Should I be a mother? Do I want kids? As a woman that’s probably a question that’s crossed your mind at some point in time; and maybe it’s on your mind right now.
Maybe you are 19 years old and your boyfriend is in the military and you’re wondering if you should have a baby before he gets deployed because what if this is the only chance he gets to be a father?
Or you’re 25 and recently married; isn’t motherhood the logical next step?
You might be 30 and have been trying to get pregnant for nearly three years. You’ve suffered a miscarriage and been through multiple rounds of fertility treatments. Your heart is bruised and your wallet is empty. Should you keep trying, explore other paths to motherhood, or come to terms with a future that might not include a child?
Perhaps you’re 33 with an amazing career and finally feel comfortable in your fast-paced position and think you’ve always wanted a family but wonder how you will balance at all, if you’ll have the time or if you’ll be a good mom?
Maybe you’re 38 and single and wondering if you should go through IVF with donor sperm before your time has run out.
Or maybe you’re 41 and finally found the right partner.
No matter the scenario, the decision to start or keep trying for a family can be scary and difficult. We are often bombarded with thoughts like:
- Will I be a good mom?
- Is the struggle worth it; am I deserving of a family?
- Do I have to sacrifice my career to be a mother or my chance at motherhood for my career? Can I really have both?
- How will I take care of a living breathing human being?
- How will I find the time, money and support to make sure a child is fed, bathed and adequately loved?
Those are pretty normal and common questions to ask; I asked them all myself more than once. I actually had a friend come to me recently with a very similar question. She wanted my honest opinion and advice, and a peek into my reality as a full-time working mom. Much of what she had heard previously about motherhood were horror stories ending with “but I wouldn’t have it any other way”, or perfect Instagram squares of moms without flaws and perfectly behaved children.
I want to share with you all what I shared with her in hopes that it will be helpful to those of you thinking about starting a family or searching for the strength to keep pursuing that dream. As a woman who struggled with infertility, I can understand how this topic might be painful for those of you in the midst of the storm. Please know that this comes from a place of love and I hope that it might help you to find the courage to push on, the confidence to believe you are deserving or the peace of mind at coming to terms with your future. There is more than one way to start a family (this includes infertility treatment, donor eggs/sperm/embryos, fostering, adoption, etc.); and while the way you create yours might not be the way you originally envisioned, you have every right to have one. Please know that I see you, I hear you and I feel you.
Keep in mind this is only one mama’s opinion out of millions. Every new mom’s experience is different, but here is what I have to say to the woman contemplating becoming a mother.
To the woman contemplating motherhood,
My advice to you is to throw your idea of perfect motherhood out the window. There is no such thing.
Know that the questions you are asking yourself and your fears are normal. It’s OK to be intimidated because motherhood is the most intimidating journey I have ever embarked on. It’s hard, it’s chaotic, it’s crazy.
But it’s also amazing, exciting, spontaneous and SO much more.
Growing up, I was never that girl down the street printing babysitting fliers and hanging them on telephone poles. I wasn’t pulled to children at parties; I never aspired to be a teacher or a social worker. Actually, I didn’t even really care to be around most kids. Much of my time spent playing with dolls and Barbies was setting up their living quarters or organizing their clothes. Once it was time to role-play I had already become bored!
Sure, I assumed that I would have children of my own someday. I mean, that is what you do after you get a job and get married, right? But I don’t know that it was ever something I was excited for until I met my husband and started to daydream about what he would be like as a father. And then it just seemed like the logical next step after we had been married for a year.
Then irony slapped me in the face and we COULDN’T get pregnant. We tried and tried and tried, but it wasn’t happening for us. You know what happens when you want something you can’t have…you want it even more!
I think our struggle with infertility is what really triggered my desire to become a mother. Most of my friends had already had kids, and as I spent more time with them I realized kids were actually pretty cool. We went through multiple rounds of fertility treatment, including a failed IVF. And that just made me want it more!
When our second round of IVF worked, I was so excited I didn’t really have time to be scared, at first. But then we found out we were having twins and I was TERRIFIED.
I was nervous about the high-risk pregnancy and the thought of birthing two babies. What if they came early, or what if one or both didn’t make it? What was this pregnancy going to do to my body, my mind, my career, and my soul? Would I have enough love for two children? Would I have enough time, money and patience to raise them to be good, healthy and kind humans?
And then they arrived and my heart exploded.
Everything before those babies seemed like just a blip on the map. They were the little occurrences that brought me to that very moment, my BEST moment. I thought I had loved before but this love was different. I felt like I was home.
All of those things that I had worried about and that terrified me still did, but now I had a purpose. Those girls were worth all of the anxiety and all of the unknown.
I loved them unconditionally from the moment I touched them. I loved them more than sleep. More than bathing myself or brushing my teeth. Instinct kicked in and I just DID IT. I still to this day can’t really explain it; I just figured it out.
Motherhood takes a lot of trial and error, and a good partner can really help. But whether you go at it alone or with a village, all of that baby’s needs become a routine which then becomes part of your life. And then you begin to wonder what the heck you even did before you had them?!
I can’t tell you the last time I was bored or the last time I got a good nights’ sleep. I can’t remember the last time my house was spotless or the last time I went an hour without worrying about something. But I can tell you the last time I felt unconditional love. And the last time I felt happy, or proud, or grateful or like I had a purpose far greater than myself. That is RIGHT NOW, and yesterday and last week. And I know it will also be tomorrow, and the next day and the next…
My advice to you, contemplating mama, is to be open-minded, ready for anything and as prepared as humanly possible. Ask for help when you need it and take help that is offered even if you think you don’t need it – this does not make you less of a mother. Recognizing these needs is everything.
Understand that there isn’t a RIGHT way to parent, but there are definitely wrong ways. You’ll figure out YOUR way, I promise.
Have a support system in place, whether it be your partner, your immediate family, your best friend, your neighbor or even a local mom’s group.
Welcome motherhood and its possibilities knowing that it is not easy. That you won’t always get it right and you might not always like it or enjoy it. Motherhood is not perfect; but where is the fun in that?!
But I can basically promise you that no matter how you become a mother, you will LOVE it.
Trust your gut, use your heart and breathe it all in. I have no doubt in my mind that you will be a kick-ass mom who figures it out and makes it work in the best way for YOU and YOUR family.