Last week, I posted a survey for my mom and dad friends wherein I asked them about the nitty-gritty of childbirth and childbearing. As a woman in early 30s, marriage and kid stuff has been on my mind lately. Not because I’m itching for either, but because I’m at the age where I have to think about it. No more goofing around in my twenties; the future is here, and I gotta figure out what it holds. As an only child of divorce, marriage and kids aren’t really my bag. Since I was a little girl, I related more towards the slightly depressed, child-less artist type, but as I’ve gotten older, this affection has softened. I do not have baby fever, but the prospect of not extending a branch of my family tree makes me sad. Plus, my partner and I are weird enough that I think our kid would be an awesome little weirdo.
I was thrilled with the responses I received from the survey. Fifty-six moms and dads answered, and many more left thoughtful, insightful and interesting comments on my blog post and social media pages.
Did the survey help push me off the fence one way or another? Not really, but I already knew that this survey wasn’t a Magic 8 Ball. As many moms and dads said in the comments: “Don’t let society tell you what to do. Do what you want to do.” However, the survey did alleviate and magnify a few of my fears and concerns, particularly when it comes to anxiety and post-baby marital challenges.
Here are the results.
Question 1: Was pushing a baby out of your vajay-jay as terrifying as it sounds?
Results: It was refreshing to see that the majority of mothers, 63%, were ok with the pain. Even four respondents said that they’ve had more painful bowel movements. However, 27% thought that an alien baby was clawing its way out of their uterus. Since my survey was very superficial in its questions, this didn’t allow for moms who didn’t use painkillers to explain. A few moms left comments saying that they did a natural birth without an epidural.
H. wrote in the comments below: “…delivering with no pain meds SUCKS (epidurals are expensive and scary to me and I’m a little bit of a control freak), once a physical pain is over, you don’t feel it anymore and it’s hard to remember, unlike emotional pain which can feel like it lasts forever sometimes.”
I. wrote in the comments below: “…i knew when to push just like i know when to sneeze. breathing on the other hand relieves the muscles and more you breathe, more ‘relaxed’ your muscles are, less pain. and for the record – i didn’t not get any medication – i am terrified of even thinking about epidural and my delivery went on too fast, so they ‘missed’ all the moments of giving me medications, so at the end i was on the laughing gas, which does not serves its name.”
Question #2: Was the first year of your child’s life difficult for you?
Results: It was comforting to see that the majority of moms, 64%, said they got the hang of the emotional and physical challenges in the first year, but one-fourth of women said that the first year felt like being a hangry-period monster.
K. said in the comments: “I had a son at age 39, and it was hard. I had really, really bad morning sickness that lasted all day, I had gestational diabetes, and I had postpartum anxiety that was terrifying. I had a corporate job I loved and used to travel internationally, and I started to hate it when my son was born. BUT having my son is, hands down, no question, the BEST thing that has ever happened to me. He is the coolest kid and watching him grow up is a miracle. The first year is hard. Like, really hard. But if you are honest and open and have a good support network, you will get through it.”
Question #3: Did you become more anxious after your child was born?
Results: This is a big concern for me. I’ve tangoed with anxiety off and on for most of my life, and I’m terrified that I will become a crazyfreak if I have a child. I will not sleep or eat, and I’ll constantly be wondering if they’re sticking a fork in their eye. One-third of moms said they felt like this in the beginning. However, the majority of moms and dads, 50%, said that they could handle the anxiety.
Question #4: Did having a child affect your marriage?
Results: These results kind of bummed me out. Another large concern I have is disconnecting with my partner after the child is born. Though 61% of respondents said they got closer to their spouse, they enjoyed less sexy time, and 21% of parents said that they bicker a lot now. To the 17% of you that got closer to your spouse AND still enjoy sexy time, God bless you.
Question #5: Do you feel that having a child has changed who you are?
Results: The results of this question were very encouraging. Ninety-five percent of respondents said that having kids changed them for the better or made a great addition to their life. No joke: My heart goes out to the three respondents who said they feel lost since having a kid. I know it must be tough.
N. said in the comments: “I always wanted kids and stopped after one because I just didn’t think I could live through the whole infant stage again. I love to sleep, travel and be out of the house, and I wasn’t prepared to quit my job and live a much more home-bound life than I was used to. Nine years later, and I think I’m still finding myself again, but thank goodness I can at least sleep in.I’m definitely happy with the way things are, and having an older kid definitely rocks. Some parents are really good at the taking-their-kid-everywhere, starting when the baby is super little, but I just wasn’t able to pull that off.”
Question #6: Do you miss your life pre-child(ren)?
Results: The majority of moms and dads, 67%, said that they’re able to find a good balance between pre and post-baby lives. Hallelujah.
K. said in the comments: “…However, from the beginning, I have been sure to make time for myself and my hobbies/well being. I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom (even though I applaud the moms that are.) While children…especially the first years…can change your life and be nearly all consuming, you can keep your identity. Promise.”
Question #7: Do you regret having a child(ren)?
Results: The results to this one were fascinating. It was neck-to-neck with parents saying that they had no regrets and parents who had regrets in the beginning. Five respondents said that they regret having kids. I just want to say that I appreciate the honesty people showed in this question. I know parents often feel as though they can’t express the challenges, concerns or regrets of being a parent. I know that being a parent isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
L. said on Facebook: “Making the decision to have a child was probably the scariest thing ever. Sometimes you’re all “WTH was I thinking?” But then they so quickly become such a part of you that you don’t know life without them.”
