Social Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

How do I tone down the baby envy?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26775points) October 19th, 2011

A large percentage of the women I know are currently pregnant or have given birth in the last year. I’m sure most of this is because of my age, this is when most people have kids… so it is only natural that I would know a lot of people going through this right now.
I’m genuinely happy for them, but at the same time I am resentful and jealous… and finding it harder and harder to share in the elation. I don’t want to feel that way, because it isn’t right, but I can’t seem to help it anymore. Help? :\

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23 Answers

tom_g's avatar

We have temporarily lost friends who were unable to conceive or carry a baby to term. Two separate friends approached my wife and said that they would be unable to see us for awhile just because my wife was pregnant or we had just had one of our kids.

While I don’t get it, I understand that the resentment can be real and painful. My only suggestion would be to ease up on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about the feelings you are experiencing. If you need some space from the absurd number of babies, give it to yourself.

Pandora's avatar

For the mean time consider that you can play with all these lovely new babies and when they start to fuss you can pass them back to mom. Also while mom is up at all hours of the nights with feeding and taking care of a sick baby (they eventually get sick), you get to go home and crawl into your comfy bed and know that no one will disturb you because they are hungry or sick.
Don’t get me wrong. Babies are great but try to enjoy the time you have now to devote to yourself. Once the baby is born, you no longer just live for yourself. And once they get older they don’t apprecieate all those late nights you stayed up and worried.
Right now your life is worry free. So enjoy what is present. The rest may come sooner than you’re really ready for.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Pandora just to clarify, I have children.. they just aren’t biologically my children.

njnyjobs's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf can we assume that your envy stems from being outside the circle of the new mothers and mother-to-be rather than the inability to conceive? If this is the case, go find a new circle were you can fit in and enjoy the nights that you don’t have to wake-up and feed/burp/change the baby.

creative1's avatar

Are you financially and mentally ready to take on another child, if not keep telling yourself this. That is what I keep telling myself when I want a biological child of my own. Even though I adopted my 2 I am physically able to have children and can’t help having a pang and ache to have a child of my own genes. I love the girls I have as though they are mine, I just have a need to see a child of my own genes. So I just tell myself I can’t right now because I am single and don’t have anyone in my life that wants to have children, so I am just happy for the girls I have and not think about the child I don’t have. Just know your children are you life and you love them no matter what.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think that part of it, too, is that it is much easier to push to the back of my mind when I don’t have to discuss it.
New babies tend to bring out the “when are you having a baby?” type of questions. Which suck to answer.

wundayatta's avatar

You sound like a lot of infertile women I’ve known although you don’t say infertility is an issue. Do you feel this way even though you can have children, or is getting pregnant not a choice? Can you have children physically speaking, but are unable to financially or because you aren’t in a relationship?

I think the way you deal with this depends on the reason you don’t have children of your own. If you don’t have children by choice, and you find you are jealous, then perhaps it is time to have some of your own? If you don’t have a choice about being pregnant, then it is quite a different story.

For me, being infertile made me feel like an alien. But being male, I’m sure it was different. Intellectually knowing that when you have an orgasm inside a woman, a baby might result is quite different from feeling a baby grow inside you. For women, the experience of being pregnant has a reality that is certainly unimaginable to men.

So, while I felt like an alien, it did not necessarily hurt me to see others get pregnant and have children. However, for the infertile women I knew, what you describe was more common.

Not having a biological child is a huge loss, I think. There’s a reason we have evolved to want to have our own children, and that drive is very very strong. It’s kind of obvious—if we didn’t have that drive, we’d be extinct. No one would have kids. There would be no kids for others to adopt.

We want, I believe, to have bio-kids because they are our future and they are our immortality. For most of us, they are the only way any part of us will pass on to the future. For some, children of the mind (works of art) are their immortality. Others see teaching and guiding as a form of immortality. But only biological children can give you very much certainty that a part of yourself will move on into the futrure; into the forever.

If you can’t do that, then it is a huge loss. It is a death of yourself and you may love your adopted kids as much as you would love a bio-kid, you can never get that part of yourself be passed on no matter if that is the only thing you do (bear the child) through adopted children.

Seeing other people’s babies and pregnancies reminds us of this irretrievable loss. So that is why (whether you understand this consciously or not) you have such trouble with the envy.

