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He wants a baby and I'm just not sure... How do I decide what to do?

(54 Posts)
violetbunny Sun 16-Apr-17 04:38:46

DP and I have been together 4 years. We live together and on the whole are quite happy together. I'm 35 and he is 33.

DP has always been clear that he wanted a child. At the time we got together I thought I did too, although it felt a long way off and I didn't feel remotely ready at the time. Now I still don't feel ready, in fact I feel like it would be a drastic lifestyle change and as I'm quite happy with how my life is now, I'm hesitant to make such a change. I'm also very aware that at 35 I don't have too many years left to decide before nature decides for me.

The issue now is that we've really reached a crossroads in our relationship. He's made it clear that he really wants a child, and that our relationship is unlikely to continue if I decide for good that I don't want one. He is happy to wait some time before trying, he just wants to be sure we are on the same page and agree to try for one in the future. He seems to be holding on to our relationship for now in the hope I'll express an interest in trying, as he says I'm the perfect woman for him apart from this one issue! However, my lack of decision is clearly upsetting him more as time goes by, so we can't continue like this indefinitely. He also seems ok with the fact that we might try and not be successful, he says he just wants us to both be on the same page.

I feel really pressured to make a decision about whether or not to have a baby, which is making me feel even more paralysed to know what to do. I also worry that my commitment issues (which stem from growing up in a family environment of constant arguing and occasional abuse) are clouding my judgment. I am terrified that I will end up in a scenario where he leaves me, I realise I've made a wrong decision and basically lose both him and the opportunity to have a child. However, I also don't want to commit to having a child unless I'm sure I want one.

Has anyone else been in this situation before? How did you know if you wanted a baby or not? I love DP and would be heartbroken if we split over this, but I can't see a way forward. And I am finding it tough to even know how to decide what I want in the face of this pressure.

StrawberryJelly00 Sun 16-Apr-17 04:57:29

Take the plunge I never knew how much I wanted a baby until I became pregnant.

lazydog Sun 16-Apr-17 05:10:16

You should obviously never have a child for someone else, if you don't want kids, but in my case I was the most unmaternal person ever. I'd never baby-sat as a teen. Never even held a baby...and that was by choice, as lots of friends and relatives had kids. Just no interest at all. But dh really wanted kids, and I didn't feel actively freaked out at the prospect, so we started trying. (We'd been together for 8 years by then though - married for 1.)

I fell pregnant the first time we dtd not using protection, so I never even had time to have second thoughts grin

Babies are bloody hard work and boring, but I loved them even though the lack of sleep was torture, and as they've got older, every year has been better than the last. I still struggle to relate to other people's kids and never feel any desire to spend time around them, but it's somehow (thankfully!) very different with your own.

No idea if any of that is helpful, but I just wanted to balance all the posts that are (understandably) going to tell you to not have kids unless you're 100% sure. If your only reason would be to keep your partner happy, then that's not enough, but I could see lots of positives about having kids - just never, ever had a broody bone in my body!

PhoenixJasmine Sun 16-Apr-17 05:32:18

I guess for me it would be whether you actively don't want a child, or are just feeling not fussed either way/ambivalent about the subject. Also, fast forward 10 years and you decided not to have a child - do you regret it?

If you decide to try to conceive - have you and your DP firmly agreed on issues like sharing childcare, work/career plans for each of you, sharing parental leave etc? It's all very well him wanting a child, but if he's expecting the bulk of the lifestyle change (giving up work, childcare) to fall on you whilst he carries on as he is now just has a few hours in the evening to see his child - that's a completely different scenario. It's the lifestyle change that seems to be putting you off - how does he see his lifestyle changing?

I'd suggest, if you can afford it, perhaps finding a counsellor to talk these things through with, explore your worries about commitment issues etc.

MrEBear Sun 16-Apr-17 05:53:56

I think the councillor suggestion is a good one. Kids / no kids is a fairly fundamental part of a relationship, if your not on the same page it will split you up and lead to bitterness at time wasted in a relationship that didn't progress as hoped. I'm surprised you haven't discussed kids before now.

How do you see yourself in 10 years time, still childless or doing lots of family days out. Involving kids in things that you enjoy doing, kids to give you the excuse to play kids games again?

I think you need to be honest and fair with yourself and partner. You also have to think where do you draw the line if you hit infertility issues, and what your child care plans are if you opt for kids.

CocoaLeaves Sun 16-Apr-17 06:01:12

Phoenix makes a good point, about whether the lifestyle change will be shared. How much do you share domestic chores, household budgeting, and general organisation and planning now? Do you feel equal partners in the relationship?

For me, I actively wanted my babies, which saw me through the fact that I did the lion's share of the work and my life changed drastically- especially after the second one. Factor in a child who may have additional needs, you absolutely need to be on the same page with care.

