Pregnancy: Horror Incarnate

Why I’m Not Interested in Hosting a Baby in my Body

Graphic Liz Xu

I peed on a pregnancy test and wiped and stood up and pulled up my pants all while looking at the tiny window that would have either one line or two appear, depending on whether or not there were levels of a pregnancy hormone in my urine.

I went into my room and sat on the bed and looked at the test again as the wick inside it pulled the pee up with capillary action. Slowly one line formed, then nothing.

I said, “Hail gay Satan,” out loud and then said it again to the computer sitting next to me. End scene.

The thing about having a body that can create new life is that it is kind of a gift in the way that a gift you’d rather return to sender is a gift, like, “Okay, great that I can squeeze out a tiny human being after nine months of uncomfortable gestation, but please can I give this capability to someone who has their life together more than me? Someone who has that knee-jerk reaction to babies’ cries to help the baby? Someone who stares at pictures of babies when they’re on their period?”

I feel a total lack of maternal instinct and the idea of gestating something feels like a betrayal to myself, like purposefully introducing a parasite into a part of me that I have been categorized by all my life. My body is a vessel, but it’s my vessel and sharing it with another entity seems horrifying in a way that is usually only articulated by movies like Alien where the sharing is strongly unwanted and clearly painful. An involuntary, horrifying intrusion.

Plus, I have enough trouble loving myself as it is. Having to love myself as a plural, as myself-and-this-thing, seems an insurmountable obstacle.

“My body is a vessel, but it’s my vessel.”

Another mystery of the pregnant is the person carrying the baby’s reduction to a living fortress for a collection of cells; reducing the person’s personhood and focusing on this other life swimming in amniotic fluid. Why are we so focused on new lives rather than on the lives we already have? Does the new generation have that much promise or are we just relieved someone is going to come behind us and save us from the mess we’ve made? Will we help pay for our children’s college educations only to use it as a bartering tool for when we’re old and need to take advantage of the medical technology our children have made?

In queer theory there is a term called thanatos, or the death drive, talking about the inherent lack of new life created by homosexual/queer means. New queer lives appear from heterosexual couplings and then they grow old and then they die. The heterosexual goal of reproduction gets interrupted. The babies stop appearing and the elders die off and instead of generations there are cohorts, enormous groups that live, and die, and fail to reproduce.

This is immensely comforting to me. I like the idea of a self made legacy, a self made family tree. I think also this thanatos situation makes those of us who are currently alive a lot more aware of what our actions precede, more aware of consequence, less likely to put our mistakes on the new cohorts’ shoulders.

And besides, having a baby is basically like creating a tiny horrible clone of you mixed with someone else, and why would I want another sort-of-me running around this hellscape of late capitalism?

I am terrified of babies because they mean I am getting old, but I am terrified also of babies because they represent that I am not completely in control of my body in a way that is viscerally horrifying. I am not in control of the hundreds of eggs that have been inside me since birth. They were gently placed in my ovaries, rolling out every month, waiting to be fertilized but never quite having it happen successfully.

If I could control my eggs I’d tell them all to go home, to get out. To leave this thanatos-aligned body and find someone else who coos at infants and finds their tiny hands cute instead of sausage-y and who will one day have sex with someone they like well enough in missionary position for the purpose of procreation.