Men win

Something away from running and injuries… I struggled whether to post this or not. I really hope I don’t offend anyone, that’s not my intention. This is purely the way I see the world – my interpretation with my ignorance and limited knowledge.

I’m 26 years old, married and have a lovely little house. My husband, Ben, and I live quite a harmonious life with our mischievously little furball dog, Alfie. Ben and I have been married for over two years now, living together for over three years… People are starting to ask The Question and/or give me the suspicious looks.

Many of my friends got married and then had kids quite soon afterwards. It’s quite logical and very common. Marriage then kids. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. But I’m fully dragging my feet on this one.

I feel genuine fear when I think about looking after a baby. I don’t look at babies as bundles of adorable joy-filled darlings. I look at them in fear. I’m awkward around them. I avoid contact. I feel I need to do something and probably utter something ridiculously obvious (“what small hands!”) and maybe gently poke its cheek or pat its head. My flight response has been fully activated and I’m ready to get the hell outta there.

IMG_4743 Megan, my neice, and me…full of fear

Ben used to be the same but the traitor has slowly moved over to the Dark Side. He seems more natural and normal around babies. Hell, he even looks like he’s comfortable and happy! When did this happen?

I will fully admit I truly know nothing about having a baby – the pregnancy, the birth and the, er, ‘rearing’. I can only go by what people have told me and what I’ve read in blogs, social media and books. To be honest, it all sounds a bit crap. And if Facebook and Twitter are anything to go by, this doesn’t really stop until they’re 18. And not even then.

This post is probably very naive and very ignorant so I truly hope I don’t offend anyone. Remember: I really know nothing apart from what I’ve seen and heard. My experience is highly limited.

Basically it sucks to be a woman. Firstly, you have to get pregnant. OK you can say you’re growing life inside you and how beautiful the whole experience is. Sure, sure. But let’s be real. You get fat, you get uncomfortable and a lot of bodily functions are either disrupted, abused or you just fully lose control of them. And running? Of course loads of people do manage to run through their pregnancy (don’t even get me started on the #fitpregnancy), but the reality is not many can maintain it. And those who can are running less, running slower and it’s usually not particularly comfortable. And remember the loss of control on bodily functions? Yeah. Putting it in the words of one of my male running friend: you have an 18 month long injury.

As a man you are UNAFFECTED. Men 1 Women 0

Then the whole birthing experience. I’ve heard the gory details. Don’t try and convince me it’s a beautiful and magical experience. Sweaty, bloody, fluid-y, painful, lonnnnnnnnng, poopy, muscus pluggy…

And the man? Maybe a bit sleep-deprived and maybe his hand hurts a bit from all the squeezing. Perhaps he now sees his loved one in a whole new maternal and Amazonian light. But still, he’s pretty unscathed I’d say. Men 2 Women 0

Then breastfeeding your new micro-human. Engorged boobs, huge painful nipples and random leakages. Latching difficulties, despair and distress at not being able to feed your baby. God forbid you even consider formula! The worry about how people will react if you breastfeed in public, or what people will say if you don’t breastfeed at all.

You hand your partner the baby and a bottle (either full of *gasp* formula or painfully pumped out of you). What’s the worst that can happen? The baby spits up? Men 3 Women 0

Sleepless nights. They say for the first six weeks you’re literally on autopilot. You’re lucky if you get two hour stretches. You’re not at work so you get a lie-in right? Right?? Apparently not. And apparently when people say “grab sleep when you’re baby sleep” they don’t realise you also need to shower and eat. Of course men go through this too – you’re a tag teaming duo of baby feeding/changing super heroes! Until he goes back to work TWO WEEKS later. Then you’re on your own. I can understand this. I’m not saying men are selfish rascals but if you’re breastfeeding then I imagine it’s pretty tricky for the woman to not be involved at some point. Men 4 Women 0

Body image and general fitness. I would like to meet the woman who is not daunted by the idea of gaining weight and the losing of a fitness that she has meticulously built up. Weight gain, wider hips, stretch marks, saggy tummies…all natural of course, but changing your body completely from what it was before. Running is slower and harder, and biomechanically you’re different and more injury-prone (is that even possible for me??). Things are not the same as they were before.

