(No mom I’m not pregnant. And please don’t comment on this post telling me to DO IT ALREADY! either)
I don’t know whether to have a baby or not. I mean, I know I want to have a baby or two or three or even FOUR! But it’s a matter of when, of how. Every time I contemplate this decision and whether the timing is right, whether we should wait, I can hear a chorus of middle aged women sipping coffee and saying conspiratorially “You can never really plan for a baby, dear” and “Honestly honey whatever time you choose will be the right time” . For some reason they have the raspy, certain voices of hardened cigarette smokers and I am afraid to disobey them, but middle-aged cigarette smokers be damned, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. It just took me three months of obsessive searching to find a shower curtain I liked. A SHOWER CURTAIN. So, obviously some deliberation is in order.
I thought about opening it up to a poll, but then my mum would be forced to lurk on my site frantically counteracting any “No” vote by voting “Yes” twice and how could I do that to her? I’m sure she has other, better things to do with her time. Like turning 58 tomorrow. Or evicting otters from her floating house.
So naturally I do what I always do and I research. I get a stack of books from the library; anthologies filled with women’s essays about childbirth, challenges of balancing work and children and one charming book called “How to Babyproof Your Marriage”. I picked up this doozy, and all of the others, because I want desperately to know what we are getting into by any means necessary. This obsessive compulsive researching behaviour is much like it was before we got Gus, when I trolled message boards filled with hysterical dog owners writing all capitals posts about the shit their horrible dogs were doing, because by preparing myself for these events, my logic goes, I shall prevent them from ever, ever happening to me.
(How’s that working for me you ask? Well if you had asked me two years ago as my 120 lb idiot teenaged dog took off running and barking after a toddler and scared him so much that he FELL OFF HIS TRICYCLE I would have said it’s not working very well at all why would you ask me that can’t you see I’m upset enough already? A TRICYCLE! But lately, with my older, calmer, sweeter dog I say SUCCESS! My obsessive research paid off!)
The book about baby-proofing your marriage is written in that cutesy “Hey girlfriend!” style that I loathe. I don’t know how to explain it except by saying that the tone combines a chipper, throw your hands in the air, boys-will-be-boys amirite ladies? type jokery that sets my teeth on edge. One of the most hyped suggestions in this book was The Five Minute Fix. They kept referring to it over and over: The Five Minute Fix is a lifesaver! The Five Minute Fix saved my marriage!
Intrigued I skipped ahead and discovered that The Five Minute Fix consists of giving your husband a blow job so he will change the diaper/mow the lawn/take out the garbage without being asked.
…..? I don’t know where to start with that one so I’ll just add that they also thoughtfully provided a cost/benefit analysis spreadsheet for The Five Minute Fix (because nothing says sexy like cold hard logic) I kid you not the first item was “Cost: Potential loss of dignity”. AMIRITE LADIES?
So, book discarded the research continued, this time with my best friend Google. I googled “What do you wish you did before having kids?”, “What do you wish you knew before having kids?” and even “I regret having kids.” . With the latter search I discovered forums dedicated to Childfree advocates. After taking some time to educate myself about this choice, I started reading and was absolutely stunned by the vitriol with which posters spoke about those who have children.
Obviously I am only reading the opinions of a small and vocal minority within the Childfree movement but the vicious us/them dichotomy seemed totally unreal. There seemed to be a complete dehumanization of those who decide to have kids, referring to them as “Breeders”. There were posts mocking parents whose children had died and blasting those who were having issues with fertility (Don’t you think this is a sign that nature didn’t mean for you to have children? GET OVER IT.)
I mean I get it, all the “When are you guys going to start a family *wink wink*” queries can get exasperating even when you are eventually planning to take that step. I can only imagine how infuriating it must be to be to have to constantly justify your choice to friends and family that may be less than supportive and a society that seems all-consumed with everything Baby. But shit, can’t we all just get along?
I got lost in that quagmire for a bit and then I started lurking on forums for new mothers and with this I think I scared myself into childlessness for another year. Never again do I want to read about vaginal tears and hemorrhoids and sore nipples, new fathers who don’t help and nosey mother-in-laws that make you feel inadequate. Also did you know that stroller envy is a thing? How is this a thing?
There’s no point to this ramble except that it gives a fairly accurate representation of the thoughts in my head surrounding this subject. The only thing left to add is how all of these fears and doubts and opinions are completely and utterly silenced when I hold a baby and smell it’s tiny downy head, or watch as she focuses her eyes on mine and smiles, or when I imagine what our child would look like - thick dark hair and his smile.
At that point I think “You can never really plan for a baby. Whenever we decide to do this will be the right time.” And then I have a cigarette.