Diary of a Marriage: Baby Fever

Am I the only one who hasn’t caught it yet?

Illustration by Justin Renninger.

I was at a Super Bowl party this past Sunday with my group of friends from high school when it hit me: We’re perilously close to — if not completely entrenched in — baby fever. Only one in our group is pregnant, but watching her lie on the floor with a pillow beneath her lower back, rubbing her six-months-pregnant belly, was at once heartwarming and absolutely terrifying.

I sat there, sipped my Miller Lite, and surveyed the scene. Here we were, only 11 years out of our knee-socks-and-saddle-shoes all-girls private Catholic school, and each one of us is now half of a couple, all of us (except for me) have at least one pet, and most of us (again, except for me) are prepping for parenthood, either by actively trying to get pregnant, rearranging work schedules in order to coincide with future day-care plans, or taking the last pre-baby blowout vacation. Jesus, I thought, we’d not only all gone and gotten ourselves married, we were actively making ourselves responsible for other living beings.

I thought we were all on the same page until I actually asked around, in that breathy, almost panicky sort of way: “You’re not trying, are you?” And the consensus was: I’m a freak. A non-baby-wanting freak. When I discussed this matter with J., he was unfazed. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Tonight David* told me that Julie* is taking her body temperature or something every day and she wants to have sex, like, all the time. He told her no one night and she didn’t speak to him for a whole day.” I was floored.

It’s not that I don’t like kids and puppies. I squeal when I see babies, and I can’t get enough of feeling my friend’s baby kick in her adorably swollen belly. I even went through a short-lived puppy stage during which I begged J. for a dog for a solid two months (he said we’d get the dog after we had the baby, and I quickly got over it). It’s just that I’m not ready for my own quite yet.

I’ve heard that, when it comes to having a baby, you learn as you go, you’re never really ready. Bullshit, I think. How is that possible, learn as you go? It’s not like learning to care for a houseplant, getting the right mix of water and sun and plant food, and if you overdo one or give too little of another, all you’ve got to worry about is a wilted flower and a few brown leaves. It’s a baby. And looking at my pregnant friend, who rolls her own fresh pasta and makes homemade meals for the entire week on Sundays and stashes them in the freezer and who unconsciously massages her belly in this amazingly maternal way and who just seems so ready, I realize how woefully unprepared I am for this whole baby business.

My mom is alternately relieved and stressed about my apparent lack of interest in procreating. She either scares me with her trepidation (“Make sure you’re really ready. They’re a lot of work”) or through her admonition that if I wait too long, my baby will end up being born with two heads or twelve fingers or some such deformity. So, really, I’ve concluded, I can’t win either way. Which is why I think I’ll continue waiting it out for now in the hopes that one day I’ll be overcome with a rush of maternal longing and a calm sense of readiness. In the meantime, I’ll work on bringing my houseplants back to life.

*Names have been changed to protect the gossiping husband and his ovulating wife.

Tell us: Are you prepping for parenthood or dealing with baby fever? Have you and your to-be talked about when you’ll go for a baby once you’re married? Or, how long were you married before you started thinking about starting a family?

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