Friday, September 30, 2005

What Ifs...

I suppose it's always in the back of my mind (nevermind the taunts that "accidents happen!" from those who surround me), but I wonder what would happen if I found myself pregnant. But only in minutes like those I spent waiting in the doctor's office today does it really become sort of real.

I knew I wasn't pregnant. Good grief, I'm only a week late for my Depo shot, but there's still a very potent tension while you're waiting for those test results, starting down the hall, waiting for the nurse to walk out with your prescription in hand. What would I do?

Honestly, the thought of getting pregnant right now terrifies me like nothing else. Who would I call? Who could I call that would understand that "Congratulations!!!!!" would not be an appropriate response? What would I do? Would I continue the pregnancy and live with the consequences? Would I terminate the pregnancy because this is so not what we want? Would I be able to tell my husband, or would I consider keeping it from him out of fear that he would try to change my mind? These are all questions I've asked myself, and while hypothetical, it's an incredibly difficult situation.

I've long said that I believe in a woman's right to an abortion, but I wouldn't be able to go through it myself. Surprisingly, however, the older I get and the more sure I am about remaining childfree, the more I look at abortion as an escape route from a bad situation. Of course I'm conflicted because I don't meet the arbitrary requirements that make an abortion acceptable -- We're financially secure, our relationship is strong, and we're fit, in the general sense, to raise a child.

Now you're going to tell me it'll be different when it's my own child, right? That if that day would come that I find out I'm pregnant, really I'll be overjoyed and these thoughts will *poof* out of my head, right? But do you understand that the idea of being a parent makes me sick to my stomach? Makes my heart ache, my head dizzy. When I picture a child in my life I get panicked and scared and sick... I'm not "normal", I can admit that. I'm 28 years old, practically a newlywed and the thought of babies makes me squeamish like you would not believe. I cannot, even a little, imagine that changing just because "whoooopsies! guess I'm pregnant now!".

Would I have an abortion if I found myself pregnant? Would I try to hide it from A? Probably not and definitely not; we're partners in life now. I believe every child should be a wanted child, but at the same time I know if it came down to it, we'd deal. But it's still something that gets tossed around in my head at moments like these, sitting and waiting for the test results.

Some of the most wonderful children I've known have been "accidents". My niece, my best friend's little brother... hell, *I* was unplanned too. However, that doesn't mean saying something like "accidents happen!" is encouraging. Yes, my mom dealt great with things (twice over, as she raises my niece), but she has a lot of regrets. I don't want a life full of regrets. The fact is, I don't want an accident to happen. And Gods-willing, it won't.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An interesting analogy

It came up again at work yesterday. It always comes up at work. There's baby fever here, y'know. According to everyone surrounding me, I'm just not ready for kids yet; once we've been married awhile that will change. We don't really want to remain childless.

And I thought about this, and an interesting analogy popped into my head. It's like when a 6-year-old girl says boys are gross, or vice-versa. Everyone just laughs and says "wait 'til you get older!". I think, because of my age, that's what people write off my CF views as -- I'm just not ready yet, but it's only a matter of time.

When I went for my last depo provera shot, my doctor and I were discussing nobaby options. She made a number of suggestions for less reliable means of contraception, and i told her I wasn't comfortable with a reliability rate of only 85%. "Well, you're getting married, so getting pregnant wouldn't really be a bad thing, right?" she said with a smile.

"No," I told her, "we're choosing not to have children."
She laughed. "Okay, so we'll stick with the Depo... for now. You're still young. hahaha!"

I suspect it's a similar thing to what gay people go through -- everyone says it's just a phase until, finally, it becomes clear that this isn't changing. I've referred to the decision to tell our families as "coming out"; maybe the similarity of the two situations is stronger than I think? I don't know... it's all just so frustrating.

I'm really starting to wonder at what age I'll have to be when people start believing we're serious about this...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

So... it's a baby I guess

"What is wrong with you?! Lauren's here with her baby and you don't want to see it!"

Nope. Don't really care. Insisting I was really busy wasn't working, so I went anyway.

Lauren, one of my now former co-workers, left about 2 months ago when she had her baby. Of course, she decided not to come back to work. Her former position is a stressful one, and one I wouldn't want even without a newborn at home, but she insisted to the very last moment that she would be coming back in a couple weeks.

But she returned to visit us today, her new baby boy in tow. And, of course, all the women in my office rushed like crazy to see the fresh new baby.

Yup, that's a baby alright. A six-week-old, with his giant little head cocked to the side and fuschia skin all... there. Maybe it's bias or attachment working its magic, but my best friend's new baby is ADORABLE; this was just kind of a baby. Sleeping, in his carseat. Just a baby. Nothing special. So I left after seeing the baby, making the appropriate "what a cutie" comments, and went back to my desk.

