Since having stopped breast feeding at 11 and a half months, I've been feeling the procreative urges with increased strength every month. In my head though I feel conflicted. Part of me wants to at least begin to think about building our family and yet the other part doesn't feel ready to have another child because we are finally settling into some sort of 'new normality' and I am loathed to jeopardise that by putting us through all the fear and heartache of IVF again? Yet, what choice do we have? Most people want to provide at least one sibling for their first child. You often hear parents talk about how their family now "feels complete" having welcomed their second or even third child to the home. Why should we be any different?
I know several people who have decided to have their children close together. I comment to other friends on their madness to be throwing themselves into the stress of newborn and toddler mayhem. But really these comments are just a way to disguise my true feeling of jealousy - not of their life, nor even of their excitement about welcoming their newborn baby to the family in so many months time. No....my jealousy is quite simply of their freedom of choice, their apparent right to think of a plan, click their fingers and enjoy it magically transpire before their eyes.
I hate feeling jealous, least of all towards my friends. It is an ugly feeling. But I think it's also a natural response to infertility that unfortunately we feel we ought to suppress for fear of what people may think. It naturally leads to anger which, if not released, can cause all sorts of detrimental damage to relationships along the way. Expression of anger is often deemed as something negative for some reason, something we should try to avoid. But God, I think it's unbelievably cathartic. Sometimes all you need is ten minutes to 'blow off steam' about something to then be able to reach that point of feeling calm, rational and more willing to see the world from other people's points of view.
Right now we have no specific plan as to how to move forward in our efforts to make baby number 2. Our five year old nephew recently asked me why we only had one child. And it hurt, probably because it was the first time I'd heard the question directly aimed at us. It was a shocking jolt into our near future when I expect our little girl will start posing the exact same question. Only it will hurt so much more because we won't be able to escape her everyday longing for a little playmate, her very own brother or sister to grow up with.
I know I'm sounding pessimistic but I think I'm just psychologically trying to prepare myself for it not happening again for us. And I guess I'm also making the point that thinking of negative outcomes is the very grim reality of being infertile. It's all very well jollying us along with sure-minded 'prophecies' and hollow promises about our future. But how do you know? No-one does. And we're the ones that have to deal with that day in day out.
If we had time on our hands, I would probably want to wait until our little girl is at school before having another. At the moment because I'm at home with her, my whole life is consumed with her - and I love it. I find it hard to see past that. But I know that the time will come when I will have to let go a little bit. My heart will ache to see her go off to school and I fear for those days. So yes, it's time to at least start thinking.....
And part of that thinking process is to prepare ourselves for disappointment. Not only that, but to prepare ourselves for being bombarded with those well-meaning cliches: "Well, at least you're blessed with one....others aren't so lucky." This statement cuts to my core and wounds me so deeply I don't even know where to begin. I know I'm truly blessed. I know others have not even managed to create one child. Remember, I was there, looking the fear of potential childlessness directly in the face. My desire to make more babies is driven by a deep-rooted, primal instinct and also a longing to provide even more for that one, cherished child of ours. My fear is not of being unable to cope with the prospect of never holding another newborn baby and smelling its sweet downy head as it nuzzles against my breast. I can live without that because I have everything here that I want in my life. But my fear, my very deep fear is of being unable to live with that sense of failure, as a woman, as a mother and as a wife.
Most couples these days (certainly in the western world) choose to have two children and then they choose to use contraception or they choose to "be careful" or they choose to "see what happens". They choose! I never used to imagine wanting more than two children before I was hit with infertility. But I find myself already preparing for the wall of misunderstanding that awaits us if ever we are blessed with a second miracle, for the woman who wants that third or even forth baby is not greedy, nor ungrateful. She is simply the woman who wants the freedom to choose.