Babies and (sort of) bad dinner guests

21 Jun

This weekend I went to a dinner party with a group of friends I used to work with when I lived in the city. Now that most of us have moved on to other opportunities, we make a point of getting together as often as our busy schedules allow. It was an awesome night of good food and wine and even better people and I’d be lying if I said that a night with friends wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered.

One of the big causes for celebration that night was a pregnancy in the group (don’t worry – the mama-to-be wasn’t hitting the vino). Naturally, pregnancy and babies was the most popular topic of conversation that evening.

This is where I need to pause to tell you that pregnancy just might scare the shit out of me.

I mean, obviously, there’s the fear that is associated with the idea of getting pregnant before I’m ready (and by accident). But for me it’s a lot more than that.

I love kids but I’m not convinced that I’m ever going to have any of my own (for a LOT more reasons than I can’t begin to list here. It probably deserves a post of its own but I just wanted to establish right away that I have NOTHING against the chillun). It’s weird because before I got to university I was excited about the prospect of motherhood(although it wasn’t a role I was planning on taking on any time in the near future). Now things have gotten to the point where I finally had to sit my mother down and break the news to her that if she was expecting grandchildren (she is) she’d have to expect them from one of my brothers.

People usually tell me that my anxiety (because, yes, I would call it as such) is normal; all it means is that I’m just not ready yet. And who knows, maybe they’re right and one day some internal switch will get flicked and I’ll wake up all OMG IT’S BABY TIME but right now my baby switch remains firmly (possibly even rusted into) the off position. For now I leave that incredibly noble task up to women far better suited for the job than I.

But it’s not just the idea of having a kid and being a mother that puts the fear of god into me. Pregnancy, the act of growing and carrying a child to term, and then the act of delivering said baby, are both as terrifying to me as they are fascinating. The terror part however, is relatively new.

I think I can attribute much of the terror to my love of reading mommy blogs (Yeah, I KNOW). It has been on these blogs that I have learned about things associated with pregnancy and delivery that I simply DID NOT KNOW before. Some of these things are genuinely amazing, some are a tad unsettling but still good to know, and some of it? Some of it is down right traumatizing.

My mom thinks that all of the mommy blogs I’ve read have alone scared me away from having kids and that I should only take each experience with a grain of salt – after all, each pregnancy is different. While she can related to some of the things I have turned around and interrogated her on (“Oh yeah, cracked nipples. That happens.” OMGWHATNOW?), some of it she never once went through with me or my two brothers.

But as much as I attribute the fear to the stories I’ve read on these blogs, I don’t believe that they’ve “scared me off” (Okay, maybe a little but they are not wholly responsible, let’s just put it that way). People fear that which they do not know and thanks to a bunch of honest and witty women, the miracle of life suddenly looks very different than it used to.

These are the things that they don’t teach you in high school health and sex-ed classes (Torn nethers? OH GOD). These are the stories that your mother, aunts and grandmother do not tell you growing up (I knew what post-partum depression was, but I didn’t know what is WAS, if you know what I mean). These are the things I’m GLAD to know about now, to have time to reflect on and come to grips with, so that I can make an informed decision on whether or not this is really something I want.

I get that these things are fleeting and the pain is temporary in the grand scheme of things and that the blessing of a child makes up for all of it a million times over. But knowing what I do now, and recognizing the way it makes me feel has helped me to realize just how very not ready I really am.

If that makes me sound a little crazy (or at least more so than usual) then so be it – I am ok with that.

But like I said before, I also find the whole business fascinating. It’s like watching one of those programs on Discovery Channel where a lion takes down a zebra and you’re like “OMG WHY?” but at the same time you can’t turn away because you know that it’s natural and important and you’re LEARNING something about the way the world works.ý

Not that I’m equating having a baby with the eating habits of carnivorous animals or anything like that.

Ok, maybe not the best analogy but it’s HOW I FEEL.

Oh god, don’t hate me.

Please?

Anyway…

For all the fear (or perhaps because of it) I find myself more eager than ever to learn more about it. Not just the textbook stuff but the stories from women who have LIVED IT. And not the sugar-coated PG versions either – I want the truth. I want the emotion and reflection and second thoughts that go with all the joy of such a life and body altering experience.

Because I think it’s important. If this is something that I may do later on in life (something that is expected of me as a woman but something I may, as a woman, also chose not to do, because I can), I think I deserve to know.

That’s where this dinner party comes in.

My friend is a beautiful person in every way. We’re all stupid excited for her and her husband because not only have they wanted this for a long time but because we know that she’s going to be an amazing mom. She is also the type of person that doesn’t hold back and has a very honest answer for every question asked of her.

So I asked her,

“Are you scared?”

And she told me yes and yest not really at the same time and she’s staying positive. And then the flood gates were opened. I asked her about how her body was feeling and if she was worried about the way it was going to change. I asked her what it feels like when the baby moves and if she’s the type of parent who will vaccinate or not. I asked her how she was preparing herself for the pain and DOES SHE KNOW ABOUT TERROR X, Y AND Z?

The whole time our friends were shooting me dirty looks and kicking me under the table.

“What are you doing?” On of them hissed at me when our friend got up to grab the dessert, “Are you trying to scare her?”

Of course I wasn’t trying to scare her but I quickly started to feel like that dinner guest that doesn’t get invited back so I reeled it in a little. Still, she answered all of my questions as truthfully as I expected she would and I appreciated it.

I wound up having to stay the night because things wrapped up at midnight and I was the only one with three hours of driving to get home. After everyone had said goodbye, I apologized for asking so many questions that perhaps had come across as insensitive.

“Oh my god,” she laughed, waving me off. “Why? It’s only natural. Babies are a big deal. I just hope my answers helped!”

I appreciated that, too.

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5 Responses to “Babies and (sort of) bad dinner guests”

  1. appledonia June 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    I’m glad you asked all those questions! All those baby shows can scare the heck out of you and make you never want to have a baby…but it is a wonderful experience, so if you do decide to have babies in the future, I think you will be amazed on how amazing it is to be a mom 🙂

  2. Barelyvogue June 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    I love ur writiing style.
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  3. alonewithcats June 21, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I’ve been saying for years and years (and YEARS) that I don’t want to have children. And everyone always says, “You’ll change your mind.”

    I’ve got news for everyone: I’m not changing my mind.

    The closest thing I’ve come to saying “OMG IT’S BABY TIME” is “OMG IT’S KITTEN TIME.” It’s worked out well so far.

  4. Kat June 23, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Okay. You’ve just made me feel so normal. I’ve had the same anxiety for years now. All my friends have either had babies or are in the process of trying to have babies. This is just something that has crossed my mind as what I want for my life. Man. Every time I say that I feel a little selfish.

    I just wanted to say that I understand your fears completely. You listed all mine right along with yours. I think I might need to pass this one to buddies. You explained the anxiety much better than I ever could.

    Thanks again.

    • Jam June 23, 2010 at 11:54 am #

      Hey, no problem! I’m just as relieved to hear that other women feel the same way!

      Also, you hit it right on the head with one word: selfish.

      Sometimes I feel selfish too. I’ve even been told I’m being selfish before too (no joke!). But honestly, what’s more selfish: chosing not to have children because you don’t think it’s right for you or having a kid just because it’s the thing to do even though you might not be emotionally/financially/mentally to bare/raise a child?

      Rock on, sister.

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