By: Revanche

Why (maybe) not babies, Part the Second

September 19, 2011

There were so many great and interesting comments left on my post about whether or not to have children that I had trouble responding to enough of them in the comments.  I appreciated everyone’s thoughts on their personal situations and decision-making.

I also had second, third and several other thoughts about whether or not to discuss one particular theme of the comments further, partly because there was a reason I left out some important, relevant information out: I didn’t necessarily want that to be the center of the post and I tend to leave that subject under wraps.

But it was an underlying theme of the comments because I left it out and it is relevant to the conversation because it’s a huge part of my life even if I do try to pretend that it’s not.  Like it or no, the physical limitation aspect of my life is a factor in every decision I make, every minute of every day.  And it’s not like I haven’t mentioned it once or twice before, so I’m not sure why I still instinctively try to sweep it under the rug like it’s not a big deal.

So, comments first:

@thecelt, you made me laugh out loud.  PRECISELY. There IS no “kinda-kid” out there.  So I want to know   for sure.  If I’m doing this, I’m committing!

@Sense: From the Mixed up Files was an absolute favorite.  Definitely fed the runaway fantasies. 😉

@MovingEast: I actually think through those cliches without feeling like they’re cliches… they are true. I see new parents experiencing the wonder of new kids in their lives and I love it.  And I see the decisions they have to make and learn from that too.  It’s not that I don’t think they’re worth it once you choose it, in the abstract.

@nicoleandmaggie:  He will have to be more than half the parent, I think, and that’s what I worry about. It’s got to be something we’re both willing to sacrifice for because I suspect (see below) it’s going to be excruciating in the beginning for me and then a huge commitment with most of the burden shifting to him.  Emotionally, I may have a lot of trouble with that.  For me. (Selfishly.  Whatever. Again, see below.)

@oilandgarlic:  No judgement on anyone else but I definitely want to know now because I don’t want to start in my mid-30’s. For me, I feel like that would be waiting too long because of how my health has progressed.


On the point where PiC and I have to talk this out: we do, when it comes to making the final decision.

I do only speak for myself on this blog and frequently leave his thoughts out of it because he doesn’t have any desire to be present here. (I’ve asked.) But that’s not to say he doesn’t know my concerns and worries, and he understands them.  The evolution of my feelings on the subject hasn’t been a secret to him.  

He’s not terribly concerned about our different feelings on the matter, we’ll figure it out together, he’s always known that we’ve been coming at this from different personal experiences.


I live with something that’s long mimicked rheumatoid arthritis (or lupus) and fibromyalgia.  It’s neither of the first two so far as tests are concerned, but most of the symptoms match up.  It started out affecting just a few areas, umpteen years ago, but now it’s everywhere, and any combination of joints and muscles are usually at some level of pain akin to holding an open flame against that muscle or joint every single day.

I spent over fifteen years trying to get a diagnosis and the conclusion is only that I have chronic pain, which isn’t a diagnosis.  It’s only a conclusion and defines my experience: pain that doesn’t stop, that has lasted over six months, and doesn’t necessarily have a definitive origin.  Stress, being tired, lack of sleep all exacerbate the pain and pain causes all three in a feedback loop.  Awesome.  That was still better than the many years of idiot doctors telling me that it wasn’t possible for me to be feeling the kind of pain that I was feeling.

When it flares, I can be out of commission for hours, days, or weeks at a time. At the beginning of any flare, I won’t know what the damage will be or how long it’ll last.  Stress of the emotional or physical sort can start a flare. Energy is severely limited.  There are days typing on a keyboard, lifting a pen, or using a knife and a fork requires too much effort. I have to be incredibly selective about how much activity I commit to because if I push myself too hard these days?  Too much of anything can cause fatigue and pain that effectively destroys my ability to functions for days thereafter.

If you haven’t read it, the Spoon Theory describes the way someone living with this sort of thing has to rework life strategies.  And the Bloggess summed up how you feel during/after a flare pretty well.

So you might better understand my reluctance to head right into motherhood on the basis of physical limitations.  It’s more than just an age thing, it’s more than just a “normal” reluctance.  I’m starting from the knowledge that not only do I not have my once-vaunted capacity to power through any and all challenges anymore, I have to be very careful that I don’t step into, essentially, a lifelong landmine.  Bringing life into this world is a serious business and the last thing I want to do is make a hash of it because I don’t have it in me to carry through.


One way to make this work is to be financially stable enough to afford child care.  A lot of it. I don’t feel right about not raising my own children, but I’m not foolish enough to think that I could do a lot of the physical stuff on my own anymore. If we were earning enough that one of us could stay home with the kids, and also had some help with the kids to make up for my part, that could be one way to handle the situation.

Alternatively, I don’t have to bear our children.  Instead, we could do what I’ve always wanted to do: adopt.  That comes with its own risks, challenges and expenses but that’s an option I’ve always loved and saves at least the physical burden of pregnancy.

I’ve been concerned about that because, though childless, I help others with their kids a lot, and it wipes me out. Every. Single. Time.  That tells me that I’m not prepared for the physical challenges of pregnancy.  And as recounted by many many friends in stark honesty?  The fatigue, the internal upheaval, the damage to the body?  I am not prepared for that.

Ultimately, we have a lot to discuss and decide.  

10 Responses to “Why (maybe) not babies, Part the Second”

  1. Pregnancy is really hard on the body, from every woman who has ever been pregnant has told me.

    From the throwing up to the aches and pains of the back, to the awkward sleeping positions… it isn’t a picnic.

    Gives me hives thinking about it.

