I’ve reached the age where the people I went to high school with are intentionally having children. I mean, honestly, they’ve been doing this for a few years now, but it seems like the scales have tipped to more of them are bringing forth new life.
I’ve passed the age when a number of coworkers and acquaintances have mentioned that they would never want to have kids past. Hell, I’m older than any woman in my family was when she stopped having children.
I’m nearing the age that I set as the final time for me to have children. And yet there is no pitter patter in my future. And I’m not sure how I feel about this.
When I was very little, I, of course, thought I would one day grow up and have children. I remember being around five, sticking my teddy bear up under my shirt to make my belly round, pulling him back out, and pretending to nurse him. I was never terribly into baby dolls, so this was about the extent of my mothering in the early years.
When I was a teenager, I insisted that I was never getting married or having children. I said that this was because I wanted to go into forensics, and all the cop shows featured a spouse or child being kidnapped at least once to use against the cop. I told anyone who asked that this would make my life and job easier when I grew up. This was a lie. Or at the very least, a half-truth. To my mind, if I planned to never marry or have children, I planned to remain a virgin. And if I planned to remain a virgin, I couldn’t be sexualized. It wasn’t until later that I was able to verbalize it like this, but it was one way that I tried to mitigate the sexual abuse I was experiencing.
Before M and I were married, his sister gave birth. We were all there, looking at this gross little squirming bean that had, moments before, been inside another person, and I ran from the room crying. M never held back his feeling on kids: he hated them and wanted nothing to do with them. Twenty year old me knew this and was okay with it (honestly, I thought I could change his mind). But seeing that newborn baby, seeing the way everyone was looking at her, it was like a punch to the gut. So when M followed me out into the hall and asked me what was wrong, I told him: “We will never have that.” He held me, cooed platitudes, and told me that just because he didn’t want kids now didn’t mean he would never want them. Elated, I told him I didn’t want kids anytime soon either. Maybe not even until we were thirty! He assured me he would want them by then, and back into the room we went.
But when I was twenty-four and took a pregnancy test on a whim, and it came out positive, M held a very different point of view. I was shocked, but happy overall to be pregnant. Sure, it was before I had intended, and things weren’t at all as I had wanted them to be, but didn’t people always say that you were never ready? M didn’t agree. He told me we had to take care of it, and if I didn’t go willingly, he would push me down the stairs or kick me in the stomach until the job was done. And suddenly I did not want to be pregnant anymore. We did go to get it taken care of, and I went into hysterics when I saw the blood on the pad they give you when you leave the clinic. I told the few people I had told about the pregnancy that I had miscarried, because that’s what it felt like. It was such a painful loss. But when M told me that it was okay, that we would have a baby together one day, I no longer wanted that. Yes, I still wanted a child, but not his child. I didn’t want him to poison my well.
Over the next several years I went back to dreading pregnancy. M and I had separated and I was dating other men. I was always careful, but always paranoid. The men I was seeing were fine for company, but they weren’t anyone who I wanted to have a connection to for the rest of my life. And besides, I had too much else going on in my life at the moment. I had gone back to college to get my degree, I was in therapy working on putting myself back together, overall I was working on becoming the woman I wanted to be.
Until D. D and I met after I had graduated. He was everything I could imagine wanting in a partner and more than I thought I would ever find. He still is. Except for one thing: he does not want children. Under any circumstances. To the point that he had a vasectomy years ago. And I can’t argue with his reasons, because they’re fears that I also have deep down.
I know I need to make a pro/con list, but I’m afraid of how it will turn out. But, also, the cons are mostly concrete, the pros are ethereal. But if I make the wrong decision, I can’t go back and fix it. So here I am. Thirty-one, with a wonderful man who would be a wonderful father and who I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I don’t know what to do.