Will I regret not having kids?

tklnJanuary 20, 2006

I have thought long and hard about posting this here, because I know there are many folks who will be very passionate about this subject, and I really don't want to start a war of sorts. But I'm looking for advice, on any end of the spectrum...

I am 33, and will be getting married next May. SO is 40. We pretty much have always agreed to not have kids...while in theory we thought it would be 'great', we love our lifestyle and did not want to change anything. SO is a photojournalist, and therefore travels quite a bit. We also travel together a lot as well...we love going away and have spent quite a bit of time seeing other parts of the world.

We have a dog, whom we adore and treat like our child, and there are many times when he prevents us from doing things we would like - ie, going away for longer periods of time, spending a long weekend away and not worrying, etc. He's fairly large, so it's hard to rely on my mom to watch him for short periods of time (he does go to a kennel for longer trips, but it's expensive and traumatic for him). We feel that this gives us a little taste of what it would be like to have kids (well, at least the inconveniences and changes in some of our lifestyle).

We do like kids - SO has four nieces and nephews and I have two...we enjoy spending time with them, so it's not a 'we hate kids' sort of thing. I love my job, but I am not totally engrossed in my career. But we really enjoy being able to pick up and go, and I guess that's really hard to do with kids.

I also have issues with bringing kids into this crazy world of ours - a part of it is my paranoid personality, but a part of it is also rational, I feel - between kids killing other kids in schools, and terrorists bombing innocent people, and our environment slowly dying due to our own stupidity, etc....

So my question is this - will I regret not having kids in 20 years?? I know I won't regret it right now, and I certainly do not want to have children just for the sake of having them. I know there are many sacrifices to make, but of course you get wonderful things in return...I also am aware of the huge financial change in having kids, and am worried about that as well.

Just curious to hear your thoughts...thanks! Lucy

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Personally, I would have regretted not having kids. I adore mine. And I've never really enjoyed other people's, so it's not a "kid" thing persay. Your post indicates that you've thought this through pretty well. You have many good points for not having kids, the one I agree with most is this crazy world. I have often wondered if I've done my kids a disservice by bringing them into it, but I'm so thankful they're here.

It sounds like a baby/toddler would impede your lifestyle. Have you thought about fostering or adopting an older child, maybe in the 6-10 year range? That age makes it easier to get up and go, and if they go to public schools, the costs aren't that crazy. It's just extra food, insurance and clothing, basically. I mean, of course there are extras, but we, at least, have always found a way to pay for both what our kids need, and generally what they want, within reason. We have and continue to make other sacrifices, however. We don't eat out a lot, maybe once every other two months with the kids, and maybe twice a year without. But I generally like the food I cook at home better anyway.

Anyway, the fostering/adopting option would solve three of your dilemmas - not bringing more kids into this world, not being held up by a younger, more needy, child, and having the reward (hopefully) of a kid that loves you in 20 years :-)

Good luck, this is a tough one.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 9:30AM
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I would have regretted it, and I had no idea how much I would love having kids until after it happened. Thats me. But I also know other people who decided not to have kids who have absolutely no regrets. On the other hand, I donÂt know anyone who had children, accidentally or on purpose, who later regretted it. Kids certainly change your lifestyle, and things slow down for a while. We love to travel. Both of my daughters traveled overseas before they were three. They have passports and frequent flyer accounts. Traveling is not the same, but I wouldnÂt call it worse, only different.

But kids also change you, and your priorities. Things that are so important to you now might not matter so much if you have children. ThatÂs one of the reasons this is such a complicated and personal issue.

I know that getting married makes you start wondering about the next conventional step. And certainly, everyoneÂs going to start asking you and you SO about your plans at the wedding, if not before. You donÂt have to make up your mind right now. Get married, take a year or so, and then see where you and your husband want life to take you. If youÂre having serious doubts about remaining childless, talk it over with your SO.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 10:02AM
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I think proudmama has wonderful advice. Since you don't want kids at this moment in your life, perhaps later when/if your life settles down and if you have any regrets you can always adopt. There are so many children out there that need a good loving home, that would totally change the direction of their life.
Personally I would have regretted not having children (I have 3) but I've always wanted children, from the time I was very little I wanted a large family; first I wanted 12 kids, then as I got older 6, would have loved to have had at least 4 but DH was done, and I'm happy with my 3. I think you know yourself pretty well. For me having kids was an absolute not a maybe.

OTOH I have a friend who, like you, never wanted children and now that she's 47 she thoroughly regrets her decision. She said she was into her career, traveling and loved having the lifestlye free of kids, but as she's getting older she said she realizes, for her, it was a huge mistake.

But then I've also met people in their 60's, no kids, no regrets.

So really, I guess there's no way of knowing. Helpful answer!! LOL

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 10:04AM
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Hi Lucy,

I'm going to give you some of my thoughts. Please take them as just that, MY thoughts about MY life and MY kids. I'm posting this on the assumption that it might help you to hear a variety of perspectives and personal stories. I'm certainly not denigrating the choices others have made, nor am I making any kind of judgment about what you should do, because no one can tell you that, and of course you know that. :-)

I have a son who is almost 19 (away at college) and a daughter almost 15. I had my first child when I was 27. I love them like you wouldn't believe. And yet, now that they're older, my husband and I are really enjoying rediscovering some of the freedom we had pre-children.

When they were very young, we did take them out to restaurants quite a bit, and traveled with them too. But there were of course many places that we couldn't or wouldn't take children. As they got to be school age, we felt comfortable taking them more places (we traveled to Africa when they were 4 and 8) but had to plan travel around school vacations. Then when he was in his mid teens, our son decided he didn't WANT to go anywhere with us (a perfectly normal developmental phase), but he was still too young to stay by himself, so we could either stay home, find someone for him to stay with, or force him to go and be miserable. (OTOH, our daughter loves to travel and wants to go somewhere, even with US, every school vacation.) My point, though, is that, no matter what their ages, with kids it is difficult to "pick up and go."

To be honest, my husband and I find ourselves feeling glad that we had our children young enough to still feel young ourselves, with plenty of energy for adventure, once they are out of the house.

My son is a wonderful, intense, introverted, mercurial, explosive, brilliant, slow-to-adapt kid who has always required a lot of physical and emotional energy to care for. Once when he was two, and I was feeling overwhelmed by parenting as I often did (and do), my new boss asked me if I had just the one child. I said "Yes, I don't know what I'd do if I had more than one!" and he said "Well, you'd take care of them too." Now I didn't really get along very well with this man, but this was one of the wisest things anyone ever said to me. It's so true -- your capacity to love and care for children is just there. You do what you have to do, emotionally, physically, and financially.

My daughter, on the other hand, is a terrific, bright, lively, sensitive, kind, adaptable, active, happy-go-lucky, and very bossy kid who also has required a tremendous amount of energy to parent, although in a completely different way from my son. It amazes me how different they are. You just don't know what kind of kid you're going to get. Some of it depends, of course, on parenting style, but some of it, I'm convinced, is just just plain random. So it's likely that ten people will give you ten different stories about their parenting experience. Yours, if you choose to have kids, will be an eleventh.

OK, I see that I'm rambling. I could say a lot more but I have to go to work ("Thank goodness," youre thinking!)

Don't worry, you'll make the decision that's right for you.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:03AM
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Just the fact that you are asking this question, means to me that you are undecided about whether you want kids. You can't make your decision based on the fact that other people are happy with their kids; or that other people are glad they didn't have kids. And even more scary, it is impossible for you to know how you will feel in 3, 5, 10 or 20 years about whether your decision was correct. You have got to look into your heart and be honest with yourself.

Here is the only thing that I am absolutely sure of....if you have even the slightest doubt about remaining childless, you must discuss this with your SO *before* marriage. This is something you both have to agree on. Instead of making a definite decision, it might be wise to just agree that this is how you both feel now, but leave the door open to changing your minds in the future. And if you SO is absolutely convinced he doesn't want kids ever, and you kind of think you might, you really need to talk about your feelings and come to some kind of resolution before you tie the knot!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:11AM
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Raising children is a lot like a rock tumbler, it's a bumpy ride but most people find parenthood worth the work because they are better people as a result. Plus, they have beautiful children they've created that are a miracle. Before I had children I was fairly self-absorbed and very little in life challenged me to grow in meaningful ways, ways that increased my capacity to love and accept others. My children have made me a far better woman. They are astonishing in their emotional depth, capacity to learn, and willness to love their imperfect parents. Yes, sometimes children feel like a ball and chain, but nothing compares to the profound joy and contentment that being a mother has provided.

And I would have to say that my husband is a better man as well for the same reasons, being a father demands that he set aside his own interests and take care of people who depend on him. That is a very good thing. I have cherished seeing the man I married grow into a loving, stable father. Fatherhood has worn away a lot of the rough edges my husband brought into our marriage. Moreover, I could not have imagined that the two of us were capable of so much those distant 17 years ago when we were married.

Sometimes it feels like these good qualitites that being a parent requires are being carved in you, it's painful at times to provide loving care for a child when your exhausted, sick, or dealing with intense stress. Very difficult, but worth it one thousand-fold. Even a disabled child is a gift. The euphoria of holding your own newborn in your arms is beyond words. Seeing your children grow into capable, talented adults will take your breath away.

I had my seventh child at the age of forty-two. Don't worry about your age, you're still young!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:27AM
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Several observations of the personal kind... Use them if they are helpful...

I got married at 39, DH was 33. I had always wanted kids, but didn't want them alone. In my early 30's I was diagnosed with some issues that would impact my fertility... contributing to the lack thereof. I made a decision NOT to do anything about it at the time. I was single, and not looking to have kids. So between aging by myself, and the health stuff, I got over the baby-snatching urge I had in my 20's and learned to really appreciate my life, and other people's children. Then I met my now DH. I was still open to kids. He has never wanted kids. Was very adamant we would never have them. So, he knows that if I "did" get pregnant I would carry to term, as abortion is not an option for me, but I was ok with his not wanting kids. I did tell him, though, that if he was going to change his mind, he should do it soon, because I didn't want to be retired when my kids were in high school (his Dad was, and they often dealt with the Grandfather confusion). I'm tired now! How tired am I going to be in 20 years?

DH's brother got married at 33. Like DH, never wanted kids. He and his DW agreed. Then, in their 40's as they had built a strong and loving relationship with the daughter of a friend who had adopted from China. He decided He wanted to adopt from China too. And convinced her. So at 43/44 they became new parents. At 50 they have an active elementary school student.

Another set of friends married in their late 20s. They agreed that neither wanted kids. He changed his mind in his late 30's. She did not. This could have torn them apart, but he didn't let it. He acknowledged the agreement, and was content to make his wife and that relationship the priority and not have kids.

So, the posters above all have wise advice. There is no way to know if you will regret it, but if you think you might, you need to know if this will ever be negotiable in the future.

My brother and his wife married in their 20s, with the intent to start a family later. Now in their 30s she has had several miscarraiges, and it is tearing her apart. They are exploring fertility treatments as well as adoption.

Other brother would never adopt. I'm not sure why. They have one child and can't have any more, but for whatever reasons adoption's just not an option for them.

So, Jerzeegirl is right. Talk about all these potentials in the future. If you changed your mind, would SO be open to it, or to the discussion at least. Would either of you have any issues with adoption? what would they be? As Jerzee says, you can't know how you will feel in the future. (although I do have 2 friends, convinced they would never want kids who've had tubal ligations, and don't regret them).

good luck with your decision.

OBTW, we just celebrated our 5th anniversary, still childless (unless you count DH), likely to remain so, and quite happy. I do not regret what I have never known.

I also think, though, that if I'd married earlier and had kids, I wouldn't really regret that, either. I have learned that you need to find the things that make you content in the reality of your situation.

Good Luck. And congratulations on the pending nuptials.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:43AM
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I think you should have kids if you really want them. There's no question that having kids DRASTICALLY changes your life. Permanently. So don't have kids for any reason except that you really want them.

I never passionately wanted kids but after I had them, I could not relive my life without them. However, if I'd never had them, I wouldn't know that! So I could have easily lived my life without kids and been ok with that. And I know couples who don't have kids and are happy that way.

The question of how you'll feel in 20 years is really not at issue here. Because you might have kids or not have kids -- and in 20 years you could regret your decision based on what happened in those 20 years EITHER WAY.

So, you have to make your decisions on what's going on in your life right now. PLUS, you have to take into consideration what you and your SO have agreed to. You may be having second thoughts - but is he? I would discuss this with him before the wedding - because a disagreement in this area can easily sour any relationship -- especially if something has been agreed to in advance, and one party changes their mind.

To address your issue regarding the dilemma of bringing kids into this crazy world, I've never agreed with that argument and find it to be a rationalization. You could just as easily say that the child you have might be the one to find a cure for cancer or solve some other world crisis for example. Or even to solve a minor crisis. The condition of the world, IMHO, neither justifies nor precludes more children being born. It only changes the way we should raise them.

OK, I wanted to write what I thought before reading the other responses.

I dont know anyone who had children, accidentally or on purpose, who later regretted it.
I just have to comment on this. I don't personally know anyone in that situation either, but certainly there are lots of people who did regret having kids. You can't ignore child abuse, kids who abuse their parents, single parents after a divorce, etc. Not every family is the "ideal", and having kids is simply not to be taken lightly.

Here is the only thing that I am absolutely sure of....if you have even the slightest doubt about remaining childless, you must discuss this with your SO *before* marriage. This is something you both have to agree on. ..... And if you SO is absolutely convinced he doesn't want kids ever, and you kind of think you might, you really need to talk about your feelings and come to some kind of resolution before you tie the knot!
This is basically what I meant to say above and I couldn't agree more. This issue must be discussed before getting married -- because if he's dead set against it and you change your mind and want kids, it's going to be a major source of conflict.

My best advice is to make the decision along with your SO, then don't look back. As has been pointed out above, if you reach a certain age and wish for kids, there are a lot of kids in the world who need love, through adoption or foster parenting, etc. But having them now, just so you won't regret it later, is not the best answer.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:54AM
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Thanks everyone for the great advice...SO is not totally dead set against having kids, we actually just discussed it the other day (his brother's wife just annouced her pregnancy so that's why the subject is out and about) and we decided that it's something we will have to really think long and hard about and come to a decision together. And adoption is something we've both thought about as well...

It's funny because we both have thought that if we were involved with other people, having kids might be more of a priority, but because of our relationship and our lifestyle, it doesn't seem like it's that important.

I also agree that I stil have time! Cup - the SEVENTH at 42! How the heck do you have the energy for that?? I guess it's true - when energy is required, it is found!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 12:08PM
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As one of the few CBC (childfree by choice) people who frequent this forum, I guess I'll chime in with my opinion and my story.

I married my high school sweetheart when I was 24, and by the time I was 28 or so I started to think about having kids. (I come from a large family of uneducated women who chose to have kids instead of "careers.") Eventually the marriage started to go downhill, and I realized that if I did have kids, I'd eventually end up a single parent. Having seen my mother, sisters, and friends go down this same path, I kept on preventing pregnancy. Thank goodness I did--we divorced when I was 32. Absolutely NO regrets about not having his children.

Not long after, I met my current husband. Being 9 years younger than I, still in college, and looking forward to his career, he did not want to have children. We married 3 years after we met, and because he was in the thick of his career, we agreed that it still wasn't the "right time" to start a family.

Meanwhile, I developed some "female" problems and I was faced with deciding whether to have a hysterectomy. (I was 39, so still of childbearing age.) We again talked about having kids and decided that we liked our life the way it was. We agreed that if we wanted kids later in life, we would adopt.

Fast forward to now. I'm nearly 48, DH is almost 39. We live in our "dream" home and are able to go where we want when we choose. We can eat potato chips and ice cream for dinner if we want. Because we didn't have kids, I was able to go to college and get a degree, something no female in my family had ever done.

Over the 15 years we've been together, we've realized that altho we would have made excellent parents, we're very happy we chose to remain childfree. We have two cats, a dog, and four chickens to take care of. And yes, the dog is like our child. We just spent $4000 on surgery for her, and during her recovery we realized how difficult it must be to have a sick child. No thanks!

So my advice to you is this. First, really really really talk to your SO about this. Chances are he hasn't given it another thought. He's already agreed to not have kids, and with no ticking clock, it's not something most men think about. Second, don't let others "pressure" you into starting a family. Yes, they will ask if you are going to have kids, especially once you get married. For lots of people, that's the main reason they get married.

