On Women Not Wanting Babies, Part I

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It’s true. For years I did not want kids. Not all that surprising for someone in her twenties, I think. Your life on your own has just begun, you’ve moved out of your parents’ house, finished or are just finishing college, and beginning to build a career. If you are married, it has only been for a few years. You and your husband/wife are still trying to figure who should take out the garbage and how you can get to sleep at night when one of you is always in bed at ten while the other wants to read until midnight. Babies would just complicate things further.

But here’s the problem, once you’re married people ask about babies a lot. It’s annoying. And if you’re a woman, don’t expect being single to help you avoid the barrage. Maybe in your early twenties you’ll be exempt, but once you start creeping up there family will start asking when you’re going to meet a “nice boy” and that implication that you can’t make babies without him is almost inevitably going to be there. Don’t worry, friends will join in too. Those with kids will tell you about how after 30, 35, or 40 it will be so much harder to get pregnant and don’t you want to be able to enjoy spending time with your kids while you’re still young?

No! I want to be able to enjoy spending time with me while I’m still young! I don’t mean to be cynical or unclear. I’m very happy to be pregnant. I’m prepared. I’ve wanted it for a while and it was my choice. Let me emphasize that, it was my choice (and Dave’s too, of course).

That’s the point. Like everything else in a woman’s life, the choice has to be hers when she’s ready. All the pressure to respond to the third degree about babies, which is really a private topic for a couple, led Dave and I to respond negatively and adamantly. We’re both stubborn people who don’t like being told what to do so when folks started to mention babies before we were even married we responded with rampant rants about how awful kids are — because when they aren’t yours and you’re not ready for them, they can be kinda awful, can’t they? Yelling and screaming and running in front of your shopping cart and whining because they can’t have the toy they want. I’m signed up for it now, but this time it’ll be my kid, not someone else’s badly behaved kid that I can’t pull aside and talk to calmly about a more effective way to negotiate with his or her parents.

What exacerbates the problem, of course, (you knew I was going to get around to it eventually) is sexism. The idea that every woman at some point or another will want to have children. If she doesn’t now, she will, because she doesn’t understand herself as well as thousands of years of stereotypes do. If she doesn’t have babies soon, she will regret it when she’s too old so she might as well just plan for it now.

Here’s another shocker for you, a lot of women don’t want children because they have to give up so much to have them. Right now we’re careening out of control towards equality, or so I’m told, but guess what? We’re not there yet. Nevermind that we’re not close to implanting uteruses in men yet and that no matter how you plan it the woman will always have to take a more physical, visible role. That’s just a given. But whose career will suffer more? If one partner decides to stay home for the first year or two, which will it be? It’s really hard to give up the higher paying of the two salaries — and since men still get higher pay for the same job, well, I guess we know who it’ll be most of the time — and so perpetuates the cycle as women become less of a force in the workplace because they slip out of it. Perhaps by choice, but also frequently by circumstance.

Ultimately, my point is that it’s a very difficult decision and not surprising that many women are simply choosing not to do it. So why am I writing this after I chose in favor of babies? Find out tomorrow when I post part II.

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7 thoughts on “On Women Not Wanting Babies, Part I

  1. Hi Katie,

    Very nice post. Justin and & have been together since Toledo…. ( a decade!) and we’re feeling the “baby pressure” everyday from all sources. The funny part is people does not understand it will happen whenever we decide, not them, and we are pretty vocal about it (their faces are priceless). 🙂

  2. From the perspective of a single ….I used to not want children very strongly. Now I’m completely the opposite. I want a large family! Well three kids seems ideal but I’m not set on anything in life. I feel the pressure too, especially with the big 35 only years away. Even my lady parts Dr tells me I better get crackin. It has an influence I’m sure as a single person hoping to find someone. I try to be laid back about it but sometimes it’s hard with so many friends getting married and starting families. It’s not even that I’m jealous or that anyone actually says anything to me as that it’s just a social feeling of pressure to do it before I become a bad mother that gives birth to mutant babies or something, honestly the pressure given seems way stronger than the chances of things going wrong warrant. I’m very happy for my friend’s happiness though and not bitter at all. But I think it does affect how I approach dating, and how others might approach me. I secretly want a career and children. I would be happy with a house husband even but my career hasn’t even started yet so shrug. I do love to read your adventures. wow my post is really disorganized.

  3. Hey. Well written, my friend. I especially enjoyed how you stated this: “If she doesn’t now, she will, because she doesn’t understand herself as well as thousands of years of stereotypes do.” And VERY solid point about men still making more money statistically than women.

  4. Hey Katie. A very well written post. I definitely think you’ve hit the nail on the head by saying the decision to have a kid is very difficult and a private one that ought to be between you & your s/o. Having a kid involves a lot of sacrifice, time and energy (particularly on the part of the woman) and is not a decision to be entered lightly. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re talking about being responsible for another living thing chrissake! If you have a kid because it’s the thing you ought to do when you’re married, or out of vanity or because your mom is hassling you for grandkids, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. On the other hand, if you and your husband or partner take some time (years in most cases) to decide if kids are right for you, you’re doing it for the right reasons. And, I must say, the fact that you and your husband are in this latter category tells me you are going to be a great mom. Good luck with the remainder of the pregnancy:)

  5. Thank you so much for writing this piece.
    It is hard for me to come up with words as to why I personally don’t want to have my own children. Not that I have to defend myself by any means.

    I know this is more than a year late, but thank you.

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