Jul 5, 2006

Is there a "right" reason to want to have a baby?

My sister is due to deliver her first child (I'll be a first time auntie) soon. Last week I thought it was any day now, but it turns out I was wrong - "any day now" apparently meant "any day now it will be the point in the pregnancy when it could be any day now". So, now we are at the any day now stage for real, and "any day now" means any time between now and three weeks from now. WTF?

Anyway, I've been feeling quite introspective about the whole thing. I got the news of my infertility about ten years ago and it came as a terrible blow. Not because I was actively trying to conceive at the time, but because I was in my mid-twenties, and I always assumed that at some point, if I felt like getting pregnant, I just ... would. More or less. I knew there was something not quite right, but my doctor wasn't too concerned so it took some persuasion to convince her to send me for a battery of tests and to a specialist who, when I saw him, walked in and said, "bla bla bla, so you'll never be able to get pregnant." Until that moment I didn't think I cared one way or the other, but hearing him say, "never" came as such a shock emotionally, it felt as if the child I wasn't consciously aware of even wanting, suddenly died in my arm. I stumbled out of his office and cried all the way home.

Over the years I've grown so used to the idea of not having a child, that I've almost convinced myself I don't want one. The truth is more complicated. Truths are funny that way. Going to University gave me some sense of a larger purpose for myself, or maybe it was just the seemingly never ending string of deadlines and due dates that made me feel like what I was doing was enough - was important.

Now suddenly I'm looking at my life again and wondering, "is that all?" Is this it then? Work?" Don't get me wrong, I've got a great family, great friends. I like the fact that I can plan vacations, that I have money to spare (a little bit anyway), that I can come and go as I please, that I could sell everything I own, pack my bags and bugger off to where ever the hell I chose at a moments notice without having to wonder, "do they have good public schools there?" I like the fact that, if I'm not very hungry, I don't have to make dinner - I can stand over the sink and eat a bowl of freshly picked blueberries like I did tonight and be accountable to no one.

But at some point doesn't that luxury wear a little thin? The way my life is set up right now, I don't even have a regular enough schedule to get a dog let alone have a baby, even if I actually *could*.

Maybe I'm just suffering from some sort of Contact Hormoneitis, but I wonder. At one point I started to look into adoption, but that was just before I started back to school and that was followed up by a sad break-up with my then partner and since then I've more or less abandoned the idea. I'm getting older, I'd want to be in an established relationship first, and "how do you feel about adopting a baby" isn't exactly the kind of romantic small talk that will get you a second date. Then I also wonder, what is the right reason to want to raise a child? I cringe at the idea of people having children because they're looking for that relationship to fulfill them - that's a lot of pressure!

When I was seven or eight I told my grandmother one evening when we were walking along the river after dinner, "I'm never having babies! I'm going to adopt them though because there are so many children without mommies." I remember getting really pissed off because she said, "oh, you'll change your mind when you're older." I still like the idea of adopting a child. I think I'd be a good mum too, even without the luxuries of a two car garage and spring break vacations to Disneyland. But I wouldn't want to do it on my own, and there's the rub.

"Any day now" I'll be an auntie, and maybe I'll find that is enough. Or I wont find it enough. Either way, I'm going to love this kid like crazy, and I can't wait to meet her (we already know it's a girl) but I'll still probably cry all the way home from the hospital. Not out of bitterness for what I can't have, but out of sadness for that lost potential - that imagined child I never thought I wanted until the possibility of meeting him or her was taken from me. I think my kid would have been pretty freakin' cool.

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