There’s nothing like having a baby you can’t keep to make you want another one.
Five-and-a-quarter years ago, I placed my spectacular son in an open adoption with a gay couple. It was by far the best decision in every way. It was best for him and best for me, and the two men currently raising him are absolutely the best family for the job. I’ve seen them an average of once a month, remaining a strong presence in my son’s life. My son is happy, sweet, polite, a dancer and a joker; already, he’s had access to so many incredible experiences that I could not have given him.
But the best decision of your life can also be the most painful decision of your life, and this one certainly was. When my son left the hospital without me, I literally folded in half, my torso suddenly powerless against gravity, wracked with a pain I hadn’t known I could feel.
So naturally, after that experience, I decided I never wanted to be in that position again. I made a point of seeking out a higher-paying job, of putting money into savings, of getting myself into a position where if I got pregnant again, I’d have no financial problem raising that child.
This phase lasted for about two years. That’s when I admitted I was miserable at my new lucrative executive assistant job — that there were better uses of my time and talents than managing a white guy’s calendar. I quit, ostensibly to focus on my writing, but still always with the idea that I was preparing for an eventual baby. “I need to start this process now,” I thought, “so I can be making money at a job I love by the time I have another kid.” I had a partner I was in love with and 10 years to go before my 40th birthday; everything was right on schedule.
Then, the 2016 presidential election happened. The next day was even worse than the day I said goodbye to my son for the first time; I just stayed in bed, furiously typing heartbroken missives on Facebook. I watched as basically everyone in the oil industry assumed cabinet positions. And I thought, “Welp, that’s it for planet Earth. Nice knowing you guys, but apparently we’re all going to die of flooding if we don’t die of nuclear war or The Handmaid’s Tale before then.”
So, in response to Donald Trump’s presidency, I found myself very much on Team No More Babies. I thought about World War III; I thought about the escalating hate crimes; I thought about the swiftly dying planet. And then I thought about the idea of bringing a kid into that world. It seemed like a heartless thing to do. No, thank you. Nothing makes my uterus clamp shut like imminent apocalypse.
And now a year and change later? Well, now it’s more complicated.
See, my own logic kind of falls apart under scrutiny. I can claim that I don’t want to bring a child into this terrifying world, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have already done so. I’m already going to have to watch my son navigate our swiftly changing country. So really, how much of a difference does it actually make if I add one more kid to that?
And yet, I still find myself feeling 100 percent on board with the idea of never raising my own kid.
Maybe it’s that I know my son’s daddies will be the ones ushering him through the horror of the world. I’ll be around, sure, but I won’t be the one who’s there day in, day out doing the heavy lifting and fumbling to answer questions that feel impossibly huge. Maybe I’m scared of being put on the spot like that by a child I’d be raising — on my own.
Or maybe there’s enough baby in my life already. Maybe I’m gratified enough through my relationship with my son that I no longer crave another kid. Maybe my intense desire to procreate again was just me wanting to settle a very painful score, and now that the pain has subsided, I feel like my current situation is enough. Maybe it’s that I’ve seen the glazed, exhausted look in his daddies’ eyes, in the eyes of his friends’ parents, and I’m fine with not experiencing it for myself.
Maybe it’s just that I love going to bed when I want, waking up when I want, going where I want, doing what I want and spending tons of time with my friends. Maybe I’m so obsessed with the beauty of chosen family that I don’t feel as drawn to creating more biological family. Maybe I’m just so relentlessly ambitious that I can’t stand the idea of anything slowing me down. Maybe I’m afraid of having less freedom.
Or maybe I’m going through a phase. Maybe I’ll wake up in a week or a year and decide I need a baby, right now. Anything is possible.
But right now? Right now, I feel utterly at peace with the idea of dying without having another kid. And right now, being true to that feeling is all I can do.