Baby Battle (#205)

My parents procreated like rabbits. Then they got divorced and procreated some more. Given that having children is pretty much the worst thing a regular person – not an Exxon Executive or a Donald Trump – can do to the environment, I figured someone in my family owed it to Mother Earth to NOT have children.

There was just one problem. My husband wanted a kid.

I came up with a brilliant solution. We’d adopt an existing child. And since my husband was Chinese-American and I was a feminist, I thought a little girl from China would be perfect.

My husband had a slightly different take. He said, “No.”

My husband NEVER says a flat no. He hates confrontation. I asked, “What do you mean, ‘no?’ No Chinese baby girls? Do you hate the land of your father or what?”

“No adoption.”

“What? Why?”


“Because why?”

“I want my own kid. I want our kid. Not someone else’s.”

I should have expected that sort of response, given my husband’s reaction to the neighborhood kids who stopped by to play with our dogs. Like many men, Andy was the lion who wanted to kill any cubs that weren’t his. (Though he didn’t actually want to kill them so much as have them conveniently disappear.) I glowered and said, “I do not understand you. We adopted our dogs and you love them just fine.”

“A baby is not a dog!”

“And you,” I informed him, “are not the one who will have to host a parasite and swell up like a hippopotamus with gland problems in order to have a child of your own. YOU won’t throw up constantly. YOU won’t get ripped to pieces. ”

“It might not be that bad—”

“It will be that bad! I saw what happened with my mom and Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister. I can expect all that and probably more.”

“I thought your mom loved being pregnant.”

“Mom’s mental health always was questionable,” I said with a sigh. “What’s unquestionable is that her body was a mess afterwards. You’ll owe me all kinds of surgery.”

“No problem,” Andy assured me. “I’ll start saving now.”

I snorted. “You say that, but the baby will take all the money. You’ll have to max out the flexible spending and health care spending accounts.”

“Of course, of course!” Sensing victory, Andy rushed to promise me everything.

But I had some ammunition left. I knew how much Andy adored his niece and how ambivalent he was about his nephews. I told him, “And you know what, honey? If we have a baby, it’s NOT going to be a girl.”

“What?! No!” Andy yelled. “You can’t possibly know that!”

“Oh, yes, I can,” I told him. “Our child would be a boy.”

“Is this like your grandmother’s witchy sixth sense?” Andy demanded. (My father once caught an illegal ride on a milk truck when he was a teen. At the exact moment he fell off the truck, or so the story goes, his mother dropped her hand of bridge, said, “My son is hurt,” and took off. She drove to the exact spot where Dad lay in the road, put him in the car, and took him to the hospital. Supposedly this was the only game of bridge Gram never finished.)

“I dunno,” I said. “I just know we’d have a boy. So if you want a little girl, the only way you’re going to get one is if we adopt.”

“I don’t believe you,” Andy scoffed. “What if you’d married Ethan?”

“Ha! I would NEVER have married Ethan,” I told him. “But if I had, we would have a girl.”

“You — you can’t know that. Or this. Or anything like that or this!” Andy sputtered.

I shrugged and said, “Maybe not. But I do anyway.”

Andy glared at me. The desire for a sweet little girl and the desire to pass on his genes warred for a few minutes before he told me, “I still want my own. And you might be wrong.”

“I might,” I conceded. “I mean, when you think of all the times we’ve disagreed in the last five years or so, I’ve been wrong how many times?”

Andy mumbled something.

“What was that?”

“Two!” Andy answered. “Two, okay?”*

“I like my odds.”

Andy mumbled something about Ashbough witches and then said, “So we’re agreed? We’re gonna have our own kid?”

“Not so fast, mister. We can TRY. But we might not succeed. And then what?”

Andy rolled his eyes. “You’re kidding, right? You’ve been telling me for years that your family conceives at the drop of a hat. You insist on backup birth control. And now you don’t think you’ll get pregnant?”

“It’s possible,” I argued. “There might be something wrong with your sperm.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my sperm!”

“You don’t know that. You’ve never had it tested. Maybe your little spermies are drowners, not swimmers. Or maybe they go in circles and bump into walls.”

“My guys are fine!”

“Okay, but what if they’re not? What’s Plan B? Do we use your brother’s sperm?”


“No spermy, no baby. Are we going for an anonymous donor?”

“I’m telling you, we won’t need one!”

“And I’m telling YOU, I need a plan,” I crossed my arms, planted my feet, and said, “No plan, no baby.”


It took 4 days for Andy to capitulate. Then it took a week to hash out the details:

We’d spend 6 months trying to get pregnant. If we were unsuccessful, there would be testing.

If my eggs/ uterus were problematic, we’d find a donor/ surrogate.

If Andy’s sperm were problematic, we’d look into adoption.

Andy remained quietly convinced that Plan B was utterly unnecessary.

And me?

I was kinda hoping for drowners.

*Andy wants everyone to know that this conversation took place years ago and that, as of December 2017, he has been right 7 times. But I tell him the last one doesn’t count because it’s become very clear that Donald Trump cheated. So he’s really only been right 6 times.


