Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Womansplaining the pandemic baby bust

Remember a year ago when researchers who study population trends confidently predicted an unprecedented baby boom due to Covid confinement? The thinking was everyone was stranded at home with nothing to do except the devil’s aerobics so….

Yeah. About that…

Turns out, birthrates plummeted instead, resulting in a record-shattering “baby bust.” Who knew staying full-on terrified of contracting a deadly virus while being locked down with your “soulmate” who now eats gizzards out of a bucket and smears the grease on his cargo shorts isn’t nearly the aphrodisiac demographers envisioned? What’s that? Everybody?

The baby bust apparently resulted from clear-eyed concerns about job security, health insurance, availability of childcare…all of which translated into less desire to procreate and more interest in watching yet another HBO limited series of eight episodes that should have been four. (Seriously! Stop it. Even Kate Winslet can’t make driving down a road interesting for more than seven minutes.)

While I’m admittedly past childbearing age—my uterus has more cobwebs than the clearance endcap at Party City the day after Halloween—I’m plenty concerned. Why? Well, precisely because “I’m not young anymore,” which along with “Matt Gaetz sex party” is among the four most terrifying words I can think of. Who is going to take care of me in my dotage if Gen X-Z selfishly stops having children? Hmmmm?????

Sure, I don’t feel old but, just this morning, I turned to Duh Hubby and announced I was grateful for the “good soaking rain” we had last night. Who talks like that? I’m clearly one step away from drinking hot coffee with fried fish and posting “What kind of snake is this?” pics on Next Door all damn day. (Friendly note to everyone who always responds to these photos by acting like some kind of reptile publicist: I don’t care if snakes kill vermin, bats, black widow spiders, etc. I don’t care if they slither around the yard wearing really skinny lab coats and curing cancer. They freak me out.)

Although it seems like all the news is bad when it comes to birth rates, all the talk has spawned a long overdue, much-needed improvement in how we talk about pregnancy. Let me explain.

As I say 12-15 times a day, thank God for Chrissy Teigen. While I silently pouted at my own medical-charted “geriatric mother” designation back in the day, Chrissy heard others complain about this and enlisted “Peanut,” a popular mom-community app to develop a glossary for the insulting-ish language the rest of us have seethed about in private for generations.

Not counting Sarah in the Bible, who was 90 years young (blech) when she popped out Isaac AND NURSED HIM, pregnant women don’t deserve the title of “geriatric mother.”

So now we have”35 plus mother.” “Full-time child carer” replaces stay-at-home-mom, a label I owned with some discomfort for many years. It always reminded me of “shut-ins,” the wretchedly on-the-nose description of elderly and/or infirm church members whom we were urged to visit, preferably bearing a casserole with a dusting of crushed potato chips on top. (“Mamie don’t get out much anymore; she’s a SHUT IN.” You could easily substitute “Stay At Home Mom” and, honestly, if it involved a casserole delivery I would’ve been fine with it.)

“Morning sickness” has been replaced with “pregnancy nausea” because apparently morning was tired of getting all the bad press although I’m not sure this one is much of an upgrade.

“Reproductive struggles” replaces “barren” which I thought we did away with when wagon trains ceased to exist.

Pioneer woman: “Sadly, I’m barren, Ezra.”

Pioneer husband: “That’s OK, Leticia. In roughly 170 years, a Hollywood goddess named Chrissy Teigen will say you just have reproductive struggles. Also, her chocolate chunk banana bread is going to be, er, fire.”

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write to her at [email protected].

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