I often debate how much to share here.
There are some aspects of my life that I’m quite open about, that other people would not be — my psychiatric issues, my alcoholism, for example. But where my life starts to intersect with other people, that’s where I start to get a little bit unsure about where to draw the line.
I have written before about my mercurial feelings on having another child. About a year ago, I thought that I might be pregnant. It turned out that I wasn’t. I didn’t really talk about it again for a while, but since then we have been sort of haphazardly trying to get pregnant. Of and on. Never really with conviction. No charts or mucous consistencies have ever been involved. We have not really been applying ourselves, you know.
Over the course of the past year, there would be the odd time in which somebody would ask, “Have you decided whether you will have another child?”
“It depends on what day you ask,” I would answer.
To be fair, I do believe Mr. Right-Click has wanted another child pretty consistently. He follows my lead in this, but I know he hungers for another baby. I see him look longingly after strollers and he has tried to get me to reminisce about the “5 S” method for quieting newborns. (He cannot always remember all 5 of the esses. But I can. Swaddle, Shhh, Suck, Swing, and Side/Stomach. That’s part of the problem. I will never forget them.)
The stalling, refusal-to-commit, is all me. When it comes to having another child, I have been like Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites. I’m like the guy in his early thirties who works at Radio Shack, whose hot chick girlfriend manages a hedge fund, likes to cook AND likes football, and everybody is like “WHAT THE HELL IS HIS PROBLEM? WHERE IS THE RING?!”
Here is what parenting has been like for me: it’s a fucking war zone. A war zone with totally fucking awesome feats of glory and triumph of the human spirit, filled to the brim with opportunities to experience joys beyond what I ever imagined possible for myself. I have learned from being a parent that you cannot get the totally awesome parts without weathering the gore of the gun battles in between, and I’ve made peace with that. That is what makes it worth doing. And along with that grossly inappropriate metaphor, I’ll add another: I’ll venture to say that you shouldn’t be so quick to judge the guy who thinks about hiding underneath a corpse to avoid the Viet Cong. Because this is a war, man. You do what you have to do to make it out alive. We cannot all be recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
As much as I love Mini — and dear God! do I love that kid, so so much do I love that kid, it hurts to even think about the prospect of not having had him — holy fuck is parenting a big commitment. You know that going in, but even as much as you know it, you don’t really know it until you’re there, and by then it’s too late, and you wouldn’t turn around even if you could. But still. The past year, as I have sort of half-heartedly “tried” but not tried to get pregnant, I have only been doing so because the truth is that I don’t really want Mini to be an only child. How fair is that to a hypothetical second child? (Not very.) But then, I also have had a kid before, and I know what happens now once they slam that kid down on your boobs, and he or she looks up at you and you look down at her or him, and you both look at each other, as if to say, “Yeah. That makes sense.”
After that moment, it doesn’t really matter whether people were unsure, or if the baby was just made to provide a sibling, or whatever the fuck. Because after that moment, everyone’s done for.
If Mini ends up being an only child, I’m sure it will all work out fine. He will have the benefits of more resources at his disposal. I will have the benefit of less chicken nuggets being smashed into my carpet and no more pregnancies to claw my way through. There is part of me who really thinks that’s not so bad of an outcome.
But in recent months, I’ve finally started to really feel like having another baby. It took the first of Mini’s big movements away from me for me to feel it. Now that he’s in preschool for reals, and he’s turning into a little boy, I can feel myself “losing” him a little bit, and I think that’s the thing that needed to happen before I could even think about being mother to another child. I just didn’t have room for it before that. Some women with bigger hearts and more expansive feelings, less need for control and, perhaps, more emotional space with which to work, can feel it so much quicker. For me it took 3.25 years. But maybe other people just don’t think about it as much?
This morning I noticed a zit, which makes me think that I’m not pregnant, again, this month. I feel kind of sad about it. But then not, because I do so despise being pregnant it’s hard to get upset about (probably) not being pregnant. When I was pregnant, my OB/GYN told me that the stress hormone, cortisol, could be toxic to a developing fetus. I’m starting to think that maybe my body, after becoming a mother — the type of mother that I am, anyway — is no longer hospitable to a developing fetus. With Mini, it was almost effortless, and though I was younger then, I cannot help but think that maybe nature is trying to tell me something here. Maybe my resources are best used by being Mini’s mother. And if that’s the case — well, I can think of much worse fates.