I think you can see this could go on a bit. And I don’t want to appear like a man-hating child-hating demon of a woman, but so far from what I’m aware of, being the female in the child-having scenario is no joke.

It honestly doesn’t appeal to me right now. I used to wonder if it ever would. But slowly I am coming round to the idea. I’m sure there are moments of joy and many priceless experiences but because I’m not an innately child-loving person I struggle to see the good bits beyond the truly horrific things I read. I’m sure I’ll be overcome with evolutionary triggered hormones love for our child and never regret it for a moment…(my fingers are firmly crossed!). But at the moment, I’m quite happy with just Alfie, thank you very much.

Parents, convince me otherwise! What are the good bits?

Have a moan: what are the tough bits? What have I missed?

25 Replies to “Men win”

  1. Yup that’s me the chubster with the stretch marks and saggy tummy! But I wouldn’t change it for the world:-) as for running – I’m faster than I was before I was pregnant this time around, and have less niggles and ache and pains somehow so that’s nothing to worry about! I was pretty much back to speed by the time Milo was 3 months old, without too much training or effort. Now I’m a better runner than I have been since I was a training machine at Uni…
    BUT you’re still young!! You’ve got a lot of time! I was never all cooey over babies and then it suddenly came… So when the times right you’ll know 🙂
    Karen recently posted…Keeping it real…My Profile

    1. I don’t think I was ever going to be a ‘natural’ mother, it’s always going to take a bit of time I think. But seeing how speedy you and Kelly are after having (multiple!) kids it’s clear it isn’t the end of my running or my life (ha!). You’re doing a fabulous job and give me hope!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

    1. “Horrendous” is a bit strong 😉 it’s challenging, tiring and totally life-changing but for the right people it’s the most rewarding yet selfless thing they can ever do. I nearly died giving birth to #1 (seriously nearly died, not a Daily-Mail-type exaggeration) but wouldn’t change her, or what I went through, for the world. I am aware that being a parent isn’t for everyone, but once you have kids and you have all the joys that go with them (& I’m saying this even with nearly 6 months of unbroken sleep) there is definitely an appeal:-)
      Karen recently posted…Keeping it real…My Profile

  2. I ALMOST wrote a post about being expected to produce a child now I’m married earlier this week but the fact that my Mum reads my blog now stopped me as I know she is desperate for grandchildren.
    Obviously Dan and I talked about it before we got married and we both wanted children. At the time I would have been happy to start trying when we returned from honeymoon. We returned and we both knew that I wasn’t in the right job to have children (sounds awful, but it is something to think about – somebody else enquired for themselves close to the time we were due to get married and was told that the school wouldn’t be able to afford a cover teacher (I work in an Independent School) so whilst on the shortest amount of maternity leave they had to legally give you would be expected to provide lesson plans and your lesson would be handed out to kids whilst the teacher of another class supervised them in the back of their room (class sizes are typically only 10 students at my school). Then I was offered a new job in a State school at half term which I started in November and will switch to fulltime in January when I finish at my current school (part-time). Don’t get me wrong, I had no intention of beginning a new job and heading straight off on maternity leave but if something did happen, I would feel a little more secure in the new job.
    Then I failed to complete the Dusk ’til Dawn 50m in October – the new date was released as a special to be held on my birthday next year and I knew I wanted to run it again. And get a few more PBs at shorter distances before I was tied down with childcare issues.
    At the start of the month I attended a christening for my friend’s twin babies where it seemed every single person was talking baby, poking child cheeks, discussing nappy brands and making silly noises. I really didn’t want to be a part of that! (In the end I found one of the guys who had recently run a half marathon and we chatted running instead!)
    Next up, we visited Dan’s parents last weekend who were babysitting his youngest niece (5 months) – she literally didn’t stop crying and grizzling for a couple of hours and all we could hear was her screams and the rattle Dan’s Mum was using to try and calm her down. We couldn’t have a conversation at all and I had the worst headache after that visit.
    I’ve gone from wanting a child right away to thinking I might possibly be too selfish to have children. I like running in the evenings when I get home from work, I like travelling to see friends and family at weekends or having a quiet day in with Dan. I’m not ready for that to change yet. Although friends and family keep making me very aware that now I’m 30 I don’t have long left to make up my mind about children. The woman’s life changes completely, whereas the guy gets a high five and an excuse to escape to the pub at the weekend. There’s a lot more for us ladies to think about than the guys.
    Mary recently posted…Mud, glorious mud!My Profile

