12 March 2006
It was a girls-night-out type of thing, and talk turned to having--or, rather, not having--more children. And for the first time during the evening, I felt totally out of sync.
One woman told of her and her husband making sure they wouldn't have more than one child. She was 23 at the time.
Another woman told a story of her friend, who had a Depo-Provera shot (which she said lasts two years) against the wishes of her husband. (Again, after the birth of their first child.) The way the story was told, the husband was just being foolish by balking at making a two-year commitment to birth control.
Then someone being a little miffed when she got pregnant because she had lost a lot of weight; and pregnancy, of course, would put it all back on and more.
It made me feel sad. Not for myself, really, but for the attitudes expressed. I know these women love their children deeply. And it's not like I'm against birth control. But maybe spending so many years on the other side of the reproductive dilemma gives me a different perspective.
For one, I don't take getting pregnant or keeping a pregnancy for granted. Life is fragile, and not just as you get older. Life is fragile at the beginning, as well. So many things can go wrong, and so many things must go right before you even know you're pregnant. Getting even a little annoyed that my weight would go up if I got pregnant is incomprehensible to me.
And babies...it is a cliche to say they're miracles. Overused. But I do feel a sense of wonder when I interact with babies and young children.
You might think I was envious of their good fortune, that they could worry about preventing pregnancy while we went through medical intervention and losses before having our miracle girl. But I wasn't. At least, not too much. It felt more like my heart knows something that even these loving mothers have not (yet?) learned. And that is, that the gift of life is to be cherished, not to be taken lightly. And that thinking you can control it is an illusion.
Maybe that's what made me sad. That so many women whom I genuinely like and think are exceptional people could take the gift of conception and birth so lightly. Not so much the decision itself to have no more children, but that that decision could be portrayed to others as such an easy one.
I suppose I could have shut the conversation right down if I chimed in with either my opinion or experiences. But why ruin a lovely evening?