Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Babies, babies, they just seem everywhere!

As I skimmed through a number of my high school classmates on facebook, it was interesting to see how many of them had children. Some I had guessed would by now, but others really surprised me. It kind of left me sad honestly. Not that having a child and family have ever been my top priority, but I think it was just more the sense of how they had moved on with their lives, found love, and created their own little being(s). Sometimes, I just look at my life and think what do I really have to show? One of them even asked me, "so are you a Dr. now?" She of course didn't say this meanly or jokingly, but it still somehow hurt.

Besides seeing these friends with children, my friend, the physical therapist S., who has unknowingly challenged me on foods, is also pregnant and due in July. I'm happy for her since creating a family is important to them.

as I left for work the other day, I noticed a banner on my neighbor's door. Since their house is down from the road, I couldn't get a close look, but the lettering was big enough for me to read which is surprising since I'm myopic! The banner read: IT'S A GIRL!

My first emotion was thrill for them. My second was "M. was pregnant?" Third, I thought, "this was a baby, right?" And lastly, I wondered whether I should go down there and congratulate them or offer to babysit sometime.

The funny thing about this is that really out of the five or so years they have been living there, I've only spoken to them a handful of times. Most have been on my times out running, and once was at the fitness center where I felt horribly embarrassed not even recognizing my neighbor.

Then, the most headlining birth recently has been the octuplets. I happened to catch part of the interview this morning on the Today show. This birth is already so controversial, and everyone has an opinion. What I find interesting about this is how flippant the media becomes once we've learned the details of this woman's life. This Time piece points it out well.


Okay, so I'm getting a tad off topic. What does this have to do with me? The idea of children has always been a wavering factor for me. There were times in my life where I said no way to children. Other times, I wanted to keep my "superwoman" status, thinking that I could be a successful career woman, fall in love, be married, have children, and all the other positive things that go along with starting a family.

Then, the ED hit, and I just didn't want kids anymore period, thinking why would I even want to bring a child into the world with the way it is? As I've gotten older, my thoughts have changed somewhat--that the option to start a family is not completely ruled out. However, now, I just have the horrible fear that I'd pass on eating disorder genes to my offspring, that I'd be an awful mother, that I'd panic too much or get depressed, or that I would just get overwhelmed and lose it.

I feel in some ways the only plus in having children for me is that (and I know this is going to sound kind of silly), by having trained dogs, I understand behavior better. This certainly doesn't mean I'd apply every single animal technique I know to a child, but just that with some behaviors, there are similarities. And most of all, my patience in general is a whole lot better, even though I still fear becoming too overwhelmed.

I really don't know why I'm necessarily having these thoughts. Maybe raising Tovah is bringing about this thinking? Maybe, in some other way, despite all my fears, I think perhaps (and deeply embedded I may add) I have something worthwhile to pass along?

*Note: I should also add that adoption would be considered as well, though even with that, that has its own issues as well.


Anonymous said...

I constantly feel left behind when i compare my life to peers. Sometimes that makes me feel grateful to be movong on, sometimes it puts fire in my belly to catch up, other times it saddens me. I think it's time for me to stop comparing.

Lola x

Cammy said...

This is a funny coincidence, I have been thinking a LOT about this too and was planning to post about it soon. There are so many shades of gray when it comes to thinking about whether to "want" children and all that comes with them...in a rush to class, will hopefully have a more useful comment soon.

kb said...


As a married woman, nearing my forties rather than my thirties, who has zero desire for children, I feel as though I've broken one of the last taboos of ours society - saying/admitting that I don't want children. I particularly get a reaction because people assume, since I'm a teacher, that I just *love* kids. And I like the kids whom I teach, most of the time, but they aren't MINE. Most of my friends who are married or in long-term relationships have also had children, so I could feel like the "odd one out". One of these friends is a neighbor, and I love seeing her and spending time with her family, but the more time I spend with them, the more I realize that I don't want my own. It makes me feel selfish, in a way, but I also think people have children for selfish reasons too. But I also trust that it's the right decision for me.
(sorry for that LONG reply to your post)
I know many people who have changed their mind about children at one point or another, and I think it's totally okay to NOT know. However, I don't think that just because one has an eating disorder, this disqualifies him/her from parenthood, particularly if that person has great self-awareness, which you seem to have.

