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April 16, 2015

23 and Not Pregnant

An ease in recession and revival of monetary fortunes usually leads to an influx of pregnant bellies. That, and a cold winter waiting for Orange is the New Black to return. Once upon a time, we would be blissfully unaware of the baby boom happening under our noses but thanks to Facebook, we are left in no doubt of our shortcomings when it comes to life milestones. Engagements, weddings and birth announcements pepper our news feeds on a daily basis and never fail to invoke an existential crisis, begging the infamous question: What am I doing with my life?!

At the ludicrously young age of 23, one would assume that there is little need to panic and that the metaphor of a ticking clock is a mere speck on the horizon. But when SO drops the bomb that he’d like to procreate before he turns 30, things start to get complicated. Given that we have been technically fertile since the age of 13, it seems that caveman biology has already pre-determined our readiness to reproduce. Throughout our youth, we were instilled with the fear of being 16 and pregnant and now all of a sudden the world is saying ‘So… you gonna have those kids now, or what?’

People always ask you ‘Do you want babies?’ Of course you want babies, they’re adorable lemon-sucking creatures. That’s like asking if you want a puppy, or a hug from Tom Hanks. The real question is: ‘Do you want kids?’ Do you want to clean runny noses, watch Peppa Pig on repeat and spend all your hard-earned cash on school books that they will just draw willies on? We feel selfish if we view these situations as mildly horrifying; as if we should willingly devote our lives to this cause before even considering an alternative. I have serious respect for every hardworking mother out there because it is hard work, and not something to be pressured into.

Ben Stiller’s latest film While We’re Young deals with the issue of doubt for older married couples who have decided not to have children. Like Big and Carrie, Josh and Cornelia have chosen to rely on one another for their happiness. Their ensuing uncertainty is almost a like a flashing warning sign for those debating their own roles as prospective parents. Society is waiting in the wings for any twinge of regret to jump out and say ‘I told you so!’

Why must we continue to shame or interrogate others for following their own path? When we preach equality and diversity, does that mean only if the people in question aren’t baby-hating monsters who would rather travel the world than go to a Tweenies concert?

A 65 year-old woman recently underwent IVF treatment in Germany and is now pregnant with quadruplets. Whatever the ethical implications of this choice, I reckon it at least buys me some time. Because my maternal instincts may one day overcome my inability to speak baby-talk or engage with human children for more than 60 seconds. Maybe.

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