Third, if you do decide to have kids, don't worry about the whole "bringing kids into this world" thing. You will never be able to control the actions of others, whether it's bullies at school, terrorists, or slash and burn farmers. To not have kids for this reason is just plain silly, in my opinion.

Fourth, think long and hard about the worst case scenario. What if you have a child with special needs? What if you and your husband split up? Would you want to raise a child alone? Will your husband feel like he can't travel if you have kids? How will that affect his career?

Lucy, please realize that this is all just my opinion and my experience. I don't mean to "stir the pot," but I do like to play devil's advocate. But in the end, this is a very personal decision that you (and your mate) need to make for yourselves, regardless of other people's ideas.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 12:09PM
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I have three sisters and I'm the only one with children. The others just never wanted kids and they married men who didn't want children. Only one sister regretted it, but since her husband is older and had his kids and grandkids, he was not going through that again. They adopted a niece whose parents are divorced and unable to take care of their child. She went to them at age 15 and it's working out fine...but she'll be off to college in a couple years and though they love her, they CAN'T WAIT to have some freedom.

Some folks are not cut out to be parents, and that's okay. Only you can decide this though with your SO.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 12:10PM
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Kathy - thanks so much for your opinion - it means a lot!

Actually, we have been very lucky because we told everyone that we weren't planning on having kids a long time ago, so very few people bother us about it anymore...I told my mom that Jake is her grandchild (um, her 135 pound grand-dog) and he even responds to 'grandma'. :-)

Has anyone found that their relationship with their DH/DW changed once they had kids?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 12:20PM
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Okay, I haven't read any of the above posts yet cause I'm really rushed. But I have to say that obviously this is a very personal choice. BUT, the very fact that you are even asking this question suggests to me that you may regret it. The friends I have who have CHOSEN not to have children have no regrets. At least none that they have expressed to me. However, they truly never wanted children for many reasons, so I suppose there is nothing to regret. Those who wanted them and couldn't have them, obviously harbor some regret, but they are very happy people with wonderful lives as well.

I also just wanted to say that I can understand what you mean about bringing children into this scary world. But I disagree, I prefer to think that my son could be/will be/may be one of those people who make the world better than it is now.

Best wishes to you, I know this is difficult.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 12:28PM
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lnersian, I have a busy schedule today and absolutely don't have time to post. However, my heart was just thumped and scared for my most difficult child, who is an adult. She is a teller and was just robbed a little bit ago at her bank. She called to let me know she was OK in case I heard it on the news. She implied someone was not OK from her branch but could not tell me more since the police were there.
I was one of 'those' young women that got pregnant shortly after high school. I didn't 'want' to get pregnant, but I was facing a hysterectomy and decided to go ahead an marry the Man du Jour, whom I divorced after eight years. So, I became a mother reluctantly. I *never* wanted to be pregnant again. I hated it from start to finish. The neatest part about being pregnant is telling people. They get so excited. The BEST part of being pregnant is getting the baby out. Sorry, ladies that love being pregnant: I didn't. I was hospitalized for retching and vomiting so many times. I threw up from soup to nuts the entire time. I hated it. Got it?

Well, five and a half years later after #1, came #2. I was 26 at the time and BEGGED the OB to cut, tie, clip, cauterize and drop any remaining tubing down the grinder. THAT is how sick I was. I wanted to make sure I never got pregnant again.

I cannot tell you how I envied women that glowed and loved being pregnant and their husbands showered them with attention. It was like I was robbed of everything beautiful during that time. To add insult to it all, my cervix did not dilate and I had to have emergency C-section for #1, and then scheduled the C-section for #2. Later having all kinds of repair surgery from both pregnancy's a year later. Not so good.

I was also married to a jerk, which did not help matters or me. We divorced. End of story. Life #2 happened.

I married a man that had no children or had never married. Truth be told, he was probably the 30 year old virgin. I kid you not. He is precious! Well, he is most of the time...just don't mention cabinets. =] DH and I met on a blind date and married in eleven weeks. I told him: NO MORE pregnancies. He was fine with it and adopted my two bio-children as his after we had been married a year. They were 9 and 4 when we married.

Then, along came a gift. My brother, then 28, had an 18 year old girl friend giving birth and they were putting the baby up for adoption. God worked out every single detail and we adopted this beautiful baby boy. DS is now 14.

Then, when youngest son was 6, we moved overseas to Korea. We visited some orphanages regularly. Over time, three little girls, then 3 & 4 years old, we knew would fit our family. Through perserverance, one was relinquished for adoption, which was finalized when she was 6 years old. There are 14 months difference between our youngest daughter and brother.

I will say this: I have always loved being around children (that minded/obeyed their parents). =) I get irritated when parents let their children run wild and don't correct them, or let them sass. I've always been this way. I once had a client say when she found out we were adopting the first time, "I can't believe she's adopting. She HATES children." Uh, no, I do not. I hated that she let her six children run all over the salon.

Which brings me to another factor. Your "think" factor: If you think you will hate being a mother, then you most likely will. As it's been pointed out to me in another post, as you think, so goes your attitude and then actions. However, if you "think" you'll love motherhood, you've got a running start to winning the battles that will come. If your children aren't warriors, sometimes in laws or grand parents can be. Know thy in-laws well.

I've been a hairdresser for my entire adult life. Working full time for 20+ years. I've seen it all. I mean it. Adoption, infertility, divorces, cheaters, in vitro, foster care, etc. I have a story for almost every scenario. The one that stands out as the biggest warning sign is a mother that had a then 4 1/2 year old son. This was going to be her only child. The boy was coddled out the ying-yang. Her husband was a BIG SHOT lawyer that was senior partner. She was at "The Club" sitting around the pool while her "little one" had swimming lessons. As she was sunning, he popped out of the pool for a drink and ran over to his mother, snatched her breast and squatted and started suckling. SHE HAD NOT WEANED THIS CHILD! If I wasn't sitting there with my own eyes, I would have thought this a lie to hear it. He finished and she giggled. She thought he was SO cute. Oh, yes. The boy was as cute as they come. Little blonde, one length bowl cut wonder of a boy. He was also a terror. I cut his hair. I hated the cut and you know what? When he ran off and the mother asked me if I thought he was the cutest thing? I answered. It was the most "hit her in the eye with the truth" response that she probably ever received from anyone. I told her exactly that, too, "I'm going to hit you smack in the middle of your forehead with the truth and I want you to listen well." I proceeded to tell her that I did not want to gossip, but I have heard about "this" for years and didn't believe it. EVERYONE talks about her and that boy is getting old enough that someone very well might report her to DCS. Her boy was going to pre=kindergarten and she didn't see any need to quit breast feeding. I flat out told her that for him to come running over and jerk off her top and grab her breast sort of rough like that while he patted her other breast looked sick. It was not cute and she should seriously consider consulting a physician for his take on it. She had a comment that in other countries it is acceptable. Then I told her she should move because the wrong person is going to turn her in to someone that is going to 'see' exactly what I see. She asked what I saw. I told her that I saw that she seemed to get some kind of pleasure at this public display and it isn't funny. She came across as an exhibitionist and there are many witnesses. She laughed and joked about this the entire time. She showed no modesty or taste. Since she was inclined to be on display, I was inclined to address it. I also told her I expected her to probably not come back (to get her hair done), but I wanted her to know that 'everyone' talks about her, and I kid you not, they did. I let her know I support breastfeeding, but not what I was watching take place today. She couldn't have stopped that boy if she tried he was so rough and forceful. The mother giggled the ENTIRE Time like some sickness had come over her. And NO, she WAS NOT EMBARRASSED! I hate this kind of 'mother'. Her son was always rude, hateful, and she could not control him at all. I wonder why that is so? On the surface, you could say, spoiled child. However, the mother was the sick one. There was more going on there that met the eye. And, the mother knew people talked about her. She wore this as some kind of badge of pride or mantle. She did not appear hurt or back down in the least. She *acted* weird, and embolden about the display, in my opinion.

FWIW: After that incident, I was more in tune to how other parents approached the subject with that mother. I learned that others had addressed the issues with her, too. She was oblivious. I personally know someone turned her into DCS after a couple of months when I saw it happen again. She was in the mall trying to keep his hands from under her shirt, but he continued to grab her breast. My friend had enough of it and turned her in. I later heard her family was in counseling. And no, I did not do her hair again for many years. When her son was about 13 or 14, she came back to me before I moved away. She was changed inside and out. Amazing what had happened to her heart.

So, not to incite flames from parents that breast fed their children: I support breast feeding. However, there is a time to stop.

I do not support people that parent for what they can get from a child. I would hope that it's the other way around going into parenting: that the parents believe they can enrich a child's life. In return, you are enriched beyond compare.

Love children. Don't use them for personal gain.

You'll make the right decision. Sometimes, if you're open to what He brings your way, a family will be built even without pregnancy.

My family now:

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 1:52PM
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Wow, you've gotten some very good answers here.

I can give you my perspective on the question of the relationship with DH changing. My first child was born 35 years ago, ten months after his father and I were married. Then we had two more, two and a half years apart, so we really didn't have time to find out what our relationship might have been like without kids. As others have mentioned, I loved (and still love) those children with a love that is like no other, and which I never expected. If I hadn't had them, I wouldn't even have known about it.

That husband traveled frequently for his work, leaving me at home with the children. In twenty years, we went on one family vacation, and that was to a resort that was hosting his work-related conference, so we barely saw him all week. Occasionally but not often, he and I went away for a weekend. Not traveling is absolutely the main thing I missed during all those years. In other words, I didn't get to go, boo hoo! Because travel is important to you, I think you should seriously keep in mind the possibility that you would get stuck at home with the kids.

Now I'm married to a man with two teenage daughters who spend half the time - every other week - with us. Though I love them dearly and enjoy them when they're here, my husband and I do have a very different relationship when they're not: freedom to do what we want, when we want - a great deal more spontaneity. And we travel all the time, with no worries about the kids' school schedule, etc., because they stay with their mom when we're gone. We do the same for her when she's out of town.

Another thing I've noticed - how can I say this? - is that some couples put way more energy into their kids' lives, schedules, and activities than into their own. This is great in some ways, especially when the children are small, and I'm *not criticizing.* But I see couples barely speaking to each other except about the kids. This is not a good thing for the marriage. Having my stepdaughters here only half the time clearly emphasizes the difference in our relationship with vs. without the kids.

And here's another thing: My own children are all grown and done with college. But now, because my husband is younger and had kids later, we're starting all over with the tuition and all the other college expenses. College is just beginning! So consider how much it costs to raise a kid, and how old you'll be when that kid is out of school. We're just about to start making two tuition payments to expensive colleges, plus we need a new furnace and we need to get the house painted, and we're planning a trip to China in the spring. It's going to be tight for a while yet, and we're not getting any younger.

All of this might sound cold and calculating, but now, when you have no children, is the time when you're rational enough to think about all these things. It sounds like you and your SO already agree on what you want to do, and that is wonderful. I absolutely believe in and support people not having children who don't really and truly want them. More for the rest of us! There are many advantages to not having them, and once you do, you love them to death and you can't send them back! So don't make such a huge and permanent decision based on feelings that you think you might or might not have in the future - don't make any decision based on fear. This is a lifetime decision and you can't go back.

I admire your care and thoughtfulness, and wish you the best.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 1:53PM
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You and your SO should probably ask yourselves instead, "Will we regret not having a family?"

When you have children, you aren't just a "couple with kids." You are a family.

You don't have a child because you want to have a baby, or because you want to 'experience' life with a child. You have or adopt a child because you and your spouse want to have a family.

Of course you both change. Do you really want to be the same person in 25 years that you are today?

I sound preachy- sorry.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 1:57PM
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I never meant to imply that no one ever regretted having children. Certainly some people do, and the media brings us constant stories of people who werent prepared or willing to become decent parents. You are clearly not one of these people or you never would have started this post. In my middle-class American world, I dont know anyone who regretted having children. If you and your SO decide someday to become parents, I doubt you would regret it because you would make a conscious decision to have children. But thats a big if, seeing as you are leaning towards not having children at the moment. You and your SO are on the same page now, and together youll figure it out.

Parents have always wondered about bringing children into this crazy world. We worry about terrorists and school shootings. A thousand years ago, parents worried about Vikings and plagues. Its always something.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 2:20PM
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I agree with Ivette, since you are asking the question, if you don't have kids, you will probably always wonder, and possibly regret not having kids. If you have kids, you won't have time to regret anything, you'll be having way too much fun.

When my XH and I started trying (it took 2 weeks), I was neither hot nor cold on the kids issue. I didn't like other people's kids, hated babysitting. But when they put my first child in my arms, I was forever lost, fortunately, there's no going back. But who wants to. We had/have 3 kids, I have not one moment of regret. What fun, what satisfaction, and now I'm a grandmother - it's started all over again for me. He smiles when he sees me!!!

Kids are a responsibility, but certainly not an ordeal. Your life changes in ways you can never imagine, but it becomes your life, and like now, you deal with it day by day, some days are great, some are awful, and most are just regular days. Kids are easy to pack and tote, as they grow, they are even easier. They are endlessly interesting, even as teenagers (my favorite age with my kids), lots of fun, full of challenges.

My kids have turned out well, - they are not setting the world on fire, but they are not burning it down, either.

Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 2:26PM
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There is no right or wrong answer. We can only share our unique and personal experiences. If you are really on the fence about this, I would explore professional counseling.
It's important to resolve this before you marry.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 2:37PM
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Although it's entirely off topic, I just felt that it was necessary to clear up some previous statements made regarding breast feeding. Breastfeeding is an extremely important component to a child's development and well-being (and to a mother's health). We shouldn't allow biases and prudery prevent mothers from doing what they feel is best for their children.

This is from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

"Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child....

* There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.

Here is another article on Breastfeeding and the Law, which is very interesting.

This is just way too important a thing to have people's biases against breastfeeding influence any mothers-to-be who might be reading this.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 2:46PM
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Jerseegirl, since this subject is OT to the original thread, I'll forgo relating my own experiences with long-term nursing. But I want to thank you very much for supplying factual information on this subject. Most women who nurse children beyond toddlerhood are modest and discreet, and they are doing it to support their child's emotional needs, not their own. Breastfeeding is not a crime! And children DO wean themselves, easily, when they are ready.

lnersesian, I think it's very normal for people in their 20's and beyond, as they become adults and emerge from the constraints of childhood, to want the freedom to carve out an enjoyable life style without any restrictions or responsibilities holding them back. It's a time to focus on education, career, and self-development; it's self-focused, but it's not selfish. And part of this is the mindset of preventing pregnancy so you can concentrate on other aspects of your life. Even if you and your SO have been together for a long time, marriage changes things, and there's a period of adjustment. At some point, you may find that your priorities have changed and that you view having children as a way of fulfilling yourself. For some of us, it's more of a "need" than simply a rational decision. There is a feeling of longing for children, getting teary-eyed when we see someone else's baby, and feeling a strong desire to nurture a new life. You may find that you feel this way a few years down the road, or you may NEVER feel this "primal urge," and that's OK, too. What I'm saying is: discuss this with your fiance now, in advance of the wedding, and at least agree to review where you both stand in a few years. We all make huge decisions (what to do in life, who to marry, where to live, etc), and every chosen path excludes the experiences we might have had if we had chosen some other path. But all paths CAN lead to happiness and a fulfilling life. And NONE of us can know what would have happened if we had decided differently.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 4:54PM
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I just wanted to let you know, my DH and I thought about this for 12 years before our DS was born. I was 40, and my DH was 33. Our DS is now 2 1/2 years old.

I want to preface this by saying, I love DS more than words can say. I am one of those "worry-wart" moms that goes in his room in the middle of the night to make sure he's still breathing-still! He is definately the light of our lives!

BUT, it has been the hardest change in our lives, I truly think it is because we were married so long and went out to eat, movies, traveled all on the spur of the moment! No more of that, and I do have to say, I really do miss that.

Yes, it has changed DH and my relationship. The focus is on our son most of the time, and we squeeze time in for ourselves every now and then. We were blessed by many things with our DS, but sleeping was not one of them! OMG! That has been the worst thing-for 2 years he did not sleep through the night. I was up at least 2-5 times a night for 2 years! I am just now getting my wits about myself and organized a little like I was before him. I am a SAHM, and wouldn't have it any other way-he deserves that from me, but it has been the hardest thing in the world.
Not all moms feel this way, hey, some have babies that sleep all night after 2-3 months! Not fair! LOL!

