“Should I really be having a child when many of the world’s issues are population related?”. Our Co-Founder Cassie Duncan is a very special person. She’d hate us telling everyone, but it’s true. She’s dedicated to the ‘sustainability’ cause beyond belief, in every aspect of her life. So it didn’t surprise us when she confessed to having moral spasms over the decision to have a baby. Here, in her first post post-partum, she ruminates over the dilemma her eco-conscious mind faced when her instinct to procreate kicked in…

by Cassie Duncan

This is my first blog post after taking a break from my ‘work baby’ to have a real one – a little boy named Luca. I’ve been umming and erring about whether or not to mix work and family on this blog, but the truth is, a big chunk of my life is now spent navigating how to grow our beautiful little family without dramatically increasing our environmental footprint, so I’m hoping that some of my ponderings, mistakes and little wins will strike a chord with a few of you out there.

So here begins a regular blog spot I will call, ‘Eco Mama Cass’.

OK, so I’m not going to deny that deciding to have a child felt very much like a selfish choice. It was something I wanted for me, for us, for our family. I wanted to see what our chromosomes could create, to watch my body change and grow with the little miracle inside. I wanted to watch in awe as the life inside me took his first breath in the outside world. I wanted to tap into that secret pocket of love that people say is reserved solely for loving a child (although I reckon I’d tapped into part of that reserve when we got a puppy).

As the months and years of trying to have a baby passed by, these yearnings only became more intense, more desperate, I guess. So when the day came when the umpteenth pregnancy test returned a positive result, my husband and I were overjoyed.

But there was always a niggling thought in the back of my mind. Should I really be having a child when many of the world’s issues are population related? I asked myself, “how can I justify bringing a child into the world when I don’t exactly like where we’re headed as a collective?”. How can I add to the ‘stuff’ that is choking up the planet without seeming like a hypocrite?

A little part of me was hoping that after having Luca, I would fall into the bliss of motherhood and these thoughts that plagued me would dissolve. But they didn’t. They just intensified.

When I had him, in those first 24 hours of life, I was exhausted, tender and highly emotional. I held Luca close to my chest. I didn’t want visitors, I didn’t want to have to share this beautiful being, not yet anyway. All these feelings of wanting to protect and nurture my young were not intellectual, it was instinct playing out in all its primal rawness. I couldn’t help but think that this is the same instinct that all animals possess. The instinct to procreate, to protect, to nurture. Granted, not many animals are as ‘intelligent’ as humans, but I guess what was overwhelming to me was that this feeling wasn’t something I needed to rationalise, it just was.

So if we agree that instinct is something we share with other animals, then how can we separate a cow from her calf at less than 24 hours old, just so we can take her milk? How can we literally grind up day-old male chicks because they’re not needed for egg production? How can we factory farm pigs and confine mother-pigs to cement-bottomed farrowing crates that she cannot even move in, for weeks after giving birth? All in the name of ‘progress’ and cheap food?

Having a primal birthing experience forced me to acknowledge and address the role we play in creating our own happy place and the happy place of others. The role we play in condoning many abuses that, if inflicted on our own family, we surely could not bear.

One day, whilst discussing these dilemmas with a dear friend, she said, “Let’s not feel guilty. Let’s see our children and ourselves as the very people who can positively contribute to the world. Let that be what guides our parenting style.”

I left that conversation feeling a renewed sense of positivity; a renewed sense that having children can indeed be a gift to the world, rather than a burden on its precious resources. So here begins my exploration of this over the coming weeks.

Stay tuned for more…