Last summer, when I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone in the United States of America was pregnant along with me. I had an entire friend group on Facebook devoted to my pregnant comrades (all fifteen of us). By autumn, everyone in my group had cancelled their membership to Club Preg in favor of a much less glamorous resort down the street, one that caters to puffy women that still look like they’re four months pregnant, even though they had their baby six months ago. It’s very exclusive.
Now it seems like pregnant women are popping up again left and right. I am insanely, deliriously happy to report that I am not one iota jealous of these pregnant women. Which is a good sign, because I am currently inching up to the danger zone of the first birthday. Normally, once my baby hits about 11-13 months old, if I hear a friend, acquaintance, coworker, neighbor, stranger on the street, etc. is pregnant, that’s more than enough to give me a stone-cold case of Baby Fever. If I happen to spot a newborn and actually hold it? Game fucking over. I might as well start rearranging furniture and picking out names. All those baby hormones start flooding my brain and shut down my logic center before it can start screaming out distress signals:
“Oh shit, not again. ALERT! ALERT! YOU ARE BROKE, DUMBASS! BABIES COST SO MANY DOLLARS! YOUR INSURANCE SUCKS! REMEMBER HOW YOU THREW UP EVERY DAY FOR THREE MONTHS? YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE THE DECENCY TO MEDICATE US AND YOU WANT TO SHOVE ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE THINGS OUT OF YOUR…hey, who are you?”
“Me? I’m nobody. Hey, is that a list of calm, logical reasons Janel shouldn’t have another baby in that closet over there?”
“Is it? I must have dropped it! Thank you so much, kind stranger! Let me just go get it. I’m sure once I share this with her, we’ll do away with all this baby nonse…hey, why won’t the door open? WHY IS THIS DOOR LOCKED?!?! OH HOLY CHRIST IT’S YOU!!! GAH!!! WHY DO I ALWAYS FALL FOR THAT?!?!?! Man, the guys down in repro services are going to kill me.”
There is absolutely zero logic going on in a woman’s head when she has Baby Fever. She is under the influence of a hormonal cocktail comprised of one part crazy, one part cuckoo, and two parts WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! She’s on a progesterone bender that’s not going to stop until she sees those two lines on the test. To get an idea of how insane it can get, here’s an example of pretty much every single discussion my husband and I would have when I was at the peak of Baby Fever:
Rob: Here are several logical, rational reasons why we should not have a baby right now.
Me: I understand what you are saying. Your reasons are indeed logical and make sense. I completely agree with you.
Me: Allow me counter your suggestions with my own offer.
Rob: Oh Christ.
Me: I want to have another baby.
And round and round. There’s no reasoning with a woman when she is in this state. The chemicals in her brain start whispering to her all day long:
“Hey there, Janel. It’s me. Didn’t that tiny little newborn baby’s head smell really good? I thought so, too. Oh hey — did you notice that girl over there is pregnant? Why does she get to be pregnant and you don’t? Wasn’t that middle- to early-end part of being pregnant awesome? You know, it’s really only that first year that babies are a lot of work, and in the grand scheme of things, what’s a year out of your life? I mean, this is your family you’re talking about! Wouldn’t the kids love having sisters to rely on as they get older?”
Except this time, Baby Fever, your whisper campaign isn’t going to work on me. So far, I am not envious of my gloriously pregnant friends in the slightest. I have spotted tiny newborn babies in the grocery store, mere shopping carts away from me, and only marveled at how glad I was that Surrey is no longer so tiny and helpless. I am serene, not because I will never get to be pregnant again; but because I will never have to be pregnant again. There is a big, big difference between those two states of mind, and I find myself identifying more with the latter than the former.
That’s exactly why Baby Fever is so devious. Having Baby Fever means you want to be pregnant, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have an actual baby living in your household long-term. At a certain point, you just miss being pregnant, and get tunnel vision, conveniently forgetting that OH SNAP, I have to take a baby home when all of this shit’s through. You might remember that honeymoon period that goes on for the first few weeks, but if you’re in the throes of Baby Fever, your memory of newborns kind of turns off after the two-week mark. You know, when they start to suck and you realize that OH SNAP AGAIN, babies are so much fucking work why did I do this WE’RE NOT HAVING ANY MORE BABIES, DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!?
To which your husband replies, “THIS WAS YOUR IDEA IN THE FIRST PLACE DUMMY.”
Which, yeah, it was. But it’s not like it’s your fault. You were suffering from a disease. An illness, really. Thankfully, mercifully, I have been cured. Although, I must say, Baby Fever, giving me a sweet, laid-back, very charming little baby just when I proclaim I am done having babies? Nice try.