welcome to the garden of earthly delights

3/18/10

IanTessaPregBeachBach(bl).jpg

March 2005, eight mos. pregnant, six hours before Marvin Wms tipped in the basket to beat Dook

If you don’t mind, I’d like to go ahead and broach the enormous topic that has been lying around this blog’s forebrain for about a week: namely, why did you have children? I got a fair amount of feedback last week from people without kids, many of them having deepening ambivalence about it – not just from the heartfelt comments of last Friday, but from the current fever-pitched whir surrounding childbearing in general. So I’ll ask these specific questions:

1. Why did you choose to have children?

2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?

3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?

4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?

5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.

Commenting as anonymous animals are encouraged for honesty’s sake!

0 thoughts on “welcome to the garden of earthly delights

  1. xuxE

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    love
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    yes
    how cool they are as people after they’re not babies
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    it doesn’t matter if you feed puree vegetables before sweet stuff like bananas. ultimately they will still want those disgusting sour liquid candy drops from the candy aisle.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    ab muscle separation, which is a bitch and inspired many crunches. i don’t really remember a libido on pause thing going with it.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    kids make you want to play more and do more arts and crafts. like building a small replica of the san jose mission. never would have thought to do that, but it was a fun time with clay. similarly, bendaroos are not that bad even if they are just colored string/wax. and the electronic and science games – video games, pixar movies, there is some really cool shit for kids that you might have never stumbled onto otherwise.
    and they add a sense of urgency about whatever is important to you, because it’s like they are always mentally filming you, so you better get it right, don’t fuck it up.

    Reply
  2. LFMD

    1. We wanted to be parents and had a lot of love to give a child. Plus, having a child is like a little piece of immortality. I wanted some immortality.
    2. The challenge of being a working parent and raising a baby was quite the bitch, and I knew it would be. I did not foresee how scared I would be that the baby would be hurt somehow. For a YEAR, I would dream that we had rolled on top of the baby in our bed (P.S. – baby was always in her crib in her own room). Every night for a year, I would wake up my poor husband, screaming that he was on top of the baby, trying to pull his pillow from under his head. Worrying about the responsibility of caring for a little human being seeped deeply into my subconscious. . . .
    3. During delivery, it would have been nice if someone mentioned that when the doctor says it is “time to push”, you need to use the muscles that you would use to make a bowel movement. I wasted an hour using my abdominal muscles.
    After birth, I could have used the knowledge that my daughter would not remember anything from her first 3 years, so all that stressing and crying about day care vs. staying at home was for naught. If I were to have a second child (which I probably won’t), I would not drag myself over the coals about my decisions.
    4. My body went to hell, I am still not convinced that the episiotomy healed correctly, and I still have not gotten my libido back.
    5. I love my daughter more than anyone on Earth. She provides me with more happiness than I thought possible.

    Reply
  3. red haired weasel

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    I took a leap of faith that it was the right choice for my husband and me. Although I was not naturally a “lover of babies”, I saw how much joy children had brought to lives of my friends and family members and wanted that for myself.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    I don’t know that I had solid expectations of what it would be like to become a parent. What I didn’t see coming were the “baby blues” following the birth of my first- where I fell apart and cried every day at the overwhelming responsibility I had just signed up for. I thought I’d ruined my life. Luckily the blues passed on their own after about 2 weeks.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    It’s normal to be overwhelmed and completely freaked out when baby first arrives. Ask for help. Talk to other new moms. It’s scary at first but it gets better quickly!
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    I had 2 c-sections, and other than the physical scars, I had no lsating problems from delivery. Got my libido back within a few months of each birth.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    The ability of my children to keep me grounded in what’s important and to help me see every day the joy in simple things.

    Reply
  4. Anne

    1) 1. Why did you choose to have children?
    I didn’t realize how much I liked children until I helped to raise two stepchildren from the time they were in diapers, beginning when I was 22. By 31, my bio clock kicked in big-time. Never underestimate the power of hormones.
    Part of it was maternal instinct. Part was how much I enjoyed watching a little child flower into a unique personality and intelligence. Part was … well, honestly, I just wanted to hold some more babies and toddlers in my arms, and not have to give them back at the end of a weekend. I longed to be called “Mom.”
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Much worse. Probably particular to our situation. We ended up fighting infertility for the better part of a decade, then adopting in South America (a battle with a sweet outcome). At age 40, surprise!, I became pregnant. Two years after our son was born, we had an enormous catastrophe caused by our oldest adopted son’s early childhood traumas and low intelligence and anger issues. He went into foster care and then a state school; I went into a form of PTSS; all of us went into therapy. Hardest time of my life. The oldest son never came back into our household and now lives in TX. He has been in and out of jail for domestic assault and has fathered two children, one now adopted in RI and one in state custody in TX. OY!
    Our other three children, thank God, are good. But what a time in our lives. :-( If anyone had said to me, “Well, you never know what you get when you adopt,” I would have strangled them on the spot. As if anyone has a sure thing with a biological child…
    Second big challenge was learning disabilities and ADHD. Two of our sons are so afflicted, and I had no idea at all what dyslexia does to a person’s ability to retain information or what ADD can do to someone’s focus. Husband and I were both academic overachievers, so this was a big HUH? and frustration for us. I’ve learned a lot. I feel humbled by the way our sons had to work so much harder than I did simply to read or write.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Calm down. You don’t have to be perfect; just fair and loving. Our bio-son was colicky and fretful; I wish I could have just let him lie against my shoulder more instead of trying to get him to sleep in his cradle and crib, with vexing results. He needed that loving touch and warmth so much as an infant.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    My body didn’t fare too badly, considering my old age at the time of childbirth (nearly 41). The boobs hung lower (I’ve since had them fixed); I never got my lower abdominal muscles back after the “bikini cut” C-section. I’m overweight, but that’s my fault; I actually lost weight during my pregnancy and looked fabulous afterward. (I had gestational diabetes and had to follow a strict diet while pregnant.)
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    Please read this very brief blog post from last Mother’s Day. (The pic is of our granddaughter — my step-granddaughter, but who’s counting.)
    http://annenotations.blogspot.com/2009/05/thank-god-for-motherhood.html