  2. Melissa says:

    It sounds to me more that you are worried you can’t be a mother with your health issues than if you want to be a mother at all.

    It’s a tough decision to make. I was ready to be a mom when I was 16 (still not, though, I did make good decisions) while my best friend didn’t want anything to do with kids. My best friend just had her first baby. She didn’t think she would be a good mother. Not only that, but this girl has so many mental health problems, I was REALLY worried about post-partum with her. The great thing? The love that you feel for your child the second you give birth to it generally outweighs the bad things that can or are going to happen. With her mental state the way it is, she actually fights through it more to make it for her baby.

    It looks to me like you do want children, but that your major concern is that you aren’t healthy enough to have them and take care of them. You are. No matter what, you will always be. If you’re this strong for yourself, you will be stronger for them.

    I fully believe that you would be a great mother with just the way you treat me, ill or not. And if you’re really worried about the pregnancy, adopt. The way I see it, if you’re already thinking about what you will miss out on if you don’t have children, you will regret not having them in the future when you really can’t have them anymore.

    Not only that, but you’ll have someone who will take care of you when your old and in need of care like you do your parents. 😉

  3. Margie says:

    I just got caught up on your last two very thoughtful entries. I’m 31 and just had a baby 5 1/2 weeks ago. The decision to have a child was very scary and I don’t have the health issues that you contend with every day… so I can only imagine your struggle with this.

    For me, having a baby turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. It’s a difficult but extremely beautiful experience.

    I have no business offering anyone advice on this as I believe the decision to have kids is an intensely personal decision, but I will say this: motherhood is a lot of work – physically, emotionally, and mentally – but the rewards come back to you 1,000x.

  4. As I said before, even having this thoughtful discussion with PiC and in your own mind is one of the best things you guys can do in regard to parenthood. Talking out expectations and desires when it comes to parenthood can only make you a better mother (if you go that route) or make your relationship stronger (even if you don’t go the parenthood route).

    I think that, no matter where you end up, you guys are obviously headed in the right direction together.

    ~the celt

  5. Pregnancy and motherhood scare me, too. And I don’t think I have the health issues you described.

    As I am in my late twenties, my friends are getting married around me and popping out kids. I’m not completely sure when I want kids or if I for sure want them, or how many.

    But I feel the pressure around me to start thinking about this as I won’t be young forever and the time is ticking. It is significantly more difficult to have kids after 30 (I think), and it seems like I need to make a decision now for a decision 5 years down the road.


  6. Dratted Blogger erased my comment. Trying again:

    We waited 10 years after we were married to finally give in to peer pressure and the biological clock cliche to have a M’hijito. I was 32 when he was born. There’s a huge advantage to being an elderly primapara, as anyone over about 28 is called: you have enough money to put the child through private schools and to hire sitters when you need a break.

    The disadvantage: you’re too smart by then to have a second one. Only childhood is no real disadvantage for the kid, but when he’s adult you’ll wish you had another adult child.

    For me, pregnancy was a breeze — I never felt better in my life. At least, not until menopause came along and took away all the hormonal horrors that make up a woman’s life. However, motherhood is truly exhausting. As much as you do love the little thing, it wears you out. Being able to hire someone to help makes a huge difference.

  7. Melissa 2 says:

    I agree it’s an intensely personal decision whether to have kids or not. Good luck in making the right decision for you and your family.

    It’s hard to be pregnant. It’s hard to be a mom. It’s even harder to be a pregnant mom. I had my first when I was 30. I will have my second while I’m 32. The first pregnancy was pretty easy, this one feels harder. I’m not sure if it’s hard because I’m older, less fit, or I have a little one running around (as an aside, I work full time, mostly from home, but also have full-time in home paid/unpaid childcare through family and someone hired).

    Also while adoption is an option, most adoptions are pretty expensive. I think a lot of people who are ambivalent about having their own kids think adoption is the immediate answer, not realizing the time, effort, and cost involved. But if you do feel physically unable to bear children, this may be a good option.

    A low cost option of help that most people do not consider is having an aupair. We’ve never had one, but it’s something we’ve considered for some time. You have a young person (18-26) there for up to 45 hours/week. You need to provide a private room, but it ends up being extremely cheap on an hourly basis (I think it’s under $4/hour).

    Good luck with the decision.

    Another thing – I had always thought I wanted to be a SAHM, but my husband and I agreed that I would go back to work while we only have 1 child. I planned my work situation so that I work mostly from home with occasional travel and I LOVE being back at work. I love the mental stimulation and extra income. I still do miss out on the workplace socializing (and don’t get many opportunities to socialize with other moms since I’m working from home), but it has been great.

  8. Carrie says:

    hate to have to say this but maybe ask your doctor about hodgkin’s lymphoma. i had symptoms for almost 10 years before my diagnosis and rhemetoid arthritis and lupus were among the things my symptoms mimiced. the docs never even thought cancer until i showed up with a tumor one day but retrospectively all of my years of problems fit. :/ i had doubts before but one of the things i decided while in treatment was that i absolutely do want to have kids.

  9. I had no idea. Obviously this is such a personal decision. I fully support whatever path you eventually take, wholeheartedly.

  10. oilandgarlic says:

    Wow. You are giving it a lot more thought that most people. I wasn’t aware of your health issues and it is true that pregnancy is very hard on a woman’s body no matter what. In the end, I think you and your spouse will make the best decision for both.
    And if you hire help, think of it as “extra” help not as your replacement, i.e. raising your kid(s). I had that concern going into parenthood because I knew I would be working but even at a young age, my kids know that I’m mom and #1 (or only second to grandmas!).

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