babies, continued

This is a draft from 2016. A few details have changed since then (we moved away from New York, I finished nursing school) but other things remain the same, namely, my ambivalence surrounding having kids.

Our life is the kind that a baby would, on the surface, barely disrupt. Weekends are usually about cooking elaborate meals and polishing off a bottle of wine with the tv shows we're woefully behind on. We have a dog, so our schedule is already regimented in the way that disallows habitual late nights out or impromptu anything. Most galling of all, we live in Queens with a second bedroom. All of the big pieces are there.

This is by design. The thought behind a lot of our choices has always been kids, someday. But the urgency to manifest those kids never comes. Instead of a nursery, I bought a bar cart. Instead of not trying not to, I got back on birth control.

I admit to being a planner, someone who likes things to line up just so before making a big decision. I delight in spending months tweaking itineraries for the next trip or paint colors for our new kitchen. Sometimes I think this is the paralyzing force behind the baby indecision. I am obviously averse to unknown quantities. And yet, I got married at 24. Outside of New York, lots of people get married at that age. But here, it is absolutely anathema. By these standards, I am very reckless! Or just a dumdum from Indiana.

When I consider a life that is just me and my husband and some dogs, I don't see anything sad or worrisome. When I look at mommy blogs out of curiosity, I can admire the cute kids without a knot forming in my stomach. On my yearly viewing of Little Women, I don't wish for daughters (but I do wish for sisters). There are only two things that make me reconsider. One is whenever I go see a performance of literally anything, I get a glint in my eye and think it'd be nice to have a kid to take. The second is my mom.

I suspect that every year I don't have a baby I am carving an ever-widening hole into my mom's heart. I've never been pressured by her to have a kid, but I know it's her hope for me. If we're shopping and we pass children's clothes, she'll sigh a little at the tiny shoes and hats. She tells me about her coworkers' grandchildren, or how her group of friends all think they won't get grandkids. A small part of me feels there is a debt between us, unspoken, that is only paid with a baby.

I read a lot of stories about infertility. I'm 30 now and I've never had a scare, so I sometimes wonder if my ambivalence stems from a subconscious suspicion that I may not be able to have a baby. Am I guarding myself from the profound pain of infertility, or do I truly feel that my life will be whole without a child? Is this compartmentalization, or a sincere wish to be childfree?

For now, I have the protection of having a plan. I'm still in school, and that's a convenient enough excuse. Blessedly, when I say this to friends or family, no one scolds me for trying to plan around kids, fool's errand that it is. Besides, by New York standards, I am still way ahead of the curve.