    Reply
  5. oliver

    I’m no expert, but it’s 2010, so I’d think Tessa should be interested in sex again by now, if that’s what you mean.

    Reply
  6. Bozoette Mary

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    I love children – I had lots of nieces and nephews and wanted my own child. My husband felt the same way.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Infancy was horrible. Our son had terrible colic and I absolutely did not see that coming. Breastfeeding was much harder than I thought it would be and I finally had to give it up.
    Childhood was lovely, even the twos, and adolescence was a breeze because of the crazy thing we didn’t see coming – at age 12, our son decided he wanted to a cop. Because of that, he made sure he didn’t do anything that would jeopardize that future. Therefore, easy adolescence!
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Relax. Also, it is not the end of the world and you are not a failure if you cannot breastfeed.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    I had bad complications after delivery (my uterus turned inside out), which made me decline to have more kids. I got my libido back when I finally got some rest – maybe a year? That’s not to say I didn’t have sex; I did. It’s just that my husband generally initiated it.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    Seeing and knowing and loving the man my son has become. We managed to not fuck it up!

    Reply
  7. CM, now with fetus

    I don’t know if anyone was ambivalent, seemed mostly that they just knew things had changed. I’d be curious to ask them straight-out if they actually wish they hadn’t had kids.
    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    Because I thought about not having them and realized I wouldn’t want to live the next 40 years of my life without having a child or children. Because I want to increase the amount of love in the world. I want to increase the amount of love in my life. Because I want to raise someone who cares about the world and wants to do pure, good things. Because I’ve learned a lot and want to put something beautiful into the world. I have done a lot of career stuff and writing and I am ready to be a mommy for the rest of my life; career and superficial things just do not cut it for me. I have always wanted to take care of a baby or more than one.
    I am 13 weeks and 4 days pregnant so I figured I could answer the question since I made this choice, but I don’t quite know how it will go!
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    I guess I’ll find out. Right now the hard thing is being scared that something will go wrong. I miscarried last August. At my ripe age of 39, I don’t know how many more chances I will have to do this.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    All I can say is, I can’t wait to meet my little boy in September (barring the 3 percent chance of Very Bad Things happening). I’ll be watching to see what I should worry about.

    Reply
  8. mom

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    In my “generation” it was just what we all did.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be?
    No. Better. Often hard, but fun.
    …And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    How intensely I would love my children, and how anxious for them I was doomed to be for the rest of my life.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    No. It was chaos then. It’s chaos now. Can’t think how I could have “solved” anything, even though there was much that needed solving.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    My body was never anything to write home about, but it was pretty easy physically. And libido? My first two kids were eleven months apart, which says it all.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    About libido? About kids? The latter, I assume. My five are all stunningly different, all immensely gifted, all of them compassionate, productive people. It’s fantastic just to have them in my life, and I wonder what people do who don’t have families this close and caring. And interesting.

    Reply
  9. jje

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    Love, love, love. :-) Love for my husband, love for those babies-to-be.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    I can’t say I had any expected challenges. On the crazy front, if you call doing IVF five, yes five, times and losing two babies AND an ovary, a challenge – then yes, it was more challenging than I thought it would be and definitely not something I saw coming. ;-)
    I’d like to say everything after that was a cake walk but my challenges have been having a biter for my first (pure misery), potty training, and sleep deprivation (especially after the second).
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    We should have co-slept more with my first. We co-slept with the second for the first six months and it was the only way I survived on the sleep front.
    Also, I highly recommend having a second kid because my gosh, who knew how insanely EASY babies are compared to toddler/preschoolers? The perspective, confidence and patience I’ve had the second time has been incredible. When G hits challenging stages, I know that “this too shall pass.”
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    I had two c-sections and they were easy-peasy to recover from. Waiting the six weeks was tough!
    I am sorta-kinda crunchy, so I’m a co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and card carrying member of the Freaky Toddler Nursing club. Nursed both my babies for two years (still nursing G). So yeah, I’m not a perky 20 year old anymore.
    The other thing…okay, I’ll ‘fess up and admit I did not answer the big sex post the other day ’cause I didn’t want the rest of the marrieds to feel bad. ;-) Or I’m just private about stuff like that, take your pick. But I will say that nursing and being a SAHM to two “hold me, mama” little ones makes life complicated in that department. The best way to explain it is feeling just so damn “touched out” by the end of the day. But having that said, my husband is a marathoner/triathlete and pretty damn hot to me, so we worked through it. ;-)
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    One? How about three? The fierce mama bear love I feel for my boys, how much more in love and connected I am with my husband, and watching their amazing little brains in action every day.

