If you follow me on social media or indeed here on Smaggle, you’d know by now that I’m pregnant. Which is a really, really weird sentence to write. Our pregnancy was 100% planned and I’m unbelievably thrilled and excited but I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be pregnant. Not because of any pre-determined fertility issues, we just weren’t sure we wanted to have a kid.
I’m not the type of person who has always wanted to be a parent. I can remember being in high school and talking about it with girlfriends and most of them were all ‘Oh I DEFINITELY want kids someday!’ I was like ‘How do you know that? I’m sixteen. I want to drink a few Cruisers in the park on the weekend and that’s about how far I’m thinking about my future right now’.
Our desire to become parents wasn’t an inbuilt yearning as it seems to be for others. It was a little flicker that grew over time until we finally felt that there was room for another person on our team. That we actually really, really wanted another person on our team.
Telling close family and friends was fun but one of the weirdest parts of this whole journey is how unbelievably shocked everyone has been. Like seriously shocked. Mama Smaggle’s best friend nearly ran off the road when she told her in the car. Both sets of our parents were gobsmacked. Delighted, but gobsmacked.
I understand this to some degree. Mr Smaggle and I have been together for twelve years and we’re not married so there haven’t been any obvious markers that would suggest we were planning on doing this. I don’t know a single unmarried couple who have waited as long as we have to start a family (we’ve been together since just after high school). Most of my friends in decade-long relationships got married and had kids almost immediately after their weddings. The way you’re supposed to, so you don’t shock the hell out of everyone. We just kind of never got around to getting married so that threw a very confusing spanner in the works for everyone. Without a wedding, how were they supposed to know when to start asking us about kids? We did everything the wrong way.
There are a few reasons why we didn’t discuss our plans.
1. We didn’t want it to be a big deal
Because it’s really not. Heaps of people have kids. Most people I know have kids. We just wanted to quietly give it a red hot go and see what happened. And now I’m 23 weeks pregnant and pretty bloody stoked about it.
2. We wanted the freedom to un-choose our choice
We decided in 2014 that we definitely wanted to be parents and decided to start trying in 2018. Before then we had an inkling we might have wanted to do it but we were in our twenties and being the pragmatic people we are, we didn’t know how we were going to feel about it when crunch time came. It was also never a do or die situation for either of us. We are very sure we would have had a wonderful life if we chose to stay child-free but we made a rational, calculated decision to become parents. We looked into our future and we saw a kid there. Plus we’ve been clucky as fuck for the last 5 years. Having successfully avoided a pregnancy for the entirety of our relationship we had no idea what our fertility situation would be like. No one does. But we discussed it and decided that we weren’t sure we’d fight that hard if our fertility was a problem. I’ve seen couples spend the equivalent of house deposits on IVF and I’ve read enough blogs to know how difficult adoption is and it didn’t seem like something we had the strength or energy for. I can’t say what we would have done under different circumstances but we wanted the option to privately and quietly decide to un-pursue parenthood if we wished. If we told everyone we were trying to have a baby and then had issues falling pregnant and chose not to pursue other avenues, we didn’t want to disappoint people who were hell-bent on us having the baby we promised them. When you tell people you’re trying to have a baby, they expect a baby and we didn’t want anyone else to be a part of our decision-making process if that happened to be a difficult thing for us to do. So we kept quiet and we’re REALLY glad we did. 10/10 would recommend it to a friend.
3. It felt weird talking to people about it
I don’t mind at all when people talk about trying to have a baby nor do I think it’s oversharing if people do talk about it, but it just wasn’t something we felt like discussing with people. The decision wasn’t even really that conscious. It’s a thing that happened and it certainly wasn’t going to involve anyone else so it just kind of didn’t come up in conversation.
Also, this isn’t a rant. I’m not mad, I’m fascinated and actually very amused. ‘But… I thought you decided to not have children???’ has been uttered at least a dozen times at us in the last few months and it’s just baffling to me how many people misinterpreted our memo, especially when we were pretty clear that we weren’t sure. That meant ‘no’ to an astounding amount of people. It was odd that our ‘maybe’ was interpreted as a ‘no’. I’ve had many conversations with child-free people who have announced quite firmly that they’re not having children and their ‘no’ is generally always interpreted as a ‘maybe’. Or perhaps if you’re a woman and you’re not running around screaming ‘PUT A BABY IN ME!’ that’s a sure fire sign you’re not keen on parenthood.
When we said ‘I don’t know… maybe one day.’ We meant it.
