I heard a line in a movie today that essentially meant “A woman is not complete till she becomes a mother” and it got me thinking…this kind of thought is probably the reason so many women out there are struggling today with the decision of whether or not to have a baby, even though deep in their hearts they are not ready.
I know at least four very successful, bright, and delightful ladies who are thorough professionals, wonderful wives and amazing human beings, but who are struggling against the current of society because they are not ready for a baby, almost 6-7 years into their marriage, and may never be. But guess what? THAT’S OKAY!
If you’re like one of these ladies, I’m sure every time someone asks you about the “good news” you find yourself feeling indignation as well as a little pinch of guilt. Questions like “is something wrong with me?” “Am I not enough the way I am?” “Should I just give in and have a baby?” “Am I seriously missing out on something big?” nag at the corners or your mind, right? Well here are a few ways in which you can put those niggling thoughts to rest:
Where’s the rule book? There’s no written down law which dictates whether you need to have a baby or not. Even solid psychological research now recognises the power of individual differences. No two people are alike. Yes, the society has a few unwritten edicts which guide the basic flow of a civilisation, but remember, just by one of you taking a decision not to have a baby for the next few years, or even never, does not shift the balance of the civilisation! Remember, where you don’t want to have baby right now, there’s someone else who wants to. It’s merely a matter of choice!
Listen to your body. I tell all my clients who come with this dilemma of whether they are ready for a baby yet or not, that you will KNOW when you’re ready to be a mom. Your body will tell you. I have known people who decided never to have children because of various reasons, but ended up waking one day and feeling “Hey! I do want one!” So if the time is right and you’re ready, you will know it, believe me. Until then, if someone asks, just say “I don’t think I’m ready yet.”
Don’t fall prey to ‘what ifs’. “What if I never know?” “What if it’s too late?” the previous point made you think that, didn’t it? Medically speaking, the ideal cut off for pregnancy is at 30 years of age because your body is healthy, can easily recover from the lost resources in pregnancy, and the risk of many gene-dependent problems like Down’s syndrome is minimal.
Still, if you think you might never know, then the practical thing to do is, decide a timeline in your mind and discuss with your partner. For example, from today’s date, for the next two years (just an example) if I still don’t want a baby, we’ll take a restock of the situation then. And forget about it altogether! Whatever time frame you decide, be honest to yourself and seriously put the baby question aside for that much time, no matter what who says. This way you would have given true time to yourself, full freedom to do whatever you want with life, and completely guilt free!
You’re NOT your parents (or anyone else). If the reason you’re putting off pregnancy is because you had a less than ideal childhood and are not sure if you’ll do justice to your child; or because you think your parents were perfect and you may never live up to their standards, then let me tell you, YOU’RE A BRAND NEW INDIVIDUAL and everything you do with your child will be for the very first time, because your child too will be a brand new person. Except for the technical stuff like physical growth, and standard baby care, all the bonding, all the emotion between your baby and you will be all yours. No book or grandparent can ever shape the story you create with your baby. So don’t be afraid, your love will be enough and you will do what you feel is best. And of course, you will have the opportunity to learn as you grow!
You’ll always be a complete woman. Having a baby does not set the benchmark for your womanhood. A friend of mine once said to me “if I’m not ready for a child, does that mean I’m not a good wife? Does that mean I don’t love or respect my family? Does that mean I’m worth nothing?” and her words really struck a chord. Getting pregnant or having baby does NOT define your identity. Not wanting to have a baby yet does NOT negate all you’ve done for your family and partner until now. But to make sure people around you understand this, you have to communicate it right. This is how:
- Remember, your partner too has grown up in the same society and has it ingrained that only a baby will make you a real couple. So please don’t accuse him of being insensitive; instead, make him see all the other things you have and will always have.
- Don’t use words like ‘I never want a baby. Trust me nobody can predict forever. Just say ‘I’m not ready right now but I’m willing to see your points and discuss it, provided you try and see my side of the story too.’
- Use the argument of ‘being a mother is important’ in your favour and explain to your family that being a mother you would be the most important person in the baby’s life, and if your heart won’t be in it, won’t the baby suffer? And if somebody responds by saying ‘oh, you’ll grow into it’ say ‘I don’t want to grow into it, I want to have my heart and soul into my baby from the moment I conceive, I want to give him/her all, no concessions, no compromises!’
- Don’t get frustrated while having these discussions or push too hard. Remember, the way it’s difficult for you to understand why they can’t understand a simple thing like you not being ready yet, they too, can’t understand why you wouldn’t want something so obvious right away. It’s just a matter of difference of opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The way you don’t like them wanting to change yours, they too don’t like you wanting to change theirs.
The decision to have a baby is definitely a big one, but so was choosing a college, opting for a career, your first interview, and even getting married. You did it all, didn’t you? So have faith in yourself, you can do this too. Whatever you choose, just stand by it, because if you appear unsure, then you can’t blame others for trying to sway you, right? Oh and by the way, if you end up changing your mind, don’t be embarrassed to accept it, embrace it; it’s your privilege and prerogative girl!