Musings My Outfits

How I Really Feel About Having Babies

Written by Jennifer Nini

I’ve noticed something on Facebook that I’m sure you’ve noticed too, particularly if, like me, you’ve reached that point in life where you start to judge selfie shots on drunken nights out as sad rather than fun.

And what’s happening on my Facebook account is this: baby pics are dominating my newsfeed.

There is a correlation between getting older and settling down. Where once upon a time I’d have been partying my weekends away, up all hours on Friday and Saturday nights, nowadays, the only reason I stay up past midnight is if I’m rushing to meet a tight deadline.

Jennifer Nini - The Social Copywriter - Eco Warrior Princess

“It’s time to settle down.” 

I’ve felt the pressure to settle down and have kids since I was in my mid-twenties.

In fact, the last argument I had with my father was precisely about this issue.

At the time, my relationship with my then boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) had consumed almost a third of my life, and my father wondered when we were going to tie the knot. I had doubts about the institution of marriage and I wasn’t convinced that my boyfriend was the person I would spend the rest of my life with.

So as my parents drove me to the train station one morning, my dad asked me nonchalantly when my boyfriend and I were planning to get married. I replied flippantly, “I don’t think I want to get married.”

My father was incredulous. Why would I spend so much time in a relationship if I wasn’t considering marrying the guy, dad wanted to know. I argued that marriage was fabricated for religious and economic reasons and I wasn’t really interested in the idea of it. What about having children? he asked. I replied, “I don’t think I want children either.”

Then dad said something that pissed me right off. He said: “What’s the point of being a woman if you don’t have kids?”

This triggered the following reaction: I lost my shit. If you start a misogynistic line of questioning with a woman, expect to unleash the angry feminist in her.

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I hurled abuses at my dad for being a chauvinist. For confining a woman’s role to that of mother. For trying to make me feel abnormal for not wanting to marry or have children. For judging women as only necessary as vehicles for reproduction. For not appreciating my personal choices. For being a f!@#ing asshole.

It was then that mum, from the passenger seat, screamed for us to shut up. I tried to convince mum that dad had started it, but she wouldn’t have a bar of it. Mum likes to sweep things under the rug. Not me. But I decided to zip it for mum’s sake. I didn’t want her blaming my rebellious nature and confrontational manner for increasing her blood pressure (again).

I forgave dad not long after the incident. And over the last decade, I’ve noticed his paternalistic views change. One recent conversation had him agreeing with me that the world needs more women political leaders because we make up half the population and need representation at the top. Upon hearing this, I smiled. Dad’s becoming a feminist, I thought.

You can ask – just be prepared for an honest response.

Of course I’ve changed my mind about marriage since then. I met Ben and surprised myself – and everyone I know – when I started seriously considering marrying him. As it turns out, marriage does take on a more romantic definition when you’re truly in love.

As you can imagine, the parental units were relieved: “Hallelujah, she’s normal!”

Now at my age, settling down is all the rage, particularly in light of the fact that Ben and I have been together eight years, engaged for four. In the time we’ve been together, several of our friends have purchased homes, upgraded to better homes, married, and have had children of their own.

And because marriage and having kids is a part of the usual lifecycle, people expect us to follow suit.

Jennifer Nini - The Social Copywriter - Eco Warrior Princess

The engagement ring  – that Ben assures me is not a blood diamond – is the universal symbol of two people committing to a life together. When people see it, they inevitably ask the typical questions, “When are you guys getting married?” and “When are you guys going to have kids?”

My usual response to both questions: “Not sure, we’re too focussed on our businesses.” Sure it’s not a typical reply that people often hear, but it’s an honest one.

In reply to the second question, Ben often responds, “We’re just too selfish, we like our life how we like it.” This is as equally valid.

Mind your womb.

Last week I read Nadira Angail’s eloquent blog post Mind Your Own Womb and I was deeply moved. Every line in it is a woman’s truth.

