I’ve never been a girl who plans her wedding or thinks about having kids. After proclaiming myself a feminist in sixth grade, I looked down at my peers who planned their domestic future all through high school and college; especially after I learned how the patriarchy and consumerism dominate momentous events like having a baby, and create competition among mothers.My friends were the same. One of my closest friends, a newspaper editor, once IMed me complaining about how she had to put the “least amount of baby” in a picture accompanying a story. I have several friends who talk about having their tubes tied, in all seriousness.
So how to explain my new obsession with all things baby-related? I’m only twenty-three, and children (even a committed relationship) are a long way off. I could excuse the repeated viewings of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom on my junky reality TV habit. Even though I know all the names of the girls and their stories, I could say I’m making fun of the teens, obviously; not grinning at the newborn babies’ cuteness.
I also have a habit of following fashion blogs, despite taking most of my fashion cues from sale racks (it happens when you are forced to spend 10-12 hours a day on a computer). And the past year, it seemed like all of my favorite bloggers were pregnant! These were smart, stylish, savvy women, and I adored seeing them dress for their pregnant bodies, and the cute letters they wrote to their babies and items they bought to decorate their nursery.
I even started reading parenting.com after a favorite single mom writer started blogging for the site. Even the horror of seeing women give birth in amusement parks on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant didn’t deter me from reading about water births and the Bradley method.
I also got in trouble with an ex-boyfriend I still talked to. I would frequently send him links to baby posts ““ how cute is this hat? Do you think something is wrong with this one’s head? I want this nursery print in my bedroom! He accused me of manipulating him, and said that by showing him these pictures I was insinuating we might get back together and have kids together someday. We stopped talking, and now I have no one to share my baby love with.
One reason for my newfound nesting interest might be my culture. After never being able to discuss boys with my parents for fear of a disapproving look or a lecture, choosing a future husband is now a regular dinner table conversation topic. Now that I have graduated from college and entered the working world, it is suddenly acceptable to discuss what I want in a potential mate, including children. I also enjoy learning about Western childcare and how it differs from my own upbringing. Eating habits, dress, and activities are different from the very beginning, it seems.
And though my close friends are far from starting families, it seems like every day a Facebook “friend” gets engaged, married, or announces a pregnancy. Of course, the ultrasound pictures and status updates describing food cravings follow.
I eventually decided that although some prominent feminists are vocal about how modern women don’t need to have children and have decided to stay childless themselves, it doesn’t mean that my interest in superficial baby-related media makes me any less committed to women’s rights. Supporting pro-choice causes and affordable birth control doesn’t require me to claim I don’t look forward to starting a family some day.
So I’ll continue to read my websites and watch babies on television, and hopefully find someone to share my interest with someday.