"I can't imagine my life with DH, without children, " my good friend said, sitting across the table from me waiting expectantly for my agreement. "Erm, yea," I said hesitantly. It was about all I could muster. In my head I was thinking, "I can't imagine my life with DH, with children. Dogs yes, children? Nope."
I had always assumed that children were in the cards for me. It's what you do. DH and I, when we met in 2006, were definitely having children. Yes, of course! Why wouldn't we? But it never really sat right with me. The thing is, I have never liked babies.
When my cousins were born I hated holding them for fear I would drop them. I have never known what to say to anyone under the age of 16, and even then I find it hard to relate. But I never really faced these facts until DH and I moved to a new town in 2008, and I started making friends with women who were all wanting/having/had children.
I never questioned my feelings about not wanting kids because my friends back in the U.K (where I am originally from) are single partiers with no interest in children, except only one who has had a baby. But after I moved, most of my new friends were planning for them.
As I started to make these new friendships I learned more about pregnancy and childbirth -- shudder. I spent more and more time around young children, and when our two closest friends decided that they were going to have their first child, DH and I realized that this was not something we were remotely interested in doing.
We see certain friends once a week every week and have done since we met them in 2009. Every Saturday for four years, we have been involved in baby discussions and have been delighted to watch their son grow from a pudgy baby into an adorable two-year-old who is just learning to call me Aunty. However, our enjoyment of this little ray of sunshine ends almost immediately when he throws a fit.
When friends of mine in the wanting/planning/having stage, see a baby or get on to that subject, I find there is an expectation that I will want to join them. Something I openly, but politely point out is not going to happen. I can empathize with my friends wanting to talk endlessly about it. Having children is an enormous decision and I am happy for them and will buy many cute outfits, usually Disney related.
But I know that this is not for me, and of all the women I know in this city, I am the only one that feels this way. The only other couple I know who have not had children, could not have children, and I see heartbreak in her eyes every time she holds a friend's baby. I feel for her. This choice was made already for her. I can't imagine how hard that must be.
Those who know me best have stopped telling me that I am young and will change my mind when I hit 30 (next year). My MIL broached the subject once, and DH put her in her place so fast that she has not approached it since, although, I'm sure she thinks I will change my mind when I hit 30 too.
I work in an office with a wonderful group of women, (most of whom are 50+) and if a baby comes through our office, all work stops for at least half an hour. There is only me and another woman in the office who is "at that age", and she is considering getting pregnant this summer. She staunchly refuses to accept my decision. Since I started working there, the rest of the ladies in the office have learned that I mean what I say about having kids. This took quite a while, and to be honest I am sure they are all waiting until I hit the big 3-0. Apparently this magical switch will flip when the clock strikes midnight on the morning of the 5th of January 2014, and I will wake up demanding that my husband impregnate me.
I have never experienced pressure like this before. Since my friend had her son in 2011, I have noticed a gap that has developed in our friendship. There is a whole area of her life that I cannot relate to, and a decision on my part that she cannot understand.
My Aunt and Uncle never had children, and I think seeing their lives and talking to them about this has really helped. Now in their 40s and 50s, they are happy and firm in their decision. But, even though they warned us, the comments and absolute lack of regard for the opinions of my DH and me has been a surprise.
For those of you in this position: how often are you told that you will change your mind? Do they say that you're being selfish?
By Sophie York
The Purple Fig is a community where women share personal and relatable stories; no ego, no shame. We're about life, love and all of the stuff that makes us yearn, squirm, and giggle. These stories make up the authentic and intriguing journey of a woman.
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