So here’s my truth:

A couple of years ago, Ben and I thought we were ready to have children. So for a year we kind of tried. I say kind of because our approach to baby making wasn’t very methodical, a sign we really weren’t serious about falling pregnant. I didn’t want to check my temperature to work out my ovulation cycle. I kept forgetting to do my saliva test in the mornings as well. I didn’t care to seek more advice from my doctor or run more tests. I didn’t make Ben do more tests either. Ours was the laissez faire approach to pregnancy: if it’s meant to be, it will be.

Plus the universe had other plans for us. I gave birth to a business instead.

Jennifer Nini - The Social Copywriter - Eco Warrior Princess

Bag: Dolce & Gabbana, eBay | Jeans: Lee, eBay, | Shoes: eBay | Organic cotton tee: Project Soco | Sunglasses: Oroton

Life is what you make it.

Some people will read this and draw their own conclusions: that I’m disguising my feelings of failure to fall pregnant with a mask of contentment; that I’m in denial about how I’m truly feeling; that I’m distracting myself with the businesses so I don’t have to deal with my inability to fall pregnant; that deep down I’m really depressed about it but just don’t realise it.

All wrong. To the people thinking the above: please stop projecting. That’s your stuff, not mine.

Ben and I are happy. Really.

If you prefer to listen to this in audio format, just click the play button:

How I Really Feel About Having Babies – Part I

How I Really Feel About Having Babies – Part II

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she launched Eco Warrior Princess to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

22 Comments

  • I like your last line. “Ben and I are happy. Really.” after all surely that’s what it is all about.
    Thanks for sharing your story, I like it when things remind me people all over the world are just getting on with things.
    I have been with my partner for 12 years and we are happy. For ages we were asked about marriage but we have noticed the questions stopped, I am happy that my parents have never bothered about my choices on marriage or on children. We can chat away about it and I love finding out how they felt about these choices when they were younger.
    I stopped caring what other people think now, one of my best friends once said to me that I ‘would know he (my partner) was committed to me if he gave you a ring’. I almost lost it but I just held it together, my relationship isn’t less committed than others it is my relationship and I’m happy. Really 🙂

    • Ahhh Steph, great to see that I’m not the only one in this position. And good thing you held it together when your best friend made that comment. Pick your battles I say. With me, all those battles amounted to something – dad is walking in the light and is a feminist 🙂 And glad to know you’re happy, that’s exactly what it’s about.

  • Jennifer,
    Thank you for posting this. It’s so important for women to know not everyone has to live one certain lifestyle. I support women who want to have their choices and make their lives fulfilled the way they want it. Their way. Thank YOU, Jennifer.

    • Happiness looks so different for everyone, it often surprises me when people force their ideas of happiness on to others. Thank you so much Cindy for your thoughtful comment.

  • There are many different ways to offer an act of creation to the World. Childbirth is just one. It’s not for everyone nor should we expect it to be for everyone. We are lucky enough to live in a time where we can choose (unfortunately not without having to argue our choice) how we want to have our lives pan out. Children are not a ‘must have’ accessory to a life well lived and it’s scary how many people are bullied into this life long commitment for FOMO reasons. Choose what you want to create. That burning passion some have for procreation is easily transferable to others desires to build an orphanage, write a book, foster unwanted pets, create a business, the list goes on! Whatever the passion, I say go for it! Personal happiness and the negotiation of happiness as a partnership is what makes life worthwhile. Kudos to you two for doing what you love without apologies.

    • Thanks Katie for your thoughtful comment. How lucky to live in a time and place where we are free to make choices unburdened (somewhat) by family pressure, societal rules and conventions! The amount of support I’ve received after writing this post is evidence that our world is evolving. To respect and celebrate each others’ choices, wishes, desires and passions is not all that hard in my book. But then again, some people have a difficult time trying to reign in their ego. Anyway looking forward to our catch up! x

  • Yes, what matters is love. Love what you do, be it children, a business, or even just stargazing… And let others love what it is they love. And also note that children and marriage don’t need to go hand-in-hand either. I was 37 and had my first and only son on my own, because I wanted a child but I didn’t want to be in a romantic relationship and I’m not big on marriage (for myself). He has a big extended family who love him and I’m lucky to live in a region that is non-judgmental (if anything supportive) of my choice to do this. It’s crap that people project their desires and conditioning onto others, but as they say: what they say says more about the, than it does about you ???? and I’m glad you recognise that, I’m sure many women feel bullied into their decisions.