    Reply
  10. wallaby

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    We wanted a family. It’s that simple! However, had I not been able to conceive naturally, I don’t know that I wanted one badly enough to become a portable science experiment. We were very fortunate to conceive naturally.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Two things:
    a) I didn’t know that lack of sleep can make you a crazy mo-fo. I was LIVING IT and I didn’t know it. No matter what you feel like on a daily basis, your ability to manage your emotions, actions, etc are all affected by lack of sleep (or discontinuous sleep).
    b) I don’t think my husband was prepared for the assault to his ego that would result when suddenly my world did not revolve around him. I think he felt neglected and I don’t know that he was prepared to share that part of me.
    OK, so I have a third now:
    c) We were stupid naive, swearing to each other that we wouldn’t change our lifestyle like others had before us. We were going to be carefree, easy going parents. HAHAHAHAHAHA
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    a) You need sleep to function
    b) If your child seems amazingly calm and possessive of incredible common sense as a child, accept it (i.e. zero proclivity to chew on the electrical cords or roll off the diaper station). Some kids are just EASY. Enjoy it, cuz mother nature will stick it to you on kid #2.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    I was lucky to be able to shed the baby weight, although it took longer with #2. I’m just “thicker.” It’s all good. :) Libido is there, but opportunity for intimacy is a function of context.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    a) It’s a humbling privilege to guide children into person-hood and to experience all of their unique characteristics and gifts.
    b) I am a MUCH better person as a result of having children. In fact, I actually loathe the person I was before kids. There is nothing like a little crawling perspective to boost you over the bulwark of emotional maturity.

    Reply
  11. tregen

    We still do not have children but are thinking about it. I started asking your first question of people (with children) that I respected. Most people I asked really had no answer when I pressed beyond, “I love kids” because you can always play with other peoples kids. For most it was simply “what you do” or that they wanted to bless the world by passing on their genes. However, perhaps the best answer was simply….”what else is there to do? We don’t go to bars anymore, we are in a monogamous relationship, and how much TV can you watch? Have kids something for us to do together and enjoy for years.” (paraphrased).
    I still think I want to have kids someday but it is not as important as it used to be once I came to see it as more my ego than any real need to have kids.

    Reply
  12. giraffe

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    Didn’t think I wanted to have a child. After long conversations and the ticking of the bio clock decided if we are going to do it to go ahead (I was 38).
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    As several others have said the juggling parenthood and work is a nightmare which only gets more complicated. But, I think we have had it relatively easy. One hassle additional hassle is not being near any family so our support network for juggling is nil.
    What surprised me (positively):
    I am much better at being a Mom than I thought I would be. I think I even surprised some friends who were concerned that I was going to be a worrywart stressed out mom. If anything, being a parent has made me slow down and appreciate life’s little beauty and enjoy the moment. Also, I am surprised with how much your love for this kid grows over time. I didn’t have that moment that some parents describe after birth when you look at the child and are overcome with love. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her and it was amazing but the intense love part was something that grew as we bonded and her personality began to develop.
    My daughter is very social and outgoing (something that doesn’t come naturally to me) and that confidence and freedom amazes and challenges me.
    Also, I was really surprised that having a kid made a difference in my relationship with my in-laws who had not accepted me for the first 8 years of our marriage.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Don’t stress over every little decision. Kids are remarkably adaptable.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    About a year.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    Too many to name. In addition to all the stuff others have said about seeing your child grow and develop and playing a role in that, I think that having a child has made me a better more well-rounded person. My husband and I had been very career focused and our social networks had been primarily around work (and family who live far away). I made a conscious choice to meet other parents and get involved in the community in which I live. This was not something my parents did and I wanted my daughter to feel connected to her neighborhood and community. I thought I was doing this for her but it really helped me as well. I have fantastic now have friendships with women that I met through a new mom’s playgroup 5 years ago. We still meet and hang out with and without the kids.
    Okay – I think this was more that you wanted but these questions struck a cord.

