Not every woman wants children. Not every women should have them. And through the years I myself have flip-flopped and yo-yoed over the possibility myself. But the truth is, I like kids. I’ve discovered recently that the fond memories of my childhood are what I use on a subconscious level to shield against a storm of negativity on a daily basis. Also, pregnancy fascinates me. I think that because I’m married to a lovely and wonderful man whom I love being with and learning more about each day, I’ve been more and more preoccupied with the idea of adding to that loving number. That’s totally natural.
I’ve been having more discussions with mothers I know, friends, co-workers, my therapist and their experiences with pregnancy, labor and childbirth, have all been so incredible and various! There is absolutely no way to predict what one women’s pregnancy will be like based on another’s. The stories I’ve heard have ranged from the most miserable to the unbelievable. I’ve heard from a woman who vomited twice a day for seven months straight to another woman who had two babies, one literally behind the other in her stomach who could not stop eating during her entire pregnancy. She would eat and eat and eat and never feel full or satisfied. I’ve heard c-section stories, epidural stories. I’ve even heard from a new dad, a guy I really like about his nervousness, reservations and joy of being a new father.
Some of these families pay for childcare and are extremely underpaid at work. Some have their parents living in and taking care of the kids while they both work. Some share time taking care of their kids so that a dad will stay at home for a few years while mom works and then vice versa. Others appear to have stable enough careers that allow them not stress out too much over basic concerns with regard to childcare. All in all, they figured things out or are in the process of doing so.
The other thing I’ve realized lately is that my decision to have a child, while totally natural, will also affect others around me in ways that are beyond my control like so many decisions we make for ourselves. But the unique experience of bringing life into the world at least as far as I have observed is unparalleled. What’s been holding me back from the idea of having children, like many people, is the idea that I haven’t accomplished enough yet, haven’t done all I wanted, haven’t finished having fun. I remember a joke by the late comedian Bill Hicks, something like, “I don’t know with all the alcohol we buy if we can afford to have kids honey.” I still find that hilarious because of its perverse demonstration of the part of us that wants to control what makes us happy. The first time out doing anything that make you feel good, you want to have that experience over and over again. You might even think it’s just as good if not better than the last time. But the real significance is not in the comparison of the experiences to one another because they’re all different in their own ways. It’s about what you get out of them, what you learn from them, how the peel back your layers and whether or not you have the discipline it takes to moderate or discontinue practices that no longer serve you, that no longer challenge you.
I’m not saying I have finally found the discipline to do this in all areas of my life. But I do see what no longer serves me with regard to thinking a baby will somehow get in the way of all my fun and yet uncompleted accomplishments. I’ve also stopped thinking of myself as conceptually impregnable. I used to think of being pregnant (like many other things) as something only other women could do, and that the idea of me being pregnant was a very distant sort of abstract idea that I would often hold up to the light and examine but never really accept as a real possibility. But now I get it. Me pregnant would be just that. Me, but pregnant. Amazing, mysterious, adventurous, unpredictable, miraculous, ancient, ordinary and natural.