Regretting Motherhood?

Since becoming a parent, I’m naturally more interested in parenting articles.  I discovered the TIME magazine Parents newsletter, which gets delivered to my inbox each Friday.  Belinda Luscombe, a TIME writer, rounds up links to various parenting-related articles each week, and also has a little advice on a different topic weekly, based on the child’s age.  I love the newsletters, and make time to keep up with them (unlike my Twitter feeds and Lenny articles, post-baby).  Here is a sample:

http://time.com/newsletter/parents/

And if you want to sign up for the weekly email newsletter, you can go here, scroll to the bottom, and input your email address:

http://time.com/parents/

Recently, she’s had a couple of articles about people regretting becoming parents.  The first is about a researcher in Israel, who did a study about women who regretted having children.  Perhaps regret is too strong of a word.  In essence, in a society where women who don’t have children are looked down upon, there is this promise of fulfillment in becoming a mother.  But it “may simultaneously be a realm of distress, helplessness, frustration, hostility and disappointment, as well as an arena of oppression and subordination”.  These women love their children, and are not bad mothers.  But given the significant impact having a child has on one’s life, they now wish they hadn’t done it.  Certainly taboo to admit one regrets becoming a mother.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/09/love-regret-mothers-wish-never-had-children-motherhood

The second article is an anonymous post by a father with similar sentiments.  He became clinically depressed after realizing he did not want the profound changes in his life that occurred after having his son.  His wife doesn’t understand how he could feel that way, so it’s put a strain on the relationship.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-regret-having-children

The fact that both articles/posts ended up in the Parents newsletter means that they gained some buzz.  On the one hand, it’s still a bit shocking to hear that a parent regrets having children.  But on the other hand, it sounds like it’s more common than you’d think.  And these articles are raising awareness.

I always wanted to have kids.  Whether that was due to expectations from society and my parents, I don’t know.  But I was old enough when I got married to have a sense of how life-changing it is to have kids.  So when I got married, I knew I wanted to have kids, and it was a decision I had made independently.  My husband wanted children as well.  We were lucky enough to be able to plan it, and not to have had trouble conceiving.

Even then, it’s been tough and I relate to the sentiments of the articles.  Even despite wanting a child, having a supportive partner, planning a pregnancy, and having a pretty good idea of what to expect, it’s still hard.  Really hard.  Granted, I didn’t quite know what it was like and how hard it was until going through it myself.  And it’s hard for others to explain what it’s like to get so much joy from your little guy.

But the chronic sleep-deprivation, and general demand on my life hasn’t been easy.  I have the type of job where I work 50-something hours a week, and I can’t exactly half-ass it.  So it’s tough when I’m chronically tired, but still have to be at the top of my game at work.  I feel like all I have the time and energy for is work, and whatever is required to take care of WZW- the breastfeeding and pumping (which I hate every day), getting up at night for him, and just in general watching him so he doesn’t kill himself these days.

He’s sleeping better, and taking longer naps, so it is nice for getting more stuff done.  But what I find is that even on weekends, it’s hard to catch up on sleep.  There’s always stuff I want to do, even if it’s sitting on my computer like this.  I’m introverted by nature, so I need to decompress and have alone time.  That is much more difficult given all of the demands of having a baby.  So between the lack of sleep and lack of me-time, I often don’t feel settled.

So particularly for my patients who did not plan their pregnancies, don’t have a solid relationship with their partner, don’t have financial stability, or just were ambivalent about children in the first place, I can see how one may regret parenthood.

For me, the other ramification of chronic sleep-deprivation is that my health has suffered.  When you’re tired, extra hungry from breastfeeding, and don’t have any free time, your food choices (and amounts) suffer.  It depresses me that I’m 20 lbs heavier than I was pre-pregnancy.  Or at least at last check.  I don’t even want to step on the scale any more, since it will only make me feel worse.  And the thing is, I gained weight after I initially lost much of the pregnancy weight.  So I think it’s mostly from the chronic sleep-deprivation.

