Why I'm terrified of having children

Mommy and me

As a newlywed, it's only natural to start thinking of the next logical phase in your life: baby time!

I've had some Facebook friends who have been married for years and are still childless. In the same vein, there are others who who conceived within months after tying the knot (or have children without being married). Cecilio and I are probably going to wait 4–5 years before we seriously consider trying, so we fall into the former category. I have to plan at least a year with all of my doctors (PCP, rheumatologist, nephrologist and neurologist) before I can even start trying.

Thankfully, throughout the wedding planning, no one has really pressured or cajoled us about having kids. Well actually, my friend group have been telling me that I'm next, since one of them already has a 2-year old and they want another godchild. But my cousins and my sister have been telling me how good it is that Cecilio and I are waiting, and to wait as long as possible and enjoy the time between just the both of us because it's never going to be the same once the kids come. In fact, my mom has been telling me to think long and hard before having kids and to pray about it with Cecilio.

My sister and I in the early/mid 90's

Cecilio really wants to have children (and not just one either). If it was up to him, we would have a family like the Simpsons. He is the oldest of 3, and he is super close to his sisters. He had so many happy memories with his sister Carmela (who is only about 3 years younger) when they were little. He helped raised his other sister, Sabina, who is 10 years younger. My older sister and I are very close, but it can be difficult relating to her because we are 13 years apart and when she was 27, she already had her 3rd child. My younger sister, who is 3 years younger than I am, has autism. So I've never had normal sibling bonds.

I know Cecilio would make an amazing dad. He is loving, patient, and selfless. He is wise beyond his years but also has a childlike spirit filled with wonder. He is super close to his family too.

I do want children too. In fact, I was one of those girls growing up who daydreamed about finding a man, getting married and having children. I loved babies, and I doted over my nephew and nieces. I freaked out over my nephew because I didn't have a brother, and since we are only 7 years apart he was like the brother I really wanted. I was in love with the idea of romance, marriage, Nicholas Sparks style sex, and having one happy family. I would daydream about me and whoever my future husband would be, looking lovingly at each other and future baby while they were asleep, in awe (like every teen, I thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life with my exes and do just those things). I knew as I grew older, life was a lot more complicated than that. I always knew that having kids was going be difficult and a life-long commitment, but I couldn't really comprehend it until people my age (especially some of my friends) started having their own. And as I got older, I got to really appreciate the hard work my mom does in her career and parenting. Even at 41, 27 and 24 she still helps and supports us immensely. My dad had to give up his career to take care of my younger sister as my mom's career was growing, all while taking care of me too. My older sister, even with all of the health complications she has, bends over backwards for my nephew and nieces. 

It's just that I am more hesitant and less enthusiastic about babies these days. After all, I'm the one that will have to carry them for 9 months and pop them out (or have my stomach cut open). One day, you'll see me search for "baby shower ideas" "baby clothes" and "birthday party theme" on Pinterest. The next day, I am stalking r/childree on Reddit, basking in silence.


I want to emphasize again that I do eventually want children. But here are the things that are making me afraid...

My low tolerance for physical pain
Sometimes I rhetorically ask myself, why do women keep having children if it's so painful? I've heard horror stories about the pain of contractions, pushing, recovering from C-sections, getting an episiotomy, throwing up and pooping while in labor, etc. I am not someone who takes pain very well. I cannot even get a Pap smear without freaking out and getting severe anxiety, and I actually have one on Wednesday (if anyone has any words of wisdom and advice on how to get me to calm down, I would much appreciate it!) I know that you need to get Pap smears done regularly throughout pregnancy. My anxiety is inflated from my traumatic experiences being hospitalized, especially for the first time when I had to have a catheter up my urethra and I was kicking, screaming and fighting with the nurses (I was still able to do it though! And I had it on for the 3 nights I stayed in the hospital) I do keep hearing that once you see your little one for the first time, you literally forget about the physical pain (must be the oxytocin and dopamine kicking in).

The risk of death
Every time I hear a story about a woman dying from childbirth, my anxiety spikes hundred-fold and I want to run the other direction. And the US has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. I've heard part of it is because the prenatal care focuses more on the fetus and baby than on the mother's safety and wellbeing. My future pregnancy(s) would also be considered high-risk with my lupus. I thank God everyday that I'm back to having health insurance from Cecilio's job and that I can see my doctors again. Cecilio promises me that we (he, the doctors and I) will do absolutely everything to make sure I am safe and healthy. Death is always going to be in the back of my mind though, especially with the demise of our loved ones in the past few years.

Health issues and autism are in my genes
My 24-year old sister and my other niece (who is 17) have autism. It's no secret that I have lupus, but so does my older sister and my mom. There's an increased risk of having children with autism among mothers with autoimmune diseases. My mom's distant relatives had multiple autoimmune diseases themselves. My dad had a cousin who died from lupus, and another one who died from a brain hemorrhage. So I inherit health issues from both of my parents' sides. My cousins and their own children do not have health issues or mental disabilities, because their other parents (the ones that are not my parents' siblings) are healthy. I didn't even know about my dad's cousins until my mom told me last year. I will do everything I can to make sure I stay healthy and not stress out throughout my future pregnancies, but there is only so much I can control. This does not scare Cecilio away. And yes, I will vaccinate my children.

