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The Baby Question

{Me + Leo, my friend’s sweet baby}

This morning, I attended a “Mamas Makin It” panel in Hollywood. It featured women who I admire and who have achieved what I am currently attempting to, and was all about balancing motherhood and career. Although I loved what one of them said, that she doesn’t like the word “balance” because it suggests ballerina-like grace and accomplishing everything, and to her it feels more like a juggling act of just trying to keep all her balls in the air. I do not have a baby and the half-a-bottle of wine I had with dinner last night proves I am not pregnant, and I was worried I’d be the only weirdo at this baby group without… You know… A baby. So, I dragged my friend Ilana, who does have a baby (one of the cutest babies of all time, specifically). I’m super happy she had fun and got something out of it, but if we’re being honest, I was personally dying to go just to see these mythical creatures who somehow have jobs and children. I have neither, and am still exhausted at the end of the day from chasing the former; I was so curious to hear how they “have it all.”

It gave me peace of mind that they all seemed to humbly disagree that they “have it all,” even if it might look like it from the outside looking in on their lives. And all of them have nannies, at least part-time. Just like the rest of us, they found it hard to check everything off their To Do lists (I seriously have such a hard time with this currently, I have no idea how I will manage when Keeping Another Human Alive and Teach Them To Be A Good Person are thrown into the mix). And they unanimously agreed that being a stay at home mom is the hardest job of all.

The Baby Question has been on my mind for a while now. I’d like to preface all of this by saying I LOVE BABIES. I’ve always known I wanted to have kids, but it seemed like something in the very, very, very distant future. But as soon as Tony and I got engaged, people quickly started to skip over “when’s the wedding” and get straight to “when are you having kids?” It terrified me. I wanted to respond, “I’m too young to have kids!” But that’s not the truth (even though in my mind I still look the same as I did when I was 24). Or, “Just let me get through the wedding! I’m too obsessed with the difference between grey and dove grey table linens to worry about creating another human being.” Which was true at the time, but isn’t anymore. The wedding is over, and I have my sanity (mostly) back. Or, “I’M NOT READY! I can barely take care of myself, much less a baby! My career is nowhere near where I want it to be, and I have to establish it before I can even think about having kids!” Which is the absolute truth, for me.

You guys know that I’m a Type A perfectionist. I like to worry about every possible negative outcome and make a plan for how to prevent it before I make a decision (which is why it’s really good that I married an optimistic risk-taker like Tony). And so I never really thought seriously about having kids in the near future, because my life simply isn’t ready for them. I don’t have everything figured out yet, and there are so many things that could happen when we have kids, my brain misfires like those Fembots in Austin Powers anytime I begin to obsess over what could go wrong, what I’d have to give up, how my body will change, how I could fail. (I say “I” because I’ve never once worried whether or not Tony will be a good dad. I know he will be. Currently, he even buys baby food for himself as a snack because it it high in protein, low in bad crap and, apparently, delicious.)

And my career is important to me. Really important. However, it’s not exactly “established” or “remotely financially stable” yet. I chose the most insane, ridiculous career path; there’s very little rhyme or reason to casting, so much is based on what you look like/weigh, how many social media followers you have (please, for the love of EVERYTHING, please follow me) or even whether or not you remind the Powers That Be of that bitch from high school. And on the writing front, I kept writing screenplays that everybody “loved” but didn’t want to buy because they’d already bought something “female,” or because there were no male leads, or because the female characters weren’t “likable” (ie fuckable) enough, or because “there aren’t enough actresses who could play that role. If Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig said no, who would be in it?” A lot of that energy drove me to start this blog… I got so sick of stuffing yet another piece of work into a drawer that I was desperate to find a way for my writing to see the light of day and maybe even entertain people. I love acting and writing, I’ve worked my whole life toward the dream of writing and acting for a living, and a very big part of me is worried that I won’t have the time or energy required to dedicate to rabidly chasing down those jobs. (So, thank you thank you thank you for supporting me. Seriously, please follow me/share this blog. Tell yo mama! Tell yo friends!)

My mom was a stay at home mother, as were most of the moms I knew growing up, and she was amazing. Really, really big shoes to fill. I loved all of the time I had with her, and I worry that I’m too selfish to live up to that. Which is not to judge mothers who work in any way, because I agree with Amy Poehler that woman-on-woman crime needs to stop and we’d all be happier if we just supported each other and knew that everyone is doing what’s best for them and their families, and doing their best in general. But, I didn’t know a lot of moms who worked outside the home when I was a kid, and a lot of the women this morning spoke about that “mommy guilt.” I can’t help but worry I won’t be enough unless I drop everything to be a good mom, or that I’ll always wonder “what if” if I do drop everything to be a mom.