I said all that to say, life has changed drastically, and of course, knowing my DS, I wouldn't have it any other way. I mean, you hear of people saying how much they love their children, and you really never know what they mean unless you do have any. But, to be honest, I would have been one of those mom's who would have been okay without children.

I am the type of person that LOVES too much, and I always knew that I would be a "doting" mom, and I have to remember that I have a wonderful DH that I want to keep forever and has to have his needs met too.

I was at the age, we had to decide to or not too. Of course, I'm glad we did.

Just wanted you to know, I know just how you are thinking and feeling. If you don't, you probably will always wonder. But, since you asked the question in the first place, you may be a little like me, and could have lived fine without children anyway, vs. the woman who always knew she wanted to have kids and has this ache in her stomach for them. I never had that ache. Go figure...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 5:06PM
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I would guess that almost everyone who makes the decision not to have children wonders if they will have regrets later. The decision is too much against social norms and conventions to not cause some doubts. It doesn't necessarily mean you are mommy material just because you ask the question.
I agree with the other posters who have said that it is a subject that you and your SO should agree to discuss now and in the future. You may want to explore it in couples therapy before the wedding - just be sure the therapist doesn't have any agendas of their own.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 6:12PM
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Here are some more of my thoughts, in no particular order.

I don't think it's true that you can't be "a family" without children. Families come in many flavors. Some people's families consist of people with whom they have no blood relationships or legal ties, but I'd still call them families nonetheless.

You asked if peoples relationships with their spouses or SOs changed. I can't believe there's anyone whose relationship WASN'T changed by having children. Some better, some worse, some just different. For us, the only thing we ever argue about is how to parent or care for the kids (little things, mostly, and infrequently, thank goodness). This does not mean I regret having the kids, and I suppose if we didn't have them we'd be arguing about something else once in while.

I think the fact that you're asking yourselves this question indicates that, if you do decide to have kids, you'd be good parents. Often it's the people who, without even thinking it over, KNOW they really want children, but for what I consider to be the wrong reasons (save a marriage, have someone to love them, it's just what everyone does, etc.) that fail miserably as parents when their kids don't turn out to be the magic bullet in their lives or don't live up to their preconceived notions of how parenting should go.

It seems that often when we're making life's Big Decisions, we approach it as if there's a right answer and a wrong answer, or at least a "better" answer and a "worse" answer. I think that in this case there may be two "good answers," in that there is potential for tremendous happiness and fulfillment, whichever path you choose. As in so many other things, we make the best decisions we can, with the information and resources we have at the time, knowing there are other roads we could travel, but believing that the one we choose will be a GOOD one, and that there's no way of knowing the BEST one, a priori. Of course we speculate about how our lives might have been different if we had made a different decision; that's natural. And this wondering may even taste a little, or a lot, like regret sometimes. But, as others have pointed out, this could happen no matter which decision you make. And having regrets about some things does not mean you have not led a meaningful, satisfying life or that you made the "wrong" decision. You and you SO sound like mature and thoughtful people who will make a decision that is right for you. ("A right decision", not "THE right decision".) My best wishes to both of you for a long and happy life together, whether or not it includes children.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 6:45PM
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My children have brought me the greatest joy I have ever known in my life. They have also given me headaches, worries, sleepless nights, and bills!

And YES, your relationship will change with your SO.
In my experience~ Number one will be your child. Hopefully, you will love your child with all your heart. Your SO will become a distant second...until your child grows up and is independent. If you are lucky, you will still be in love and find each other again.
You will never stop worrying about your child. It is a life-long committment.

But the rewards are numerous! You will relive your childhood through your child's eyes. You will see each flower and animal for the first time again. You will "kvell" (burst with pride) with each first- first steps, first words, first day at school, first soccer goal, first kiss, first graduation.

Sure you will dread noisy carpools, sleepovers, childhood illnesses, and HOMEWORK!
And someday you will get the best reward....a grandchild!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 7:05PM
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I'll take the conversation into another realm. As one of nine children (parent to 3) I have been involved with caring for my elderly parents, now deceased.

When you have this sort of involvement, and experience first hand the time-consuming minutiae of Medicare payments, ER visits, trying to understand a parent's medical history and manage the medications, interview caregivers, handle the finances, etc. you begin to wonder WHO exactly would do this when there are no children? It's all fine and dandy when one spouse is well, but if two become impaired, what good friend or sibling can take this on?

I often worry for my single sister (who lives 8 hours away) what will happen to her when she becomes old and feeble. For those of you that remain childless by choice, how are you planning to handle your end of life needs? I realize that one's own children are not obligated or perhaps even responsible enough to take on the multitude of tasks, but odds are they would step up.

Not having children will allow you to enjoy yourselves NOW, but what will happen down the road? You can really picture your carefree life as it is, but can you picture yourself at 80 trying to choose an assisted living facility, sell your house and empty it of all your memories? All the while managing your investments to insure funds for your long term care needs?

What a downer! Sorry everyone. I'd much rather think about the present. But I've seen the future and it's not pretty. And I think it would be even less pleasant with noone to help me in my old age.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 7:17PM
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Oh, olliesmom- sorry your DS didn't sleep for you. Sleep deprivation is absolutely the worst.

But I have news for you. Wait till they are in high school, when you wait up and worry. When they're in college, home on breaks, it's even worse. We don't give our young adult kids curfews because well, they're young adults. But out of courtesy, they wake us up when they come home so we won't wake up having heart attacks "OMG it's 4AM did they come home or are they drunk and dead in a ditch?" and usually want to sit on our bed and talk. Which, of course, is great. Unless the 14yo needs to be picked up at 10:30, DS comes in at midnight and DivaD1 strolls in at 2.

We got more sleep when they were infants.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 8:00PM
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A few thoughts that came up as I read through this - I think this post struck very close to home, because I'm in a similiar place in my life - thinking similiar thoughts.

I'm 33 years old, married for almost 4 years and have never really wanted children. I told my husband before we got married that I was about 95% sure I didn't want them...he's mildly interested (less so all the time) and accepting of my feelings. We also are both in agreement that if we did decide to have children we'd be open to adoption (I actually would prefer adoption to having my own biological children if I were to decide to have a child) - which does limit the decreasing fertility problem I would be facing in my later 30's, but that adoption just keeps options open - but that we may never need or want to exercise those options.

DH and I are absolutely a family - with or without children.

I think the decision to have a child is a personal one. Wondering if you'd miss something doesn't mean you'd regret it - doesn't mean you wouldn't either - to me it's a sign of a reasoning person - one who, if s/he decides that they do want a child would have that child (biologically or via adoption) will be because they REALLY want one...which to me is the only reason to have one. Parents that don't REALLY want their children often aren't great parents - and it shows, and their children feel it.

Mary228 brought up something that I think about a lot...what happens when we are old if we don't have children? The idea of facing things alone is almost enough to force me into having children. But then I think - what if I have them just so they'll provide me with grandchildren and take care of me when I'm old...what kind of parent would that make me? And if I'm that kind of parent - would they even want or chose to do that for me? This falls into the category of things you have to plan for if you don't have kids...but to me falls into a super selfish not good reason for having them.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 8:35PM
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Susanfnp, your response was so beautiful, and beautifully written, that it made me cry. I'm serious. Reading the last paragraph, I thought you must be the rabbi. I read it aloud to my husband, who was also affected. It was the best advice anyone could get. Thanks for writing it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 8:38PM
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Reading everyone's responses has been really interesting, and I want to thank all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts...

Jennifer - I agree with you about what Mary228 brought up...It has crossed my mind many times as well, but I do not want to have children just to take care of me as I get older. Of course, planning for our futures is on our minds, and I am sure it is much more difficult to do so alone, but it would be so selfish for us to bring a life to this world just to make sure we are taken care of. I have my selfish moments, but that's not one of them!

And I also agree that what Susan said was beautiful. :-)

I guess there is no right or wrong answer, and that no matter what we end up doing, we will be happy for a different set of reasons.

I think I'm becoming 'TKO' with everything in my life now that there is no more kitchen to plan!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 9:23PM
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Just wanted to let you know that I experience those same 'paranoid' fears as you ~ I think it's very natural. Whatever you & SO decide to do or not do, I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 9:47PM
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lnersian, I came back to read responses tonight. I thought about my cousin, now 49, that married four years ago. She started going through the change right after she married. She will not adopt for some silly reason, i.e., "You don't know what the parents have done." Well, you can't control everything. She's now moved in on her brother's children's lives and helping raise them. (Long story..but good for the children.)

I have/had identical twin brothers. One committed suicide while we were in the middle of adopting our youngest. He never knew we were adopting. The other brother lives next door to us with his young family. This brother was a convicted bachelor. Nothing doin' when it came to children. He hated toys, didn't take the time to listen to the children talk, and generally dismissed them. Then came my cute sister in law. Ahem....horse of a different color. They married and she has 'handled' his negativity at then age 40. They now have two boys 2 & 4. He couldn't be more thrilled. He told me that he cannot believe how much he enjoys being a father. He's a builder and his son idolizes everything he does. A real mini-me. Bro told me that he could not imagine not having children. They're cheap entertainment, too. He's called me several times to tell me something funny they did. He's finally caught on that all kiddos do/say funny things. He's paying more attention to the other family members when we all get together.

Another former SIL would not have children because she never wanted to lose her figure. She had her lovely figure until she died. Her husband died before she did a few years. She literally had no one other than BIL and SILs. They invested no real time with anyone else.

My point: even if you say 'no' now, you may change. If you don't have children by choice, that's OK, too. Don't get into it with people if they push the point. Let people know not to count on you having kiddos, but should you decide otherwise, then you'll let them know. They can't keep bringing it up.

Be blessed with your decisions.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 10:03PM
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I'm a 51 y.o. woman who chose not to have children and I have no regrets.

I feel strongly that it's better to not have children and regret that decision than to have children and regret being a parent. In the former case you're the only one who will suffer for your decision; in the latter case you and your children will suffer.

I wish you the very best and hope you find a clear path through all the wonderful choices open to you.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 10:40PM
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lnersesian, I think, just by asking that "Will I regret not having kids?" I think you already know the answer...

Just live your life! Good Luck...

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 12:47AM
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My opinions, observations and thoughts....you do not have to agree! This is a very personal and passionate topic and I know that I am very opinionated. :)

I just turned 34 yesterday. DH and I dated since we were 17, married at 25. We both agreed that kids were absolutely not a necessity for us. I actually sat my parents down before we got married and asked for no pressure for grandkids!

So we have been married 8, almost 9 years now. LOVE OUR FREEDOMS!!! Financial, time, you name it. We have a beautiful home, travel, and spend money on what we want. We both work full-time and enjoy our careers. We have our dog, Buddy, who like others, we treat like our "kid". We have planned and continue to save wisely for our future and retirement age. (Just because you have kids does not mean they will take care of you when you are old).

So in any case, the reason for my post is that last week completely out of the blue, DH says he wants to think about having a baby. I'm like "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" He is feeling "something" recently and I think it's because we have had our baby neices/nephews around recently.

I have to say, based on everything (complaints) I have heard and seen at my job with my co-workers, family members, and from my friends who have kids, I KNOW I am NOT the type to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, and my coworkers make it pretty clear that "DADDY" contributes MINIMAL to the everyday tasks of taking care of a child. These woman work full-time and are stuck with having to leave early because of a sick child, or not coming into work at all because of a "snow day". Who is it that feeds, dresses, bathes, MD appointments, chauffers, day-care/school drop offs/pick-ups? Mommy, right?

I still have yet to hear from someone, ANYONE, that having children makes your marriage better. In fact, I hear the opposite all too often. I also happen to believe strongly that your marital relationship should be #1 priority and that any parent-child relationship should be #2. I thoroughly enjoy my marriage and I'm not really looking for a change.

If society was different, if the gender roles were different, and if DH was willing to play the "stay-at-home mom", I may be more open for having a baby. That won't happen, so my wondeful DH will hopefully get over this recent/sudden "urge" and we will continue to live the wonderful life we already have.....without kids.

My regret now? Is DH going to resent me for holding true to the agreement we made once upon a time ago?? We do have open lines of communication and of course this is a current and ongoing discussion right now....we wil get through this. To be continued.......

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 12:31PM
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I'm just putting it out there in case some of you know someone who said they didn't want kids. A close friend of mine said her brother and SIL were not going to have kids. She (my friend's SIL) said she didn't want them. She felt this way for years. Long story short, she got pregnant (accidentally) and had the baby. She is a great mother and loves the child. However, what I found sad, is how much people love rubbing in her face what she said for years. In fact, she wouldn't let anyone throw her a shower because she didn't want to hear "I knew you would change your mind", "see, you can't fight Mother Nature", etc. So if you know someone who "changes their mind", just say congratulations and leave it at that.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 2:00PM
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This is definitely a very personal question that of course no one else can answer but you. However I'll share the viewpoint of someone who does not have them and will not be having them - I'm closing in on 49.

I was never one of those people who saw visions of myself with a brood of kids - though I can remember in college sort of laying out a hypothetical timeline for life and it included having kids. When DH and I married he was of the same view.

When I was 25 I found out I had a recurrence of a life threatening cancer that I'd also had at age 15. I had several years of treatment for this in the midst of my childbearing years. After it was all done we were at the stage of life when everyone we knew was having kids. At that time we were pretty much of the opinion we would have some.

However we gave careful thought about this decision because we seriously did not know if I would survive to raise children - and whether I was at higher risk of having a child with serious birth defects due to all the various medical treatments I'd had. We finally came to the conclusion that if God wanted us to have kids we'd have them - and if he didn't we wouldn't. DH and I both agreed we did not want to go through any heroics to have kids.

So we just left things to take their natural course which did not result in having children. We have no regrets about this - so far. Some good things have come from this including both of us having time to spend with and care for our aging parents at times when other siblings were too busy with their own immediate families to have time for their parents.

I'm sure I have asked myself the question you raise many times but I finally just put the issue in God's hands and I've been very much at peace with the decision since then. Good luck to you as you ponder this question!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 2:00PM
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Sue--same thing happened to a friend of mine from nursing school. They were married young and she did NOT want kids although he was more open to the idea. She came from a family of 15 sibs and was adamant. When she was 44, she became pg. She was in denial and when she finally accepted that she was really pg, she actually wanted to terminate the pg. She was about six months along and decided it was too late.
Her dh was over the moon, and everyone knew not to say congratulations to her because she was NOT happy about being pg.

Fast forward--she had her baby girl last Feb 1st--two days after her 45th birthday. She is having the time of her life, but tells me that she gets sick of hearing-- "See, I told you you would love having a baby".

I do not doubt that had she never gotten pg, she would never have regretted not having kids. She is a wonderful mother and loves her little girl, but I know she would not have regretted things if this child had never happened to her.

Lucy--Such a hard question for anyone to answer. Only you know what is in your heart. Most of the people I know who are Childfree by choice never asked themselves this question as they knew in their heart that they did NOT want children--period. If you even have to ask if you will regret not having them, then I think you may. Congrats and I hope you find the answers.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 9:06PM
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Wow, there is a lot of great advice here, so I have nothing really new to add, but I did want to chime in since I am a "childfree by choice" woman (a term I got on these forums)to support that view.

I encourage you to go to read the attached thread from the marriage forum, it has a lot of contributors from people who decided not to have kids. It's old but relevant.

I am only 37 so I can't offer years of wisdom, but I never wanted kids and I don't regret not having them, even though I still can. DH and I always said we would adopt if we changed our minds. We feel that there are a lot of kids who need parents already, but I totally understand wanting your "natural" child too. Being open that your minds could change takes away a lot of pressure to make that decision now, and being open to adoption also means you are not racing against your ovaries' clock to make a decision. The only sticky part is if one of you changes your mind and the other doesn't. Discuss NOW how you would handle that.

My only issues with being CBC are:

1) My friends/social life. All of my friends have kids now, and they are in a very different place than me. I wish I had more of a variety of friends, singles, childfree couples, to socialize with. I still love my friends, but we have little now in common, and they have no time. I have heard that they "come back" when the kids get older, but now I am lonely, since I am social person. I am trying to make new friends. Like new parents need a community of support, so do couples who are childfree.

2) I can't get sterilized. I am off Birth control due to other medical issues (and being over 35 its a good idea) but I have been to three doctors who flat out refused to "tie my tubes" permanently. I am livid. I live in liberal Massachusetts, and even though the law says I have a choice, I am discouraged from doing this, even at my age. Surprising. It is much easier/safer/less invasive for DH to get a vasectomy but if you have any doubts, don't do it yet. My DH doesn't want to just coz he is squeamish and that's fine with me, but I wish I didn't have to jump through hoops to exercise my rights.

