Having kids is no easy decision. Sometimes even the best 'planned out' family can be nothing like what you expected. In the end, having little ones might be the most rewarding job you will ever do, but making the choice to do it comes with its own set of challenges. Check out these stories of 12 unique women and their journey through social, familial and spousal pressures to finding out if motherhood is the right choice for them.
#1 "I'm Getting Sterilized"
"On the fifth time of asking, I've finally got a GP to agree to refer me for sterilisation on the NHS. Having children has simply never appealed. I've felt like this for a long time and I can't see that changing. My mum had five children and talked a lot about how, even though she loves us all dearly, she'd do things differently if she had her time again. She had to set aside her dreams and we took up all her energy, money and time. My position makes dating difficult: most men I meet want children, so I feel I should bring it up early on, as it's not something you can compromise on. This means a lot of awkward conversations in bars. Once, when I was speed-dating, I mentioned my stance and the guy just walked off. People can be very judgemental. I get told I'm selfish or that I just haven't met the right person." - Holly, 29
#2 "It Seemed Like The Right Thing"
"I fell pregnant at 32, soon after I got married. Of my university gang, four of us married and had babies within the same 18 months - it was a domino effect. It's a taboo thing to say, but I'm not sure I was ready for motherhood then. It was just the conventional thing to do and I was swept along with that. All of my friends seemed to take to it brilliantly, whereas once I'd got over finding my maternity leave terrifying, I found it boring. I'm ashamed to admit that I was relieved to go back to my job in advertising. Looking back, I probably had postnatal depression. I've since had another child and feel I've learned how to be a good mother. I'm wistful for my life before children, though; the spontaneous nights out, the exotic travel, the summers at festivals. I love my kids, of course, but I think it's disingenuous to pretend that motherhood is this endlessly fulfilling, life enhancing journey." - Jenny, 39
#3 "We Want Different Things"
"I'd love to have kids - my sister has two and I feel broody around them - but I've recently discovered that my fiancé, who has a son from a previous relationship, definitely doesn't want any more. We've never talked about it before now. I naively assumed that we wanted the same thing, so didn't bring it up earlier. We're at a crossroads, but every time we try to have a conversation about it, we end up not getting anywhere and changing the subject. I'm hoping I can change his mind, but maybe that's just wishful thinking. I'm wondering: if we stay together, in 20 or 30 years' time will I resent him for not wanting to have children?" - Jillian, 33
#4 "I Lost Him, But I Still Have Her"
"I hadn't given any thought to if I wanted children when I accidentally fell pregnant at 23. I was living with my boyfriend in a tiny flat in London, working 14-hour days and partying hard. I was embarrassed to tell people at first. But Jaye was born and we fell in love with her and it was perfect. Then life took a horrible turn: when she was 13 months old, her dad fell ill and died suddenly. We found out that he'd had AIDS and that I was now HIV positive. Thankfully Jaye isn't - I'd never have forgiven myself if she was. I felt huge responsibility - we'd gone into parenthood as a team, and now I had to do it alone. Ten years on, I'm healthy and happy. I see glimpses of Jaye's father in expressions she has, so he lives on. I'm glad I had her when I did - if I'd found out about the HIV earlier, I probably wouldn't have wanted a child, and I'd never have experienced motherhood." - Lizzie, 35
#5 "I've Come To Terms With Not Having Children"
"We tried to have children for eight years, exhausting all the medical options, suffering a miscarriage and spending £20,000. A year ago, after our fourth IVF cycle failed, we decided to draw a line under it - we'd put our life on hold for years. Afterwards I was left with this huge question of, 'Now what?' I'd always imagined having a big family. I had a very dark three months, feeling empty and isolated. I also felt ashamed, like it was my fault; the world is very family-orientated, and you can't escape that. When you meet someone, one of the first things they ask is: 'Do you have children?' Now I feel I've turned a corner. I've rebooted my career - I was a teacher, but retrained as an EFT (emotional freedom technique) practitioner, specialising in fertility issues, and I run a support group for women in a similar position (thedovecote.org). It feels good to focus on the things I can control. I can't fill that gap, but I've found a purpose and I now understand that you can have an amazing life without children." - Kelly, 33
#6 "I Don't Want Them!"