    Reply
  13. Betty Barren

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    I chose not to have children for many reasons. My own parents were both unhappy in their relationship and unhappy individually throughout my and my brother’s childhoods, and that’s the imprint I carry. I was made acutely aware of the added stress we two kids brought to an already precarious union by listening to daily fights about money and “the kids.” I found out that I’d been the result of failed birth control and my brother the result of external pressure from relatives, which made perfect sense in hindsight. Also, I’ve had more than my share of mental health and substance abuse problems; not only did I worry that those issues would hamper my ability to be a good parent, I worried about passing down that genetic heritage. My partner struggles with those issues as well, which made that one a double-whammy. My husband also indicated that he would be a hands-off type of parent, which was a red flag to me. I would have needed an equal partner in that regard. Finally, having a healthy relationship has always been more important to me than being a parent, and I really think that if we’d had to weather the strain of child-rearing in our marriage, we’d be divorced by now.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    I don’t get hassled as often as I thought I would for not choosing to be a parent, which I appreciate. This is certainly due in part to the fact that I choose not to spend time with my in-laws. In the macro, I think that my generation (X) has helped make it more acceptable to remain childless by choice.
    I didn’t forsee how much not having kids would actually bring me closer to my family: I have a large, terrific, extended family in another part of the country that I’m very close to, and because I don’t have kids of my own, I’m more free to travel to see them and to spend quality time with them. I don’t feel that I’m missing out on the joy of watching new people coming up through the ranks because I have so many aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins to keep carrying things forward. Also, I have been able to cultivate loving relationships with the children of my close friends, which I find incredibly fulfilling.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    It would have been ok to go ahead and have my tubes tied at an early age. I used to joke about wanting to have that done at age 18, and was, of course, told that I would change my mind. I never did. A friend of mine chose to end her fertility at age 24 and had to go to several doctors before she found one that would do it for her. She never changed her mind, either.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    I struggle plenty with weight and libido issues as it is: I shudder to think how much worse it would be if I’d had kids.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    I always get to be the favorite, fun aunt, which suits me perfectly. I always have kids in my life, but it’s on my terms. I get to partake in the love and the joy, but not all the bad and the hard stuff. I view parenthood as a serious calling that I did not receive. And I do love kids and I do get why other people want them. I’m just very glad that I don’t have any of my own. Please see Phillip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse” for a more poetic rendering of what I’m getting at here.

    Reply
  14. CM

    Thanks, LFMD!
    I figured by now it’s ok to tell. All five ultrasounds looked perfect. (Yes, I’m crazy. My doctors are sick of me already.)

    Reply
  15. jje

    Adding my congrats as well CM! And welcome to Boy World. They are crazy and fun and you will absolutely melt when he tells you how beautiful you are, the most beautiful mommy in the world. :-)

    Reply
  16. jp

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    Kids are cool. Life was fine, but it seemed like it’d be more fun with kids. We chose to adopt because it seemed like there were lots of kids in the world who needed parents, and we didn’t feel biologically compelled to reproduce. So we decided to adopt from Ethiopia, which, at the time, seemed to have a huge orphan crisis. (It did and does, but now I think my approach to it all was quite naive. Good intentioned, but naive.)
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    With our first adoption (my son was about 18 months old), things were pretty easy. Our second adoption was more challenging, since my son was a bit older (about 4 and 1/2). It’s really awful for any kid to go through the loss of family, then lose their language, culture, country, etc. It was hard for us, but it could have been a lot worse.
    What’s really crazy and amazing is the relationship between the two of them. They have an entire society and civilization of two. They are so protective of each other, and they really need and count on each other. They share a room, and their beds are pushed together, and sometimes we find them cuddling at night. (They are 5 and 7.)
    What was also crazy was watching my husband transform from a pretty laid back man into someone a whole lot like his dad. This should not have surprised me, I know, but sometimes I can see my FIL popping out of the veins on my husband’s forehead. And that’s weird.
    What also surprised me is that I’m a laid back mom. I’m not sure I’m a great mom to my kids, but I’m not a huge worrier, and that’s been a nice surprise.
    Also, having kids has really helped my husband and I function even better as a team. Most of the time.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Probably. I’ve gotten a lot better at not getting worked up when my kids are worked up. That makes a huge difference.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    Sadly, I do have a mom body, but without the excuse of multiple pregnancies and births. Having younger kids took time more than anything. It got a lot harder for my husband and I to ride bikes together, for example, or for me to want to take the time away from my family to exercise. Now that they’re older, this is getting easier, because I can convince them to ride their bikes while I jog, or just because we don’t have to get up at nighttime so much, so I have more energy during the day.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    My kids are awesome. They have suffered such huge loss and tragedy in their few years, and yet they are really fun, bright kids. It’s also amazing to see how they are and aren’t like us. My older son is a great athlete, which is definitely not something we would have given him. And he’s really good at math too. So it’s fantastic to watch how they develop with what they’ve been given from their first family, and what they’ve been given from us.
    Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun than tubing down a creek with my kids. Anything fun is more fun with them.

