READER REPORT:

Stuck on the baby-go-round

NAME WITHHELD
Last updated 05:01 30/05/2014
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Choosing not to have children

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This isn't another opinion piece about a couple who have chosen not to have children. It's about two people who feel ambivalent about the prospect of becoming parents. We are fence-sitters and we can't decide whether or not to have children.

Our parents don't know this (and it would not be well received), hence the reason this has been published anonymously.

Some of you may be wondering why we didn't talk about children before we got married. The simple answer is that we were too young to even contemplate having kids.

I was engaged the same year I left high school and our thoughts around having children were "maybe someday". To a teenager, the thought of being old enough to have children is like another lifetime away. I assumed I would want them as I got older. That's what the adults told me.

Almost two decades later, and now in our 30s, we're facing the question of whether we should have a baby. We have already deferred the supposedly inevitable for over a decade in order to establish our careers, move overseas and reduce debt. On paper, we are in a prime position to have kids.

Having kids was always something to be done in the future. Then my husband said we should probably think about having a baby.

With this exclamation of indifference, our once-conceptual children had catapulted into a potential reality. And I freaked out. 

My biological clock isn't ticking, I am not clucky and I don't feel any burning desire or biological imperative to reproduce. I question why we should have a baby when no one ever said "I want one". 

Neither of us have any experience with children; I'll admit my feelings toward them are lukewarm at best. I'm uncomfortable around little people and don't know how to relate to them.

I have never babysat or changed a nappy. I'm terrified of babies! It genuinely baffles me to watch people insist on having cuddles with newborns (and calling them cute). Everyone says it's different when they're your own. I don't know what to believe.

About two years ago, I started soul-searching, trying to establish whether having children is the right decision for me.

It's one of life's irreversible decisions so it's imperative we get it right. If I don't want a baby more than anything in the world, it could result in a lifetime of anguish if we go ahead and have one anyway. Or I could be missing out on a fantastic adventure. Or I could be sentencing a child to less than what he or she deserves. You get the picture.

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Sometimes I think I have finally made a decision, but I worry that I will regret whatever decision I make. It's impossible to choose one way or the other when neither option feels right. Will I regret not having kids? Or worse still, will I make the biggest mistake of my life and will everyone end up paying for it? Isabella Dutton caused quite a storm by writing an article titled "The mother who says having these two children is the biggest regret of her life". I don't want that to be me.

I just wish I could make a decision and stick with it. Failing a commitment, nature will decide for me sooner or later and having a baby naturally will no longer be a choice. Until then, I'm stuck on a baby-go-round, going round and round in circles and being unable to get off.


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