Recently I realized something a little startling: I know 17 pregnant women. Okay, maybe 15 now because one or two have popped. I am 29 going on 30 — this is the time where babies fall out of trees, or vaginas, or what-have-yous.
That is a whole lot of pressure to have my own. Babies, babies everywhere. I work on a staff of teachers with an average age of 30. Everyone is having a baby, or so it seems, especially in this world of Facebook feeds, where you may know hundreds of people, but it is those 17 you keep seeing over and over again that make it feel like everyone is taking that gigantic leap into motherhood. If one more friend tells me she is pregnant, I think I might have to run out and adopt twins.
Add to that a happy marriage, house, and a dog, and well, my biological clock is ticking. I’ll admit it. I have baby fever. Now, here’s the thing about baby fever. My logical brain has plenty of reasons for us to wait. However, as soon as the middle of my cycle rolls around, all I can think about is babies. Last weekend, I texted six pregnant friends just to see how those bellies were doing.
Baby fever is tantamount to obsession. Suddenly, everywhere you look there is a baby. Restaurants, grocery stores, gosh darn Facebook feeds. “Let’s wait a few more months,” the hubby and I will say, then baby fever will hit and I won’t be able to think quite so clearly. Really, it’s a sickness. Screaming, diapers, pregnancy horror stories, nothing will deter me. Baby fever prevents intelligently functioning brains from making rational decisions. Forget birth control.
Fortunately, it only lasts a couple days and then my brain returns. Not that I don’t want children, or babies, I just have a bit more to do first. My husband needs time to establish himself in a new, entrepreneurial endeavor. I need time to get more comfortable as a teacher in a low-income school. I also have a few more words to write before I am forced to decide between teaching and writing and the balance of motherhood. Yeah, yeah, I know — you’re never ready. Maybe that’s why baby fever takes over: to ensure we have those babies before it’s too late.
My solace in all this tortured waiting, I already have 30 kids. And, next year, I will have 30 more, and then two years later, another 30. When everything is said and done, I will have had hundreds of children. Hundreds. I am a fourth and fifth grade teacher. I keep the same kids for two years, so I have potentially fewer kiddos than many other elementary school teachers, but in a way that’s what makes them more my own.
My current batch is nearing completion. We’ve shared the same small classroom for six hours a day for nearly two years. They know when I say, “I’m done,” I’m done. In fact, sometimes, in the middle of a particularly aggressive admonishment, a student will ask me, “Are you done?” Talk about knowing each other’s buttons. They expect me to help them with Band-Aids, listen about their newly found periods, and moderate their frequent disputes. You would think all of these challenges would make me want my own kids less, but the more I love these kids, the more I imagine what it is like to love my own.
I guess the baby fever really doesn’t go away.