This shape is of a mountain. Or two birds. Or a forklift.

I’m finding that each individual woman brings her own stuff  to the conversation about motherhood. To have a child is to face everything that makes us human —  race, class, sex, gender, economic status, romantic love, meaningful work, family structure, religious convictions, our own parents, whether or not Life On Earth should continue — and then arrange it into patterns that make sense to us or at least ones we can live with. This process is uncomfortably, personally fraught. Part of my journey into the fraughtness involves trying not to bring my stuff to other women’s reproductive/familial decisions (and it’s rare to occupy a time, place, and socioeconomic strata where that choice is not made FOR us. Most women don’t have the luxury of discussing it on the Internet. First-world problems). People can advise and support, or discourage and hurt me — but their take on the matter is ultimately about themselves: their history; their damage; their regrets; their hopes. It is a Rorschach inkblot test. That’s why bearing and raising a child is the most personal of decisions (which, paradoxically, affects women as a class in a myriad of ways). No one can know how, when, or whether a particular woman should bear a child except the woman herself. Understanding this is like being let out of a cage.