Vegansnake Sun 16-Apr-17 06:07:14

Try and look at it as....having a new family member,that in 20 years you have an adult child who you are proud of and is at the start of their life,it's amazing to watch your adult dc achieve things,go forward in life,and think ,I made that person,I helped them to grow and blossom..then you can look forward to visits from grandchildren and ,it's lovely having a family....I've 4 children 3 are adult or nearly adult,and it's lovely sharing their lives with them..they are babies for such a short time...so they are quickly children,with minds of their own..it seems like yesterday my 20 yr old daughter was a baby,then I nad 3 more...without them my life (talking just me not a sweeping generalisation) would of been meaningless and empty...I never dreamed of babies ...I dreamed of a career,instead I became a SAHM,bizarre,..funny how life works out..my kids are my rock.my anchor to the world...they make my life count x

CouldntMakeThisShitUp Sun 16-Apr-17 06:13:08

He's made it clear that he really wants a child, and that our relationship is unlikely to continue if I decide for good that I don't want one

So......held hostage to your ovaries eh?
I wonder if he's ever used that 'If you love me you would do XYZ' line before?

Most men don't have a bloody clue what's actually involved in having and raising children - because more often than not it's the woman who is left doing all the 'wifework', taking the career/earnings hit, putting her financial independence and security at risk.
You can't trust a man 100% to still treat you fair even if the relationship breaks down.

Ask him how committed he is to being a SAHD......afterall - it's HIS desire to be a dad....see how that goes down.
Lets see if he can deal with the boot being on the other foot......

Just remember - in the even of a relationship breakdown, a SAHP is most likely to get main residency of dc, the marital home, a higher % of marital assets and maintenance from the working parent.

There is absolutely NO WAY i would deliberately choose to put myself in either of those positions unless i was 100% sure that I wanted to be a mum.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sun 16-Apr-17 06:18:59

If you are not sure, no. If it isn't a 'hell yes' then no.

Also, if you are not married, then no.
Don't presume anything here, like he said he'd marry after kids come along (as an example).

If you are not good enough for him to marry you then he is not good enough to be the father of your children. I know some may not agree. The real reason being the financial exposure you'd be risking-should the relationship end, he could walk away free and clear financially (bar child maintenance). There have been many very sad threads on MN about that circumstance over the years.

TheLegendOfBeans Sun 16-Apr-17 06:38:06

What's your relationship like? I loved my XH and went into the relationship being up for babies. We married, and I waited for his insecurities to melt away as marrying proved I loved him, right?

My ambivalence grew about babies as I was with the wrong person to have them with. After years of pressure to have a baby running parallel with his emotional withdrawal (as punishment) I left him. I was 33.

Met DP (now DH) six months later. Knew immediately he was right for me. Stopped using protection, fell pg, we now have a 14mo DD. He is amazing, super hands on and a kind generous man who takes care of us all with a smile and a laugh.

Moral of the story: you may want kids, you may not. But maybe you're not with the right person to make the decision.

EverybodysHappyNowadays Sun 16-Apr-17 06:56:19

Well having had it happen twice, I would say never have a baby unless you are 100% willing and able to bring it up alone when he turns out to be abusive or a cheat etc.

If you don't desperately want one for yourself, then the answer is no.

violetbunny Sun 16-Apr-17 07:05:18

Thank you all for your replies, I really appreciate having some unbiased perspectives.

To answer a few of the points that have been raised:

He has made it clear he is more than willing to pull his weight with regards to childcare etc. At the moment I do slightly more around the house as he works longer hours than I do. He has said he is happy to change jobs, take paternity leave or whatever it takes to make sure he's doing his fair share and more.

We have discussed kids before now, it's not like this issue has suddenly come up. At first I was very open to the idea, but at that time it felt like I had all the time in the world to decide. Now that I've hit thirty five, the reality of having to commit one way or another has hit.

With regards to "holding my ovaries hostage", to be fair to him, he has always been clear about what he wanted, it's me who has changed the goal posts. It's not like he has suddenly started dropping threats. I suppose it's been clear the last 6 months that I've been really unsure about children, which understandably has worried him, and has lead to a discussion where I asked him what he would do if I decided I didn't want kids. He recognises this puts me in a difficult position of having to choose, though doesn't want to do anything rash.

With regards to marriage, his ideal scenario would be that we get married and have a baby. It's me who is not keen. I'm divorced and not keen on the idea of marriage, though I do recognise that it would make practical sense in some scenarios (and having a child with someone would be one of them). At the moment I am the higher earner although we both earn enough to support ourselves independently, and it would be my intention to remain financially independent.

I think the suggestion of counselling is a good one, so I will look into this.

category12 Sun 16-Apr-17 07:13:48

As above, if you do decide to have dc, get married first. No other legal document does what that bit of paper does.

As pps have also said, almost inevitably the woman ends up doing the lion's share and her lifestyle changing radically, while the man's doesn't. If you don't want that to happen, you both have to actively resist falling into those norms.

category12 Sun 16-Apr-17 07:14:57

X posted

HomityBabbityPie Sun 16-Apr-17 07:19:03

I wouldn't commit to having kids if you are feeling ambivalent TBH. I was desperate for a baby but it's been harder than I ever thought possible - and that's with a supportive dp and financial security.

I love my DS and I wouldn't give him up for anything but honestly, if I'd known what it was really like I might have reconsidered. I don't think your life is ever your own again. Even when they're independent - the constant worry is a huge drain.