      1. I totally get what you mean about feeling selfish. I love Ben and my lifestyle – the easy lie-ins, the travelling and holidays, the money we can spend on whatever we want, etc. I know we’ll get to the point when we do want to have a baby but right now we love our life far too much.
        It’s good that you have the stability of a good job now in case anything does happen anyway. But also it’s great you got to experience the “joys” of children first hand from other people’s to make you realise that maybe it’s not what you want right now. I don’t think at 30 you should be too worried – apparently the average is 31 and people have babies right through their 30s anyway (think of families with multiple kids!)
        AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

  3. Firstly, I LOVE my kids… but I can’t deny a single word of your blog I’m afraid! Reading your description it’s actually hard to believe you haven’t had your own! And, even with two of my own, I still feel a bit like you when I hold someone else’s child, especially babies.

    Having mine has resulted in my thyroid permanently packing up so I’m on meds for life, I’ve had PND longer than I care to even think about (in fact, when does it stop being PND??), I’ve expanded two dress sizes and have a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes I will probably never wear again. But I try them on from time to time, just to make myself feel really crappy!

    My running (& physical activity in general) is painful and an unending struggle to keep up with – time, exhaustion, motivation is all MIA (I should be ultra motivated given my size issues hey?!), my relationship, social life, confidence, career… everything has suffered!

    I read repeatedly about how women feel proud of their stretch marks and their deflated balloon like boobs and bellies because their adoration for their off spring makes it all worthwhile… Me?? My adorable off spring have left me fat, knackered, broke and miserable… and I’ve never felt so ill equipped or on the verge of relentless failure as I feel trying to raise theses small people! But of course, I can’t say any of that out loud as the Mummy Mafia will judge me!

    So, I hear you! Yes I love them, adore them and genuinely can’t imagine life without them anymore (actually, I can imagine it but I can’t really remember what it was like!) and the joy & rewards are there but my goodness, you have to work for them!

    Finally, FWIW I think it’s incredibly rude that people feel it’s OK to ask / hint about children. There are so many reasons why a couple may not go ‘that way’ and it shows incredible ignorance when people just brashly force their expectations on to couple either because they’re newly married or have been together a long time and there’s been no sign of kids!

    Oh, and do read my response slightly tongue in cheek – I’m probably exaggerating through sleep deprivation as my teething toddler was up until 2.30am and my 4 year old got up at 6.15am today! ;o)

    1. Oh Liz this really scares me… but I’m grateful for your honesty. The thing is, you see some ladies and they make it look so easy and so perfect. Like “ping” back in shape, “ping” back to good running and “ping” their life is normal again. But in reality that’s not always the case. And the pressure. Omg I haven’t even had children yet and I feel pressured – the media, blogs, celebrities, what people say…it’s so hard going for women. But I think you’re doing a magnificent job! You’re a working mother with beautiful children doing a brilliant job. I don’t know much but I do know that.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

  4. Firstly I did have to laugh at the sentence “To be honest, it all sounds a bit crap” haha.

    Secondly, I totally agree with you. We have been married for 3 years now and not just that, we have been together for 15 years, so we constantly get asked when we are having kids. To be honest, it wasn’t until fairly recently that we decided we wanted children, but I still don’t get crazy broody around children like some people do.

    It just sounds like such a different life that I am really not ready to live yet. I have too much I want to do and see and whilst I know people do still have amazing careers and travel and lot with kid, I want to do that without kids for the moment.