This is all good advice and good for you for feeling comfortable with asking. At 33 I was still getting a lot of pressure from friends/family, but now that has pretty much died down. I have a full life and I expect it to be that way in the future. I do feel like missing out on motherhood is a sacrifice but I am OK with that. I also think that if I had an "accident," I would love my child and not regret that either. As mentioned above, there is no one way to have a great life.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 12:29PM
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Was it on the Dave Chappelle Show that I saw a little skit on the best birth control is to have kids? As funny as it was, little kids crawling all over the parents in bed, there definitely is some truth in it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 7:06PM
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lpolk - I can confirm that your friends do come back after their kids go to college. We are at that stage and having a delightful time "renewing" old friendships including catching up on how everyone's children are progressing with their young adult lives.

There is definitely an issue with ferreting out other similar people to socialize with. Alot of our close friends are in different cities and states - we apparently have gravitated to other childfree folks wherever we have encountered them. In situations where we have socialized with people who have kids, I have often found myself hanging out with the men. I just had more to talk about related to business and such since I didn't have anything to contribute on the child related topics the moms always talked about.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 7:16PM
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Just popping into conversations and I thought I'd add to this thread.

I've been married twice and all my life I've known I don't want children. People think there's something wrong with my "programming". They don't understand a woman not wanting children. Anyway, I'm 48 now. I have no regrets. I've been able to do what I want at a whim without the expense and resonsibility of children. Call me selfish if you wish, I do. :)

My second husband and I divorced some years ago. Turns out he never had his own children, but did have step children to whom he was a good "father". I think that fulfilled his needs.

He has passed away a couple of years ago. I got an adult dog and he is like a child to me. We do everything together and I make a lot of sacrifices to avoid having to put him in a kennel when I go away. So I'm not traveling anymore.

Now I have a 10 week old puppy and have some idea what it's like to have a baby. What a lot of work! I just hope she is as good a dog as my other when she grows up.

Yep, children (and pets) really change your lifestyle, well MY lifestyle at least. When I listen to what my friends are going through with their own children I'm satisfied that I made the right decision for me.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:05AM
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I'm surprised this website hasn't come up yet - Childfreebychoice.com. There seems to be a lot of good dialogue, advice, message boards, etc. for those of you are CBC to connect with other who have chosen the same path.

I am a new parent of 2 sons under the age of 2. I never thought I would love parenting this much. When they came into my life, I couldn't image them not ever having been in my life before.

However, my one small regret is not having done a lot of the traveling & fun stuff BEFOREhand. I look forward to taking the kids with us, but I would have liked to have seen more of the world with my husband alone, while we were younger.

My husband also hates his job and would love to write full time. He's the breadwinner of the family and would always be able to make more money, so he is committed to it. If we didn't have kids, he wouldn't feel as committed as he does now.

One thing I think we did right though is that we didn't have the kids right away in our relationship, so we at least enjoyed each other for 10 years before the children. A lot of couples don't even have that. They get married at have the kids right away.

But if I lived life as you and you SO seem to have already done, I may feel as though I have seen some of the world and be satisfied, and then see having children as a next adventure.

Oh, one other thing I thought about. I absolutely love having my 2 children, but it is a lot more work, at least for now. Maybe if you only had one child, it would work best for your lifestyles.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 11:27PM
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When I was younger, beginning my own career, I didn't think I wanted children. I didn't seem to like children, in general, or certainly, I didn't relate to them particularly. Somehow, I changed my mind and had my son at age 28. What can I say? He was a genius, the most perfect child in the universe. When he didn't want to do his homework, I thought, "what a clever kid--I wouldn't want to do homework either. . ." I instantly loved everyone else's children, too, and I never would have known how much I like children if I hadn't had my own. I only had the one, and now, many years later, my only regret is that I didn't have more.

I think you wouldn't necessarily regret not having children because you aren't in a position to compare life before and after. But if you have one, you may look back and think "Thank God I have had this experience, and this person in my life."

I've had the misfortune to have been divorced, and husbands may come and go, but your children will always be there--God willing. I don't think it is selfish at all to want a family; to want someone to hold our hands as we go off into the great unknown. It is human nature.

From a societal point of view, I think that probably 100% of the people posting on these sites ought to have children. We're the ones with the resources, financial and educational, to rear children who can contribute to society in a positive way. I think it is probably more selfish to withhold those resources from your children, and thus, society, than the opposite. Our parents gave us a tremendous amount and I'm sure most of us are making good contributions to the world. I hesitate to say it is our obligation to have children, but we're certainly in a better position than most to rear children who can shoulder some of the responsibilities of the future.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2006 at 10:35PM
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As a result of choosing not to have children my husband and I are in a position to be able to help other people's children. I don't think that's selfish at all. In fact I thnk it's rather magnanimous.

Being educated and having financial resources isn't a good enough justification to have children. It's an argument that comes perilously close to eugenics. Turned on its head it suggests that uneducated people with few resources should not have children.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2006 at 10:48PM
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My 16 year old got her drivers license today. I'm going to have to touch up roots, again! Wait, no, I'll just pull out my hair! Or, it will just fall out from stress.....

Still thinkin bout having kids?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 1:03AM
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I have two children and can't imagine life without them. That being said, I must add here that I know of many senior citizens who HAD children and they're all gone. I know a few of them now whose children are not coming back to take care of them, don't call or write and it's neighbours who have to help out. Also, I know of others who had children and they passed away before the parents. No guarantee that having them is going to help you when you're 80.

One gentleman in his late 70s lost his wife last March and we sort of adopted him. He has three children and they barely make time to visit him or call. My kids think of him as another grandpa. He said he was sure that with three kids, one of them would have lived closer or concern themselves with his welfare. Who knows whether some should have kids or not...such a personal decision and really, you're not guaranteed to have them around when you get feeble or disabled.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 1:49AM
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Yes, rheat, it is true that if you turned the argument on its head, it would be perilously close to eugenics--but we don't have to turn it on its head. If one tries to ferret out who posts on this board, you'll find a greatly international group of all races and ethnicities. But because they are on this particular site, we can assume they have computers, are educated, have disposable incomes. Children born into every human condition bless the world. But very few born into real poverty are going to med school, or graduating with a Masters in social work or with a teaching certificate. We have to ask ourselves why we're here on this earth and why we have all of these resources--it can't be only to remodel our kitchens. I think I was responding to the concerns posted about losing personal freedom and the costs of raising children. At least we have the money to spend, and perhaps (only perhaps. . .) we ought to do it.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 8:25AM
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Librarymom - I'll add that to the 'CONS' list. Just kidding!!!

Interestingly, SO and I had a long conversation about this last week...we didn't come to any new conclusions, though. We both agreed that there are pros and cons to both decisions, and that we are very happy the way we are right now. I guess after we're married, we'll revisit the situation and see if anything changes.

One thing we did dicuss specifically was whether kids were born with certain personalities...his oldest nephew has a lot of adjustment issues, and though we feel some of it has to do with how he was raised, we are also certain he was predisposed to be like that. (neither of us are MDs so we can totally be wrong about this of course) I am a very paranoid person, and what always runs through my head is - what if I give birth to a child who becomes a serial killer?? Or the kid who shoots other kids in school?

We also live across the street from a park, where many kids and teenagers hang out, and many of them spend time smoking drugs and drinking...I am sure that most of these kids are raised in good households, but the parents probably have no clue what their kids are doing. Asides from being super paranoid, I am also totally naive and gullible, so I would be so nervous that my kids would do that. Is that totally bad??? No, I guess not. I'm sure many of us did the same things as kids...but it's something I thought about it.

Okay, that was totally useless rambling. But it's so nice to hear opinions from all angles, and I really appreciate everyone's comments!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 8:55AM
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I've noticed that 99% of the posts from women who never had children, never really wanted children.

I thought about your post A LOT!

IM(not so)HO, I think if your asking the question, somewhere deep down inside, you want children.

BTW, The preeclampsia, complications, pre-mature birth, two year old tantrums, Age 7 hissy fits, ADHD, LD and Gifted teenager I have: I would do it all again in a heartbeat

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 10:14AM
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Lots of mention of giving up travel. It's just different after kids. DH and I discussed it- we think it's lots more fun WITH kids. Experience and maturity are an asset when one travels, but nothing compares to wide-eyed wonder and curiosity added to the mix.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 10:41AM
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We moved overseas when my son was 1 1/2 and lived there for two years. He got to travel all over Europe (though he can't remember much of it). When my daughter was born, we took them to Maui for 3 weeks. She was only 5 months at the time. We have gone everywhere with our kids and never thought that it was an inconvenience, but that's just us. Many of our friends go to Europe/Asia and other places without their kids. This summer we're going to England, France and Portugal for a month...kids are going with us. Travelling is on their list of 'hobbies' and they share so much with their classmates.

Have three sisters who all chose not to have children. Only one has regrets. I never thought about the PROS and CONS of having children...that's what I do for material stuff...look at the pros and cons.

To each his own.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 11:31AM
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I agree with pecan re: travel. DS does not enjoy the type of travel I do - - keep it moving, lots of sightseeing and museums - - but he loves renting a cottage on the beach and just hanging out and exploring on a more low-key level. While I would have been bored doing that pre-DS, now I love it. Watching him and a buddy on the seashore is one of my all-time favorite things. And my friends and I plan on doing plenty of traveling when we are empty nesters.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 12:02PM
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I was married at age 22. We chose not to have kids. At age 39 I found out I was pregnant. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Raising James was so much fun that we later adopted a special needs child. So at age 53 I have a 5 year old and a soon to be 14 year old! Pretty big change for someone who knew she didn't want kids.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 4:18PM
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A special star for your crown, nan53!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 5:39PM
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I somewhat disagree with the theory that because a woman questions whether or not she wants to have a child that therefore means that deep down inside she really wants to be a mother. I do not have any children. I do not want any children. I have never wanted any children. I honestly think the "biological clock" was never inserted in me. And I do like kids. I will gladly hang with a 5 year old and experience the joys of mud. With that said, I have questioned myself and the decision that I have made. Why? Because in society women are supposed to have babies. Historically it was all women were good for. Things have definitely changed over the last 50 years, women have more choices and opportunities, but there is still an "expectation" that if your married and have a functioning uterus then you should be having babies. I have lost count how many times my DH and I have been asked when we are going to start having babies. I'm sure that for some being a mother is amazing, rewarding and enlightening. So if I should ever change my mind (and since nothing about pregnancy or labor has ever appealed to me) there is always adoption. There are plenty of babies out there whose mothers had them and didn't want them.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 11:46AM
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Very well said Berlin. My three sisters decided that motherhood wasn't for them and only one has regretted her decision. She's looking into adoption.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 12:18PM
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Sometimes it's not so simple. There's the instinctive - hormonal - thing that often comes into play. I didn't think or know much about motherhood during my pregnancy - my XH and I never discussed having a baby - it just happened. I was sort of noncommital about the whole thing (and he was less commital than I). I lived a very bohemian life overseas at the time. Then suddenly when DD was born, things really changed and the motherhood thing really kicked into gear. It was quite startling - my mind was confused, but my body knew exactly what to do! So I guess what I am saying is that sometimes you don't know you want to be a mother until your body makes the decision for you.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 2:36PM
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"I somewhat disagree with the theory that because a woman questions whether or not she wants to have a child that therefore means that deep down inside she really wants to be a mother."

"I do not have any children. I do not want any children. I have never wanted any children."

Don't you think you just proved my point?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 3:04PM
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I wasn't trying to make a point. I wasn't aware that this was a debate. Any woman who questions herself before making a huge decision with conquences and regrets is, in my opinion, wise. I was simply saying that society expects a healthy woman who is happily married to want children and that can lead to a woman questioning being true to herself.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 3:37PM
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Upon reflection of my last post, I simply wanted to add, that perhaps I did make a point, maybe I didn't. As the OP stated this can be a sensitive subject, and I don't want to offend anyone or cause anyone to second guess themselves. I try and be very sensitive when I respond to these conversations, because, as with this thread, we are a group of women coming together with different backgrounds, sharing experiences and life choices that is sometimes outside of our comfort zones and/or control. I for one moved to the South from Phoenix. What a culture shock! With regard to this particular subject, in Phoenix the decision to not have children was not a big deal. No one really cared one way or the other. Now being in the South, where family and religion walk hand in hand and reign supreme, I am met with suspicion and, at best, amusement. I don't want anyone who has posted here, or read this thread, to think that I am in any way judging how they have evolved in their life. I cherish these threads simply because they allow me to see someone else's point or stand on an issue. Whether I agree or not isn't important. What is important is that my world is opened up to an educated discussion amongst so many interesting people. Cheers ladies! There are no mistakes in the universe.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 6:41PM
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I'd like to give my prospective on this . . .

I'm a 43-years-old woman. I do not have children. I do not want children. Never wanted childern. Do I ever question my decisions? You bet. I've made a choice for my life, but I recognize that I have a choice. We all do. That is why I periodically self-evaluate. So far that need to have children has not kicked in.

I applaud all those loving mothers out there. I recognize that there is a joy you receive that I will never experience, but I choose to take another path. I don't think less of you. as I would hope you don't think less of me.

I think it is great that you think about your choices. Realize that your feelings might change, as might your SO's. Please continue to have these discussions with him and be open about your feelings. There is no wrong answer.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 6:52PM
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My story: I never felt I NEEDED to have children. Was never ga-ga over babies at all. Was 30 when I got married, and my husband was 36. We decided we were not going to be young parents in any event, so may as well travel. We traveled and enjoyed ourselves for six years.

When I was 36 and my husband 42, we decided to try to have a child. I was fine if we did and also fine if we didn't. Had heard getting pregnant at this age might be tough. But didn't worry about it at all, because we would be happy either way, and immediately got pregnant.

Have the most wonderful son, who is now 13. When he was small, we took him everywhere-- carried him in a snugli to restaurants, took him in the subway all the time (we were committed city dwellers), took him in a stroller to museums with us. Of course, we started to prefer the Museum of Natural History, and kid-friendly restaurants. Just added another dimension to our travels and to our life.

We were fortunate in that he was well-behaved in most settings (probably because we had acclamated him to a variety of them).

When he got older, we gave him a role in our travels (Navigator in the London tubes, for example). Of course, life changes. I had never been particularly interested in sports, but DS is a good basketball player, and now I look forward to each and every game (in all THREE leagues), and I take pride in his sportsmanship and agility.

We only had one child, a very conscious decision as we thought that was all we could handle, what with two careers and living in the city. A friend told me that "one is a hobby, and two is a family." Another told me "lightening doesn't strike twice" (as in, you will never have another child who is so easy and good-natured).

One was perfect for us, and I think he enjoys being the sole recipient of our parental attention. He is not spoiled or self-centered. He is humble and empathic (contrary to myths of only children).

And none would have been perfect for us, too, because we were happy with each other. Truth be told, I could have handled two!

Never needed to have children-- but of course he is now the best thing that ever happened to me!

The best of luck whatever you decide. It is nice to be a family-- two or three or four.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 8:07PM
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whitevenetino- had heard about the 'lightening never strikes twice', but in our case it was reassurance after having DivaD1- that we would never have another child who was as difficult and quirky as she was!

Thank goodness the others were easy and calm, and her 'difficult' personality evened out delightfully!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 10:08PM
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I know that many non-childbearing dog lovers will disagree with me, but having a dog is absolutely nothing like having kids, and caring for a dog gives you zero taste of what it's like to raise kids. (BTW, I have kids and a dog) I could go on and on about the reasons, but I'll just leave it at that.

As a woman, health-wise, it's in your best interests to give birth sooner rather than later or not at all. Childbearing and the hormones it brings, and the break in menstruation it and nursing provides, provides you with protection against several cancers, particularly breast cancer.

Ok, beyond that, try to remember that the kids' childhood is such a small part of their lives. Do you want to have a full house at Christmas 30 years from now? Do you want to have grandchildren to enjoy? Who will take care of you after your spouse passes away (or vice versa), who will be at your bedside in the last days? Who will bury you? (or your spouse/vice versa.) Who will know when it's time for mom to stop driving, to move into assisted living, who will drive you to the doctor? Etc etc etc

When it comes to traveling, it is most definitely do-able and a ton MORE FUN with kids in tow! My dh and I traveled across Greece plus island-hopping with my 3 year old son in tow, with not a single hotel reservation in our itinerary, and we had a wonderful time. My kids have been all over the world.

