Family Ties · Honey Bear · Sweet Home

Baby Talk, or How Can I Be 32 Years Old and Still Not Know What I Want?

Our niece as a tiny, adorable, chubby baby

I’m 32.  I’m going to be 33 in a couple of months.  Not every woman experiences the whole biological clock thing, I’m sure, but as I have sirens going off in my head every time I see a kid these days, I’m pretty sure mine is ticking.  Loudly.  Most of my friends have kids, and I think they’re all adorable and fascinating.  I used to be kind of afraid of babies, but when my sister had my niece almost 7 years ago, I got over that because she was the first baby who was MINE in some way.  I mean, clearly, she was my sister’s, but she belonged to me in some way that I’d never experienced before.  I loved her, real love that only comes for people close to you.  She’s a funny kid, and I love watching her grow up and watching her mind develop.

I married a man who has never wanted children, who still doesn’t want children, but who knew before I did that I would want at least one.  He told me during the year we were engaged that he knew that I would want a kid someday, and he would never want one, and he was sure we would have one when I wanted a child more than he didn’t want one.  He doesn’t hate kids; in fact, he’s really good with my niece.  He taught her how to play Mario Kart; he plays games with her and talks to her and has finally started calling her “our niece.”  He genuinely likes the kid.  He just doesn’t want to live with one especially.

We’ve had one pregnancy “scare” during our marriage, one time when I thought my body was acting weird and in pregnant-indicating ways.  I was sure with my head that I wasn’t – I was on birth control, after all – but people sometimes get pregnant even when they’re on birth control, and my body just didn’t feel right.  David knew that I would fret and worry over it until we knew for sure, so we bought a home pregnancy test.  It said no.  We weren’t ready for a baby, not at all, but still I was a little disappointed.  And David said that during the few hours between the time I told him about my concerns and the time I took the test, he was surprised at how not at all freaked out he had felt, considering the possibility.

We’ve been married 5 years now.  Both sets of parents would love for us to have a kid – David’s in particular, because they don’t have any grandchildren at all.  Clearly some part of me wants a baby, and David knows the day is coming.  And yet…we still don’t.  It’s all up to me, all I have to do is tell David it’s time, and he’ll shake his head and sigh and resign himself to it.  So what’s my hang up?  I have a bunch, actually.

First, we don’t have enough room here.  We can’t afford to buy a new house, the chances of our selling this condo are slim to none in this market (and even if we could, we’d probably barely break even with what we owe on the place), and we just don’t have room for a kid here.  Or maybe more accurately, we don’t have room for a kid and its stuff here.  Where on earth would I put a crib?  A stroller?  Baby toys?  We don’t have room to store the things that are already here, much less the multitude of crap that comes with a baby.

I’m also worried that I’m not patient enough.  I certainly lose my patience with our dogs almost constantly.  Just this morning, I was sitting on the couch, trying to eat my breakfast while checking my e-mail, and I threatened to murder the dogs at least 5 times in 30 minutes.  Of course I didn’t mean it literally, but I was very frustrated with them and very impatient.  I just wanted them to sit still and be quiet long enough for my brain to wake up peacefully, which of course they didn’t understand, and I yelled at them.  Several times.  What do you do with a baby who won’t stop crying?  I feel like I’d have the same reaction, and nobody wants to be the mom who yells at her baby.

Finally, I’m terrified.  Lack of patience aside, I’m not scared I’d be a bad mother – I’m pretty sure I would be a decent mom as things go.  I’m afraid of losing myself.  I’m afraid of losing my hobbies, of not getting to go to my book club anymore, of not getting to travel with my husband anymore, of not being able to sit and waste hours on Facebook and my RSS reader and play computer games and watch TV if that’s what I feel like doing.  I’m terrified of losing the time and energy to do the stuff I want to do.  I’m afraid of getting really fat because I won’t have the time or inclination to go to the gym – I already struggle with that, and I don’t have a child to care for.  I’m scared of not getting enough sleep, because I’m a person who does not deal well with that.

I have friends who never want to have kids, and I totally respect their decision.  I have friends who want to have kids as soon as humanly possible after they’re married, and I think that’s up to them and their spouse, though I’m certainly grateful for the alone time David and I have had so far in our marriage.  And I have friends who want to have 5 or 6 kids, and I think they’re crazy, but whatever floats their boats.  I have friends with kids who say they love their kids, but they’d recommend their childless pals stay that way.  And I have friends with many babies who have never been happier and keep having and/or adopting more.  But I feel like I’m in limbo somehow.  I want to, every fiber of my being tells me I want to when I hold a darling chubby baby in my arms, but I also feel like I have several compelling reasons not to.  Either way, I clearly can’t wait too long to decide; 33 is getting late-ish for a first baby.


