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Is there ever a right time to have a baby?

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By Ashleigh Mills

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“Are you trying?” my friend asked on a recent visit, beaming as her new baby clung to her chest.

image for blog“Motherhood is just THE most amazing thing! You’re going to be the best mother”.

I don’t have the heart to tell her I am just not sure.

“Um well, I just started a new job and it’s not the right time for us yet.” I reply.

The truth is; I don’t know if it will ever be the right time. The ‘feeling’ has not hit me.

I am approaching my mid-thirties and am married to the most caring, amazing man on the planet. Yet I remain unsure, perplexed and confused by the idea of having children.

Which leaves me with this question: is deciding to have children based on a rational decision or a feeling that you might miss out if you don’t?

Since I met my husband we never really spoke about a strong desire to start a family. But we knew immediately that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other.

I am usually a decisive and committed person. I make plans. I follow them through to fruition. I am not afraid of challenges. I complete marathons and master’s degrees. Without hesitation, I adopted a kitten last year who I promise to love, snuggle and feed until the end of her days.

Don’t think of me as one of those people in cafes that will say ‘shush’ and roll my eyes when your kids scream and put ice cubes in your macchiato. I love kids. Chances are I will smile at them and laugh and say how cute they are.

I find myself constantly in awe of the amazing and selfless mothers my sister and my friends have become. I love my niece and nephew to pieces. My heart melts when I spend time with them. I have photos of them plastered all over my desk. I take an annual leave day each year to bake their birthday cakes. I hope my niece comes to me when she is older and asks me about boys.

I never come back to my life after time spent with kids and feel like anything is missing.

I feel like my life is full to the brim.

When I talk to my Mummy friends about our current non status about having kids and ask them how they came to the decision to start a family, the responses are mixed. Some tell me they felt it was the ‘next step’. Some confided that they found themselves in severe shock at how much it changed their lives, and told me how isolated they felt and how hard things were compared to their initial romantic views. They tell me I am sensible in applying deep thought to the decision to start a family. They tell me that I am smart in waiting till I am ready.

Others say you can never be truly prepared for motherhood and that something strange happens to your mind and heart and you become instantly maternal after you fall pregnant.

I hope that this theory is true.

Some mothers become quite alarmed when I speak about my ambivalence. “Oh, it’s just surprising to hear you say that because you are usually such a caring person” one friend said.

I am caring. I am an aunt, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a social worker and animal lover.

Other reactions are; “you will end up having them, it’s just what everyone does”. Or, this is the worst one (but not uncommon), “who will look after you when you’re old?”

Who knows? Your kids might move to the Bahamas and never speak to you again.

While some of my friends have been sure about babies since they were 13 years old, others have admitted they were very reluctant, saying they got pregnant because they were “at the age” and “if they didn’t now they never would”. One friend confided that she spent hours crying in the bathroom when she found out she was pregnant because she was so devastated to be leaving her career.

I don’t want to get pregnant hoping that the maternal feeling might follow.

I don’t want to have children because I feel guilty and that it is expected of me as a woman.

Or, because of a ‘what if’ feeling.

Or, because of age related panic.

I want to have that light bulb moment.

I want to say YES with the same clarity and excitement that I responded to the question of marriage.

And if ‘that feeling’ doesn’t come, then I am okay with that.

When did you know you were ready to start a family?

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Ashleigh Mills - to view all of Ashleigh's blog post click here

Ashleigh Mills originally worked as a Mental Health Social Worker for ten years before moving into the sphere of public mental health policy and research. She is passionate about human rights, physical and emotional wellbeing, fitness and women’s health. Ashleigh is an aunty, a cat lady, and a thermomix lover.

Website: http://www.mymeow.com.au

  • Edwina Peden

    Great article Ash…

    I always knew that I wanted to be a mother, I thought I’d been ready for 10 years! I just hadn’t found the right guy to do it with. I had gotten to a point where I thought maybe it wasn’t going to be the path for me and was working hard on going with the flow and finding peace with it…but somewhere deep down in my heart I was really sad.

    Now I’m pregnant with my first baby, I’m so glad it took so long to meet
    my amazing husband…I wouldn’t have it any other way, there is no other
    person I’d rather run down this path with.

    Parenthood is a major commitment and not one to jump into just because it’s the way things are ‘meant’ to be. I thought I was ready 10 years ago, but now I look back and can see why it wasn’t my time. I feel much more equipped mentally and emotionally now to raise a balanced, happy and well adjusted little human. (well let’s hope so)

    My point is, if it’s meant to be I believe it happens at just the right time…and if not then that’s ok too, don’t force anything, if life is full to the brim and you are happy and balanced, then isn’t that what we’re all searching for? Fulfillment comes in many forms.

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  • Kristie Murray

    It’s funny, i found myself totally agreeing with every single point you make. I feel the exact same way and I am a Primary School Teacher and love my job! My friends think I’m crazy as they don’t really understand my thoughts about this. All i know is that if I eventually do, I want to be 100% ready for it.

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