I worry about this not getting better for a while.  Many parents say it took years for their kids to really sleep through the night.  Also, we’d like to have another child, and given my age I can’t wait that long.  But I worry about whether I can handle a pregnancy and another baby since I’m already having a tough time.

What it comes down to is that I don’t regret motherhood, and I hope we are fortunate enough to have a second healthy child.  But I am well aware of the sacrifices that come with that.  And right now, my fear is that I will remain this fat forever.  Yes, it’s superficial, but my self-esteem is tied to my weight and appearance.  As well as my health, which is ultimately more important than my appearance.  I’m afraid of being this heavy permanently, or at least for a good number of years.  I probably worry too much, but I think that’s the sleep-deprivation talking. 🙂

Here’s our newly 9 month-old little guy, who has turned Mom and Dad’s lives upside down.  He’s wearing the jinbei-san my mom got him in Japan.  Also referred to by my husband as his Japanese dashiki.

IMG_2180

 

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7 thoughts on “Regretting Motherhood?

  1. Dawn June 8, 2016 / 11:27 am

    Thanks for the tip on the Time newsletter! I also don’t identify with the sentiments of regret, although I feel it’s important for people to behonest with themselves about those feelings (not that they can do anything about it, but it helps to identify feelings in any case.) I am so much older (42) and spent 3 years in fertility treatments to have my child, so I take all thr bad with the good gratefully.

    Regarding postpartum weight loss, I remember reading that some people lose quickly breastfeeding while others find resistant weight until they wean, depending on their hormonal milieu. Check out Better by Dr Brooke’s articles about this: http://betterbydrbrooke.com/why-didnt-i-lose-weight-when-breastfeeding/ if you have not already seen them. I know you’re worried, but maybe more time is needed for you. Good luck and keep sharing!

    Like

    • Paleo OB June 8, 2016 / 8:45 pm

      Thanks, Dawn! I really appreciate the article, which I hadn’t come across before. It gives me hope that once I stop breastfeeding, I’ll feel a little more like myself again. Granted the sleep-deprivation and lack of time thanks to baby won’t quite change, but I do hope that it’s easier to get healthy.

      Like

    • Meg June 9, 2016 / 8:23 am

      Thanks for the link – interesting!

      Like

  2. Meg June 9, 2016 / 8:22 am

    This is part of the reason I can’t keep myself away from this blog. Great post and thanks for writing it. I also don’t regret having a baby, but I do sympathise with people who do. I have found it really really difficult, though it does feel like overall it’s getting easier as our baby gets older.

    I am also much heavier than before pregnancy and chronically sleep deprived and exhausted. I am still breastfeeding but starting to resent the multiple middle of the night feeds. I’ve read that breastfeeding mothers really miss the middle of the night feeds/cuddles after weaning – to be honest, I just really don’t get that. I’m looking forward to weaning!

    However, I know a few women who are trying everything (and have tried and given up) to have a baby. When I think about how lucky I was that conceiving and carrying our baby was so straightforward for us and how some of my friends are struggling with it, I do feel bad and even guilty sometimes for complaining.

    Hubby wants to try for baby #2 soon. I’m not sure yet. I’d like to wean #1, get my weight back down, fitness back up and post-breastfeeding micronutrients back up first. On the other hand, I’ve learnt what to do and what not to do next time, so maybe I’ll manage it better.

    Finally, POB, I’ve said this before – I don’t know how you do it. Our children are the same age, so I know what you’re going through. I’m really struggling with it all – and I’m not even back at work yet!!! You’re doing it AND working long hours in a demanding job. That’s amazing. If the cost for that is you being up 20lbs, you’re doing fantastically well.

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  3. Jasmin Jenkins September 14, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    Belinda,
    Your post is so relatable. As a mother myself, I do have my days when I want to crawl in a corner and hide, but as you said, think about how fortunate I am to have conceived and carried my baby. Just like you, I feel guilty sometimes for complaining about anything when there are women out there who would love to trade places with me at the drop of a hat.

    Like

    • Paleo OB September 16, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      No problem- Belinda Luscombe is the name of the journalist that does the TIME Parents newsletter. Belinda is not my name, so it’s all good. 🙂

      Like

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