The chaos in the house is comforting, no one brings more smiles to our faces, the dog has waaaay more fun with the kids than with us, and I'd much rather be playing marco polo in the pool with my kids than sipping martinis poolside.

And of course, as a woman, nothing makes you fall in love faster than the smell of a warm newborn in your arms. A being that YOU created and grew inside of YOU. There is someting magical in that.

This morning my 5 year old daughter told me that I was the bestest mommy ever, and nothing else in the universe could have made my day more than that.

Good luck in whatever you decide!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 10:28PM
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Snookums hit the nail on the head regarding animals and children - there's really no comparison. We are animal lovers, but the animals we have had have been WAY more work and caused more stress for me than my kids have, LOL!

I agree with Berlin about society causing us to question decisions like these. My 90 year old aunt just never got pregnant until 12 years into her marriage and she knew people were talking about her.

I can tell from your OP that you would not regret HAVING a child, but that in no way means you will regret NOT having them. The hardest part for you will probably be family pressure which I am sure you will find a way to handle tactfully. Best wishes whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 1:56AM
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Pecanpie: One of the delightful things that OP would discover, if she were to have a child, is that you never know what you will get. It is 90% nature and 10% nurture, in my opininon. They just come out the way they are-- and might surprise you!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 8:23AM
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I agree 110%, whitevenetino. And Snookums, ditto everything you said.

19yo DS called me this morning on his way to class to tell me he loved me and wanted to give me a phone hug. The conversation lasted all of 30 seconds, but I will have a smile on my face for a l-o-n-g time.

I guess one of the great things about being a parent is that you have more people to love!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 10:28AM
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When I first met DH, it was the perfect arrangement. He had two kids from a previous marriage (5&8 at the time), and I wanted nothing to do with having kids myself. We only saw his kids (AWESOME kids, BTW) on the weekends back then, and when we did, it was usually their sporting events and just hanging out (the easy parts of parenting), which I was fine with.

We never really talked about having kids. I just assumed he was done and wouldn't want any more. I knew I didn't.

Then I got pregnant. From the moment I found out (well...about five minutes after I found out), I was thrilled. After my next son was born (4 boys now), I thought I was done. I found out I was pregnant with the fifth the day kindergarten started for the fourth. The fifth was finally a girl and DH said enough is enough, so we're done. I'd love 2-3 more. No second thoughts there. But because of several medical reasons and very difficult pregnancies, I have to stop. Adoption is not out of the question at this point, but also not just around the corner.

My DH is 18 years older than I am. That 8 yr old step-son that I talked about above is about to make me a grandmother (at 38!) and I can't wait for that either.

There's all women's points of view here, so I asked DH what he would be without kids. His response? "Old."

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 10:57AM
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I have not read all the other posts, and you may have had your fill of responses by now, but for what it's worth, here's my response. I was married at 26, my DH was 36. I was sure we would not have any kids. I had the same thoughts you are having . . . will I regret it later. No burning need for children at the time, but always wondered if I'd regret it years down the road. We, too, traveled quite a bit and enjoyed a certain lifestyle (2 incomes, freedom, pets as our "children", etc.). Then one day at age 36 (my DH was 46) to my surprise, I was pregnant without planning it!

I had mixed emotions throughout pregnancy. I wondered if my DH was too old to have an infant to worry about; I wondered about our lifestyle changes; I wondered about money; I wondered about responsibility, etc. Well, sitting three years later with a lot less money in the bank (I quit my job to stay home with her) and a lot less sleep, I can honestly say it was the best thing that ever happened to me. She gives me back tenfold whatever I had to give up. We haven't stopped travelling. She's been to FL, NC, Mexico, NY, and we're headed to AZ in April. She enhances our experiences, she doesn't impede them.

I used to get so furious when people would tell me definitively that I would change my mind some day about my decision to not have children. And I would never judge someone who chose not to have them. However, for me, it's been a life-changing experience in the most wonderful way possible! I wish you luck with your decision process and hope you choose whatever is right for you.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 12:59PM
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I am THE latest to this discussion. I just heard a segment on public radio about the growing trend in young couples not to have children. They cited "Baby Not On Board" as a good book on the topic.

I think our generation was under a lot of pressure to produce children. I personally wanted the experience of being a mother, but had also had a career that meant a lot to me.

So I had one child. I won't kid (ha!) you, it changed our lives drastically, but we were still able to keep the basic structure of our lives intact. We took our son everywhere--people always said "bring him," which they might not if we had had several children.

We had to be careful not to treat him like the third adult, and we had to go to great pains to keep the play friends coming over to keep him company. But as he grew older none of that mattered. We had the financial wherewithal to send him to the private performing arts high school he auditioned for, his top-pick college, his first car after college, etc.

But having only one child allowed us to retire at ages 52 and 51 to pursue our non-compensating favorite things.

Our son is now 31 and we three (four now, counting his wife) are extremely close.

Maybe you can have your cake and eat it too??? It worked for us.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 8:47AM
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" Childbearing and the hormones it brings, and the break in menstruation it and nursing provides, provides you with protection against several cancers, particularly breast cancer."

This very lacking statement needs some clarifications. A woman's (really the term should be little girls) risk of developing breast cancer may be reduced by having a first pregnancy early in the reproductive years, the earlier the better. This may be the only benefit for girls who lack the intelligence to prevent a teenage pregnancy. Women as they approach their late 20's who then become pregnant for the first time will have the same chance of developing breast cancer as a women who never had children.

During pregnancy(and several years after the birth) a women's chances of developing breast cancer are actually increased. The saddest part of this fact is that during pregnancy and while nursing the changes in breast tissue make it less likely that the cancer will be found in the early stages. This results in harsher treatments and higher mortality rates.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 8:16PM
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Such a hard question, and no one 'right' answer.

Love my one child and motherhood and all the changes to myself, my husband, and our marriage. Like some of your families, our daughter joined us everywhere, travel, business, and simple everyday pleasures. Nurturing one another began with nursing, and continues as she grows beautifully into a woman.

If I had not had a child, I would have taken a different, and differently challenging and enriching path. Because I became a mother, I simply cannot look back at having missed this path. One secret to life is that there are many wonderful paths, it's how you walk them that makes the difference.

jerzeegirl and mtnester, thank you for your comments on the the side topic of breastfeeding. I'm attaching a link to the anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler's homepage, created to help clear misunderstandings of the nursing relationship. In my own life's work I have yet to see a child self-wean before the age of six. But of course, in many cultures, children are guided to wean before that age. Nursing is part of the relationship between mother and child; I would not bring myself into another mother's relationship with her child. The decision to bring a child into your life, or to take any particular path in mothering, is profoundly personal.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 8:57PM
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Athomein1914, thanks for posting that link. For anyone who thinks that she may want to breastfeed: it's great to go to La Leche League meetings while you're still pregnant (and then continue for as long as you want to, after the baby is born). I was active in LLL throughout the infancy and toddlerhood of both of my children; as friendships developed, we formed playgroups that continued till our kids were in school. (At that time, bottle feeding and early weaning was the norm, so it was great to find a community of like-minded friends--sort of like a real-life forum LOL!)

Breastfeeding is the most wonderful way to bond with your child. It really does "come naturally": women have been doing it for thousands of years! But there are techniques you can learn to prevent or treat soreness and other problems. Perhaps the most important "lesson" for a prospective nursing mother is that you CAN nurse, you WILL have enough milk (demand leads to increased supply), difficulties can be overcome, and there is help, information, and support available if you need it. LLL is not only about breastfeeding; it's about parenting and creating a family.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 10:16PM
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I breastfed, and it did come naturally to me. But it does not come naturally to everyone. Sorry, must disagree on that. I have a very good friend who was dead set on breastfeeding. She spent her whole pregnancy planning on it, and didn't buy a single bottle in preparation for having her baby. Her mother works for a worldwide organization promoting breastfeeding, so this was ingrained in her.

Well, the baby came and she wouldn't nurse. My poor friend tried everything, called in the experts, called LLL, had several lactation specialists come, and the baby just wouldn't nurse. Instead of nursing, she would just scream. This was causing major bonding issues, as both mother and baby were miserable for the first 5 days. Mother felt guilty and desperate, baby was hungry and aggravated.

My friend's mother, the breastfeeding advocate, watched her daughter and granddaughter suffering, and finally said "That's enough! Try a bottle." They did, the baby ate, and that was the end of nursing.

My friend is regularly confronted by "helpful" people in the grocery store, etc., who walk right up to her and say "breast is best." Some have said much less kind things. It's really quite hurtful.

So please keep in mind that when you see someone bottle feeding, there could well be a very good reason for it.

Sorry to stray off-topic, but I had to put this out there.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 10:59PM
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Paige, you're right; I should have qualified my remarks by saying that MOST women can successfully breastfeed, and women who can't (usually for medical or physiological reasons) should not feel in any way inadequate---they can still be wonderful, nurturing mothers. However, a large part of getting off to a good start is being relaxed and having a sense of confidence that all will be well. (I know that's difficult-to-impossible when the baby is crying and doesn't seem satisfied, and all the "experts" are making suggestions and increasing the tension. As long as the baby has 6 to 8 wet diapers per day, he's probably getting enough milk.) It's also important for the mother to get enough rest and nutrition herself. And the mother must relax, so that the milk will "let down." A cup of tea, a massage from DH, comfy pillows, and soft music may be conducive.

I just want to encourage women to begin with the expectation that, if they choose to, they can nurse their baby. Some people think that nursing should follow a 4-hour schedule, but there are days when you need to breastfeed very, very frequently and very, very long, especially when the baby is going through a growth spurt. The solution is to let the baby nurse as much, and as frequently, as he wants to. Your body's hormones respond by increasing the production of milk (unless anxiety puts a damper on this). After a few days, the frequency levels off at a new plateau. This is how nature provides more milk for the older, larger baby.

I'm so sorry to hear that people are criticizing your friend. Times have certainly changed! In my mother's generation, breastfeeding had almost died out, at least in urban communities. Society labeled nursing mothers as "cows" and pressured women to be "modern" and use sterilized bottles. Women who intended to nurse but had problems at the outset usually gave up easily. By the time I had my own children, the pendulum was beginning to swing in the other direction, but breastfeeding was not yet popular. Whatever the social climate, however, breast or bottle feeding is a personal decision that should be respected. The public has no right to criticize, and those comments directed at your friend are just plain rude!


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 1:08AM
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Sue--Hi! You're right, breastfeeding made motherhood wonderful. And progressive. Wherever we went, we had food. And my son ended up with no food allergies, one of the big benefits.

My friend breastfed her twins, and went back to work when they were three months old. Her children were doing so well on breast milk, she was determined to keep it up. She expressed her milk and work and froze it for later use. No easy feat, since she was a nuclear engineer, working in a busy, muddy construction site.

She's high on my list of awesome women....

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 8:23AM
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Hi Pamela! Thanks for pointing out some of the important advantages of breastfeeding (and I think your friend is awesome, too!). I think the decision whether or not to breastfeed is kind of like the main theme of these thread: one size doesn't fit all. While many of us choose parenthood and breastfeeding, women should be free to make a different choice (hopefully, after exploring their options and getting good information if they are unsure). And sometimes, there is no choice involved, because of medical reasons or other factors. The rest of us should respect and support our friends, whatever their decision.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 10:06AM
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This has been an interesting topic. Thank you for bringing it up. My own experience is similar to some mentioned before.

In my younger adult life, I adamantly did not want children. I was very vocal about it. Twice I was scheduled to have my tubes tied and for some reason or another didn't follow through.

Over the years, the idea passed in my head and the answer was always no... no kids.

When I met my current husband, early in our dating life, almost as an off-hand remark, I said something like, "If I could get pregnant, I'd like to have a baby." (I was 39 at the time.) He simply said with a smile, "OK." That was all it took. We were married 4 months later. 18 months after that, our son was born (me at age 42). Earlier on in life, it was more of a cerebral discussion for me. Pros and cons, very logical. But when it actually was the right time for me, it just happened. We never had any of those should we/should we not discussions.

That said, I don't think I would have had regrets in my life if I had not had a child. On the other hand, I tend to have trouble remembering my "old" life.

Yes, traveling style changes, but if you and DH are travelers, it won't stop. I love traveling with DS. It was very easy when he was an infant, tough during the toddler years, and now that he's nearly 6, traveling is so much fun. (Sometimes easier than traveling with DH!)

One thing I will say though, maybe it's where we live (So.Cal.) or maybe it's my attitude, but I have never had problems with people chastising me for breastfeeding in public (DS breastfed until he weaned himself naturally somewhere between 2-1/2 and 3). I also never got the snide comments about having a child after adamantly not wanting them for so long. We simply got smiles and lots of good wishes.

Whatever you decide, it will be the right one. My only comment would be that from your posting, it seems that you and DH are in agreement now and yet the door is not completely closed. Don't put too much thought into it. If it ever comes to be the right time, I believe you will know it. If you have to talk yourself into it, I wouldn't do it. It's so easy when the situation is right, and I can't imagine a tougher life than raising a child if your heart isn't really in it.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 1:30PM
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It's a long time since I posted on this site, but occasionally I lurk.

I just wanted to say DH and I have been together for 14ish years, last year we had our first child. Nothing prepared me for how desperatley I would love my little girl and I've never been a "child" person. Sometimes I creep into her bedroom to watch her sleep and the thought that we could have missed out, had nature chosen another course, is almost unbearable.

There's no doubt a child will change your life, but in my mind for the better. However, unlike previous posters I do know someone who regrets having children.Her mantra in life is that you've done well, if you manage to get thru' life childless. She's a single mother to twin 14yr old boys. So I guess it takes all of us differently.

Thankyou to Jerzeegirl (?) for her reasoned support of breastfeeding, I'm horrified that prejudices exist against something so natural and beneficial to a child.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 8:14PM
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I too have not posted (or checked in) for a long time but for some reason I did today. Although there is no answer to this question, I wanted to share my story.

My husband and I married almost 19 years ago. For the first 8 years, we were childless. We lived the Yuppie life; travelling, focusing on careers, eating at every trendy restaurant, spending lots of money on ourselves. I was never a "kid" person (had grown up as an only child) but did assume we would have one, possibly two and a fulltime nanny. If anyone told me that I would become a suburban, stay-at-home mom of 3; I would have said they were insane! But that is exactly what happened.

Of course it hasn't always been easy or fun and yes at times (quite often) I've missed the old lifestyle. However, in October, just before my 45th birthday I was diagnosed (after a routine physical) with a rare and agressive cancer with a very poor prognosis and started immediate chemo. Obviously this forced me to evaluate my life, both present and future. I can honestly say that I have only one regret. It is not the places I will not travel to, the restaurants I will not try, the career I will not return to, the trinkets i will not buy... My only regret will be leaving my children: boys 8 and 10 and a daughter 5. At the same time they are my greatest accomplishment, my greatest JOY and the reason that I am fighting this with every fiber of my being. Without them don't think that i would be able to face the chemo (which for now is shrinking the tumors) and the really BAD days. I am thankful for days like today when I could take them to their activities and just watch them.

Of course this doesn't mean that children are the answer for everyone. But try to imagine yourself in a situation such as mine and think about what you would or wouldn't regret and what would give meaning to your life.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 9:16PM
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I have been reading the breast-fed/bottle fed discussion so when I received this in my email, I had to pass it on. It made me laugh out loud.

"Breast or Bottle Fed??"
> >
> A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the
> doctor to come in for the baby's first exam. The doctor arrived, examined
> the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the
> baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.
> "Breast-fed" she replied.
> "Well, strip down to your waist," the doctor ordered.
> She did. He pinched her nipples, then pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both
> breasts for a while in a detailed examination. Motioning to her to get
> dressed, he said, "No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any
> milk."
> "I know," she said, "I'm his Grandma, but I'm glad I came."

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 9:50PM
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Oh, hollybolly, I am so sorry to hear your news. I'm glad you have your children, and wish you the best.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 10:09PM
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Karen, welcome back- good to year from you and congratulations on the birth of your daughter.

And hollybolly, I'm so sorry to hear your bad news. Your post more than any other illuminates the heart-filling joy of having children. My prayers will be with you for your complete and swift recovery and strength for you and your family.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 10:23PM
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Hollybolly, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
I hope the Kitchen Forum can be a pleasant diversion for you during this difficult time.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 11:16PM
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Hollybolly, I am so sorry. You sound like a real fighter, and I guess you've had some encouraging news already. I'm so glad you have your children to keep you focused on what matters.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 11:45PM
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Oh dear, (((((hollybolly)))))...oh man...