    • So true Melanie! Marriage is something that is more of an optional extra nowadays. So too is a romantic relationship or partnership for parenting. It’s definitely a choose-your-own-adventure World of possibilities. The sad part is that societal conditioning of years past hasn’t quite caught up yet. And it’s super sad that those in loving relationships that don’t fit the rules of ‘man and woman’ are refused the right to marry in some places. Hopefully we all catch up soon and stop sticking our opinions in other peoples business. 😛

      As far as weddings and marriage goes I was never all that interested in it. But my boyfriend (yep… we skipped the engagement) and I decided to just get married while on holiday because it was a great way to make future international travel easier (he is entitled to dual citizenship in his Dad’s country of birth and we would like to spend some time there in the future). It was also really fun to have a ceremony that was just for us. Has it changed anything? No… exactly the same as before. Would I go back and do a ‘big’ wedding? Heck no. Would I describe is as ‘the happiest day of my life’? No, it was just another day, a fun one, but just another day (one that followed a night of food poisoning… blerk). The media and popular culture spends so much time building up these life goals of babies, loving relationships and weddings and forgets the fun part. Life! I love those days when I’m feeling like absolute crap, or my partner or fur baby is driving me insane because it’s keeps you alive. I don’t know about you but the thought of living a fairytale ‘happily ever after’ every single day sounds a little bit boring… I will take the rollercoaster version any day.

      • Katie, another beautiful comment and can’t wait to learn more when we catch up – there’s lots to cover so our first date sounds like it will be a long one LOL! Looking forward to a good story, and you my lovely, have some fascinating ones! And p.s. that happily ever after scenario is such a dull story; there are still so many intriguing possibilities that comes afterwards. What I want to know is – what happens after they set off into the sunset? hahaha

    • Thanks so much Melanie for sharing your personal story. And indeed, marriage and children need not go hand in hand. That is another convention we humans have conjured up to help make life easier to understand and bearable I guess. It doesn’t need to be this way. And you’ve hit the nail on the head – our hopes, desires, experiences, biases, choices are all our own. That is what makes us unique. That is why we are called “individuals”. Here’s to the humans willing to stay true to themselves. Marching to the beat of your own drum isn’t easy, but it sure makes for an interesting life hahaha!

  • I’m so glad to hear your are happy just as you are, whether you have kids or not. There is nothing wrong with feeling that way. Society only tells women that she must have children in order to be fulfilled. Men never get the same judgement. More of us need to be open and honest about these issues so that people come to realise that all choices are vaild ones, regardless of your gender

    • Summer how right you are! Society is much to blame for this. More people have to start being honest and open; with themselves first and then with others. Happiness looks different for everyone. And as a society we also need to start learning tolerance and acceptance. The ego makes us crazy, but we can control it, if we just pay attention 🙂

  • I’m really enjoying your posts, and I was delighted to read this one. I am a woman in my mid-20s who is constantly fending off the comments of “You’ll want children in a few years, trust me.”
    While I may certainly change my mind in my 30s, I have many ethical reasons to not procreate. These are mainly environmental.
    My boyfriend of a little over three years, who I intend to marry when he finishes law school in another three years, is in his mid-thirties. While he has no desire for us to have children now, he occasionally mentions our hypothetical future children. I believe that he understands that my only intention of bringing children into my life would be through adoption, but I still feel a little guilty when he makes the offhand comment of “Our children will blah blah blah.” Again, my thirties may bring stronger feelings of maternal instinct, but I would prefer to put the time and effort I’d put into offspring into the environment instead.
    Anyway, it’s nice to get multiple perspectives through your articles and the comments beneath. Glad I found you!

