Tuesday, January 20, 2015

3/52 :: children.

I wrote this essay while thinking about my upcoming 29th birthday. Jordan and I are surrounded by peers who we love, most of whom have children, and one day, we hope to join their ranks, either by having biological children or by adopting someday. The thing is: We're not there yet. But we're talking and dreaming and open to what God has in store. So I wanted to write an essay about where I am right now on the subject of children and fertility and pregnancy. I know these are personal subjects, and your views and my views might not be the same. That's okay. This is just the view from where I sit right now, and maybe by writing and talking about these things, you'll know your views are okay too. 


I might be the only woman on the planet who questioned her fertility after watching an episode of New Girl. 

The Fox television show isn't even one I typically watch -- Jess' immaturity grates and what on earth do they ever do with Winston? -- but once in a while, the convenience of Netflix wins, and I watch a few episodes while cleaning the house or folding our clothes. Then, about a year ago, I watched as Jess panicked about the dearth of her eggs after 30, and I promptly scheduled my annual physical. (So much for mindless television.) 

On February 2, I'll turn 29 years old. I own a home and a business and a dog. I'm happily married and take long walks and occasionally try a yoga pose or two. I read a lot of books and decorate our house and sit on my front porch. I ask big questions and journal and play the piano and sometimes cook dinner. I am incredibly fulfilled, and yet the assumption seems to be that I should be constantly preoccupied with my baby-making abilities (which, by the way, may not even be up to me, but no one seems to be concerned about that little detail).

It is hard to be a childless woman in the South, to be asked incredibly personal, intimate questions about babies and fertility and timing.

And I would like to clarify that I want children. We want children. It's really no one's business when we have them, but the desire is certainly there. We talk a lot about raising children, about our hopes and dreams for parenting and what it will be like if and when this tiny house has another little person in it. Those are the things we are excited about, the things we love talking about on date night. 

But there are other things to consider, of course. This business of ours, with its infantile temperament and the resulting sleepless nights. My bordering-on-absurd fear of pregnancy and childbirth, only exacerbated by the horror stories the Internet leaves at my fingertips. Our mental and physical heath, which we'd like to have under control before caring for another human being. So many details and discussions, none of which we should have to share publicly or with well-meaning family or friends. It is hard for me to understand when conversations about baby-making -- conversations that really boil down to sex and biology -- became the norm.

Here is the reality: Last January, I went to my gynecologist, a kind, gentle, rational, faithful woman I adore. She didn't bat an eye when I told her I'd heard on a television show that 90 percent of a woman's eggs cease to exist after age 30. Instead, she smiled. She told me I had nothing to worry about, that she would help me prepare for baby-making and childbirth when the time came. She appeared completely calm and unconcerned, and I thought: thank you. And I wish I could send all of my friends to my doctor. Because I might have reached near-hysteria thanks to Zooey Deschanel, but other women I know whisper and share the same fears -- sometimes more concrete and realistic than my own -- and here is what I wish for all of us: women who will not rise up in fear with us, but who will instead talk us down off the ledge, who will assure us we are fine. We are going to be fine.

Last Friday, I bought a set of Childcraft encyclopedias for my unborn, unconceived children. I've got a couple of Christmas stockings I've bought, too, set aside for future use. 

I am hopeful for the growth of my family. I trust it will happen exactly when and how it should. I am excited for back-to-school dinners and colorful nurseries and an excellent husband who will undoubtedly make an excellent father. 

But I will not live in fear, and I will not answer all of the pointed questions -- are you still on birth control? are you trying? don't you guys want kids? -- because they don't deserve to be answered. I will not wish my beautiful life away, because one day I want to tell my children what a very good life we welcomed them into, what we worked hard to create both for them and for us. 

This life is too good to worry or wish it away, and so I will continue to read and to play the piano and to enjoy dates with my husband. And one day, when we are ready and it is meant to be, our family will grow, and we will, I think, become parents to the loveliest, smartest, silliest children in the world.


Leslie Lee said...

Solid essay, Annie! "It is hard to be a childless woman in the South" - yup. I experienced that, too. Whatever your family's future holds, it's gonna be great! xo

Erin said...

This is so good and so true. You are right-it is a private decision and the questions people ask are ridiculous!

Audrey said...

Amen. Extremely well-said, as usual. You have plenty of time. "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." Saint Julian of Norwich

Leslie said...

You're doing it right, believe me! Savoring life as it is now, cultivating a happy home -- all of that. For me, one of the biggest adjustments to motherhood has been trying to savor these first few weeks and months. They are precious, but tough, and its sometimes surreal to realize that the life we had before is completely different -- forever. Parenthood is so cool but it is hard. Its totally okay for you guys to wait for the right time for YOU!

kmbutler said...

new reader here and i'm already loving what i've read so far. also, this post? AMEN. i'm right there with ya, sister. it's such a personal thing and people need to stop acting like it's casual small talk. cripes.