I’m aware all of this is very melodramatic. And immature. Further signs I’m not ready to have kids. Less than two weeks ago, I lit the oven on fire by accident. I consider burritos totally appropriate meals for breakfast, and ice cream totally appropriate for dinner. Whenever Tony and I are watching TV with my parents and a sexy scene comes on, my mom still screams “Cover your eyes!” I’m hoarding clothes from 10 years ago, telling myself they might fit again eventually. I have a serious stray-dog-collecting problem. I still haven’t gotten around to learning how our TV remote works. I’m a monster if I get less than 8 hours of sleep. I eat sushi, wine and/or soft cheese at least once a day… I’m not ready.

But then my friends started having children. BABIES HAVING BABIES! (Only not really, because we’re in our late 20’s/early 30’s and are only half-joking when we talk about Botox now.) Some had fancy job titles and gave them up to be stay at home moms, and others kept their fancy jobs and went back when they were ready. Others are still chasing their dream jobs like me, only they made the leap and decided to just have kids when they wanted to. And then I went for my annual check up after our wedding, and my gynecologist gave me prenatal vitamins as a wedding gift. Everyone else seems to be ready but me.

All of the women in my life – even strangers – seem to echo the same sentiment “You will never be ready. There will never be a perfect time.” THAT SCARES ME SO MUCH. Because then, how do you know when? Some of my friends have said they suddenly felt this switch in their bodies one day, and any time they’d spot an infant on the streets they’d have this primal urge internally screaming “GET ME THAT BABY.” What if I never have that switch go off? What if, by the time it does, I can’t have kids anymore? And I can’t afford IVF because I’m still trying to get this whole acting/writing thing to pan out? (And then my brain misfires like a Fembot.)

I would love to hear where you’re at in your life. If you have kids, how did you decide when the time was right? How do you find balance (or juggle everything)? And if not, what are you waiting for and why?

  • Heidi Hawk

    Oh I feel for this post with all my heart. I’m not ready yet either and I got married in May. I know with every part of me I want to be a mom and I’m so excited for that. But I have things I need to do first and for me that’s finishing grad school. I have 2.5 years left and I feel like if I don’t finish this before kids I will never finish it. And it is hard with all the pressures and life around me. I love kids. My husband wants them. And I need a little bit. I want to be ready to be a fully there mom for my babies and I’m a little too selfish yet to give up my personal time and pursuits.I just trust that it will come when I’m ready but I refuse to feel bad for putting myself first for just a little longer.

    • Annie

      Oh, this makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER!! Glad I’m not alone in this boat (or in the guilt). Thank you for reading and supporting me!! Good luck with grad school! What are you studying? X A

      • Heidi Hawk

        Organizational Change Leadership. Very fun and interesting! Your blogs always make me feel like I have a kindred spirit in this whole new married life thing so thank you for this blog!

        • Annie

          SO cool!! You’re gonna change the world, while I keep writing about how I’m trying to figure life out and not eat too many tacos/bottles of wine. Thank you again for supporting the blog and being MY kindred spirit out in the world!!!!! X A

  • Ted Geier

    A few observations: 1) Wow, can you write… compelling, eloquent, simple, thought-provoking, humorous, powerful. 2) You will make the right decisions about parenthood. You will. So much in life is asking the right questions — answers are much easier than finding those right questions — gathering information and advice, and then trusting yourself. You seem to do all of that. 3) If you choose to go that route, you will make wonderful parents — what you don’t know, your kids will teach you real fast. 4) If you don’t choose that route, you will continue to make the world a better place because that is how you’ve chosen to live your life, and you will find much joy along the way. So, enjoy the process of thinking and feeling it through with your partner — whatever paths you choose you will make right. And keep the faith in pursuing all of your dreams.

    • Annie

      This is absolutely incredible. THANK YOU for these beautiful, beautiful words. I am so lucky to have your support and words of encouragement! Thank you again, Ted! Lots of love to you and the family <3 X A

  • schurgal

    i love this annie! my switch never went off… or on… and i also LOVE KIDS! once i really started thinking about not having kids, i felt so much relief that i knew it was the right choice for me. also – i sleep at least 9 hours a night and i love it!

    • Annie

      You are the best. Thanks for chiming in and supporting the blog!! LOVE that that’s the way you figured out what was best for you… The whole “no sleep” thing is a real tough cookie for me.

