Just after she got engaged, Simone Chubb, a 20-year-old from Pennsylvania, found herself in the throes of a horrendous pregnancy.
She vomited at least once a day, if not multiple times, and in the midst of it, she found out she was having a girl, though she'd wanted a boy. Three months into her pregnancy, Chubb and her husband, who was in the military, moved to Kansas, away from family.
That was where she gave birth to Riley Faye, whom Chubb immediately regretted.
"As soon as I had her, I realized, 'I'm miserable,'" said Chubb, now 21. "I'm sore and tired, and I have to do everything."
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She, like many women who've regretted being mothers, didn't tell anyone how she felt because she was ashamed.
It was another two months until Chubb whispered the words, "I regret having a baby," to her doctor, who referred her to a therapist. Chubb started taking antidepressants, which helped. Sometimes.
Statistics on the number of people who truly regret having children are hard to come by, because the topic is such a taboo, said Avital Norman Nathman, author of "The Good Mother Myth."
"It goes against everything our society says mothers should say or feel," Nathman said. "Society sets us up to expect one idea of perfection of motherhood - it's the ideal job, it's a huge part of our identity."
But the reality is nearly always different.
Perhaps that's why a Facebook group created for parents who regret having children has more than 5,200 members (the Tribune tried to reach some members but was unable to get responses), and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 percent of parents admit to regretting their decision to have kids.
Orna Donath, a sociologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, studied the topic extensively and spoke with women, young and old. She found that the regrets stemmed from a variety of reasons. Some of the pregnancies were planned, and some of the women wanted to have children very badly, while others were surprised to find that they were pregnant, she said.
Their regrets about motherhood had nothing to do with their children, however.
"This is also not a question of loving or hating children," Donath said. "What is at the center of the discussion is motherhood, not the children themselves."
The big issue, Donath said, is that society has difficulty acknowledging that women are very different from one another, and therefore, for some, motherhood is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to them. So for them, it's a profound change, and they may believe that it must be the same for every woman.
"We women have diverse dreams, fantasies, yearnings and needs," Donath said. "It is dangerous and outrageous to command us to think and to feel the same."
So while the majority of the women in the study loved their children, they felt pressure from society to think motherhood was also the best thing that had ever happened to them. When they didn't feel that overwhelming joy, they regretted their children, Donath said.
Accepting that motherhood is not going to be incredible for everyone might not eliminate regret, but it might ease the pressure on these moms, she said.
Chubb felt a lot of pressure, along with shame that she wasn't enjoying her baby. After all, she was a stay-at-home mother, and her baby was adorable and delightful. But Chubb wasn't happy.
"There's a stigma that it's supposed to be the time of your life," Chubb said. "People want to create this facade of the perfect life and the perfect reality, but it's all just a dream."
Chubb said that she's regretting becoming a mother a little less now that her baby is sleeping longer periods at night and isn't crying as much.
But most of the women in Donath's study felt the regret for their entire lives.
That's because, in general, people find satisfaction when they feel they've accomplished something, when they have autonomy and control, and when they feel challenged and appreciated, said Nancy Darling, professor of psychology at Oberlin College.
But they may not find that when they parent.
"At a day-to-day level, parenting rarely accomplishes anything: You get your kids to bed sometimes, they get dressed, they stop hitting their brother. But lots of times, that is stopping a negative or hitting minimal standards," Darling said.
Children may say they love you, but they tend not to say you're doing a good job, she said.
While regretting children may be the most painful emotion that a parent has, and one that may never go away, it's possible to feel better about it and to deal with it in a way that won't affect your parenting, Nathman said.
"Those feelings will come out in some way - overindulgence, obedience or neglect," she said.
But there are safe spaces for your feelings, such as visiting a therapist or sharing through anonymous online groups.
Voicing those feelings may help you figure out ways to move on.
"Regretting motherhood exists, and mothers who feel this way are not monsters," Donath said.
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