by Diana Martinez

Baby Fever. Do you find yourself envious of pregnant women you see in the stores?  Or swooning over babies you may meet in public?  Continuously looking at family members’ photos of their newborns on Facebook? Not me. I have been noticing a lot of pregnant acquaintances from my hometown lately.  Am I supposed to feel obligated to swoon over their baby’s photos or to want to hold infants I meet?

I’ve never been one to obsess over babies, but I notice more and more women my age are beginning to want one of their own and are actually having them.  I think to myself “I’m still young and trying to take care of myself.  I couldn’t possibly handle a child in my life.”

Causes of a baby fever society are planted into our minds from an early age that our most important act as females is to have children. Baby dolls are very popular toys for girls ages 3 to 8ish.  We are already learning that we should be caring for infants when we aren’t too far off from being babies ourselves.  As we grow up and are exposed to more and more images in the media, we begin to assume motherhood is the eventual and necessary path for all women.  We’d be blind not to notice how much attention pregnant women and new mothers receive.  Notice how many magazine covers are plastered with celebrities with their babies or their protruding bellies.

Many movies and television shows market the idea of young motherhood to teenagers and young adults.  Juno’s pregnancy in the movie, Juno, is not a fairytale, but oversimplifies the situation.  Juno is lucky she had supportive parents and friends, because in many cases, expecting teenagers have family problems that can result in being thrown out of the house or lack a support system.  Many pregnant teenshave slandered reputations and the inability to graduate, but in Juno, being labeled as “The Cautionary Whale” was the worst of her problems in school.

In comparison with real life high school culture, Juno hardly exemplifies the actuality of teen pregnancy.  In Washington state, teenager Gaby Rodriguez faked a pregnancy to investigate its repercussions in terms of reputation at school.   Rumors spread through that halls “…that I was irresponsible, and that I wasn’t gonna get into college, and ‘oh, it was bound to happen anyways,’ and ‘I knew she was gonna get pregnant.’”

Glee seems portray the difficulties of teen pregnancy by showing the stress of Quinn’s family and revealing the unfair rumors and perceptions of pregnant teens, but still, the birthing scene in the season finale seemed to glorify the situation a bit. Quinn, although in pain, looked so beautiful while in labor, and since it is impossible for one to physically feel another’s pain, all we see is her damsel-like expression covered in a shiny gloss of sweat. The movie, Knocked Up, also makes labor look easier than it is.  There was public uproar about the crowning shot, but in reality, there would have been a lot more blood, hair, and crap in general.

I also want to emphasize that the pregnancy is by no means the most difficult part.  Many shows or movies end their story after the child comes.  The Gloucester 19 tells the real story of the teenage girls who made their pregnancy pact.  After birth, reality truly sets in and motherhood–especially as a single-parent–turns sour.  Baby fever may cause people to forget the difficulties of raising a child because they are blinded by the beauty and fun of baby showers and a newborn.

Is there a prescription for baby fever? For many women, this particular pull for a baby tells them that maybe they are ready to take that next step.  Others who do not find their lives in the right place may choose to spend time with children in another way.  If you find yourself wanting the company of babies or kids, volunteer for the library, Girl Scouts, a day care or a hospital.  From there you can fulfill your need for young growth in your life and test the waters of being a role model to see if you can handle the full-time job of motherhood.  In the end, one must try to recognize whether it is society and the media causing the desire for children, or if she truly in her heart believes that she is fully prepared.

When is Baby Fever unhealthy?  There are many arguments that women should naturally have strong feelings of motherhood and desires to care for a child of their own.  It is perfectly normal and honorable for someone to want to watch a piece of herself grow and learn under her supervision, to be responsible for a human life.  It becomes problematic when one does not have the means or resources to take care of a child, or when one undermines the sacrifices of raising another human being.  If I choose to have a child some day, I want to be able to provide for her or him to the best of my ability.  I want her or him to experience all the opportunities I had growing up: a stable living environment, health insurance, music lessons, a college education, and the opportunities to take trips and experience the world.