Tuesday, January 15, 2008

the four of us

We didn't even know if we wanted a second baby. Until I found out I was pregnant again, I had been doing a lot of reading, thinking and talking about the pros and cons of having an only child. Would Daniel be lonely? Would he lack for playmates, grow up to be some kind of socially impaired person who couldn't relate to his peers? Would he, on the other hand, mature quickly and relate well to adults with a couple of grown-ups as his main company? Would he get his social needs met adequately through his friends and playmates? I'd read a number of articles that said that many of the stereotypes people have of only children are really unfounded, and that they end up being as well-adjusted (if not more so) than their siblinged peers.

Just as I had days when I thought, "I could easily have a few more kids," there were many days when the idea of "just the one" was appealing. With Daniel, we do leave behind a certain amount of the life we used to lead — the freedom, the spontaneity — but not all of it. Steve and I could still give each other some alone time at night while we tended to him, and vice versa. We were able to travel without too much hassle or too many limitations. We knew having another baby would remove us from this type of lifestyle fairly definitively.

But that would be OK, too, we told each other. It would be nice for Daniel to have a brother or sister to play with, and imagine the fun we'd have as a foursome. Maybe even more. At a certain stage of life, there's something powerful about the urge to reproduce, to send little versions of yourself out into the world, to nurture a whole new generation of humans and feel as if you've played a role in contributing to a future that will carry on after you're gone.

I knew for sure that I wasn't ready to get back on the roller-coaster of infertility treatments, though — not yet, anyway. With Daniel just starting to wean from nursing, it was still very early, and even though my age was weighing in the back of my mind, the ticking clock, I didn't want to rush myself. And I was frequently (am, in fact) exhausted from the physical demands of caring for a baby. It's perhaps the hardest work I've ever done in my life. But part of me was starting to take notice of my newly returned periods, to mentally note when I was probably most fertile. I assumed I'd have the same difficulties with fertility that I did before, but I also wondered: Could I get pregnant naturally this time? Should we see if it works? And that would circle back to the question: Do we want to right now? And the answer was never clear: We didn't know. So we took a wait-and-see approach, our decision being to not choose any direction for the time being. "We'll just see what happens," Steve and I told each other. We won't try, but we won't try not, either.

And then one afternoon in late July, just home from a trip to Oregon with Daniel, I found myself wondering why my period was late. It was a Friday, and I was looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine that night, and I was at Target, and I thought, I'll just buy a test, just to be sure. I remember even calling Steve from the store: "What kind of deoderant did you say you need again? Oh, by the way, I'm picking up a pregnancy test. Just to make sure I can drink wine this weekend."

And I nearly fell over when I got home and saw the double pink lines. I was absolutely stunned. I drank a big glass of water and walked around the house blankly, numbly, until the water did its work and I was able to take another test to be sure. I got online and calculated a due date — March 30. (Later, the OB's calculator said April 2, so we took an average and said April Fool's Day. Indeed!) Then I took Daniel out in the stroller, walked to Mississippi Market, and bought a big jar of prenatal vitamins, all the while, thinking, "So this is our answer." (That is, when my mind wasn't shouting "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!") It felt like a decision that had come from a higher place. And in a way, I guess that's where we'd placed it all along.

I still feel overwhelmed sometimes at the thought of one more, but it feels like such the right thing now: for Daniel, for us, for our life. I'm so bonded with this child in my body that I can't imagine him not being here — even though I haven't met him in person yet. I seriously believe he had a role in saving my life — helping me find my cancer and get it treated before it became a threat to me. I don't see myself having any more children, though. After the cancer news, and the fact that it could come back, I am hesitant to commit my body to more childbearing when I know I may need to subject it to treatments that wouldn't support another life. Scary, but true. So I think this is going to be it (unless we adopt). The four of us.


Anonymous said...

Em, I remember when you were in Oregon during July, and had asked Mom if she'd open a bottle of wine - you were tired (we all were from being at the Harbick's). Ultimately, Mom decided not to open the bottle, for whatever reason.

Aren't you glad, now, that you didn't have that wine, as you were (unknowingly) pregnant!

Monkeymama said...

I didn't think too much about it until I was already pregnant, but once I started thinking about what would need to change I did (do) have lots of fears about how adding a 2nd would limit our freedom. With Rebecca I felt like a young couple, on the go with our baby. Now I feel different. I mean, my *parents* have two kids. I think one kid can slide into adult situations much easier than two. I still worry a little about how things will need to change. (I have no idea how to handle a coffee and two kids.) But, I will say that he is trying his hardest to win me over. :)

Ahuva Batya said...

This made me really become teary-eyed, with the beauty of how you phrased your feelings, as well as the way it all unfolded. I'm so happy for you!

LutherLiz said...

Sometimes things work out exactly how they are meant to be. This baby clearly was a miracle. Helping you catch the cancer, surviving all the surgery and appearing when you weren't sure whether you wanted to deal with infertility treatments again. I think the 4 of you are going to be a great little family. :)

Kerry said...

Whatever you ultimately decide about any future family, it makes me so happy to read your post and realize how much you appreciate your life and all the joys it brings. I of course wish you many more joys ahead and can't wait to mee the little miracle maker.

Ellen said...

Two is always better than one so I think this baby will be a perfect addition to your family! When I have kids I will also aim for two, maybe even three if I marry in my early 30s (at this point I don't see marriage feasibly happening any sooner because I turn 29 in March, but it's possible I could just find the right guy and be married in nine months, like the 'rents).