“So when is the next one coming?” she asked, smiling knowingly. We were at my company’s holiday party, and I was making chit chat with some of my co-workers and their spouses. My baby boy was only 10 months old, and I had just stopped nursing him due to his insane appetite and my body’s own exhaustion (getting sick with a super violent stomach bug three times during his short little life didn’t help my supply either).
I gave her the short answer, “Oh, I think we might be done with this little guy. We can’t beat perfection!” and smiled, taking a long drink of my wine so I wouldn’t blurt out what I was truly thinking. Long enough that she ended up turning around and talking to someone else. I couldn’t blame her for asking. And honestly, 5 years ago, I probably would have asked the same question. I’m on the older side, married at 34, and everyone knew how much I wanted a family. We had our first baby fairly quickly (I was 6 months pregnant on our first anniversary) and to a casual acquaintance, I’m sure she thought the next one was not too far off.
But there’s so much more to that story that I didn’t share with her. I didn’t tell her how I already have two elementary aged step kids whom I love and fill my heart up and stretch it in ways I didn’t honestly know possible. My husband is eight years older than me. He was 43 when our son was born. That means he’ll be pushing 60 when he graduates from high school. Kids are expensive and even though the older two don’t live with us full time, we still consider ourselves parents of three.
I also had a miscarriage before the birth of our son. It was excruciating and both physically and mentally exhausting. I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to try and get pregnant again after that but our desire to have a child together won out and we kept trying. My pregnancy was horrid. I was nauseous and puking all nine months. I had gestational diabetes and swelling such that I could only wear slip on Skechers shoes from week 16 on. I couldn’t wear my wedding rings after week 20. Food tasted horrible and everything hurt all the time. I would have loved to be one of those women who loved being pregnant, but I wasn’t. It was honestly the worst nine months of my life.
I woke up everyday and cried thinking about having to go to work and make it through the day. Quitting my job wasn’t an option. I am the breadwinner in our family, and my income pays the bills. I wasn’t sick enough for the doctors to put me on bed rest and my employer doesn’t offer any short term disability insurance or paid FMLA leave.
I really thought I wanted two so that there would be two younger kids and two older in our family. I thought I could talk my husband into this. He really only wanted one. He had concerns about being older and being able to keep up with a baby and toddler again and being in good health to play baseball when our son got old enough. About six weeks into my pregnancy, I told him that I was good with just this one. He was relieved. I think if I had my heart set on another, I could have convinced him but we both reached a place where we knew this baby completed our family. That doesn’t mean that my emotions had caught up though. I still get sad thinking about never holding my newborn again or having that new baby experience or knowing that all my first with my son are also my lasts.
But that’s the long story . . . for now, when someone asks, I’ll stick with the short version and then take another long sip of wine until the subject changes.