I think that understanding it can help. This feeling is way beyond you. It is built into you genetically. It is what keeps the human race going. You can no more control it than you can control a tsunami.

So what can you do? Well, you do the same as you would do for a tsunami. You run away. You get out of the path of the tsunami. You do not expose yourself to the wave. And if you do, expect to be run over and drowned.

If you are sufficiently advanced, like a zen master or something, perhaps you can control your emotions. Maybe if you are a really good actress, you can pretend to be happy for others, but if I were you, I would limit my exposure to those with babies or to those who are pregnant as much as possible. You are just asking for trouble through that kind of exposure and unless you are very special, I doubt if there is a lot you can realistically do to control your own feelings.

And when people ask about when you are going to have a baby, I think it is highly rude. In any case, I think the truth is what they deserve, whatever that is. Maybe it’s rude to tell the truth, but it’s also not helpful to lie, because you don’t want them to keep on asking over and over. You have to separate yourself from the stuff that will hurt you. Giving people a good reason to not ask will help in that process. Hell, maybe you’ll even get some sympathy or support.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@wundayatta that post actually made me tear up a little.
I’m not infertile, first of all. I’m just not in a place where I can have children of my own. I have always wanted children, and I love my kids.. but I would still like a biological child. The thing is, that my kids also want my husband and I to have a baby. They bring it up sometimes, you know, like kids do… “so, when are you going to give us a little brother?”
I feel guilty for feeling negative things, because I don’t want to feel that way toward people. I am sincerely happy for my friends and family that are new parents. I am just also jealous. It makes me really sad, sometimes.

njnyjobs's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf…with that being said, I would suggest that whenever you feel jealous and sad about the thought of being unable to have a baby due to reasons only you know at this point, tell yourself that one of these days, whenyou get to that “place”, you, too will enjoy the elation that you envy now, and you will shine in the limelight, brighter than the others.

Good luck and I wish you and your family all the best now and when you get knocked-up! 8—)

wundayatta's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Yeah. It’s sad and it’s hard and there’s not much you can do about the feeling except feel it. It’s ok to feel. And you know what? I think it’s even ok to share the feeling if you do it in a sensitive way. Like with your kids. Let them know there’s nothing you’d like better than to give them a new sister or brother, but you can’t right now (for whatever reason).

You can even do something similar for the busybodies who ask you. Share your sadness about it. You don’t have to spend much time on the reasons—maybe not any time at all. Just let them know how sad you are and that some day, maybe, we’ll all be happy because you will be blessed with a pregnancy and, eventually, a child. Creating a new life, I think, it about the most human thing we do. (Which is why I felt like such an alien when I found I couldn’t).


You don’t need to have a baby to be happy or be fulfilled. Sure, having children has my life and my wife’s life more enriching, but there’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice too. Have a baby for all the right reasons, not because you just “want one.” You’ll eventually reach that point, but for now concentrate on establishing a solid foundation——education, job, and a trusting, committed relationship.

augustlan's avatar

Do you think that you ever will be in the place/time/circumstances to have a baby? Or is this a life-time moratorium? It might make a difference, though I’m not sure how much. If it’s a permanent decision it might be easier to come to terms with it by being firm about why you’ve made that decision. Hopefully, in that way, you can put it behind you. If it’s just a delay, you might feel better if you took some positive steps toward getting to the ‘right place’. If it’s lack of money, start saving. If it’s mental health, work on improving it. That kind of thing.

My ex-husband and I waited a long time to be in ‘that place’, while others around us were having kids left and right. We were married for eight years before we started having children. It was very difficult for me, during the last few years of that time, so I totally understand your feelings. I was genuinely happy for my friends, but mourned for myself at the same time. It sucked, and I cried. A lot. Just not in front of the parents-to-be.

I never really managed to not feel that way, so I think maybe it’s just not possible. You feel what you feel, you know? Just acknowledge it (to yourself, to your husband) and go on about your life, girly. {hugs}

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@augustlan part of it is that there’s no way to be really sure that it isn’t permanent. Most likely it is a permanent situation, so, this will probably never change. I think part of the issue is not knowing if it will ever change. There is still that little sliver of hope that I hang on to, maybe it would be in my best interest, emotionally, to just let it go. Thanks.

