No Permission Necessary
I’m not pregnant.
In case you were wondering.
Since getting married, it feels like my friends and family are watching my stomach so intensely that I want to remind them I lost fourteen pounds for my wedding and I’m just back to my normal size so please stop staring at my stomach because it’s just the bagel I ate for breakfast, thank you very much.
My drinking has also reached an all time high. Every party becomes a desperate search for a tequila shot (to be taken as publicly as possible) so I can cut people off at the pass.
I never used to want children. In college I liked the idea of kids but had no real desire to have any of my own. When I turned 25 that all changed.
After that, any baby would ignite a physical reaction, a longing to hold it, to love it, to have one of my own. My body was betraying me, longing for something I didn’t want.
My doctor said this was a common experience for women my age and that my body was simply telling me that it was ready.
So I took my body home, poured it a glass of wine and had a long talk about career goals. I had a dream to pursue and no solid father candidates so I stuffed those feelings deep inside and closed the door.
Now, seven years later I’m back in front of that door trying to get up the courage to crack it open.
I called my doctor recently and asked her if I should schedule an appointment so I could get her approval to start trying to get pregnant.
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. When she finally responded she could barely contain her amusement.
“No. You can just…start trying. You don’t need my approval.”
This had never occurred to me. I felt like I needed a permission slip or a report card that told me I would make a suitable host – that I was ready to be a parent.
That night over dinner I reiterated this to Jason.
“I can just get pregnant. Anyone can just get pregnant! Isn’t that crazy?!”
He smiled indulgently and poured me more wine.
But now that I had permission I wasn’t sure if I wanted it. My career was just starting to take off, I was working long hours, and I didn’t want to lose momentum by having a baby.
At least, that’s what I told myself.
The truth is I’m scared.
Having a child is not something you can take back. As my parents will tell you, being a parent never really stops. It’s a lifetime commitment. Those panicked phone calls and constant worrying don’t stop when they turn eighteen.
Was I ready for that?
Last week Jason and I visited our friends who just had a sweet baby girl. She was soft and smelled like what I imagine a castle made of clouds would smell like. When Jason held her I almost melted into a puddle on the floor.
I took a long look at my friend, cradling a baby with one hand and eating sushi with the other.
They were doing it. They were living their normal lives, still pursuing their dreams and goals, still excited about the things they’d been excited about before – with one big, snugly (incredibly demanding) addition.
It wasn’t easy but it was possible.
If you are a parent, currently reading this as your toddler throws-up on you and your first-grader asks you for the millionth time if she can please have a phone – I know, I know. These life-shattering realizations I’m having are things you already know. Things you’ve already experienced first hand, in the trenches, as I’m sitting over in sunny California with my wine and my laptop playing a game of will-she, won’t-she with my uterus.
Forgive me. I’m new to this.
As I drove away from my friends’ house that night, I felt that little door inside me I’d kept closed for so long open a little.
It felt good. It felt scary.
It felt like possibility.
Now excuse me as I have another glass of wine.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.