Aren’t they the worst? Jk, jk, I love babies, I do. They smell like warm pancakes on a crisp November morning while sitting in a room full of babies.
Oo did you hear? Kate Middleton’s having one. I heard she’s so excited she can’t stop throwing up. Every morning.
Recently another friend of ours announced she was pregnant – I can’t wait to touch her baby. I know that sounds weird but I look forward to handling her baby constantly. So yeah– that makes approximately everyone we know, is pregnant. Or is pregnant and already has children.
If you follow me on twitter, you’re no stranger to my feelings on getting pregnant/bearing children.
If you don’t, it can be summed up as Abject Terror, at the mere thought of experiencing any of it on a personal level. The pregnancy, the harrowing – on both of our parts – escape of my child through my fucking VAGINA. The same one I’ve really been enjoying all these years, just as it is right now. The concept of my birth canal suddenly doing things that it’s built to do, but that feel almost certainly like a deathwish. There’s also the impact society has had on me in my role as a potential mother. Living your whole life being exposed to funny jokes about “loose vaginas” and how those vaginas are *wholly undesirable* in the jokes. Not to mention the whole *having and being responsible for another human being besides yourself, who you end up loving more than yourself, and for the rest of your life (because you really never stop being a parent, emotionally)* part. Oooh that one terrifies me, just writing it.
When I think about my future and what it looks like, 100% of the time it looks like me sitting by a warm fire with my kids, their dad, Bambino McPuppypants because Bambino will never die, and we’re all sharing stories about our days. It’s a Rockwell painting, my vision of the future. I even want the house Rockwell used to own in my old neighborhood.
And so the thing giving me pause is– I can never tell if it’s just a commercial ideal that I’ve adopted as my own, or if it’s like, actually my life’s dream to have children. And I really don’t want to find out the hard way.
The thing is, I know there are a million reasons to have a baby. I’ve certainly heard every one of them from all parties that stand to benefit. Even the wives of Honey’s coworkers are ready to share the wonders of having babies with me at the drop of a dime. And I have an aching desire to give Honey the opportunity to be a father, too; he is built for the job. If I were to base it off of how I feel around my baby nieces and nephews, then it goes without saying that I would love love love it – definitely for a few hours of the day, at the least. I find kids fascinating, especially any of the ones related to me. I can’t get enough of their one-liners, their adorable faces, the way they’re always trying to learn off of those interacting with them. The way they’re actively involved in their own personal growth as individuals. The way they seem to want to be wholly good. It’s a magical thing to witness and to be able to be a part of. …I’m at no loss when it comes to reasons.
But there are my fears, too, and the fears are in control right now.
As you can see I have a lot of little fears. It’s far too long a list for me to get into any sort of detail about… however I’ll try. There’s my professional life, and how it will be impacted. There’s my body, and my selfish desire not to eff around with it. There’s the fear that what everyone tells me about their boobs being deflated will also be my fate. There’s the fear that breast-feeding will be, “like my child is sucking needles through my nipples,” as my mother described it to be (“but only in rare cases, sweetheart, it might not happen to you!”). There’s not being able to sleep through the night for the first year. I walk into walls on less than 5 hours.
There’s my time alone. I treasure that shit. It’s how I write.
But I would be lying if I said that was pretty much all of it. It goes so much deeper than that. It goes to the part of me who’s afraid that having a baby could one day have adverse effects on my relationship with my partner. People divorce all the time, and you always hear that the biggest contributors to couples growing apart are money, and the having of children. I know how I am when I’m stressed; it’s not pretty. And it’s going to be “not pretty” for at least the first several years of caring for a young child. Then there’s the part of me that’s insecure about how my body will change. I want to be able to see my reflection and not immediately turn away. I’m afraid of how my new body might impact the feelings I have about myself physically, and how that, in turn, might impact my sexual and emotional relationship with my partner. I was chubbier back in college. I remember how I felt about myself. I would haaaate to go back there.
I’ve heard: “every woman goes through her own process.” Just- some women have an easier time than others. There are the ones who are seemingly born ready, the ones who come to the decision gradually after a deliberate period of soul-searching, the ones who just *know* it’s not for them, and the ones whose process is akin to climate change. I’m either in the fourth subsection, or the final throws of the second. I blame *knowing* too much.
Anyway. The author of the story I found in my inbox yesterday is one Ms. Sharon Ferris, a woman who I’ve come to know via Twitter of all places. It truly is a great way to meet people, don’t let anyone tell you different. :) She wrote it in response to something I tweeted on the topic of childbirth, and she gave me permission to share her essay with all of you. One more thing about Sharon is that she owns a shop that, if you have the time, you might want to check out if you’re in the market for the kind of stuff she sells, and if you like doing business with the good, honest people of the world. (She didn’t pay me to mention her business, she’s just given me such good advice for so long so it’s all I can do to pay it forward.)
The words I read, below, have gotten me a little closer to where I’m meant to be as far as this whole baby-making thing is concerned. I’m hoping it’ll have some sort of impact on anyone else who’s experienced or is currently experiencing a similar struggle.
“If I could somehow avoid the whole ripping my vagina open part of having babies, I would so start our family like right now. No hesitation.”
The other day I read Alison’s tweet about considering motherhood. Her words brought back many of the fears that I had about having a child, many, many, many years ago.
For some reason when I was young, back in the dark ages (I grew up in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s) I always seemed to be out of sync with other girls my age and even with my best friends. Most of them started dating in high school, went to College or University, finished or not, got engaged, married and had babies. Some maybe not quite in that order, sometimes the babies started before the marriage and back then mostly resulted in a marriage. I don’t think that they even consider there might be an option. I didn’t seem to follow this pattern.