I'm so glad that the chemo is shrinking the tumor. I will hold you in the light that you can recover without too much more suffering...

I agree with you completely on the child issue, btw. Nothing I did in my career, in which I got fairly far before becoming an "elderly primagravida" and full-time parent who could be the mom of the mothers of many of my daughter's friends, has given me as much deep joy and contentment as has watching my daughter grow and explore the world. As I say sometimes when my nerves are tested by the day, "a bad day here is better than the best day at work." Well maybe not absolutely literally, but figuratively for sure :)

I'll be thinking of you and your family. I think I'm safe in saying please feel free to come and complain or rejoice on this board anytime you want. Many of us have either been through it or have helped loved ones and we can take it.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 11:50PM
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Holly, I must seem so insensitive for posting a joke right after your post. I left my computer mid-posting and didn't see yours. Just want to let you know that we will pray for you and your family.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 7:41AM
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Hollybolly, I was so moved when I read your eloquent post last night that I choked up and couldn't write anything. I remembered your kitchen with the beautiful blue-and-white tiles and ceramics, and last night I looked at your complete portfolio of photos of your house. You have created a beautiful home that is filled to the brim with art, but it is not a showplace; it's a cozy, comfortable refuge for your family. The loving touches are everywhere! The security in your marriage and the joy in your children radiates from every room.

Please know that all of us on the Kitchen Forum will be here for you in this fight!


    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 11:20AM
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One thing that has been on my mind lately that is a direct result of having a child is that I no longer think in such a finite way... that you live your life, then you die, that's it.

Having a child has opened up my vision to see that life is much more of a continuum. That something of me continues on after I'm gone and that I was a part of something long before I ever existed on the earth.

Hollybolly, I appreciate your posting. You will be in my thoughts in the days ahead.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 12:30AM
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"Posted by: mgmsrk (My Page) on Sat, Feb 4, 06 at 20:16

" Childbearing and the hormones it brings, and the break in menstruation it and nursing provides, provides you with protection against several cancers, particularly breast cancer."
This very lacking statement needs some clarifications. A woman's (really the term should be little girls) risk of developing breast cancer may be reduced by having a first pregnancy early in the reproductive years, the earlier the better. This may be the only benefit for girls who lack the intelligence to prevent a teenage pregnancy. Women as they approach their late 20's who then become pregnant for the first time will have the same chance of developing breast cancer as a women who never had children.

During pregnancy(and several years after the birth) a women's chances of developing breast cancer are actually increased. The saddest part of this fact is that during pregnancy and while nursing the changes in breast tissue make it less likely that the cancer will be found in the early stages. This results in harsher treatments and higher mortality rates. "

I'm sorry, but your statements need some clarifications. There are several different types of breast cancers. The most common type of breast cancer is estrogen-induced. Both pregnancy and breastfeeding supress the production of estrogen and prevents ovulation. Studies have found that the less estrogen your body produces between puberty and menopause, the less your chance of developing breast cancer is (the most common form, estrogen-induced). Therefore, the later you start menstruating, the earlier you start menopause, the more times you've been pregnant (and the earlier the better), and the longer you breastfeed, in other words, all of the months/years that you have NOT produced estrogen/have not ovulated, the less your risk is.

There are other cancers which are induced by the hormones that pregnancy and breastfeeding produces, but these are by far much more rare than estrogen-induced cancers.

The study below interestingly mentions that breast cancer was virtually unheard of 200 years ago when mothers gave birth early in life and nursed for several years.


A similar study:
http://www.breastfeeding.com/all_about/all_about_breast_cancer.html (discusses # of ovulations vs breast cancer stats - pregnancy and nursing supress ovulations)

Dr. Sears' website also mentions a lesser risk of ovarian and uterine cancer as well as osteoporosis:


Several other studies also found that your risk is lessened even more if you were nursed yourself as an infant/toddler.

It is absolutely abhorrent to recommend against nursing due to a totally incorrect belief that your risk is higher if you nurse. No one argues that BREAST IS BEST for both baby and mother. Please see the AAP's website (American Academy of Pediatrics) for further information should you need it. Formula is made from cow's milk - great for baby cows but not for human infants. And our breasts were put on our body for a purpose, and unfortunately for men, it wasn't for sex. We will be healthiest if we let our bodies do what nature intended them to do.

Got milk?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 3:31AM
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Fortunately you can find a study to "prove"(cough, cough) anything. 200 hundred years ago the leading cause of death among women was child bearing, and the average life span was about 50 years. I have seen studies wondering over the event of menopause, since it was so rare. Great wonder cancer rates were reduced? Most cancers appear in people over 50.

It is best to gather information from sources that compile them and don't have vested interests in the studies or the outcomes.

I never even suggested that breast feeding was a bad idea. I think any women who choose to have a child and refuses to breast feed(taking into consideration sad stories like above when it just won't work, allergies of the child or the need for the mother to be on medication that would prevent her from doing so) should not have bothered having a child in the first place. It says to me that she only "kind of" wants to be a mother and likely will take any other short cut in raising the child along the way she can. The risk of nursing is that you are less likely to be diagnosed at a early stage, if you are unfortunate enough to develop breast cancer at that time.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 2:58PM
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"Fortunately you can find a study to "prove"(cough, cough) anything."
"The risk of nursing is that you are less likely to be diagnosed at a early stage, if you are unfortunate enough to develop breast cancer at that time."

mgmsrk - The risk being lessened by breastfeeding is not new news, and multiple studies from all sources of interest have shown just that. Having just undergone a lumpectomy and a milk duct removed myself last July, I cannot stress enough how important even the doctors at the breast center I went to felt this was, as well as my own breast surgeon. Every single professional I spoke with quizzed me on the number of pregnancies I had, the age I was at my first pregnancy, and the number of months I nursed. There is a reason they find it important.

I don't think you can find a single study showing me that nursing makes you less likely to be diagnosed at an early age. Any doctor with a brain on his head will use multiple sources of diagnosis - not just mammogram, but also ultrasound and MRI. If a woman walks in with a lump, a doctor is not going to just send her on her way because a mammogram came back clear. Furthermore, if you were that knowledgeable about diagnoses in breast cancer, you'd know that breast tissue density (commonly called Fibrocystic Breast Disease) is what makes diagnosis difficult with mammogram. Lactation produces the opposite effect.

Suggesting (incorrectly) that breastfeeding could increase your risk of cancer suggests that breastfeeding is a bad idea and many could take it that way. If you care so much about the importance of nursing as you say you do, you'll read what you type carefully. Breastfeeding has multiple benefits for both the child and the mother and to suggest anything less is irresponsible.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 6:05PM
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"I think any women who choose to have a child and refuses to breast feed(taking into consideration sad stories like above when it just won't work, allergies of the child or the need for the mother to be on medication that would prevent her from doing so) should not have bothered having a child in the first place."

That is pretty harsh. I don't have children, but I do know that NONE of my friends have chosen to breast feed. Why? Because in this country if you breast feed in public (even if you are discreet) people freak out (my DH being one of them). Because it means the husband gets in the habit of helping less and then stays there (as their mothers and older sisters warned them). Because they went back to work and don't have a place to pump except sitting on a toilet (with no electrical outlet nearby) in the bathroom and there is only a community fridge to store the milk and all the guys leer at them as they walk back and forth to it during the day. Because it is difficult to work with 20 men and be taken seriously when your breasts are leaking. Because they don't want to for any number of reasons. I have known women who were good mothers and some that were not so great. I can tell you that there was no correlation between breast feeding and being a good mother.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 6:09PM
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Well this is going off on a tangent I really know nothing about - no kids - no breast feeding but Sue36 prompts me to comment. I do have to say how much I admire the commitment of a woman I work with on the breast feeding topic. I went on a business trip with her while she was breast feeding. She made arrangements to stay at a suite type place with a fridge and brought some kind of insulated bag along to store the milk she pumped during the trip. We - including a male traveling with us - had to arrange our business meetings in such a way to accommodate her schedule so we'd have a break at the time she needed to pump. Again, I haven't been there so who am I to say but I'm pretty sure I'd never go through that type of experience in order to breast feed.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 6:56PM
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Well, I guess I'm one of those earth-mothers who would sit down anywhere anytime my babies were hungry and nurse. Who in the heck cares what other people think? They're our babies and they're hungry. Pull up a blouse, what's the big deal? It can be done almost imperceptibly. Honestly- somebody will have a conniption because a mother nurses a baby in the mall? (Where the Victoria's Secret windows show a heckuva lot more breast than I ever did!)

My decision to nurse horrified my DM and MIL, who thought it was 'animal-like' (Last I checked, Mom, we're mammals!) It was my first and strongest assertion as a new mother.

I'd never point fingers at those who choose not to nurse, but to justify that choice because other people might 'freak out' is pretty weak.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 9:18PM
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I agree with those of you about nursing in public - I nursed everywhere and anywhere and I did it discreetly - it would have been hard to tell I was nursing at all. I've nursed in front of family, in every public place imaginable, at baseball games, at Disneyland, while walking down the street! It took some practice in the first couple of weeks but after that, it was second nature. Never had "leaky breasts," never pumped unless I wanted to build up a stash. Never covered myself with a blanket or wore nursing shirts or anything. The only "special" thing I did was wear a nursing bra. If someone was bothered by it, they were the freak, not me. But that never happened to me - I never even had anyone look twice. But I never worked full time while nursing so I can't say what that would be like, and I'm in no place to judge the quality of one's motherhood should they choose not to nurse. I just didn't want it to be falsely discouraged due to a misconception about a cancer risk.

Pecanpie - my mom was the same way. She was so freaked that the baby would not grow or something. After a while she got used to it, started asking questions, and was soon the expert on storing and defrosting breastmilk for her grandbabies. Go mom!

Two other benefits I forgot to mention for the mom (not mentioning the MULTIPLE benefits for baby here) - nursing releases hormones that help the uterus contract after childbirth, thus returning your uterus to normal size much quicker than formula-feeding moms after birth. Also, nursing releases calming hormones - it's nature's way of helping mom relax. (mgmsrk, if you want me to find multiple studies to back those findings up, I will)

Off topic, I'm finding it hard to remember how discussing breastfeeding in depth like this relates to the original post. I only mentioned that having a baby and nursing was good for your health, and could be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a baby versus remaining childless.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 10:37PM
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I was that way too, pecan, for 3 years and one month, I'm proud to say :).

And gibby, you'd be surprised in how many ways what you're willing to do changes when you become a mother to a helpless little thing who depends on you and the quality of food you choose to give her/him, the circumstances you create for her/him, the care you give her/him, for survival. What could possibly be more important than that? Other, more superficial social niceties pretty much fall by the wayside, or should, IMO...

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 10:38PM
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Some of you may be interested in the linked editorial from the (Journal of Human Lactation.(

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 11:02PM
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Sorry! Something funny happened when I tried to say: I don't know anything about the website hosting this reprint, it's just a readable source for a great article.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 11:06PM
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athome, that is an interesting article on how semantics shapes our thoughts and decisions. The article is 10 years old, so the reference citations are even older. However, I am proud to say that I was the production editor of Epidemiology when Reference 3 was published! I know that the article was peer-reviewed and that the journal's editor and editorial board enforced rigorous standards for research methodology and statistical analysis. Here is the abstract:

Epidemiology. 1994 May;5(3):324-31.

Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer.

Freudenheim JL, Marshall JR, Graham S, Laughlin R, Vena JE, Bandera E, Muti P, Swanson M, Nemoto T.

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo 14214.

Early childhood nutrition may affect the subsequent risk of breast cancer in adulthood. We examined the association of having been breastfed with risk of breast cancer in a case-control study of women age 40-85 years in western New York. Cases (N = 528) had newly diagnosed primary, pathologically confirmed breast cancer; controls (N = 602) were randomly selected from the same community and were frequency matched on age. Having been breastfed was associated with decreased risk. The multivariate adjusted odds ratio was 0.74, and the 95% confidence interval was 0.56-0.99. We found little difference in the association for pre- and postmenopausal women despite a much higher frequency of breastfeeding among the older women. These findings indicate that early nutriture in general and bottle feeding in particular may relate to breast cancer development in adulthood.

PMID: 8038247 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Now, this is just one study, based on a small sample in a single geographic location, and it is 12 years old. Since 1994, there have probably been other epidemiologic studies on this question; a large study, preferably a multinational (or at least multi-institutional) series, would be needed to confirm and support the conclusions of this particular study.

It's waaay past my bedtime, but tomorrow, if I have time (and it will be a busy day), I'll see whether I can find any updates in the literature.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 1:56AM
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My DD was born in Italy. There was never any question whatsoever about breastfeeding. A few hours after she was born they wheeled her into my room and showed me what to do. There was no discussion of bottles or any other method.

Like Snookums, I nursed my DD everywhere (my favorite place was the Boboli Gardens) and no one looked at me askance; In fact, people would walk by and smile and nod at the young mother nursing her baby. It was such a positive and encouraging environment. In fact, I even nursed my best friend's baby (she didn't have a whole lot of milk and so asked me to do it). I guess you can say I was a wet nurse for awhile. In the USA I probably would have been arrested! But in Italy it was an act of friendship and love.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 10:09AM
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What an interesting article! Thanks. I'll send it on to my daughters. The way language shapes our thoughts is one of my favorite topics.

Re: being a wet nurse. My best friend had three kids just about exactly the same ages as my three. Once a week, one of us would care for all of them so the other could have a few hours' free time. Part of the deal was that we nursed one other's babies, as they had never had a bottle. It was great being able to get away knowing the babies wouldn't starve and scream while we were gone. We used to laugh about how different the babies' breastfeeding "styles" were. No arrests so far, but those kids are in their thirties now.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 2:39PM
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Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers. We can use all we can get and appreciate it all. Also have to add that as stressful as renovating/remodelling was; it was one of the most fun things I have ever done. On days when I have the energy; I so enjoy cooking in my perfect (for me) kitchen and we all eat together at the table even on days when i need to be carried downstairs (that is not too often). It doesn't have to be grand but a family gathering place and sense of "home" is so important. Especially during trying times.

Thank you again for your kind thoughts!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 5:31PM
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Hollybolly, Many sincere blessings your way. May you be healed for His glory. Your post was so very humbling and moving.

And to everyone else that has breast fed, I find myself envious. I posted the harsh sounding, but very true story above about a former client under vasheri name above. (My old screen name was the only one that worked when I posted...now I'm on the new name, which suddenly started working again. Go Figure.) Any way, "P", the mother at the pool, was a display artist. Believe me, I cannot imagine anyone, ever, letting their child "handle" breast feeing in public like this. OK, maybe a 2 year old that doesn't know better, but honestly, this was something to behold. I think any professional would have eyed this scene suspect of "something". Specifically, there was nothing "motherly" about her actions. It was all about who would be watching her son display her breast and 'how' he handled her breast. I've seen hundreds of children nurse, but never like this! Honest to goodness, it's been at least 15 years or more since that happened, so I'm older remembering the scenario, and I am still persuaded to think the same thing now as I did then. She let her son nurse in any manner he wanted. There was nothing affectionate about it.

I have no problem whatsoever with breast feeding and support it 100%. My own children had horrific allergies to formulas. No milk from cow, goat, soy, or coconut would suffice. It was some version of potato milk that they survived.

Why didn't I breast feed? Well, honestly, I thought I would smoother the cuties. My breasts were so huge, no joke. The literally tore from my chest wall and I had to have them fixed after baby #2. I've never seen posted anywhere, or heard of a huge breasted woman state what I'm stating. There's no way that my children could have fed without me having to lay down every time. My breasts were too huge and heavy to even try to hold up so they could nurse. It was a ridiculous consideration and my doctors agreed once they saw my predicament. Imagine having breast torn from your chest and landing in your lap, then filled to the point where they were larger than your baby's head. THAT was me. It looked like some grotesque charicature cartoon. They're fixed now, but for many years, I was in misery.

So, I find myself envious this morning of your stories of nursing, bonding, etc. I can honestly say, I never felt that intimacy that you describe. I wish I did. My children and I are close, but I wonder how things could have been different.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 9:50AM
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Really, things wouldn't be that different. Take it from someone with about 10 years of nursing behind her. The beauty of the way we are created is that there are many ways to be intimate with our children. Nursing is one way, a very good way, to establish a close bond with one's newborn, but it certainly isn't the only way. My now-older breastfed children still talk-back, run out of the room in anger, and disobey. Emotional intimacy is an on-going thing, rooted in physcial contact with your children. Try to touch them when you're talking to them, sit next them when they're in the room, give them a hug at the end of the day. Doing these things are the challenges every mother and father faces with their children as they grow up. Stress eats a family up, because the emotional peace and genrousity required for real intimacy is no longer there. And then they're all grown up and gone!


