Fouccault’s Babies

I spend quite some time these days debating, researching, and just pondering pregnancy. Perhaps this is that always-feared biological clock that my friends warned me about. Turning 30 at the end of this summer, I have to realize that if I decide to have children I will still be raising them well into my 50’s. Maybe it is the influence of all of the wishes for babies (if we want them;)) that we were given at our wedding. Maybe it is the fact that I am married to a guy that definitely, without a doubt, wants children at some point in his life. Whatever it is I find myself reconsidering babies, and specifically pregnancy, much the same way that I reconsidered marriage and monogamy six months ago.

Before this past year my considerations towards children have always been theoretical:

  1. I don’t want to contribute to population issues in a world that I view to be overcrowded, when instead I can invest my time and energy in helping to raise other children by working as a teacher, caregiver, or youth development worker. 
  2. However, there is the idiocracy debate: 

I, personally, believe that nurture has a lot more impact on a child’s accomplishments than nature, and so I was not overly swayed by the idiocracy theory that “intelligent” people who take the time to consider the implications of adding to the population should actually be the ones more aggressively having children. Also, as I post this I am realizing just how completely stuck-up it even sounds to assume that my genes are the ones that would create super-awesome babies, while other people’s would not. Pshh. Yeah, so I basically was sticking with debate number 1, and just thinking that I wouldn’t have babies. 
Things change. 
I am now planning to live in Bulgaria, which actually does have a negative population growth. Now, of course a lot of that negative population is due to emigration, and not to people choosing to not have children, and there is the possibility that people will return when older, just showing a very different form of lifecycle than the one that I am used to. However, Bulgaria seems to have plenty of open spaces for my children to run free, and I don’t feel overly guilty about perhaps wanting children. 
So, great, maybe I want kids. This isn’t something that I am unprepared for. I have been a youth development worker for the past 8 years, and I have been a good one at that. I focus on psychology and sociology of youth. Okay. So, I am going to have some amazing teenagers. The question is how to get them to that place. Nikola and I occasionally discuss parenting techniques. We have already had to have the difficult discussions of where we want to raise children (with Bulgaria being the overwhelming answer from both of us), simply because it takes so long to establish residency in either of our countries that this is a decision that needs to be made now, and not once we get pregnant. There are other hiccoughs in baby-making that stem from being a multi-lingual household. Bulgarian or English, which will be our dominant home-language (right now, with just the two of us it is English, but Bulgarian is rapidly become more prevalent). Then comes questions of childcare and school. Neither of us want to send our child to kindergarten, especially not for the full four years that Bulgarian children go for, but at some point kindergarten may become mandated in Bulgaria. And, after kindergarten comes a whole other slew of schooling issues. Then there are cultural things. I am very… strange… when it comes to a lot of things. I want to live in a television-free household, and not do sweets and sugar in my child’s main diet. These are things that can be accepted in San Francisco, to varying degrees, but will be difficult to enforce in Bulgaria, I think. 
But those are all issues that are far down the road, and we just like to play and tease at them, not really making decisions or plans yet. The more pressing issue becomes the idea of me actually getting <gulp> pregnant. 
I realize now how much the ‘system’ for having babies has changed, even though our romantic notion of the spontaneous pregnancy has not. Yeah, I get it, I do not lead a normal life and the ‘system’ is not set up for globetrotters that don’t have a large fund sitting at ‘home,’ or even a home to set that fund at. Still, I think that being a traveller begins to expose some of the gaps in the healthcare systems of different countries (not to mention other forms of law and distribution), and gaps in our global rhetoric of human rights. Basically, the issue that I am now facing is the dreaded switching of insurance. I had no clue that most insurances require you to pay into their plan for at least 6 months before they will cover a pregnancy. I understand why. People tend to want insurance only when they have a great medical need, and then would get off of it as soon as they are patched up, making the whole system crash. However, interesting enough, you cannot advance-pay for 6 months, or the year, that is required before you can be covered by the policy, in most cases. This means that if you want to have a kid, you are expected to PLAN the child at least a year before you conceive it. Now, I don’t particularly have an issue with planning in and of itself. I love planning. However, the media and general attitude towards pregnancy still romanticizes the unplanned pregnancy. People out of wedlock, teen-pregnancies, people trying for a month, broken condoms, etc. These things are not positioned as desirable, but they are definitely in movies and television shows more often than people planning a year before conceiving a child, getting onto the right insurance plan, and then waiting to even begin trying. It’s because these situations are ‘exciting’ and ‘interesting.’ The issue is that we internalize these as the path to having a baby. Then, when we actually get pregnant (or, like me, begin to consider it) we realize that no system is actually set up for that kind of spontaneity. 
The other issue that I am butting up against at the moment is, once again, one of expertise. Having to consider insurance has forced me to look into the actual process of birth in Bulgaria. It is very standardized, with required tests, and birthing is done in hospitals. It is a far cry from the romantic idea of just squatting in a forest somewhere. Okay, I don’t think I would go that far, but birthing has definitely been taken away from the natural world and put into the realm of medical expertise… making the whole birthing process one of the state and society instead of a private experience that the woman birthing has control over. I have had issues with access to birth control for many years. It is an easy fight to attach to. Now I am realizing how far the power of the state has entangled itself with the whole concept of birth and pregnancy. I have to say that after looking up the birthing process I have no problems waiting a bit longer, because the whole idea of my body and actions becoming even more socially owned, considered, and exposed, is absolutely terrifying. 

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