The decision to have a child is not a simple one for everyone. And as you may already know, I could come up with many more reasons not to have children, than to have them. And one of the big ones, for me, was simply the unfairness of being the woman. Because in the story of procreation, a man can be the most supportive being on the planet, but he still can’t do what a woman can.
He doesn’t have to endure nine months of pregnancy – the sickness, the discomfort, the missing out and all the anxiety that goes with that. OMG will the prawns I just ate come with a side of food poisoning and a miscarriage?
He can’t take the pain of labour away, or physically help push the baby out. And with breastfeeding or pumping, it’s on the woman to feed the baby or pump the milk. I’m not saying he’s doing nothing, or that supporting a pregnant/labouring/breastfeeding woman is easy. He’s doing a great job, but it still seems skewed in his favour.
And there’s nothing you can do about it. If you and your partner want a child, you, as the woman have to be prepared to go through the pain and discomfort for it. Sure, there are ways to even it out, and I can see how men could feel left out sometimes – but it’s the connection you have as a mother that is both a blessing and a curse.
Hubby is doing absolutely everything he can to support me. He’s been a gem. I feed the baby, he does literally everything else – washing, cleaning, cooking, changing nappies, looking after baby in the breaks when I’m not feeding. I don’t know what more he could do. I’m lucky to live in a country that allows him time off, and also to be financially stable enough to take advantage of it.
I’m so grateful to him, but it’s still hard not to be a little resentful sometimes. I know he’s busting his ass, but when he disappears out the door to go shopping, or to drop in on someone, or to just read his book outside, while I spend another hour feeding, the loneliness hits just a little bit, every time. I never thought I’d be jealous of someone being able to go and hang out the washing! But here I am. He never dashes off without checking in with me, and I can tell he feels a little bit bad for leaving me, but at the same time, what’s the point of him always hanging around? Because he can’t feed the baby at the moment. So if he can use the time to have a nap or a beer or whatever, why shouldn’t he? In the same way that he could still drink alcohol and eat guilt free while I was pregnant, in this period he is also able to do things I can’t.
And it’s not fair.
But it is what it is.
Yes, I do get additional bonding time with my son that hubby misses out on. And that is special. But what I wouldn’t give for a day off. A night off. A carefree drink with a friend without worrying about the alcohol content, or an outing without worrying about how much my boobs are hurting or leaking, or a night of uninterrupted sleep!
I wish I didn’t have to think about whether my pre-pregnancy clothes will fit, or despair over the fact that it took me 4 weeks before I could sit down half way comfortably, or endure the desperate agony of breastfeeding.
I guess this is why they call motherhood a sacrifice. And why so many people think of childfree couples as selfish. I disagree – I think if you can make a decision that’s right for you then that just makes you smart. And there are plenty of people that have children for selfish reasons.
Right now we’re in a happy period. This could last 5 minutes or 5 hours. Babe is asleep in front of me, giving me the time to reflect. Hubby is in the kitchen whipping up a tzaziki to go with the fresh bread he bought. It’s contentment and tedium wrapped up together.
I knew it wouldn’t be fair going into this. I still feel like it’s unfair. But it’s also done. There’s no winding the clock back, because the physical figure of the tiny boy asleep in front of me is no mirage. He’s real, and therefore, when he needs me, I’ll be there, and hubby will be too.