Thank you for posting your perspective. It is beautiful and profound, and I know it is very, very real. I'm sorry that you and your family are suffering. You are in my prayers.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 10:24AM
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Wow, there are a ton of responses, and I have only read about 10 of them. But I really hope you read this.

Having children was the single most wonderful thing I have done in my life. PERIOD. Better than marriage, career, etc.

I cannot tell you how enriched my life has been because of being a mother. And it does change you, for the better, I am convinced. You see the entire world and every tiny thing that goes on, thru different eyes when you are a parent. You truly become less selfish.

My son is 22 and a joy to be around. He carries on intelligent conversations and is hysterically funny. He is still going to college and lives at home (I feel blessed). He is going to be a writer, and we edit his work and go over ideas together. When he comes home late at night from his P/T server job, he sits & talks to me about his day, the news, our travel plans, etc. I love it.

I absolutely cherish my 19 yr old daughter. She also lives at home and has a boyfriend she will probably marry. It's so wonderful to be able to share this & guide her as she grows. I am thrilled that she opens up to me and talks about her feelings, friends, issues, everything.

My kids still enjoy vacationing with us... Europe this coming summer. When they move out, our plans are still to vacation together at least once a year. I will need anti-depressants when they leave, I think. I will miss them so.
I never have been one of these "I can't wait till they leave" parents. I've attended all the soccer, softball, football, basketball games, field trips, open houses, etc. and loved every minute.

I am continually amazed at the power of my love for my kids. I tell them that only when they have babies will they understand the strength of my love for them.

I've been married to a great guy 28 years so it's not that my kids are my only life. But they will make it wonderful until the day I die.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 7:48PM
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Following this thread and hesitating to write. Such a personal and profound decision in life.

Couple things though I want to add:

First, my work involves contact with elderly, and these are largely healthy, educated, solvent elderly. For every one reveling in family there seem to be ten who have virtually been abandoned. Some are in pain over it, many are curiously resigned. The point is, please, please, please do *not* have children expecting them to be there in your old age. Terrific if they are, but it may not happen.

Second, when I worked as a therapist I heard many, many people say (in that private place) what no one will say here: I regret having my children. It is a very sad thing, but some people really do end up feeling that way.

Last, life yields surprises. Take me, my best friend, my sister, my other sister, my sister-in-law, my brother and another brother. Among us we have been dealt (order scrambled for privacy):

-infertility, successful artificial insemination for a daughter, then, whoops, twins and a fourth outa nowhere
-an early death leaving 10 and 12 year old sons
-a sole late arrival daughter dying at 8 of a sudden brain aneurysm
-a son on the first plane to hit the Trade Center 9/11
-infertility, unsuccessful interventions
-two wonderful sons, a divorce, and a better marraige
-four great kids (one disabled), 10 grandkids and counting...

The thing is there are so many different ways life can turn out. And while none of us signed on for what we got, we wouldn't be who we are with different lives.

Just make the best decision you can and buckle in for the ride. Odds are it won't be what you think.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 12:33AM
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Your doctors were taking simple historys, mine ask the same questions(they dont bother
with the breastfeeding ones). Did they tell you that you are now in a higher risk category
for developing breast cancer? Pregnancy and breast feeding may reduce a womans risk
of getting breast cancer, it is not the golden pill you are touting it to be, there are many
other factors that will come into play and most people who are diagnosed with breast
cancer dont fall into any of the high risk categories. My maternal aunt had 2 children,
both breast fed in her early 20s, in her early 30s she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
My Mother had me(her only child) in her very late 20s, she did breastfeed me but for
less time since there is only one of me. Statistically based solely on pregnancy and
breastfeeding my mother was more likely to have breast cancer, but she hasnt so far and
my aunt luckily 30 plus years later is still around. The possibility that you may be in a
lower risk category for breast cancer is a pretty weak reason for having children.


One of the above is the results of a study the rest are summaries, the last links to
additional studies.

With about 45 million Americans with out health care and untold millions who have
HMOs with questionable ethics it is a stretch to assume that every woman gets access to
even basic tests not to mention the very expensive ones. And most breast cancers are first
discovered by the women, fancy tests wont help if she isnt doing her part. Not to pick
on the American lack of health care here is a Canadian story. I my self am scheduled for
a MRI, it is for September but they hope I can get in by July. A earlier appointment will
largely depend on how many people in front of me die before their appointments, I have
been waiting already for several months. When I get lucky enough to go for my turn I
will have to drive more than 4 hours in one direction cross 3 Provinces and pay a $40.
toll, I am just so glad we have a free health care system. Luckily I am not going for any
thing life threatening, so the people scheduled after me are just going to have to wait
their turn.

I cant help if your reading comprehension is lacking. "Suggesting (incorrectly) that
breastfeeding could increase your risk of cancer..", I never said any thing close to that.

"I only mentioned that having a baby and nursing was good for your health, and could be
a factor in deciding whether or not to have a baby versus remaining childless." There are
many complications that exist only for women who have children, they are greatly
lessened in the industrialized world but still present. I wonder if the several hundred
women who die in the US every year from pregnancy or child birth are counted in your
"good health" plan?


Anyone who bases important life decision like raising a child on the possibility that some
members of society may "freak out" is lacking the intelligence, moral character and spine
to be responsible for anything more complicated than a bowl of Sea Monkeys. Not one of
the women you know could figure out how to buy a cooler, some ice packs and a manual
or battery operated breast pump? Both of my Grandmothers were professionals and
figured out how to do it in the 30s and 40s.

It is a huge stretch to blame breastfeeding on husbands being worthless. What the women
in your circle(at least the ones you are describing) need to under stand is that they are
apparently married to LOSERS, I would bet my life they were losers when they married
them and will be when they die. Unfortunately instead of coming to terms with the fact
that they have used questionable judgment in the past by first marrying and than breeding
with a jerk they are going to spend the rest of their lives justifying the mans behavior, "if
I would of just done..........he would be better", no sorry dear he would still be a idiot and
so would you for picking him.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 2:47AM
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"The thing is there are so many different ways life can turn out. And while none of us signed on for what we got, we wouldn't be who we are with different lives.

Just make the best decision you can and buckle in for the ride. Odds are it won't be what you think. "

Beautifully said, Celtic. Amen.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 9:36AM
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I had to post this hilarious email here, since so many mothers are tuning into this discussion. Not that it will sway anyone about the parenthood decision, but it is so funny!

Why God made moms...

Why God made moms" answers given by elementary school age children to the
following questions:
Why did God make mothers?

  1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
  2. Mostly to clean the house.
  3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.
    How did God make mothers?
  4. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
  5. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
  6. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger
    What ingredients are mothers made of?
  7. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  8. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use
    string, I
    Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
  9. We're related.
  10. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.
    What kind of little girl was your Mom?
  11. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
  12. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy. 3. They say she used to be nice.
    What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
  13. His last name.
  14. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk
    on beer?
  15. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to
    Why did your Mom marry your dad?
  16. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot. 2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
  17. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.
    Who's the boss at your house?
  18. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof
  19. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed. 3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.
    What's the difference between moms and dads?
  20. Moms work at work & work at home, & dads just go to work at work. 2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
  21. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause
    that's who
    you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
    4.Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.
    What does your Mom do in her spare time?
  22. Mothers don't do spare time.
  23. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.
    What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
  24. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of
  25. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.
    If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
  26. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid
    of that.
  27. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did
    it and
    not me.
  28. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on her back.

I was out walking with my 4 year old daughter. She picked up
something off the
ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I
asked her not to do that.
"Why?" my daughter asked.
"Because it's been laying outside, you don't know where it's been,
it's dirty
and probably has germs" I replied.
At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration and
asked, "Wow!
How do you know all this stuff?"
"Uh," ...I was thinking quickly, "All moms know this stuff. It's on
the Mommy Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a Mommy."
We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was evidently
pondering this new information.
"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you have
to be the daddy."
"Exactly" I replied back with a big smile on my face and joy in my
heart. When you're finished laughing, send this to a Mom.

"Dear Lord," the preacher began with arms extended and a rapturous look on his upturned face, "without you we are but dust..." He would have continued, but at that moment one very obedient little girl (who was listening carefully) leaned over to her mother and asked quite audibly in her shrill little girl voice, "Mommy, WHAT is butt dust?" Church was pretty much over at that point...

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 10:22AM
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Thanks for a good laugh!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 10:59AM
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cupofkindness, thanks for pointing out that nursing isn't the only way to bond with your child.

I did manage to nurse in a sense. I didn't successfully get my first son to nurse no matter how I tried and how many lactation consultants I worked with, he just wouldn't do it. So I pumped for 5 months and had 1 extra month on reserve, so he at least got breast milk. I weaned my second son after 4 months with 1 extra month of milk. I am for nursning. I really don't think they are less bonded to me for having short nursing times.

Do you think an adopting mom could never be as bonded to her child as a nursing bilogical mom? I don't think that it true. I feel as though children love their parents for the wonderful things the remember them doing for them.

OK, so sort of back on topic - why would children abandon their elderly parents? This is so upsetting to me. I wonder why it happens? Do they just get caught up in their own family's lives? Were the elderly people of a generation that didn't know how to parent and are now suffering as a consequence? I would really like to explore this. I can't fathom doing that to my parents, so I am curious as to why others can.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 1:00PM
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lilathabit - "why would children abandon their elderly parents?" Now that is an interesting topic, and you have asked some good questions about it. Why don't you start a new thread on it, since this one is getting so long? I would be so interested in that discussion.

Talk about ambivalence!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 1:25PM
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"Did they tell you that you are now in a higher risk category

for developing breast cancer?" and "I cant help if your reading comprehension is lacking. "Suggesting (incorrectly) that

breastfeeding could increase your risk of cancer..", I never said any thing close to that."

Nah, it's just too easy.

mgmsrk - I don't know if you have children or not (you haven't said) but you really need to educate yourself here. Did you even read your own links?! I don't think you did. You are also starting to lean towards insults as well which is totally uncalled for, particularly in your words towards Sue, calling her an idiot. What have you contributed to this thread besides to tear apart what others have said?

No, it is not a "Golden Pill," but it is definitely a consideration and a way (just one way) to lower your risk factor in the most common form of estrogen-induced cancer. It was definitely something *I* considered when I decided if and when to have children. I was told it was best to have my first before 30, so I did. I was told it was best to breastfeed as long as possible, so I did. I cannot guarantee that I will never get cancer (my ordeal last summer was proof of that), but at least I know that I did the best I could. BTW I also eat healthy, am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, shop and cook organic whenever possible, don't eat fast food, drink only water or milk, exercise, see the dr and dentist regularly, etc etc etc. I do the best I can at what has been proven to help me live a longer and healthier life.

How the Canadian vs US healthcare system came into this conversation I don't know either. I responded to the original post based on the assumption that she had access to healthcare because she didn't say otherwise. I doubt she'd be even remotely considering it if she didn't. You really need to read up on programs like MediCal and Healthy Children as well - in most states, government programs take over when a family doesn't have insurance. For those that aren't poor enough to qualify for those, companies like Kaiser offer tiered income plans - such as $8 per kid. My husband was unemployed for a month over the summer and we looked into all of the available programs. We have employer-paid coverage now. Canadians have such a miscontrued view of what health care is like here, and besides, didn't I read just last week that Canada is starting up a privatized system? Maybe I'm wrong. But either way, it has nothing to do with the original post. What is your recommendation? Will she regret having kids? Do you have anything useful to say?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 4:44PM
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I think it is pretty amusing that you would insult me and the people I know when you are not even bright to take care of your own health, waiting months and months for a necessary procedure. In fact, if you are a mother, you must be a bad one because you choose to live somewhere with such a crappy health care system. Don't you know you are not doing what is best for your child, living in such a third world country where someone needs to wait months for basic care? "You are lacking the intelligence, moral character and spine to be responsible for anything more complicated than a bowl of Sea Monkeys." Sounds like it would fit you. You should cross the border and get that MRI. Last time I needed one the waiting list was about 4 hours.


I appreciate you coming to my defense. But time will show mgmsrk her own reward. She will be one of those mothers whose children abandon her (per the other thread) - because she is a self righteous, overbearing witch.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 6:16PM
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I'm waaaaaaaaaaaaaay late to this. (Stupid iVillage. I don't know who anyone is anymore b/c of the name change thing, can't log-in half the time, and my computer keeps freezing up when I'm here!)

First, Hollybolly: Hang in there girl. I'm praying for you too. Your post completely moved me, and helped me re-prioritize my life.

Second, this was posted above:

I still have yet to hear from someone, ANYONE, that having children makes your marriage better.

Can I be the first? See for me and DH, it actually helped. We were both only children, and were therefore extremely "spoiled" about our time. To be blunt (and this only applies to us, not to all only-children) we were VERY selfish and self-centered. Very. Selfish with our time, our patience levels, our thoughts, our stuff, etc. Having kids literally drove the selfishness out. We learned how to put others' needs first. We learned to prioritize our time. Our marriage didn't suffer, because we held/hold onto a bit of "selfishness" concerning our time together. There are kid-free times that we enforce, just because we need to feed "us". But having kids completely helped us as people, and completely helped our marriage. Learning to sacrifice and put someone elses needs first is a lesson we had just not been taught. (Oh in theory, perhaps, but not in actuality.)

Sometimes we still look at each other and laugh about how we watched ourselves change with the addition of each (3 total) child. For us, the sacrifices we had to make to be good parents crossed over into making our relationship MUCH stronger.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 11:25AM
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Reno, I also want to add that I can imagine that not having children will make it so much easier for many couples to just give up. I'd bet that the divorce rate is much higher among couples without children versus couples with children. I think that those who have kids are much more likely to try and work things out. They have more reasons to do so.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 12:54PM
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Holly--I am so sorry to hear this. I looked at your member page and remember your house so well. You are in my prayers.May I ask what type of cancer it is? Please keep in touch here and let us be your sounding board.

All-- Funny how this turned into a breastfeeding thread, but very interesting.

I breastfed my first baby for one year. I wasn't working and we had no money. It was wonderful and I couldn't imagine anyone not breastfeeding. Used those nasty cloth diapers too. I was not crunchy, just broke.

My second child--I had to go back to work as an RN on a busy medical-surgical floor. I tried to pump, but I barely got a break to go pee during the day, let alone pump. With breast milk soaking the front of my pretty white uniform (yes, we actually wore uniforms back then) I weaned her at 8 weeks. She did fine.

My third and fourth (twins)--delivered via c-section at age 44 with a hemoglobin of 7.2 and debilitated from 3 mo of bedrest. No milk--period--ever-- despite pumping like crazy for days. My boys did fine, although formula feeding did create a lot more work for dh.

Unfortunatley, despite what lots of people believe--sometimes it just doesn't work. That's why God created formula ;-)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 3:43PM
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Reno fan, Blsdgal and everyone else,

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. While I'm not particularly religious; I have become a believer in the power of prayer. Also I've been touched and surprised by both my virtual and real communities. People, even virtual strangers, have gone out of their way to help me and my family. Today for instance, a woman I barely know beyond the fact that our second graders are in class together, organized a terrific birthday party for my son. She booked the gym, made the "goody bags", ordered the cake etc. My husband and I have been meaning to get to it but... As my son said, it was the best party ever!!!! I can't believe that she spent all that thought and effort just to keep things normal for one little boy!

Blsdgal - I have adenocarcinoma of unknown primary origin or what I call "mystery cancer". Basically it is a cancer that has spread (in my case to liver and lungs) but it is not known from where since there is no sign of the original cancer. Again in my case it may have started in the colon, pancreas, stomach or ovaries. I get a "chemo cocktail" of 3 drugs for each of these possibilities.

BTW; there are no known risk factors for this type of cancer. I have had genetic testing and it was negative for known mutations. I never smoked, drank, did drugs etc. Have always had a priveleged life with access to excellent health care, healthy environment etc. I did breastfeed 3 kids although I had them fairly late in life (34 for first). Sometimes bad things just happen... so I'm not sure that reducing cancer risk should figure in the decision to have children. I would hate to think that my children failed to keep me healthy!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 6:30PM
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Just for the record, adoptive mothers CAN nurse! It's challenging, but can be done, with or without a full milk supply.

