Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Baby! And Other Thoughts

My older sister just had a baby! She lives in Bellingham, and since I wasn't working, I was able to head up there before the baby came. I hung out with my mom, my niece, and my sister's partner at the hospital, and then the sweet little girl was born at 10:14pm. She was beautiful and healthy and had one real tear in her eye. My mom started crying as soon as she saw the baby. It's her 8th grandchild and the joy of a new baby in the family will never diminish with time or quantity. My mom is a BIG fan of her kids having kids.
We went home to their house to get some sleep, and headed back to the hospital in the morning. It was so nice to be back in my sweet college town, and just have unhurried time to hang out with family. I absolutely love being around newborns- tiny humans with a huge energy about them. 

Being around the baby reminded me that life is precious and exciting.... and also that babies and pregnancy can be sensitive issues. There are all sorts of medical risks for the mom and baby. But wait! Even before that point, there is the trying to get pregnant part. Since I've recently gone from my 20's to 30's, it's like a switch flipped and suddenly every one is trying to get pregnant, and those experiences vary widely.

I have friends who are a married couple and tried to get pregnant for over seven years. They finally decided to consider adoption, but even that has been a slow and arduous process. The whole thing baffles me as I know they will make the most wonderful, loving parents. Some other friends have been trying to get pregnant for just a few months, and they are already experiencing the stress and frustration of that. Then I have other friends who just got pregnant, right when they planned- the exact same month that the wife defended her dissertation and got her PhD. The timeline is totally different for every family.

We were taking family pictures last weekend with the aforementioned seven grandchildren. It was suggested in jest that I shouldn't be in the family picture since I didn't have kids. It was, of course, a joke. But don't they say that people only make jokes when there is a nugget of truth? 

The thing is, having kids is a private issue. Sometimes it feels public because it's so visible- a big pregnant belly, or loud, energetic kids running around. We connect to cute children, want to talk to them and play and feed them and keep them safe, even when we don't know them. It takes a village, right? But it's important to remember that everyone has a different reality of medical, personal, philosophical, financial, and logistical issues that might not be appropriate to just bring up casually.  

A few years ago when I lived on Orcas Island, some acquaintances of mine got married. I was talking to a good mutual friend who had just gone to the wedding. "So, are they planning to have kids?" I asked. "Um, you could ask them directly," he replied. "And it's not really anyone's business but theirs." At the time, I thought his comment was really harsh. Looking back however, I now agree a lot more with that sentiment. I'm all for having babies (yeahhh!!) but also being conscientious about how we talk about it.


mysticmama said...

Amber, I Love your post! I want this conversation to continue. Your words are So honest and insightful and powerful. You are a Woman of Wisdom. Please continue this thread in another post, as it is Very relevant to our society today.

ElizaBeth said...

Amen! I've known since I was about 12 years old that I didn't want children of my own, but rather wanted to foster and adopt. My whole life people have told me, "You'll change your mind." First of all... screw you. Second of all, I'm almost 32 and I still feel the same way I did 20 years ago. Your decisions about children are your own, but that memo doesn't seem to have reached the majority of people.

deechristoff said...

ElizaBeth, I've known I didn't want to have children since I was 16 or younger and I'm turning 50 at the end of this year. But on the rare occasion, like on an airplane, some nosy person (who has no idea of my age), will not only ask, but then insist I'll change my mind. Geez if I haven't changed my mind by now (33+
years), mother nature may have already done so for me. Speaking of which... I love kids (not every kid, of course), but I find them fascinating.

AmberAnda said...

mysticmamma, thanks so much for reading and for your sweet comment!

ElizaBeth and dee, thank you for bringing up the other side of pregnancy-- not having kids, or fostering/adopting! If a girl talks about having kids when she grows up, we trust that she knows what she wants, yet if a girl says she doesn't want to have kids, then she is "too young" to know or expected to change her mind... a bit contradictory. Thank you for sharing your experiences with that.

Ally said...

Great great post! I love it and agree. I like how you mentioned thinking that guys comment at the wedding was harsh and now you see where he was coming from. We are all on a journey of enlightenment.

AmberAnda said...

Thanks Ally! :)