Thursday, August 9, 2012
"If you're pregnant, I'm leaving."
We’ve been talking about husbands not wanting children for various reasons. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my Childless by Marriage book. This comes early in the book, during my first marriage.
Perhaps the baby showers got to me, or maybe my ovaries were feeling neglected, but I did start thinking more seriously about children. My cousin Marian, whose mother had just died, clasped my hand as she met me in the aisle after the funeral. She was finally pregnant after years of trying. “Susie, don’t wait too long. Don’t wait until your mother passes away to have a baby.” I knew she was right.
But not yet, Jim always said. And indeed it did not seem like the right time. Wait until I have my degree and we have a house, he said. That made sense. When grandparents and nosy aunts wondered aloud when Susie was going to have children, my mother ran interference. “Oh, they’re not ready yet.” “Yes, of course she wants them.” “They will.” God bless my mother.
And God bless Jim’s mother, who went to her grave without grandchildren. Much as she tried to micro-manage every other aspect of our marriage, she kept her mouth shut about babies.
In 1979, I started babysitting the next door neighbors’ infant. Remembering my previous babysitting failures, I hesitated to take on this tiny diapered screaming machine, but I hoped Jim would help. Wrong. When I brought the crying baby back to our apartment, he instantly raised a fuss. “Shut her up. I can’t stand that noise.”
“I’m trying. She’s just a baby. Maybe she’s hungry.”
“Well, I don’t want her here.” He sniffed. “God, she stinks.” He lit a cigarette, grabbed his keys, and walked out the front door while I stared into the infant’s red face. If he couldn’t stand this one, who was only here for a couple of hours, how would he handle a baby of our own?
When they got home, I told the neighbors I was sorry but I didn’t have time to take care of their baby anymore.
Shortly after that, I thought I might be pregnant: late period, fat belly, nausea, weariness, all the symptoms I had seen on TV. Jim was not happy. “If you’re pregnant, I’m leaving,” he said.
Surely he didn’t mean it, I thought, but I’ll never know because my period started a few days later. We continued to use the diaphragm. In the early years, we had occasionally used condoms on camping trips and wilderness outings, but now we rarely went anywhere together.
By 1980, it was over.
What happened next? Get the book by visiting http://www.suelick.com/Childless.html.
See you Saturday.