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To be a parent or remain childfree?

(325 Posts)
MiddleLane Thu 08-Aug-19 09:32:58

I'll try and cover this as briefly as possible!

I'm 35. DH is 40. We are financially comfortable and very happy together. I admit I love my clean, tidy house and ability to please myself. We have lovely holidays and can be spontaneous with cinema/restaurants/day trips/weekends away. Life is peaceful and I love my hobbies.

I have zero experience with children. No neices/nephew's or anything, so I've been unable to foster any meaningful relationships with kids. Perhaps because of this I find all kids rather intimidating!

I don't actively dislike children at all (though lots in supermarkets tend to be loud and unruly!) but I've never thought 'I must be a mum'.

Since I turned 30 I've tried to decide whether to try for DC or not. My DH is on the same fence; happy to try, happy to not try. Neither of us feel broody.

I suppose right now I'm happy with how things are, but I do feel sad at the idea of never having a family. I think about Christmas and the future and perhaps all the romanticised ideas of family life.

I realise you have to sacrifice a hell of a lot to bring DC up. Once you've had them I'm sure it must feel like you'd never be without them; but would you say your life is much improved with your DC? I worry about the world and our society too, the stress of growing up in our social media climate worries me as does the impact of more children on the environment.

Yet...I don't want to regret not having kids.

What tipped the scales for you into deciding to have DC, or deciding to remain childfree?

One last bit of info that's quite important; I know I do qualify/would need IVF due to a medical condition, it would be unlikely but not impossible to fall pregnant naturally. So deciding to try would mean the added stress of facing potential infertility.

It seems sensible to think 'Well it may not happen, so if I'm on the fence, then why try?'. But this nagging idea of regret still gnaws at me.

Sorry for the length of the post blush

HulksPurplePanties Thu 08-Aug-19 09:39:03

I'm personally of the opinion OP that you shouldn't have children unless you're sure you want them. I love my little monsters to death, but it is hard.

At the same time I read your post and can't help but think if you're already worried that you'd regret not having children, than you should probably give it the ole college try, as I doubt you'd regret having them as much as not having them. (I hope that made sense).

zafferana Thu 08-Aug-19 09:41:18

No one can decide this for you OP! I suggest you go and have some counselling to help you feel comfortable with whatever decision you make, but do it now. If you know you're going to need IVF every year counts and after 40 the chances of conceiving (particularly using IVF), go way down, so if you decide to try you need to get on with it (I know this is more pressure, but perhaps that will concentrate your mind?).

Personally though (and as a mum of two), I'd say if you're both so ambivalent and so in love with your life as it is and your holidays and all that stuff then don't do it. Having DC completely changes your life unless you want and can afford a substantial amount of help (i.e one or more nannies). If you really want DC and can't imagine your life without them then you accept those changes, but if you're not even sure you want kids I think it would probably be unbearable! I too love a tidy house, holidays, doing what I want (who doesn't?), but I always wanted kids and so did DH and so the many, many sacrifices involved in parenting have been bearable for us (most of the time - there are always moments that are unbearable!). In your position, I wouldn't do it.

user1493413286 Thu 08-Aug-19 09:43:37

It was never a decision for me in the way that you’re describing; I logically worried about some of the same things as you but my over riding wish to have children made those things not matter in my mind at the time. I couldn’t imagine not having children so as soon as financially me and DH were in a place to do it I wanted to go ahead.

TakemedowntoPotatoCity Thu 08-Aug-19 09:44:07

I had DD because I couldn't imagine a life without children. (I would have adapted somehow though if I hadn't been fortunate enough)

If you love your life as it is there's nothing to say you will regret it. It sounds like things are great the way they are and if it ain 't broke, etc. Having said that it the niggling doubts won't go away it might be worth giving it a roll of the dice? Or course IVF is stressful and all consuming so I think you would both need to be 100% committed to the idea if you went down that road. Good luck whatever you decide. Perhaps just come off contraception and let nature decide (probably a stupid suggestion sorry)

zafferana Thu 08-Aug-19 09:46:00

I think about Christmas and the future and perhaps all the romanticised ideas of family life

One last thing - ignore this! For every Instagram-ready parenting moment of decorating a Christmas tree or walking hand in hand with your DC along the shoreline collecting shells and chatting, there are 400 hours of domestic drudgery! Family life is not a series of beautiful tableaus with your DC - it's a life of dropping off, picking up, making packed lunches, doing homework, endless washing, juggling, sitting in noisy indoor play centres watching your toddler be hit by a larger DC while you'd rather be home reading a book, mashing bananas, clearing up sick ... you get the picture (I hope!)

