I can't even go an hour without thinking about it...
OTH I'm 37, at 15 I said I didn't want kids and everyone said "you'll change your mind", 22 years later I still haven't changed my mind in the slightest.
My partner has a little boy though and he's great, it's just I personally don't want kids (parents had mental health issues, I had a rough upbringing and I wouldn't want that for someone I was responsible for creating).
In your case I certainly hope you don't suddenly change your mind!
That said, evolution has a power greater than the tallest dam. That desire you are feeling is how we all got here. Be ok with the desire or the choice not being rational. And it very well may change _after_ you have a child. Also be ok with that, just give a respectful nod to evolution.
The problem with IVF is that it's not guaranteed. Would I part with a year's salary for a 10% chance of having a child? How about 90%? These are scary calculations to make in your mind... and those percentages go down with each passing month.
I like my life as it is now and don't feel the appeal for kids. Should I take the risk because everybody says so?
I'm saying that despite having kids and being glad that I made that decision. I've seen way too many relationships destroyed because one or both of the couple were pressured into having kids that they didn't want. It's not pretty.
I see humans who don't reproduce as analogous to cells in the human body that don't contribute to the germ line. Is the reproductive system the most important part of the body? Of course not. The brain is important too, even though none of those cells will have direct descendants that outlive you.
You might think evolution would weed out people with this attitude over time. But not necessarily so! It's quite possible to do things that help a population or a lineage, and the multiplier effect can have more impact on the frequency of your genes than directly reproducing would. (Because your culture impact can affect many people instead of just your offspring.)
A tremendous amount has changed in that time. Height, immune system changes, lactose tolerance, blue eyes, different hair colors, digestive system changes. There's strong evidence for significant changes in IQ, time preference, and other psychological traits. A cave painter from 30,000 years ago would probably act like an undisciplined, impulsive child because of genetic predisposition to high time preference and low intelligence.
It's a myth that evolution takes millions of years. With sufficient and realistic selection pressures, something like IQ or height can shift several percent every generation. This is how there's only a few thousand years between even the most different dog breeds. 30,000 years is more than enough time for massive shifts in a gene pool.
And this is even assuming your cave painter is human. If it's 30,000 years ago, he may not be!
 News article on genetic changes post agricultural revolution.
>I see humans who don't reproduce as analogous to cells in the human body that don't contribute to the germ line
One basic insight of the selfish gene is that a gene can be regarded as being in several places at once if it has copies in those places. It acts as the same gene, not separate copies.
Since all cells in the body have the same genes, if you have a biological child, they all contribute to the germ line since, in terms of outcomes, they are all the same unified entity. And if you don't, none of them do.
>It's quite possible to do things that help a population or a lineage, and the multiplier effect can have more impact on the frequency of your genes than directly reproducing would.
Definitely true! Hence the human predisposition towards ethnic nationalism and tribalism.
Here's a thought: Perhaps one reason for our rising identitarian tribalism isn't just increasing ethnic diversity, but is also the fact that increasing numbers of childless people are expressing their reproductive instincts through tribal aggression instead of direct childbearing.
> A tremendous amount has changed in that time. Height, immune system changes, lactose tolerance, blue eyes, different hair colors, digestive system changes.
None of those are tremendous changes. We're talking about a single mutation that disables a certain gene in most cases above, right? Also they aren't universally spread among humans, and it seems like many people from divergent genetic lines can adapt to a modern culture just fine.
I know Jared Diamond makes a strong claim that the human brain really isn't that different across humans, citing, e.g. friends from New Guinea tribes who could happily and easily learn to use computers when they were exposed to them.
> There's strong evidence for significant changes in IQ, time preference, and other psychological traits.
Any citation for that first claim in particular?
I know that (though the strong social norm is to avoid these topics at all cost), e.g. the population of Ashkenazi Jews has a higher average IQ than the mean. But individual variation is still far more important. And it's not clear how "significant" the difference is, if we're talking about the magnitude of changes that make culture and language possible vs impossible. E.g. if maybe 1% of the population could be math PhDs vs 0.2%, is that so significant?
> One basic insight of the selfish gene is that a gene can be regarded as being in several places at once if it has copies in those places. It acts as the same gene, not separate copies.
But this is true across populations too. So, it may not have been in the best interest of your genes to directly reproduce, vs spending the effort to help your family or tribe.
Misery loves company.
There's a discussion about the regret of having kids here:
Do you trust the opinions or a bunch of random people more than your own judgement? Do you think that these people have some insight into your psyche that you don't?
Don't listen to such people.
I very much wanted kids. I wanted 3. I stopped at 2 for health reasons. I adore my sons. They are both adults and we are still close.
But I cannot imagine trying to tell someone else they should have kids because I liked it.
This might be an unpopular answer, but it makes all the difference in the world. I want my family line to continue; I want my parents and grandparents to see physical features and behavior quirks in their (great-)grandchild that I haven't even noticed.
