Potential Babies

by Rachael Stiles

Girl: Hmm, my period’s a bit late.
Boy: Oh? (!!!!)
Girl: It’s okay, probably, there are lots of other reasons why it could be late.
Boy: Such as?
Girl: Excessive exercise — we can rule that one out. Stress. Diet…
Boy: Diet? Like not eating meat?
Girl: No, like not eating anything. It’s not late because I’m a vegetarian. Geez.

At the time of writing, my period is nearly two weeks late. It’s not usually like clockwork, and sometimes I’m slack about documenting the dates in my diary (mostly due to laziness but also I like surprises!) (I don’t really, it’s all down to laziness), but I don’t think it’s been this late before. I’ve been with my boyfriend for more than four years. We co-habit. We have cats, which is about the same as having kids, I’m guessing? But I feel like I would be woefully unprepared for carrying/having/taking care of a human baby.

We spent last weekend with my boyfriend’s nieces and nephews, which only made me more apprehensive about my potentially impending motherhood. At one point, his nephew whacked me over the head with a plastic croquet mallet and my initial reaction was to do it back to him. (I didn’t actually do that, he’s three years old.)

Here’s the thing, though. I have a job and all, and it’s fine, but I’m somewhat of an underachiever. I like leaving work on time, and not having too much responsibility and stress. All in all? I’d probably rather stay at home most days. Luckily, women’s rights have advanced enough that I can choose to have a career, but I’d probably still choose to stay at home if not for the issue of nobody offering to pay me a wage to bake, watch repeats of America’s Next Top Model, and update my blog. So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? I’ve been wanting to get into freelance writing for ages. And I’m nearly 30, so obviously I can hear the clock saying “tick-tick-YOU’RE-NOT-GETTING-ANY-YOUNGER-tick-tick-tick…”

Only a few weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about the prospect of having kids, because for him and his wife it is probably a fairly immanent prospect, and he said “how do you feel about having children — mostly excited or mostly scared?” My reply was something like “Mostly doubtful, I’m not even sure I want any!” It’s so often expected, of people and especially of women, that we will have offspring, or will at least want to.

My boyfriend and I can only talk about it in hypothetical terms, because the prospect is so terrifying to us. I’m probably writing this just to trivialize it in my mind. But here are some pros and cons that we have come up with when we’re not ignoring the subject/are using humor as a defence mechanism:

Pro: I’d never have to clean out the cats’ litter tray, because pregnant women and cat germs are a big no-no, apparently.

Con: We’re going to Italy next year, so I wouldn’t be able to have wine/cheese. Also, I might not actually be able to fly by then so I would have to get their by other means, involving trains, ferries, and other methods of transport. Ugh, that sounds so tiring — I’m approximately 7–8 months pregnant! Get me a chair!

Pro: I would probably use it as an excuse to eat meat again, which I’m bi-curious about after being a vegetarian for eight years. (Bonus: potential Italian meats, if I manage to get there.)

Con: Fears that I might be too immature/selfish/intolerant/impatient to take care of a baby.

Pro: Shopping for new clothes in the form of maternity wear, which I think I could pull off quite well.

Con: I might become one of those people who blogs pictures of their baby and talks about their baby all the freaking time. I do this with my cats, so it’s pretty likely.

Pro: Months and months of maternity leave!

Con: I’d have to stop acting so much like a baby sometimes if I’m actually going to have one.

Pro: I quite like the idyllic idea of teaching a kid to bake/ride bikes/read/swim/blog/etc. And I have an appreciation for refrigerator art.

Hmm, I’m none the wiser.

A lot of people say that you don’t necessarily ever feel ‘ready’ to have kids, that most people have these (or similar) doubts, and that you have to actually have children before you feel it’s the right time. It’s probably about time I find out if the decision has already been made for me.

Rachael Stiles lives and procrastinates in Bristol, UK.

Photo by Steyno&Stitch, via Shutterstock