Saturday, March 3, 2012

Babies, etc.

So I'm at an age at which a lot of my friends are pregnant and having babies. It hit a little closer to home last week (appropriate expression?) when one of my best Brazilian friends, Karine, told me she was pregnant. (You may remember her from such posts as her Christmas visit, her first time seeing the ocean and our hiking adventures back in Caipir√≥polis). Since my American friends that have gotten pregnant have all been far away, I haven't been involved at all. This is the closest friend whose pregnancy I'll really be a part of.

Thanks to the wonders of the internets, I've also made friends with two fellow expat American women here in the new city. One is pregnant and the other one has a one-year-old. Last week, I met up with the new mother at the mall. She told me, "we'll meet at such-and-such place; I'll have the baby in the stroller." So while I was waiting for her, I was keeping my eye out for the stroller. Only then did I see just how many women were at that mall pushing their babies around!

I was also sitting at a table to wait for said new friend, and a toddler came running up to me and started climbing up onto another chair at the table. It didn't even occur to me to try to keep the toddler from falling or knocking the chair over and tumbling down with it until the mother rushed over in a panic. Whoops. I probably came off as a heartless monster. That's right, little one. Keep on climbin'. I'm interested to see what will happen. It'll be a nice physics lesson for you.

I also had lunch the other day with the new and pregnant friend, and got to hear first-hand how parasitic a baby can feel! It wreaks such havoc on your body! How uncomfortable. My new friend is a real trooper.

All of this baby stuff has made me realize just how little I know about pregnancy and babies in general. I hardly babysat at all as a teenager, didn't have any younger brothers and sisters...nothin'. My sister and I are twins, and she hasn't popped out any kids yet. I don't know how to talk to or act around babies and toddlers.  I always forget not to swear and I'm at a loss when they don't respond positively to logic and reason. I've never even changed a diaper. The youngest age that I have any experience with is preschoolers, from when I worked for an ESL program during college. I know lots of linguistic milestones for babies and children because we have to learn about that in linguistics classes, but that's the extent of my knowledge.

Honestly, I think there's also the cultural factor of how it's not "ladylike" to talk about the gruesome details of being pregnant and raising a newborn, so women only tell those kinds of things to their doctors and their mothers. On the airplane ride back from the US this month, I read the silly Marian Keyes chick lit book, Watermelon, which had all kinds of revealing information on what happens to a woman's body in the months after having a natural birth. DID NOT KNOW THOSE THINGS.

Is it bad that I'm so baby-challenged? I guess not, if I don't plan to have kids anytime in the next decade, if at all. Don't worry about leaving comments on how I should volunteer with kids to get more comfortable around them...honestly, I'm not that interested! I'm just reflecting on how little of my life has been spent around young children. Once I wasn't one anymore (a young child, that is), I left that age group in the dust!

Anyone else feel like that? Anyone else with kids still feel like that?


  1. I absolutely love babies. hahaha Especially toddlers and preschoolers, but just other people's babies. I don't feel like I'm stable enough, financially or psychologically, to have children. And I'm definitely not ready to raise a teenager. If babies stayed babies forever I'd probably like to try it, but as is, I don't think that's gonna happen. Hope you get to enjoy your friends' babies though. They're so lovable and so much fun! :-)

  2. Sounds like kids are a challenge for your imaginative and creative side...
    They do bring that out in us... the illogical, 'anything is possible' mind.
    You already said that's why you don't know how to 'be' around kids - because they don't respond like logical adults. Kids wouldn't be interesting at all if they responded like us! They would just be arrogant to us, because they're so young.
    I also don't have any friends or siblings with babies but last year the first of my cousins had a baby. IT was so weird to touch her belly and know something was growing in it!
    I also have a pregnant student who is 9 months now and she explained to me during the whole pregnancy how she was feeling (she's Argentinian and having a natural birth, so it was way more relatable).
    It was because of this student, the closeness I experienced to a real pregnancy, that I really started considering babies...
    Maybe the reason you've thought so much about all this baby stuff is well, a) because it's happening all around you and b) you're starting to consider how kids could fit into your life (if they could).
    However you feel is personal, but it's always good to weigh all the options. More importantly, how does your partner feel about it and do you both want the same things?

    It's not bad to be baby challenged, but the more often your friends start having babies, the more you will probably learn about pregnancy and birth. Just because you will want to be there to support the giant changes in their lives, even if they don't reflect what you would do!

    Totally went through the same kinda eye opener about babies this past year... It's super strange.

  3. I LOVE this perspective. I have a friend who grew up with a mom like you, and that mom has conceded that she only had kids because she never knew she could go childless by choice. (that woman is in her 70's now) The friend has some funny stories of her mom being very 'unrelatable' when she was quite young.

    I'm not going to have children- have never wanted my own- but I absolutely ADORE children. I had my first nephew at aged 10, and I loved it. I also started babysitting at aged 11, and didn't stop until I finished college! I still love to be around kids and enjoy parenting, although I always feel a bit melancholy at having parented. One time- as a nanny- I asked my boss to have another baby, I missed it so much ;-) She laughed and said 'no way!'

    Here's the nice thing about babies- if you ever decide to have a child, you will easily learn everything you need to know. And if you have a 2nd, you'll do an even better job. Meanwhile, you don't need to know a thing!

  4. I agree with Jennifer, I don't think you need to feel as if you should know any more than you already do. If you ever want kids? I think the nature thing kicks in and you just do what instinct would tell you. And everyone screws up, even the people that make it look perfect. You will probably end up learning a heck of a lot more here though as Brazilians are so candid about everything.

