Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: I want to have a family, but how do I get over my fear of everything?

Oh my lord. Here's a doozy of a letter. It's only about, oh, everything.
Hello all,

I recently started reading and cruised on over to today, and am totally taking you up on your offer to ask questions. I'm 33, married 4 years, and trying to get my fears of pregnancy, labor, and motherhood reconciled with my desire to have a family.

Like Doppelganger, when I was 25, I thought I would never have kids... but as I get older I realize how important having a family is to me - but that doesn't change the fact that I'm afraid of vomiting, afraid of my body changing, afraid of the unknown, afraid of damn near everything... did you know that there is a lot of shit out there on the internets that will scare a poor neurotic girl right out of her mind?

I never was around babies in general, never was a babysitter, have no sisters or close friends with babies... so if you have any good stories, any stories of learning to cope, or any words of wisdom, all would be much appreciated!

With thanks,
You can bet I'll be chiming in with my $0.04. I'm VERY interested to hear what everyone else has to say.


  • At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, I am the last of six children and I wasn't really sure about having kids myself. I let it kind of suspend in my mind until I met my husband. Then I thought to myself,"well, am I ready for this?". Luckily, I became pregnant by surprise!(In the middle of having our house built and living in a shack without runing water(really, and I'm not even kidding)... because no one in their right mind would do that on purpose. I have found that having a baby is the most difficult but the most rewarding thing you will ever do in your life.

  • At 10:00 PM, Blogger Anne-Marie said…

    bLike I've mentioned before, life before Sam was good. Life after Sam is better.

    It's hard to explain to those without kids. A very good friend of mine is adamant that she doesn't want to have kids, that she's happy just her and hubby for ever and ever. And while I try to be a supportive friend, sometimes I just want to grab her by the shoulders, look her straight into the eyes and shout "DO IT!!!!!! YOU"LL THANK ME LATER!!!!'. But I don't, cause it's frowned upon and hey, maybe she does know best.

    Honestly though, my hubs put it very well one day (after a sleepless night of teething I believe) - there are equal amount of reasons that having a kid is good, really really good as there are reasons that having a kid is bad, really really bad.

    Without going into specifics, it messes with your orderly, daily life; it screws with your relationships and it tosses your patience out the window. That being said, when I'm getting Sam ready for bed and singing 'itsy bitsy spider' to him, while tickling his funny spot that only we know exists, I can't imagine life without him.

    I really can't.

  • At 12:27 AM, Blogger Cataclysm said…

    Humm, I love giving advice so here it is...

    If you are even 51% in favour of doing the family thing, DO IT and see what happens!! [I used to use 60% as my do-it-benchmark but this is a little too important and to echo the other comments here, you won't regret it!!!] So yep, sounds like you might be in that 51%+ category so DO IT!!

    I mostly hated the pregnancy thing - vomitting does suck, avoid summer for the 1st tri as *no-one* wears deodorant it seems - but I had my trusty "Morning Well" tape from the UK which works for 90% of women to make them much less nauseous. You can buy your way out of a lot of discomfort I discovered (like my $90 maternity work pants made 8-days-overdue-me look that little closer to a pregnant Gwenneth Paltrow... or so my hormones told me... plus the heating pad, triangle stomach supports, good de-alcholized beer, etc etc etc)

    And y'know, it was just kinda cool for those few moments I could relax my pregnancy-paranoia (in the company of highly trained medical folks) to listen to his heartbeat or watch him on the scan.

    Birth I won't go into... suffice to say that *loved* my c-section and spinal!

    Anyway, loved Karen's post because while I was a little out of my depth the first year, I'm really loving this new toddler stage!

    That does totally characterize the parenting experience though - Change! And lots of it! Pete and I felt so in control of things before R. We really liked our little lives so when people said, "your life will change with a kid", that was kinda scary as I recall... but now the worst part is knowing I can't protect him from harm (from sickness to bonking his head on a stool last week that still shows). Its a MUCH better life though to quote AM!!