18 thoughts on “Baby Talk, or How Can I Be 32 Years Old and Still Not Know What I Want?

  1. I don’t really think 33 is late (or even late-ish, really) to have a baby. (I’m less than a year behind you, and just getting married now, and we want to wait at least a year, possibly 2, before we start “trying” to have kids.) And while I hear a fear of regret in your post, either regret for having a kid or regret for not having one, another way of looking at it is that there are positives to either choice. If you have a baby, sure, you’ll lose a substantial amount of free time and “me” time and even couple time, but there are also things you would love about being a mom. If you don’t have a baby, you’d get to keep the great parts of your status quo, and there are other ways to have kids in your life, and to mentor or foster or just be a cool aunt to kids you’re not even related to. I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s _Committed_, kind of a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, and she has a chapter on parenting/children/childlessness that’s pretty interesting because of its lack of singular conclusions. Like you and your friends, people come out all over the map on how they feel about their decision to have kids or not. One thing that’s been helpful for me to think about is to separate the baby-love (and sometimes baby-lust) from a desire to parent, to be an intimate, lifelong part of another person’s life, whether that person is my own biological offspring or adopted. And while I’m pretty sure I do want the opportunity to parent, I’ve also come to feel some peace recently about the possibility of not being a parent, that it would be okay to go through life with a family of 2 (my spouse and I), and have time for all those things we love doing that would be a lot harder with one or more kids around.

    Not sure if any of this is helpful, but it struck a chord in what I’ve been thinking about lately!

  2. It’s not really fair of me to post since I have such a personal interest in your decision going in a particular direction, but I’ll hide behind my status as a family elder which affords me the right to comment, especially when you solicit opinion by blogging about it.

    Your friend Kerry mentions regret. That’s perceptive, but from my experience as a father regret only applies if you decide not to have a child. There is no regret in parenting, and I’d wager that almost any parent would agree.

    That is not to suggest that parenting is all a barrel of fun, or easy, or without hardship. But regret? No. None.

    And there’s something else to consider. Choosing not to parent is also choosing not to be a grand parent. At your age this may not seem to be important, but from my more aged perspective I encourage you to consider this additional consequence of your decision.

    Here’s something that age has taught me. Life is less about what we do, than about our connections to other people. We need these connections. A substantial measure of our self worth comes from our connections with others, and the strongest of these connections are parent/child and grandparent/grandchild. Think about it. We live to an average age of 70-80 for a reason.

    Now, this isn’t to say that one can’t establish strong, nurturing connections with nieces and nephews and friends. But – and only the death of a loved one will teach you this lesson – when it comes down to it, with few exceptions, a parent can count on a child and a child on a parent. All other relationships are a crap shoot.

  3. Da, you are perfectly fair in commenting. I did put this in a public forum, and I was perfectly aware that I was doing so, and that all of my parental unit-types were likely to read the post. 🙂

    I do take all of your points, and realize them as truths, as much as I can without actually being a parent. And I have not lost a parent to death, but I essentially lost a father to divorce very early in my life (though I was lucky enough to get an amazing step-father shortly thereafter who I consider my father in every way that matters), and I have lost two grandparents who lived next to me when I was growing up, who were closer to me than anyone other than my own parents. You also know my extended family is extremely close – my mom’s cousins are like my aunts and uncles, my great-aunts and -uncles were always like additional granparents to me. I fully recognize and value family connections. And the idea of a kid still makes me nervous and excited both.

    I have had people say to me, “But having a baby reduces your risk of breast cancer!” and “But who will take care of you when you get old?” I’m really glad no one has said that on this post – I really cannot believe that people would have children as some sort of insurance against cancer or a nursing home. Those seem entirely the wrong kind of reasons.

    And Kerry, I do think that David and I might be perfectly happy as a family of 2 plus dogs forever. I do worry I’d regret not having a child (I don’t worry so much regretting having one). Maybe I wouldn’t. But I don’t want to be 45 and childless and dissatisfied. I might regret not having a kid, and I also worry I’d resent David for not being fully gung-ho about it, blaming him for our not having one (even if I know now he’d have my back if I decided to do it, that’s different than it being a joint decision). The regretful fear in the other direction is that David will regret our having a child, and that’s a hard fear to live with too.