    Reply
  17. julie

    1. I just knew I wanted to have them. It’s sort of crazy to say you want someone who will unconditionally love you, but it’s that maternal instinct (for lack of a better saying) that really started to kick in.
    2. No real challenges so I know we are very fortunate. We both work, but the daycare we use has been great. It’s hard to believe that this will be the last spring for us as our younger will go off to “big boy school” this summer. I never debated the whole work vs sahm thing – I knew I would be a better mom by working. The crazy thing I never saw coming is the color of my kids’ hair. I have brown hair and my hub is blond. My older boy has red hair and my younger is a deep strawberry blond. Second thing is definitely how hard it is to function without sleep. And my weirdest post prego thing is my sense of hearing – it sometimes feels like I have this odd bionic capability of hearing the tiniest cry or slightest noise. So I have to sleep with airplane ear plugs now (that helped some when the boys were young since my hub would end up hearing them first).
    3. RELAX. And sorry to all docs out there but sometimes the mom really does know best – learn to go with your gut. Finally – it is a-ok if you can’t breast feed. I tried but it just didn’t work out either time.
    4. Again, I am extremely fortunate. My pregnancies were so easy, even during the summer months. Other than wider hip bones there hasn’t been that much change. I admit that I do roughly 200 sit ups evey day for the ab muscles and it still doesn’t change the fact that when I bend over, things just aren’t as tight. But standing up – I think everything looks pretty good for having 2 kids. Libido – roughly when they started sleeping through the night – so 3-4 months.
    4. There is nothing more fantastic when you hear them say you are the best mommy in the world. Right before a big bear hug or tickle fight.

    Reply
  18. kate

    I’ve heard the “wanting someone to unconditionally love you” reason given before, and I don’t really understand it, I guess.
    I know people who definitely do not love their parents unconditionally. If anything, I’d think it’s the other way around… you love your kid(s) unconditionally.
    But I’m 26, unmarried and without kids. So what do I know? :)

    Reply
  19. jp

    Kate, yeah, I definitely don’t presume to have my kids’ love. I have to earn it. But I feel like they get my love, no matter what they do.
    Sometimes parents who adopt don’t feel automatic love for their kids, and the advice is, basically, ‘fake it.’ Say ‘I love you’ to a kid enough, and it eventually becomes real.
    I didn’t have this problem, I’m glad to say. With my first son, he was just so cute, it was easy to love him. (Wow that sounds crass. But he is adorable.)
    With my second son, he smiled sweetly at me the first time I saw him, and I was totally overwhelmed with emotion, and I started crying–and I’m not usually a sentimental person (though I’ll confess to occasionally tearing at those Charles Kuralt University of the People commercials, ahem).
    My first week with my older son, in Ethiopia, was a total honeymoon period. He was sweet and kissy and affectionate. And all this was great because the next few weeks at home were pretty awful. Poor kid.
    Anyway, yeah, I did not have kids for unconditional love. I feel like I get to spend the next several years trying to earn it.

    Reply
  20. Mindy

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    Honestly, there was never any question. I have always loved being with kids–I babysat a ton when I was a teenager. Early in my relationship with my husband we discussed wanting kids. The only “issue” we ever disagreed about was the timing, but there was never any question that we would have kids.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Though I don’t think I anticipated any specific challenges, I will say that parenting my daughter has been more difficult that I would have expected. She is more stubborn than my husband and I combined and I’m a conflict avoider by nature. You can imagine how that plays out.
    The crazy thing I never saw coming was trouble getting or staying pregnant. The path to my two kids included 4 miscarriages, 6 fresh IVF cycles, 1 frozen embryo transfer, 2 D&Cs, 1 laparoscopic surgery, one placental abruption, a 4 week NICU stay, one incompetent cervix and a 7 1/2 week hospital stay. It was worth it, but it was definitely crazy.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Gosh, I’m still in the middle of it myself, but I guess I’d have to say “pick your battles.”
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    For me the years of IVF treatments and being pretty depressed about it all did as much if not more damage to my body than the actual pregnancies. I’m about 25 pounds heavier than I used to be, but I’m working on that right now. Unfortunately haven’t gotten my libido back yet, but my son JUST started sleeping through the night, so perhaps that’ll help.
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    The love and the smiles on their faces when they see me. My son squealed and then actually crawled over 2 other babies and countless toys when I showed up at daycare the other day. My daughter is 7 1/2 and still tells me she loves me countless times a day. She almost knocked me over with a hug when I picked her up from school the other day.
    Great questions lately – I love reading everyone’s responses.

    Reply
  21. Jack Russell

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    I’ve wanted to have kids since I was 10 years old. Even when I was single at 27 years old and had no significant other, I just figured I’d do it alone–no biggie.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    I had an ovary removed in 8th grade but Dr said I shouldn’t have trouble getting pregs with just one.
    I finally got pregnant after dating my now husband for 3 years. We decided to get married since I was pregs.
    We planned the wedding in a few weeks and then I had a miscarriage during the wedding ceremony. The timing couldn’t have been more insane. I thought I was passed the very bad things happening zone (13 wks) but I guess somebody has to be in that 1% statistic. There’s no wrapping the brain around that one…even today, almost 4 years later. We haven’t been able to conceive yet-I’ve done acupuncture, herbs, multiple HSGs, exploratory surgery and are considering IVF. I’m turning 36 this yr and while I’m trying not to panic, it’s starting to get spooky. (we are not super wealthy to afford several ivf attempts)
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    I can’t wait to figure them out…
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    Like Mindy, the depression and the toll it takes on your mind and your relationship is so very taxing. My hubby is so great–dealing with me crying all the time like when I see a pregnant woman or making him have sex on demand from cycle day 8 thru 23–he’s been a saint and never complains about it. I long for the day where we can just have sex for the fun of it because it is mostly not fun. Everyone says “just relax and don’t think about it and it will happen”. I say to them–have a look at my middle finger!
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    I know when it happens that we are going to be great parents.
    I also know that we are sure gonna appreciate those little buggers. :o)