I don't get it, the fascination with newborn babies. Everyone wanted to smell him. They all stood in a circle and smiled and stared. I just don't get it. Yes, I was fascinated with my best friend's baby, but that's because he's the child of someone I love, and I want to be a part of his life. This was just random baby #257. Without the emotional attachment, babies are a big nothing to me.

Yes, of course, that's what will make the difference *when* I have my own children, I'll have more tolerance and like them more, etc. etc. etc. I don't doubt that if I had kids I would love them completely, that I would experience whatever it is that mothers feel for their offspring. The difference is, I'm perfectly fulfilled without that, thank you. I'll keep my life of convenience.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Omens (and guilt)

M, the "other girl" in my office, announced on Monday that she is pregnant. This, to any normal couple, would be great and happy news. The problem is, her husband is an asshole. Certifiable asshat. They've been together for two years, and are celebrating their 1-year anniversary next week... they've already spent the last four months in counseling. "But I'm sure when we have kids he'll be better," she says. Sure, he'll control his temper and stop throwing things, he'll stop buying cars you can't afford and he'll sell his new 2006 Corvette that you definitely can't afford when you have kids. Counseling is a good thing; if couples are having trouble, I think they should go. It helps people. But I think (a) if you're in counseling in the first year because your spouse "totally changed" and developed a violent temper overnight, you should reevaluate the relationship and (b) if "a" is the case, you have no business having babies. Babies don't magically make bad marriages better. Regardless of my personal stance on having children myself, I'm sorry, I just can't believe that M bringing a baby into that relationship right now could possibly be a good thing for her. I say this because I care about her. We may not be "hang out after work" buddies, but I spend more time with her than I do A, and yes, I care about what happens to her.

That's why today, when she started crying at her desk, I tried to comfort her. She thinks she may be having a miscarriage. She left work half an hour ago to go to her doctor, who wants her to come in. She's devastated, although she still doesn't know what's going on. She told EVERYONE that she's pregnant, and she's only 6 weeks along, so she's also really embarrassed. I didn't know what to say, so I just told her not to panic until after her doctor's appointment. But really, with her symptoms, it doesn't look good.

And all I could think is "maybe this is the gods telling you that maybe you two aren't ready to have kids yet." Of course, I didn't tell this to her face, but I still feel bad for thinking it. I don't know why, because that's what I believe. Her husband has already been yelling at her on the phone because her first instinct wasn't to leave work and go to the doctor when her symptoms started this morning, which of course made her even more upset. I keep wondering if he's going to blame her if she miscarries, make her feel even worse. Because he's that much of a jackass. I wondered if their marriage could survive a baby; I'm not sure it can survive her miscarrying.

I don't know, I guess I just feel kind of terrible about thinking bad thoughts about M's pregnancy; maybe a little guilty -- not like "this is my fault" guilty, but I just feel for her. This has to be just awful to go through. I still do believe that maybe this is some sort of omen that maybe they should get their personal relationship figured out before they walk down this path, but still... Poor M.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust

I lost an important sista in my childfree circle today. Not completely; it's not like she's pregnant or plans to be anytime soon, but she's crossed over to the other side. Jeanine wants babies... not now, but someday. She wants little Danish babies with Scandinavian names to go with her boyfriend's funny last name when they finally decide to get married.

This isn't a bad thing, mind you. I speak in jest about her "crossing over"... and there I go again with the disclaimers. In all seriousness, I'm just shocked overall. Jeanine, who was childfree before I was, who freaks out at the mere thought of EVER being pregnant, and can't stand babies... or couldn't. It's just strange to me that someone I thought of as completely and thoroughly childfree has fallen victim to the taunt I hear all the time... she's "changed her mind".

We were discussing the shower/ribbons situation and my fiancé's grandma's new favorite phrase, "when the baby comes", over coffee when she told me this. We talked about it for awhile when a woman at the table next to us asked me why I didn't want kids. She's probably in her late 30s, maybe early 40s. She never had kids, "but then again, I never got married"; she wanted to know how I came to this decision. It was awkward explaining myself to a stranger, and I was still somewhat in shock over Jeanine's admission that she really does want kids, but we talked for a bit. "I'm 28," I told her, "and I've still never had that insatiable urge for children," among other things. "Yeah, but maybe when you're like 34 or something, right? You're keeping your options open, right?" I may have rolled my eyes before caving, "sure, I might change my mind," more to end the conversation than anything.

I spent my entire drive home wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Why is it so hard for this to just be a decision between my future husband and me? Why can't I make people back off without saying "I might change my mind"? Why is that the only way they garner satisfaction? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?

It's not fear that I might change my mind and render all this ridiculous in a sort of "ha ha, told you so" way. It's that I don't want to change my mind. I honestly feel like changing my mind will do all the things I fear -- it'll change my life completely in a way I don't want it to be changed. Why would I change it? Because of the "baby rabies"? Because I can't handle the pressure from family? Why can't I just say "we're not having kids" and have that be okay??

