TOO BUSY TO REPRODUCE?
feelin' good comes easy now
Remember Loretta Lynn’s song, “The Pill”? That Fabian-socialist-induced country tune permeated my thinking when I was growing up in North Carolina in the 70s. I’m not sure exactly when it came out, not that it really matters. Like the Brady Bunch and Green Acres, it was in the oldies bin when I needed it. I would hear it from time to time throughout my childhood and early adulthood, always remembering how wonderfully Country Queen Lynn sang her thanks to the little pill that stopped her from reproducing.
To be fair, Lynn was singing in the persona of a woman who had a lot of children, as she herself did. And the song was about a woman who was married; and who seemed to be tired of getting pregnant. Nonetheless, our minds were infiltrated—married or not, we could have sex without the consequence of getting pregnant.
Many people, whether or not they grew up listening regularly to country music, have heard that song. And those who haven’t heard it have read in Cosmo and Self and every other mainstream magazine that lorded over us at the checkout counter, how lucky we are to be able to have lots and lots of gratuitous sex, free from responsibility, free even from love, if that was our supposed choice.
And choice was what it was all about, wasn’t it? Girls could choose any guy we wanted, have sex with him, come away with little if any emotional attachment, and choose to not become pregnant. Or choose not to continue pregnancy. It was indeed all about us.
Then came AIDS and its scare, but all we had to do, really, was to be a bit more careful. We had to screen guys better or ask them to be tested or ask them not to permit any bodily fluid to mix with our own and then we were okay. Still, sex was rife with irresponsibility. And we had all the choices that our mothers only dreamed of.
Or did they? What happens to women who have too many choices? We become overstressed and tired and cranky and depressed and have other maladies from the choice of it all. Maybe those earlier moms were indeed lucky. The pressure we had on us, coming from almost every media angle--to be sexy and smart and sexual--was constant. It still is. It was indeed a game and our task was to conquer as many guys as possible, preferably good looking, before settling down with Mr. Right. It’s no wonder that women need Soma: Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax, or whatever else is available via a doctor’s order.
We became so good at supposedly doing all this choosing stuff that we forgot that sex was connected to something that it had been connected to for at least thousands of years. Some did so much of this forgetting, and did it so well, that when it came time to have a baby, well, they forgot. We’d been forgetting for a long time and then, suddenly, we were supposed to remember that sex produces a baby, but we forgot the whole sex-leads-to-a-baby thing because pills and birth control and women’s magazines have told us that sex leads to fun and glamour and prestige, but not necessarily to a baby.
After all this indoctrination, some are lucky enough to get pregnant and others are not. I’m surprised that more don’t have trouble getting pregnant, considering all that we’ve learned about babies; after all, a baby interferes with us--remember,the all-important US? We learned that a baby interferes with us when we were in government high school; we were given eggs--yes, eggs--to carry around for the weekend. We could not allow them to drop and break or else we’d acquire a bad grade—our pretend baby would be a failure. Well, well, well, an egg is a bit different from a baby; some of us have learned that lesson. A father's sperm still needs to be involved to make a baby. Still, we know that carrying around an egg can be a pretty big deal--it can cramp our fashionable style.
And we don’t want to cramp anything, no matter what silly moves we must take to avoid it. Recently I’ve learned that some of my childbearing cohorts have been avoiding the whole conception thing altogether. Surprisingly, they still want a baby. An astute reader sent me a story in which I learned that some women are now way too exhausted and just plain way too busy to conceive a child of their own.
Just across the water in England, women are now turning to “medicalised conception” in order to conceive. Although it seems much nicer with a British spelling, the truth is that sex is becoming too much trouble to bother with when conceiving a baby.
When one is too busy with career, travel, and other amenities to have sex, one turns to the medical community: Women “are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for private IVF treatments - even though they have unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects - because they believe it offers them the best chance of 'instant pregnancy'.” (Edwardes and Alderson)
Pregnancy should never be worth the wait, should it? After all, we grew up with instant oatmeal, solid-state television, instant gratification of every sort. And yet all that took too long. Now we are having trouble waiting to conceive. Who cares about those nasty side effects--we want to conceive and we want it NOW!
Michael Dooley, an ob/gyn in the United Kingdom states that couples who instantly want a baby "are simply not having sex or not having enough sex. Conception has become medicalised. It's too clinical. There has been a trend away from having sex and loving relationships towards medicalised conception."
Have I missed something here? Nature certainly arranged it so that we must have sex, and supposedly the caring relationship that comes along with it, in order to produce a child. If you don’t have time to have sex, then do you really have time to bear and raise a child?
Okay, okay, I know that I’m not being politically correct here, but I do think that maybe those women who are too busy to take the time to have sex may be unprepared to deal with nursing a child at 2 a.m. But really, who even needs to do that anymore? I’m an anomaly in Los Angeles because my husband and I have actually decided to raise our own children. Most celebrities and others hire a nanny, often a mother from another country who has left her own children behind, to take away the responsibilities of child raising from a wealthier mother.
One mom I know has a nanny from 5 a.m. until midnight; another has a live-in nanny. One hundred years ago, the grandma would be helping, but of course, we’ve relegated her to a retirement community in Florida or to some other senior reservation and so, we are left on our own, convincing ourselves that our child’s learning of a foreign language from the nanny supercedes any need the child has for a parent. Besides, we have stuff to do. More important stuff, evidently, than conceiving and raising a child.
Women had to know that when we stopped taking the time to raise our children ourselves, it would be only a matter of time before it became too troublesome to conceive our children. And women enlist the help of others, specifically allopathic medical people, to aid in getting this supposedly awful thing called conception over with quickly so that they can go on to have the awful, crying thing called a baby, which they can hand over to someone else to raise, which leads me to the question: Why even bother having children?
When did conceiving and raising a child become such a nuisance? And how long will it be before we figure out a way to avoid these things completely? Only that soothsayer, time, will tell, but already, in our brave new world, women who say they want a baby have no time for sex. What will happen when their artificially conceived offspring cries and needs his or her mommy? Never mind, she’ll be working and doing other important stuff. The nanny or day care will be there, for a fee, of course.
Did Loretta Lynn ever dream that her song would have such repercussions? A generation of women are too busy to have sex and are so disconnected from nature that some must hire a doctor and a test tube to conceive. As a result, a generation of children will be saying, “Where’s my mommy?” And through the silence, they will receive a reply: She is much too busy to care.
© 2005 Tricia S. Vaughan
- All Rights Reserved
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Tricia Smith Vaughan has a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, and a Master of Arts in English. Before she became a mom, she taught first-year English Composition and Literature for five years at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
She has written for the Los Angeles Times, Durham, N.C.’s Independent Weekly, Raleigh, N.C.’s News and Observer, and other newspapers. She performs stand-up comedy and writes about homeschooling and other momly stuff.
Web Site: www.comicmom.com.
Women had to know that when we stopped taking the time to raise our children ourselves, it would be only a matter of time before it became too troublesome to conceive our children.