Panicking about babies

I’ve had babies on the brain lately, probably because nearly every conversation with my friends, both in person and online, somehow comes around to babies eventually. And turning thirty was a giant reminder that I can’t keep putting this decision off forever.

On paper, I probably shouldn’t have children. Despite having ovaries, I’m really not the type:

1. I don’t find babies all that cute and I fear that might be essential to being able to put up with their desperate, never-ending needs. In fact, I would rather hold a porcupine than a newborn – those things look like uncooked sausage.

2. As an only child, I grew accustomed to sweet, sweet uninterrupted quiet. For hours – days even! Oh glorious quiet.

3. I am somewhat temperamental. And by ‘somewhat’ I mean ‘really, very.’

4. I don’t do well with sleep deprivation. It seriously amplifies problem #3.

5. I also can’t seem to be able to nap effectively to compensate for sleep deprivation. It takes me forever to fall asleep and I wake up sweaty, disoriented, and you guessed it, with more of problem #3.

6. I don’t like kid things. This includes kid songs, television shows, cheap gigantic plastic toys, gigantic plastic toys that make noise, gigantic plastic toys that were assembled by orphans in China, and gigantic plastic toys that ruin the clean IKEA-like aesthetic of my home. I know what you’re thinking – just don’t buy gigantic plastic toys! Problem solved. Well clearly you haven’t been to a 6-year old’s birthday party lately (lucky you). Turns out this is the opportunity for everyone you have ever wronged (even just by inviting them to this party) to exert their revenge by giving your kid the loudest, biggest, tackiest shit they can find at Toys’R’Us. And all you can do is stand helplessly by while your kid falls in love with their new full-size, pink, plastic Barbie guitar that belts out “I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world…”

7. I’m really scared of being pregnant. And of giving birth. And of breastfeeding. And of taking care of a TINY HELPLESS HUMAN BEING. Seriously, I hear they let you just walk out of the hospital with the baby! Don’t they realize I don’t know anything?!

So case closed right? Let’s just tie up my tubes and start drawing up plans for the wine cellar that we can build now that we won’t need any room for gigantic plastic toys!

Umm… just one thing though – I think I kind of might want to have a baby.

Ok, I’ll wait till you stop screaming “Nooooooooooooo crazy lady!!! I just read your list up there! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, why would you DO THAT?!?!”

Done now? Ok.

Well, as with most things, you can blame our dog.

Don’t be fooled by her sweet face – she’s pure, manipulative evil.

Getting a puppy, while not really like having children, introduces you to some of the essential elements: being responsible for another life, doing what is best for them rather than what you might prefer, finding activities that let them come along, and learning to deal with the (usually unwanted) advice and judgement of those around you.

But the most important thing about getting a puppy wasn’t learning that we could rise to the challenge of caring for another being – it was the shocking realization that we might actually want toThat there might be something in it for us.

[This next part is slightly too sentimental for me to admit to for real, so please just let your eyes glance over it, hold back your gavomit, and then let us never speak of it again.]

Our life and the things we do are enriched so much by the shared experience of watching this creature learn, have fun, and experience the world. The thought of that being our child makes me finally realize why someone might be willing to put up with everything that parenting entails.

[Whew, ok done. Sorry about that.]

The concept that children bring joy to your life as well as bodily fluids and gigantic plastic toys probably isn’t new to most of you, but for me, this was an honest-to-goodness, eye-opening realization. Sure I had heard tales of it but I thought it was sort of like wedding Zen – a promise that would never quite deliver for me, even if it does for lots of other people. I had to catch a glimpse of it myself before I believed it.

That being said, I am obviously still scared shitless. I’m scared of not being able to conceive, I’m scared of conceiving and then having a miscarriage, and most of all, I’m scared of conceiving and then being pregnant and then having a baby.

My point is, we’re not quite there yet but we’re starting to think that ‘there’ might be somewhere we want to be.

P.S. The title of this post is a reference to this hilarious book. It makes me cackle in my bed at night.


Posted on January 10, 2012, in Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Now that we’ve had Smidgen for a little over two months, I am completely with you on this. (Also, just re-read your puppy posts and they are SO TRUE.) The impact of getting a dog is maybe even greater for me because I have never, ever been a dog person. Dogs were just not on my radar, other than in a “WARNING! Stinky slobbery animal approaching with muddy paws and a mischevious glint in its eye! TAKE EVASIVE ACTION! TAKE EVASIVE ACTION!” kind of way.

