Five years ago, I was tense all day. A good friend gave birth and everyone was stopping by the hospital to congratulate the new parents. The social pressure was mounting as much at the same rate of my internal stress–fuck babies! Fuck this shit! I don’t like babies! I want life before babies! Here’s another friend who’s leaving me! Why don’t I want babies?! Why can’t I figure it out already?!?!
By the time I talked down my inner angry voice, I had missed visitation hours, but I put on my best unbitter face, sweet-talked my way past security and swallowed the growing knot in my throat to open the door–there they were, the once weekend-warrior-stoners, holding in awe their very own creation. I peered into her red wrinkly face, scrunching, stretching, squinting, smiling. Her tiny hands and feet with perfect miniature nails, nailbeds and all. Life–the science class videos and metaphysics course readings all blurred–couldn’t recall who said what, but here, undeniably was a miniature being throbbing with it.
Of course the miracle of it didn’t stop the rolling tears on the subway ride home, streaming frustration and confusion about this thing called life I wasn’t part of.
Fast forward to today. Another dear friend gave birth after a very long and difficult conception with all the scientific assist money can buy. “High risk pregnancies,” we’re told, but brush off because there are 50-somethings doing IVF, but in her case, there were multiple complications, a reluctant C-section, and a full day of not being able to hold her newborn as she was tethered to an IV. I don’t visit every baby at the hospital, but I figured the mom could use a friendly face.
I knew this was one of the last newborns I’d see, given most of my friends are done with building a family. I had some anticipation–namely, I wanted to know how I would react to a newborn. Perhaps if they’re not screeching or running from one side of the house to the other, a baby would be attractive. I peered into the swaddled red face scrunching her nose trying to figure out this stranger. She popped her tiny little hand out of her cocoon and moved it like a starfish before making a loose fist against her ears. There they were, those perfect baby fingers, nailbeds and all. I matched my breathing to hers in hopes she’d relax a little.
But I was also trying to locate the connection with my inner voice.
Isn’t life amazing?
Look, just look at this tiny baby. A perfect human being.
….anything?? I mean, anything????
…no, I’m trying…I’m trying, but…. sorry, negative. No biological squeal, no jealousy, no I’m-ready-for-mine–nothing, absolutely nothing.