Last night, after my toddler was asleep, and the dishes were done, and the lights were turned down low, my partner and I made a baby. It was easy, and fun, and only took about thirty seconds. Was that too much information?
Maybe, though I assure you, this conception was entirely G-rated. It took place—like much of my life—between the computer and me. My partner wasn’t even home. I guess you could say it was immaculate. Or rather, virtual. I had found myself suckered into a website that grants Internet procrastinators an answer to the burning question, “What will YOUR baby look like?” You simply upload a photo of yourself and of your significant other, then let the “advanced face detection technology” do the rest. There’s also an option to make babies with Johnny Depp or Britney Spears, you know, minus the baggage.
Look, I’ll admit it: I’ve got baby fever, and I’ve got it bad. I know that our planet is overpopulated, warming, and its landfills don’t have room for more diapers. I realize that our economy is in a recession, and that I’m in the process of earning an almost entirely unemployable master’s degree (creative writing). I’m still young and naïve and probably have plenty of baby-making years left in me. But what can I say? It’s not rational; I just want another baby and I want one now.
Part of it is that I have literally half a dozen friends who are pregnant right now, several of them my mom-friends expecting a second child, preparing their toddlers—my son’s little buddies—to become older brothers and sisters. When my friends show me their sonogram pictures, or tell me about baby names, or ask to borrow Aidan’s infant car seat, I couldn’t be more excited or pleased to help. But well, there’s also part of me that’s jealous—just a little. There’s part of me that wants to be pregnant too, wants to need that infant car seat for my own child, wants to snuggle a newborn in my arms again, wants that baby smell back on my clothes.
But we’re not quite ready for another one yet. So I made a virtual baby instead. With a few clicks of the mouse, I selected my baby’s gender (girl, why not?) and the design for the baby announcements: how cute! And then I waited for the page to load. Our Internet connection is slow as hell and it felt like hours—almost like the anticipation of being in labor. Almost like the real thing. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and when I opened them, there she was—my very blond (random recessive gene?), very weird looking baby girl. She didn’t look anything like the rest of our family and she didn’t look like Johnny Depp. My virtual baby was honestly a little frightening.
Just as I was about to close my browser, I noticed a disclaimer at the bottom of the page: Real life genetics is far more complicated than this.True that, I thought, feeling admittedly relieved by that validation. Real life is complicated; I don’t know when we’ll be ready to make another baby—a real one—or if we’ll ever, really, be ready. But if we do, I know this: she (or he) will be beautiful.