It's a primal urge and I can't explain it rationally except to say that I'm human and no exception to what we are hard-wired for.
This brand of rationality is very alien to me. It makes all the difference in the world if the child is genetically one's own child. It is not a toy or a cat. It is an emotional extension of your own being that culminates in having its own identity. It is both you and not you. I fear that if you cannot intuitively grok the difference that it makes, there is no 'rational' way to convince you that it matters.
I haven't personally had to go through this luckily and I know adoption isn't the easiest either but if being a parent is something someone wants, it's worth fighting to make sure no child is left without a good home. I'm not to say you should do one thing or the other, just something to consider, much love.
FYI, we have a couple of embryos left and are looking to donate them....
I think one of the glimmers of hope is the lengthening of healthy child-bearing years as of late (in wealthy, first-world countries, anyway).
That said, the changes in your life between 26 and 30 can very well be monumental. They were for me. It's probably best not to stress yourself out about it. However if it's a real ambition, I'm sure you'll find yourself and your partner assessing different options as you go along.
Some options and paths that seem distant and unimaginable now can end up closer and more realistic. Just don't expect things to suddenly get easier. They might not (and probably won't). It's just that the possible solutions might become more apparent, and the results of your actions pursuing those goals be more fulfilling.
In what way would my child be "suffering"? We plan to be the best parents we can possibly be. We will not be perfect, of course, but we certainly want the opportunity to try.
I married my wife at 22, and we started not preventing at 23. Two years, three early miscarriages, three later miscarriages, and one stillbirth (our most recent pregnancy) later, we don't have any living children. Doctors still can't explain why our unborn son died. In the last ultrasound before he died, he was kicking, swimming around, with a great heartbeat, normal morphology, and a healthy placenta. The next morning, my wife woke up with a bad feeling, and we learned his heart had just stopped. Nothing turned up on the autopsy -- everything normal. Just sudden cardiac arrest.
My uncle had a son die of leukemia at age 7 or 8 (before I was born). They were lucky to have another daughter, but we have a few older friends who had one or two children that ended up losing them to freak circumstances or disease, and were then unable to have another.
These are actual stories of involuntary childlessness, not people who made a choice to wait until it was too late.
And before people pipe up with adoption: (1) we had decided to adopt before we married, but were too young at the time; (2) we started the adoption process as soon as we reached the age threshold; (3) adoption takes a long time and is expensive (but we are more than willing to wait and pay the legal fees); (4) because of our age, we can only adopt younger children; (5) there are not many young children available for adoption because there are more parents willing to adopt than children needing homes, which is a good thing; (6) we would love to adopt an older child as soon as the state would let us. But none of this takes away from the fact that we would like the doctors to figure out the miscarriages and stillbirth -- we want all our children to have a good set siblings and the healthiest start possible.
That's rough as hell man.
Any strategies for coping with the losses? How do you both do it?
There are numerous indicators, from antibiotic resistance, to increasingly obvious climate change effects, to dead zones in the oceans, that suggest life will become harder in the future, not easier.
I see no rational reason to be confident about humanity's future until the challenges have either been dealt with, or they haven't.
That's unlikely to be clear before the middle of the century, at the absolute earliest.
Likewise, the population grew tremendously before antibiotics were even invented.
There's a level of hubris in every generation, I imagine going back forever, that think "we have it harder than X", when in fact humanity is always progressing and each problem we face is relatively easier to solve than the previous one.
Humanity didn't flourish during the ice ages. They almost went extinct.
I'll admit that antibiotics impact is hard to really isolate from all the other discoveries we've had since ~1920, but their combined effect is pretty obvious to see no matter which data source you choose to use.
finally, nobody says that our lives are worse than that of people from pre/early industrial times. It's probably not even us who are currently writing here that will need to live with the consequences. Its still at least 30-50 years off before anything really bad happens. At least that's what most of the scientists write. I'm not one myself.
You aren't serious, right? We are literally in the midst of the 6th great mass extinction in the history of the planet due directly to human population.
The ecosystem is literally being crushed under the masses of humanity. 75% of flying insects are gone.
Bird populations are massively down.
Human beings are being literally infused with hundred of industrial chemicals that we saturate the environment with - and have no idea how they are effecting us.
Runoff from the massive farming operations required to keep so many billions alive is causing hypoxia in our waterways, further destroying our planet.
This doesn't even touch on the other ways human overpopulation is destroying the habitability of our planet (global warming, deforestation, massive islands of plastic and garbage growing in our seas). You have to be incredibly uniformed or truly delusional if you don't understand that we are massively overpopulated.
Both of those traits are highly heritable, and both of those traits are going to be necessary to get this species off this rock rather than degenerating into watching reruns of "Ow, My Balls!" while energy supplies dwindle and climate change finishes us off.
