Every month I hold my breath and wait. I wait for that one week that has come every month since I was 12, with the exception of when I was pregnant. I wait for that week both hoping and praying that it will and will not come.
I have two beautiful children. A boy and a girl. Both unique in appearance, personality and gender. Perfection. Two children who are healthy, strong, and smart. How could I possibly roll the genetic dice again and get so freaking lucky? What I have is so much more than I ever dreamed.
And yet. . .
There is a part of me that wishes for more. There is a part of me that longs to feel another little being swim inside me like an otter under my ribs. There is a horrible, gluttonous part of me that is not satisfied with the treasure before me.
For many reasons, my husband and I decided to not bring any more children into our world. We just don’t have the resources of time, money, and space to give to another little human. The physical, mental, and emotional energy we are exhausting with the two children we have is more than I could have ever imagined. Not to mention the toll that parenthood takes on a marriage.
And at almost 39 years old, who can say that my “mature” eggs would be capable of producing another miracle.
For the most part, I have accepted this fate.
WARNING: The following is not P.C. Consider yourself warned if you chose to read ahead.
Somethings do make me feel bitter and angry. I work in a profession where I have to watch parents and children who genuinely despise each other interact in ways that shock and disgust me. I’m talking about moms who tell their own ten year old to “fuck off ” right in front of me! Some families have five or more children. These children grow up in abject poverty, chaos, and fear. They bear witness to community, domestic, sexual, and substance abuses on daily basis from infancy.
I watch a mother become pregnant with yet another little being for whom she can not and does not want to care, and I feel rage. Rage that these tiny humans were conceived without thought or love. Rage that they are subject to violence, drugs, and mistreatment before they are even born. Rage that they are then born into a world where they are not held enough, fed enough, sang or read to enough. Rage that a human who is born intact out of a mother’s womb will then be have their spirit pulverized before my eyes.
It is almost more than I can bear to watch this cycle and know that there is very little I can give to their situation besides my gentle guidance and encouragement.
How the hell is it fair that one woman can bear and mistreat seven babies, and yet, I am limited to two? Or worse still, that there are women out there desperate to love and cherish a newborn, yet struggle with infertility?
It is not for me to judge how many babies a woman gets to have, and I am not foolish enough to think I know the universe’s plan for all of those babies. I know I’m jaded, but I don’t see the flip side of the scenario- large families where babies are welcomed and adored- often, if ever in my profession. In my personal life, my friends have mostly limited their families to one or two children as well, again because that is what we can afford mentally, financially, logistically.
The other reason I want to keep having babies is because it means I am still young and fertile. Child bearing is an incredibly mysterious, powerful, and sacred time. But that time has passed for me. I’ve had my turn.
It has struck me on more than one occasion lately that the next stop for me will be menopause. How can that be? I’ve only just become a mother in the last six years, and I am already knocking on the door of Crone-hood?
When I really tune into my desire for more babies, it is partly this pure biological imperative.
There is another part that is not about having more babies, but being able to go back in time and experience again the babies that I already have. I want to push Jack around in the shopping cart as a two month old, have him smile up at me from his infant carrier like I am the only person in the universe. I want Emily at seven months as she sits in the grass, clutching an entire peach and sucking on it like there is no tomorrow. Jack laughing his head off at Kipper The Dog for the first time at 18 months. Emily only a week old, kicking her newborn legs as she looks up at her mobile. I want more of the babies that are already living in my house with me.
There is a line in one of my favorite Regina Spektor songs that saves my sanity almost every day:
“Love what you have and you’ll have more love.”
When I think of the love that I have, it is plenty. In this crazy country of excess and super-sizing it is almost hard to remember what matters most- being present and aware of the love and potential in just this moment. When I think of this quote, I can bring myself around 180 degrees. It doesn’t matter to me what others have and what I don’t have when I think of this quote, and I don’t need to be angry or bitter.
Gazing at Jack and Emily until I feel almost blind, I know that there will be times where I don’t feel quite done bearing babies, but I have to be, and that’s okay.