TwattingDog Thu 08-Aug-19 09:48:49

Fuck knows. We keep dithering and we're 39 and 40.

We can't have kids naturally as DH is infertile. We decided against IVF/ICSI as out chances were so poor. We've been knocked back for a year by an adoption agency because I get chronic migraine - and they may never actually be happy to put us through the process.

We're looking at donor, but the legal ramifications are a nightmare. A friend volunteered to donate, but that seems fraught with future issues to me.

So do we sack it all off, fill the house with dogs and go on more holidays.... Or do we keep fighting and accept being older parents?

We have no idea!

In your position, I'd try for kids. Regret at leaving it so late for us is what's killing us now.

Nowisthemonthofmaying Thu 08-Aug-19 09:49:35

Hmm - I'm in a similar position (fertility issues aside).

I'm not really a baby person, never felt broody or had much to do with small children - lots of my friends have babies by now (I'm late 30s) and their lives don't appeal at all!

However, I always imagined myself having a family, and I really like older children and teenagers (and work with them) so my thinking is that the whole pregnancy/baby thing is just a stage that I'm going to have to put up with to get to that. DH and I have just started TTC and I still feel deeply ambivalent about the whole thing, but I know that time is not on my side and I can't afford to put it off for much longer, so this is where we're at... I guess I'll just have to see what happens!

TheCatInAHat Thu 08-Aug-19 09:50:07

I have two young DC. I liked all things you do too. It’s hard and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you actually want C. Feeling tired, disorganised, sometimes isolated, harassed are typically daily issues. And when things are bad- DC in hospital, family trauma etc it’s even harder.

That said, I wanted my DC and they are wonderful- I wouldn’t be without them for a second. But life isn’t always easy or fun.

Sevo7 Thu 08-Aug-19 09:51:03

If I was you I would have counselling to work through your feelings as you are unsure. For me it’s was a pure biological urge to have children and I would have stopped at nothing to have them but there are still days when I think my life would have been so much easier without them. Children change your life in a way you cannot imagine,the early years especially are relentless at times and your life is no longer about you,your child has to come first at all times and this can be exhausting. Everything is different and more hard work. Don’t get me wrong I love my dc more than anything and there are moments of pure joy but if I’d had any doubts about whether or not I wanted children I don’t think I’d be able to cope with such a big change and the extra work and inconvenience children bring.

Bumbags Thu 08-Aug-19 09:52:39

Your life sounds great!

Don’t do it. Don’t have kids.

Megan2018 Thu 08-Aug-19 09:52:40

We are expecting first baby in 5 weeks - we are 41 and 46. We married late and I'd never been broody before but then as I turned 40 we decided to give it a try.
Absolutely can't wait to meet our baby now!

I've been so excited since we got the BFP - so I know it was the right thing. Not everyone has huge broody feelings before getting pregnant.

ChihuahuaMummy1 Thu 08-Aug-19 09:53:16

Dont go through IVF if you aren't desperate for a child,its a hard,stressful process.

helpsomuchclutter Thu 08-Aug-19 09:54:02

We're looking at donor, but the legal ramifications are a nightmare.

Please can I ask, what they are? A friend is considering donation, we chatted about it just yesterday and it sounds a good idea for her - but I don't think she's aware of any "legal ramifications".

TwattingDog Thu 08-Aug-19 09:55:36

Ref TTC and IVF, you have to have been TTC for approx 2 years before you get access to tests etc in the NHS. However, if your medical condition will make it so likely you'll need IVF, maybe get the testing started ASAP.

I was 35 when we started to TTC. I assumed my PCOS would cause issues, but actually later tests showed I was fine. We had no idea about DH's infertility - which BTW was caused through being a premature baby, with undescended testicles.

The surgery to correct this was left far too late, and basically the testes were exposed to high body temperatures which rendered them both incapable of producing viable sperm. Not a single one. So if anyone has a boy with undescended testicles, please please please get them corrected ASAP.

sackrifice Thu 08-Aug-19 09:58:03

I couldn't see myself with kids, the sheet thought horrified me. Which is why I am still child free and very happy about it.

user1494670108 Thu 08-Aug-19 09:58:58

We were very much like you, I'd always said that I'd have to decide by 35. At 33 my mum died and FIL had died a couple of years before that and tbh all our achievements, holidays, house, careers etc started to feel a bit empty/ pointless.
I'm now 50, have a 11 and a 14 year old and have never regretted it. I gave up work and it has been a blast, what I hadn't foreseen was the positives as well as the negatives. Like you i worried about the lack of freedom and spontaneity but holidays and days out with kids are so much fun. We saw our home city in a different way - got to know the parks and museums instead of the pubs and have made some great friends via the schools.
For us it was absolutely the right decision but we are not you, and the infertility changes how your experience would be, maybe the suggestions of counselling are a good starting point?

