• Wed, Jul 14 2010

What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting

I’m 26. I have a fantastic career. I have no debt. I’m reasonably healthy. I just moved in with my boyfriend. According to contemporary American societal standards, I’m doing alright.

Unfortunately, my hormones disagree.

See, I used to ignore babies. Those loud, snotty freeloaders bundled up in stained pastel onesies made me cringe. They still make me cringe. Babies smell bad, they shit themselves and they create huge disturbances in public facilities.

In last week’s New York, Jennifer Senior published a six-page mea culpa titled, “All Joy No Phone: Why Parents Hate Parenting.” Interesting, I noted, as I read through the maternal horror stories. Motherhood sounds like a pyramid scheme or a get-emotionally-rich-quick scam.

So why are my ovaries starting to twitch?

I’m nowhere near ready to settle down and have kids, but I never told my uterus of my decision to wait. And why should it? While I’m just four years into climbing the career ladder, my reproductive system has been gearing up for over a decade.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average age of first-time mothers has increased over the past forty years, from 21.4 in 1970 to 25 in 2006. Which means if I got pregnant tomorrow, I would still be two years late to the party.

Of course, the party is exactly why I’m not pregnant. I love drinking, and I’m even less willing to part with my scotches and soda than I am with my sanity. When you’re childless, you can drink as much as you want. Guilt only enters the picture when you’ve sent an inappropriate drunk text or start showing up to the office hungover for a week straight.

Take a second look at those NCHS figures. I’d like to point out that in 1970 and 2006, there is a childbirth lag of over three years after the legal drinking age. You and your liver can draw your own conclusions from that. I’ll be in the corner getting sloshed on my seventh drink.

If there’s vomit on my clothes, at least I know it’s mine.

It’s not just drinking—it’s drinking whenever you want. When you’re childless, there are no bedtimes, no babysitters and no wondering if you’re making a bad impression on little one with the baby bottle. You can go nuts on your own bottle and sleep soundly knowing the only life you’re fucking with is your own.

Which leads me to fucking.

There is nothing worse—so I’ve been told—than trying to maintain a hot sex life when you’ve got a blithering screamer sucking all your time, energy and good looks. If sex is a means to an end, then the baby is precisely that. An end. Welcome to the land of boring missionary style and doing it just to get it over with. When your baby finally grows up, you will surely have the delightful trauma of having your children interrupt your lovemaking with any excuse they can think of: nightmares, boredom, hunger, impatience. Don’t worry, they leave for college soon enough, so you can resume a healthy sex life; you just have to hold tight for eighteen years. Apparently, they fly by!

If your body is a temple, then having a baby turns it into a war zone. But my pre-preggo body looks great. My stomach is flat, my vagina’s intact and I’m mostly stretch-mark free. My feet are the same size they were yesterday and so are my breasts—which remain pert and void of any milk, thank you very much.

I can even wear sexy bras, not the ugly infant-sucking ones with Velcro flaps. Actually, I can wear whatever I want, because I don’t have a huge gut and a bladder problem. I choose mini skirts over muumuus. I wear short shorts instead of mom jeans.

And you know what? I can actually afford all of those clothes. When you’re 26 and childless, your income is more disposable than a box of tampons. I don’t have to worry about daycare, strollers, diapers or even saving for college. I can blow my savings on eating out, going out and vegging out.

I sleep well at night. Like, really really well. Sometimes I wake up at 11am on a Saturday, read the paper for an hour, then fall back asleep for as long as my spoiled self pleases.

I have no distractions.

Well, I had no distractions. Then my ovaries started twitching.

What else can you expect when you’re not expecting? You can expect your mother to casually hint that she wants to be a grandmother. You can expect some sort of vague discussion with your friends about whether or not you want kids. You can expect to evaluate your significant other to determine whether he’ll be a good father. You can expect to walk by a particularly cute baby one day and surprise yourself by murmuring, “awww.”

You can expect that, despite your independence, your body, your salary and your admittedly over-indulgent lifestyle, you’re eventually going to want one or two of your own expensive little life-crashers.

Just, goddamnit, wait until you’re ready. It looks painful, expensive and all kinds of exhausting.

Hey uterus. I’m talking to you.

[note: NY Mag link: http://nymag.com/news/features/67024/]

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  • Macro Vision

    I didn’t realize that The Gloss was a platform for writers to brag about how hot and successful they are while complaining about universal problems in annoying, alienating ways. But, uh, if that was your intent, good job.

  • Karen

    Resist! Be stronger than your biological clock!

  • Carey

    Macro Vision—how do you think good-looking, career-oriented people feel when 9/10 articles to do with parenthood are written by pompous, self-important, selfish parents who believe their resource-sucking offspring are something anyone else actually cares about? We have to constantly buy that what we’re doing is ‘ok’, but that we’re inherently missing out on something or making some regrettable mistake. It’s refreshing. And frankly, until society decides to stop forcing young, successful women to believe their end-all is having children, I welcome the snark. The more working to shift this standard, the better.

    • Jen Dziura

      Yes, I think it’s pretty healthy to take stock of the things that actually make you happy and do some serious weighing. Being “hot” is one of the many things that can make people happy (in fact, many successful people who have prioritized other things just end up spending all their time and money trying to get it back). If this article helps someone take stock of what actually matters to them (and *all* of us have values and priorities and preferences that aren’t “world peace”), then I’m all for it.

    • JC

      Mommy, you don’t love me.