Since I was a child, I never really envisioned myself as a biological parent. The cool *insert gender-neutral term for aunt/uncle* vibes were more my speed.
FYI, the jury is still out on what to call a non-binary sibling of a parent, but some promising terms gaining popularity include pibling (parent’s sibling), zizi, unty, and untle. I’m personally a fan of zizi. It sounds like pasta, and I like the idea of reminding my sibling’s kids of a comforting plate of carbs.
Even when I played with baby dolls, I treated them like action figures acting out a scenario rather than nurturing them like an infant. From my earliest years, parenthood seemed off the table for my future.
As a grown-up, I don’t know how to talk to kids. Where’s the happy medium between baby talk and big words? Someone had to teach me how to play peek-a-boo to a baby’s liking.
I don’t really “get” kids. They confound me until they reach high school. And even then, I fall behind the times on their trends and inside jokes.
Personality-wise, parenthood does not suit me. Thankfully, being queer and mostly asexual, there aren’t many opportunities for me to create a “happy accident” or even an intentional infant. Because of health concerns, infertility lowers these chances even further.
Despite all of this, I am not immune to “baby fever.” For unknown reasons, I have craved conception during certain seasons of young adulthood. While this is not unusual for most, the idea clashed with my typical thinking. I’m a (mostly) asexual person who detests penetration.
Plus, I struggle to interact with other people’s children–my three moves (silly faces, funny noises, and stimulating textile choices) barely last long enough to entertain my friends’ kiddos for a few minutes.
As someone who definitely can’t conceive for several reasons and wouldn’t want to even if the option were available, this sudden urge to produce offspring puzzled me.
So, I did what any modern individual with a perplexing medical phenomenon would do: I consulted Doctor Google
According to GoodTherapy, baby fever results from positive experiences with babies. Surprisingly enough, the desire to make a baby is an independent process from desiring the act that leads to making a baby, regardless of one’s assigned sex at birth.
Science (well, one study from the University of Kansas) backs up my experience of baby fever despite a typical aversion to sexual activity, especially the kind that creates a fetus.
Unsurprisingly, evaluating the costs of having a baby tends to cure baby fever. This method worked well enough for me.
Although I joke around with friends about how I’m lucky that I only have to cover presents and fun trips while they get to foot the bill for living essentials for their kids, lacking children of my own does sting sometimes. Maybe it’s a fear of missing out or perhaps it’s grieving a joyfully hectic potential that could never be.
Either way, the loss of something that I will never have hit differently during spurts where my mind, despite all evidence against the possibility, suggested that I have a biological child.
Having baby fever felt cruel in a way. After all, some people impulsively act on this natural urge. I can merely acknowledge the absurdity of this impossible desire as it passes. I’m fully aware that parenthood is no picnic.
Still, there must be something worthwhile even in the least ideal of circumstances. Look at any parent’s beaming grin after giving birth to see this truth. I would be an awkward, underprepared parent, but I am sure I would make a good parent who would raise awesome, weird, caring humans.
Even in my mid-twenties, I feel the gap between myself and my child-bearing peers widening.
While they plan their lives around the tiny folks in their household, I structure mine around my whims. I can go anywhere and do anything I want at whatever hour without worrying about arranging a babysitter. If I spend all my money on useless junk, I’m the only one who has to settle for ramens until payday. Kids change all of that.
The sacrifices parents make cannot be understated. And yet, sometimes, I, too, would like a small version of myself to captivate my heart so deeply that I would willingly put all my self-interested will aside to give them a good day every day.
I don’t envy my buddies with babies for the challenges that parenthood brings. However, the small voice in my brain that tells me I should “do more” judges me for barely caring for myself while they care for themselves and multiple dependent people.
This little voice stems from society’s expectations at large. I ignore it, but the concept that childless adults are somehow self-absorbed and underperforming in adulting still colors my view of myself.
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While it unnerved me, I’m grateful that I got to experience baby fever along with my heteronormative friends. It was an enlightening event. Contracting baby fever despite its impracticality taught me that having kids can be an intrinsic biological drive.
It’s like the urge to grab fast food in the middle of the night or the desire to move closer to our roots.
We all have it at one point or another, but we don’t necessarily need to act on it.
Baby fever resembles the strong pull I feel towards impulsively adopting a kitten from the humane society every time I visit. I can want the baby/kitten, but my energy, resources, and body protest this prospect.
Therefore, I listen to myself and choose my best option despite the fleeting excitement that I could rock my whole world by bringing one little being into it.
Yes, I compared having a baby to adopting a kitten. As I said, I’m not a kid person. Case in point.
Maya Strong is a professional writer who has spent the last six years blogging about relationships, LGBTQIA+, mental health, lifestyle, and cultural commentary online.