14. Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence

by Rebecca Walker
started 3/20/08 finished 3/26/08

***Warning***This post may be too personal and depressing***
I have never been a goal-oriented person. Setting an objective and working hard towards it has never been part of my experience. In the past, when I have wanted something badly and it didn’t work out, I just gave up and moved on. When I was in high school, I wanted to be in Fashion Merchandising. So, I applied to F.I.T. (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York and was accepted. When my mother said I couldn’t go (I think for financial reasons), I just chose the next school on my list that offered me money and I wound up at FAMU (Florida A&M University). There I drifted from major to major and eventually dropped out. Other people would have probably fought harder to go to F.I.T. and done anything to make it happen. I just have never been too attached enough to things to make that much of an effort. And I convince myself that it is okay.
However, there is one goal that I wished I would have worked harder for…motherhood. I have wanted to have a child since I was 16 years old. I didn’t want to wait till later in life like my mother did (31 years old); I wanted to be young enough to have the energy. But now that I am in my early 40’s with no potential partner on the horizon, I fear that this may never happen. Because of this I have been drawn to stories of pregnancy and childbirth. I watched a great documentary by Rickie Lake (yes, that Rickie Lake) called The Business of Being Born. It is about hospital birth versus home birth and what is best for the mother and child.
After hearing Rebecca Walker on NPR discussing depression in the black community and her decision to continue using anti-depressants during her pregnancy, I decided to read Baby Love.
This is Rebecca’s pregnancy and post-pregnancy diary. It also explores her history with the thought of motherhood and the many times she thought she was ready before. Having read her other memoir, Black, White, & Jewish, I was familiar with her upbringing and her unsteady relationship with her mother (author Alice Walker). ***Warning #2***You may leave this book with a not too great an opinion of her mother.
It was very interesting to read about all of the choices that Rebecca had to make during this pregnancy: whether to stay on anti-depressants or not, hospital birth or at-home birth, staying in a relationship with a parent that doesn’t make her feel safe. Between those issues and dealing with an iron level that almost bottomed out, she went through a lot compared to the average person. She made it through all of this with the help of a loving, patient Buddhist Master boyfriend, a supportive father and loads of friends and gave birth to a baby boy. The book ends with the birth of Tenzin (named after the Dalai Lama) and the challenges that left him hospitalized.
Through it all Rebecca emerged with a strength that at times she didn’t know she had and only pregnancy and motherhood can sometimes provide.

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One thought on “14. Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence

  1. I have thought about reading this book but I need escapist fiction after working in IB all day!!! But I knew that she had “real” issues with her mother…it is pretty sad but her mother had a hard time of it too and I think that transferred into her mothering…just sad all around!

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