Monday, July 21, 2014

Polyamory Made Me Baby Crazy

Tick. Tick. Tick.

That would be the sound of my biological clock. It finally started. I was doubting whether my maternal drive would ever kick in.

When I first learned about puberty, I distinctly remember thinking, You're telling me that I'm going to spend a quarter of my adult life bleeding out of my vagina and suffering from menstrual cramps? But becoming a woman is "beautiful" and something to be proud of? Does anyone else think this deal SUCKS?

As I grew up, the idea of having children appealed to me, but the idea of actually birthing them repulsed and horrified me. Pregnancy... ewww. An alien life form stretching my body to irreparable sagginess. Childbirth... agonizing and dangerous. People recite that the odds of death from childbirth are extremely low, to which I retort that somebody has to be that statistical anomaly. Breastfeeding... my oh my, ouch! I don't even like my partners sucking on my nipples, so a baby feeding off me for hours sounds like hell.

When Jake and I decided to try starting a family (or more accurately stopped trying so hard NOT to start a family), I embraced potential motherhood with a mix of resignation and dread. We both worked long hours to scrape by with a modest lifestyle. With our salaries, there was no way we could afford professional childcare and no way one of us could be a stay-at-home parent. I envisioned living off of rice and beans, no more hobbies, barely seeing each other as we rotated through work and childcare, exhausted and run ragged, any semblance of our lives essentially over.

But having kids is what you do when you're a hetero-normative couple that's been married for 7 years. So Jake and I were going to just "make it work" because we knew we wanted a family eventually, didn't know what else we were doing with our lives, couldn't think of any real excuses for waiting, and figured we weren't getting any younger. Let's just do it and hope we're happy about it when it happens. Babies are cute at least. Not an inspiring way to bring new life into the world.

Given my attitudes toward pregnancy, it should be no surprise that when Jake came as transgender, I immediately went back on birth control with a great sense of relief. It was an easy decision not to freeze Jake's sperm. If I didn't have a real urge by thirty and she didn't care about having biological kids, then why spend thousands of dollars (which we didn't exactly have anyways) on sperm banking. We were both enamored with the idea of taking the next 5-10 years to explore our new life together and later adopt children who needed a good home.

But then Bradley joined our family and the notion of polyamorous baby-making crossed our minds. Jake said one day, "You know I wouldn't mind if you and Bradley want to have kids together," and it all clicked. With our little poly family, there would be three incomes instead of two. There would be three parents sharing childcare responsibilities. Suddenly having kids seemed desirable, a dream to aspire to rather than an obligation to settle for. People who don't understand polyamory think such an arrangement sounds impossible, that it could never work long-term. For us, it's utterly practical and feels so darn right.

Nowadays I stare at babies in the supermarket and long to pick them up and kiss their soft little faces. I find myself wandering into the baby section of clothing stores and running my fingers over tiny shoes. When I watch Bradley sleep, I imagine a toddler who looks like him snoozing soundly after a bedtime story. When we hang out on the couch, I think about how nice it would be to have a squishy baby to cuddle between the three of us. I fantasize about Jake strumming lullabies on the guitar, Bradley telling stories with his funny voices, and me dancing around with a bundle of love in my arms.

I have a terrifying fear that I will be unable to have kids or unable to have healthy kids, as karmic retribution for a life of complaining about my child-producing capabilities. Like the world will say, "you want this now, after so many years of female ingratitude, screw you!" I'm also still afraid that my life is too good to be true, that this happiness is unsustainable. Not due to human limitations, but simply the universe determining that no single person should have everlasting joy; something must be taken away. I don't take for granted that I can create whatever I want, so I preface all my baby talk with "If I'm so lucky one day..."

Although I've got baby fever bad (BABIES!! BABIES EVERYWHERE!), it's still far too early for planning. My boyfriend is just starting his divorce, my wife is in the middle of changing genders, and the three of us don't even live together yet. We've all got more transitioning to do this next year. Yet I've never had such a clear vision for my life or wanted anything with as much certainty as a I do a family with Jake and Bradley. So in the meantime I'll keep compulsively googling images of "babies with puppies" and "babies in animal hoodies," live each day with gratitude, and hold tight to this crazy little poly baby dream.

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