu 27-Oct-16 10:16:01

Having babies is hard, well I found it hard. I've got twins, they were prem and were really tiny and weak. I didn't sleep much, it was exhausting. The peace and quiet and opportunities to do what we wanted when we wanted disappeared.
I would do it all again in a heartbeat though, and the ultra demanding part doesn't last forever, and it's not just a one way thing - they give you lots too. While I miss having a cup of tea in peace, when I actually do the house seems a bit empty.
They're 6 now and obviously they're my dc, but it's like having a couple of little mates around. They're proper little people who at one point might even make me a cup of tea.
It doesn't mean this is right for you though, I have quite a few childless friends, they're all happy, we just lead different lives.

dinosaursarebisexual Thu 27-Oct-16 10:18:11

Can I recommend audio books Doc. I put one on doing chores.

SpeakNoWords Thu 27-Oct-16 10:21:57

Having children clearly is a big responsibility. In the early days they are totally dependent on you for everything. Everything you do needs to work around ensuring that you have met their needs. So your own "wants" can get pushed onto the back burner and you can have less time for yourself. I have a 4 month old and a 4 yr old, and at the moment there are things I might like to do that I just can't do because of logistics. I don't resent that though, as I knew that would be the case. It doesn't last forever and they are only young once.

The benefits can be intangible. I couldn't possibly describe to you how amazing my two children are, and how much joy and love they bring. It's fascinating to watch them grow and develop, and become their own little person.

maloryt0wers Thu 27-Oct-16 10:22:44

Yes i am happier, I have a 2 year old dd and I love my life now, but this is why I think I am so happy...I work part time, I didn't like my job pre dd, same job now but part time, I really like this balance, family do childcare so not costs or worries, Dd is and always has been a good sleeper so I'm actually less tired than pre children and working full time. Dd is an easy going toddler. When I hear friends talk about how hard it is I realise I am very lucky.

However reading your post makes me think that you seem really happy now. I wasnt, I felt something was missing. Do you feel like anything is missing from your life?

Eolian Thu 27-Oct-16 10:23:44

It's hard to define really, because everyone is different in terms of what would make them happy, what would fulfil them and what levels of difficulty and inconvenience they can cope with. The problem is that if you don't have any, you'll never know.

I wanted children very much, so even if I'd ended up hating being a parent, it would have been unrealistic to compare my life as a parent with my pre-parent levels of happiness, because not having or being unable to have children would have made me unhappy in itself iyswim.

I have 2 dc (8 and 11) and they were easy babies and are easy children and are an absolute joy. However, many people are not so lucky. I did have a hard time post-dc2 (with undiagnosed pnd). The early days with a baby are very hard even if you don't have MH issues tbh.

LucyFuckingPevensie Thu 27-Oct-16 10:23:50

YY AreYouFree, I have to go up and check on them when they're in bed.
I always go in before I go to sleep too, I can't not do it.
Even if we have been snapping at each other and they've been digging their heels in about everything and driving each other crazy. It makes no difference.

Goldenvalley Thu 27-Oct-16 10:24:25

Yes. It gave me the drive to be the best person I can be. Genuinely. I had train-wreck tendencies before, outwardly successful and 'together' but privately struggling with all sorts. Having dc made me focused, happy and strong. Best thing I ever did.

Tootsiepops Thu 27-Oct-16 10:26:08

My baby is about to turn one.

It has taken me an entire year to let go of the frustration that I have to get up at 5.45am every morning whether I want to or not, and the resentment of having to think about someone else ahead of me all the bloody time. I desperately miss alone time as I am very introverted.

All research says that having children negatively impacts your quality of life.

But my daughter makes me laugh every day. Proper belly laugh. Is it enough to make up for the things I've had to give up? Sometimes grin

I really agree with pp who said it's higher highs, but lower lows.

OhhBetty Thu 27-Oct-16 10:26:10

My son saved my life. I was taking a lot of drugs before becoming pregnant and I was in such a dark place. It changed everything for the better. But it sounds like we're in totally different situations!

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