Thursday, January 27, 2011

Catching up with my Rambling Thoughts: The Urge to Have a Baby

I must apologize for my absence. The last few months have been a whirlwind and despite my best intentions, I seem to have neglected one of my favorite things: this little blog of mine. Infertility related topics are on my mind daily, but I just haven't been able to sit down and write something compelling.

Not writing has now filled me with a million thoughts and for better or for worse, here's the latest installment from my disjunctive mind:

While enjoying a pile of magazines at Gate 32 on my way to LA, I read a really interesting piece in ELLE written by Corrie Pikul, titled "The Clock-Watcher." (February 2011) In it, Pikul talks about how confused she feels about not feeling a natural pull/desire to have kids and whether that's indicative of a woman who doesn't really want any kids.

'For huge cataclysmic life decisions, like getting married or having a baby, I think people do want to be taken over by a feeling. Otherwise, how do you ever figure it out? If you don't have that part of yourself that irrationally wants to go ahead with this, how do you make decisions?' 
asks psychologist Daphne de Marneffe, PhD. 

It got me thinking, did I ever truly feel that urge or did it turn into an obsession only once I found out I couldn't have a baby the old fashioned way?

I must admit I was never one of those kids who dreamt of her wedding day, of the white picket fence, the dog and the two gorgeous kids bounding across freshly cut grass. Having found the love of my life, getting married felt like a natural progression. Today, I couldn't imagine my life without him, but marriage itself is still not what validates our bond.

So when we decided to try to conceive, I don't recall any urges per se. Similarly to getting married, it was a natural progression of our relationship. We had moved out of the city because the underlying expectation was to start a family. That's what people do, right?

Don't get me wrong, being a mother is truly the most rewarding experience -- the clich├ęs about parenthood are unfortunately truly, so I'll spare you. But this article has lingered with me for the last week. How much of our lives do we actually owe to undeniable desires and how much of it is just us letting the river carry us to the next big ocean?

There's nothing like coming face to face (or should I say ass-cheek?) with a 1 1/2" needle filled with a thick oil to make you think whether having a child is truly something you want to do. (Infertility treatments take commitment and test every aspect of your identity and relationships.) And yet, every time I said, "That's it! I'm done with this shit!" I found myself begging for more. Could we save some more money for the next attempt? Could I find some strength buried deep down inside of me to do this all over again? What if the next cycle is the one we've been waiting for?

What is it that drives us to take on such torture month after month if not for a genuine urge to have a child?

Many times my husband offered that we stop trying; that we had each other and perhaps that should just be enough. I know it hurt his feelings when I told him that was not an option. Having a child would be the only way to complete the circle and that I needed to experience motherhood in what ever form it came in.

A cost-benefit approach was never discussed, because, I believed at the time, that becoming a mother was the ultimate way to define myself as a woman and a wife.

It's probably a good thing that we don't make pros and cons lists for all the big decisions of our lives, otherwise, we'd probably be left devoid of what makes life meaningful.


Doogie said...

I've always wanted a baby and, for me, it was a matter of finding the right person and trusting my decision enough that this was the right person to choose to marry and make a life with him. (I'd made bad choices in men which made me doubt my ability to commit to a good choice)

From the time I was old enough to play with dolls, I've wanted to be a mother. Infertility has robbed me of years of that, robbed my children of their ability to have cousins of the same age, and robbed me of the chance to have a larger family. (I used to want four or five children; now I'd be happy with 2 and grateful for 1.)

For me there never was a time of indecision or wonder. When I was a camp counselor or babysitter, I told myself I was picking up valuable mothering tips about what worked and what didn't in parenting, so even as a young teen, I was already working towards my goal of motherhood.

Keya said...

An interesting post. I have always wondered this about myself. I've always pictured myself "married with two kids". There was never any doubt that I wanted kids. I didn't realize till we started TTC that the urge to pass on your genes is so strong.

So when I get upset and weep, I usually point out to my husband that its my "instinct" that makes me want to have this baby so bad. But my husband thinks the urge to be a mother is only a small part of it. He attributes more of it to "peer pressure" when everyone around you is having babies and asking u when you plan to have kids. Also, society defines normal family life as "get married, then have kids". And I am not one to challenge society.

So I think it is a mix of a very strong desire to have your own little one, mixed with the effect people around you have. I know I want to be a mother more than anything else in this world,and would go to a great extent to get it. but I also realize I would be lying to myself if I said that the only thing that drives me is maternal instinct.
Thanks for the post.

Toni said...

I am in the throes of this right now and I must admit that I often have this thought. I too never had the dreams of marriage or children when I was younger. I asked my mom once if I ever even talked about it and she said no. So I often wonder, do I want this so much b/c I can't have it easily?

But I do remember that first moment when my feelings changed. I was standing in line at grocery store and there was a cute baby in front of me and unlike the other times when I simply smiled and thought "how adorable," I had some kind of gut reaction. I've never looked at babies the same again.

It is funny though the differences in women. I have a friend who has 0 desire to have children and she feels like something is wrong with her for not wanting one.

Great post! Really made me think.

The Infertility Doula said...

It's so interesting to read your different stories. Some always knew they wanted kids, while others "fell into it." I did find the article very thought provoking and am glad it could start a conversation here. Hope you were able to read the actual article in ELLE.

Keya said...

Here's the link to the article:

I thought the article gave a different perspective, although one I don't completely agree with.

The Infertility Doula said...

Thank you for posting the link!

foxy said...

nicely written post. The only thing that I ever imagined in my life was that, someday, i would be a mother. I never dreamt about the man I would marry, or our wedding, or where we would live, or a career, only that I would be a mom. Ironically as life has unfolded I have stumbled upon the most wonderful man, had an incredible wedding, made ourselves a comfortable secure little home, and have been lucky to have work that I really love. The only part of the puzzle that unraveled for us was our (in)ability to have children. In the throes of our journey I actually often wondered what my purpose would be if I was not a mom. It felt like there was no point in 'being' if I could not fulfill this fundamental expectation. I really appreciate all of the different points of view and am always fascinated by what drives people (in careers, relationships, and family building.) thanks for the though provoking post!

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to read and make a comment on my blog. I love hearing from you. Please sign up to follow me. And don't hesitate to email with questions or future topics.