Dog's avatar

I have four kids. I will gladly give you my phone number and when you feel this envy please call me. I will simply put you on speaker phone. Trust me- this will leave you feeling happy and content. In fact- you will be able to rejoice in the perils parenthood of your friends with a new and profound understanding of what parenting reality is.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I know this is difficult, to even speak about. I don’t agree with all those people who say you should just remember how hard kids are and enjoy that you can go out – that’s kind of ridiculous because a) you already have kids and can’t just randomly party that shit up, you know? and b) clearly you know it’s not just peaches and butterflies so you wanting a bio-child is with knowledge what kids are about. I am wondering (and you don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to) if some of the pain is about reasons why you can’t have babies..for example, I don’t know how your partner feels about having another child but if he’s not into that idea, it might be adding to your anguish.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I have been where you are now. It sucks. I have nothing else to say.

Mine went on for a few years :(

I think you are blessed with a ready made family. Had I had children to devote my maternal-ness to, I would have drown them with it at the time.


ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir thank you. Not that I don’t see how people can jump to that reason for comfort, kids can definitely be a pain in the ass at times. I may only do it 50% of the time, but there are plenty of biological parents who are in exactly the same situation (obviously), and they still know what parenting is about.

I have been up in the middle of the night cleaning vomit out of the sheets and spills on the carpets and broken heirlooms and hidden homework and “so and so won’t stop doing such and such” as well as the few moments in life that combine fear and fury in a way that only a protective parent can feel.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of the “thanks, mom” and “I love yous.” So, this is not something I’m looking at blindly. I have children. And I love them, dearly, with all of my heart. And maybe it’s wrong, and maybe it isn’t, but I still have a pang that makes me want for one that carries my genes. And as much as I would like to rationally shut that off, it doesn’t seem that simple. It comes and goes, and sometimes I get along fine and I don’t even think about it. Other times, it hits me like a ton of bricks.

The thing is, I know I am not the first person to feel this way, and I know that I won’t be the last. I appreciate all of the advice and suggestions in this thread, and I’m sure considering the reality of being a parent would be enough to turn some people off… but it just doesn’t really suit my situation, since I already am a parent. I’m just not a biological parent. And, in many ways it is no different. But, as @wundayatta said, that biological drive is so deeply ingrained that it can be hard to ignore.

Maybe I’ve misused the site in posting a question looking more for support and comfort from others who can relate, or who have seen this situation and may have some handy advice… rather than looking for a concrete answer. Anyhow, thanks to everyone who replied. I appreciate the input.

Bellatrix's avatar

If you have the desire in the pit of your gut to have your own child, you can’t switch that off. It is a yearning and I think ‘yearning’ something is stronger than just wanting it. It is a deeper need. I don’t think it matters why you can’t have a child right now, the pain comes from the fact that you can’t. It doesn’t have to be rational either. Sure you know kids can be a pain at times, but that doesn’t stop you wanting to give birth to your own biological child. It doesn’t lessen the, I suppose, grief for the child you are unsure whether you will ever hold. I hope I am making sense here.

How to dispel those feelings? I am not sure you can. I imagine they come up unexpectedly at times and it isn’t about being resentful, it is just your sense of loss rising up in you. I don’t think you should try to dispel it. I hope you have spoken to your partner about how you are feeling to see if there is any way you can work out if it is going to be possible. I think if it was me, I would view it as grief and treat it accordingly. Acknowledge it, accept it and let yourself feel when you need to. If it does turn out you will not be able to have children, perhaps find someone to talk to about this professionally. To help you find ways to cope and manage your feelings.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I know exactly what you mean neffie. And I think you know why. Give it about six months and maybe things will change for the better with you guys.

robmandu's avatar

[NSFW]: Read about this dad’s experiences with his baby girl:

Not trying to diminish any seriousness of your situation. But sometimes it does help to laugh. Hope this does the trick.

keobooks's avatar

Are your reasons for not giving birth due to not being able to take a medication while pregnant? I had a really tough time with that myself. i’m just nosey.. sorry

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@keobooks Also, one can – I did it during my pregnancies. It’s just taking a risk.

keobooks's avatar

I did it as well. I almost lost my job over it and ended up quitting, but I don’t regret it for a second. I was just curious because I sounded a lot like @ANef_is_Enuf when I’d try to explain to people that I “couldn’t” have kids and I wasn’t infertile.

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