Thirty four year old women, as a general rule, do not get pregnant on accident. Rather, there are usually charts, thermometers, and the analysis of vaginal mucus involved. If you just cringed a little reading the words “vaginal mucus,” do not have children. Trust me, you are not ready for the quantities of bodily fluids you will be facing on a day to day basis.
There is no decision that altered the course of my life more thoroughly than the decision to have kids. My husband, Ben, and I did not enter into this choice lightly. We covered all the usual topics. Is our relationship stable? Do we have some level of financial security? How much can we get credited for a baby on our taxes?
There was debate, endless debate. The Bay of Pigs was probably not so thoroughly scrutinized. I recall one of my friends advising me that unless I was 100% sure, to not have children. Her point was that children change your life so thoroughly that you need to be certain having them will make you happy. But no one outside of Michelle and JimBob Dugger is 100% sure.
People who choose to have kids in their mid-thirties are in a strange predicament. We have spent our adult lives doing what we want to do. Ok, not exactly. I didn’t spend my twenties in Maui licking crème brulee off of Mike Patton’s stomach. But I had grown accustomed to having my time and money to myself. My husband and I had been married for four years before we combined our finances. We simply split the bills, and kept a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on all purchases.
I had a misguided belief that I was still cool. I rode on the coattails of my late twenties right into my early thirties. I was a party girl. I grew up worshipping bands, and prided myself on seeing every concert that came my way. I loved hitting the clubs with my girls and dancing all night long.
Around 32, things began to change. I remember going out in my early twenties, and there would inevitably be a group of older ladies dressed way too skanky, getting way too drunk. They would trying to dance sexy, but it looked more like they were about to break a hip. My friends and I would laugh about how pathetic they were and how they were too old to still be out clubbing with the kids. Well, the dial was showing I was closer to that gaggle of old hens than to the group of young hotties.
And honestly, it just gets exhausting. I knew my party days were numbered when I looked forward to my Friday night ritual of cleaning the house so that it was done for the weekend, cooking dinner, and waiting for the newest episode of Battlestar Gallactica to come on the SyFy channel. In my defense, it was a really good season of BSG.
What makes anyone quit analyzing and finally go with it? I guess we just decided we had had enough weekends away, seen enough bands, and weren’t in need of any more hangovers. That is not to say we never wanted to travel again, never wanted to spend another night partying or see another band. But we were growing up (queue the music from a very special episode of Family Ties). We wanted something real and lasting. We thought about our most treasured childhood memories, and the lure of creating those experiences for someone else just proved too tempting- Sunday morning breakfasts, homemade Halloween costumes, the first taste of a s’more. We loved each other wholly, we liked each other immensely. We were committed to our relationship. Our life seemed to be brimming with goodness. Why not share?
There was one last hurdle to cross. We knew birth control worked. That meant, we had to make a conscious decision to stop using it. Sounds simple, but there is nothing that made time stand still quite like the moment I decided to throw out my pills.
My husband was preparing to leave for a seven week motorcycle trip, from Arizona to Alaska and back. We had discussed this trip being his last hurrah before settling down to start a family. My eyes had to display an intensity to rival Henry Rollins as I said “I’m not going to take my pill today.” Of course the underlying message was “if you want out, speak now or forever hold your peace.” He responded with his own Rollins-esque stare, and replied “Ok.” Three months later, I was pregnant.