    But that was before. Now, I stop and fuss over every dog I meet, and look at cute pictures of dogs on the internet, and feel like I’m in a super exclusive dog-loving club (which you are totally in too, by the way). So maybe, even though I’m “not a baby person”, having a baby wouldn’t actually be so bad after all.

    I hear ya on the scary bits, though. Especially the breastfeeding. Yeek. (That’s a cross between yuck and eek. In case you were wondering.)

  2. I was very much like you in attitude and thought “probably someday” about kids…. motherhood was sort of like an alternate adult reality I couldn’t imagine myself in…. but then a little unexpectedly found myself knocked up at 27.

    Mine is nearly one now and yeah it’s a lot of work but “it’s worth it” like everyone says. I think it will only get better and that I would be very lonely later in life with no family.

    I was also super freaked about pregnancy and still can’t believe how much it is possible to stretch, and then stretch back. I had a natural drug-free birth too, and would do it again.

    Good luck!

    • It’s always so comforting to hear about parenthood from people who went into it with similar feelings as I have on the topic and truly enjoy it. Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. I adore Sprocket. And he is the fuzzy child in our house beyond what I ever would have expected. (My friend Brendan says a young childless couple cannot have a dog without it becoming a child. Okay. He was right.)

    What it has shown us though is that we don’t really want kids. We love this dog beyond what is reasonable (seriously, Sprocket? you’re spoiled) but we’re constantly amazed by his adaptability. He’s all like, “Oh, you guys are going to be shopping in Spokane all day? I’ll ride along and sit in the car all day and get shoved into a smaller and smaller hole as you do your shopping. It’s okay.”

    I also never had to change his diaper.

    I guess the upshot of all of this, is for us, the puppy fulfills that nurturing need we both clearly have (dog gets serious cuddle loves) but reminds us we’re not really down for the whole child responsibility, re prioritization thing. Get a dog, take damn good care of it and it’ll help enlighten you about your child rearing desires.

    • That’s interesting and totally makes sense. Dogs really are the perfect compromise between self-sufficient and cuddly. And they never talk back. And they don’t suddenly stop being nice to you when they hit 12.

      Now that I think of it, maybe dogs are the right way to go.

      • I LIKE your take on dogs opening the mind to babies. Shoot, anything that is poop and vomit and sleepless nights on a lower level of responsibility can’t be anything but good in helping you figure out if you want to be a parent. Really, it’s the same thing, we take the bad to have the good. Just different levels.

        I just find it really interesting that dogs pushed us different ways in the same sort of way. :-)

  4. This is incredibly grown up, I am nowhere near this. Not yet, anyway.

    I think you’re in something really strong and good with your marriage and if you do decide to have a child, you’re with someone who’ll be in it with you. So that’s a good start.

    It does sound a lot though like you’re frightened of them when they’re little and that does eventually pass – although I have no doubt that ‘when they’re little’ seems interminable sometimes. I think you’d be brilliant at the stuff that comes later though, I really do.

    Or maybe you just didn’t get to how scary that is because the stuff that comes before it is bad enough!

    And you’re definitely not the only one terrified of child birth.

    • I’m definitely at the stage where all I focus on are the immediate things – the young child needs – I guess because they seem the most all consuming and unfamiliar. But watching my niece and nephew get older reminds me that it doesn’t really get easier, just different. Challenging in other ways. So yeah, that all scares the crap out of me too!

  5. You can do it. I had the same same thoughts as on your list and I am surviving. What I can say is that you muct be prepared for the forst 8-12 weeks to be a bit like hell.

    • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate reading your posts on this – they feel so honest and real, which is hard to come by. And It’s also great to hear you can survive even if you don’t go into with the ideal mind/body for dealing with babies.

  6. I think I’m in the same boat – I have the exact same list, except recently I realized that voice in my head saying “NEVERRRRR!” is now saying things like “holy god I can’t imagine my belly being that big, or my nipples being ripped off my infant gums, or waking up 2345983 times every night in panic that I’ve rolled over and smothered my kid”

    For some reason, the fact that these thoughts have occurred to me makes me think it’s not really never. But I’m only 25, I was sort of hoping I’d KNOW by the time I’m 30. But I’ll probably still be in this immediate-reaction-panic. I think we’re a lot alike, Nina ;)

    • I’ve been in perpetual “maybe in five years” mode with the baby question. Five years seemed like a comfortable cushion – I was bound to be an adult and know what I wanted by then. But then suddenly I was 30 and no answer had popped down into my lap. But you’re way ahead – I was still a student at 25 – you still have plenty of time to ponder nipples and infant gums before you actually have to do it.