At the shower on Saturday I sat next to Lori, who just got married a couple weeks ago. She stared longingly at baby Nathaniel. "I want one of those so bad it kills me," she said. "I hate that I have to wait 'til I'm done with school." That doesn't happen to me. I stare at the baby and think "oh my god, he's so adorable, so tiny, so soft, so etc. etc. etc.," but any desire to have one is always tempered by what it means to have one, a realization that the sacrifices aren't worth it. FOR ME. Just me.

And again I ask the question, why is this so offensive to people, so hard for them to grasp?? It's not fair. I just want to feel normal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Whose Vacation Time?

It happened again yesterday. E's babysitter called in sick, so she had to leave work early to cover for her. "Whose vacation time is this, anyway," she said to me in an exasperated voice. "I've only used maybe one of my vacation days for myself, and now I'm almost out."

It's true. The days our company has off, her babysitter wants off too. When she calls in, it's because her babysitter is unavailable. And, invariably, she comes in the next day completely worn out and looking exhausted.

She often complains that she's a bad mother because she has to work, but she doesn't do it for the money. Almost her entire salary goes to pay her babysitters. I've said it before, there are people who are just wired to be stay-at-home moms -- she is not one of them. She's fine on the weekends with him, when her husband is usually there, but she freaks out when she has to spend a day alone with her son.

E had babies for an interesting reason: it was time. On her schedule, I mean. Get married by 22, have first child by 24. Check, all of the above. Yet she constantly comments, when A and I do something fun on a weeknight, or take a spur-of-the-moment trip, that she wishes she could do all that. I don't think she was ready for the sacrifice yet. She also talks a lot about how she wishes she had a girl (not diminishing her love for her son), and, well, speaks in a rather juvenile way about him sometimes, as if he's a new gadget or toy to be shown off to others. Not in the same way other people talk about their children, mind you... it's almost as if he's inanimate.

That sounds horrible when I put it in writing; I don't know, she just loves showing him off SO MUCH, loves the idea of him, really. Loves shopping for him, buying him cute things, decorating his bedroom, hanging his photos all over the place. But when it comes down to it... I don't know what I'm trying to say. She loves her son, I believe that wholeheartedly. But, well, she gets SO flustered about spending more than an evening alone with him, gets so upset when she has to use her vacation time to take care of him... I'm not sure what I'm trying to say. I actually kind of applaud her for feeling comfortable enough to express frustration and annoyance with being a parent. I don't know, I guess this just all gets added to the list of things to consider if I ever do start to feel the winds of mind-changin'. There's nothing wrong with her, really. It's just part of being a Mom... the complete sacrifice is the thing that I just can't get on board with; seems like E is still getting used to it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ribbons and Bows

I'm unsure if this is a midwestern thing or if everyone knows about this, but apparently if you break a ribbon at your bridal shower, that = one baby. I had been to a bridal shower where this was the case, but I was hoping it wouldn't extend to my family or my fiancé's... no such luck. I ripped the bow off my first gift and heard hoots and hollers all over. "She broke the ribbon!" "You know what that means, don't you!" "That's ONE!"

This continued throughout the unwrapping. I MacGuyvered my gifts out of their intricately wrapped ribbons, much to the dismay of my future grandma-in-law, who wailed loudly "come on, I need LOTS of grandkids!" One particular gift was wrapped so bizarrely in ribbon that my future mother-in-law and my fiancé's aunt both excitedly snapped photographs before I had at it. Success. Success which was met by a bewildered, "I'm sorry, I tried!" from my aunt. Oh brother.

My best friend brought her two-month-old along, and I got to meet him for the first time. I still can't shake the feeling that she still doesn't understand that my desire to remain childfree has nothing to do with not liking her kids. I couldn't stop touching little Nathaniel's soft tiny head, covered in silky, fuzzy hair. He was just to die for. When I offered to hold him while she was loading up her car, she looked at me like I was Chinese. Me, hold a baby? I might catch "babies!" I just wish I could make her understand... it's like the person I need most desperately to support me in this -- my best friend -- still can't separate this issue from herself. I don't know what to do about it.

I know she's sensitive when I post these things -- that's why it's ending up here and not in my LiveJournal. I feel like if I try to make her feel comfortable that she thinks I'm trying too hard... if I tell her how much I adore her sons, that it's not sincere, or that it's a front. I just wish I had some confirmation that she gets it, but the biggest rift we've ever had was when her first son was born; She was hypersensitive about our friends who didn't want children, I said some things I wish I could take back. But I don't think she's ever gotten past that. I don't think she'll ever be comfortable with my adoration for her children, and I think until I change my mind and decide to have kids of my own, my actions with regards to her sons will always be suspect. I just don't know what I can do about that.