I have a strange-ish question. It is this: What makes women know they are ready to be mothers? I mean, I know often it is unplanned, but if that's not the case, what's the thought process? Do you think women ever really feel ready? It's a topic that comes up frequently among my girl friends (I have one who is literally terrified of labor, to the point of saying "I look at your hips and I think 'surrogate!'", and I thought I'd ask you. I'd like to hear your input.
Well! You know how people have topics you don't want to get them started on because they will never shut up? This is one of my topics! I am so interested in the whole "family planning" process: how people decide whether to have children, and how many, and what kind of spacing, and when to stop, etc. I could talk about it all day long, and then start in on it again first thing the next morning, until you wish you'd never asked.
Anyone who feels like answering, please pitch in. If you've had a baby, or more than one baby, or if you're putting it off, or if you've decided not to have children at all, speak up--I am dying to know your answer. And don't feel the need to make it short and comment-length--the comment section has tons of space, so fill it up with essays if you want to.
I will go first, because I can't help but notice that this is my blog. For me, it was like catching a virus. I was going along, la-la-la, thinking I might want children someday or maybe I wouldn't, and then suddenly I was consumed with wanting a baby. I think the trigger was when an old friend of mine got accidentally knocked up. She was the first of all my friends to get pregnant, and her pregnancy was like an amazing revelation to me: "WE are of the age to have BABIES! I could have a baby!" It was exactly like flipping a switch from "stand by" to "on." The switch is still on, and I am starting to look for ways to flip it the hell off, because this is getting nuts.
Mine was the "baby fever" method of deciding to have a child. It's a lucky way to decide, I think, because it makes the usual fears seem almost insignificant. I was worried about labor, and I was worried that I would have a baby and then regret it but be stuck with it, and I was worried that I was having a baby too young, and I was worried that having a baby with Paul would tie me to him more permanently than marriage, and I was worried that I would go into labor in a snowstorm and have to deliver the baby myself onto trash bags laid out on the living room floor--but all those fears were minuscule compared to the WANT BABY WANT BABY WANT BABY WANT BABY soundtrack endlessly looping in my head. I read pregnancy books, took a class on fertility (want to talk about cervical fluid? I'm your girl!), bought baby clothes in the sneaky manner usually reserved for buying heroin, and was sad to see my period every month. This is all before we'd even started trying to conceive.
I don't think this is a particularly common way of deciding to have a baby. It seems to me that at least in my group, it's more common to wonder about it, to not be sure, to keep waiting to see if it becomes more clear, to start worrying about running out of time, to finally have to take a chance one way or the other. Tell me....I mean, tell Kara: How was it for you? Did you waffle? Did you leap? Did you change your mind? Did you feel pressure because of age? relatives? partner?