This is for 2006 Danica. And 2011 Danica. And every-year-until 2015 Danica. And this is for any girl (or dude. I’m sure there are dudes who feel this way too.) who is scared of kids, who doesn’t feel the desire to have kids, who wonders if something is wrong with them. Know that feel.
I remember being 12, 14, and hearing all of my friends talk about babysitting and how much fun it was, and wondering if I was doing it wrong. I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel particularly good at it. It just seemed like a pain to me, so I didn’t really keep it going.
I remember sitting in Young Womens, watching all the other girls ask the leaders if they could hold their babies, never asking myself, never wanting to. I often felt a little uncomfortable, wondering if there was something wrong with me.
I remember being 20, seeing so many of my peers get married so quickly and pregnant right away while I was still obsessed with my college job and running around Provo until 5 am with sketchy bearded boys. What were they thinking? Must have been an accident. Right? Or was I missing something?
I remember being 23, when I felt empathy but confusion when friends experienced infertility and would say things like “I just want to be a mom. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. I wish I could just get pregnant.” My heart ached for them. But the concept that they had this ~feeling and ~desire to be a mom did NOT resonate with me, and honestly was starting to really freak me out.
I worried, you guys.
I worried that something was wrong with me.
I worried that I was missing some key chromosome that creates the primal need to bear children. Everyone else seemed to have it. What is this “baby hunger” of which you speak?? What kind of psycho loves punk a** teenagers but is averse to a cooing, sleeping baby?
I worried that I wasn’t a faithful Mormon girl, or that some part of my spiritual development was stunted because I didn’t want this critical part of being a Mormon woman. (In hindsight, I think we really do need to be more careful how much emphasis we put on motherhood as we work with youth.)
I was worried that maybe the Beard and I would be 40 years old, but some kind of married version of spinsters – no kids, irresponsible, immature.
I was even more worried that I ~would have kids, but that I wouldn’t be a good mom. That I wouldn’t love it. That I wouldn’t love them.
In the Spring/Summer of 2013 I was 23 and I was terrified. We’d been married two years, we were happy, and I was loving my job. BUT people kept asking us about kids and plans and the future in general, and I just did not have an answer for them. I wasn’t necessarily in a rush, but I was also concerned that I was feeling worse about kids all the time. Around this time it wasn’t just my high school peers having babies. No, those girls were onto baby #2 by then. At this point it was my closer friends getting pregnant – the ones who had careers and hadn’t really been “baby crazy” and to whom I more intimately related. And that? THAT freaked me out. Because now something clearly was wrong with me. Why didn’t I want that? Why did it make my stomach hurt? What was wrong with me? What even is breastfeeding???
So I decided to handle it in the most Danica way possible – with a planned, outlined project. That summer I read The Happiness Project and decided to do my own. I had 6 weeks before school started and I decided to have a focus each week. I realized I knew very little about pregnancy and babies, which definitely didn’t help, so the Hermione in me said it was time to tackle it with a stack of books! I chose one week to focus on learning about pregnancy, babies, and parenting.
I started the way I start everything important in life – with a secret Pinterest board. I pinned articles, then checked out a bunch of books from the library, and watched everything on Netflix and Youtube that didn’t make me dizzy. As you know, there is plenty of terrifying stuff about pregnancy, so this didn’t necessarily put my heart at ease. But I think it definitely helped me and my lil planning brain.
I also had some key conversations with my older cousins at a family reunion about children and babies. I tried to talk with my friends about it more, rather than completely avoiding the subject as usual. I am so grateful for friends and family that knew me well enough not to pressure me, tease me, or condescendingly preach to me about being a mother. Their honesty and sensitivity made all the difference during that stressful time.
But still. I didn’t want kids. I never felt that “baby hunger.” I may have felt less panic about the process in a clinical way, but the spiritual/emotional lack was more obvious. Even that Christmas, when I had my first “Oh. Yeah. This is boring without kids. Maybe something *IS* missing.” it wasn’t like an urge or desire. I kept waiting to feel it – waiting for a sign that it was time or that I was ready.
Now, I’m not saying you should just push through negative or bad feelings, screw timing, and just go for it. I think a lot of people have kids before they’re ready, even when they’re married and successful, and it can impact you, your marriage, and your children. If you have a bad feeling about the timing – wait. Don’t cave to social or familial or religious pressure.
But if I had waited until I was “ready” or “baby hungry” I am not sure Reese and Malone would even be here today. If I had waited for some cosmic sign or emotional breakthrough or spiritual enlightenment… I might have been waiting for a long time. Because really – my Heavenly Father respects my agency, and yours. He wouldn’t say “Danica. Have a child right now.” I always get a little touchy when people say “Well I was on birth control but God wanted me to have a baby right now!” eeeeeeeehhhhhh. Not really how God or science works, but ok.
For me, taking that step was an act of faith. I noticed the empty space that Christmas. I grew less distanced from the process of pregnancy through research & my friends. I knew The Beard wanted kids and was ready. But I *STILL* felt really scared and worried. What if I screwed this whole thing up? What if this completely ruined my life – and worse – the life of an innocent child I chose to bring into this mess? What if I was bad at it? What if my kid decided to be a competitive clogger?!!!
I took it to the Lord. I said “Hey guy. I’m stressing. Will I ever feel ~that way? Will it ever come around for me? Am I missing that part of my heart that wants and loves and nurtures children? When will it be right?” I got the most consistent answer that I always get from Him – “Danica. I will not make your choices for you.” And man is that annoying but man do I love Him for it. Because looking back, as much as I love being told specifically what the right thing to do is, this would not have been as successful and happy and amazing if it had not been 100% unequivocally MY DECISION.
I felt His love. I felt His respect for my agency and His trust in my intelligence. I felt the comfort of the other most consistent answer He gives me – “Try hard, do your best, keep the commandments – and it’ll work out the way it should.”
Did I feel my ovaries wake up and say “Ok great 24 years of warmup everyone! Let’s do this!!!!” ? No. That’s horrifying.
Did I feel a spiritual indication that it was time? Not really, although I know some people DO get those and it’s awesome.
Did I feel “ready”? Was I certain that I would love that child? Was I confident that I’d be a good mom? Definitely not, on all counts.
But eventually the only reason ~not to was fear. I didn’t ~want to be a mom, but in my core I wanted an eternal family. I didn’t ~want a baby, but in my core I knew it was the next step. I didn’t ~want to step into the unknown, but in my core I planted a seed of faith that if I did this – if I REALLY did this and tried my hardest and relied on the Lord – things would work out. The love for that child would come. The nurturing instincts I never had would awaken.
Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse. Sometimes you have to build it so they will come. Sometimes you have to take a step into the dark so that the light will shine further ahead. Sometimes the only thing holding you back is fear, and that’s just not a good enough reason.
I am here to tell you that you can be terrified of kids. You can get lightheaded over pregnancy. You can lose sleep wondering if you’ll be a good mom, or if you’ll ever *want* a baby, or if there’s something wrong with you because you just want a career right now.
You can have little to no evidence that you’ll be a good mom one day, and it will be ok. Because you don’t need evidence. You just need faith. That love will come when you see a positive pregnancy test, or when you first feel a kick, or when they put a wailing slimy infant on your chest, or when your baby looks up at you after a 3 am feeding and you realize that they *see* you for the first time. That love will come. That hunger will surface. That mom gene will awaken.
And you will wonder what it was ever like to be so scared of this.