"Having kids could not be further from my life plan. I'm focused on building my career and I want a job that involves travelling. I find it so frustrating when people say, 'Oh, you're young, you'll change your mind.' If someone tells you they want children, you don't try to talk them out of it, do you? That'd be considered rude." - Lizi, 23
#7 "I Was Bribed To Have A Baby"
"I'd been married for precisely 20 minutes when the first person at the reception asked me when we were going to have children. But I've known for a very long time that I don't have that maternal instinct. When my husband and I first met, we had the discussion - I was nervous about admitting that I didn't want children. He's open to the idea of kids, but doesn't feel it's a ticking time-bomb over our relationship. I feel less defensive about it now; in my twenties, it felt like a constant onslaught of friends, family, colleagues and strangers going on about it. One relative even offered us a five-figure sum if I fell pregnant! I laughed it off, but I was gobsmacked." - Ting, 31
#8 "I've Frozen My Eggs"
"I really want kids, but haven't met the right person to have them with. A few years ago, I discovered that a hormone imbalance meant it'd be hard for me to get pregnant, because my eggs weren't developing properly. I decided to have IVF to stimulate the eggs' growth, then they were removed and frozen. It was hideous, but I'm so relieved that I have this insurance policy. My ideal scenario is to find a partner, get married and use the eggs to have children. It's an issue that hangs over my dating life, but the good thing about online dating is that your views on kids are on your profile, so you can weed out people instantly. I don't tell people straight away about my frozen eggs, though, in case they run a mile! If I don't meet someone, I'll consider using donor sperm. I've given myself two years before I make a decision." - Emma, 36
#9 "I Was A Teen Mom"
"I met my husband at 12, we married at 17 and had our first child at 18. Our families were supportive, but lots of people said, 'They're too young, they'll never make it.' Now, ten years on, the same people say: 'Aren't they an amazing family?' I always wanted
to be a young mother - my parents were young and they were friends as much as parents. There are stereotypes about teenage parents, but I'm a professional writer, my husband is a lawyer, and we planned everything. I missed out on a lot in my twenties, and I'd be the only one in university lectures with a baby strapped to my chest. But I have no regrets. Now my friends are just starting to think about children, while I feel like my thirties are my time, and a chance to get my career to where I want it to be." - Natalie, 30
#10 "I Became A Mom Against All Odds"
"At 18, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and had a series of operations. I resigned myself to the idea that I would probably not be able to have children. When I fell pregnant at 27, I couldn't believe it. I took six pregnancy tests. It was such a shock, but turned out to be the greatest thing. I love having this little best mate who's always there. He's now three and I'm thrilled to be pregnant again." - Emily, 30
#11 "Four Kids And I Love It"
"People assume that at least one of my children must have been an accident - no one can get their head around the fact that I planned all four. But I've wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember, and I work as a nanny - I just love being around kids. I had two with my first husband and was happy with that, but we split up when our second child was 18 months old. I then met my second husband - who was desperate to be a dad and brilliant with my two - and we decided to have children together. I run things like a military operation - you can't wing it with four kids. We don't have much spare cash or free time, but it was my choice to have four. When they're older, things will be different, but I totally accept that my life at the moment is all about them." - Lynsey, 37
#12 "Our Children Have Two Moms"
"I've been with my partner, Kirsty, since I was 15, and I always pushed for children. The deal was that I'd carry them, and she would stay at home and raise them while I work. I had IVF with imported donor sperm and our twin boys were born eight months ago. I wrote a blog about it and the negative reactions were awful: people said we were selfish, that children deserve a father. After giving birth, I felt vulnerable and did briefly wonder if we were depriving the boys of a male parent. Now I just laugh at the comments. We live in a conservative suburb, but old ladies stop us in the street to say how lovely it is for the boys to have two mums. I'd like five kids, ideally. Then I'd like to be a surrogate. I just love being pregnant and giving birth." - Amber, 26
What are your thoughts on motherhood? Is there a 'right time' to have a baby? Share your personal stories with us!
Source: Glamour Magazine
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