“A lot of girls share them,” my friend explains. “They’ll just pass them around afterward. Breast pumps are expensive, babe.” Three of us – myself and two girlfriends – are tucked into the corner of a Bowery bar, our glasses sweating on the laminate two-top, knees bumping into one another’s underneath the table. I can’t remember how the topic of pregnancy came up, yet here we are, discussing swollen breasts and prenatal vitamins, how easy or difficult it was for friends of ours to “bounce back.” As far as I know, none of us are pregnant. Well, yet, at least.
Before tonight, I thought there were two distinct factions: my friends having or have had babies, and my friends who aren’t even thinking about it. This clear separation made it easier. It provided context. I knew what to expect from conversations with either party. On the one side, I got to hear about the benefits of home births, as well as listen to (but not participate in) debates about vaccinations and child antibiotics. On the other side, I could freely talk about restaurants and drinking and bad dates and good sex and all those other things you get to focus on when you have the selfish luxury I’d like to call “time.” Plain and simple. Black and white. Babies or no babies.
This conversation, however, held between three unmarried women, marks a new, strange territory for me. As my friends get older and becoming increasingly serious in their relationships, a new faction has developed: Friends who are thinking about having babies.
As the conversation continues, I feel increasingly disenfranchised, given that I – single and 29 years old – am the furthest I can possibly imagine from being pregnant, given that to have a baby, I would need to have some sort of man. My two friends, still talking animatedly about post-birth boob jobs, can see this family future sitting on the near horizon, a real possibility. Given my current single state, I am no position to weigh in or get excited, I don’t have opinions about whether I’d like to give birth in a tub full of water or if I should or should not get an epidural, if I’ll scream like hell or remain a moaning, feral lump.
I feel my brain flat line as I sink into the cushion of my black laminate chair and imagine my own future: Going to the weddings of other couples, hearing stories of other friend’s pregnancies, holding babies that do not belong to me. I watch from a distance while my friends begin to build their white picket fence lives, driving the wooden stakes in one-by-one, hammering them into place. Meanwhile, I’m on the other side of the street, that crazy lady living out of her car and having conversations with the a.m. radio, the one remaining member of a nearly extinct populous.