My whole life I always thought that I wanted babies. No strike that, I assumed that I would have babies. You know the kids’ rhyme, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby with the baby carriage.” We sang this song at each other tauntingly, knowing that these were the steps of our future adulthood. Everything we were taught in school as little girls, every future scenario we were told to dream, and every book we read, included a future where we were to one day get married, get pregnant, birth babies, and have our own families. I knew I wanted 1 boy and 1 girl, just like my brother and I. I kept a notebook with all my future baby name ideas. I dreamed of what kind of mother I’d be, and how I’d raise my kids. 

But here I am today, on my 35th revolution around the sun (aka my 35th birthday), during a global pandemic, and after many years of deep reflection have accepted the fact that — I don’t want to birth children. 

What’s crazy is that there were actually 6 months where my husband and I did actively try to get pregnant. Being the super proactive, efficient event planner I am, I tried to plan the shit out of it. “If I have a baby during the summer, Jonny (my husband who is a teacher) will be on summer break and can help more. Then, I can take a few months off and come back to work for prime SF summer event season. Try not to be pregnant during the holidays or your birthday because then you can’t drink.”

I bought the large pack of fertility testers (apparently Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test is the best; but you gotta get the 20 count since it takes some women longer to test their cycle). I downloaded the free Fertility Friend mobile app to start tracking and learning about ovulation cycles. (Sidenote, even as a woman I had no idea about fertility cycles. I grew up with a Catholic education since pre-school and they definitely didn’t teach anything in Sex ED except “Don’t get STDs or get pregnant.”) Additionally, I’d spent my whole life trying NOT to be pregnant — trying to do the opposite was really weird. I peed on sticks every day and tracked ‘milky / sticky / period today’ into an app to monitor my vagina’s state of being. For the first time in 15 years I was off birth control, and I felt SO good. Even my husband said I was less moody and we were getting along way better. And it was true. (That’s a whole other blog.)

So we tried, for about 6 months. We still weren’t pregnant yet, and it was getting a bit frustrating. Many of my older friends told me that it was due to all my stress. “You’ll never get pregnant if you’re so stressed all the time,” they said. It made sense. 

Becoming a Pinayista

All of this was happening around the time that I had quit Google X and gone full time with my business Make it Mariko, and things started to change. I LOVED the new freedom I had being my own boss. One day, I went out on a Tuesday night and treated myself to a fancy solo dinner at Che Fico in SF. While sipping my third cocktail in a coupe (my favorite glass), I had a realization, “I fucking love this. Tomorrow I can wake up whenever I want.” It was beautiful. I felt free.

So completely enjoying the #Pinayista life (pinays in the hustle), and wanting to still live a bit selfishly, my husband and I mutually decided to stop trying for a while. If it happened, it happened. But we wouldn’t focus on it, and I wouldn’t check the app anymore.

That was over 4 years ago. Today, things have changed even more and I can honestly say a few things:

I don’t want to birth a baby from my body.
I don’t have the desire nor the curiosity to be pregnant.
Adoption is not off the table.

Dare To Ask The Question

So how does someone go from trying to have a baby, to stopping trying for a while, to not wanting a baby at all? What changed?

Well first, I finally took the time to ask myself the question, “Do I want to have a baby?” I realized I had never actually asked myself this question before. I always assumed that I would, because I was a woman, and that’s what women do when they get older and get married, right? I thought about all my amazing friends who have kids, all my fellow Pinayistas who run businesses and have kids, and about how much I seriously just LOVE babies in general! I helped raise my little cousins when I was younger and I’ve been frequently called a “baby whisperer” because I can get babies to go to sleep.

“Do I want to have a baby?” — After a lot of deep reflection, I realized that my answer to this question was surprisingly, ‘No’. I had to give myself permission to sit in that truth so I could talk openly with my husband. We discussed what our lives could look like without kids. How our families would react, and how much that bothered us. I remember the morning I woke up and realized: I literally have dreams about creating new businesses, and I plan events in my sleep. Sometimes I dream about typing into Google docs (which is always followed by the thought, “This is so inefficient…this spreadsheet is not even real…go to sleep”). The thought of having kids never enters my night brain, nor does it take up any space in my day brain either. Why should I work so hard to do something that I don’t even want? 

