Should I have a baby?
It’s a question probably every woman asks herself at least once. Straight or gay, married or single, housewife or high-powered lawyer: At some point, we all look in the mirror and wonder if we should be getting pregnant right about now.
For some of us, it’s an easy question. We’ve always wanted kids and can’t wait to conceive. For others, we just asked that question because our mother asked for the 10,000th time, and the answer is still no.
For most women, though, it’s more complicated. There are pros and cons to having a baby. Even if you know you want kids, choosing the right time can be a torturous dance of weighing variables: Where are you at with your career? Do you need to finish grad school first? Should we have a baby before or after we buy a house?
If you’re not sure whether or not you want kids, the issue is even more complex. You might wonder if you’re really cut out to be a mom at all.
There’s one thing that cuts through the knot of indecision: baby lust!
Baby lust is that overwhelming physical feeling that takes some women by storm and demands that they get pregnant. Now.
It might feel like a craving, the way you crave a favorite food or a cigarette after you quit smoking. It might show up as recurrent dreams of having your baby, nurturing a little one at your breast. Baby lust is powerful stuff. It can feel like an alarm clock going off in your head.
Baby lust hit me hard right after I met my husband, and we had our daughter 20 months later. I’ve never wanted anything as badly as I wanted to get pregnant in that year; it was like a wave that hit me and turned me into a baby-making machine.
It’s far from a universal experience, though. Many women sanely decide to become mothers without ever feeling a twinge in their uterus, much less a tsunami of baby lust.
Elle features an essay by writer Corrie Pikul on what makes women’s biological clocks tick. Corrie herself is 35, happily married and thinking about having kids. But she’s worried that she doesn’t feel the mad desire for them that some of her friends do.
It’d be an easier decision to make, she writes, if she did. Like falling in love, her emotional tides would carry her to the other side of a really hard choice.
She’s acutely aware that while she waits to fall in love with the idea of having a baby, her body may be making the choice for her. As she says in her article:
Even as I wait for my own mystical abdominal twinge—so far, nada—I know there are plenty of practical reasons I should be pulling the trigger ASAP…. According to the American Fertility Association, the probability of conceiving decreases 3 percent to 5 percent per year after age 30 and at a faster rate after 40. So a healthy 30-year-old has around a 20 percent chance per month of getting pregnant, but by 40, her chances are only about 5 percent.
Pikul probably has time to make her decision. Plenty of women over 35 get pregnant without trouble, and she shares in the article that a fertility test shows no problems with her own reproductive system.
She may never get the wave of baby lust that would tell her “It’s time!” though. Many women never feel it, and some women who do choose to defy the urge and remain child-free.
Did you feel baby lust? Are you waiting to have kids until you feel ready? If you’re already a mom, how did you know when the time was right?