On babying. Or not. The cruel illogic of the biological clock.

Eight of Swords

I mentioned that I’d drawn this card today in chat and someone mentioned that the keywords sounded a lot like motherhood. So we started talking about mothering and the choices there.

Motherhood is a choice like so many others, but for some reason, I cannot be logical about this one. It doesn’t feel like a choice. Or if it does, it feels like one of those stupid “if your mother and your wife both fell into the sea and were drowning, which one would you save” decisions.

Tangent: choice, to me is like picking a dessert. Hard, but doable. Decision, for me, is more like “okay, this is the piece of soul I will sacrifice”. More weight. More oomph. More spirit-killing.

I was devastated when my boyfriend of ten years told me that he thought having a baby would ruin our lives.

There were numerous reasons to believe this to be the case:

We had a nice living situation with two other friends in a pretty nice place in a pretty nice location. Having a baby would nix that right quick.

My health situation wasn’t too shiny at that point, even thought it had yet to get really bad.

Boyfriend was still juggling the attempt to get a college degree along with his 50+hr/week job.

My job situation was strange and fucked up and we weren’t really making a ton of money between the two of us.

So yes, it was logical, it was practical, it was sensible — and it hurt like a motherfucker. (tangent: why exactly does a motherfucker hurt?)

All the illogical feels came out. All of them. (probably not helped by the fact that boyfriend kept saying he wanted to marry me and then throwing fits about actually doing it)

Logical brain goes:

It’s a baby. You can get babies other ways. Like adoption (hella hard though, nowadays from what I hear). Or fostering.

It’s not a special bundle of special symbolism of your love or your significant’s love for you.

Him not wanting a baby with you has absolutely no bearing on you as a person or your relationship or anything except he doesn’t want a baby. With you.

You don’t really want a baby right now either. You’re not the healthiest person on the planet and there’s a lot of health risks associated with pregnancy and you want to write and that’s hella hard with a baby in the house as you can tell from your enbabied writer friends.

Illogical feels scream:

Him not wanting a baby with you is absolutely a judgment on you as a person, as a girlfriend, as a housemate.

I want my baby, my child where I can map their features and wonder over how much of me and my beloved is there and how much is just their own special amazingness.

A baby absolutely is a special bundle of special snowflake symbolism of our love and my beloved’s love for me.

But if I don’t get in the baby-making line now, it will never happen and that would kill me. Kill me. Kill me dead.

I had a dream the other day where I dreamt that I missed the boat. That I was past the age where I could bear children and I was surrounded by my ex-friend R and her children and her friends with their children. I remember standing there, with this terrible ache, the gut-deep certainty that I’d fucked up somehow and I was paying for it.

I woke up, terrified, shocked down to my toes at the visceral grief coiling in my stomach.

Because it’s true. The idea of motherhood scares the shit out of me and yet.

I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong. I’m not known for having the most patience and I don’t suffer fools. I’m afraid that I’ll snap at the wrong time, do the wrong thing, and the next thing I know I’m paying $500/hr for therapy for my kids.

I’m afraid that will mean the end of my attempt at building a writer career for the next ten or so years. At least. I want to write. I want to take a stab at actually making this work. I find it hard to work with distractions at the best of times. Having a baby… oh man.

I don’t have a huge amount of energy, (yes, logical reason #100000 why babies now is a terrible idea, thanks), and I can’t imagine being a newborn’s caretaker without also imagining the absolute hell it must be.

Boundaries. I am shit at boundaries. I soak up other people’s emotions like a sponge. I try to anticipate needs. I’m the hostess who is always refilling glasses, popping up to throw just one more thing into the oven, making sure everyone’s full and are they sure they don’t want more dessert. I’m supposed to be building boundaries and walls and stuff to keep myself sane and safe and having a baby is by definition tearing all of that down.

I’m a shut-in introvert. I am all too happy to hang out with people online and just do my own thing. I cannot begin to anticipate what it would be like to be on-call 24/7 to someone who you can’t even really logic with for the first four years. …oh yeah, wait, I kinda did that at my old job and it sucked balls and even then I had some buffer space.

But oh god I want the option.

Disturbing trend lately: I’ve been reading a hell of a lot of breeding romantica and I’ve been disgruntled when heroes and heroines in a romance aren’t down to have babies.


Everything is complicated by the writing and wanting to write.

I need quiet and I need space and I need to be able to think within myself.

If I don’t choose writing, I cannot know right now if I would regret the lack of a child more at the end of my life or the lack of my stories and that’s where the real struggle is.

There was the thought of waiting for the children to be grown up enough. Just maybe eight years. But I know a lot can happen in eight or ten years. There might not be that expanse of time I’m expecting. And if there isn’t. If there is only today and maybe tomorrow, then what do I want?

For now, I want the writing.

The clock is ticking, ever louder, ever closer, and it’s driving me slightly mad.

In the end, I’ve made the decision not to make the choice.

I don’t even have a boyfriend right now.

If I do find someone, who knows if it will work out?

If it does work out, who knows if they’ll want children?

If they do, with PCOS and assorted issues, who knows if I’ll even be able to to have children?


I need to work on my health first.

Then my boundaries and my self.

Then my work.

And if I meet someone, I do. If it works out, I do. If he’s down to fuck for babies, I do. If I manage to get pregnant, I do.

Otherwise, I suppose I don’t.

I say that, but it’s still so nebulous as a decision that it might as well not be one. Iddt said once that it seemed ridiculously fatalistic over something so big.

But it’s the best I can do and the best I can offer myself, such as it is. I can’t live life ever hoping that all the stars will align and a chimera will bound out of the forest and all will be well. I’d rather save myself. Or as much of myself as I can with what tools I have. And right now the writing is more important than babying.

And in the end, I suppose that’s all I can really ask of myself.


One Response to “On babying. Or not. The cruel illogic of the biological clock.”

  1. thene

    Not sure if I pointed you at Tricia Sullivan’s post on writing with babies yet. I should have, anyway.

    It’s funny how much I don’t relate? Matthew and I had these discussions earlier in our marriage…I can’t even remember when we made the last final decision that there would be no babies. Probably 2011. We were glad to have made the decision. M thinks it’s possible that there will be some regrets in future but I am very sure that they don’t compare with the upsides. I want to learn and work and enjoy my life and I don’t want to be neck-deep in EL. We barely make enough time to look after ourselves. We’re both very selfish with our alone time. While I know that in practice, much less suitable human beings have struggled through parenthood, given the option I don’t wanna.

    Given the option. Given the option. It’s always interesting to imagine a world where it wasn’t a decision but just something that happened to you when you were 17 or 20 or whatever.

    I get wary of assuming a baby is a symbol of anything, because (as I once said to R…) that’s a human being. It’s made of cells. It alone knows what it would be a symbol of, and it’s none of your damned business. I’m seeing the WORST wank from my peers who have mothers who still seem to find it genuinely hard to perceive their offspring as separate people, let alone as adults. And I know my own mother would be at least that bad if she were still alive.

    I would note that it seems moot given other circumstances; however, the thing they always say about 8S is that while she’s blindfolded, there’s nothing barring her way…the obstacles are all behind her. She just doesn’t know that. Because blindfolded. I’m still not sure how it relates to motherhood?

    Couple of lines stood out here:

    “okay, this is the piece of soul I will sacrifice”. More weight. More oomph. More spirit-killing.

    I’d fucked up somehow and I was paying for it.

    There’s that narrative of heightened responsibility and the logic of suffering. I know, you have always been told you’re responsible for the most wrenching events, that you have made sacrifices in the name of something-or-other, but that always was and still is bullshit. You got unlucky.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv Enabled