    Reply
  22. anon o'squirrel

    1. Why did you choose [not] to have children?
    I’ve never wanted kids and I’ve never been quite sure why. People always told me I’d grow out of it (and I believed them) but I haven’t started wanting kids yet and I doubt I ever will.
    Every women I’ve dated has wanted kids. I lost one great relationship because I didn’t want to have kids and her biological clock was running down. My wife judged herself too old to have kids when we started dating and that made staying with her forever a no-brainer.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Nothing crazy yet. We feel like we need to plan more carefully for our old age.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Be honest about whether you want kids or not. Remain open to changing your mind and always be true to your heart.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    We both have put on weight despite not having kids.
    When we first started dating we had sex at least once almost every day we were together. Since then it’s dropped only slightly to 5-6 times a week. Still very passionate!
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    I think I just did, but another is that we both love to travel and we usually go during the school year, which gets us better deals and fewer crowds.

    Reply
  23. kookaburra

    Betty Barren and anon o’squirrel–thanks! I found myself nodding in agreement with so much of what you said. And it has been wonderful to read all the answers about children and life experiences with/through/from them. This blog seems to be populated by many very deliberated, thoughtful, caring parents, and that makes me very happy. Too many kids come into this world by rote, unloved and unwanted, or worse, resented. It’s been heartwarming to read these honest appraisals, full of love. And CONGRATULATIONS, CM!!!!!

    Reply
  24. Anonymous Aardvark

    I never particularly *wanted* children – though I was not opposed to them. I was the oldest of 5 and one of the reasons my parents split when I was 14 was because of the pressures (financial and otherwise) of raising 5 kids. When I got married in my 20s, my wife wanted children and I love my wife, so we went for it. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. To put context to my comments, we have been married almost 14 years and our son is almost 8.
    Some people talk about receiving unconditional love, but I think the real difference is that this is probably the first time I have ever given unconditional love. As much as I love my wife, I do not think I would have been willing to sacrifice myself to save her if it came down to it – at my core I am too selfish. Since our son was born, I honestly think I would make that sacrifice for him. My relationship with my wife has also deepened enough that I am much more likely to make that sacrifice for her too.
    I agree with xuxE, I never imagined how cool our son would be and how much I would enjoy spending time with him.
    My tip is that you ask for help early and often. As much as we read, studied and prepared for raising a child, we still learned some of most important lessons as parents from his therapists and doctors.
    My libido never diminished, but then again, I’m a guy. Our extenuating circumstances – cancer that led to a hysterectomy not long after childbirth – make our situation bit unusual. As you might imagine, that had a very detrimental effect on her libido.
    Every single day has moments of sunshine. Even when things are tough, there is inevitably something in the day that fills my heart with joy. Sometimes this is as simple as a hug and “I love you, daddy” on the way out the door to school. Sometimes it’s hearing him tells stories or make an observation about the world around us.
    Man, do I love that boy.

    Reply
  25. Anonymous Badger

    Really enjoyed reading all the comments. I’ll add my own so as to continue avoiding walking the dog.
    1. Why choose to have kids? I remember an absolute biological itch, an insane craving to have a baby. My husband was like, “down girl.”
    2. Challenges were pretty much expected since I am a pediatric nurse. I was ready for lots of the usual stuff when they were little. But I did not anticipate the mental health stuff that teens face and subsequently parents must help them deal with: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, whatever. I think my generation just self-medicated and either sank or swam. And we lost a few along the way to overdose or mental health stuff. This generation of kids (schools too) relies on its parents in a way I did not anticipate. Parents are really driving the bus through adolescence, kicking kids’ asses to be independent and hopefully out the door in some way after h.s. And that’s the normal parents, not just the insanely overinvolved ones. :)
    3. Solutions? There is no right answer that fits every family. I wish I had been more supportive and less judgy of my friends when all our kids were little. I thought I had all the answers back then.
    4. My body comes and goes. Libido pretty low with little kids crawling all over me all day and got better as they got older and stopped pawing at me. My husband has been welcomed back to pawing at me
    5. Fantastic is realizing I’ve had a firm hand in who they are now but I’ve essentially been fired from the day to day management and I was ready for that –I have gladly stepped into role of advisor, hall monitor and financier and they are taking wing. It’s very fantastic. And they like me which is an awesome perk since they are teenage girls and I am their mother.
    Well that felt like therapy. Thanks for that. :)

    Reply
  26. fixit

    LFMD, you should talk to your Gyn. If anything is uncomfortable to you (sex, exercise), insurance should cover the repair surgery. I know this because I had repairs TWICE! Four weeks after my first child and two years after my second. I was a bit shy about raising the issue, but learned they do this sort of repair all the time. My Ob admitted it’s sometimes hard to get stitches exactly right following the trauma to the area from birth. What we go through!