    Great post! Nice to see people being “brave” enough to be honest about this kind of stuff.
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy recently posted…Comment on A Healthier Bacon Sandwich by DanniiMy Profile

    1. I think you have to get there in your own time. There are a lot of judgements from other people and society norms, but at the end of the day this is your life. And it’s such a huge change – that much is absolutely certain. Nothing would be the same again. This is what I find so hard to reconcile. I do want to have a baby but right now I’m happy how Ben and my life is. It’s a brave move to take for definite.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

  5. I got married at 24 too and didn’t have my first child until I was almost 29. Until about a year before I got pregnant I was grossed out by babies, pregnancy, all of it. But then something ‘clicked’ and I wanted one. Weird how these things work 🙂
    Anyway, my kids are 6 and 9 now and they’re great. They sleep, they eat most things, they talk, they make jokes, they scratch your back for hours (really) when you feel crap, they tell you they love you to the end of the galaxy and then even to the end of Andromeda (the closest galaxy to Milky Way – you learn stuff like that when you have kids), they bicker and fight too but not too much, they argue with us about homework a bit too but not too much. The baby years were crap but now it’s great. And my body is finer now than it was before I had them because since having them I’ve discovered running and Crossfit.

    So just sit still and don’t panic. If you ever will want kids, you will feel it 🙂 If you won’t, there’s nothing wrong with not having any either.
    MrsB | Mind over Matter recently posted…Crossfit. It feels like I was meant to do it.My Profile

    1. Hehe your kids sound like normal functioning humans 😉 Not scary at all! Though maybe not everyone would agree, I personally think a life without a child would be empty. So many things you’d miss – birthdays, life events…
      I think the next few years I’ll get more keen as I can already feel myself coming round to the idea, but I need just that bit more time for now 😉
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

  6. Wow that’s a very thought provoking and emotive blog!
    I agree with most of what you are saying. We are very happy not having children in our lives. I work with babies everyday and it doesn’t make me broody in the slightest. However I do think its very niave to think “I don’t want children now but I’ll have one in X number of years”. As with all aspects of life, you can never predict what will happen and it is presumptuous to think that everything will be straightforward. I know several people (including those in their 20s) who have really struggled with infertility problems, had failed IVF treatments, others have had multiple miscarraiges…..its really heartbreaking. So I guess people should be more understanding and respectful of other peoples decisions on children and just live and let live.

    1. Yes I agree!! I know I can’t say “Right Ben, in exactly 2.5 years we will have a baby” but we can be actively *not* trying to have one now, you know? If it happened it happened and we’d get our schizz together quickly to suddenly become parents, but out of choice right now just isn’t where it’s at. And, like you said, when we do decide to have a baby if it takes time it takes time – if at all! These things are all out of my control I know, but what limited control I do have I will keep for now! 😉
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

  7. Why should you be worried about offending anyone? Other people think it’s perfectly okay to foist their beliefs about children on women who choose not to have them without a second thought. People can be so rude and pushy when it comes to being pro-kids that I think you’re perfectly entitled to write about your views on children however you want.

    You might have gathered that this is a thorny subject for me (one of many…I get irate about rather a lot of issues) and I will say that I think men have life far easier as a whole. Sure, there are some issues where men come off worse, but having children certainly isn’t one of them. I think on that basis the woman should have more say in when and if kids present themselves. I’ve never wished I actually was a man, but I can safely say that life would be easier on so many levels if that was the case.

    I can’t STAND parents who pressure their kids to have grandchildren. They have absolutely no right to do so, and so-called ‘friends’ who keep on asking about it are no better. People these days are so nosy…I would never, ever think to be so prying and insensitive. For all they know, you could be struggling with infertility issues, and how callous would remarks about kids be in that context? In any case, why the Hell are women viewed as little more than baby-making machines? I thought this was 2014, but people’s views are still stuck in the 50s mindset when it comes to kids…only now women are expected not to stay home and look after them, but instead to juggle full-time jobs, childcare and maintaining a ‘perfect’ physique while they’re doing it. Men have to wear one or two hats…women need an entire wardrobe of them or they’re considered ‘failures.’ Choosing not to have kids does not make anyone less of a woman. If a man doesn’t want children no-one bats an eyelid, but women are viewed as selfish and even heartless by some. It makes me so indignant and angry! We can do whatever the heck we like with our bodies, and our roles in life extend far beyond ‘get married and have babies.’

