Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts On The Infant Invasion

2011 is the year I buy onesies in bulk. The year of diaper cakes. The year I finally get to feel up all of my friends bellies. The year I try not to freak out over the baby invasion upon my shores.

This is not the first time that the infant army has crawled towards me but the procreation waves that crested when I was a young adult never felt threatening. Many of my acquaintances did me the favor of having kids really early so that I in no way had to question my life choices. I was perfectly comfortable with my decision not to have children in my early 20s so that I could focus on the really important things like watching The Gilmore Girls and developing a finely honed appreciation for cheeses. I knew that there was plenty of time for babies. But this new onslaught of birthing hangs like that picture of Uncle Sam pointing menacingly at me promising that I too must now go to war.

Last month I turned 33 cementing the fact that if I ever become a mother it will be at a later age than when my own mother birthed her first child (me). “Mom was 32 when she had me.” was always my internal mantra -- translation: “No need to worry! You’re not old yet! The eggs are fine!!!!” I’m officially past due on my #1 excuse for being fancy free and childless..... now what?

The problem is that when you’re 23 and thinking about having a baby you have no idea what you’re doing. You think babies are cute and obviously you’ll love it and everything will be awesome. At 33 you’re almost too well informed to ever consider actually having a child. Occasionally it will not be cute. You will not always love it. Everything will not be awesome. When you’re a knocked up 16 year old and MTV is at your door with a herd of video cameras everyone knows that this baby is going to ruin you life. When you’re 33 and staring at the cute designer jeans that you’ll never fit into ever again you have to absorb the knowledge that this baby is going to ruin your life all by yourself

The project manager in me is obviously freaking out. After all, I’m late! Worse than that If I don’t have a baby in the next say.... 3 years? NO BABIES FOR ME. What biology doesn’t understand is that I need more time. More time to sleep until 10am. More time to enjoy my (by no means perfect but still totally nice and mostly flat) stomach. And someone else I know? Someone with half the ingredients needed for baby making tucked away somewhere in his corpus? That dude needs a lot more time.

I can’t blame G for putting things off. I know exactly how trying to get pregnant is going to go. That is going to be an awesome time for my baby daddy. “Better get it up and do your job or I will take you off this project!” (ROMANCE!!!!!) Secondly, God is for sure going to fuck with me. He’ll be all “Oh-ho-ho! Look who wants a baby inside her NOW. Why it’s Lil Miss ‘Please God do not let me get pregnant!’ Oh how the tides have turned!” And so then it’ll be at least 3 exhausting months of freaking out and reversing all of those prayers and spiritually eating my words.

It does not help that everyone makes babies sound like demon spawn. In addition to obvious crap that sucks like never sleeping and touching someone else’s poop apparently moms can also look forward to boobs that hurt so much that you cry for hours, weeks of depression caused by hormones up and leaving you without warning and never ever looking hot ever again because your whole body is stretched out and ugly. It’s hard to look at that list and think “sign me up!”

I’ve always taken warnings at face value. “Drugs are bad.” So I didn’t do drugs. “Sex will ruin your life.” So I was a virgin until 24. “Babies are hard.” So here I am. I’m sure all of the parents out there and the entire Christian Right is thrilled to see me lumping children in with drugs and sex but you have to admit that I have a point -- all three seem to offer unconditional love but often they just make you their slave.

So do I want a baby? Too many people never really ask themselves that question. Thanks to biology or society or poetry we just assume that love->marriage->baby in a baby carriage. When love can just as easily point to trips around the world or a shared appreciation for bourbon or leisurely weekend mornings sans a soundtrack of Dora the Explorer. I suppose after these paragraphs of whining it seems like I must want (or at least deserve) to be childless, but truthfully I have always loved children. I don’t get bored talking about the milestones of month 4. I sometimes watch Sesame Street all by myself. I’ve always clicked with kids, always wanted at least one of my own someday. But the idea that “someday” is almost here has me suddenly indecisive. So I weigh the options, consider the risks, hem, haw, but it never feels like I come any closer to confidence. Even the most well researched act of procreation will still require a leap of faith. Can someone give me a push?


dtb said...

What on Earth is a diaper cake?

And, like any life-changing decision which can never be undone, you'll know if and when you're ready. Or life will find a way of deciding for you. 33 is still young. We're the same age, and we're waiting another year before we even start the 'effort,' so to speak. My mom didn't have me until she was 40, if that makes you feel any better.

alia said...

You can be either person. You can be Favorite Auntie to a brood of babies and have a fulfilling, interesting, happy life and never have a child call you Mommy. You can have a child or three call you Mommy and have a fulfilling, interesting, happy life. Or you can be miserable with both. And, no matter what the self-help books say, it isn't just about your attitude. (Hormones are Teh Evulz, ok? Fuck attitude, give me dopamine and oxytocin and then go away.)
Sure, some of it is expectation management-- but a lot of it is how much help you need and how much help you get. If you get enough help, it's great. Help can be through husband or family or friends or government or beautiful purple pills. But if you don't get enough, it is hard-- and sometimes it is too hard.
So, my advice is line up your help first, and everything else will fall into place.
(For the record, we'll help!)

Jenny said...

I am so glad you blogged about this. Very honest and as always very well written! If you decide to have children, I know you will make a fabulous mother. I am glad that you are trying to figure out what you really want in life... shit, we only live once, right? This last year has really taught me to think hard and follow and trust myself.

Nicky said...

I was 33 when I had my 1st child and I was stressing about being old. In Australia when you have your 1st child you get put into a Mother's Group, and it turned out that the ages of first-time mums in my Group was 27 to 38. So, 33 is nothing :>

Here's some of what I was told before I had kids, that was actually true:

"There is never a right time to have a baby. You never think you're mature enough, or have enough money, but it all works itself out in the end."

"When you see your own baby, all that other stuff just melts away".

And here's my own addition, with a 7yo and 4yo in tow:

"I couldn't imagine life without them".

Good luck!

Lisa said...

Good post! And I am on your side whether you have kids or not. I will now get to work on appreciating not yet nearing at the "must choose now" stage and continuing my "no pregnancies!" praying.

Our Heads Are Helmets said...

Wish I could help, but I'm having the same internal crisis as you. Let me know how yours shakes out!

kajal said...

great post. one day, like 3 years ago, i felt similar. I wrote it down (although not nearly as well), but the point is...

turned out I was preggers by accident when I wrote it. watch out lady. the universe loves a giggle.

Anonymous said...

We never had sleepless nights, and I never got pooped on. I was really nervous about being too selfish to love/take care of another person. There are always drugs for the 'mones :).