When I was a little girl, I never dreamed of getting married and having babies. Don’t know why. All my other friends did. I thought perhaps I was a little weird (probably was and still am, but now it is more acceptable), but I always thought that I would not get married and couldn’t imagine having a baby – no maternal instincts whatsoever. I had dolls and some that you put a bottle in the hole in their mouth and the water ran straight through a tube in the doll and out the bottom. I wasn’t impressed, except to try to figure out how that happened. Sometimes I had visions of being a scientist and mixed strange concoctions in jars in our basement – nothing dangerous but I always hoped something would happen with the mixtures. Usually they just went mouldy. If I had been born twenty-years earlier I might have discovered penicillin.
Enough of my misspent youth! When I was twelve, my sister had a baby and that was the first close up exposure I had to a baby. I loved my nephew and played with him and combed his hair like Elvis, but I never wanted one like him to look after.
After many years of dating, I met the man I finally ended up marrying. I was twenty-eight, which was really old for someone of my generation to be on their first marriage. We were happy and after two years bought a house. Both of us worked and it never seemed important to talk about children. There was a slight problem that neither of us would admit to and tried to hide, even from ourselves – he had a bit of a drinking problem. Many nights spent worrying about where he was and if he would get home safely, left little time to think about a baby and all that responsibility.
We finally admitted the problem and he went for help and stopped drinking (that is a long story, but not important now). Everything was wonderful and we started talking about having a baby. I thought I might want one, but couldn’t imagine being pregnant and going through that birth thing. It totally grossed me out. One other problem was that by this time, I was well established in an exciting, great career with a great company and couldn’t imagine giving that up and staying home with a child.
Remember this is in 1975-76 and most women stayed home. My mother didn’t help by telling me that a mother had to stay with her child and couldn’t go back to work. Also, every other female in the family stayed home.
My husband said that he didn’t care. If I wanted to work, that was fine and we would hire a nannie, but I still was having trouble getting over the quilt I was already accepting before I was even pregnant. And, there was still the whole pregnancy thing and the birth thing.
I was having such problems with the decision that I talked to my family doctor about it. He suggested that I see a Specialist, a sex-therapist. I thought, but didn’t say, that I wasn’t having a problem with sex, but just with the possible results of sex.
So, I went to see the sex therapist. She was a lovely lady in her early to mid-forties, her name was Dr. May Cohen (I will never forget that) and I can’t remember anything about the appointment except that somewhere during the conversation she mentioned that she had five children. That was the only important comment and I came out thinking that if she had five children and worked, then I could have one and work, and screw what everyone else thought. That is what made my decision.
We had no trouble getting pregnant. I know exactly the night that I got pregnant. We were in Chautauqua, N.Y. for the weekend. The Chautauqua Institution is very old and the hotels had no air-conditioning. It was one of those nights when you were away on holidays and felt that you should have sex, but neither of you really wanted to do it. Well, that was the first time without birth control and I got pregnant immediately. I knew the next day that I was pregnant. I was 34 years old.
I had always said that I thought that you should be able to have an epidural for the full nine months and I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to have natural childbirth. Somewhere during this whole decision making process, I actually forgot about the fears of being pregnant and the birthing process.
I didn’t have a bad pregnancy, except for the fact that my son refused to be born. I was three weeks and four days overdue and started to feel like an elephant. I know that everyone is saying, oh, that wouldn’t happen today because they would induce you. Well, they tried to induce me after being two weeks overdue. I was in the hospital for five days being hooked up every morning to an IV to induce labour. Nothing happened. They finally sent me home. Another week went by and I was again admitted to the hospital. They said they would try a really old method to induce. They insert a balloon into the vagina and inflate it and the uterus tries to get rid of this foreign thing. It worked and I went into labour the next morning and my son was delivered at 9:15 pm that night.
He gets tired of me always telling him that he was three weeks and four days late and has never been on time since. He tells me it was cozy and he wasn’t in any rush. The only time he moved quickly is when he played football and was being chased by a defensive back.
Through the whole nine months and the problems with not going into labour, etc., I actually didn’t think about the whole process. It must be nature’s way of dealing with it. You are committed and there is nothing you can do about it. The only time I did panic a wee bit was when the resident tried to give me an epidural. She was inexperienced, it didn’t work and they said that I might have to have it naturally because the anesthetist was in surgery. That is when I thought, forget this, give me my clothes, I want to go home. Luckily, before the pain got unbearable, the anesthetist came out of surgery, administered the epidural and I fell asleep for a couple of hours.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined and I am very glad that I did it, but I would never do it again. Everyone says that you forget the pain, but I always say, no way, remember, I only have one child.
We hired a nanny. I had planned to take five months off, but because he was born a month later than expected, I went back to work when he was only two and a half months old. My aunt said to me at a family party the weekend before I went back to work, aren’t you upset about going back to work and won’t you miss him? I said no and, honestly, I felt wonderful going back to work. I was not cut out to be a stay at home mother and while at home I always felt that I was totally out of step with the world.
I have asked him since he grew up if it bothered him that I went back to work, and he said, no. why should it, I had Charm (our nanny who still calls him her baby). I never regretted it for a minute and he is a wonderful son, my daughter-in-law is great and my two year old granddaughter is even better. Although, I still am not the motherly type.
This is what you might end up with!
I’d love to hear:
Do you identify at all? Have you ever struggled to figure out what you want to do?
Are you certain you want kids? Are you uncertain? What’s your biggest fear?
Excited to discuss this with you guys..
If you were wondering: the baby images up top are a font called “MTF Itty Bitty Baby.” It seemed appropriate.