One day arrived… and we decided we really wanted it.
What about you? Did you always want kids? Or was it never really something you were keen on?
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I have never wanted kids (still don’t). But yeah, people totally interpret this as a ‘maybe’ or tell me I might change my mind some day… why do I have to change my mind? Or they also interpret me not wanting kids as me hating children… which is totally not true. They’re lovely; but they’re just not for me.
Everything you said in this post made perfect sense to me. Well done, Smaggles. 🙂
So frustrating how people try and undermine the choices of those who are childfree. Yes, many people change their mind, but how rude is it to basically say to someone “I know what you’ll do better than you do yourself”.
I always knew I wanted kids & wanted to have them young, I thought 23-25 would be a good age. I didn’t plan to be pregnant at 20 but it worked out just fine. I also didn’t plan to have a baby, let alone 2, in my mid 30’s but that worked out fine too. I didn’t plan to have two babies in 12 months but that’s worked out fine (once they eventually started sleeping). Also only thought I’d have 2 kids but now I have four & wish we’d had more earlier in life. So clearly what this says about me is I’m shit at planning my family but always knew I’d have one.
I can completely understand your decision not to tell people – people have very strong opinion about babies. Should you have them, not have them or maybe want them. I have chosen not to have children and its actually easier to tell people I can’t because they generally stop asking/talking about it. Except my aunt … who decided it was her mission to fix my “issues”.
I didn’t tell many people when we were trying for our daughter for a similar reason, if it didn’t work out (and because of a medical condition that was a high chance) I didn’t want people expecting it, assuming, asking about progress. If we decided to quit, I didn’t want to feel obligated to tell people that.
Also, I didn’t like the idea of people pitying my infertility, the idea that it was part of the generally known narrative about my partner and I, like “look at them, they want kids but they can’t, how sad”.
I should have used Olivia A;)
I think you should share the joys and losses with those close but everyone else can take a hike
I actually did suffer a loss earlier this year, and I was so glad I hadn’t shared the news of my pregnancy with too many people so I could share the news of my miscarriage on my own schedule.
That is totally my story too. My husband and I met at 16, waited for 11 years to get married, there’s no rush. We then moved overseas which is great for stopping people asking about when we were having kids. We had never actually talked about having kids and then when I turned 30, I said to my husband that maybe I’d like to have a child. He said okay. I was 32 when I got pregnant and was so surprised by how many people were shocked that we were having a baby. I had never actually said I would have no kids but I had deliberately avoided answering the question. When my daughter was 18 months old, I said to my husband perhaps I’d like another one, he said sure. So that’s it. We have two lovely girls and it’s great but our life would’ve also had been great without kids. It’s a personal decision and you never know the reason why someone doesn’t have kids.
Good luck with the rest of the pregnancy. It’s an amazing ride.
Thank you for sharing this! It’s like reading my own feelings. My husband and I have been together for 11 years and married for just over 4 and we both don’t have the desire to start a family right now. Our answers of ‘maybe one day’ when people ask (and EVERYONE asks!) is now just interpreted as a straight up no….I’m 28, I don’t need to make this decision right now.
Anyway, just had to comment as I’ve never met another person who is in a similar situation with the same feelings!
Don’t tell people anything! I always said I didn’t want to be like my mother. People interpreted this as married with a bunch of kids. And every time I’ve been pregnant people have being WTF??!!?? like totally shocked because they didn’t even know I had a boyfriend! I just smile and let them hang. I have had the most offensive comments and assumptions made about me and yet still do not feel I have to inform the general populace of my human making intentions. I remain steadfast against ever getting married or even having a long term monogamous relationship because it’s just not for me! I also remain tight lipped on what happens in my uterus and fiercely protective of the products of which. My glorious spawn are the come back to any criticism we’ve faced and we’re just livin our best life as you and your team will. You do you boo ??
Sounds like my story. We were together for about 12 years before children, never got around to getting married – it didn’t seem important and everyone just assumed we were married. Around the 10 year mark we decided to have children and people were shocked. I also didn’t tell anyone except close family until after I was 20 weeks. I was astounded that no one knew. (Except one friend who had noticed I was off the alcohol!)
Fast forward – and we celebrate our first daughter’s 21st birthday next month. Such a fun time it has been.
Hi, this topic is so interesting to me.
