Post in which I finally discuss my feelings on baby-making.
Swistle, are you ready?
Here's something I've been mulling over for the last, oh, bajillion centuries. It's been bothering me a lot the last few months, now that we're legally wed and all, and I remembered last night that it's been about a year since my vague description of this (see the eighth if you care, I can't figure out what I did to my archiving system, exactly). What happened was, I may or may not have been pregnant. There was a super late period (by a month or so) some weird positive pregnancy tests, and huge painful boobs, and fatigue and me throwing up every night from 7-10 and also craving Tabasco sauce and dumping it on everything. I took a lot of tests because I didn't know what to think, and the tests switched to turning up negative and then I had the worst bleeding of my life and I thought maybe I had been pregnant. But...I didn't go to the doctor and it's hard to say for sure. I felt very, very certain. But unvalidated.
At any rate, emotionally it was pretty bad and we had been very scared and then very excited and joyful and then sort of confused and when it was all over, I felt sad. So, so, so sad, and like I didn't have a right to be sad, because I hadn't made it to a doctor, even. It felt crippling and awful. It was very sobering. And then for several months I just wanted to have a baby. Babybabybabybaby. I'm getting older! 26 is so old! Babybabybabybaby!
When I was a teenager with too many extra-curriculars I would proclaim that I would never have kids. That maybe I would never marry! Take that, the man! Take that! I had my own agenda! I remember my first "job," a summer baby-sitting stint when I was 16. I took care of a two year old and an eight month old. The two year old was mischievous, in the middle of being potty trained, and very energetic. He swung between emotions wildly. (Rage and sorrow and glee, in that order.) I cleaned a lot of pee off the bathroom walls that summer. The baby was easy, except for the days the mom would say "okay, sorry, he doesn't feel good today!" or "he's cranky today!" before leaving the house. Sometimes it was so frustrating. Other times it was really fun.
As I was packing the baby around one afternoon while his brother napped, singing Beastie Boy songs and probably thinking something stupid about how tan I wanted to get that summer, I caught a glimpse of myself, with the baby propped on my hip, and to my 16 year old eyes I looked so old. Me, holding a baby! I thought, "Oh, boy, this could be me if I'm not careful!" and thought, "No kids! Take that, the man!" But also, I thought about how the baby fit so easily on my hip, and how I didn't look weird holding a baby, that it wasn't really that foreign. But no! The man!
Later, in college, I changed it to "maybe I'll want kids" and gradually to "I'll probably want to raise a family" and now I swing wildly between "man, I reeeeeally want kids" to "having kids is scary, how do you possibly know when you're ready?" to "maybe I'm not the right sort of person to even have children" to "I feel ready!" to "Oh, boy, I am not ready!"
I worry about it, quite a bit.
And trust me, Googling "am I ready to have a baby?" or "when do you know when to have a baby?" is NOT THE ANSWER. It will only make you lose faith in humanity.
And "feeling ready" is scary to me. Right? Sort of scary?
So, worrying it is.
I worry about the decision making process. I worry that I either won't be thoughtful enough about it or that I'm being too thoughtful. I worry that we need to wait several years for financial stability, and I worry that we'll never really feel completely financially ready and that we'll just have to take the plunge. I feel that I could agonize myself to death over the decision, and that worries me, too. I worry we won't be ready, or that we'll wait too long.
How do people know when they're ready? I feel as if I'm almost beyond the baby-craving (I've experienced that ticking clock for quite some time, when I felt that I must have a baby, a tiny little baby) and have moved on to thinking a lot about having children, adolescents, teenagers, adult sons and daughters. I think having children sounds good and exhausting. They are hilarious and tragic and amazing. Thinking about having teens, with cell phones, and car accidents, and going off to college and making sure they know about birth control and how to avoid alcohol poisoning and experimenting with substances, oh my! Isn't that crazy? But I love teenagers. I worked with them. The "bad" ones. I love them. Also, they made me crazy.
Especially the ones with phones.
We talk about how we would feel if our kids turned out one way or another. I say, "What if they are truly awful people?" The answer, of course, is to still love them and help them in the best way possible, but gosh, do you ever worry that one day you just won't like your kid? That they'll end up being awful? That they'll grow up to be everything you dislike or stand against, and there you go, you have a kid you don't like? (I also am anxious our children won't like me.) Because I've seen people with kids they don't like, and it breaks my heart for everyone involved. It's nasty and sad and horrible. I don't want that. We also talk about how it would be to have a kid with a medical or mental disease, and how it would be hard but okay. I wonder, if I feel that way, if we shouldn't adopt a kid with special needs.
We talk about how kids are f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
We talk about how horrible the world is, and we're both sort of convinced that the world won't be livable in 100 years anyway, and why isn't anyone listening to Stephen Hawking? The humans have fucked the planet, and it scares me for future people. Why aren't people doing things? Why aren't we paying attention? Politics are nasty, wars are nasty, people are dying dying dying, we're going to see some serious climate issues, even the glaciers, they are going away and awful things are happening and awful people are in charge. How can we, in good conscious, bring more people into this world? Why would we do that to someone we liked, let alone loved? I worry about that a lot.