    Reply
  27. molly monkey

    Another comment from the other side of the fence. Married 10 years, together for almost 16, no children by choice.
    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    I kind of assumed for the first few years that we’d get around to it. When the time came to get cracking, there wasn’t a desire. We had the right house, good jobs, enough money but no burning passion to have kids. I’ve struggled with that decision sometimes – admitting I don’t want them seems selfish. But having them without that intense need that I’ve seen in some of my girlfriends would just be wrong.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Convincing family and friends that we weren’t going to have kids took a while. Both sets of parents were ok with it (we both have sisters with kids). I learned later several friends just assumed we were trying and striking out. Around year 7 or so of marriage, it seems like it hit home with everyone.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    I’m not afraid to tell people now that we’re childless by choice.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    Is it wrong to admit that a part of me is relieved that I haven’t had to be pregnant and go through that change to my body?
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    Our lives are our own. We’re very much a family and we have fantastic nieces and nephews. I think we’ve created the perfect unit and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Reply
  28. jif

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    i always knew that i eventually wanted to have children. they were born shortly before my 34th birthday and honestly i had no ticking clock issues – i could have easily waited another 10 years – but i had heard so many heartbreaking stories from couples trying to get pregnant in their late 30s, early 40s, who had gone through rounds of IVF with no success and i decided that starting earlier might not be such a bad idea. to me, as someone who has many professional interests – someone who enjoys my work but is not on a career path, the idea of growing older without my own family seemed sad and lonely. but again, i know people who have amazing careers, communities, partners and families etc who are completely fullfilled without their own children. my gut told me that wasn’t me.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    um, twins is something we never saw coming. and that was pretty crazy. the challenges — maybe i was in denial but when people lobbed advice at us during the pregnancy, i was always all, “yeah, yeah, sounds good.” so maybe that was the reason why i was utterly SHOCKED at the whole not sleeping more than 2 hours at a time at any given point in the day or night thing. especially with two. i always thought the first 3 months would be easy because all they do is eat sleep and poop, but i dont think i showered more than twice a month during that period. i lost the weight fast in part because i never had time to eat anything – which sounds ridiculous and i can always make time to eat but i was always running between the two of them. even when i had help. i was shocked by so manythings – how little i knew about taking care of babies, how i could spend an entire day just staring at them without getting bored, how long it would take me to feel like me again. lots and lots and lots of things.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    hmmm, try not to go it alone. this too shall pass. co-sleeping when breastfeeding is the only way to get any sleep. if you are breastfeeding two at a time, get a brestfriend breastfeeding pillow (thanks tessa!) if you are breastfeeding, wear a bikini top in the shower to make the running water feel less like little needles taking aim at your nipples. do your kegels. and sometimes they just cry for seemingly no reason – they just do. oh and sometimes you will too – it’s ok. see above.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    people, i carried a 7 and and 8 pound baby to full term at the same time. and then pushed them both out. if i have ever had any reason to brag about anything in my entire life, this would be it. that said, if you carry 15 pounds of pure baby to full term – well, stretch marks are not an if but a when. i massaged the belly religiously with oils from day one. and about 3 weeks before the birth, i started to see little tributaries flowing out from the belly button. today, it sort of looks like the skin about a 3 cm diameter around my belly button is a crumpled up piece of paper. or like a tractor ran over it. i really dont think i am going to do anything about it surgically but who knows. sometimes i put on the bikini anyway because – this is me. othertimes, i feel incredibly self conscious when people stare at it and don the one piece instead. aside from that, i must say everything went back into place pretty quickly – although the boobs and the netherregion will never be the same again. i wish i could just stick a straw into the boobs and blow some air into them. looks a bit like someone hit me in the chest with a frying pan.
    as for the libido – after the birth i swore i never wanted to have sex again. i had two babies hanging off my tits all day long, the last thing i wanted was a third person on them. i would say around the 6th month it started to come back. but slowly. now its more a matter of having opposite schedules and opposite rhythms. i think kid-free weekends away should be MANDATORY for all couples with kids. they are the only reason i like my mother-in-law. ;-)
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    only one!!??!? i think it is stunning that i would even entertain the idea of having another kid – just entertaining at present mind you. especially as my sister is now pregnant with twins – yeah, i know.
    while i dont know if i fell in love with my kids at first sight, i do know that i immediately, from the first second, felt this overwhelming responsibility toward them and for their well-being, that i had never felt for anything or anyone ever before. i would go so far as to say that i never really understood what responsibility was until they were born.

    Reply
  29. Salem

    1. I decided to have kids about a year after I met Victoria and McColl. Their open hearts, their laughter, I was so excited about the next days’ adventure, I asked their Mom to marry me, so I was sure to be invited. Lillie-Anne came by surprise. We were waiting until things were more stable at the restaurant. Thank God for accidents.
    2. I am awestruck by how resilient, loving, and gracious my children have been, as they manage the emotions of divorce. I do not underestimate their struggle. I am humbled by their strength and tenderness.
    3. I never expected that the most significant moments as a parent did not come from having the right answer, or doing the right thing, or doing anything for that matter. The best times came when I put myself on pause. Having the discipline to let the “in between” times happen. When I mustered the will to sit still and shut up, I got to see the most beautiful souls. I didn’t do it well and I didn’t do it often enough, but those moments are precious.
    4. Oddly, my wife’s pregnancy had little effect on my body.
    5. Stunningly fantastic. They bring me overwhelming joy and inspired purpose that ignites my heart. Hope, love, fear, joy, pain; all the stuff that energizes us humans to serve someone other than ourselves.