    Yep, so do it and see where you get to!
    Take care,

  • At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Before becoming pregnant with Jonah, we didn't put a lot of thought into what having a child would be like. We just knew it was something we eventually wanted to do, and it seemed like a good time to "not worry" about not using birth control!

    Due to various life adventures, we'd learned to go with the flow, (mostly) chill out, and not plan too much, skills that have made parenthood much, much easier. If there is one word that describes parenthood, it is "unpredictable" -- you just have no idea if you'll have morning sickness or a c-section, what personality your child will have, what challenges you'll experience in your relationships, which of your baby's facial expression will be your favourite, etc. I am loving the toddler stage, partly because Jonah changes every day!

    What is IS 99.9% predictable is that that child you will have will make your heart burst in ways you never would have imagined. We aren't all pulling your leg, I promise!

    Good luck!

  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger Anne-Marie said…

    Hey Dops - where's your $.04 cents?

    Waiting on baited breath...

  • At 9:43 PM, Blogger Tammy said…

    Heheh, Anne-Marie.

    This is a really intimidating topic for me, because it forces me to think about and reveal my darkest thoughts about motherhood. I could be wrong, but my sense is that Jackie feels the same subspecies of dread that I did/do, and I really want to do right by her with my response.

    Okay, here's my god-only-knows-how-many cents.

    From the sounds of it, Jackie's fears can be divided loosely into two camps: the physical and, for lack of a better word, the philosophical. I'll tackle the physical stuff first, because it's the easiest.

    As far as the physical aspect of motherhood goes, you need to know that there's no way of knowing how pregnancy and childbirth will treat your body. Some women have relatively easy pregnancies (and bear in mind that an "easy" pregnancy still comes with its share of aches and discomforts) and some women have difficult, painful pregnancies. There is absolutely no way of knowing which kind yours will be.

    BUT! As my awesome doctor reminded me constantly, we're designed to do this! We really are. The vast majority of pregnancies end with a healthy mom and baby. Don't borrow trouble by worrying about stuff that, statistically, is unlikely to happen. As my doc also told me, in the unlikely chance that something does go wrong, (a) you'll know right away, and (b) it was probably going to go wrong despite all your best efforts anyway.

    In other words, you really have very little control over pregnancy. You can read tonnes of books and read countless articles on the internet and obey all the lists of pregnancy do's and don'ts, but that just gives you the illusion of control. But hey, whatever works. But as Libby wisely pointed out, pregnancy and motherhood is a zen thing. The sooner you get there (and some get there quickly, others -- like me -- slowly and painstakingly, and others not at all), the better, for your own sake.

    The plus side of realizing this as early as possible -- and I mean REALLY realizing this and internalizing it -- is that it (sort of) prepares you for the feelings of utter powerlessness that come with motherhood... or at least the feelings that came to me.

    You have to know that I'm a worrier. Not so much about practical day-to-day stuff -- I'm probably only average in that regard. No, I'm a big-picture worrier. Death, dismemberment, despair... these are the things that keep me up at night. I knew this about myself going into motherhood, but I had no idea that my already substantial feelings of nameless dread could take on such new and vast proportions.

    I don't know who it was -- maybe John Irving? -- who wrote something to the effect of "We kill our children a hundred different ways every day." What he meant, of course, is that parenthood makes you capable of fully imagining countless horrible, grisly scenarios involving your child. It's the curse of imagination, and sometimes it makes me wish I'd been born into a less sentient species... like, say, a happy little mudskipper. I try to shut off this part of my brain, and sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't.

    Again, I knew I had this tendency toward dark thoughts before I decided to have a baby, and this was by far my greatest obstacle. But what flipped me over to Kris's 51 percent was the realization that, if I didn't have children (or one child, anyway; let's not get ahead of ourselves here), I'd be giving in to my fear of life, the future, and everything. I'd be saying yes to pessimism and no to hope, and for the rest of my life I'd know that about myself. I'd feel like I'd given up, and my life would feel like a sham.

