Monday, July 18, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

Since I crossed back into feeling better about my choice, I've been worried that meeting Newbaby would drop me right back into the midst of the rabies. Thankfully, when I visited my friends and their daughter this weekend, it couldn't have been better.

I think this was the first baby I've ever held without anyone uttering the words "don't you want one, even just a little?" and the first time the mother hasn't been convinced I was going to accidentally break the child. This comfort and ease made the visit something awesome. We laughed, we all sat and watched movies and chilled and took turns holding her, handing her back to Mom or Dad when she fussed.

They handled Newbaby with ease and grace, even while admitting that in her week in this world she'd already managed to rob them of sleep and frustrate the hell out of them occasionally. And I got to see the immense love they felt for her and how natural and normal it all seemed.

And, I am happy to report, my uterus didn't twinge once.

Through it all, though I loved holding her and cuddling her, I knew I definitely did not want their life. Just the slightest glimpse showed me how 24/7 this job is. They're overjoyed by it all, but all I saw was what I would lose.

I've been told that I'm too focused on the negative side of parenting, but that's the fundamental difference between us and those who want kids. For me, the negatives are overwhelming and always have been. Parenting's a tough job. So's being a doctor or a physicist. And, again, I'll leave it to those who want to do it and I'll watch from afar, grabbing opportunities to babysit on occasion, or make the busy family dinner (as I did this weekend) to help out the people I love, and my life will be far from empty.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Birth Control Party

Spending the evening at a friend's party that was not closed to kids is the best birth control ever. In one night there was a baby whose parents had to leave early because of his fussing, a curious but well-behaved one-year-old who couldn't stop touching EVERYTHING and opening every drawer, making a huge mess and nearly breaking many things, and a hyperactive three-year-old who acted like she'd done a few lines of cocaine before coming into the room with us. My head still hurts from said 3-year-old's screaming.


My friends all thought this was adorable. "Look how energetic and friendly she is! She isn't afraid of strangers at all!!" I spent the entire time anxious, nervous, and wanting to leave, and now I have a headache.

This is why we do not invite the kids of friends to evening parties. A barbecue, sure. But not an evening party with drinking and booze and grown-ups chatting about things that may not be appropriate. (Don't get mad at us, Mom. We're here to hang out. Don't want her to hear us? Keep her out by your clique of friends)

Actually coming out and saying out loud to my husband what I was feeling and confronting my fear that he'd take my statements and turn it into "let's have a baby" seemingly evaporated every bit of anxiety and babyrabies I was having. My body seems to have settled and is no longer throwing the pangs in my belly at me, and because of that my mind is clear.

Between that and today's kid experience, I'm feeling like myself again. It's a damn good place to be, and it was beautiful to come home to our kidless home and just relax in the peaceful quiet.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Talking it Over

I love my husband, and one of the reasons is that I can talk to him when I need to (even if sometimes I don't realize it). And tonight, boy did I need to. Tonight I had the most acute case of the rabies that I've ever experienced. It was so bad that I was really questioning myself, asking myself what my motivations were for not wanting children, whether it was something I really wanted or something I was telling myself I wanted. I was terrified to talk to my husband about these feelings because deep down I feared his response would be "well, maybe we should think about trying." So I clammed up.

But tonight, with talk of the new baby everywhere, the pictures, the stories, knowing that for the next forever the baby is going to be the center of my friend's world, it was all too much. I cried a lot tonight. I was furious at my body, for tying my stomach in knots and hurting my heart when I looked at the baby and tried to reconcile never having that. I was furious that my arguments were getting batted back in a horrible internal dialogue that questioned everything I believe. But my husband, who I had to talk into childfreedom when we got engaged nearly 7 years ago, took my hand and squeezed it, looking at me very seriously.

"If I believed this is what you wanted, I'd say we'll adapt, but this isn't what you want. This isn't you talking. I don't know if it's hormones or what, but this isn't you. So right now, even if you do want kids in this moment, I'm telling you this: I don't."

And he was right. So we talked. We talked about the good stuff we'll be missing out on. We acknowledged that it sucks that we can't have that without the long list of things we don't want. As we started talking the list felt good, and I started snapping out of it. And then it felt great. And then it felt fucking comical.