  5. speaking as someone who experienced birth control malfunction and cried when I found out I was pregnant. We adapt. I think there are many types of women out there. Women who walk around saying pregnancy is beautiful and wonderful, that kids are beautiful and wonderful. Then those who process with more reality and say, wow it's great to get a being out of this process but it's tough to go through and tough to be a mom.

    I don't think people ever become ready in their "minds". I was debating getting pregnant a few months before I did. Then when I found out I was pregnant I cried out of shock and fear that it wasn't a good time to become a mom. How does that work?

  6. I have always loved babies for as long as I remember. I wasn't too sure about having any myself, though, until I met my husband and we started to date. For me I knew that there had to be a good time to have babies...not right after I got married and not while I was in graduate school. I actually feel like this is the perfect time for us to have children. I'm soooo excited! Much more than I thought I'd be.

    With that being said, having children is not for everyone. I do not think that people should have children because that's what we're supposed to do. I disagree. I believe that if you and your husband decide that that is what you want then perfect. But I didn't like the pressure that people put on me and I got annoyed with people asking me WHEN we were going to have children. I believe you can love babies/children and still not want your own. It's a personal decision. Nothing wrong with not wanting them at the same time as everyone else or even at all.

  7. Lol. I personally LOVE this post! You sound like a Mr. Rant. All children annoy him except for his own (well, they annoy him only 50% of the time anyway) ;)

  8. It's ok to not want children, when you don't have them.

  9. I completely understand your mystified and indifferent stance towards babies. I was never really exposed to baby stuff much when I was younger either. I didn't babysit or anything.
    Now, though, I see people getting pregnant and haivng babies all around me and definitely feel that biological+cultural programming kicking in! I want one!
    Still, it's not for everyone. You just have to be honest with yourself and others about that, I guess. Don't make yourself get into kids if you don't want to!

  10. I have never been a baby person or even a kid person; I tend to relate better to animals. I'm curious to see if the birth of my nepnew next month will change how I see things. I agree with Lindsey about being there to support your friends who are pregnant or who've just had babies. I'm sure they will appreciate the attention!

  11. I have somewhat of the opposite problem... pretty much helped raise my little brother who is seven years younger, so I have been changing diapers since I was s7 1/2. Baby stuff is so natural to me and little kids pick up on that so everywhere I go I quickly become an auntie- whether I want to or not. Plus, as a teacher, I am around kids all the time, not LITTLE kids, but I see them at multiple stages of development so nothing really surprises me -- EXCEPT when my friends tell me the reality of giving birth. WHAT happened WHERE?! Eek! Everyone I know right now is pregnant or already started popping them out, and you know what? I want them, but not NOW. I like MY life being MY life. Poopy diaper free. But trust me, that is starting change, if only a little...

  12. I'm fairly sure that either you or your sis have mocked me in the past for the way that I interact w children. I really have no idea how bc I don't like kids in general. So I talk to them like I would talk to anyone else. No baby talk, no putting emphasis on stuff, no slowing down what I'm saying, no girly baby voice. The smart kids get it. They respond and talk to me like adults. Those are the kinds of kids that I adore. All others....meh.
    I have a lawyer friend named Kristen who is just like me, in that she never wanted kids. Sometimes you can tell just by someone's sense of humor and mannerisms whether she is a kid person or not. But she recently got married and said that since her husband wants kids desperately, she's conceded to having kids, but they have compromised that she can push it back as late as possible. Prob when she's in her late 30s. I think that is likely going to be my compromise too, but I think by then I'll be sick of going out to nice places and having a life anyway.
    I was trying to sound encouraging by letting you know that I am also in my boat, but it may have come out unintentionally discouraging instead. My bad!

  13. I love kids too, but have never had them. Don't even know if I can have them now, but I suppose I can always adopt if I really, really feel the urge. I talk to them mostly regular also, like they are already adults, but I can't stand the bratty ones that the parents let them run wild and are ridiculous! But, I have to say they say the most amusing things!!! I have done quite a bit of babysitting and also an aunty and godmother to several so I do know how to take care of them if I have to. But, I agree with some of the people here that say that it is ok not to want to have kids. I have several friends who are happy and childless and want to stay that way!

  14. I am childfree, and there is nothing wrong with that. I believe more people are seeing that as an option. After working with foster children for a number of years, there are people whom should not have children. If people don't want them, then don't have them! I am genuinely happy for my friends whom decide to have children. That's wonderful for them. Whatever route you decide, make sure you and your husband, which goes for any couple, are on the same page about having or not having children. Unfortunately, I have seen marriages and relationships end because one person wanted kids and the other did not.

  15. I stumbled across your blog and have been reading it all day. I love it - so entertaining and REAL.

    Anyways, this post made me want to comment because I COMPLETELY relate to you on this. I have close to zero interaction with children. I don't know how to be around them without feeling uncomfortable....and I, too, forget about cursing and sometimes have let them fly around a bunch of children only to get the look from my boyfriend to watch my mouth around them.

    I am what I I do not understand anything about them. I do not even know what children look like at ages 10 and under.

    I know my mind could change any day (the dreaded biological clock) but right now, and for as long as I can remember, I saw babies/children as a change in my life that I am just not ready for. I still have too many things I want to do, places to travel and see, goals to accomplish and I am not ready to let that go.
    Also, I have been paying off student loans, which have highly impacted my ability to go places and do things at times, and the last thing I want is to pick up another long term/ lifetime expense.
    And, if I am being honest with myself, I know I am too selfish to want to have children right now. I am all about paying my bills, going back to school, traveling, having a nice home/car and I am not ready.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with you being "baby-challenged" - why would you need to know those things if it is not relevant to what you have/are/ or soon to be going through? When the time is right, you will read up and learn everything you need/want to know.


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