I want to be a parent, but I am absolutely terrified. How do I get over this?
I’m 31 and my husband is 34. My husband has been ready to start trying for a while, and in my gut I know I want to be a parent, but I’m only getting more scared.
Part of the problem is we don’t have much exposure to kids. None of our career-driven, urban, feminist friends are parents, and I would also be the first parent at my company. I usually feel empowered by doing research, so I’ve read lots of articles and books on the subject. I was seeking affirmation, but all my reading only fed my anxiety. I’m a little too well-informed at this point, about everything from postpartum depression to childbirth injuries to the fact that most couples see their marital satisfaction drop after the birth of a child. I know I can’t “have it all” (that dumb phrase!) because the U.S. lags far behind other countries in parental leave and support, and I want to keep my ambitious career even though the system is rigged.
Yet every time I pass a cute baby on the street, I feel a rush of longing. In other moments, I’ll ask myself: Why blow up our perfectly happy, easy lives by taking this crazy leap? The good stuff about having a kid is so ineffable, so hard to see from the other side, that I guess maybe there is no logical way to decide. We have plenty of money, family nearby to help, etc. I also worry about waiting too long and not having as much energy as an older mom (which is what my own mom was like). My husband is supportive and doesn’t want to pressure me, but it does feel like the clock is ticking. What should I do?