The day I realised I was pregnant, the first thing I thought to myself was -
I froze whilst several thoughts raced through my mind, like
"Should I have an abortion?" "Am I really prepared for this?" "Can I really do this?" "What have I done!?"
Who would have believed that these are the thoughts that could run through the mind of a woman who tried to conceive for over two years with no success? Fear definitely established its foothold within me, but as frazzled as I was at that moment, I was also able to recognize love. The very thought that finally, life existed inside me, someone I'd come to know and love, someone I'd risk my life to protect was now growing inside my body, was intriguing and intimidating.
Three years into motherhood, I started asking myself whether I'd made a mistake. When I asked myself whether I'd do it again if I could go back in time, the fact that I couldn’t decide on my own answer to that question triggered a huge amount of guilt, and that's when I realised the importance and lack of honesty surrounding parenthood, especially motherhood. Whenever I tried to be honest about how I was feeling, others would trivialise what I was going through, or plain out shame me for not painting motherhood solely as a wholesome, happy and magical experience.
So here I am, speaking my truth for those women who deserve to hear and those who deserve to be heard. If you're on the fence about being child free, or you never really put much thought into parenthood and just considered it a rite of passage, here are the top ten reasons that should leave you sufficiently cemented in the child free wagon.
Motherhood is akin to imprisonment – Having a child means no privacy, no time to yourself, constantly being responsible for meeting someone else’s emotional and physical needs regardless of your own emotional and physical health and ability to provide. It is a responsibility that does not respect time, careers, or your own personal needs. I now have to ask for permission to go to the movies or a bar again, because my freedom to do so is suddenly dependent on the availability of someone to watch my child. I can’t do simple things like going to the bathroom by myself. I have to tolerate watching the same tv show over and over again, or dealing with tantrums, never-ending questions or comments on the blatantly obvious.
Financial constraints – Kids are expensive. They tend to get sick quickly, and they grow out of everything so fast. Add childcare or private schooling, school supplies, summer camps and vacations and you’ll see how fast you empty your pockets.
Energy – You just don’t have it anymore. Imagine feeding squealing babe 4 times for the day, but not having showered or eaten breakfast at 2:00pm. That’s what it’s like. I felt like an empty shell, a mere miserable, faded reflection of the person I was before.
I ain’t superwoman - Mothers are human too, but not everyone gives us the safe space to be human and mothers. There is this unspoken rule that we should be everything to our kids and husbands (for married ladies) at the expense of our own feelings and needs. We should be selfless supermoms. The pressure is as high as it has ever been, and when you’re feeling emotionally volatile and at risk for postpartum depression, this isn’t what you need to face.
Permanent and negative changes to your body – I don’t think I have to elaborate too much on this: stretch marks, haemorrhoids, incontinence, hypertension, diabetes, the list could go on and on. Yes body positivity is great and everything, but the truth is, I’d prefer to have my pre-pregnancy body back, and this isn’t just from the physical appearance perspective.
The trauma of childbirth – It goes without saying, giving birth is a tough and gruelling experience. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. It’s really hard to enjoy a baby when you feel weak and shitty.
Lack of sleep – I never knew I could be so grumpy and impatient until I had to deal with the sleep deprivation of those first few months. It is literally maddening.
Loss of social life – Who has time to keep up with friends when there isn’t even time to shower, let alone get presentable enough [hair, makeup, nice clothes?] to actually leave the house?
Depression – Realising just how stuck you are in a new lifestyle you hate can be so daunting, coupled by feeling physically unwell, and the regular old baby blues
Opportunity cost – You will find that you have to sacrifice time at work or other personal endeavours to care for your child, and it might cost you that promotion, or you may have to put off getting that Master’s degree for another five years which can sometimes feel like indefinitely.
In a nutshell, I would suggest that you think carefully about parenthood. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, there is no undoing it when you realise it’s not for you, and there is a severe lack of safe spaces to voice conflicting emotions concerning this.
In my journey, I learned that nothing is absolute. It took me quite a while to work through the duality of trying to conceive and possible infertility, and resenting motherhood; but I realised that:
Fortunately, it is getting better as he gets older. My experience thus far has taught me to be grateful for my parents, and has given me a greater understanding of what they’ve done for me, and just how much I affected their lives on a whole. I hope that if my child ever comes to read this, he’ll understand just how much he is loved, because it is taking everything I’ve got to keep going at this.
Did I miss anything? Drop me a line in the comments or email and share your thoughts with me.