Ambivalent About Parenthood

Most of us have some level of ambivalence about parenthood or the changes that parenthood will bring to our life.

  • Will we be able to adjust to the lack of “me” time?
  • How in the world will I get all of us out of the door in the morning?
  • Will I be just like my mother?
  • Maybe we are OK as a family of two or as a single with close friends.

These thoughts can be particularly troubling when you are doing everything your body and bank account can handle to get pregnant through fertility treatment or adoption.

Many people have these thoughts, but the blessedly fertile only have to overcome this ambivalence once or twice. They are a little afraid, but muster up the courage, stop using birth control and then fairly quickly get pregnant, and move into the adjusting stage.

Those suffering with infertility are not so lucky. With each step up the infertility escalator or the adoption rollercoaster, they have to decide again. Do I really want this bad enough to take this next step… to do this next procedure…to take these additional risks? Each step requires a conscious choice. As someone in our online support group said:

Does anyone else worry that after so many years without children, they may be too self-centered to parent well? I imagine parenting to require selflessness, patience, and flexibility at levels I have never had to deal with before. Though we’ve been trying for kids for a really long time, the reality now is that I’ve been childless for so long that I have gotten very used to only having to worry about my own wants and needs. I’m secretly pretty afraid that I may be a bad mother because of that. Or that I may hate it. Which is sort of ridiculous because of how hard we’re trying and how happy I usually am when I think of parenting. But you know, sometimes these thoughts creep in and I figured I’d put this out there and see if others have dealt with similar feelings. (Even better, if you had these feelings and are now a parent, I’d love to know your thoughts on the other side of it).

The answer is yes, plenty of people felt afraid and ambivalent about parenthood even while in fertility treatment or in the process of adopting. If you’ve ever wondered if you really want to be a parent bad enough to work this hard and worried that your ambivalence meant you should not, read what some fellow infertility suffers have to say.

  • It’s so true. When you’re infertile, it seems like you have so many more opportunities to ask yourself if you really want this. So much time to think and second guess. Every step of the way is so deliberate and you have so many chances to wonder if you’re making the right choice. We started trying 10 years ago, so I’ve had A LOT of time to think about all of it. Ultimately, I do believe we’re making the right choice, but all of this time in my head is driving me nuts!
  • I have definitely gone through that in the past. . .struggling with IVF/fertility issues can lead to over-analyzing! You can’t just leave things to chance. . .it’s like you have too much control! My husband and I have tried to convince ourselves that we don’t want kids, simply because going through the struggles of trying to have a family seemed too overwhelming. But I agree with what you said, you wouldn’t be trying so hard if it wasn’t what you really wanted deep down inside. I have to believe that there’s a reason why you (and I) still haven’t had a child yet.
  • Great question. I run through in my mind how I will get my workouts in?! Silly, I know!!
  • It really is a huge loss of freedom to have kids, even though it is more than worth it. It is something to prepare yourself for. And yes it may be harder because of increased expectations and being used to being independent for so long. It was REALLY hard for me, but I did adjust. Don’t give up everything that makes you you. Be intentional about finding time to work out, see friends, etc. It will make you a happier, better mom. Yes, during the initial transition you will need to buckle down and intensely work on your new family normal, but it will be worth it!
  • I’ve had my cat longer than my husband. She was my world. We got our son last February and now most days we question whether anyone fed the cat. I loved my kitty, but now compared to the three year old and two foster kids we have right now, she is very overlooked and even sometimes in the way.
  • It is a HUGE shift in priorities. And it’s a major adjustment when you’re 38 yrs old. We were 15 yrs just the two of us, and our life was very comfortable and free. My hubs was away a lot so I had loads of me time outside of work. I was so worried about how we would all get out the door every morning – this seriously stressed me out!
  • I worry about the mornings, too! We both work full time (and I don’t see that changing unless we win the lottery), so I worry about how we’ll make it all happen. But I believe we will, we’ll just have to make it work.
  • We are in our mid 40s and there are times that I think about how different our days will be. I try to think more about what I am missing out on now, rather than what I will miss once I am a mom. I’d rather be reading to our child than reading another novel. I’d rather be doing fingerprinting than scrapbooking. I know there will be some of our current life that we might miss, but I think the new activities and experiences will help me forget it all.
  • We finalized our adoption when I was 40. Parenting definitely sucks and it’s hard and our lives have changed, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was also worried that I was too self-centered to be a good parent. Plus I had a horrible mom, and I was afraid that I’d be like her because that’s all I know, but I’m nothing like her. My priorities have completely changed; it was work and took some getting used to, but you adjust… there’s nothing like it.
  • Yes, I absolutely worried about this! In fact, when we finally got an adoption placement, I realized my days of coming and going as I pleased and having entire days to myself were over. We had quite the good routine with just us two and our dogs. But guess what? We made the adjustments necessary and having her here isn’t a hindrance. It’s a blessing.
  • I was just talking to my husband about this last night as I’m 36 and we are both pretty set in our ways with each other and work and our dog but we have wanted this and continue to pray for this life change and sometimes I get scared so thanks for sharing this everyone!! Needed this today as we continue waiting!
  • Consider adopting an older child. I’m serious. My daughter sleeps in, can play independently, loves to just hang out and watch movies – I look at people with babies and toddlers and feel like God knew me too well to give me one of those! Among the hundred million other reasons she is perfect for us, her independence and maturity factor in.
  • I think the exact opposite is true. The fact that you realize how big a job and sacrifice parenting is will help you be a good parent. Also you have grown and matured more than most who don’t have to wait.
  • Parenting is the hardest thing most will ever do. It has major drawbacks, but the good outweighs the bad.
    I have 3 very young children thanks to fertility treatment. I can’t run errands like I used to before I had kids. I don’t have anyone to babysit for free so if I want to go alone I have to pay $10 an hour (4 hour minimum). My hubby is only off on weekend and holidays, so if it’s during the week I have to take all 3 with me. It can take all day to run 3 errands.
    Before I had kids I was never the kind to just want to stay home and relax. I loved being out and about. And I am one of the most impatient people ever. So you would not think I would be very happy right now, but you would be very wrong. Having children changes you.
    I love staying home with my kids. I have become more patient. Even when all the messes, noise, not being able to go like I used to, the destruction of basically anything we own (cell phone in toilet, etc.), lack of sleep and privacy, and whining get to me, I still wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am sure you will make a great mom.

Feeling better? I hope you are.

Do you worry about if you really and truly want kids this bad? Did you feel this was before you had kids? What would you say to those who are still struggling to conceive or adopt?

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