Since hitting my mid twenties and being in a relationship for nearly four years, people have decided to start commenting on my relationship. All the situations I’m not ready for are being questioned, “you’ll be thinking about marriage and kids soon right?” then when I swiftly reply “no”, the reactions I get are beyond hilarious. A 24 year old women who doesn’t want to get married and have babies?! God forbid.
As an early teenager my friends used to talk about getting married, buying a house and having children a lot. Of course I joined in on the chat, it’s always fun to dream up the life you will have in the future, but to me it was more like creating a Sim’s character rather than a real prospect. I don’t ever remember being excited to get married and have children. I joked around and said I’d have a black wedding dress and run away to elope in Japan. I joked around about having twins and only dressing them up is Disney onesies. But do I really want that life so young?
As a teenager I started watching 16 & Pregnant on MTV then the follow up series Teen Mom, then Teen Mom 2, 3 and the UK version in my 20’s. I read a lot online that the girls on these shows encouraged teenage pregnancy as most of them had it easier as the money from MTV helped. However it had the absolute opposite effect on me, seeing these young girls feel devastated over their changing bodies, watching them cry over lack of sleep or an ill child, them struggling to make ends meet in the beginning and watching how easy a relationship can break down after having a child scared me to death, and I still have my doubts, nearly 8 years later.
It also didn’t help that my mum had quite a traumatic birth with me and didn’t shy away from telling me how much pregnancy sucked or how someone could have cut off her leg and she wouldn’t of felt it as childbirth hurt that much ( now I’m older I somehow think this was an exaggeration). The seed was planted though and my fear of pregnancy and childbirth has stuck with me. I had quite bad periods too before I went on the pill, my periods were all over the place, super heavy and sucked the life out of me. There was times when my boyfriend had to rock me like a baby until the pain medicine kicked in or I would feel faint from the iron I was loosing. If childbirth is anywhere close to those excessively bad period pains then I’m not sure how I will cope.. you definitely wouldn’t have to ask me twice about an epidural or gas and air, I know that for a fact.
Ultimately, the main reason I’m hesitant about having children soon is that I’m only recently recovered from a long battle with disordered eating. I still have days where the bad thoughts try to creep back in but I’m strong enough now to lock them away every time.. but what happens during and after pregnancy when my body is forever changed? I don’t want to be a depressed mum, I don’t want to accidentally influence my children to pick faults with their body and mind. I want to be the best mum I could possible be and I know I wouldn’t if I’m not strong enough to keep the bad thoughts at bay. Post-natal depression is a real thing too, more than 1 in every 10 women experience some from of it within one year of giving birth, I don’t like those odds.
There is so much pressure on women still to be a wife and a mother and anyone who doesn’t fit this mold is looked down upon. Brittney Moffatt from Sheinthecircle.com wrote in her article about the pressures young women face “All women are different. We have different dreams, different goals, and different ideas of what our lives should be like. I don’t think there’s just something within us that makes us want to be a wife and a mother. I believe that the big “biological clock” that people believe is deep down inside of us, is simply everyone else telling us that we should be wives and mothers”. I couldn’t agree with her more! We weren’t born to just exist until we have children, mothers are amazing people and of course they deserve to be told that but they also need to be rewarded for all of their other achievements in life too. I’m very scared to loose my identity when I have children. Yes I will be someone’s mum, but I would also be a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, a pole dancer, an aerialist, a university graduate, an avid reader, a Craniosynostosis survivor and whatever else more I achieve before and after children.
The conception rate for women in their early 40’s has increased to 28,744 in 2016, from 12,032 in 1990. Teenage pregnancy has nearly halved in the last 30 years, and conception rates for women in their 30’s has increased by 34% since 1998. People are wanting to be older parents now, the stigma is slowly falling and hopefully one day we can have children at whatever age (within a healthy range, obviously) without strangers shaking their heads in disagreement.
I’m happy in my relationship and my life currently, I have so much I want to do before even thinking about children. One day I might feel like I really want children, but right now I’ve got years ahead of me to think about it.
Just think next time a women says she doesn’t want children, don’t tell her “you will one day, give it time”, “but your body clock will certainly be ticking away by now!”.. ask her politely why, learn from her past and see that not everyone wants children soon and sometimes people don’t want them at all. And that’s okay.