Seriously, everything I looked at in our amazing house reminded me of why I love my life, and all I'd have to sacrifice to make raising a child possible. My workaholic's workload. The laundry that's piling up and the litterbox that is overdue for a cleaning. The fact that we got them gravity feeders and a water fountain so we don't have to bother with feeding and watering the cats every day. Our pretty things. Our fragile pretty things. My gourmet kitchen. All of it. I don't want kids. I want to feel the joy of holding my child in my arms, but you want me to hold it for the next couple years? You want me to have this child as a constant tag-along to wherever I go, listening to kids' music instead of blaring industrial on a summer's day, and to another birthday party, or a kid-friendly event that will fill the room with dozens of children? Have you met me? How could you possibly think I'd want that life?

There are women who dream of this. There are women who want to be the nurturers. What I'm wanting right now is a moment, and it's a moment I realized, after talking with my husband, I can live without, even if it's going to be hard while I watch newbaby rack up the milestones.

It feels liberating, really, and I feel like me again. But this is exactly why we childfree DO talk about it so much. Because sometimes we are at odds with bodies and hormones and peer pressure that messes with our heads so much we get lost like I got lost. And sometimes we need someone to say "you don't sound like you. What's wrong? Let's talk this over." It's really invaluable.

The Magic of Babies

This is not actually a cynical post. I just laid eyes on a photo of my dearest friend's freshly baked daughter and I'm sort of overwhelmed by the magic of it all. I'm always reminded of the Onion article, "Miracle of Birth Occurs for 83 Billionth Time", but with this couple, this baby, it feels a little more special.

Maybe it's because her mother didn't treat me like a freak when I was interested in hearing about her experience being pregnant with her first child. Perhaps it's because nothing changed when she got pregnant and even though things will necessarily change in some ways now that the little one is here and healthy and beautiful I know she values my friendship and respects my choices. Whatever the case, I already adore this baby. I watched her mom struggle to get pregnant, saw her joy when she finally did and waited on pins and needles for 9 months praying she was healthy, and I feel connected to her.

I just can't get over that this little piece of both of them was in my friend's belly when we were at their house over the holiday weekend fully cooked and ready to be born. For the first time I really feel like I'm allowed to find this exceptionally cool without anybody getting all up in my face about my own choices. I just want to love this little girl and now I can.

She may not be a miracle in the strictest sense, but this baby girl is really special and I feel blessed to have her and her family in my life. They're the family I choose, and I'm so unbelievably happy for them.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Who Am I Trying to Convince?

Is there a more condescending statement out there? This hits a nerve because it was a sticking point in my relationship with friends I've since lost, but I'm going to indulge the Anonymous poster who insists I think about my childfreedom too much.

Is it self-indulgent to blog about the times I feel conflict? Sure, I suppose, but this is the stuff that, when I started this blog 6 years ago I wish was available. Back then I needed someone saying something that other "Fuck kids! Kids suck!" as their reason for not having children. I needed someone to counter the insistence from people I cared about that I was broken, that I should seek therapy because I didn't want kids. And I needed people who admitted that it's not always easy. I didn't find that in 2005.

Do I obsess over this? Hell no, but when it's on my mind I talk about it, sometimes at length. Lately, while my best friend is due (today, in fact) to have her first child and while nearly all my other friends are trying to conceive it is on my mind a lot. I'm at the age where this is something that I'm thinking about because if I am to change my mind that window is closing and that's a big emotional deal.

Am I trying to convince anyone? My readers? Myself? Dear Anonymous, you've made up your mind about me and my motives, but I assure you that's not what this blog is about.

This blog is about sharing my experiences, just like Mommy blogs are about sharing theirs. Do I go to their blogs and ask them, when they gush about how amazing their lives are, who they're trying to convince? When they spew "it's the toughest job you'll ever love", do I ask who they're trying to convince? Of course not. Because it would be condescending and insulting to do so.

I journal for myself, to think things through, and I share it because I get letters every week from people who are thankful someone understands the conflict they're going through. When I started the blog it's something I really needed, and over the years I come back to it a few times a year when it's on my mind.

You don't get worked up when someone questions your life choices, Anonymous? Good for you, and I mean that. I wish I could just brush it aside. Some of us are sensitive. Some of us do take to heart what others say and when someone implies we're defective we go out seeking answers and wonder seriously whether we are. People seek support and kinship and validation online. I've found it in my readers, and they find it in me, and there's value in that.

To those of you who've provided support and encouragement, thank you. And to those who suggest that talking about our childfreedom is uncalled for, or symptomatic of us being broken? Well, there are some things you don't say in polite company.