When I tell people that Tim and I don’t necessarily want to have children, I get a lot of mixed responses. Mostly, people ask why which, I’ve come to understand, is maybe a fair question considering Tim and I are both teachers and have chosen to dedicate our lives to educating children. So why not have children of our own? About equally, people tell us, “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll want them someday.” (Don’t worry? I wasn’t worried in the least. Not wanting kids is not like a bad cold or a shortage of money or a breakup to which you might be told “Don’t worry. It’ll get better.” But I digress.) I’m open to changing my mind about this topic – don’t get me wrong – but I’m not counting on it happening.
Occasionally, someone will tell me,”Oh, but you’d be so cute pregnant!” (Yes, because cuteness for nine months is a good reason to alter your life forever) or, “But you’re so good with kids!” (Yes, I am. Again, I’m a teacher. I like little kids, too, especially when I can give them back to their parents. And, honestly, I have never held a baby under 1 year old. Never. Scouts honor. They terrify the crap out of me. Always have.)
People talk about the joy and satisfaction and the you’ll-never-do-anything-greater feeling that is derived from childrearing. People, really, will do anything to persuade you to have children. Which I do not understand. If you’re not ready, wait. If you’re never ready, don’t do it.
However, through all of my tough façade, I really do like kids, and I really do feel like there might come a point in our lives when Tim and I are done traveling and eating out and drinking wine and we’re ready to settle down a little bit and jump on the baby bandwagon. But, to be honest, pregnancy scares the bejesus out of me. I don’t want my body to be a host for another body. I don’t want to have everyone and their mother telling me what I can and can’t do to my body whilst pregnant. I don’t want to be put in a life or death situation where I have to decide between me and the baby. I don’t want to gain weight. I don’t want the pain. I don’t want to have a 6-8 week recovery off of work. I absoultely do not want a C-section because surgery scares me more than anything.
Most of all, I don’t want to have to stop drinking wine.
Now, Tim and I have talked about adoption as a possibility. There are so many babies out there without homes, and that seems like a really great way to have a baby and not be pregnant. Not to mention, my best friend was adopted and has a wonderful life. Of course, articles like this one about women being pressured to give up their babies for adoption really scare me, too, but I imagine that, (like anything) with some research, we could find an adoption agency that isn’t totally shady.
But when I tell people my thoughts on adoption (or even when I don’t, sometimes these opinions are just offered to me), I’m sometimes told that, no matter what I do, an adopted baby wouldn’t be my baby. Or I’m told that I should have my own baby if I can because I’d want it to look like me or Tim. Or that it’d be fun. Or that pregnancy is worth it to have your own baby.
Or that if I can have my own baby, I should because I don’t know what I’m missing and there are women who desperately want to be pregnant out there that can’t.
I’m not so sure what my ability and desire to be pregnant (if I even have that ability – having never been pregnant, I couldn’t even tell you) has to do with other women’s ability and desire to be pregnant. I’m desperately sorry for women who want to be pregnant more than anything but who can’t. But I’m certainly not going to tell someone who is pregnant and who doesn’t want to be – or someone who isn’t and doesn’t want to be – that they don’t know how lucky they are.
Here’s the thing. For many women, it’s either have a baby or don’t have a baby at all. And that’s fine, if that’s what you want. But don’t tell women with unwanted pregnancies they take pregnancy and childrearing for granted if you’re not willing to adopt a baby that someone else couldn’t take care of for whatever reason. And don’t undermine my desire and ability to adopt just because… well why? Why would you? Because it isn’t my baby? Why isn’t it my baby? If I love and care for and would do anything for that child, why isn’t it my baby?
I usually leave these conversations infuriated and frustrated with nothing to really say in return. It’s a crossing of beliefs, and I’m not going to change anyone’s mind by spouting out statistics about how many babies are waiting to be adopted or how many pregnancies go bad or how many women suffer postpartum depression. But I would like something to say in return other than, “You worry about your family and I’ll worry about mine.” It’s just such an emotional issue – and one that I’m still sorting out in my head – that the snarky comebacks haven’t come to me yet. I’m open to suggestions.