    I cannot tolerate children of any age, but babies flat out revolt me. I have such a strong aversion to them that I think I was born in the wrong species, because I will melt over just about any other baby animal. Humans though? Nope, nope, nope. I react to them the same way most people would spiders or snakes…asking me to hold one would be equivalent to asking me to hold a sewer rat covered in human crap (and babies are covered in that more often than not too :P) They’re just parasites, and the idea of one taking over my body for nine months is hideous…it reminds me of Alien more than anything!

    Anyway, I will say that pregnancy won’t automatically ruin your body. I read an article recently about it actually making some women faster and better runners, particularly over long distances…I’m going to find it and post the link at the end of my comment. For example, look at Jo Pavey! I also think you’d be one of those annoying mums who snap back into their previous physique very easily 😉 No flab or stretch marks for you!

    The thing is, you have to ask yourself whether you genuinely want kids, or you feel pressured by society to have them. If the latter is the case, then (please delete if the swearing is inappropriate!) fuck society. I don’t like to swear that much, but it’s so, so wrong that women with little to no affinity with children end up having them for fear of other people’s judgement. You are SO much more than any child, and you’re not defined by your ability to produce them.

    This article is about elites, but it proves that people can run to a high level even when pregnant: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/sports/for-pregnant-marathoners-2-endurance-tests.html?_r=0
    Jess recently posted…How To Deal With Negative ThoughtsMy Profile

    1. Yes I completely agree that women can be viewed as selfish if they decide to not have a baby whereas no one looks twice at a man. There’s such an inequality – I could drone on for ages…
      I have literally favourited that article. It is SO interesting. Thanks so much for linking to it – it’s fascinating and it really gives me hope!
      The parasite comment reminded me of that House episode if you’ve ever seen it? Very very funny. I’m not good around children or find them cute at all…it’s tough when friends have babies and suddenly you have to think they’re wonderful when really I’m wondering when is polite to leave! 😉
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

  8. I love this Anna! A lot of people think I am very strange when I say I don’t want children- especially being a teacher- the horror of not wanting my own! I mean, I have 30 all day, why would I want more in the evening? I want some peace and no-one sneezing in my face or wetting themselves etc when I get home from work.
    Luckily Andy feels the same- he has said that if I really wanted children then he would, but I don’t, and I can’t see me changing my mind. I hate the idea of having something inside- I don’t touch pregnant people’s bumps as they freak me out, I am an awful patient and I don’t think I could handle being pregnant, but the change to our live is the biggest reason not to. I think the two of us have a great life- we have weekends away, go to the cinema, great holidays, and we work hard too. I can’t imagine getting home from work, having kids to look after and juggling that with more work in the evening- one friend at work has two small children and works full time and I have no idea how she does it. But people do think I am weird, which usually I am OK with, but sometimes it does upset me. I think that is partly why we have not got married (we have been together for 16 years) because until we do that, the question of kids is not asked as frequently.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…All the gingerbread! A quick visit to Vienna.My Profile

    1. Hehe yes I can imagine being a teacher the last thing you want is to go home to …more children!!
      I get *very* annoyed when women are judged if they decided to not have children. It’s just unfair. Children are a huge responsibility and change your life forever. There’s no going back. Why should it be looked down on to not have children? It’s ludicrous in this day and age.
      I completely understand your reasoning for your decision. I love my life with Ben at the moment – lie ins, travelling, holiday, disposable income that we can spend on anything (within reason)…no worries, no nappies, no stress. We have a very easy life right now and thinking about changing it is not what I want. I want more years of just taking it easy! Life can be lived just as well without children.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…So much food and a re-thinkMy Profile

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