Having a Baby Means Having a Baby
by Suze Allen
It happened to me. I’ve watched it happen to my friends, too. A fog comes over you somewhere in your thirties and you start wandering around and wondering, “Is this it? This is my life? That’s all?” And far away in your brain, you hear a voice; faint at first but growing ever louder, “You should have a baby. Yeah, a baby. Why not just go ahead and have a baby?” And it makes so much sense. Something bigger than yourself. So you try and try and you try to get pregnant and it doesn’t happen and at first you’re glad it’s not happening yet because maybe you’re not ready or your relationship is not ready or your bank account is not ready, and then you’re freaked out because it’s not happening because now you are ready or if you aren’t ready it doesn’t matter because all you’ve ever wanted to be is a mother and then you’re desperate for it to happen so you seek medical attention because it’s not happening and you can’t relax and it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever happen so there must be a medical explanation or remedy that can help you make it happen because suddenly you want to procreate more than anything you’ve ever wanted in your life.
Your existence becomes about sperm meeting egg. And you are going nuts because you don’t know when or even IF conception is in your future. And you start thinking about adopting but you really want to have the experience of birthing and every time your period shows up you feel like a failure. The lack of control is frustrating, anguished and the perfect way the process prepares you for life as a parent. In the age of planning, of five-year goals and career timelines, you just can’t schedule your pregnancy.
Children are Zen teachers, whether they show up in your womb or not. Just the act of trying to get pregnant teaches you that control is an illusion. You cannot know anything.
I know, I know, we live in an amazing age where you can choose a sperm donor. You can decide when to have your c-section; what astrological sign your baby will be. So why can’t you decide to be a parent, get knocked up and pop one out? Then you can check it off and be on your merry way. “Check. Had the baby. Great! Got her. But honey, now what the hell do we do with her? She doesn’t seem to be going away. I don’t have a minute to myself. I want my life back.” But this is your life. Let the longing and the whining begin.
But when you have your own child, there is no getting your life back. Parenting is your life now. And just out of curiosity why have children if you’re intending to rush back into the life you had before they were born? Wouldn’t it be more rewarding if the life you knew pre-child died to you and reincarnated into something else? Possibly something better; something you could never have imagined?
Children demand that you sharpen your intuitive skills. They insist that you prioritize your life to cull out the madness. They give you a deep purpose. Hey, sure, child rearing is hard and harder for some of us than others. But I believe it is no more difficult than deciding what you want to be when you grow up or how to love your partner and make a life together or how to lead a fulfilling life.
The biggest problem is that children are messy. They come in with their little souls and their needs and ideas. Yeah, we’re responsible for them but we don’t own them and they are citizens of their community and their world. I think the pressure of Good Parent /Bad parent sends even a lackadaisical personality over the edge with a mix of extreme guilt and undying honorable intentions. I want to put a stop to the questions we ask new parents, like. “Does she sleep through the night, yet?” That is a loaded question and implies that your baby is bad or you’re not doing something right if that is not the case. I’m sick to death of hearing about “sleep training” and “potty training. If a child is three and still wearing diapers you can get that askance look and the scarlet letters -BP – Bad Parent appears on your chest!
The American culture urges Moms and Dads to parent our children like the public schools teach; everyone matriculating with their chronological age group and not advancing until they have completed the required curriculum. Sleeps independently – 0-10 days. Sleeps through the night- three months. Solid Food - 6 months. Speaking clearly -1 year. Potty trained -2 years. Attending pre-school- 3 years. Doing absolutely everything on their own – 4 years old. Good-bye and Good Riddance!!!
In the America’s, a culture founded on independence, there is no room for personality and freedom and difference. I have been looked at askance because my children nurse through toddlerdom and they sleep with my husband and I. We hear how “dysfunctional” they will become from nightlife in our big bed. That makes me laugh because this penchant for independence our culture propagates is nefarious. Like the race has evolved from the very separateness we insist is healthy and right. Young men can build arsenals in their bedrooms and predators can stalk our children on computers and we may never suspect a thing until something horrible happens
I think it all starts with The Crib. You get ready to have a baby and you decorate a nursery and set up a crib. A completely separate place for your baby to dwell. And I wonder? Why would a tiny creature who spent 9 months in an insularly tight, warm womb listening to the sound of her Mommy’s heartbeat want to be thrust into her own sleeping quarters as soon as she is pushed through the ring of fire? Evolution says babies need to stay with the Mom to survive unless you are a reptile. And most adults sleep with their partners. We like sleeping with people we love and even sleep with people whom we don’t love just to feel some sort of connection. The whole – “You’ll roll over your baby,” “We all seep better for the those ten minutes when we aren’t hurtling ourselves down the hallway to a hungry or in need of some snuggling in the dark, little being. Oh, I understand the implication of co-sleeping. SEX How can a couple have sex with THE BABY IN THE BED!!! She’ll be scarred for life. What if she is scarred for life from crying and screaming alone in a dark room and no one coming to comfort her? What if she swallows her needs because her cries mean nothing?
I do understand boundaries and I understand that as parents we need to put the oxygen mask on first but I wonder why we push our little ones from the nest so quickly. It all goes so fast anyway and so slow. Once we have ‘em, we got ‘em. We wanted them more than anything so now here they are and they are our lives.