The Fear of Having Children — Labor, Mental Illnesses, & More

My mother, aunts, and grandmothers have all given birth to several children each — large families are normal in Somali households. However, growing up, I’ve been afraid of having children. When I’d tell my mother I was afraid, she would tell me that that feeling would go away.

Now that I’m older, I’m still afraid of having children. When I’d tell other women, most would say I was overreacting or being dramatic. Or worse, they’d ask if I’ve had a traumatic childhood.

Without further ado, here’s the 10 reasons why I’ve always been afraid of having children:

1. Dying while giving birth

My biggest fear is dying while giving birth.

One day, my mother casually mentioned that a relative died this way. For the rest of the day, I thought about how short her life was and how unfair it is to be brushed off as just another woman who sacrificed her life for her child’s.

You might call this fear irrational, but I’m genuinely terrified of this happening to me.

2. The pain of labor

I’ve heard that being in labor is the most painful experience any human can go through, which is exactly why I’m afraid of it. Just the idea of sitting on a hospital bed with excruciating contractions makes me want to vomit.

And, I hate how it’s so normalized. Sure, the majority of woman on this planet has given birth before, but that doesn’t mean those 4-48 hours in labor means nothing!

3. Passing down mental illnesses

I’m afraid that my children will have ADHD like me, and they will have to maneuver a world that wasn’t created for them. I don’t want to raise children that will struggle with their mental health the same way I do. I don’t want them to cry at night wondering why they can’t be normal or break down because of the scrutiny of others.

In other words, I want to protect them, but I can’t prevent them from inheriting what’s biological.

4. Fear of not raising them right

I’m afraid that I’ll be an emotionally neglectful parent. I know that I’m not perfect, and there’s a lot of negative qualities that I have that won’t be good for them.

For example, I’m not consistent and I struggle to connect with others emotionally. If I have children, these negative qualities would be a huge obstacle to giving them the quality care they deserve.

5. Regret

Whenever we talk about motherhood, it’s all rainbows and sunshine. But the reality is, many mothers regret having children.

We like to throw these type of mothers under the rug, calling them monsters for not having the same wonderful outlook as the rest.

Also, most mothers are pressured by family and friends to have children, which isn’t fair. Maybe it’s not a good time for them to have a child, but any woman who decides to wait or chooses not to have children is called “selfish” by her parents and in-laws.

6. Financial burden

I know that money plays a crucial role in how easy or hard it is to raise a child. A box of diapers at Walmart costs $25. Yes, just a box. So imagine the cost of everything else a baby would need in one year?

Also, if I can’t afford to give my child a life of comfort, I’d spend the rest of my life feeling guilty that I brought them into a world of lack and poverty.

7. Adoption…?

Whenever I talk about adoption, my mother and siblings would say, “But, what about having your own? You can still have some yourself, right?” And it would make me wonder why an adopted child isn’t enough.

Do I really have to have a child that came out my body for it to be considered real? And, why can’t I just have adopted children? Why is it so wrong to not have mini-versions of yourself running around?

8. Post-partum depression

Because I already deal with mental illnesses, the chance of having post-partum depression brings chills down my spine.

Not wanting to look at your child or having fantasies of throwing them out a window is terrifying. I don’t want to give birth and then spend the first few months of my child’s life wishing it were never born.

9. Raising them alone

What if my husband leaves me and I’m left to raise my children alone?

The divorce rate in Muslim families has skyrocketed over the years, so there’s a chance their father won’t be in the picture. If so, how will I be able to raise them? Am I even mentally strong enough to do so?

10. Anxiety/Overthinking

I’d be that overly-strict parent that would never let my child leave the house, for fear of something happening to them.

Growing up, I would hate how strict my mother was when it came to sleepovers and hanging out with friends, but unfortunately, I know that I’d be just the same way.

Worse, if I lost my child for just a second, I’m sure I’d faint from fear.

To conclude, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a parent. I don’t think I can handle the responsibility of raising a child in this world.

To everyone that thinks I’m overreacting, I don’t care. These are valid reasons why many women are afraid of to have children, especially me, so don’t deem me a monster for how I feel.

Until next time, bye!

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