From the Editors: Nicole Savini, TV producer and mother of an eight-month-old boy writes about being lured into motherhood. Continue the conversation in the comments.
I was long suspicious of the friend with kids who said things like “You have to have a baby!” mere moments after interrupting me (and my thrilling play-by-play of my latest blind date) to discipline a little one. “No, no, no… I’m on the phone. Put it down. Mama’s on the phone…. Okay, what were you saying? He sounds nice.” (He did not sound nice, by the way.) Why did all my parent friends make it their business to get me procreating? Why not let me do me: the cool aunt who buys their kids age inappropriate toys and dry-clean-only sweaters? What stake did they have in it?
It wasn’t until years later, when I was blessed with my own bundle of joy- a bundle whose soul-splitting shrieks only subsided when he was gnawing my nipples raw- that it dawned on me:
Pregnancy is a pyramid scheme.
Here’s how it works: You get pregnant and now you have a kid. Hooray! But, suddenly, your fun factor plummets. Can’t go out on a whim. No plays, no movies, no parties (at least not the kind that are worth it). You’ve lost everything you valued before. But what if- and hear me out on this one- you could sell others on the same lifestyle? What if, at no personal cost to you, you could decrease everyone else’s fun factor and even potentially raise your own in the process? Sound too good to be true? It’s been working for centuries!
The more friends you recruit, the better your own life gets. Sure, they may get screwed- lose money, lose sleep, and gain weight- but if they join, the fewer parties you’ll miss. There are no parties! At least not the kind that are worth it! And now no one is talking about that movie you haven’t seen! Who has time to see movies? And when you throw your 2-year-old’s birthday party, it takes little more than “there will be wine” to lure your parent friends over! What’s that saying? I think it’s, “misery loves company, as long as that company brings their kids to entertain yours”?
In the dark hours, as I held my new baby, Sam, I wondered what I’d done with my life’s fortune. I would sit up at night trying to breastfeed (I say trying because I hadn’t read the fine print on that one either: it ain’t easy, ladies) and run through the list of names in my head: Stacey, Sheila, Chrysi, the other Nicole… these are the childfree friends I would call the next day and warn: don’t buy into it! I’m here to tell you: It’s a scam! It’s too late for me but save yourself!
I looked at people like my sister and other close friends who had encouraged me to get pregnant and thought “did they knowingly do this to me?” I like to think their intentions were more “try this chocolate cake, it’s delicious” than “try this milk, it’s sour,” but I saw no evidence of it. My life had taken a turn for the worse and all I could do was stare slack –jawed at the disaster unfolding. I felt doomed.
But about 6 weeks in, I got an unexpected return on investment: a smile. When Sam’s little face lit up, my buyer’s remorse disappeared. Don’t get me wrong, it was- it is– still very hard. But now 6 months later, I love this new version of my life. I don’t feel duped. In fact, I feel lucky. I am exhausted. I am still 15 lbs heavier than before I was pregnant (when I was 10 lbs heavier than I wanted to be), and I haven’t seen a movie or the majority of my friends since Sam was born. I constantly feel like I just can’t catch up with life. But that thing they sold me on, that feeling that is so amazing it is “indescribable”: it’s real. The best way I can explain the feeling is that it’s like the one I used to get when I really liked someone. Whenever I’m coming home from work and I get to see Sam, it feels a lot like it used to feel when I was showing up to a party and I knew “he” would be there. A little giddy. Excited. Oddly energized. Difference is, this “he” explodes with joy when he sees me walk in the room. I can’t say that happened much (ever) before. And that joy explosion is seriously amazing. Dare I say, indescribable.
I can’t tell you if you should have kids. And I definitely won’t try to sell you on it. It’s not like I stand to win a pink Cadillac if you sign up anyway. But I can tell you that I get it now. Even when I’m the one on the phone saying, “Hold on a sec, he’s pulling my hair and biting my forehead,” I can promise you, I don’t regret a thing. Come to think of it, I feel like I cashed in on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Nicole Savini is a mom to Sam, wife to Michael, and a Senior Segment Producer to Stephen Colbert at the Late Show. She has never been involved in a pyramid scheme but she does enjoy a good human pyramid.
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