I oft describe the irrational, unyielding, painfully pungent urge to have a baby, which many women experience, as Baby Rabies. Some will dispute the desire to reproduce as a biological urge; it was once put to me on a blog "well, I really want a McClaren F1, but I don't get to have one". As if reproduction were a simple desire for a thing. If wanting to make a baby were on par with wanting a really fast, really expensive car I would imagine we'd have died off before Jesus had a chance to show up. Or we'd all be very poor and living in these, having to pack entire extended families into them as they're over a millie.
I personally believe that for many women wanting to have a baby is driven by some mechanism that is beyond the control of rationalizing to cost of such a thing. After all. All species are driven to do this same exact thing, while they're simultaneously not at all concerned with wanting to possess race cars. Equating "wanting a baby" to "wanting a big house/bigger boobs/more vacation time/anything else people might want" seems idiotic.
This is all coming form someone who has NO-Baby Rabies.
I'm 25. Married to a wonderful man. I love my life...just the way it is, save for another dog or ten. I have no desire to have babies right now, though I can see us with children in 5+ years. I'd go so far as to say the idea of being pregnant and giving birth not only freaks the fuck out of me, but it grosses me out to the point where I don't know if I'd be mentally stable during the pregnancy. The idea of having something growing inside me and taking over my body is so repulsive I would need to drink (yet somehow I know I wouldn't jeopardize the damn alien invader), add to that THIS WHOLE FUCKING ARTICLE (on Elle.com via Gawker.com). All in all, the whole thing leaves me with a very confident feeling of "No fucking thank you".
Well. Wouldn't you believe, they're now calling my feelings tocophobia.
Phobias are fears taken to the irrational, sometimes to the point of debilitating your daily life. You can certainly get mugged, raped and murdered by a stranger out in the world but becoming a recluse and completely avoiding the outside seems a bit excessive, right? Thus, we have a neat little term for such folks: agoraphobics. When you have a phobia you seek to avoid the thing at all costs. Having to face this thing might lead to physical reactions of increased blood pressure, hyperventilation, grabbing on to the nearest body on the observation deck of the Empire State Building whilst pissing yourself, you know the rest of it. The idea of being pregnant doesn't make me hyperventilate but I can assure you I'd be severely depressed, feeling betrayed by my body for getting pregnant against my deepest wishes, feeling trapped into a life I don't want (too soon for kids), and dreading the loss of being in charge of both my body and my life.
This will seem insane to someone who is okay with the idea of being pregnant or, even more insanely, WANTS to be pregnant. But do I have a "phobia"?
I guess this fear is on par with the following things I have fear of:
- Getting eaten alive by an animal (e.g: a fucking shark) OR similar horrific demise (e.g: being stabbed; cutting off my own foot)
- Being in a human centipede, especially one of the people not in the front
- Waking up covered in bugs/swallowing bugs/having bugs in my orifices
- Having a living organism grow inside my body, sucking away my energy, causing unpleasant physical symptoms each day, distorting the shape of my body permantently then causing severe pain, disfigurement that permanently affects my ability to enjoy my intimacy with my husband thus causing a depletion in self-confidence, and possible death/long term health problems once it decides to come out. Let's just keep this in perspective: human pregnancy is really not that much different than this.
I try to avoid all of the things I mentioned above because they are disgusting, horrendous and otherwise unpleasant. But again, am I "phobic" of these things? Are you? Or are we just simply fearful and turned off by them and hope to avoid them all our long, happy lives? I assure you that, if face-to-face with a great white shark in the middle of the ocean after being shipwrecked, I'd have a goddamn fucking panic attack and definitely attempt to shoot myself in the head before that thing can eat my GODDAMN FUCKING LEGS. Did reading that sentence make your heart speed up a bit? If it did, does that make you phobic of getting eaten by Jaws or just normal? I guess the deciding factor would be along the lines of: if your fear of Jaws is so great you never enter the ocean, let alone go on a boat, it might be a phobia. If you just assume death by Jaws is imminent every time you go into the ocean, which is why you make a point to drink while on the beach, then you might just be normal.
