When you have been in a serious relationship for a while, there is a topic of conversation that is bound to come up. Whether you are straight, gay or Thai, it's the ultimate decision that measures your compatibility and strength as a couple, one that pushes commitment to an entirely new level. And while I personally find the degree of selflessness and patience involved difficult to fathom, the world you know changes forever the moment pillow talk becomes baby talk.
If it weren't for Biology, I would probably have believed in immaculate conception for the rest of my life. The fact that people choose to have kids in this day and age is as ludicrous to me as the idea of a 15 year old giving birth in a barn. The romanticized notion of creating a living being out of love is wonderful in theory but also heavy with fine print which so many people forget to acknowledge. It involves late nights, rotation feedings, the ear-piercing screeches, the nappy changes, spit-up all over everything, temperatures that constantly rise above 37 degrees, not to mention the strain and impact it has on your own relationship. All that sleep deprivation and hormonal ranting cannot be good for one's sanity let alone one’s health. If you ever hear a friend with children saying "having a baby has changed my life..." know that these are the changes that they are talking about.
And then there are the social changes. I recently attended a farewell barbecue for some friends of mine who were moving to Johannesburg. As if that was not tragic enough, I found myself caught in a whirlpool of motherhood. One by one, the mobile car seats and 4 x 4 perambulators came strolling in with pint-sized bundles of joy. Conversations about jaundice and breast blankets, feeding times and teething necklaces circled the crowd while I sipped quietly on my glass of Moet Chandon. Did I miss the book club meeting for What to expect when they're expecting or had they merely been upgraded into a social realm I had no understanding of? Was a baby the golden ticket into this magical world of play dates and musical story books? What about the couples who have no desire to breed? Will we never understand until we have a baby of our own or are we just selfish pricks with unfulfilling lives?
I can think of a far worse fate, like the thousands of unwanted babies in the world thanks to someone’s lack of sensibility or responsibility. While I am sure my selfish phase will pass one day, I understand the lifelong commitment that it takes to be a parent. Make sure that it's what you both want and make sure that you are both prepared financially, mentally and physically for the forthcoming attractions. While procreation is a beautiful experience it is also a very permanent one without an exchange policy, so be sensible and think it through. When it comes to parenthood, do we really know what to expect when we’re expecting?