In America, we are obsessed with all things baby. Having babies. Not having babies. The right number of babies. The right mix of boy babies and girl babies.
If a married couple doesn't have any babies we ask them why, or we simply ask them when they will have babies, as if it is a foregone conclusion. If someone has a crap ton of babies, we put them on TV and make them superstars, regardless of their personal character, because hell, they had a bunch of babies. If we have two babies that are the same sex, people ask us when we will try for a baby of the other sex, because clearly, we need one of each. If we are a "one and done" couple, people ask us when we will try for our second baby, as if having just one baby is not an option.
As soon as you declare that you are pregnant, people want to know all the deets: When are you due? Have you picked out names? Will you find out the sex? Are you having a home birth or a hospital birth? Are you using a doula? A midwife? Water birth? Yoga? Aromatherapy? Who's your doctor? What is your birth plan? Who else will be in the room with you? AAAAAAHHHHH!!! Why not just ask me if you can stick your head up inside my girlie parts and monitor the changes in my cervix for the next nine months?
Having a baby is such a deeply personal decision, and the fact that we, as a culture, seem to view having babies as the natural and expected step to take soon after marrying is passé, cliché and cray cray! In this modern world of powerful women, strong women and working women, it is no wonder that women are choosing to wait to have babies, or not have babies at all. Education, career, travel or simply wanting to be kid-free are all absolutely valid and important reasons to forgo having babies.
I have two dear friends who didn't want kids. Both married wonderful guys. Both are educated women with good careers. Both were in a great position to have babies, with stable incomes, job security and good marriages. Both dealt with years of answering the baby question with the ever-so-shocking truth that indeed, they were not planning on having children. I admit there was a part of me that wondered why they were not dying to have babies, because I sure was! Then I had babies and I started to understand the reluctance to jump into the world of parenthood.
Being a parent can suck.
There, I said it. It's true, and it doesn't mean I don't love being a mother. It just means we shouldn't assume every woman wants to do this with her life.
Here's the twist: Both women did have babies after a decade of marriage. One was in her 30s, the other 40. One just had a baby boy this past November. She sent a picture of her brand new, blissful little family the day after he was born, baby resting happily on his mama's chest while dad leans in and snaps their first family selfie. It was adorable, and for a moment, I remembered the joy of feeling my baby sleeping peacefully on my chest. I could feel my son in my arms the night he was born, his little fuzzy head tucked up under my chin. For one fleeting moment, I considered what it would be like to have another baby, maybe a girl this time (we have two boys, I mean, come on, we HAVE to try for a girl, right?). Then I came back to reality, to the memories of sleepless nights, endless ear infections, poop, puke, teething, crying, snotty noses, story time at the library, day care, more puke, more ear infections, potty training, tantrums, changing pissed-on sheets at 3 a.m., endless pediatrician appointments, poop in the pants, poop running down the leg, poop everywhere but in the potty... and... screw that. We are happy with our two perfect sons. We don't need a girl. We aren't having another. And anyone who decides not to have a child -- I totally get it. Believe me... I do.
I love my boys. I enjoyed them as babies. I realize how lucky I am that I could have babies. But that was my path. It may not be someone else's. Make babies, don't make babies... it's up to you. Rest assured no matter what else they are, babies are game changers.
So no matter how cute a little baby girl in a dress with a bow on her head might seem in my wildest dreams, this is one mama who is all babied out. Two boys -- done.