Shit gets real
I know everyone poops. But the idea of cleaning the poop, and the baby pooping in the middle of a diaper change, or it getting all over your arm, clothes, the walls, furniture, etc. makes me squeamish and gag. I might have to put a bag clip on my nose during diaper changes. I happily changed my nieces' diapers when they peed. But if it was the #2, I handed them over to my sister or parents. My dad even joked to me one time (during a poopy diaper change) and said,"If you love her, you will do this." I keep hearing that new parents get desensitized to it, especially if it's their own children and not anyone elses. I just have to get over that hurdle and get to it!

Will my body ever be the same?
It's vain, but I also worry about what will happen to my body after baby. It's not just celebrities who bounce back too: some normal women are able to fit back into their jeans right after giving birth and look glamorous. I don't think I will be one of those women. I'm worried about the stretch marks, sagging boobs, flapping stomach, swollen hands and feet, and struggling to go back to where I was pre-baby. It doesn't help that I've suffered from low self-esteem and body dysmorphia. That worry though will motivate and inspire me to exercise during pregnancy. It's also good to stay active and exercise throughout pregnancy to lower your risk of health issues and to get strong muscles for an easier labor (especially if I'm so anxious about the physical pain).

Nowhere near financially ready
Cecilio and I are just starting out, and we have a ton of bills and student loans to pay. How are we going to fit a small child in our 1-bedroom apartment? Giving birth (even with insurance) comes at a price tag. Sacramento was ranked as the #1 most expensive place to give birth (yes, even more expensive than SF, LA and NYC). Add in the money needed for food, diapers, sports lessons, future college tuition...you better have all of your financial bases covered. I want to be able to provide my future child the way my mom provided and blessed me abundantly.

I'm still wanderlusting
There are so many places in this world that I want to visit, and have Cecilio by my side. Yeah, I've been to Europe and Hawaii with my family, but I really want to experience these things with him too. We haven't even been to the Philippines together yet (Yes, he's half Filipino). With just the 2 of us, it will be easy to go anywhere we want, provided that we save up for it. However, when we do have children, I want them to experience the world and different cultures as well. But not until they're at least 6.

The hard, thankless labor involved
Along with the physical pain comes with the emotional pain and toil that comes with raising them. I don't blame my mom for her nervous breakdowns from raising my sisters and I. I just can't help but wonder how she and the women in my life survived the sleepless nights and the few minutes they had to themselves only to be disrupted again.

Fear of loss of identity
I see so many women who become mothers and it's all they talk and post about on Facebook. I want to know about them personally, their other interests, and what else makes them tick. I don't want to be "one of those moms" who constantly talk about their children at the expense of everything else, and bores everyone in the process. You know what I mean? I still want to have intellectual conversations with others and be able to dress stylishly. Some of the bloggers I follow have children and I do love reading about them, but they are not the center of the blog. These moms are able to keep their identities and interests, and they still love their children to death.

This has been weighing on my mind for a while, especially after being married for almost 5 months. Thank goodness that Cecilio and I are on the same page. I just don't want him to think I am anti-children with this post, even though we constantly talk about this and he knows all of my fears. And I was so afraid of offending mothers (or those who want to be mothers) with this post. But I'm glad to hear from others that pregnancy and parenting aren't all that it's cracked up to be, and it's good to be honest about these things. Not everyone can have a glowing pregnancy or connect with their newborn right away. As a Christian, I pray to God about discerning the right time to have them (though I prefer to delay it to 5 years), to have healthy, happy offspring, to be protected from harm, and for strength to love them like He loves us. Because I love Cecilio, I will love our future children. Because they are a part of him, and a product of our love.

6 comments :

  1. I feel like mom-shaming is so common in American culture. You don't have to have kids if you don't want to, and you could possibly adopt or foster if that is an option that attracts you (it's what I would do, if I have kids at all tbh)! Hopefully as you get older and are married for longer you will decide what's best for you and your husband. I completely understand about all of these misgivings, childbirth and pregnancy terrify me as well! x

    www.beautyfromkatie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is very well written. Girl, these fears and concerns are 110% normal! Just do you and Cecilio for a while and enjoy every minute. The babies will come when they're meant to come and it will all work out. Xx There is NOTHING wrong with waiting (and traveling) before kids!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful post Hannah!! The one question I always had in my mind is 'will we be ready financially'? It was my biggest fear because let's face it, by the time we get pregnant, nothing feels (or is) the same anymore. But my best friend once answered this question and said, you will never be at the position you want financially or have enough money to do it, but if you take each step at a time you will be able to afford everything so just go for it. Your concerns are normal Hannah and if you want to wait a few more years, then wait. Nothing wrong with that, when the time is ready, you will know it :) Wishing you and Cecilio all the happiness in the world! x

    Yiota
    pinkdaisyloves.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm totally with you! I'm only 20 and a lot of people my age that I know are already having kids and getting married. Sure I want kids, but I'm basically scared of all the same reasons that you are! It's comforting to know that there's more people out there that feel the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's so brave of you to share your experience and thoughts. Ultimately, it's really hard being chronically ill, and pregnancy can be hard on the body, and with autoimmune conditions there are certainly risks for both mom and baby. Don't let others judge you or try to choose for you. Do what you feel deep down is right for you. I found out after having my children that I have a hereditary connective tissue disorder, which I passed on to two of my children. I don't unwish them, of course, but may have adopted instead of choosing to have biological children. But I'm not sure.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So many of the things you mentioned are topics I've pondered myself, and have found quite scary too. I only hope that it becomes clearer in the future. I do think it's a massive decision though as it literally changes your whole life forever, so sometimes you need time just to think things through beforehand xx

    Velvet Blush

    ReplyDelete