  • Liz Norwood

    This is so refreshing to read. I literally just updated my own blog with a post about my adventures in pregnancy so far, which basically details my deepest darkest fears and how insane the human body truly is (among other things). And this is coming from somebody who never really wanted kids until a few years ago. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s normal to be completely and utterly terrified (no joking, I cried about it before we even started trying, because it scared me THAT much). I mean let’s face it, I refer to my weekly child birthing classes as “3 hour panic attacks”. I’m 31 and 4 weeks from my due date of our first baby. I know girls (whoops, women) that are on their third pregnancy and somehow I am so screwed up that I can barely get through one without worrying about the worst case scenario (and there are a LOT) . So the blog post felt like a whole lot of complaining. My mom assured me it wasn’t whiny, it was “true”, which made me feel better. I think at the end of the day what most people say is right: Don’t wait for a good time because there is no good time. HOWEVER, that being said, I knew I wasn’t ready. But I also knew I was just terrified and would justify that I was never going to be ready. SO Jeremy and I took a big leap of faith, and being totally financially unstable, went for it. Sure, we could have waited another year or so, but we kind of looked at it as an adventure. We have already made so many sacrifices and truthfully being pregnant is one of the hardest thing I have ever done. But I know motherhood will be 10 times harder but be just as rewarding. When people ask me how I’m feeling, I tell them equal parts excited and terrified. Because if you’re not, your unnatural.
    The job aspect is different for me. I have been chasing a career as well but not one as time sensitive and physically/socially demanding as you. So I feel like it’s OK to put myself on the back burner for a while. But I look at women who have been making the “baby AND career” thing work, and I figure it’s possible, so why not for me too? It’s nice to know women are openly expressing that they “don’t have it all”. I wish more women knew that was the norm and we shouldn’t all be putting this insane pressure on ourselves to be Wonder Woman.
    My best advice is don’t let anyone make you FEEL like you need to be a baby making machine any sooner than you and Tony are ready for. Ugh this got long. Sorry for the rant, it’s hard to stay focused these days. Love your blog!

    • Annie

      Liz, this is so beautiful!!!! Thank you so much for sharing all of this, it made me feel less alone in my fears and I know it is difficult to rip your heart open and be that honest. I can’t wait to read your blog. You guys will be AMAZING parents and I can’t wait to stalk all the pictures on social media. Tony and I are so happy for you guys. Thank you so so so much for being so supportive of this blog! Big hugs! Thank you again for this heartfelt comment, it really means so much to me and I’m so happy for you. X A

  • elisa elias

    I can completely relate to the whole second guessing yourself and your options/choices all the time….It does not only affect your ability to make big life decisions but also mundane ones (ie. where to invest my pension pot? with so many options I have had a stash of cash doing nothing over the last 4 years!). I have been a career minded woman since I remember and got established in my field from my late twenties however the “baby now or later” dilemma took a long time to be resolved. I always felt I needed to be one step ahead of where I was before taking the plunge (professionally, financially, emotionally
    etc). After delaying for an eternity, as my husband was not in any rush either,
    we started trying for at baby when I was 34 yo. To me it was more a matter of
    biological urgency rather than anything else. I never had the feeling I am
    ready to do this now. In my heart I always felt kids where part of the picture
    but for a long time, even right before trying for a baby, we were more involved
    with our own lives than getting ready to settle and make room for a new person
    in our lives. The fact that we have lived in three different countries over the
    last eight years says it all. I did feel though that I have worked hard all my
    life and that whatever I had achieved at this point meant nothing if I could
    not share it and enjoy it with my own little one. I felt it was time to offer to my prospective child the world I knew and to discover with him/her the one I do not know yet. It became more a legacy issue I suppose even though I am still relatively young and healthy to be that concerned about legacy but this is the best way I can describe how it felt to me. By the time I turned 36 yo and no baby in sight, we had to go for IVF as our only choice after a diagnosis of unexplained
    infertility. We were lucky and blessed that we got pregnant after the first attempt
    and with twins (boy and girl). They are almost two years old now and I would say
    that it has taken me these two years to feel that this is alright that I can do
    this (kids & career). The fact that it was two babies at the same time made
    it more challenging to adjust but in the end I am happy about the timing of everything and extremely grateful of having these wonderful two people
    in our lives. I do see an advantage from being financially ok when you have
    kids. But I also envy a bit young women with lots of energy to dedicate to
    their kids….the weekends, when I am 48 hours straight with my twins, are very
    exhausting. I look forward to the future and I feel the most difficult part is
    behind us: making the decision to have a child, trying to get pregnant, being
    pregnant, nursing and surviving the terrible twos (which we are at the moment)….I have been told every age has its own challenges but certainly life is starting
    to feel easier and I am finding small windows of time for myself. I love my
    kids so much, messy weekends included

    • Annie

      Elisa! Thank you so much for this thoughtful response. You were so generous with your story, and it means so much to hear from women like you who struggled with the idea as I am now and came out on the other side happy, with a baby! I think I’ve felt for so long that it was “part of our future,” it’s scaring me that the future is maybe now and if not, soon. It’s nice to hear from so many women that you’re never really “ready,” but then the baby(ies) come and you are. Thank you so much for reading the blog, and for this beautiful note! X A


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