If you have a qualified phobia, and seek help to deal with it, you may need some anti-anxiety meds and you'll most likely get some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a type of treatment where the goal is to learn to deal with your anxiety through repeated exposure to THE THING. Over time you'll hopefully become desensitized to THE THING and will be able to go about your life more normally. In keeping with our previous example, you'll just be a beach drinker then swim with a smile plastered on your face while secretly scanning the water for shadows continuously.
Based on some of the articles I've read, tocophobia is being seen as a widespread issue among women who have fear of pregnancy/birth. I think the diagnosis makes sense where the woman wants to have the baby naturally, but she stops herself from becoming pregnant because of the fear. For me, the disgust/fear/holyshitnoway actually turns me off to the idea completely. Like. If I never had a pregnancy in my life I would be very happy about it, just like I would be very happy about not getting bitten by a shark. Cases like mine seem to be more common than the former - and such cases are getting the phobia label.
Maybe it is a psychological condition for some women, but looking at normal reservations, or a desire not to reproduce biologically (as opposed to adoption or a surrogate) and calling it a phobia (which, remember, is a psychological condition sometimes needing medication and behavioral treatment) classifies women as freaks or something that is broken and can (should?!) be fixed. I am one such woman. Am I broken? Because I'll admit it: I feel like a weirdo, and like less of a real woman, because I have zero cravings to grow a child in my uterus. In fact. Take the whole damn uterus out. See, that? I AM REJECTING MY FEMALE PARTS. I am a bad woman; I don't feel at one with the universe when I have my period.
It's worth mentioning I also am not willing to deal with the physical fall out after the baby is born. I don't want a saggy stomach. I don't want to be a Queen Queefer; I want to enjoy sex with my husband. It'll be hard enough having the time and energy to bone once you have to take care of kids, let alone having to also deal with a vagina identity crisis, leaky tits, a leaky bladder, and sagging stomach. Many people will feel this makes me selfish, superficial and cruel. I am failing my husband. I am a blemish on womankind.
Granted, no one has said to me "you are a freak because you don't want a baby" but want to know what I do hear? "You'll change your mine. You'll want to be pregnant and you'll be so happy when the baby is born." The other day I got "Just get over it. Having a baby is normal." So is passing a kidney stone. I have no doubt I'd love my child and I have no doubts about my maternal instincts or ability to raise a child. Kids usually like me and I usually like them...and when that happens it's awesome. I've been head over heels in love with kids I've babysat so I can't even imagine how obsessed I'd be with my own babies. Part of me wishes I was just okay with the whole pregnancy thing. It would be easier (and cheaper - adoption is expensive!) than having to wrangle with all these extreme emotions and feeling guilty and freakish for having them. I envy women like my neighbor, who said to me that when she was pregnant she felt totally at home in your pregnant body. She said "I felt like 'This is my temple' it was so awesome". I'm jealous!I want to want this.
I think the whole thing is fucked up all around. It should be okay to have or to not have babies, and to have a family however makes you happy. Having babies is now seen as a choice more than any other time in history, it's not an assumption like it used to be, therefore the pros and cons are weighed like any other decision in life which can give more significance to things like NOT WANTING TO ACTUALLY BE PREGNANT OR HAVE YOUR VAGINA RIPPED APART. That was a bad run-on sentence. Opting-out of having kids is becoming more acceptable; I'd like to see it become acceptable to opt-out of pregnancy and adopt by choice just because you don't want to have the kid inside you...not because you're an environmentalist and worried about over population, or because you (sadly, if you want to be preg) can't have them yourself. Instead of treating this as something that needs fixing and women who don't want to be pregnant as abnormal, let's address it like another choice people have in life - none of which are wrong, or bad, or abnormal but just different than the one you want for yourself.
Besides. You tell me which is cuter:
By the way, my apologies to the parents of that baby. I'm sure s/he's cute now. But fucking a, newborns are not cute to me. In fact, dogs have it made. Their pups come out in water filled sacs and are uniform in shape - what an evolutionary wonder...no enormous fucking head to put you through the ring of fire! Maybe I was just born 5,000 years too soon.