Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

On fighter pilots and their baby bumps

(Photo: Mandee Johnson)

About a year ago, a strange thing happened to me: For the first time, I began to imagine having a baby. Not raising a kid or parenting—I’ve always wanted to parent a child, and my non-comedy work experience only confirmed this. I worked in special education and loved it. Then I was a nanny for several years and my nannykid ruled. I’ve already helped raise some kids, which was very cool though surprisingly boring because, as it turns out, toddlers are the worst at casually chatting about action movies.


Now I’m thinking about having a baby. I’m thinking about growing a baby in my body and then somehow getting it outside of my body using methods I still cannot comprehend like pushing and what the fuck?! Never before had I thought I might want to carry.

I think part of this is my age—I’m in my early 30s—and part of it is that I have found the woman I’m going to marry. I feel safe with her. So my brain has decided to up the ante a shit-ton (babies make literally tons of shit) and has begun giving me strange signals, like “Swaddle your dog in a blanket and take a series of photos.”

I find this shocking. For one, my gender is slightly out of step with the results for a Getty Image search of “pregnant woman.” Those chicks are so rarely wearing jean jackets. It’s not that I won’t carry just because I’d get odd looks strolling through the Urban Outfitters mens’ sale section during my seventh month, it’s that I haven’t seen a lot of fighter pilots popping baby bumps. It’s hard for me to imagine me pregnant and butch-booting around the neighborhood. (Note: I have known some butch-ish gals who carried and they looked awesome. Nice job, gals! You are still slightly unusual but very cool!)

Of course, there’s also the question of the raw components needed to make a baby. When it comes to sperm, my fiancée and I would need delivery, since we don’t have the DiGiorno at home. (We have an aversion to rising crust.) Making a baby in an all-female household is doable but expensive. So is adoption. We aren’t yet expensive people. We’re burgeoning stand-up comics. It’s an achievement that we own a couch and pay rent on the apartment where that couch lives.


I didn’t get into this field for the money, and that’s a good thing. Most successful comics spend the first five or 10 years of their careers making little—sometimes no—money telling jokes. During that time, comics have a choice: Try to float a day job or wear the same shirt every day because you cannot afford a second shirt. I’ve done both. My nannykid really wished I owned a second shirt.

I’m a decade into my comedy career, and I’ve shaken the idea that I’ll need to get a non-comedy day job again. When I had a day job, I didn’t mind that I had to nanny-work days and joke-work nights. It made stand-up feel important and worth the sacrifice of normalcy. I didn’t realize at the time was that my non-stand-up peers were using that decade to grow-up. While I collected sets, they collected mortgages, marriages, and kids.


This isn’t an unusual realization for a comic; it’s something I’ve talked to many of my friends about. But most of my friends are comics and most comics are men; by the transitive property, I’ve got mostly male friends. When we talk about this issue—the delayed adulthood of the stand-up comic—we’re coming at it as peers and pals who love one another and share so many similar experiences. But they haven’t really had to think about whether they’d be able to travel while pregnant or what a pregnant comic would look like onstage or what that comic would joke about.

A bunch of my male stand-up pals had their first kids this year. They toured during the pregnancy, filmed commercials and TV spots. They were pregnant without being the one who was pregnant. My fiancée could carry, but she’s also a comic. Either way, if we decide to carry a kid, one of us would be swinging a mic stand around a serious tummy.


This isn’t something all non-comic women have figured out. Some jobs don’t offer maternity leave. Some women don’t want to take it. And by the way, I know that not all women want to parent children. That’s totally chill. I also know that I do want to. And now that I finally feel career stability after 10 years onstage, I see all the other things I might have thought through during that decade.

I work in television frequently. And I write, I podcast. I’ve cobbled together an income that serves me well. But my greatest source of income is still live shows. Eventually, this won’t be true. Eventually I’ll be able to afford better health care, and take time off the road. Eventually I’ll grow up. If I do want to have children, eventually better come pretty soon.


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