Friday, January 29, 2010

Maybe Baby

I'm wading through To the Lighthouse (which I am not enjoying) and Drood (which I am enjoying, I just can't read for very long for some reason) right now, and am having trouble making much progress in either one at the moment, despite the snow today we're having in Oklahoma today. I can't believe we've had two snow/ice storms this winter. I can only remember having snow days two, maybe three times in the entire time I was in school, and school has been cancelled several times this year. Global warming my ass.
So, I decided to try reading some of the books I have checked out from library and am supposed to return this weekend, if the library doesn't stay closed. First up, Maybe Baby, a collection of personal essays about their choices to have or not have children.
I randomly saw this book on Amazon, and decided to pick it up at the library. As a 28-year-old in a southern/midwestern state where most people start popping out babies right after they get married, the issue of whether to have kids comes up a lot. And most people assume that I will have kids, and if I'm meeting them for the first time they assume I already have them. And I've noticed that for most people, having kids doesn't seem to be a choice - it's just something you do once you get married, or occasionally accidentally before hand.
But for me, it is a choice. One that I don't understand how people don't agonize over more. I often wonder how people decide to have kids, and it's just recently that I've realized that they aren't making the choice if they will have kids, but when. Not so for me. And I realized, that it's only been recently in history that we've actually had that choice. Not long ago, not having sex was pretty much the only way to avoid it, and for married couples you just started having babies. But I don't have to go that direction if I decide not to. And right now, I'm leaning heavily to the not wanting to side. But part of me wonders if I'll regret when I'm too old to biologically have a child, or when I disappoint my parents for depriving them of becoming grandparents, or when I grow old alone (based on the statistics that men typically die younger than women). But I simply can't imagine being pregnant, or giving birth, or raising a child. I've never held a baby. I get panic attacks just thinking about it. I'm not really fond of children. I like being in control. I like being free. I don't want to have something tying me down. I want to live life on my terms.
But this type of thinking typically gets you evil looks, with people thinking you're selfish and that you just don't understand how wonderful parenthood is, and that I'll change my mind and have them and then I'll get it. And maybe I will. I still have time. But right now, I don't want them. And I just wanted someone to understand that.
And that's part of what this book does. The first essay in the book was the one I identified with the most. She's happily married, and loves her husband and her life so much that she doesn't want to mess with that. She doesn't want to share her husband. She doesn't want to do little more than share a house with him for several years while they devote themselves to a baby. And then oddly, my second favorite essay was actually from one of the mothers. Even though she decided to have kids, she talked a lot about why that decision isn't for everyone and that's okay. She says it's not rational to have children. It's an emotional decision, based on guts and feelings. And that's a big part of my problem - I only look at the situation rationally, and from that perspective I can't understand why someone would have them. I don't have a biological clock ticking inside me. I don't see babies and want to hold them and have one. I see them and freak out, and praise the Lord that that's not me. I cringe when I see pregnant women, terrified for them. I don't think I can ever be brave enough to handle that.
Anyway, that was a lot more personal info than I normally share, but it's a personal book. I guess this is sort of my own personal essay on the topic, rather than actual review of the book. If you're weighing this decision though, or no someone who is, this is a great book to look into. The essays are all well written and entertaining on their own as well, and some would probably be good to read if you're in the stages of parenthood where you're trying to remember why the hell you had them in the first place. :) It actually tends a little more to that side of things actually, to having them over not having them, but for me it was nice to simply read about it being a decision, not a given.


  1. What an interesting post, and book. We are incredibly lucky to be living in a time when becoming a parent is usually a choice, though accidents happen, and then you have a much bigger issue to deal with. There's no question that having babies changes your life, and not having kids does as well.

    What made me smile when I first starting reading your post was that sometimes it's not as easy to have a baby as just not using birth control. All three of my kids are miracles of IVF (invitro fertilization)--and they know (they're teenagers) how much they were wanted because it took my husband and I 8 years and a LOT of money to get pregnant. I know many infertile couples who were not as lucky as we were. During those 8 years of trying, I kept on asking myself how I would feel if I never was able to get pregnant, and the answer always came back, I want to be a mother. But, I know many women who have other roles they long for more than that of motherhood. Viva la difference!

  2. Oops! I didn't mean to make it sound like it was always that easy. Several of the essays actually addressed IVF, and several others discussed abortion. I've had a few friends who have had fertility issues, and I meant that the decision to start trying doesn't seem to be a big decision for many people. I am glad we have those options available, and I agree that I'm thankful that we do have the choice to have kids or not today. I'm glad IVF worked for you.