Oh, darling. I agree with what the others have said, there are some wise women here. I don't have any experience with abusive relationships, but a friend of mine was in one and I saw what it did to her. So lots of hugs to you.
I got accidentally pregnant about a year ago (my daughter was born in March) and the thought of my body changing scared me. Not the pregnancy so much as I've always found pregnant women beautiful, but what it would look like after. I've always been thin and people have always told me how beautiful I am, so my self worth has forever been tied to my looks and my body, even though I have other good qualities, but they didn't seem as important to me as no one ever seemed to notice. It's not a view that's easy to shift. When I was raped in my late teens it sent me deeper into this bad downward spiral, where I battled with very conflicting sides of me. And I knew I never wanted to have a biological child because I didn't want to pass on my massive, destructive faults to a child. I think it's easier said than done to get over your past. And being together with someone good, whole, giving and in general wonderful can both be a good and a bad thing. My husband is endlessly good, patient, caring, before we got together (we had a two year courting) he found a therapist he could talk to about me (the rape and I'm bipolar too) so he would understand better and be prepared. Who does that? Sometimes I feel like I'm this virus digging away at my family, a black destructive force amidst all the fluffy pinkness. Do you think something like that can be going on with you? Do you maybe feel like you don't deserve him?
Liking other peoples children has got nothing to do with whether you'll be a good mum or not. I know tons of people who hates children, but adore their own. Your concern about your own maternal instincts tells me that you're aware of it, and that probably means you're a very caring person. As for the body things, yes, your body will change. It happens. It's difficult whatever other people says, yes, I think how a mother's body looks after pregnancy is powerful, it shows her battle wounds and what she went through to make this child. But that doesn't mean I wanted that for myself. The idea of stretchmarks and the thought of never being able to wear a two piece again terrified me. The thought that my husband wouldn't find me attractive anymore because my body wouldn't be perfect. I think it's easy for people who haven't got these issues to say get over it, but when it's been something that (in my case) you've valued since you were a little girl, it's not easy to get over it.
It also makes a lot of sense, what you said about this being the first time in your life you're actually at a place where you're good, and could bring a child into the world. I think that's true for a lot of people, they push the idea away for years because they don't have a house, or are still studying, in a bad job and so on, and when all the sudden their lives are calm and good, the baby thing becomes real. But babies and children are a lot of work, they're demanding and selfish and they're totally dependent on you. Everything changes, and that's a good and sometimes a bad thing. But you don't need to have a baby to be happy. Babies changes your relationship, I know childless women who are very happy and lead amazing, fulfilled lives. Just because there won't be children doesn't mean there won't be love.
I would advise you to see someone professional about this though, it's helped me a lot even though I've still got issues. And I like what Sessha said about treating yourself like you would your loved ones.
I just celebrate my 21st birthday last week so I also not the best person to answer this. Just want to say I support you, I have similar insecurities with body image. Ah.. I've heard my dad said the same things to my mom, I'm afraid it'll be me in years ahead.
Ditto everything Rowan's mom said. Will you regret it when your biological clock has ended and you have no child? Don't let body image issue bother you too much. My advice, go volunteer for children program for a week or more. Spent more time with pregnant women, in a group sharing maybe. Decide if you want kids or not (it's also okay if you don't want them) and talk about it with your husband.
There are two things I will address here.
I am quite fat! Same issues growing up. My father hated anyone fat and he was abusive. I think my being fat is a direct way of "sticking my tongue out" at my Fathers attitude. So the body image thing goes both ways. I am 52 and the issues are not resolved.
My second issue is temper. It runs in the family bad. I was beat as a child (mostly as a result of alcohol) I made a vow never to treat my children the way I was. and I did. Love my children and did not beat any of them! :) My temper did rile things up a bit but I never crossed that line and though it was not easy, I did it.
Hormones go a long way towards helping you love your babies even if you are not a child loving person. (The same way they are able to help us change diapers)
You can DO what you make up your mind to DO. I have never lost weight because I am "comfortable" here for whatever reason. (sticking the tongue out?) I was a gentle caring mom (never perfect) because I made my mind up to do so!
Best of luck to you if you do decide to try to conceive! At 37 it might not be something that happens right away, you might struggle with trying to conceive and then that will be your new worry... I have always wanted children and now it might not happen for me. We are the same age. I have had 3 miscarriages since we started to try when I was 33.
I really hope that it doesn't take long for you so you know the joys of pregnancy and motherhood. When your focus is on your child, I am sure all the doubts you have now will melt away.
It sounds like you thought you would be okay without them, but I don't think you will be now that you are on here asking for help. You are in a good place to start trying now. That's great! Seeing a therapist might be a good idea. I have in the past and she was very helpful.
About the weight thing...I am slightly overweight now and it may be difficult for me to be gaining weight during pregnancy. I worry that I won't be able to lose the weight after. I used to be a size 2 when I was in my 20s. The body image thing works both ways.
I am sure you will be able to bounce back though. You shouldn't worry about that. You will love being pregnant. So what if you are never a size 2 again? So you will be a size 4. Lucky you.
I have heard that breastfeeding can melt all the pounds away...
Maybe it will help to think about how wonderful a father your husband will be. He will help you through it all. It will be a wonderful gift to the both of you.
