Are you next?

When M was barely out of S’s vagina, one of the midwives turned to me and said, “It’s your turn next!”  She said this with the same amount of excitement one would expect after you have waited in line for 30 minutes for that new roller coaster you have been dying to ride and it is almost your turn.  There were/are several things wrong with her statement.  First, I had just watched S’s body turn inside out to push out our child.  There was swelling and all sorts of fluids and some things we both vowed never to speak of again.  I had just watched that and she says it is my turn next.  Are you freaking kidding me?  No way!  Why would I put my poor little vagina through that when I have a very willing partner to do the dirty work for me? (And yes, I know it is a beautiful thing to gestate and birth a child.  But seriously, NO WAY!)  Second, I have no desire to give birth.  No desire to have a being grow in my womb.  Frankly, the thought of another human growing inside my body freaks me out more than anchovies.

I have not always been so able to voice my position on this subject.  I have spent a lot of time working through feelings of guilt and sadness around all of this.  As a female identified woman with a uterus, I have felt pressure from the outside to want to gestate and give birth to a child.  It is not infrequent that people ask me when I want to start trying to get pregnant.  The assumption is that with two women in the relationship, we must want to take turns popping out babies.  I have spent a lot of time wondering if I will regret never having given birth.  Will I feel like I didn’t make the team or got left out of the club?  Will I look back on my life and add never having been pregnant to my list of regrets?  Right now, I don’t know the answer to those questions.  I hope the answer is no on all accounts.  I guess time will tell.

My entire life, I knew I wanted to be a mother.  When S and I were first dating, I told her it would be a “deal breaker” for us if she didn’t want to have kids.  At that point, I had not really thought about how those children would come to me, to us.  After many years of being together, we began to talk more seriously about having children and it was decided that S would carry.  She is older than I and, for very personal reasons, felt a primal urge to carry, birth and raise a child.  What I came to realize through all of our discussions was that I didn’t have that urge.  I always knew I would be a mother, but I never dreamed of pregnancy.  I dreamed of holding that tiny baby, sometimes holding a onesie to my shoulder and patting it as if it were already full.  Through these discussions, I realized that no matter how my child came to me, I knew I would be a good mother.

It is interesting to watch people’s reactions after they ask me if I am next.  It is only women who ask and, if they have given birth, they most often have a sparkle in their eye like they are ready to welcome me to the table of gestation.  I do think that sparkle fades after I say I am not interested.  I always follow-up with a joke, “Are you kidding?  I watched my son come out.  Why would I do that?”  There is a little giggle, but I can tell they are a little sad.  Maybe they are sad for me, thinking I am missing out.  But I don’t feel sad.  At this point in my life, I feel liberated to be able to be true to who I really am.  After having spent so many years questioning who I am and what I stand for, it feels good to be able to say that I am a great mother to a wonderful boy who didn’t come out of my vagina.

-Betsy

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3 responses to “Are you next?

  1. Oh gosh, yes, I have had very similar experiences. I am astonished by the tremendous amount of pressure to have a second child, even from people who have heard me say several times that I don’t want one, and, as a corollary, the assumption that because my partner had our daughter I would want to also be pregnant. At one point I even inadvertently learned that my partner’s parents had talked with their lawyer about what would happen if I got pregnant and had a kid–I believe it was part of their discussions about crafting a will–but I was sort of shocked that they had done that despite me explicitly saying I had no intention of ever getting pregnant.

    I think it’s well-intentioned, but underneath it seems to be a sense that they know better than I what I want because of norms and patterns, and it feels frustrating.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. It is amazing how people sometimes just don’t listen to what is coming out of another person’s mouth!

      -Betsy

  2. I think it’s a rather rude assumption, frankly. We wanted two. We are DONE. Not every woman wants to be pregnant. I certainly never want to be again. And not every woman wants to be a mother. Or maybe wants to be a mother, but not pregnant. I have known several. Regardless of sexual orientation, I think it’s a rude assumption.
    Motherhood is not all about carrying a child in a womb, it IS very much about love and warmth and open-ness, all of which both of you possess. And in the end, that’s what matters.

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