    • Thanks Arial for sharing your story and I salute you for being honest with us, and more importantly, with yourself. It is important as individuals that we ‘own’ our lives. I think to be true to ourselves is hard in a family/society that constantly tries to impose their own ideas on to us. But to live consciously and as authentically as possible is extremely important, if only because it’s essential to our happiness. And yes EWP readers tend to be an engaged bunch which I am grateful for. I’m glad you found us too 🙂

  • I have just discover your site. Thank you for this. It was something I really need to read today. I have always wanted babies but later in my life I realized it was just something that I wanted to not focus on my life (a lot of people do this actually and I don’t think they never realized the true reason why they procreate) Now I have a bad situation health and economic related. I sure know that I want children in my future but I’m trying to make peace with the fact that I’m not probably going to be able to have them. I’m trying to focus on myself instead. All of this has make me start questioning why people have children and the role we as women have in society. Instagram is full of new mothers and I think some kind of “modern mother fashion” is increasing which I think is very alarming. So, yes the mind your own uterus works perfect for me. People thinks I’m sad because I can’t have children, but seeing people having them just because it is the next step in their lives makes me sadder honestly.

    • Thanks Madeleine for sharing your story and for being courageous enough to search for the meaning of life, with or without children. We live in a world filled with many expectations, some internally driven by us and some externally, driven by society and culture. I think when it comes to children, it is so very important that people go into in with their eyes wide open, and of course, if they can have them. To have children because it’s a natural progression in life is at odds to living a mindful and conscious life isn’t it? I think making the conscious choice rather than the default choice is the BETTER choice.

  • Sorry for going comment crazy on your blog, but I seriously LOVE it. Where have you been all my life? This post really sings out to me. I’ve been with my husband for 12 years (only married for 2 of those 12 years) and we have no current inclination to have children. We are getting pressure from every angle (I’m sure you can imagine).

    Most of our friends have settled down and are on their way to having their second (or third) child! I have had friends who struggled to fall pregnant. Some of them can’t have kids, and others have gone through years of IVF to get their miracle baby. When they ask me about my plans for children, I’m honest and say that I like my life the way it is. They look at me like I’m evil!

    My husband and I follow some couples on YouTube that are in their 40’s and 50’s who have never had children, and they are HAPPY & have been able to do some amazing things with their life. I’m not saying that children are a burden, but I just can’t envision it for myself. I want to adopt if we have kids because I feel like the world is overpopulated and someone has to reach out to those kids who might otherwise have a terrible life.

    The issue is, how I feel now might not be how I’ll feel in 20 years. I’ve also heard stories of bitter regret where people didn’t want kids and then it’s too late when they do want kids. But how am I going to know? It’s a risk we all need to take.

    Thank you for sharing your story and sorry for ranting.

    • Love when people comment because it means that they care enough to! 🙂 And thank you for sharing your story, I found myself nodding whilst reading it. It is true that humans follow a typical life cycle and that when someone chooses something that doesn’t follow the “norms” people regard it with suspicion. Humans are endlessly trying to make sense of people by trying to get them to conform to a particular set of behaviours and when they don’t, they fear it!

      Anyhow, I personally believe in questioning false life assumptions which gave my parents many a headache growing up lol! Now you raised an interesting point about regret. Something that comes up too when I speak with others. My position is that I’ve never regretted any decision I’ve ever made up to this point and when you’re living life as consciously as possible, how can you have regrets when you’ve entered into a decision mindfully? I accept every decision and every consequence and it is this willing to accept the fate of my decisions that makes me confident that I will have zero regrets about the baby issue.

      Glad to know more women are speaking out and one day, not having children will be as normal as having them! 🙂

      • Wow, the point you made about living life as consciously as possible and making decisions mindfully will really stick with me. That was so poignant. I appreciate your lengthy responses. Continue the great work and thanks for being so inspirational.

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