When I was in my late twenties, I watched A Baby Story whenever I could. Let’s just say ‘a lot’. I fancied I could somehow learn all there was to be known about becoming a parent by osmosis. I was petrified of birthing a baby, having one live inside me. Stories my grandmother told me about her being in so much pain during labor that she ripped a nurse’s sleeve clean off her uniform, of my mother’s being ‘put out’ for my birth and waking only when it was over (did they really do that?), and of my aunt’s recounting the ‘worst experience of her life’, eighteen hours of labor, ending with a c-section, in 1986, haunted me regularly. And the fact that neither my aunt nor my mother had other children after their first further cemented my apprehension.
I wanted children, I just didn’t want to have them. I was certain I would die of either fear or pain or an agonizing combination of both.
Watching A Baby Story seemed to help with that issue. I was validated at the end of each episode by the fact that the mothers, were, in fact, still breathing, sometimes even smiling, and no one grumbled into the camera about how terrible birthing their child was. Unless they edited it. They could have edited it.
A few weeks ago, in the throes of successful uniform naptime nirvana, I clicked on over to TLC, you know, for old times’ sake. It was about 1:30pm, and I felt a little break in the chaos of my day was justified. I honestly didn’t think the show still ran. Much to my surprise (and apparently delight), I found that it was still running, with new episodes, and there was also a show in their afternoon lineup called Make Room For Multiples. Jackpot!
After watching about twenty minutes of the first episode, my eyes glazed over and I became a blithering ball of mush. I silently sucked back tears when Dad cut the cord to keep them from rolling into my frozen yogurt. If you know me, like, in the flesh, you realize how inconsistent with my character that is. After the first episode? More! The second? More! The third? Oh, Make Room for Multiples, you had me at ‘multiples’.
And we all realize that I, at this point, would probably chuckle at the couple’s Babymoon, complete with tandem hot stone massages, and the precision with which mom-to-be lovingly folds and places Baby’s onesies inside a changing table. And the fact that I would have to, if only for sport, point out that those onesies might not even fit L’il Slugger when he pops out. Also that she’ll be so busy fumbling to take the spitup-soaked thing off, she’ll forget to notice the teddies riding sailboats she oohed and aahed about. Still, I had to watch it. Like a moth to a flame. Through the diaper cakes and pagan rituals and test driving empty strollers, I had to watch it.
It was like crack for mothers. A Baby Story is like crack for mothers. There, I said it. My uterus completely took over. That was the one point in my life where I could (but still didn’t want to) sympathize with the whole ‘thinking with one’s pants’ concept. I could smell fresh powdered baby buns and soft blankets just out of the wash. I could feel soft breath on the nape of my neck and hear gentle cooing. The damned show had given me Baby Fever.
Now, after the skies opened up and dropped three babies into our laps in less than two years, we made an exasperated decision that we were through. No more babies. Our family was complete. We even took, uh, steps to ensure that would remain the case.
And wouldn’t you know, when my husband came in from work that night, I asked him what it would take to reverse any measures taken? Me, who hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since sometime in 2010? Me, who has clearly documented every unpleasant (and pleasant, too!) step along this journey? Me, who painted her nails for the first time since 2009 a few weeks ago?
How quickly we forget.
And today, as I was headed to the microwave to retrieve my lunch, I wondered to myself if A Baby Story was on. And maybe Make Room for Multiples, too. And this was mere moments after my daughter backed up and headbutted the living room window three or four times, my son yanked the nipple out of this bottle and poured the contents all over my leg, and my son ran around the couch six times, cackling like a Disney villain, before he agreed to take a nap. Less than an hour ago.
I didn’t think I could forget that quickly.
So, I’m going cold turkey. I’m avoiding the triggers. And that means you, new moms with your swaddled little beauties in the mall, and you, adorable belly pic uploading Facebook friends, and you, TLC. So, I brought my Dixie paper plate over to the kitchen table, pushed through the remains of breakfast I haven’t been able to clean up yet, and proceeded to confess.
I’m Stephanie, and I have Baby Fever. It is expected to last for approximately the next hour or so until my children wake up.