Telling My Parents

Once we came to this grand realization, I knew I had to tell my parents. I didn’t want them to read all over the internet that they’re not going to be grandparents, so I wanted to share the news in person. I told my mom first — she was totally understanding, said she was sad, but that it was MY decision and MY body. “You’re the one who has to birth and raise that baby, so don’t have one if you don’t want that sacrifice.” She used the word ‘sacrifice’ a few times, actually. 

My dad on the other hand didn’t take it so well. He reminded me that it’s always been his dream to be a grandparent and was clearly upset with me, at one point even calling me selfish. But I understood his POV so I wasn’t mad. The next time I saw him, he still talked to me and hugged me, so I took that as a sign he wasn’t that mad (LOL). Maybe one day I’ll give my parents adopted grandbabies. For now, they fully enjoy taking care of my fur baby Mochi, and I love them endlessly for accepting me and my life choices. I know they’re proud of me.

Right now I’m a proud Pinayista — the Founder and Owner of Make it Mariko, a tight knit all women-of-color event planning team in San Francisco that prides ourselves on creating magical, meaningful moments through events. We just re-launched our Pinayista community earlier this year — our global community of self-identified Pinays (Filipino women) dedicated to building sisterhood in the hustle. We also launched programming for Balay Kreative, a project where we’re looking to reclaim space in San Francisco’s SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District by buying a building to turn into a Filipino American Cultural Center by 2025. These are all huge endeavors, that to me, feels like birthing my second baby (Make it Mariko was my first). It gets me excited and filled with so much drive and purpose.

Designing My Own Life

In the end, none of these reasons matter besides this one: I just don’t want to. This is FEMINISM. This is the power of choice. And if I change my mind in 5 years, I should also have that choice. Every woman should be able to make this choice, and have it not be such a big deal. I often think to myself:

Why does it have to be an announcement? 
Why do I have to write a freakin blog about this?

Honestly, at 35 years old, married 6 years and together with my husband for 10+ years, I’m just TIRED of people asking me when I’m going to have a baby. 

I’m tired of people reminding me that I’m getting older. 
I’m tired of hearing that I might “miss my chance.” 
I’m tired of being told to “wait and see” because I might change my mind. 
I’m tired of people saying I might feel like “less of a woman” if I don’t have one. (People actually say this by the way.)

It’s exhausting, and it’s frustrating that people feel like they have the right to ask women such personal questions about their bodies at all. And that’s the reason I wanted to write this blog —  to share ONE perspective of a kind of life I’m excited to live that doesn’t involve childbirth. 

Because of the hard work and sacrifice that my parents did for me, I have the privilege to design my own life. 
To curate my own personal experience on this earth. 
To nurture the relationships in my life that I hold dear. 
To love on those who bring me joy. 
To focus on bringing to life the beautiful ideas that I dream up in my head. 
To be the Community Mama that I was born to be, and to care for those in my community and the employees of my businesses the same way that any mother would their own children.

When I reflect on my Filipino heritage, I think of the words of Dr. Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales on the word ‘Pinay’: 

“The word ‘Pinay’ has the word ‘Inay’ in it. The word ‘Inay’ means mother. What I mean by the word ‘Inay’ is yes mother, but you don’t need to birth a child to be a mother. It’s really important that Pinay has that element in it. The caring of people. The alagaan of people.”

I love that Ate Allyson recognizes the importance of the Community Mama. The late Dr. Dawn Mabalon was an example of a Community Mama. And I strive for the honor to be one, too.

Because in the end, my businesses are my baby.
My events are my baby.
The communities I’m a part of are my baby.

And my body is none of your business.

– Gina Mariko

Photo by Come Plum