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I think of children as books, or dogs, or cars. There are plenty out there who need good homes, so why buy new?
No sir, not me, I guarantee it
I had a miscarriage two years ago (which you can read all about here) and I swore I’d never give pregnancy another go. I was 33 then, and mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially not ready for a baby. But I gave myself until the magical, high-risk-pregnancy-cutoff age of 35 to pull the trigger on another one in case I ever changed my mind. I turned 35 in June and I hadn’t changed my mind.
This year G.Hammer and I have been talking more and more about settling down and establishing ourselves somewhere. Hell, maybe even buying a home (can you imagine?) solely for the purpose of getting ourselves into the adoption and/or foster circuits. You see, I love kids, I love babies (NOT newborns- yuck), and I would love nothing more than a huge family in a small house filled with lots of love and no electronics. But I just don’t feel the need to have my own.
Like I said, there are so many out there who already need good homes, and what gives me the right to think the human race needs my particular offspring? What do I have to offer the planet that I couldn’t contribute through another human that was not of my body? Not a thing. Well, long eyelashes, maybe. But who cares about that? You can buy fake ones anyway (but shouldn’t, ever). I am not a vain person and my ego doesn’t care about passing on a part of myself. The only legacy I care to leave behind is more trees on the earth than I found when I got here. Well, and maybe that nagging voice you hear when you reach for a styrofoam cup or plastic fork “don’t do ittttttt….”.
And yet… here I am. Not barefoot, but definitely pregnant. There have been a couple of days I could hardly bear the environmental guilt.
Am I… Gregnant?
We weren’t trying or planning for a baby, but I forgot my NuvaRing when we went hiking and camping for our 5th anniversary. I told myself we’d be careful and I’d start birth control again after my period the following month, which, obviously never came. That, coupled with low-level nausea when I ate or even thought about food in Japan got me thinking I might just be pregnant.
When I started to suspect I didn’t tell Greg. I was mortified. How could I, the hater of all things styrofoam and non-recyclable and even most things recyclable, do something so irresponsible as to create yet another human to add more stress to an already overstressed planet? For a day I thought seriously of giving it up for adoption.
That night I dreamed I delivered a baby girl on my own. I swaddled her up in my long grey dress and left her on a table at a Salvation Army in hopes someone would give her a loving home. As I was walking out of the store I stopped myself “Jamie, you want to adopt babies. Why would you leave your own for someone else to take?” I went back and took her to Greg to let him know he was a papa. The next day I woke up resigned to my fate. Not excited by any means, but no longer sad or full of guilt. These things happen.
We flew to Oklahoma to tell my mother and at the airport on the way back I had another mental breakdown. Greg was flying to Tucson to work and I was going back to North Dakota alone. I was so overwhelmed with the thought of the negative impact my sweet babe would inevitably have on this planet that I started bawling and did not stop until I was driving on I-94. Yes, that was before I boarded my flight to MSP, through that connection, and into FAR. I cried and cried and cried and cried. I felt so embarrassed, so ashamed, like such a hypocrite, and totally alone. You see, I am one of five children, my husband one of seven, and we are currently surrounded by North Dakota catholic farmers. Not exactly welcoming environments in which to question unchecked reproduction.
No matter your opinions on procreation
More humans = more garbage + more landfills + more fossil fuel consumption + more CO2 emissions – wild spaces/wildlife habitat = sadder planet. I’ve wanted to ask everyone I know, particularly my hippie friends “How do you justify these kids?!” Not as an attack (well… sometimes…), but because I’m genuinely curious.
I haven’t asked anyone, but I’ve voiced my own concerns to whoever will listen and I keep hearing the same thing “Your kid could change the world!” No offense, wellwishers, but that’s bogus. My kid could be a methhead. Or a Liberal. Or even worse, a Conservative. Maybe I will birth the next Jane Goodall or Teddy Roosevelt, but maybe my kid will just be some run-of-the-mill a-hole who pays his/her taxes but rejects every environmental teaching his mother ever shoved down his/her throat. I shudder to think.
I feel like Atlas- the weight of the world is upon my shoulders. Not only because I’m altering it more than I intended, but because now I have this tiny creature’s future to consider. And it’s future’s future. I could potentially have many generations on my conscience, and I want this planet to be as awesome or even better than the one I know and love.
As soon-to-be-parents, what can we do to decrease our negative footprint and improve the wellbeing of the earth for our little Beepa Beep?
A minimal-impact baby
*Cloth diapers. I read recently that Americans throw away 18 billion disposable diapers every year, and every one of those diapers take anywhere from 250-500 years to decompose. I will use cloth if it absolutely kills me. If it means we can’t travel overseas with baby until it’s potty trained, then so be it. If G and I need an international escape, that’s what grandmas and aunties are for.
*But speaking of, we’ll potty train at 6 months. Okay, you got me, a year.
*Cloth baby wipes. I didn’t even know these were a thing! I couldn’t be more excited! Greg and I are hardcore believers in adult wipes, but since finding out about these I told Greg we wouldn’t be buying any more for us. We won’t use cloth, because that’s disgusting, but plain old wet toilet paper. I compromised and agreed we could spend more than the $0.67 we typically spend on four rolls.
*Breastfeeding. Have you met me? I can’t think of anything better. If I have to hand-pump these things like a gd goat, I WILL.
*Make our own baby food. You know, seven years from now when I finally stop breastfeeding. WHAT. It’s free.
*Buy organic food. But only when it makes environmental sense. Some organic packaging is a plasticky, styrofoamy nightmare! Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? You don’t want chemicals in or on your food, but it’s okay to package it in chemicals? Come on, humans.
*Avoid products with BPA. Greg’s been telling me for years not to microwave in plastic and I’ve never believed him. After I got pregnant I started reading about it. It’s especially harmful to pregnant woman! Whoops! Only glass for this family, which is way better for the environment anyway. What a win!
*I refuse to buy any maternity clothes. I’ll use rubberbands for my jeans and wear stretchy pants and shorts the rest of the time.
*I refuse to buy any new baby clothes. Will take any and all hand-me-downs!
*Actually, I refuse to buy anything new for this baby. Car seat’s a hard maybe. Unless someone has a gently used one they’d like to get rid of? Nudge nudge wink wink.
*Actually, I refuse anything new for this baby. I don’t expect a dern thing from anyone, but my bruised ego may explode if someone tries to give me something new. Please don’t. Buy yourself something reusable instead, that would please me so much more.
I was 15 weeks last Monday, and aside from quickly losing the ability to bend at the waist, am feeling like a million bucks. According to the internet my baby is now the size of a Hass avocado or a navel orange, and its little heart is pumping more than 25 quarts of blood a day. Papa Greggles is super pumped and super sweet, and instead of being the raging lunatic I always feared, I’m more mellow and lovey than I’ve ever been. Greg said he’s just going to keep me pregnant from now on. LULZ. Everyone we’ve told has been a lot more excited than me, but I know that will come when they put this babe on my chest. Greg is looking forward to everything past the newborn stage, and I am very much looking forward to baby toes and good sugars and finally getting to tell everyone else, with some conviction, how to raise their kids.
Yeah, my baby’s going to trash the planet as much as the rest of us, but hopefully with an environmentally-conscious upbringing maybe he/she will do so just a little bit less.
What are some actions you’ve taken to create a little hippie baby? I’d love some more ideas!