Pinkbonbon Thu 08-Aug-19 09:59:16

I think if you have a happy life as is, why do anything to rock the boat? All that horrible hormonal ivf crap...ick. Not worth it for a kid you aren't even sure you want. Enjoy your secure, fun, happy life. Sounds like a dream to me.

TwattingDog Thu 08-Aug-19 09:59:59

@helpsomuchclutter it depends on the source of the sperm really. We were looking at using Cryos International for home insemination, but would like a child to be able to identify the donor later in life if they wanted to (have a friend who was adopted and has no chance of identifying her birth parents, and it's caused huge mental health problems for her).

We then thought about someone we know. He's up for it (insemination, no way sex!) but we're worried about the future and his rights over any child if he wanted to claim for access etc.

www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/using-donated-eggs-sperm-or-embryos-in-treatment/

dawsoncornwell.com/en/what-we-do/fertility-laws-and-surrogacy/donor-conception.html

formerbabe Thu 08-Aug-19 10:01:29

Don't do it

BuzzShitbagBobbly Thu 08-Aug-19 10:02:22

Since I turned 30 I've tried to decide whether to try for DC or not. My DH is on the same fence; happy to try, happy to not try. Neither of us feel broody.

Every thread I have read about this seems to say that if you want kids, you know. You have a yearning for them that you can't explain (as inexplicable as many others non-yearning)

You clearly don't have that yearning. That's fine.

Don't entertain the people who will queue up to tell you you'll change your mind or you don't know true love etc etc. It's your life, not theirs.

JemimaPuddlePeacock Thu 08-Aug-19 10:05:14

Something as momentous as having a child, a decision that will impact you and the child and your husband for decades to come, really has to be entered into because you actively want it. Not because of some vague sense you might regret not doing so. So I’d say in your position there’s no way I’d try for children. You just don’t want them enough, which is totally fine, but you’d BU to try for a baby anyway when you’re on the fence.

verticality Thu 08-Aug-19 10:10:00

DH and I felt exactly the same way. Being kind of indifferent to having kids or not is not something that is spoken about very much in the media. You're supposed to know, definitively, one way or the other. I think this is partly what creates such an intense Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) around this issue - there is very little visibility given to the childless in media and advertising, so people don't really know what that 'looks' like.

We made the decision against on the grounds that we couldn't really justify it ecologically since we didn't feel a pressing need (having a kid is one of the very worst things you can ever do for the environment). I also came to the conclusion that the argument that you needed kids to have a social circle and something to do in your older age was bogus - I wouldn't want hypothetical kids to have to look after me anyway, and I have confidence in my ability to create and maintain friendships because I've already done that over a period of being so ill I was bed-ridden. Getting older still scares me, but I don't think having children would relieve the core of that anxiety really.

Another factor is that, watching friends with kids, it seems really a devastating combination of tiring and boring, particularly when they are very young. I'm sure it feels a bit different if they are your own, but honestly, there looks to be a whole world of drudgery and extremely hard work associated with it. I couldn't honestly be sure that this labour would be shared equally between DH and myself - he already has the big Star Job, and I didn't want to have to sacrifice the last vestiges of a shot at the creative and fulfilling career I want, or to become the resentful SAHP who misses out. We also both have parents who are a PITA, so there would be no help from another generation - we'd be utterly on our own with it, which I think can be really lonely and hard.

BuzzShitbagBobbly Thu 08-Aug-19 10:24:12

You're supposed to know, definitively, one way or the other.

Isn't the lack of that yearning a big clue to the fact you don't want them, though?

BetweenTheMoon Thu 08-Aug-19 10:24:46

I was you. I now have 2 kids.

If I'm honest and I knew what it would actually be like (I'm an only child, no nieces or nephews or other children around too) I would try and be brave enough to not have children. I felt more like I was supposed to have them because society says that what you do and it was never a firm no in my heart. We were just about to start our IVF when we found out we were pregnant (after 2 years of trying).

It's tough and I hate that my time is now never my own and I can not do anything at all without coordinating others. I long to go to sleep when I want (my second is a new born) and wake up when I want. To be able to 'pop' out when ever I want. To just 'be' but every part of my life is now determined by my kids. I look at my child free friends with absolute envy.

I went on to have a second because the damage was already done and I decided having another would help as they might keep each other amused in the long term 😂

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