We have enough people and our gene pool isn't diverse enough to make any one person invaluable to the future of the planet.
Good thing you don’t get to control who’s genes propagate and who’s don’t. All you can do is prevent your genes from being inherited. And, that is your sole prerogative. Just as spreading my genes, is mine.
This is very hard to quantify and I certainly have no data to support this, but; I suppose, in this era of civilization, your actions in life, your influence on society and culture, and memes you propagate, rather than genes, will have a much greater influence.
There are clear biological drives to sex and caring for young, but I don't see evidence for a direct biological drive for being fruitful and multiplying.
The elephant turns left and goes into a river. After they're headed for the river, the rider thinks, "I'm hot, I should go to the river."
Children are enthusiastic, sincere, unjaded and open to new experiences. They find joy and fascination in the ordinary things which adults have long lost interest in. Where adults obsess over profit and loss, a child will play with a pile of dirt and a shovel all afternoon. The world needs profits but it also needs the continuous renewal and reminder of wonder that children provide.
Another aspect is more abstract, maybe? When I was a child I was loved and I always had adults around who looked after me and caught me when I made mistakes and made everything right. My parents weren't perfect and made many mistakes themselves but as a child I really believed that the world was as it should be and if there was a problem someone would make it right. Of course as an adult I know that isn't the case but the consequence of that environment is a potency that has always been a part of me.
I think that relationship between child and parent is something that needs to exist in the world and the best way to ensure that is to take on the role of the parent.
Another way to see it is that I owe my parents a debt so great I cannot possible repay it, no matter what I do for them. My only chance of relief is to take that debt and "burden" another generation.
That's well said.
For animals where the young are independent from birth, a desire for sex is sufficient to have offspring that are not only born but survive to reproduce themselves.
Mammals are mostly much more high maintenance than that, and human young are unusually high maintenance even among mammals, because they are born relatively physically undeveloped, largely to accommodate giant brains. Humanity, therefore, would not have survived to be here today if humans weren't generally genetically programmed to seek not only to have sex but to want to engage in child rearing.
But that does still not tally with a pre-meditated rational conscious desire to have children. We certainly wouldnt expect to see that in other mammals.
I think the type of conscious decision to have kids discussed in this article may be a socio-cultural phenomenon.
There are documented cases of stone-age level people who had not actually made the connection between sex and resultant children. We are not certainly imbued from birth with knowledge like that.
Survival of memes and survival of genes are a little different, but not entirely independent; once you have a concept of the relation of sex to reproduction (which huma societies demonstrably have had for quite a long time, in general, even if there are some primitive exceptions), a community (and it's ideas) is much less likely to becomem influential, or even survivez
, if it doesn't value reproduction unless it's somehow in a symbiotic relation with a community that does; this may be somewhat less true today (an interesting discussion), but in most of human history this would have been a big deal.
Also, that aside, it serves as a rationalozation of the lower level drives discussed earlier, and a social value framework that includes elemenrs that provide rationalizations that enable a feeling of understanding of lower-level drives provides a kind of (strictly speaking, fallacious, but that's not important to it's value in promoting acceptance) validation for the whole framework.
I agree with you there are also likely strong cultural influences which are unfolding mostly separately from any genetic dynamics.
Families which transmit this value have a powerful natural-selection advantage, so you're more likely to come from a family which does so.
There's also a powerful advantage to discouraging family members from examining the value too closely, so the value tends to be held in some kind of religious regard, and the idea of rejecting it tends to be seen as selfish, even though bringing a child into the world is the biggest claim on community resources most individuals can ever make.
After having four kids that desire is definitely sated, although I still do love holding and being around babies. The feeling was never as intense as the desire for sex, food or sleep, but definitely palpable. I suppose it's similar to the desire many have for a pet or companion.
c'est la vie ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Once I did realize it, I took myself straight to a counselor for talk therapy. He diagnosed me with depression and depression related anxiety, and referred me to a psych for meds. I've been on wellbutrin for a couple of years now, and while I still struggle with depression every day, it's less and less, instead of the more and more you feel right now. I'm getting out of the house a bit more, and I'm just now starting to date again, but I don't believe I could have done any of that on my own.
Point is, start by talking to someone. That's all it took to set me on the right path, and hopefully you'll be so lucky. Just be patient, as it can be a long process (most of which is up to you). Sometimes it's a chemical imbalance that you just cannot overcome by yourself no matter how hard you try.
Best of luck!
The weird thing that I didn't expect was that it works for the one reason I didn't consider. I was fine with disappointing myself (even used to it), but I didn't want to disappoint someone else. I didn't want to go back and tell them that I didn't try, so I tried. I tried a little more each week, and eventually got to the point where there was nothing left to try, and nothing left to discuss. Now I just let the meds slowly rewire my chemical imbalances without the need for talk therapy.
However, if they are, a pet can make a world of difference.