I am five years old. My favourite toy is a baby doll that cries if its dummy falls out. I call her Katy and take her everywhere with me.
One fateful night, her dummy falls out and five year old me wakes up grumpy and confused. I rummage around in my bed for the dummy but I can’t find it. She is crying and crying so I do the only thing I can think of at the time – I pick up the doll and smash it against the wall until the crying stops.
I never wanted to be a mother.
That’s probably not something you expect to read in a pregnancy blog, and it feels oddly taboo to even write this. We all have those conversation topics we desperately want to avoid talking about and for me, it was always pregnancy.
When I think about being pregnant, I feel a knot of dread in my stomach and my palms start to sweat. It’s always been like that. For me being pregnant is literally the stuff of nightmares.
It’s never occurred to me until we started writing this blog to ever look up pregnancy phobia, but apparently it does exist. As of right now I know that I have something called tokophobia – a fear of pregnancy and childbirth that affects anywhere between 2.5% to 14% of all women. That’s a pretty amazing statistic, and it is a relief to know I’m not the only person who feels this way.
So no, I never wanted to carry a child.
But then a whole new world of possibilities opened up when Nele and I got together.
I knew right from the start that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, so I would daydream about our future together. I thought of a house, kittens, maybe one day a puppy, and also… Nele with a baby on her hip.
Because now suddenly I wasn’t the only one in the relationship capable of having a child, I could think about babies without the associated terror of pregnancy. And for the first time, I experienced a warm feeling inside at the thought of having a family of my own.
It might sound clichéd, but I am so excited about getting to go on this journey with her. For anyone who might be thinking that maybe I’ll change my mind about being pregnant or I’ll feel jealous once she is, well, I at least know myself well enough to say it’s not 100% out of the question, but I really doubt it.
I never wanted to be a mother. But I can’t wait to be a parent.
I wish we all talked more about mixed feeling about motherhood. It’s a fraught topic, and the silence means that we often wind up repeating platitudes rather than really understanding how well suited we might be, or how much our attitudes change of time, or how difficult it can be.
So glad to hear this all from you! M.
Thank you for saying that, I have to admit I was pretty nervous about posting this just because it’s something that we don’t talk about. I do think there’s still a societal expectation that we should have children and that it’s something we should really want to do. I totally agree that people tend to revert to platitudes (I got ‘you’ll change your mind when you get older!’ a lot) rather than actually listen to that person and why pregnancy and childbirth aren’t easy or aren’t for them.
I couldn’t relate to you more! I didn’t know there was a name for fear of pregnancy. Even at almost 40, when people don’t really expect me to become a mother anymore, it’s still difficult to explain that I’ve never wanted to be pregnant and give birth. It’s hard to understand, especially in my family where people have always known that I truly love children. But pregnancy has never been an option for the past 20 years. Even for me, it’s something that used to be puzzling. When I was younger, I considered being a teacher. I was also a scout leader for a very long time. I love being surrounded by children but the thought of having a future human being growing in my womb sounds like pure science fiction. :-)
However, I’ve always made a clear distinction between giving birth and being a mother. I believe motherhood doesn’t have to involve both, and mother instinct has nothing to do with being pregnant and giving birth either. Sadly the difference is not always that clear in people’s minds. I also got the “You’ll change your mind later when you’ve found your significanat other”. My best friend even thought that! I kind of felt guilty for a very long time for not choosing the “right” path. And as you said, “it’s something that we don’t talk about” because in people’s minds, “being a woman” usually goes with “giving birth” (when possible) and “being a mother”.
Anyway, I’m really glad you seem to be at peace with your “tokophobia” and that you’ll still be able to enjoy motherhood without having to fight something that scares the hell out of you. It won’t affect how good of a mother you will be, and you and Nele will make awesome parents!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Emilie, I’m sure way more people than we expect feel this way but it’s just not something we are able to share openly.
And I definitely agree that there’s a huge distinction between going through pregnancy/child birth and enjoying being around kids or helping to shape their lives in one way or another.
I think going through this process with Nele has helped me be even more certain that pregnancy is not for me! And thanks, we’re certainly going to try!