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At a party talking babies.
I'm not fun 🍼
“I was 34 and pregnant and I thought, ‘do I want kids?’” she says to me while I’m drinking the majority the bottle of rosé I brought for everyone else. She’s my friend — well, someone I knew — from high school’s mom. She’s glamorous and older and lives in the same city as me and she has three kids and I asked her, because I’m asking everyone these days, how she decided to have kids.
“No, I didn’t want to do it, but then once it was happening I thought, ‘okay’ and I’ve never regretted it.” She’s so not flowery about it. My mom is always talking about how much she loved being pregnant. Other people go on and on about how having kids transforms your life. I don’t think that they’re wrong or annoying, but it’s refreshing to have someone look at me all blasé and say that they simply went along with the whole endeavor and it wasn’t so bad.
“Can I offer you some unsolicited advice, though?” she asks.
“Oh, it’s absolutely solicited,” I say. My voice has that high pitch it only takes on when I’m drunk. I paw another rosemary-garlic cracker from the charcuterie board and inelegantly foist a slice of mozzarella on top. Olive oil drips down my hand and I feel feral.
“If I were you age thinking about kids….I’d think a lot. The environment — ” she gestures broadly to the very new townhouse we’re sitting in, as if to say ‘this is what we’re left with’ — “everything is so dicey.”
I nod. She doesn’t follow up with any consolations and I appreciate that. Why bother with the usual ‘but every generation has its crisis’ back and forth, right? That’s true but it means nothing to me. It doesn’t stop the wondering.
The wondering happens at my desk, in the shower, when I’m walking through Rittenhouse Square, when I aimlessly wander into the Rittenhouse Barnes & Noble to look at books, when I’m on LinkedIn feeling despondent, when I’m walking my dog, when my husband brings me a bowl of pasta, when I’m thinking about the key lime pie I had in Miami, when I’m at the gym feeling angry at the older woman taking in the pink sweatsuit taking selfies in the squat rack — everywhere, all the time, always I’m wondering. In the back of my mind the wondering whirs away, should I have a kid?
I don’t even know if my body can create a fetus but that doesn’t put a damper on the incessant back and forth in my brain. I have a pelvic ultrasound this Thursday to check on some old ovarian cysts. Will they be fine or will they need to be surgically removed? Am I thinking about it too much or not enough?
Sometimes I listen to a podcast that is co-hosted by a woman who gave birth in her own apartment accidentally — because something something about the doula not showing up at the right time to accompany her to the hospital, I think — and I picture her birth all the time, it’s an intrusive thought at this point, but it’s almost become comforting. She did it on her hands and knees, maybe in her own living room. No needles or clamps. Pain, pain, pain, pain, push and then it’s over, I think. It’s a fantasy about a PaRaSoCiAl person who I listen to sometimes, yeah, but it did happen somehow. Why not me? I think. Because you’re not sure, I answer.
No one’s sure about having kids. People say they were sure and that it was all they wanted but they’d never had a kid before they had *the* kid, so how could they know? None of us can know the reality until we live it.
“I think you just never have enough money to do it and you figure it out,” my friend said last night. Three women talking on Zoom about what could make us have kids: would we ever do it? Would it happen? Would we choose it? We’re not sure. We can never afford it but we might do it — an evergreen statement.
I’ve grown comfortable with asking everyone about how they did it or why they didn’t. My mind’s getting used to the idea that this isn’t a decision I’ll ever make once, it’s something that will unfold over time and I’ll miss out on things either way — each path promises fulfillment of one thing and the absence of another. It depends on what my body can do, what happens to me, to us, to everything. I can’t bend it to my will. It’s life.