Another tidbit from before this blog even existed: written in 2008. Edited in 2012, by which point the sentiment had already well passed, but oh well…
The biological clock is rumored to exist within all human females; it begins its supposed steady progression at menarche, the moment it is turned on, but the ticking doesn’t really start to thrum until one’s twenties, when the siren call of the ovaries becomes impossible to ignore. By the time a woman is in her thirties, the constant, metronomic hum of the unfulfilled biological clock drives her to the kind of madness chronicled on Sex and the City — compulsive preening, loss of sexual judgment, finding Carrie Bradshaw’s musings remotely interesting, etc. At least, that’s more or less what I’d always heard, what I’d absorbed and compiled from pop culture and my elders; though a human female myself, I’d never felt much of these strange uterine directives, and I was perfectly content to keep it that way.
It happened the week before my twenty-fifth birthday: a sudden, inexplicable, maddeningly inescapable baby-lust. I was helping my brother move into his new apartment and on trips to IKEA we were surrounded by small children, hordes of them shrieking and crying, and as I saw one and then another and then another I had to force myself to look away, to stop my goofy grin, to not reach out and pry someone else’s child from their arms and run off like a baby-snatching lunatic.
In short, the week before my twenty-fifth birthday I lost my goddamn mind.
In time this consuming obsession has faded into a steady background noise; it waxes and wanes depending on whether or not I’m living on food stamps or sleeping on somebody’s couch (the correlation isn’t what you might expect: in times of stability my lust is only for adventure, whereas the more my life is in shambles, the more my ovaries scream “You know what could fix this?! A BABY!!!!” Because, you guys, my ovaries are stupid, selfish bitches.)
I thought I could live out my days immune from such biological pressures. My parents have long been concerned about my willingness to spawn, a concern perhaps permanently engraved in their minds when, during my freshman year of high school, I walked around for two days with a sign on my back that read “DO NOT REPRODUCE WITH ME: I AM A CARRIER!” in response to a biology lesson discussing hereditary diseases. Among my high school nicknames was “asexual” (I wasn’t actually disinterested in sex, just more focused on getting into my dream college), and those who recall the Lauryn Hill song “Doo Wop (That Thing)” can hum along with the anthem my loving friends penned in my honor: “Hop, you know you better watch out/some asexuals are only about/bud-ding, bud-ding, bud-ding…”
It wasn’t that I never wanted kids, or that I hated kids. I’ve always liked kids a lot, actually, although my preference has generally run towards the more sentient, language-capable variety — you know, ones that have reached the age of reason. I grew up in a family of four but with a mountain of younger cousins, the bulk of whom I have gotten to know fairly well and all of whom I find to be totally rad little people. I dig kids, and kids have generally seemed to dig back, perhaps because my complete unwillingness to assume adult responsibilities ultimately renders me nothing more than an overgrown child myself. Whatever the reason, kids and I get along, and more than that, kids crack me up; when they’re still young enough to be youthfully unselfconscious every day is a dance party (with, yes, occasional tantrum-breaks), and then when they get older and completely, obsessively self-conscious about every minute detail of their lives they’re so easy to embarrass that every day is like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, except all the neuroses are actually developmentally appropriate.
None of these sentiments towards children or the eventual possibility of a family, however, prepared me for the baby-lust, the explosive announcement of my biological clock’s existence. It was immediate. It is visceral. And it will not go away. I have degenerated into an empty-headed cliche and although I am aware of this sudden transmogrification into a chick-lit heroine, it would seem that I am powerless to combat the forces of millions of years of evolutionary pressure. Suddenly some of my sexual fantasies are even ending in pregnancy, which up until this point has been among not only the least sexy but also simply the most horrifying scenarios imaginable. It is not okay, people!
I would probably be less weirded out if I did not feel so freakishly alone — not alone as a female (or a human being, really) suddenly desperate to reproduce, but as a thinking person so suddenly overwhelmed by biological impulse. (Seriously you guys, women who co-found their own feminist comedy nonprofits aren’t supposed to be so consumed by baby-lust… right?) It seems a cruel trick of nature, that it should pick me for this particular Darwinian gambit: congratulations on lasting a quarter-century, commitment-phobe — now get on with the baby-making! I was already bad at picking up guys when all I was interested in was no-strings-attached sex; now that I’ve lost my mind altogether how am I going to ever find a man crazy enough to want to mingle his DNA with my own (and then spend the next eighteen years being legally and financially responsible for the results)? I thought I could remain unbothered by the hookup culture until I was at least thirty, but now for the first time I’m having to contemplate the prospect of trying to land myself in a serious relationship. I don’t know much about those except that they seem to take a lot of effort, although to be fair even that is probably easier than raising a kid and suddenly that’s made its way to the top of my to-do list.
Of course, the sad truth is that I probably won’t be procreating for a good few years yet (actually, there is nothing sad about this truth — it is unequivocally a good thing, rationally speaking, although all my rationality seems to have recently absconded in the face of this newfound procreative urge). Practically, I am in a position absolutely untenable for having a kid, although if this new obsession drives me to be more pragmatic in getting together a career than I suppose it’s not entirely a bad thing. Also, humans are not yet a parthenogenetic species, which means finding at some point an XY-chromosomed partner for this particular venture. In fact, chances are pretty good that I’ll end up like Liz Lemon: ten years from now I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find myself accidentally stealing coworkers’ babies and suffering Mexican-cheese-curl-induced pregnancy scares, because even a healthy dose of professional success is apparently not enough to compensate for an unfulfilled baby-lust, a biological clock ticking away the moments until genetic irrelevance — which is what, in turn, drives a girl to off-brand Cheetos in the first place.
I can believe that. The brief span of my unfulfilled baby-lust has already been torturous enough; ten years from now I could probably be spitting Pulitzers and still crying into my cornflakes about precious little fingers and chubby cheeks and wispy hair and drool.
In the meantime, pass the off-brand Cheetos.
Maybe all I really needed to give birth to was this blog? A niece and nephew are doing me juuuust fine these days, y’all…
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