What is it like not to want kids but have one anyway? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Awww, that's cute! You fell in love with your daughter at first sight!
I didn't. This is my story.
The decision to have kids in the first place was more or less mine. My wife was an only child and her mother was constantly asking her when we were going to have a baby after being married for three years already. I wasn't an only child, but it was highly unlikely that my autistic brother would ever find a mate. My mother was rather more subtle about her pressuring than my wife's mother was. After we'd bought a townhouse together, and rather stupidly while we were waiting for its construction to be completed, I caved to the pressure from my family and hers to have our first child. In retrospect, it would have been an infinitely more wise decision to do this after we moved. You'll see why in a moment.
We were waiting with baited breath to move into our shiny new apartment and my wife was getting bigger and bigger all the time. The construction was behind schedule by about a year and we finally got word that it would be completed and our move-in date would be a couple of weeks before my wife was due. To make a long story short, we had moved in only days before my wife's water broke on our brand new couch. It's seen worse since then, don't worry.
Our first son was born the first week of December. Shortly before Christmas, the season of insanity, obligation, and by the way, the shortest days of the year. I notice that I haven't mentioned that throughout my 20s and 30s, I suffered moderate to severe Seasonal Affective Disorder, meaning that I was usually at least any of depressed, grumpy, angry, or outright sad mostly between January and March. Oh, and I was, and still am, an insomniac, which feeds off of, and fuels that to a great degree. So all of this gets worse in winter.
Having children will decrease your happiness across several metrics, the life change and mental stress being greater than divorce or a death in the family, or, ahem, moving.
To those of you who haven't yet figured this out, well, there's no mincing words here. For me, all these factors coming together made for a complete clusterfuck. My wife insisted on breastfeeding, in spite of the fact that he wouldn't actually take to the real nipple until he was five months old. This meant pumping milk and giving it to him in a bottle. This meant me helping her for hours a night, every night, to the effect that neither of us got more than four hours of sleep a night for five months straight. I was dead exhausted. There were episodes where one or the other of us ended up crying on the kitchen floor. By March, I was literally ready to kill myself. I would have gladly killed my son for an extra four hours of sleep. In fact, I remember one night around 2 AM when I was contemplating exactly that, and I'm still not sure to this day how the hell reason took over in my sick brain. Call it a survival mechanism, maybe.
These were absolutely, unequivocally, the worst, darkest days of my life. My dearest friend had up and disappeared, and I couldn't contact him. I had few people to talk to, and I really probably should have sought professional help, not that I could afford it in either money or time.
Now, things have gotten a lot better in the nine years since this event, and our second child was a boatload easier. You should have seen the relief I felt when I saw him nursing that first time in the delivery room. But "big kids" are a whole lot more fun and easier to deal with than babies. You can't ask a baby what's wrong. You can't reason with them. You can't really even teach them much, or play with them in any meaningful way. I love my kids now that they're older and they love giving hugs and they love sitting in my lap while we read or learn about physics or astronomy or computer programming on Youtube, or we all go out hunting Pokemon or ride our bikes together.
But have another baby? All seven games of the Stanley Cup Finals will be hosted in hell, and the Maple Leafs will bring home the cup afterwards before that happens.
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