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Single Mom Diaries: And Baby Makes Two

I WANTED A BABY MORE THAN A HUSBAND

Marie Claire Single Mom

By Barbara Jones

"Poke a hole in your diaphragm," my friend Jackie advised.
"Once you have the baby, he'll love it."

I'd heard stories of women who manipulated various forms of birth control and everything worked out — the disgruntled husband instantly besotted with the kid. I wanted a family, and my husband didn't. If a baby had "just happened," I'm sure he would have loved it, but I'm not a diaphragm-puncturing kind of person. To me, parenthood should be an all-volunteer army. I couldn't draft a man I loved into a lifetime of service that he didn't want.

My husband and I had been college sweethearts, married at 25. My baby lust started up suddenly when I was 27 or 28. In the city in spring, taunting cherubs show up everywhere — in the cafés and parks, on the sidewalks jammed with strollers. One weekend, we took care of a friend's 9-month-old, face round as a ball, coffee-colored skin, crimson lips and cheeks — like a child in a picture book. How happy we were, carrying her around town in the backpack, singing to her, bathing her. When her parents returned, we were grief-stricken. "Let's get the hell out of here," my husband said, grabbing our suitcase. He knew we had to tear ourselves away before the startling sadness got worse.

Still, he wasn't ready for children of his own. He said, "Not yet," and "Not at this point, honey," and "You, of all people, know I'm not ready." We talked and talked, but "now" stayed a far-off, unnameable date. Meanwhile, friends old and new were sending out birth announcements. I once received three of those 4-by-8 baby-photo postcards in one day. On and on the babies were coming, none of them mine.

Then one night, I dreamed that I was a single mother, and happy. The next day, when I told my therapist about it, she surprised me by saying, "Have you thought of raising a child on your own before?" Before? I'd never thought of it at all. It was only a dream.

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