“So, are you done?”. “Do you think you’ll have any more?”. “Would you like to try for a boy?”.
All questions I’m asked, week in, week out which ultimately probe the question ‘Do you want another baby?’.
Sometimes, the dreamy idea of holding another tiny squishy pink newborn, starting a whole new chapter and potentially meeting a child we don’t yet know exists is a really exciting and tempting prospect. A son, perhaps, for my sport mad husband to go to football with (okay, okay – gender stereotyping I know, but come on – he adores the girls but he’s a little alien from the whole princess thing that they go crazy for).
But the thing is, I don’t want to want any more. We’ve lived through our share of that chapter, and the prospect of returning there isn’t something that I fancy.
You see, wanting a baby isn’t like wanting a Nandos. Or wanting a log burner. Or even wanting to embark on a new career path. You can’t click and collect a child, neither can you put in the effort to reap the rewards.
We always knew having children was high up the agenda. I don’t really even remember specific conversations, but it came as a shock when the honeymoon baby didn’t arrive as expected, before the wedding album was returned back to us.
Time passed, seasons changed. The ‘baby questions’ came thick and fast and internally we (I) found it harder and harder to swallow that the business of making a baby wasn’t as easy as we had been lead to believe by our human biology teachers. How ridiculous it seemed now that I had panicked so much before about missing a contraceptive pill, when now I was popping every vitamin pill going for the opposite effect to no avail.
When you want a baby, everyone else in the world is getting pregnant, of course. Often by ‘total accident’ and through your smiles and congratulations it gets tougher and tougher to bear. You wish them well, and you also wish it was you.
We threw ourselves into other things. Moving home, work, getting run over, recuperating from getting run over, booking holidays (which were agonisingly pregnancy-friendly, just in case). And then, eventually, we started asking for help.
And so, several tests and awkward conversations later, we were told we would struggle to conceive naturally and an appointment to discuss options was made. Our world fell apart and although we tried to remain positive, we started to imagine a life without children, and think about how it might pan out. We talked about selling our home, quitting our jobs and travelling the world – all things we’d never talked about before or since, whilst trying to make sense of our drive to build a stable home, if not to provide for the kids we’d always believed we’d have.
And we hoped. We hoped that the path ahead, which would no doubt be testing, would be fruitful, and that we would come out of it the other end in tact as a couple, if nothing else.
And then, the week of our first appointment, in a twist of irony or fate, I was pregnant.
That pregnancy was so joyful, every step of the way. We met our beautiful daughter and we became parents. But little did we know, that that was not to be the end of wanting a baby for us.
Our second pregnancy surprised us as it was so unexpected and relatively sooner than we’d planned. We groaned and panicked about the age gap, and we got busy planning all the logistics of two under two. But it wasn’t to be. Losing that baby at 23 weeks meant that our first daughter would never meet that little sister, and we faced our first (and last) experience of losing a baby in pregnancy.
It was strange, because having a second child hadn’t ever been something we’d thought too much about before – yet after losing her, it became everything. Some call it empty cot syndrome, or empty arms syndrome. It’s so hard to separate the grief of losing that child with the feeling of wanting to be pregnant again.
Even though we had a healthy and beautiful two year old, that desperate longing to be pregnant again was so hard to bear. It sounds almost selfish and I felt bad admitting it, but I just felt having another baby was going to help put my world right again. It was of course a gamble, because had a second pregnancy gone wrong, I don’t know if we would have coped. We were advised to wait six months, but I just couldn’t.
The week I conceived I knew. I just felt it somehow. We had just talked about stepping back from trying again as the stress of it on top of everything else was just too much. But there she was, our rainbow baby in a pale blue line, on a early-early home pregnancy test. The beginning of a rocky road of scans and tests, that ultimately led towards a little sister for our daughter, and bringing an end to the sadness.
And so, we have pledged a vow of contentment. I don’t want to spend any more time wanting a baby. I have two incredible children I am forever grateful for (even when they are driving me totally fricking insane).
And so, to those of you trying to conceive, those recovering from loss, from recurrent miscarriage or undergoing IVF, this is dedicated to you. For those who just haven’t met the right guy, or who met the wrong guy. Secondary infertility, early menopause, unexplained infertility…it all leaves your destiny in the hands of the medical profession or if you choose to believe it, a greater force, and it is devastating.
I’m sorry if I’ve been insensitive in my moans about my lack of sleep and the despair of a fussy eater. I shudder to think about when I have probably asked the awful question that you really could have done without whilst I bounced my baby on my knee. Even I have forgotten at times how flaunting one’s happiness in another’s face, albeit innocently, makes you feel like crap. Whether your situation is public property or private, you deserve sensitivity and respect.
To those who are holding on to your dreams, fighting their path to parenthood; I wish you magic and miracles, because they do happen, and I pray that they happen for you.
This post originally featured on www.meetothermums.com as part of their #Blogsquad