I have been studiously avoiding writing about what's on my mind. Partly, the avoidance stems from the lack of cohesion in my thinking on the topic, though, when has that ever stopped me before? Partly, its because at least one or two of you who check in here know me in real life and this is not something I've discussed with anyone but P. Not my mum, not Fat Harry the cat from next door. I don't intend to discuss it with anyone else, either, so please please please, let it lie where it falls and don't say anything. Partly, it's also because it is a tough, personal, emotional topic to write about, particularly when people you know are struggling to get or stay pregnant.
Yep, it's the one where I process my feelings on children. Mine, specifically. I've been burning to put it in words and now that I write I've given licence to the thoughts to lick into flame, sucking up the oxygen in the room.
Here are the facts pertaining to me, children and pregnancy, as I know them:
I am 31. I am not a spring chicken, but neither am I over the hill. I am in a stable relationship. I have a home with space. We are not pressed financially (aside from this week when rates, mortgage, water bills, you name it I paid it and I cursed the god of outgoings copiously). I have always believed my future involved children.
I like achieving [but oh fuck me I cannot find a way to talk about ambition that leaves me comfortable that I haven't fried my chicken in my career space]. Fundamentally, I don't know how compatible my job is with parenthood. Excuse me, how compatible it is with motherhood because god knows having a baby doesn't seem to affect the careers of many men, does it?
I am good at entertaining babies. I like to sniff and squeeze them. Toddlers leave me pretty cold. They want so much of you. I don't really know any other children of other ages.
I love my husband: desperately, calmly, furiously, wholly, every which way. I want my children to have him as a father. I watch him with our nephews and godchildren and something inside me squeezes very, very tight. Yet I love our relationship as it is: lazy days, busy days, uninterrupted time for one another on the weekend. Travel with him. Restaurants with him.
Lots of my friends are having babies. Birth announcements pop up on Facebook as regularly as birthday wishes, it seems. I was shown non-alcoholic beer in the pantry this weekend, and I squealed with delight. If it sticks, she said, it's only four weeks. Friends have suffered because of pregnancy: loss thereof, lack thereof.
We are warned: your life will change so much. Enjoy it now, or don't do it at all. No one speaks about how children have enriched their lives, really. I want to know why they love it so much, despite the aching and the groaning and the hollow envy they express at my life (having all that time to yourself! they say. And I feel a stab of unworthiness at being a double income, no kid person, not the smug sense of self satisfaction that is intimated by the childbearer. And then I feel a pang of irritation: like you fucking know how I spend my hours.) But wouldn't seeing our children grow, loving someone like my mother loves me - wouldn't that be worth it?
I want to experience pregnancy. But I don't want to hate my body more than I do now.
I will be the only child in my immediate family to have children. That's pressure. Yet there's no pressure coming from my immediate family, other than that bald fact. My mother and father intimated recently that they daren't ask us about kids, but have not expressed a preference either way. Watching my mother and father with children induces that same internal squeeze, seizing my organs and constricting my breathing.
Those are my facts. 'Facts', I say, hiding feelings of inner squeeze and angst and desire and concern behind language that seeks to make it all a scientific calculation.
I'm not, by the by. Conception has not occured, immaculate or filthy or happy or terrifying or otherwise. I haven't thrown birth control to the wind to see where the breeze or my uterus takes us.
What if I can't?
What if I can?