    I have nothing but respect for people who know themselves well enough to say "I'm too selfish/irresponsible/whatever to have a child." That's fine! That's great! I wish these people nothing but happiness. They're moving forward with the knowledge that they're living the best life for themselves. But for me, deciding not to have children because of fear would be moving forward with the knowledge that I'd, in a way, given up.

    But having a child isn't just about making a bold philosophical statement, of course. It's not a movie, where you get this big epiphany at the end, you make your theoretical choice, and then the lights come on. So here's how things have panned out for me in my day-to-day life:

    In exchange for the last remaining peace of mind I once possessed, I get to feel, for the first time in my life, like I'm living truly in the moment with Sam. Life is richer than I ever imagined it could be. I feel this amazing love and awe and happiness every single day. I finally understand what it feels like to care more about someone else than I do about myself. I feel like I'm part of something much bigger than myself, both in terms of the kinship I feel with other mothers, and in terms of the fact that, through Sam, I feel connected to the future. And much as our lives and relationship have changed since Sam came along, my relationship with my husband has never been stronger or more meaningful.

    Sometimes, when the dread creeps up and threatens to overwhelm me, I have to remind myself that, no matter what happens -- and you know that bad stuff can happen anytime, anyplace -- I'm not ever allowed to regret taking this huge emotional risk. Because no matter what happens, the precious time I've gotten to experience with Sam is worth any risk.

    So. Those are my guts lying out on the floor for everyone to see. I hope this helps you, Jackie, and I definitely hope I didn't scare you off. Having Sam is so much by far the best thing that's ever happened to me that everything else kind of pales in comparison. I hope that in a little while we'll be welcoming you into the BHN.

  • At 7:17 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    Cripes, I have to follow that?

    I don't know if I ever felt really ready. I knew I wanted kids, but I was terrified of the changes a pregnancy would bring to my life. Finally I decided to just go for it even though I still felt very scared and ambivalent.

    I've never regretted my decision. I must admit I was not overly fond of the young-baby stage, but as Karen said, it doesn't last very long. Now that we're in the walking, talking toddler phase, my daughter is such a fun little person! She makes me laugh every day.

    As DG said, the hard part is giving up control. I like order and routine, and that all went out the window once the baby came. But I learned that there are joys mixed up in the chaos. Today might be the day that my daughter chooses not to nap or throws her dinner on the floor, but it might also be the day she calls me Mama for the first time.

    Basically, what Doppelganger said. (I should have just said that at first and saved us all some time!)

  • At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I knew I wanted to be a mom. I planned my pregnancy meticulously. And the second I knew I was pregnant, I filled up with doubts and fears.

    I wanted to start my post with that, because I think that folks without kids who are worrying about the "should I/shouldn't I" think that those of us who had no questions to grapple with also had no fear and never thought, "I changed my mind. Get me out of this situation!" We are just as full of fears and doubts as you.

    With regard to pregnancy and labor, in my experience, pregnancy is really the more difficult thing, because it is just so looooooooong. Labor, while certainly uncomfortable, is unbelievably short compared to pregnancy. So please, don't spend your entire pregnancy (should you choose this route) worrying about labor.

    And also, after you have the baby, you don't have to ease your way back to normal. Although there are certainly recovery symptoms, they're different enough to be a welcome change!

    And, cliche'-ing along with everyone else, my life is so much better with my son in it. I love every day, but am also looking forward to the days when he is an adult, and a wonderful peer to talk to.

  • At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can't thank you all enough for pouring out your hearts and being honest! Everything each one of you has written is helpful to me in many different ways - the mere fact that you all care enough to offer advice to a total stranger is amazing, much less that it's good, heartfelt advice. I have good days and bad days, wondering if I'm up to the challenge, and I love hearing that others have had the same doubts (if not in the same order or all at the same time!) - DG's desire especially not to live in fear resonates with me, as I certainly don't want to live that way either.

  • At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    On behalf of a lurker who has set a deadline of her next birthday to decide whether to 'go forth & multiply', I also truly appreciate your thoughts.


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