There is nothing wrong with not having children too! I am not pushing for you to try to conceive now. :)
Good luck moosey!
There are certainly some kind of maternal instincts that some people have and some people don't...but that's not a marker of whether you'll be a good mum or not. Some people immediately bond with their babies and know what to do, and some people need to take time to get used to motherhood and spend time learning how to care for their children.
Also, how you feel about other people's children isn't always indicative of how you'll feel about your own.
I think you should seek out a counselor or therapist to help with two things: first to help with your self esteem, and secondly to talk about your fears surrounding raising children, and see if they're something you can overcome. It sounds to me that you'd like to have children and be a good mum, but aren't confident about your ability to do so.
The fact that you're taking into consideration all of these issues are a good sign.
I think you have been offered a lot of good advice here. I think that seeing a therapist, both on your own and with your husband, is a great starting place to address the issues you've identified. Women in our society are pushed to have kids. For those of us who want kids, it is a god-send. For those who don't, it isn't.
I have two kids - I had many miscarriages - and I knew I always wanted kids. I have a few friends who had kids because their husbands wanted them, or because the clock was ticking and they were scared if they didn't, that they might regret it later. Two are great moms. The other has a really hard time. A neighbor has several times told me she never wanted kids, regrets having them and resents her "brats". This was said in front of them. It is not surprising that when she and her husband divorced, he appears to have taken primary custody of their child and her other child has moved in with his father.
Another neighbor has full custody of his son, and the mother visits every so often. I have never asked about the situation, but she's very enthusiastic about his parenting skills and their son is happy.
Think about it very carefully. My husband recently admitted in therapy that he never wanted kids. I told him up front - when we were dating, when marriage was being discussed - that I wanted kids, and if he didn't, we needed to go our separate ways ASAP. He lied to me and told me that he wanted three kids. He's not going to ever get a father of the year award. He tries when he feels like it or is pressed to. He takes his own vacations - as in, he flies to Europe and our children and I are not invited to join him. I take the kids on vacations, and frequently do things with them at home while he does his own thing. Since he has very little of a relationship with our children now, I don't see them bothering with him on his death bed. I think if we were to divorce now, he would pay whatever court ordered support was required, not a penny more, and never see, call or email our children.
I'm going to throw another one your way to think about. My sister's colleague didn't want kids, but her husband did. Their compromise was to adopt a child. They adopted a newborn. Four months later, she told her husband that she wanted him to call the adoption agency and have them come take the baby back. He was appalled and refused, telling her that there was no way he was giving up their son. They divorced not long after, with him receiving full custody of the baby and child support from her. It is my understanding that she told the court she did not want visitation rights of any kind.
My mother didn't want kids, had them because it was expected of her. She was, and continues to be, unhealthily obsessed with her weight. She made life a living hell for us when she was around, and we were all delighted with the positive ,change in our home when she left when I was 10. There were a lot of negatives - we lived on the very edge of poverty, our dad was not well balanced mentally at times, but the whole vibe of the house changed from tense and negative to relaxed and positive. My mother was a bully when she was around, and we didn't go out of our way to see her, nor did she seek visitation rights. She and her husband, who may not have wanted the kids he had from a previous marriage, have spent over 30 years not being parents. They want their wine, their travel, their art - they have all those. They see us when and if it is convenient to them.
Think very carefully about this, and seek assistance with the issues you identified. Once that baby is born, you either have to step up to the plate or step aside. Remaining and being resentful of your child is something they pick up on.
Hey there. I think it's great that you're trying to look at things honestly. Having a kid is a tough decision! If deep down, you don't want one, you shouldn't have one. No matter what, you do not owe anyone a child. If it's really just your own fears getting in the way, don't worry too much. Being thirty-seven, these fears have been with you for a long time. But I don't think there's anything you can't handle if you really want it. So, if you really want a child, you will make it work. You'll get past your fears and you and your husband will make it work. You're a champ! I know you can make the best decision for you =)
You could always adopt! That allows you to have a child and a larger family, but cuts out the possibility of "ruining" your body. And it also helps a disadvantaged child. And many people say that the maternal instinct kicks in once you have your child. And if you loved the students when you were a teacher, you could always adopt an older child to pass up on the baby stages (which can come with a lot of bad behaviour).
Please please please seek out a professional therapist. This is some serious stuff, and deserves more professional consideration than any of us can give you here on the Forum. As a result of the abuse you suffered earlier in life, you are having some very understandable feelings of confusion, revulsion, fear, etc. This is not unusual, given your past.
Whether or not you ultimately choose to have children, it could benefit you so much to speak to someone about your issues in order to arrive at more peace and ultimately gain the ability to experience more satisfaction and happiness in your life.
I personally believe that your ambivalence about having children is more a symptom of this underlying past abuse, rather than being the main issue itself. However, that being said, having children is an individual and personal decision. There is no right answer for everyone. If you are able to go to therapy, it should help you sort through whether your fear of having children is a direct result of your abuse (and so your mind could change, once the abuse issues were resolved), or whether it's just because having children is not for you.
I wish you the best of luck in your journey. Remember: just because things happened in a certain way in the past, it does not mean that past is doomed to be repeated! Seriously, I know this from personal experience :) .