    Reply
  30. LFMD

    Fixit – thank you for thinking of me! I am not in pain or anything, just occasionally have the feeling that things are not quite right. The doctor who stitched me was the same one who came into my post-delivery room two hours later to casually announce that they did a sponge count, and he though he left two surgical sponges inside me. He reached inside, and there were the sponges. Lovely! I had absolutely no modesty left after giving birth.
    I wanted to say something about the unconditional love thing. I don’t expect unconditional love from my daughter, and I suspect that as she enters into the tween years, I will get something contrary to unconditional love. My dog will give me the unconditional love that I need. The flip side is that I have complete unconditional love for her! She is always my main priority and always on my mind. You know that saying “to have a child is to always wear your heart on your sleeve or to have a piece of your heart walking around outside of your body” or something like that? That will be me. I will always care for her, worry about her, fret about her welfare, (and share her joys and happiness) until I am dead. That is a lot to sign up for!

    Reply
  31. CM

    To those who don’t want kids and are true to themselves: You’re not selfish at all. If you aren’t criticizing anyone else for wanting them, or stopping anyone else for having them, no one should criticize you for YOUR choice.
    Jack Russell, that is TERRIBLE!!! My heart goes out to you. I don’t know where you live, but do you have faith in the reproductive endocrinologist/fertility doctors you’ve consulted? Or are you stuck in a part of the country without good ones? I’ve consulted with a few different ones (Luckily I got prego at 39 on my own, but I was definitely ready for injectibles if I needed them) and know the frustrations. Luckily you are very young and ivf should work – regarding the cost, there are a few practices that will allow you to do ‘shared risk’ where if you don’t conceive, you’ll get your money back. They are only open to people under 39 so you have plenty of time for that. HOWEVER, there are some stipulations. One such practice is http://www.haveababy.com. I don’t know how good they are but it’s just an option. Feel free to e-mail me if you ever want to talk about all this. E-mail address is on my website, linked to above.

    Reply
  32. Martha

    1. Why did you choose to have children?
    Because my partner told me she was having children soon after we met so if I didn’t want children the relationship wasn’t seriously going forward. I tested the thought for a while and decided I loved her enough to want to go on the adventure with her.
    2. Were the expected challenges as bad as you thought they’d be? And what crazy thing didn’t you see coming?
    Yes, I was expecting it to be pretty rough as I was never a very comfortable baby sitter growing up. Number two, true to form, was more than twice the work. To top it off when number two came along we moved from a house into a two flat in a big city with no friends and I got cancer. It was awful in many respects. Every year gets better and better as the boys get older and we can share more interests. The crazy thing I didn’t see coming is the heartache you feel when they have challenges, in our case ADHD and slow social skills development. He’s the most wonderful, scary smart, loving boy and I can’t make friends for him. If he didn’t care I wouldn’t either but he’s starting to care and it is sad. I know he will find his way but I ache with each moment I can tell he wants it to be different.
    3. Are there any solutions – or tips – you know now that you really could have used then?
    Wow, this one is hard. I feel like we just stumbled along from mini-crisis to big crisis. I guess I would encourage maintaining and partaking of any support network you have. It’s nuts to isolate yourself.
    4. What exactly did it do to your body, and when did you get your libido back?
    Since my partner had the boys my body suffered more from lack of sleep and lack of exercise from lack of sleep. Early on with just one I could still negotiate gym time at 5 am. With two that fell completely away and 5 years later it still hasn’t picked up. Two parents working more than full time and trying to keep up… yeah, what libido?
    5. Name one stunningly fantastic thing about it.
    No way to name just one. I love their curiosity and the ways they attempt to use their newfound knowledge to sometimes comical affect (“Mom, if I get a gun will it shoot b-bs or bowwits?”. Thank you, Elmer Fudd!). I struggle every day with the work and responsibility of having these two lovely boys but I have a love in my life I never could have imagined.

    Reply
  33. phoenix

    1. My husband really wanted children and I was definitely ambivalent. He didn’t put me under pressure, and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-30s that I started wanting to have children. Part of it was the biological clock thing, butanother part was jsut wanting to bring (hopefully) some good and some love into the world. Now I am 41 with 2 little ones, and as hard as it can be sometimes, it was worth it.
    2. None of the challenges I expected were as hard as I thought they would be. I was not prepared for the total lack of sleep nor the ensuing sleep disorder after 4 years of sleep deprivation. And teething.
    3. Sleep when you get a chance. Relax and don’t worry so much. It is only just a phase.
    4. I weigh the same as before the first pregnancy, but everything has been redistributed. I have incredibly strong arms now, though from all the baby lifting! The libido didn’t suffer from child-bearing but from the sleep deprivation and daily exhaustion. We are still working on finding time and energy. The will is there…but the opportunities rare.
    5. They are like sunshine pure. The love I feel for my children is so different from the kind of love I feel for my family or my partner.

    Reply

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