As expected, the talk often went to motherhood and babies--I have tons of questions and I wanted to know about the day-to-day experience, the life experience, the shifts, the ups-and-downs, the preparations, the breastfeeding, the everything. My friends are open and honest and more than willing to share, and our discussions were eye-opening and terrifying and exciting, all at the same time.
I laughed as I left my friends, telling each of them that my whirlwind tour of motherhood left me feeling like I really want kids soon but also like I don't want kids any time in the next 40 years.
Truth be told, I know I do want kids--of that I am sure!--but when you see what having kids really means, what it really looks like, and when you understand that you lose your ability to flit off to a yoga class, to eat your breakfast while it's warm, to get any sort of real, restful sleep, or to come home and just sit down for a second before having to nurse or read a book or put someone to bed, it seems daunting.
As many of you may know from experience, it's challenging being a woman of child-bearing age who isn't yet pregnant or trying, but who is thinking about the subject and interested and in many ways, surrounded by it.
For some, there's an internal, hormonal, instinctual pressure to start reproducing. An urge to become a mother that is strong and can't possibly come from anywhere but inside.
For others, and often for the same woman who feels the internal pressure, there are societal pressures--the questions from friends, family members, and even strangers. The looks that you get if you decide not to drink a glass of wine at dinner because you have a headache (even though you're not ready to have a baby yet and you thought everyone knew that!?!).
There are worries about whether or not you will even be able to reproduce as that annoying time clock starts ticking, but there are also the calculations, "If we were to start now and I were to get pregnant now, that would mean that I wouldn't be able to do _____ next year."
If I am already overwhelmed by my current schedule, how can I possibly add a baby to the mix?
To add to the already impossible questions of when and how and why and if and if not, we also have the additional burdens of figuring our what motherhood means for our careers. We all know what a loser the US is when it comes to Maternity Leave policies, but how about throwing self-employment into the mix?
When you're self-employed, like yours truly, if you don't work, you don't get paid. You stop working and your one-woman business ceases to exist. When you've worked so hard to build a job and a life situation that is sustainable and feels so right, how do you turn it off for the time it would take to [perhaps] have a baby and readjust to life with a newborn? What about that?
I have never been one of those women who is just in love with babies in general. I've never been one to coo or fawn over a random baby that I meet on the street or in the grocery store, I don't look at calendars of babies sitting in flower pots and melt inside, and I don't feel that instinctual pull to touch or hold every baby I meet at a party.
But these days, I adore my friends' babies--the babies that I have a connection to--and my love for them has been a shift. I want to hold them and coo at them and I can feel things changing inside, because my interest has been piqued in a way that it never was before, and for the first time in my life, I think being pregnant looks "fun." [I know, WTF, right!?]
Obviously, there is no mention of fertility issues here either, which is a bigger conversation entirely (and I am just scratching the surface of this loaded subject that I have no experience with), but suffice it to say that this topic is a massive one and I don't think there is or will ever be one answer or one path that women go down, which again, makes this whole thing even more confusing and tough.
In summary, I think that what I'm trying to say is: EEK!
Being at this age and trying to "figure things out" (whatever that means?) is challenging. I know that "there's never a right time" and that there's "always going to be something" and that "you never know," but for now I just want to say EEK.
And fellow women of childbearing age who are feeling all of the above and more, I'm with you, sistas. I feel you. We're in this together and you're not alone if you're confused and overwhelmed by this entire topic.
Oh, and a word to the wise: Don't expect to get any clarity on things if you visit friends with babies--I'm telling you, it just makes the subject more muddled and crazy... ;)