Mothering is so much more than milk.

But as for milk, there is no reason milk banks can't flow as freely as blood banks. Some day all our children may begin life on human milk. It takes a village.

Which is why some of us reach out here, and elsewhere.

As to the original question, aren't we more likely to regret the WAY we took a path, rather than the path itself?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 6:47PM
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"...I can imagine that not having children will make it so much easier for many couples to just give up."

Snookums, I can't say for others, but in my case, I believe you're right. I'm on marriage #3. No kids with the first two. In those days, I never thought in terms of "forever". In my second marriage, we even joked about it being a 5-year renewable contract. (Sadly, after two terms, we decided not to renew.)

With DH and I (with one son), we talk about "forever and then some". Even our wedding bands are engraved in Latin, "Not even death will part us."

With a child, everything changes that way.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 9:25PM
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>>But time will show mgmsrk her own reward. She will be one of those mothers whose children abandon her (per the other thread) - because she is a self righteous, overbearing witch.THAT is a really, really nasty and hateful thing to say and you should not wish that on anyone, under ANY circumstances.
As to the other thread...I've seen wonderful mothers left to fend for themselves and not so, wonderful, mothers taken care of.
Be kind, people...It doesn't bode well for people that say "you reap what you sow" to, then, expect kindness when their turn comes. And hey, my feeling is that even though some people may not have been kind it doesn't ever hurt you/us to treat them with kindness.. you don't even have to do it for them...do it for yourself.. you'll feel good about yourself.
As for ANYONE who has ever worked at a nursing home who boastfully states that some residents/parents deserve to be abandoned?.. well, IMO, that person doesn't have any place, at all, working there. They are burnt out... and as such, should leave the profession (And I use that word, loosely in their case). These people are not flipping hamburgers, are not crunching numbers, not sitting behind a desk, etc... they are dealing with humans.. real people...very, vulnerable and sometimes, helpless people and THAT kind of attitude can kill people. It has no place in a medical setting, period.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 10:11PM
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oh spacific, I LOVE what you all engraved on your wedding bands. Our wedding bands are custom made, something I dreamed--they're like water flowing around our fingers, like us being part of the perpetual flow of nature...

And I think having our daughter has *now* made our marriage deeper and better than it had been...but it took time. The birth and first year were *extremely* stressful, with no family support, and it took its toll on our relationship, but we're back in a deeper, more tested-through-fire way, if folks can imagine what I mean. It's so much More than I'd ever thought it could have been when we first got married or were traipsing through life as two successful professionals with cats :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 2:29AM
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"I can imagine that not having children will make it so much easier for many couples to just give up. I'd bet that the divorce rate is much higher among couples without children versus couples with children. I think that those who have kids are much more likely to try and work things out. They have more reasons to do so."

Interesting theory, but I'm betting the statistics will show that the divorce rate is just as high for couples with kids. Don't know, and would be interested to find out.

In my case, 1st hubby was psychologically abusive, and for 10 years, I put up with it. (I got enough emotional support from my girlfriends and validation from my work that I was able to function without any support from him.) But after we had a child, his sick games started to hurt someone else - our son. And our son was growing up watching the cruel and twisted way he treated me. The minute I realized what our son was seeing, and that our son would think this was normal and appropriate -- that was the instant I knew I needed to divorce him. Not for myself, but for my son. For me, my son was the reason to leave, not the reason to stay.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 11:14AM
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Sweeby: Would you be willing to share with me how it is that you decided to have a child with someone who was abusive in any way? I am very curious to understand the rationale/psyche behind a decision like this in these circumstances. Thank you....

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 12:44PM
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Though I cannot speak for Sweeby, I might address this question posed by Hsorrentino by saying that the fundamental wish, which some might view as an a deep seated desire not unlike an instinct, which others might view as a decision, to create your very own family can be so strong that you are even willing to accept a certain level of risk or insecurity to do so. Even a child born in an ideal setting would find his parents experiencing certain degrees of anxiety and even fear surrounding the changes that a baby sets in motion, both for the parents individually and as a couple.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 2:52PM
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I would add that often people don't recognize emotional abuse until some precipitating event occurs. In this case, without speaking for her, I think Sweeby alluded to the fact that seeing it through her son's eyes made her understand how harmful it was.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 3:32PM
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Hsorrentino, maybe you didn't mean it, but I do sense a judgment in your question for Sweeby. I don't know how she feels about answering a question such as yours, but I can tell you that there is a great deal of literature on this topic. Much of it is on the Internet. Just do a google search and you'll find all kinds of information that might help you with your understanding.

The website below has links to much more on the subject.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 3:41PM
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That's a fair question Hsorrentino. I think the bottom line is that I didn't realize what he was doing actually "qualified" as abuse until I got into counseling. He never hit me, didn't drink excessively, didn't even call me horrible names -- it was much more subtle. Even though he was hyper-critical and contemptuous, he always had ways of rationalizing everything -- and there was always at least a grain of truth to his side that could be magnified and twisted and exploited. And psychological abuse is very subtle at first, very insidious. Ask any woman who has experienced abuse of any type, and you'll hear some version of the same old story...

I knew we didn't have the best marriage, but I had made up my mind that it was something I could live with. And as Cup pointed out, I really wanted a baby, and the timing was right for a number of reasons.

The marriage died for me the day our 10-month old son slapped me playfully in the face. Of course he didn't know any better, so I corrected him gently, saying "Nice hands. Don't hit." But then EvilEx decided it was fun, so he laughed and whispered playfully "Hit Mommy!" to the baby. Baby laughs and hits me again. I correct Baby again and explain briefly to Ex why it wasn't a good idea for him to encourage that type of play. No luck. "Hit Mommy!" - Slap - explain. Repeat. He would never acknowledge that encouraging the baby to hit me wasn't good parenting. There were a few other instances along similar lines, but that one got through to me.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 3:48PM
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I apologize if anyone was viewing my curiousity as being judgemental. Not my intention whatsoever. Sweeby, thank you for the explaination and being so open....My preference with topics such as this is to get insight from those around me...family, friends, co-workers as opposed to doing research on the net. I actually feel a sense of "community" on this board and was simply hoping for some open honest communication. Thank you...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 9:32PM
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Flyleft, glad you like the saying. When we were having it translated, I consulted with friends of my sister's... a couple of monks. There were endless nights of discussion as to the correct version (and as my Latin knowledge consists of helping my big brother study for Latin I class in high school, I was no help). But the monks were very clear to point out that in their view, we had no jurisdiction as to what happened in the afterlife... but I digress...

Sweeby, I admit I had the same question that hsorrentino had. Thank you for shedding some light. Perhaps a revision of my response... If you already have a strong marriage, I think having a child/children can add another lasting, incredible dimension. On the down side, all the stresses, issues, problems, weaknesses of a marriage will really come through... In our case it continues to make us stronger. In a rough marriage, I can easily see how the opposite would happen.

Perhaps that's it... Children magnify life. Whatever's good seems amazing... whatever's bad becomes intolerable. Just a rambling thought after two glasses of wine....

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 10:09PM
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I didn't take any offense -- Seriously, it was a question I've asked myself many times! ;-) And the judgement I passed on myself (then forgave myself for - not to worry) was much more stringent.

For anyone who suspects this discussion might be a little too close to home -- listen up! and pay attention to that nagging little voice that suspects you may deserve better. Better is out there! Even if you think he's "got a point" (there was always a grain of truth in my ex's abuse) -- If he makes you feel bad about yourself, you're probably better off without him.

Spacific - That's a great point about children magnifying life -- I think that's exactly what they do. And easily some of the sweetest moments in my life have been the time I spend with DH (#2) and our kids together. I think of them as "golden moments" -- those little moments in time when everything is just perfect.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 10:38PM
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I love how you phrased that as well. Children do magnify life. Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 11:42AM
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Sweeby, what a haunting story you tell about your ex when your son was 10 months. So glad you were able to move away from that, so glad for your son as well. I cannot fathom another human being encouraging a child to strike his mother in play, such a painful story. And one I could not have understood before I was a mother myself.

Are things okay now parenting with the ex? Or is this too much to ask? I'm so glad to know your son is free from that old relationship, now severed.

Your son is lucky to have you, and the person you are for breaking away from pain for him.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 11:56AM
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Wow, how this thread progressed! I posted at the very beginning and read a few of the following posts but just came back to it now.

I have to say that I find some of the rationalizations for having children to be disturbing.

-- Have children so you won't get cancer?
-- Have children so you'll have someone to take care of you when you get old?


Nope. Those are NOT reasons to have kids. The reason to have kids is because you want them, your SO wants them, and you are prepared to face the changes and challenges that will be a part of your life for the rest of your life.

So many of us have stated how children changed our lives for the better and how we could never go back knowing now what we didn't know then (me among them). But again, I'll say vehemently that I don't believe this to be the whole story. There are lots of parents who regret having kids. Including many who wanted kids and planned for them etc. There are no easy answers.

There's no way to know what will happen if you DO have kids or if you DON'T. And you'll never be able to look back and see how your life would have been different if you had taken the opposite road. So you just have to make the decision based on how you feel now. And if you choose to have kids later or adopt or foster or whatever, you'll make that decision at that point in your life.

But that decision should never be based on some pie in the sky vision of rosy cheeked kids saving you from cancer or taking care of you when you're old or any kind of non-guaranteed possible benefit to you. The only benefit to you that should be considered is that you believe that your life will be enriched by the presence of children in your life. Period.

I didn't say this before, but I wish all the best to the OP in your marriage and your life!

I also send my very best to hollybolly as you face this extreme difficulty in your life. I wish very much that you will post news of remission very soon. Know that our thoughts are with you.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 4:13PM
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The last time I was here this had shifted into breast feeding - it's now taken a whole new twist. I couldn't trace where the thought that couples without kids might be more prone to divorce as they don't have as much reason to work things out. Just wanted to report that is not the case for me - no kids - very happily married for almost 28 years and it gets better all the time!!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 11:36PM
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A word of warning to original poster, no matter what you decide, in general your conversations with people will evolve into those about being a parent, lol!

No offense intended at all... I experience this all the time IRL(as a non parent) and it amuses me that it happened on this thread! :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 1:26PM
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lpolk, but the question was about parenting!

It is true that before I was a parent, I found myself in the midst of conversations about parenting & didn't care for it much beyond the first 15 minutes or so since I didn't share the experience. For some reason this bugged me more than finding myself in the middle of other conversations that didn't include me: spouse's shop talk, local politics when I'm out of town, hobbies I don't get, etc. Something about parenting, particularly among women, becomes "socially political."

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 10:26PM
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I must admit to watching this thread grow over the weeks and not reading it...and even though I'm posting, I still haven't read it. I'm taking a stab in the dark and guessing that there is a lot of controversy and debate over the original question.

I grew up believing that I should have a fabulous marriage, beautiful successful children and a fulfilling life. Turning 40 this summer and not having children or a marriage has led me to do a lot of reflecting.

I am not married by choice and I am childless by choice.

I don't regret my decision in least. I am, however, very very happy and satisfied with my life as it is. I think that if I were unhappy, it would be very easy to say that I regretted not having children or blame my unhappiness on old decisions. The fact of the matter is I am just shy of 40, childless and I don't regret it.

Does that mean you won't? No, it simply means that there are those of us that are childless and are truly happy.

Children are precious and should only be brought into this world with a lot of thought...no matter what you decide, I'm glad to see that there are still folks out there who truly think over this decision rather than letting it happen.

~ Elizabeth

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 1:08AM
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Well, I feel I was misquoted and misinterpreted about my comments about end of life issues and who will "take care of you" if there are no children. I NEVER said that was a reason to have kids. Only that you have to think about how those issues will be handled if you have no kids.

Perhaps there are some elderly posters, say 80 yrs old and up, who have no children and have worked out care issues who will share with us how well its working for them?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 10:06AM
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Sweeby - Thanks for sharing your story. Your son is lucky that you could remove him and yourself from a dangerous person. I have researched this type of mean hearted people and you have said it correctly, they are insidious and they spin a web of confusion injected with enough bits of truth to snow outsiders. This is a very bad situation. If your son is alive and healthy today he has you to thank. I know of people whose fate was not so rosy. God bless you. (didn;t mean to "threadjack")

As for the child issue, I do agree that children are wonderful, cute cuddly and stressful at times, I have three and want to pull my hair out occasionally. To the OP only you can truly know whether children are right for you. My only plea to all is to take the decision seriously, as a parent you are entrusted with the souls of little innocent beings, you have a duty to mould them into strong human being.

It is way more about what you do for them than what they can do for you. Although they can be pretty darn cute!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 2:30PM
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Athome and Dulcinea - Well, I got away, anyway. But EvilEx had remained a presence in our son's life, much to my discomfort. I've tried to walk the very fine line of supporting DS's relationship with his father and not badmouthing him, while also imparting my own values and standards, and shedding a little perspective on some of Ex's behaviors.

At the moment anyway, things appear to be going fairly well. DS has a good relationship with all of his parents (2 steps also), and he knows none of us is perfect. He knows right from wrong according to my stricter standards, but understands far better than most that there are many, many shades of gray in between. He manages to live just within the two very different sets of rules he has at each household, and is going to have an interesting time later on deciding which path to follow.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 3:13PM
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How are things going? What's your view on the wide array of topics addressed on this thread?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 6:37AM
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Hey Cup, and everyone else...well, this has definitely been an eye opening thread! But we are still totally undecided. Which is not such a bad thing, of course, especially since we are not in a rush. The one thing I do realize is that there is no right or wrong answer...I guess whatever we decide will take us down a path in life that will hopefully be wonderful...

Ironically, we were at SO's sister's house on Sunday...she has four kids...they are all super hyper and not very well behaved...and I have to say, we are not big fans of her and her husband's parenting skills. Every time I might think I want kids and we go there, I walk out saying NO WAY! I do know that if they were raised differently, they would act differently, but it is still such an eye opening experience! And of course, no one is perfect, so I am definitely not saying that I would be super parent...

I am glad to see though that everyone who responded on this thread is for, the most part, really happy with their decision, whatever it may be. It is nice to see that no matter what we decide, chances are it will be a good choice!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 8:46AM
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. And I would agree that seeing poor parenting skills in action can discourage anyone from having children. Children need discipline, and I'm not talking about spanking but true discipline which is the habit of training a child how to behave well no matter where they are or who the children are with. It doesn't dawn on some people that they should expect their children live up to a certain standard of obedience and respect. It is demanding work but it pays off in having children that you love to be around as the years go by. In any case, God bless you and your SO as you make this life-changing decision together.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 9:49AM
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I am one of those older mom's that said "My kid will never do that!" when I saw kid's acting up in public. Boy, have I had to eat my words!! I feel I am pretty good at parenting, I am a SAHM and spend quite a bit of time trying to make a decent human being out of my DS, but he has had his moments, like most normal kids.

Before I had DS, I would look at my sister's kids and think they were out of hand sometimes. But now that we have DS, I admire the way they have handled things, because I now now how hard it is. I guess I just thought kids should ALWAYS be well-behaved and that was that-LOL!

I just wanted to add that I admire your sister having 4 kids and it still SANE-LOL! My sister has 3 kids pretty close in age and although they are really well-behaved most of the time-they are kids and are much louder than I like-but, I only have the one, and boy, are we sometimes glad to go back to our quiet house with just the 3 of us! And I can tell my DS needs to get away from the caos also, since he is not used to all the commotion.

I said all that to say, if you do decide to have little kiddies, maybe one DS or DD is the answer-much easier in my opinion (except for the lack of sleep I'v had to endure).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 3:38PM
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The poster - mary I think -who brought up the old age factor? I have 3 living children. The one thing I don't want to do is burden my children. Most decisions will be taken care of long before (hopefully) we need them. And although I'm sure that my children would help me if they could, maybe they won't be in the position to help? They might not outlive me. There are no guarantees. For years my MIL was in assisted living, some of the people living there used to break my heart because their kids never visited. Those who didn't have children seemed happiest.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 7:21PM
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Not to hijack--but speaking of older mothers, did anyone hear on the news that a 62 yr old woman recently gave birth to her 12th child? She looked every bit of 62 and I doubt that it was through extraordinary means by the sound of her situation.

Am I hallucinating or did anyone else see this on the news?

And I thought I was old getting pg in my 40s ;-)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 1:38PM
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Egads! A baby at 62? That is nothing short of a miracle!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 1:44PM
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