I worry that I'm too selfish for kids, that I like my life the way it is and I like sleeping and I like freedom. I read lots o' "mommy blogs," lots and lots and lots. I fret over how many women seem so tired, frazzled, stressed out, and angry with incompetent partners. I worry about how many seem lonely and bored. Some seem so overwhelmed, and it scares me. Then I see others where things seem to be going along, if not perfectly, then functionally and happily, which is awesome. I see others who seem soooo on top of it, who seem so amazing that I feel I could never compare. I think of my mom and how she had twins and then my sister, and how the household ran smoothly. There was a lot going on, but she worked full time and always made dinner and the house was taken care of, we all pitched in. Our home stayed very clean and the yard stayed very tidy, it thrived. My father did a lot. The competency of a partner seems so important. I compare that in my mind with other stories, with threats that "once you have kids, that's it, you'll never even be able to shower regularly and you'll never have a life again, OMG" and it scares me and confuses me. I wonder how things will pan out. I wonder if I'm stupid for thinking I can strap a baby to me while I paint or if I'm dumb for thinking I can draw while a toddler naps. I wonder if I'm just an idiot for thinking I could function as an artist with a baby. (There were some awesome parents, men and women, in art school. I remember them with their babies in slings while they made pots, worked on drawings, etc. The babies were so mellow, and just snuggled up against the parent while the parent worked with clay. The parents would switch off when they needed to do something non-baby-strapped. I was in awe of them.) I wonder if I'm just sooooo weird for thinking J will split the parenting with me, that we will take turns getting up at night and changing diapers and playing. He's declared it, vehemently, that hell yes, it would be his kid too, we would obviously BOTH be doing the hard work. Is that so bad? To already be working that out? Is it bad to assume or not assume that it would be so? Because it seems obvious to me, but I don't know. I've not had a baby. I always just assumed the partner would be in it, 100 percent.
Haha, you think, she so obviously has never had kids! She so obviously doesn't know what she's talking about! I worry you think that.
I worry about the judgement of other mothers. I probably won't breastfeed, because I feel that taking my medications that keep me sane would be more beneficial to everyone. Is that selfish, or smart? I want to use cloth diapers, for the environment. Is that stupid, or smart? People have already questioned that decision, and I'm not even remotely pregnant. We don't want our kids to watch television for at least a few years, due to study upon study I've read. Especially about things designed for babies. Is that insane, or smart? I don't feel compelled to be all "HEY I DON'T THINK TV IS GOOD FOR YER KIDZ," because every situation is different and I don't feel super judgy about things, but I know how it can be. I also don't want them to eat total crap. Is that naive, or smart? I know you adjust as you parent, but we have core beliefs and values, and I worry about people not respecting them or how we want to do things. I fret internally about the grief we will be given. I worry that people are already thinking, "Oh, she's so green, she has no idea! She'll turn the TV on the first night and give the baby a bottle of Mt. Dew!" It makes me feel itchy.
I worry that I won't be a good parent. I worry that I'm too crazy, I'm too protective, I'm too hippie-ish, that I'll be waaaay too relaxed about some things and too insane about others. I worry that giving up our freedom would be harder than I think, and I will be cranky because of it. I worry that I'll be overwhelmed or that I'll screw a kid up emotionally. I feel very flawed, and I don't want that to hurt someone else.
There's a chance I'm infertile, and I worry that it won't really bother me, in the long run. I worry that it's weird that if I'm infertile, I won't feel compelled to have my own children. I think about trying for years with infertility treatments, the emotional and physical roller coaster ride, and I think, "Ugh, why would I do that to myself?" I think there are lots of kids out there who desperately need homes, and that if I'm infertile, well, shouldn't I be focusing my energies on kids who need help? I worry that that attitude is insensitive to others, and that having our own natural child would be amazing and reward and god, Kara, you can't even comprehend it! Don't be so stupid! Maybe I shouldn't be all "oh well!" I've had time to think it through, and I've sort of come to that place. That having our own would be nice, but helping someone else might be nicer. I worry that maybe we shouldn't even TRY to have natural kids, for the very reason that the world is fucked up, and instead of producing more people, I should be helping kids who are already here, who are in need. I worry that this makes me sound terrible, or alienating, or maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about. I worry that I am unnatural for thinking that way. I keep my mouth shut about such things, in fear of sounding ignorant or turning people off. But I think about them all the time.
I worry about small things, like "Will I love the pets as much?" "I don't even know how car seats work!" "Is the baby supposed to sleep on its back or tummy? WHICH IS IT?" "I don't want to poop during labor!" and "OMG STITCHES ON THE VAGINA?!" Bigger things, that I should worry about, I don't. I feel matter-of-fact about possibly finding pot in my future son's room or that my daughter could be a lesbian. I feel very calm about dealing with some things, and very anxious about others.
There are other things, immediate, right-now things. Our house is tiny, I'm on medications that aren't good for developing fetuses (as proven in rodents when given 41 times the human dose, but still), I need an ultrasound to see what's going on in my cranky uterus. Yesterday, however, I had this moment, this "Oh, it would all work out" moment, which is precisely how I felt a year ago. Scared, but joyful, and we felt that we, obviously, would make it work. The worry is overtaken by the fact that sometimes? Sometimes I feel very opposite.
Sometimes I remember that I have joy in my heart, and love to give. J and I love each other so much, and want to give that to children. We are happy, when we think about playing with kids and going on trips and education and finding out whether our future children will be poetic or sportsy or both, or as I was as a child, unable to shut up and convinced they could save the whales. We wonder if they will be smart, or funny, or anal, or shy. The "why do people EVER have kids?" feeling is replaced by how natural it is, and how yes, overall, we want that. I want to share laughter and learning and growth and closeness. I remember that if we accidentally got pregnant next week, it would be fine and happy and things would be fine. I remember that if we wait a year or three, it will be fine. I remember that if we try, naturally, a few years, and then decide to adopt? That if we decide something else entirely? That will be fine. We love each other and we are reasonably intelligent people, and everything would be okay.
A year ago I felt crazed. The baby lust grabbed me and shook me around and made me think long and hard. For a year I've thought about it and thought about it, discussed it and worried and declared this and that, but I guess the bottom line is, no matter what we do, it'll be okay.
Kisses to you all,