One last note - I think everyone goes through that "what am I doing / what have I done with my life" moment (or through those moments). For me, that question reverberated for much of my 20's. And I'm okay with that NOW, but it was really hard to deal with it in the moment.

Kim said...

Tiptoe, thanks for this. I've been thinking about this A LOT lately. I'm 29. I'm about to get married. I see all sorts of baby pictures on Facebook and think, "Holy shit, I'm at THAT age?" There are a number of reasons I DON'T want kids. I've spent years in servitude to my ed and I want my remaining years to be more selfish. I want to travel and really LIVE. I am afraid of passing on the "ed gene" too. To be honest, I don't even know if I could GET pregnant after all I've put my body through in the last 10 years (and maybe that fear is why I really say I don't want kids). Still, all that said, one of my biggest fears is regret. What if I'm 50 and I think, "I should have had a child"? I haven't fully embraced a decision either way (and my husband-to-be is equally undecided). I guess my point is that your fears are valid. If you don't want kids, I suppose that's unconventional or taboo, but it's YOUR life. If you decide to have children, it's probably because you'll come to place where you feel totally able to give love. You will feel healthy and, therefore, you won't worry about the "ed gene" so much. I don't think you have to have it figured out now. I certainly don't.

Rachel said...

Same here! Looking through Facebook and MySpace pages, that is, and marveling at the numbers of people who are now adults. There are a lot of people from my class on Facebook and I'd estimate that at least 85 percent of them have kids.

I like kids; I've just never wanted any of my own. My husband wants them even less than I do. I have five cats and they're my furbabies and that's enough for me.

On the subject of the octo-mom... I think she's getting a horribly unfair deal. If she were married and having all those kids because of a Christian ideology (ahem, the Duggars), she'd be met with open arms of Pampers. I wrote about the double standards in a piece on Feministing's community blog here.

Tiptoe said...

It seems several of us have been thinking about this. I'm really glad I'm not the only one.

Lola, my head hang sin shame. Such a comparer and need to try to let it go.

Cammy, you're right about the shades of gray.

Kristina, loved hearing your insight. I have an aunt that was in a similar situation. She taught first grade and fourth grade. She enjoyed and liked kids but never had any one her own. She much preferred being able to travel and is currently involved with therapy dog work.

What you said reminds me of a recent House episode where one of the doctors asks his wife about kids. She did not want kids, and he was unsure. At the end of the episode, she asked him "do you think you need kids to be happy?" He said he was not sure but knew without her he would be unhappy.

I think in the end, it's about fulfillment and happiness in whatever decision is made, including whatever I decide as well.

Thanks for the reassurance on all these life issues. :-)

On a side note, did you take your blog down?

Kim, I have that same feeling of regret too. I think both of us have time to decide what we want. We just have to decide what is best for us.

Rachel, I agree with you about the octuplet mom. I just find it astounding how everyone was so amazed at the birth and all, and then suddenly just backlash against the woman.

I don't necessarily agree with her decision and question her mental health, but I do not support the extreme movement of having as many kids as possible. It is unfair that that way seems permissible and lavished over in society, whereas Suleman's is seen as horrible.

I also think this raises a lot of IVF questions and spurs on the medical ethics debate.

c said...

Ok, I'm a little late to the coments, but I felt I had to chime in. It is definitely from looking at facebook, and comparing myself. The problem is, I've always wanted kids, then there was a period of time where kids were the last thing on my mind, other than, yeah, I'll have kids and my dream of being the perfect mom and having the relationship my mom and I don't...yes, let's not even go there - I know that was not sane reasoning. However, those thoughts were in my mind when I was in my early 20's. Funny thing is, now I find myself in my early/mid thirties, desperately wanting children (with a husband) yet absolutely terrified that I can't do that yet. Of course, I never thought I'd still be struggling with anorexia 20 years down the road, having lost my late teens, all my twenties, and well, parts of my thirties, though I'm MUCH more along the recovery path than ever. But every time I look at facebook and see everyone I know with kids, I feel like a failure. I have to consciously talk to myself and remind myself that they have nothing to do with me. Right now though, if my fiance and I actually make it...I don't feel ready for kids, yet I'm running out of time. Not to mention, who knows if I can even HAVE kids....sigh. here i go again.

Tiptoe said...

C, thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are a lot of us in the same boat. The constant comparing is certainly not good for us but hard to let go of too.

It does seem like a conundrum when you want kids and then are not sure whether your body will even allow it. Hopefully, it will work out for you.