I’ve talked about mental health and postnatal depression quite a lot on this blog. It’s the reason that I started it all. And one of the things I’ve briefly touched upon is suffering from baby regret. So I guess I’m just going to talk a little bit about my experience with regretting my daughter’s birth and how I dealt with the fact I wished I hadn’t become a parent.
Suffering From Baby Regret and How I Dealt with It
Before I continue, I will say that I don’t suffer with baby regret anymore. At least not seriously. I’ll admit to occasionally having thoughts along the lines of “life would be so much easier without you” when dealing with difficult moments. Especially when those moments bring about a lot of stress. I’m guessing that might be normal and it’s something that just comes out in frustration.
But baby regret isn’t something that I think I will suffer with again. It’s just something that I’ve felt a whole lot over the course of our baby’s early life. I also know that I’m not going to be the only person who has ever felt this. Depression does cause a lot of negative thoughts and baby regret is just one manifestation of a mental illness.
Having Thoughts of Baby Regret
Now, when I say baby regret, I don’t mean baby name regret. No. I literally mean wishing that the baby had not been born. The last time I had strong feelings of baby regret was when Isabelle was just over nine months old. I’ll admit, on that particular day, I wasn’t feeling very well physically. I was actually very sick the following days, so that might not have helped. But on that day, I really did question why we even had her.
It was actually the worst I had been since I was in the lowest parts of my postnatal depression. I spent most of the day telling Isabelle that I didn’t want her, I wish we didn’t bother trying for a baby and if I could go back in time I would change everything. Luckily, she’s a baby. As such she couldn’t understand what I was saying. Should I have said those things? Probably not. But I also know that talking about your feelings openly and vocally helps you to deal with them. So I guess I was just trying to get the negativity out.
Talking to My Wife About How I felt
Later on that day, I did what I always do when emotions and feelings come up: I talked to my wife about them. I still remember that night quite vividly. It was late, I had just spent over 14 hours with Isabelle on my own. I was teary, depressed and felt that I was more than happy to quit as a father. I had this inescapable feeling that my life was over and Isabelle was the reason for it. She was this soul crushing anchor that was pinning me to this bleak existence that I could never be free from. Solo parenting with my wife in work was something that I truly hated.
The thought of this being my life for the foreseeable future was something that I couldn’t come to terms with. I’ve been surrounded by depression since I was in my latter teens, so I’m pretty aware when thoughts are my own, or when they are coming from the depression. These thoughts were coming heavily from the depression. Knowing this helped me a lot. I knew that what I was feeling, however horrible it felt at the time, would eventually pass.
As you might expect, my wife didn’t exactly like hearing what I was saying. She didn’t really know what to say or what to do. But sometimes, someone doesn’t have to do either. They just have to be there and help you to get everything that you’re thinking about out of your head. She basically allowed me to talk everything out, and that alone helped a lot.
The very next day the thoughts were gone. And it was the last night that I really wished we hadn’t had Isabelle. Can I say they won’t ever come back? Of course not. But when they do, I’ll just talk to my wife about what I’m feeling and keep being the best dad I can be at the time. Even when I didn’t like Isabelle and wished we didn’t have her, I still did everything that I could for her, so that has to count for something.
What to Do If You Have Baby Regret
Look, like most things in life, there’s no quick fix for bay regret. If you feel like you regret having your baby, then you are not a bad person. You’re just having bad thoughts. It’s perfectly natural, at least to me, to feel like this when you’re under immense amounts of stress. Having a baby is not an easy thing. It’s insane. And each stage brings its own new set of challenges. Sometimes, it’s just too much.
Life Changing Events Can Be Difficult
There’s no doubt that having a baby is one of the biggest life changing events that can happen. Yes, moving house, getting married, or going through a divorce can be difficult. But having someone utterly dependant on you, demanding your almost constant attention and taking away all of your previous freedoms is a hard thing to get used to. Some people cope with it and it comes to them fairly naturally. Others find it a little more difficult to deal with.
At times I still struggle. I certainly know that I don’t handle the rough moments as well as I should. But in general, I’ve learned to love my time with Isabelle. As of this writing the idea of her not being a part of our life is something I can’t even picture.
Baby Regret Isn’t a Permanent Thing
All I can say, is that these thoughts are not permanent. They don’t define you, they don’t control you and they certainly can and will change. It might not feel like that’s possible when you’re at your lowest, but it’s the truth. If you are feeling like you regret having your baby, please talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to admit what you’re feeling. There are places and people out there who won’t judge you for how you feel. You can even come and chat to me about it if you want to!
Rather than list every organisation that could offer you help, here’s the NHS’s mental health helplines. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, please talk to someone there.