I'm a 24 year old female married to a 31 year old man. We've been married for two years and together for over five. I don't really like children and I am normally a pretty selfish person (I like what makes me happy). I'm afraid that if I don't decide sooner than later about having kids that my husband will be too old to start having kids. I look at it this way: if we wait until I'm 30 to have kids my husband will be almost 40 and by the time the kid graduates high school my husband will be almost 60. I don't want my husband to be too old to enjoy seeing our child grow up.
My husband really wants at least one kid and has been talking more and more about it (not anything like "we need to have kids now" or anything like that, but more like "wouldn't it be nice if"). I know he would be a good father, I can see it when he holds my friends children. There is a biological part of me that really wants to get pregnant, but I think I might just like the idea of being pregnant and not actually the child-raising part. I don't know if I would be a good mother. Like I said, I like what makes me happy, plus I also suffer from bad depression and can be pretty unstable sometimes. Having depression makes life seem pretty difficult so I worry how much more difficult it would be with a child.
The bottom line is I want to be able to decide pretty soon whether I am going to have children or not.
Part of the problem with parenting advice is every child/parent combo is different. There are some people who never liked kids before they had children but want as many children as possible after having their own. However, there are others who still don't particularly like children, even when they have their own. I believe there are a lot of different factors that go into this including your temperament, your child's temperament and any complications, medical or otherwise, that you face during your pregnancy and postpartum time. Unfortunately, I don't think there's a way to know ahead of time which way you'll swing.
If you have children, would you be the primary caregiver? Would you plan to stay home full-time, part-time, or be fully employed in a paying job? There are a lot of people who will point out that the cost of daycare may outweigh the monetary benefits of working and so, from a financial sense, it is better to stay home. However, don't forget to factor in what makes you happy. I can tell you that I would go absolutely insane if I didn't work part-time at my job. Truthfully, there are many days when I wish I worked full-time. If you do decide to have kids, I'd recommend not deciding whether or not to quit your job till you're on maternity leave (though do have a daycare plan so you're covered whichever way you decide).
Regarding how your depression may affect your parenting preferences and abilities, I'd strongly recommend talking to your mental healthcare professional if you haven't already. Having a history of depression makes you at risk for postpartum depression (http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/depression-pregnancy.cfm). After my child was born, I didn't get much sleep, for a variety of reasons. This was incredibly damaging to me and my relationship with my child. I would never have harmed my son, I think, but I got much closer to understanding the mothers that harm their children than I ever wanted to be. That's an incredibly scary place to be in ones life.
If you really think you'll never want kids, and he does, I hope you talk to him about it, but I also think feelings change over time.
At 24 we were still in "me" mode too, I think. I would bet, though, that once a bunch of your friends start having kids, that could be when you start to feel differently. From experience, even if you're career- or me-oriented, then seriously thinking about family seems to start around 26-28.
I would also say, it's worth discussing with your husband, but men don't usually feel like they have a biological deadline hanging over their head like women do. As women pass their mid thirties, then they start to worry about higher risk pregnancies.
Doing the math, if you're 30 and he's 37 when you have your first child, then +18 years would be 55 years old when the first one graduates high school, and maybe 57 when the second one graduates, if you space them two years apart. He'll still have a decade to work after that (helps if they want to go to university and you're in a country where it's very expensive, like the US). He should see grandkids around his late 60's if your kids have children around 30 like you. I would say late 60's is perfect grandparent age, isn't it? :) He'll just be retired and have lots of time to spend with them!
I think it's reasonable for you to worry about the depression. The first few months can be really rough (it's different for everyone we've talked to though). Especially during that time, nothing is about you anymore -- it's all about the child. If you aren't extremely selfless to start with, it's really hard to prepare for that. Your entire life has to be put aside for a while. It's not a commitment to be taken lightly.
answered 14 Jun '11, 22:46