My Baby, My Way

 

The 3 and 2 year olds are in the shopping cart–one in the seat, and one in the basket itself. The baby is strapped to me in a baby carrier. I cram groceries around the big kids and bounce the baby when she gets fussy.

You don’t have to tell me that I have my hands full. But you probably will, and I’ll smile back and laugh as I say, “I know, right?” as if this thought has never crossed my mind.

Having three so close together gets me a lot of comments when we’re out. The vast majority are totally polite, encouraging, and mean no harm. There’s an odd mixture of admiration and terror in their eyes that says, “Girl you’re crazy! I could NEVER do that!”

Oh but you could. And if you found yourself in my shoes, you would!

I get it. Kids– though hilarious at times– are no joke.

Still, it’s always somewhat astounding to me how radical and crazy others find it for my family to simply have babies on my body’s natural schedule.

For my husband and I, marriage means the possibility (and extreme probability, in our case) of babies. In fact my youngest is approaching the age at which we tend to conceive another baby. So, if we were to get pregnant again, it would be a bit of “Oh wow, FOUR!” but honestly not all that shocking to either myself or my husband (…right, babe??). This is natural. This is normal. It’s good, even.

Of course there is some level of parental responsibility that has to play into this. Is it the best time for another baby? Can we afford another baby? Can we mentally cope with another baby? All of these are questions we have to prayerfully consider and are discussions my husband and I have on a regular basis. When we discern that postponing pregnancy is something we think would be best for our family, we use NFP to do so (which is no fun for anyone, because NFP is hard). But for us, fertility is a good and healthy part of a marriage, and not something we want to suppress, or “fix” in any way.

When I was pregnant with our third, there was a birth control pamphlet in my OB’s office. There were a lot, actually, but this one in particular had a picture of a woman in her mid-to-late-twenties on the front of it. She was at a children’s playground happily pushing a baby swing, except in the swing where the baby ought to be, there was a video camera. The tagline read: “My career is my baby right now.”

When we lived in La Jolla, the buses that would run for UCSD had these big ads on the sides of them promoting UCSD’s hospital system (which is great, by the way). The ads were in all caps and said: YOUR BABY, YOUR WAY. 

As a woman I am supposed to feel empowered by all of this ON MY TERMS rhetoric around the baby decision, but if I’m being honest, the prevalence of birth control, and the whole, “your baby your way” mindset has come with enormous societal pressure.

I mean, can you imagine being pregnant (happily!) for the third time in three and a half years, in an office surrounded by birth control ads full of women who–thanks to birth control–are actually doing something with their lives?

Truthfully, having babies is a little scary sometimes. And I think one unintended, and truly unfortunate, consequence of birth control is that women now feel hesitant to express these totally normal and legitimate anxieties about motherhood. You wanted this, didn’t you? Of course having 4 kids is hard. Why did you do that to yourself?

Your Baby, Your Way.

Flip side: Your Decision, Your Fault.

And, by the way, it isn’t just us “Fertile Myrtles” who get the flack for being “weird.” In a world where everyone thinks fertility is as simple as taking or not taking a pill, those who struggle to conceive have to deal with judging eyes and yet another person asking, “So when are you guys going to have kids?” after over a year of trying.

It’s not always as simple as “My Baby, My Way.”

So, yes, I totally get that me out with my crew of three, three and under is somewhat crazy. Nobody understands this better than me, I assure you.

But I’m not crazy simply for having babies close together. I’m just a woman, no more or less than the woman who decides she would rather focus on her career than have babies. I’m just a woman, no more or less than the woman who’d love to have babies, but struggles to conceive. My children are neither trophies awarded to me for being good, nor are they punishments for my poor decision making.

Ain’t nothing wrong with a little planning and knowing your own limitations. But if you ask me, the sooner we all let go of this need to control each and every aspect of our lives, and the crazy nuts illusion of being able to control life itself, the better off we’ll all be.

And P.S. – No, I’m not pregnant.  😉