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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

29 thoughts on “Baby Battle (#205)”

  1. So….I am wondering how the whole “get pregnant” Plan has worked out to date. Maybe I have missed it, but I haven’t seen any baby announcement…..

  2. Oooo. So this memoir is from a while back. If it did came down to the adoption route, I do wonder how it panned out 😀 It is always an option worth thinking of.

    Ha. Right only six times. An argument well won is one where you do have a plan and cover all bases 😀

    1. Exactly! I can’t get over how many people I know that were all: “Oh, I guess it’s time to get pregnant,” “well, we just won’t use birth control and see what happens,” or who never thought about the fact that they might not get pregnant.

      I need my flow charts. I need Plan A, B, and C.

  3. For what it’s worth, child-bearing, when it takes place at a youngish age, has some protective health effects on the woman, such as the reduced risk for cancer and autoimmune diseases. I hope everything all worked out well for you guys.

    1. I think the key there was “young age.” We didn’t start to think about kids until age 34. But you’re right, breastfeeding is supposed to reduce the chance of breast cancer, at least.

  4. I had no idea that all this time we’ve been two year back in history.

    Not knowing how things turned out, I’m guessing Andy got the short end of the stick on your agreement. Six months isn’t much for a 34-year-old after years of birth control. On the other hand, your agreement as reported doesn’t say what will happen if neither your eggs nor his sperm are a problem. Does that mean you will keep trying? And for how long?

    You’re very good at keeping us guessing.

    1. Yeah, that’s me, the Queen of Cliffhangers. 🙂

      I think it’s hard to make decisions like that until we have more information on potential problems. So we had the outline of a plan, but not in excruciating detail.

  5. I’m so confused. I’m with Nicki, six months isn’t a very long time to try to conceive, then again, some folks just think about it and then BAM, they’re preggers.

    And I too, thought we had caught up in the timeline. Well, if you wanted to confuse us, you succeeded 😛

    I need a direct line to Andy for some answers please. 😀

    1. Andy proofreads my posts, but rarely comments. He’s currently sulking a bit about only being right 6 times. He’s really not much for social media.

      My family is of the “BAM! You’re pregnant!” ilk. Or, “BAM! Your birth control didn’t work, ha, ha, ha!” Which is why 6 months — for us — seems a reasonable control period. But you’re right, we were definitely cutting it close to having a baby before I turned 35, when your likelihood of birth defects jumps dramatically.

      1. Many women these days are having children after 35, yes, I’ve heard of the risks, but my friends recently have been fortunate. I hope you will too, if a baby is what you want 🙂

        1. Thanks! Oh, yes, some women are very fortunate — my mother was one of them. But Dr. Sister has drilled the risks into me, and our family has a special one. But that’s another post.

  6. I got pregnant unexpectedly back in 2015 and gave birth in 2016. ( I guess baby daddy or sperm donor as I call him, were playing a pregnant roulette.) I was 29 going on 30. Personally have children when you truly feel you can live life without regrets. I really didn’t feel comfortable with your pregnancy description and your view of how a baby is a parasite. I felt hurt and insulted if it’s ok for me to be honest on here.

    1. You can always be honest! As far as the baby=parasite description goes, that’s actually a medical definition — one I borrowed from my Dr. Sister. According to her (and she bore two children in very difficult pregnancies), an embryo/ fetus/ infant can — like a parasite — be defined as “an animal organism that lives in or on another and takes its nourishment from that other organism.”

      However, I think you take offense at my definition of parasite on behalf of your baby, because the connotations are usually unwanted and often disgusting. Which is understandable and I do not take offense at your offense. You stand up for your baby! 🙂

      The reason I use that definition, however, is not just because it is medically accurate. There is far too much romanticizing of pregnancy and childbirth, in my opinion, especially on the part of Evangelical Christians and their Republican representatives in this country. They are quick to gloss over the inconveniences, the dangers, and heavy physical/ mental toll that pregnancy can take on women.

      Just today, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was again urging Americans to have babies in order to fuel the economic growth/ capitalistic mindset.

      Maybe he wouldn’t be so laissez faire about children if he had to undergo the rigors of childbirth.

      1. Some parts I agree with you. Babies are a life changer in many ways. Things have to be approached realistically and seen that way as well. But at the same time babies can expose people for who they are and not what they say they are, if it makes sense. The sperm donor for instance? He always claimed he put his family above career. Umm, six months after my son’s birth, he got an offer to work in Guam ( long story) I went through hell because he refused to listen to reason ( how can a young first time mother be with a baby on her own in Guam? And no i didnt go to Guam) and barely hear from him these days. He doesnt even email and ask about our son.

        1. Oh, man, that is heartbreaking. And infuriating. I am so sorry, both for you and your son.

          If there’s one thing that pushes my buttons these days, it’s entitled males who are oblivious to their impact on others — especially women and children. I am so very tired of men promising one thing, then deciding it’s not in their self-interest so screw everyone else, they’re going to get their promotion, campaign contribution, etc.

          Then they tie themselves in knots rationalizing their naked self-interest.

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