    So I still don’t know. But probably. And I definitely want a bigger home before any babies come along!

  4. I’m confused. It doesn’t sound to me that you’re undecided about WHAT you want. Just the WHEN. That could be my own biases and conundrums reading into your post though. It’s totally awesome and smart that you are asking these questions and really analyzing what/when you want and how to go about it. So much better to plan than to play catch up.

    On regret: Da makes a good point in that very few parents would say they regret having kids. To me (based on personal observation only), that would only be by the very heartless, exceptionally depressed, or psychopaths. You are not one of those, despite your recent threatening of dogs who do not understand you are not a morning person.

    I agree that it would be vitally important for you (as it is me) to maintain some sort of ME time, whether it is book club or blogging (how does Pioneer Woman do it?) or catching a few minutes on Facebook (we all see our mom friends online a good bit though, no?) or reading or staring into space, scratching your butt, whatever. The time to yourself would be diminished, sure, but I think your organizational prowess would make it happen. It is healthy and normal and vital to take care of yourself, which in turn helps the patience and sanity levels stay above E.

    1. P.S. While my clock has been clanging for so many years already, I held a newborn last weekend and felt no emotional change. No giddyness, no urge to speed our own “timeline” up. Just kind of blank. Lee even noticed it. Upon thinking about it later, that has scared the crap out of me. Is MY mind changing? Or is it that I recognized that this little boy is someone else’s itty bitty delicate precious thing and I was afraid of dropping or just not supporting him fully?

  5. Mmm. Sort of, K…except that there is still an IF because of D. I really don’t want to impose my will on him, and his saying, “Just tell me if you decide you want one” is different from “Yes, let’s have a baby.”

    RE: your own situation, you totally want a baby. You are not changing your mind. But you ARE a newlywed and probably want to enjoy that for a little while before adding a bundle of joy to the mix. It’s nice to just be married for a bit. 🙂 Plus I’m always crazy-nervous holding a newborn for fear of breaking them somehow, and that definitely tempers my enjoyment.

  6. We should talk.

    We live comfortably with a baby in our home that’s about 927 square feet. Babies don’t take up as much space as people have you believe. You definitely don’t need all of the gear that you see people with. There’s a baby gear market very similar to the wedding market. You can go all out like the magazines advocate, or you can do it the way you want to do it.

    Personally, I don’t know what people talk about when they talk about biological clocks. I never had that urge. I never got especially excited around babies. I still don’t (except my baby and my sister’s baby). But I was pretty confident that I wanted to have a baby with Will, because I wanted a family. Family is a big deal for me.

    Your fear of losing yourself is a valid one. I’ve been dealing with that lately. Mainly because Joe hasn’t been sleeping, which means I haven’t been sleeping. When I come home from work, I play with Joe, put him to bed, and pretty much get to bed myself. However, Will and I have always managed to schedule time for ourselves. Time alone and couple time since his mom is so close by and always willing to help out. If you feel strongly about your interests and hobbies, you’ll find a way to work everything in. You may have to get by on a little less sleep, but that won’t always be the case.

    It’s been many, many years since I’ve had a serious, intimate conversation with David. Unless he’s become some cyberman, I don’t see how he could only be lukewarm about his child. He’s going to have 9 months to get used to the idea after all. It’s pretty impossible not to form a deep attachment to your own baby when your OB or midwife places the little dude(tte) in your arms… unless you’re one of those parents you read about on CNN who drinks a 5th of JD, smokes some meth, and puts baby in the oven… But you and David aren’t those people. You are both well-balanced, well-adjusted people. You two will make great parents. God knows you should procreate or else your future will be left in the hands of the children from the aforementioned CNN story.

    If you and David decide that the baby life is for you, you’ll be able to work these things out. You’ll both be great parents. You’ll definitely lose your patience, but having a baby/child is just as much about learning things yourself as it is teaching this little being to thrive in the world.

    Sorry this comment is kind of rambling. That is a result of sleep deprivation. I’ll make sense again one day. It’s a small price to pay. Really, it is.