Question #8: Do you get a good night’s sleep now that you have kids?
Results: Ok. You may think I’m a big wiener, but lack of sleep is a big concern for me. I can’t function on anything less than six hours, and I really prefer seven to nine hours. If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I’m a cranky and unproductive bastard. I don’t want to be a cranky mom and an unproductive worker. It’s comforting to know that the majority of people learned to deal with less sleep, while the second majority said that they get enough to survive. Only four respondents said that they are sleepless beasts.
T. said in the comments: “It’s a weird thing. It was ridiculously hard at first, and I had massive trouble getting over the lack of sleep. My wife was convinced we were going to get a divorce the first night with the baby. Although we moved through that and now I do all night-time child care. So it’s hard, and you’ll fail, but hopefully adapt and get better.”
K. said in the comments: “I miss sleep, but its not like I don’t get any. I could sleep 8+ hours a night, but with everything going on – chores, fun activities, or the gym – I usually get 6 or so. My husband and I swap days on the weekend of sleeping in. And he lets me nap when I want on the weekends.”
Question #9: What do you think is the best age to have a kid(s)?
Results: This one was very interesting and indicative of our times. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that your 30s are the best time to have kids, while only 13% said your 20s are the best. Zero respondents selected your 40s. Can you imagine what the answers would have been 50+ years ago?
Question #10: Do you think I should have kids?
Results: An overwhelming number, 80%, said I definitely should have kids, while 20%, or 10 respondents, said I should not. I’m not sure if they think having kids is a bad choice or that ME having kids is a bad choice. Thank you to those who have faith in me.
Shelley said in the comments: “…I will also say that if having kids is not way up on your “list of priorities” then don’t. EVEN if it’s way up there it is so so hard and changes your life forever. Yes in many good ways too but bottom line: unless you are absolutely compelled in a way you can’t ignore, don’t do it. It’s not a life goal, “Well it’s snore haven’t done that yet, let’s try it” to be ticked off by a certain age.”
I stand by my original comment – if you aren’t absolutely compelled to have kids in a way you can’t ignore, don’t do it! Although I’m very upset that I had a typo in my comments (snore when I meant something). Bummer, problem with doing it on mobile and not double checking. These results are fascinating, thanks for posting. Obviously the simple “yes” or “no” on having kids is pretty simplistic, and most of us who have kids wouldn’t necessarily undo it – I mean, once the actual person is here, they are a person in your life that you can’t imagine your life without. That said, not the actual person but just the LIFE with children in it – I would be lying if I said it wasn’t rough, and that many times I wish I’d stayed childless. If you aren’t just dying to reproduce, I still say, don’t. It’s hard enough when it’s an overwhelming desire.
I wholeheartedly agree with this. I didn’t comment on the first post, but I had meant to…
I never really wanted kids, but it was nothing I had ever really ruled out either. I always thought, “when the time is right…” Well, I ended up with an “oops” baby, and while I love her more than anything, and while I feel like she has grounded me (and I mean that in both negative and positive ways), I honestly don’t know if I ever would go back and choose to have a child knowing what I know now (and truth be told, part of what I mean is that I don’t know if I would ever go back and have a child with her father again). It was hard. The pregnancy and the delivery were cake compared to what came after. But, I lacked a solid support system, I lacked family to help out, and I lacked a partner who was capable of helping out (ahem, willing to). But if that’s not YOUR situation, then I certainly can’t advise you one way or the other. I will tell you, however, before you make a decision, REALLY talk about it, and I don’t mean talk about whether you want to have a kid or not. Talk about who will get up in the middle of the night, who will change the diapers, who will feed the child, who will stay home from work when the baby is sick, will you even work? Who rocks the baby for hours on end when she won’t stop crying, who schedules the doctor’s appointments, who makes dinner every night, and lunches and breakfast, who does the extra laundry, and who does bathtime, and who does bedtime, and arranges for the babysitter? And if you don’t know the answers to these questions, figure them out before you have a child, because if you don’t, the conflicts that arise later on when these things come up, CAN damage your relationship (and if you end up being the one who does all of these things, take it from me, it can wreck your relationship, and sexy time isn’t even on the table anymore). Having a child was the best thing that has ever happened to me, and blah, blah, blah. But seriously, I love my daughter, and I wouldn’t give her up for the world. She IS the best thing that has happened to me (even if having a child wasn’t the best thing to happen to my relationship or my lifestyle). But fair warning, if you’re not sure, if you have doubts, those fears and doubts CAN haunt you later on, but not necessarily. And with that, I will end my pessimistic, bitter rant and wish you, good luck.
I loved this. This makes me feel better about not wanting to have kids, but also makes me feel better about the idea of having kids in the future.
Thank you so much for doing this. As a 29 year old dropping everything and moving to Austin with my boyfriend, I’m wondering how we’re going to pull this “real life” thing off. Seeing here that our more familiar lives and “real life” can coexist is reassuring.
[…] Having children is personal and unique to all of us, and no one can tell you whether it’s right for you. However, the survey did inform me with anonymous information on the sleeping habits, sex lives and anxiety levels of many parents, which proved to be both fascinating and terrifying. You can read the results to that survey here. […]
[…] was terrific, and I slightly surpassed- 63-60- the amount of responders for my first poll, “Should I have children? A survey for moms and dads.” If you haven’t read the initial survey, I recommend reading […]