CPtart Sun 16-Apr-17 07:20:25

Many men desperately want children, yet very few take them when relationships fail or even do 50/50. Think very carefully. Worse case scenario. And if you decide to go for it, get married first for that legal protection.

MaisyPops Sun 16-Apr-17 07:21:15

e's made it clear that he really wants a child, and that our relationship is unlikely to continue if I decide for good that I don't want one
*So......held hostage to your ovaries eh?
I wonder if he's ever used that 'If you love me you would do XYZ' line before?*

One of these moments where a man saying it gets a very different response to a woman saying it.
Women all over MN are encouraged to think about how importanf a child is and if a man isnt readu/doesnt want them then thry may have to leave a relationship in order to find somebody who wants a child.
This is no different.

Either party in a relationship (male or female) is able to discuss significant future plans and leave if they are not on the same page.

OP It may be worth looking at marriage as legal protection if you decide to have children (you could always draw up prenup agreements on certain things).
It sounds like on a practical level youre great. Maybe try to consider 5-10 years time, would you feel youre missing out? E.g. i'm not massively fussed about babies at all, am unlikely to take a year maternity etc but am really looking forward to them being 3+ and doing lots of things.

HomityBabbityPie Sun 16-Apr-17 07:21:21

To be fair my mum was married to my dad and she was still stuffed when they split confused

coughsandsneezes Sun 16-Apr-17 07:36:11

OP it isn't just the baby you aren't sure about, is it? You say you also have doubts about marriage, doubts about financial intertwining, and you even describe life with your partner as "on the whole, quite happy together" which is fine but after 4 years that language suggests you are also guarding your feelings a little and I wonder if you're not totally committed to the idea that you're with your life partner.

All of that is OK if it works for you but it's not working for you because it's affecting your relationship. If these doubts remain then by all means don't commit to anything further - you're under no obligation in life to follow the same path as others - but in that case you're likely to lose your current partner. Given that you're insightful about your background and why it might be affecting your decision making, I would strongly back the suggestions to seek counselling for yourself.

CouldntMakeThisShitUp Sun 16-Apr-17 07:44:50

He has said he is happy to change jobs, take paternity leave or whatever it takes to make sure he's doing his fair share and more

Ahhhh.....so what he's really saying is there is NO WAY he is sacrificing his lifestyle/financial security for something that he wants?

There is a big difference between 'talk' and 'action and he sounds like he's just all 'talk'.

Have you asked him how he's going to manage his fair share and more - seeing as he can't even manage it pre-dc?
Why isn't he doing 'all he can' right now to make things fair/equal between you?

If he was single he'd either have to pay someone to do his share of housework - or do it himself.

So despite his promises of being willing to make any sacrifice necessary to be an equal partner/parent - he's already showing you that his wants/desires/needs come first.

CassandraAusten Sun 16-Apr-17 07:51:41

I think some of these replies are a little harsh on the OP's DP. After four years together, it's very reasonable for him to ask for a firm indication about this. If you don't feel that you can give one (and it does sound, from your posts, like this may be the case) then you should be honest with him.

OP, none of us can tell you whether or not to start trying for a baby. Some people are ambivalent beforehand and then fall totally in love with their baby. Others end up feeling regret or resentment and wishing they had remained child-free.

violetbunny Sun 16-Apr-17 07:54:14

Coughsandsneezes your comments certainly resonate. I do indeed fear commitment, and that is what makes me so unsure - I don't know the extent to which it is clouding my feelings on the issue. I did have counselling some time ago which helped me realise the extent to which it affects my life choices, and would probably benefit from going back to it.

SparklingRaspberry Sun 16-Apr-17 08:06:23

He's made it clear that he really wants a child, and that our relationship is unlikely to continue if I decide for good that I don't want one

*So......held hostage to your ovaries eh?
I wonder if he's ever used that 'If you love me you would do XYZ' line before?*

Are you being serious?! hmm

There is absolutely nothing wrong with ending a relationship because the other person doesn't want kids and you do! It's got nothing to do with 'holding your ovaries hostage'
Having/not having kids is a deal breaker in a lot of relationships... and if a couple can't agree on the same decision then yes the fairest thing is to usually move on.

I'm certain if the OP posted "I want kids but my DP doesn't..." everyone would be telling her to leave and find someone else who does want them because her clock is ticking..

The double standards on this board amazes me..

violetbunny Sun 16-Apr-17 08:06:37

Couldntmakethisshitup I'm not sure how you have arrived at the conclusion that he's not willing to make sacrifices. He has said he is willing to change jobs if needed (given he currently has to work some evenings, sometimes without much notice) and whatever else it takes. It's true that I can't predict what he will do in the future and that he hasn't changed jobs just yet, but to be fair I don't think it would make sense for him to do so unless it's clear we both want a child.

SparklingRaspberry Sun 16-Apr-17 08:07:38

I too would also finish a relationship if I wanted kids and my DP didn't.

It wouldn't be fair to expect him to have them anyway, just like it wouldn't be fair to expect me not to have them.

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