    • I was a solid NO at 25, maybe, but freaked out at 30 and rounded the corner to yes at 32. I am still not crazy about kids, but I figure I will feel differently about MY kids. And yes, having my dog totally helped change my mind!

      • Yes, I’m counting on feeling differently about MY kids. I figure it’s not a stretch since I tend to like kids more the better I know them – like my niece and nephew.

      • haha well naturallly, OUR kids will be polite, thoughtful and well-behaved.

        (that’s one thing that made me think maybe I should have kids – I judge terrible parents and think of how I’d do it better)

  7. It’s all hell, with moments of sheer joy that for some reason make the hell parts totally worth it. If you try to plug that into a mathematical equation, it does not compute. I had all of the same thoughts as you, but in the end, even when my kids are being so bratty that I can’t manage to get a shower before we leave for school/work in the morning, I’m still so glad that I have them because they changed me in some elemental way that has made me a much better person.

    So, so, so glad. They bring something to my life that I can’t explain and can’t quantify, and it just doesn’t make any sense at all. I guess it just is what it is.

    • THIS exactly, this illogical, nonsensical thing that every parent talks about, this is the thing I never understood until I caught a glimpse of it myself. But still, all this talk of hell? SCARED SHITLESS.

  8. YEah, I can relate to 2 , 3 , and 7. Oh the fear, of pain, and sleeplessness and delivery.
    But it is something inside me that I have always really wanted, and the boy as well. It is such a big dream. And I always loved children, so… .the fear is more about the whole process…I think it is one of those things where you hold each others hands and jump. Knowing what you are doing but at the same time, just letting go.

  9. I was exactly where you are last year and then something just kind of switched and I knew we were as ready as we were going to be and I knew it was what we both wanted. It’s on hold now since I’ve been injured for a while but at least our minds are ready. It took some time to get there though and I read through the comments above and have to agree and say that the best thing for my thought process on this was my best friend’s pregnancy and the first year of her child’s life. She was honest, hysterically funny, so upfront about all the terrible and the awesome, that it made it feel real and doable. She didn’t elevate anything by talking about the pregnancy “glow” instead she’d call me and tell me what was happening to her body in some of the funniest ways possible. It was real and so wonderfully honest and now seeing her with her daughter is just amazing. Having someone in my life who was not totally sure that she could do this and then watching her do it has changed everything. But it’s still scary so I’m with you there!(hah they let you walk out of the hospital with a baby!)

    • Watching someone you know well go through this and share it articulately and honestly makes a huge difference. I’ve sort of had the opposite where a friend has had a very difficult time of it and chooses to share it through a whole lot of you’ll seeeeee‘s, which just makes it feel more intimidating.

      I so hope you’ll be the one doing that (sharing honestly I mean) for the rest of us soon!

  10. omg I clicked through to that book on amazon, I think I must buy it now! it sounds hilarious. I spit out my tea just reading the description..!

    also this is a really great post. I am kind of gaga over babies actually, but I’m still scared of them and scared of having/not being able to have them. I totally agree with that whole sentimental paragraph. I think I always theoretically wanted kids, but once we got brady I was more able to imagine what it might be like to raise a kid.

    • Whew, so I’m not the only one oddly sentimental about ‘raising’ a dog.

      And that book, YES, such wacky humor! I love it! And I’m thinking you would too.

  11. OH, Nina. My dear, sweet, beautiful Nina. I’m with you 100% on all your baby sentiments. No, scratch that. 200%. The only difference is that we haven’t yet gotten that dog — damn this no-pets rental unit we live in.

    We’re gonna do it, too. We’re gonna have a baby. I just don’t know how we’re gonna finally agree to pull the trigger, so to speak. It all seems so nonsensical still, even though we’ve been talking about it hypothetically for years and talking about it in earnest for 12 months. It’s almost like we’re talking in a nonsense language. “OOH, let’s flibbity wobbert the hubagorp!” And then we nod our heads emphatically, and assume it’ll sort itself out somehow.

    Seriously though. We’ve resigned ourselves to it, so. How… do we finally… like, do it? I mean, I know HOW. But like, how.

    If you’ll excuse me, I need to go cower under something in terror.

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