I’ve been with my partner for 6 years and we’re starting to get the questions about having kids. We’re like you saying “Maybe”, which I also think a lot of people interpret as “no”. But we’re honestly not sure if we want children or not, so it’s something we’re often talking and deliberating about because we want it to be a conscious choice. I have a thyroid problem, so we’re not sure what my fertility is like either, and like you we’re not sure about IVF or adoption if it would come to that.
I would be very interested in hearing more about how you came to your discussion, if you’re comfortable sharing of course! What kind of questions you were asking yourself and each other, what factored into your decision. It would be really helpful to hear from someone like you who is not one of the people who just “knew”.
I’m going to assume a J name for this comment because for the first time since I started blogging a decade ago, I’d like to remain anonymous this time. ?
I’ve always envisioned my future to have children. Ever since I can remember, this comes into my conversations every now and then “when I have kids, I’ll…” When my husband and I started trying for a baby, we didn’t tell anyone about it either because it was our private business. Only our closest friends and family knew about it. They were also the only ones who knew about our struggles.
That was 7 years ago. Alas, it’s not meant to be. Due to my unforeseen infertility issues, unless we adopt, children won’t be in our future, at least, not biologically. Because we didn’t tell anyone about us wanting to have children or trying to have children, people assume it’s by choice that we don’t have any.
The hardest part about this is to accept the cold hard truth. Most of the time, I’m all right but there are days when it really smacks me hard and my heart breaks all over again.
I’ve been following your blog for many years now, Carly, and at the risk of sounding stalkerish, I’m so happy for you when I heard on the podcast that you’re expecting. Usually news of pregnancies don’t do very well with me. But in your case, I felt nothing but joy for you. You and Ben are going to be great parents. ?
We met later, I knew I wanted kids, he did too – once we’d met!! Met, married within a year, baby before our first anniversary, followed by 40th birthdays and baby 2. I also knew that if it didn’t happen I’d have been quite happy going straight to the empty nesters stage – I knew we’d have a fab life with or without kidlets. We found out I was pregnant when we were in honeymoon 2 in England – we were just getting ribbed about having kids at a lunch before a funeral and we had to blurt it out – cue happy in the sad.
People can be so weird when it comes to other people’s fertility and family planning! Our first baby was conceived after 3-4 months off the pill and was a textbook success as far as the first trimester went! Our second baby had to be fought for – 3 years of trying and getting help and finally we were blessed with a pregnancy after our first round of IVF (thank goodness because I was not sure how many rounds I’d be brave enough to try). I feel like we’ve lived all those cliched situations from enquiring minds! We were secretive with #1 and decided after a year of struggle that it was more important to share our journey as we didn’t want the insensitivity of people constantly asking when we wanted to give our son a sibling. I’ve ALWAYS wanted children and I feel SO lucky to have them x
Always wanted ONE. I can’t really explain why but one child seemed to be comfortable for me. I married my first husband at 23 and my daughter was born less than a year later. He left when she was 12 weeks old and after I recovered from that I was still very happy with one child. Completely didn’t see another child in my future but then I met my husband and he really wanted one and I could understand that. We had another girl and yes, it challenged me on many levels but I’ve never regretted having her for a second. It seems weird to say I didn’t NEED another child like I felt I needed my first one but it was a great choice. We have been together for 16 years and the girls are 18 and 12 and both are just wonderful.
This is a great conversation! I had a pretty crappy childhood family, and that made me cynical as hell about marriage and parenthood. I remember almost despising girls who always wanted to play house and were sure they’d become mothers in the future. I saw my future as a single, professional woman with plenty of pets! Long story short, I found a nice boy at 17, we moved in together at 19, and at 25, my biological clock suddenly exploded. It was somehow embarrassing to have such longing for a child, but I think it was possible because I had the right person by my side. We decided to let a child come, if that was to be, and I got pregnant really soon. Now our daughters are 16 and 9, we are still together, with mortgage and such. I know we have been really lucky, as friends around us have struggled with infertility and divorces, and looking at my own background, I will always be greatful that we’ve had it better than I ever dared to hope for. BUT I have never wanted to get married, and I am a professional woman with a dog 😉
Hubs and i have been trying for nearly a year now. Didn’t tell the fam because surprises are fun! We succeeded a few months ago, and of course told them immediately because they are important to us. We then had to tell them when we lost it, as well. At least the ‘when are you giving us grandkids??’ talk has stopped.
Posting this directly as opposed to my usual fb comment because i know my friends don’t generally follow your blog and the above information isn’t common knowledge.
I think we’ll wait to tell them next time.