  7. Hey Jen! So I spelled my name right this time! We should talk too! I feel you on the losing-your-identity thing…. I’ve struggled with that more in the 1+ month I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. And sure, some times it has to be all about the baby. But eventually, when babies get a little older – and I’m talking several months not years – , you can begin to ‘create space’ for yourself and your interests…. you have to or you’d go crazy – and also setting a good example for the kids, of having an independent, creative mom – and there are also ways to figure out how to involve them. Also, having a baby – I’ve found for me – has actually expanded my view of myself. I’ve done and experienced things I never thought possible. I had no idea I could love this big and this much. And honestly, the experience is just not even close to the same having a niece or nephew or babysitting. Having your own baby is just indescribably special. While it’s true that both parents have to be on board with having one, there will never be the ‘perfect time’ to have a baby. Ever. If I had let Roy figure all this out, we wouldn’t have Ivy yet or baby Roy. We’d still be waiting for the ‘perfect time.’ Anyway…. that’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth in response :). XOXO hope to see you soon!

  8. Oh my gosh !! I hope I’m not too late to post a comment. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I’m a Utah women and if you don’t know everyone gets married really young here and everyone has kids . I’m 32 and turn 33 in just a few weeks. It’s so funny because I never thought I would be this old with no kids. I got married to an older guy than me in 2006 so we have been married for 6 years now. When we were dating he said he wanted to have a baby. When we got married his opinion completely changed. I find myself more and more wanting a baby, I even have baby names picked out. We have hit a couple of rough patches lately and something just keeps telling me it’s maybe time to move on to have a baby. I recently found out I have PCOS so my doctor has put me on some prescriptions to help me ovulate. This has made me want a baby more and more . Thanks so much. Hope to hear more posts
    Stephanie Utah GIrl –

    1. Hey, Stephanie! I’m 34 now, and still don’t have a baby, but if that changes, you can be sure I’ll let the blog world know. I’m certainly not a professional or anything, but my opinion is that having a baby will not improve your relationship – maybe you two need to get straight with each other first. But I totally understand the desire to want to have a baby while you still can. Good luck!!!

  9. I found this and I am so curious to know if you ever decided to have a child. I am 32 and engaged (second time around) and my fiancé seems to have a strong desire for children. Me in the other hand just can’t get excited enough. I am
    Too selfish perhaps, or maybe I just don’t feel like I am ready to hang my boots and stay home and be a mom… I see this was a few years back, do tell, did you ever grew into the idea? Or are you happy child-less?

    1. Hello, AJ! I do have a child. She was born days before I turned 35. I honestly think this post was my way of working out that I did want a kid, and making peace with all of the fears I had about that fact. And I have absolutely lost the AMOUNT of time I have to myself, but I haven’t lost the things I love. I still go to book club every month, and walking group every week, and do internet things to stay connected to the world. I don’t have time to go to the gym, and I have gained weight, but if I’m honest, that’s a matter of priorities – for me, having a hour of reading time every day is more important to my enjoyment and sanity than going to the gym. It might be different for someone else. But I did have to make that choice – there’s not time to do both. And…this blog has also been a sacrifice. I just don’t have time to update regularly anymore and still do the other things I want to do. I start posts several times a year, and they never get out of draft mode because I can’t make time to finish them. (There are some posts about the birth of my baby, though, if you’re interested – just go to the home page and work your way backward.)

      My kiddo is 3 now – she’ll be 4 later this year – and she is awesome. She’s also incredibly irritating sometimes, like any human you choose to live with, but I love her. I also have an amazing partner. He was a stay-at-home dad for the first two years of her life, and then we put her in preschool. That allowed me to continue my career, my adult interaction on a daily basis – and he is fantastic about picking up the slack without any resentment on nights when I want to go do something just for me. We make a good team about letting the other person get the personal time they need. Are things perfect? Of course not. Life is messy. I lose my temper sometimes, my kid gets sick at inconvenient times, preschool costs a hefty bundle, etc. etc. etc. But I would not go back in time and change anything. We’re not planning to have anymore kids, either, but I absolutely have all the normal “Mama Bear” loving and protective feelings about the one we have.

      I’ll also say – I think it’s fine if kids aren’t for you. They’re not for everyone, and it irritates me to no end when people pressure others who say they don’t want children. It’s not a magical decision. I have friends who are very happily child-free and intend to stay that way. And we are still friends. I just don’t let myself go into full mom-talk mode with them – because I have other interests too, and while they like my kid and want updates, they don’t want the level of dissecting the parenting experience and kid behavior that other moms do. You do you, in other words – kids or no kids are both valid, personal decisions. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s