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Harder Than You Thought and Better Than You Can Imagine

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I was recently talking to a dear friend of mine about having children. Like me, she has a lot of fears and apprehensions. I’m not sure I did a very good job of easing those fears in our discussion, so I decided to write an open letter to her and anyone else who is on the fence about having kids. The reality is, not everyone should have children. However, I think there are a lot of people who would make great parents and are missing out on the experience because our society sheds a negative light on parenthood. It sounds cliche but trust me when I say, it’s worth it. 

Dear Friend,

I understand your fears about having children. I had a lot of fears about having kids and being a parent. I had fears about pregnancy. Would I be sick all the time? Would I be an insane emotional psycho bitch? What if I got stretch marks?  What if that lunch meat I couldn’t resist kills the baby?

I even more fears about delivery. Would I need an episiotomy? What if I felt it? What if I didn’t have the strength to push the baby out? My friend who is super athletic said delivery was the hardest work out of her life. I can’t even run for 5 minutes, how would I push a baby out? What if something goes wrong and the baby is sick or dies?

And then, of course, are the fears about being a parent. What if my kid is annoying? What if the baby cries all the time? I don’t think I could handle one that cries all the time. What if we don’t bond? What if he doesn’t like me? What will I do if he chokes?

The worries are endless.

I wish I could tell you that all of my worries were unwarranted and that everything was perfect. But the truth is, a lot of the things I worried about happened. Pregnancy sucked and I was sick for most of it. Delivery was brutal and I felt that damn episiotomy. My baby doesn’t cry all the time, but he doesn’t sleep much and sometimes that’s just as bad. I’m constantly second guessing my parenting decisions and I’m always worried that some freak accident will kill my son.

So, after all of that, why in the world would I encourage you to have children?

Here’s the thing. It’s easy to talk about the hard stuff. It’s easy to say “I’m so sick of being covered in spit up and poop!” But how do I put into words the love that I feel for my son even when I’m changing his diaper for the 12th time while he screams and wiggles? How do I describe the joy I feel every time he smiles at me? How do I communicate to you the fact that I, a task oriented and career driven woman, now feel that if I never accomplished anything else in life it would be okay because I made one amazing little human being? I can’t. And neither can most other parents. So we tend to keep that stuff to ourselves, and in doing so we paint a thwarted picture for you. I’m sorry. Just trust me when I say that parenting is much better than we make it out to be.

Not everyone should be parents. But you should. You and your husband will be amazing. And yes, it will be just as hard as you think it will be. But it will also be better than you could ever imagine.

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