May 1, 2007

Lifestyles

Baby Time or Full-Time?

by Gina Barnes

The baby talk started on our honeymoon in Italy. Something about the earthy, thick Italian wine that we consumed at the rate of one bottle per hour made the idea of a honeymoon baby seem romantic and wistful. My husband did not think so, and so we got through each night “safely,” and my baby thoughts evaporated each morning in the face of sobriety. By the end of our trip, my husband’s response to my pleas came as easily as that of a quarter-fed, animatronic psychic at a county fair. “We should just enjoy married life for a year or so. Have fun.” I had come face to face with the mythical modern man—populating and dominating were not on his agenda.

One month passed, and then ten. The occasional visit to baby-name websites did not ignite any new discussions. Our time frame for having a baby was wide open to allow our marriage persona to surface without a nine-month anchor attached. Last month, I was on the phone with my best friend, getting an update on her pregnant older sister. “You should have a baby!” she tells me. “Actually, I think I really am getting baby fever,” I admitted.

The desire came upon me so quickly that it was like an illness that ravaged my body while I was sleeping. I hoped it would be a 24 hour bug, until I began visiting websites that explained a woman’s menstrual cycle in great detail, which, aside from PMS and seven days of bleeding, I knew very little about. The information gave women the ability to read their bodies as easily as a cheap romance novel. Armed with this information, we were officially “trying.”

As someone who makes weekend plans three months in advance and has to check my date book before committing to anything, I couldn’t help but do the same for our non-existent baby. We chopped down my four page name list, I started taking the recommended vitamins, and we discussed when, after we conceived, I would tell my boss. This quickly became a question of WHAT I would tell my boss.

Women my age are taught to excel in the workforce, equally earning if not surpassing the income of their partners. So why is it that I have some rampant, domestic, anti-feminist voice running loose in my head? I’m sure that the pharmaceutical industry has developed a pill I can take to silence her. But I do not seek this remedy out, and consequently, I am faced with having to find the answer to my problem. Okay, so maybe whining about having the option (financially) to stay home makes me a schmuck. I should be thankful that I even have a choice—right? Wrong—because having a choice means that I have to decide what to do, and both sides of the coin scare the hell out of me.

Can I handle financial dependence? Do I want my child’s day to day experiences to be with someone other than myself or my husband? I don’t yet have an answer that sticks for more than three days, or that helps me to dismount from the roller coaster that my emotions have become. So for now, I’ll call for a truce between my domestic tendencies and my need for financial independence. My sister-in-law recently told me, from her experience, “You’ll look into your baby’s eyes, and find your answer.”

During daylight hours, Gina disguises herself as a grown-up for her job in business and grant writing. After hours, she indulges in creative writing to document the “trial and error” method with which she approaches being a newlywed.

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