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?”
“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.
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.