I don’t why it happened. Maybe I am just a bit too raw, too emotional. Maybe it is the picture my daughter’s daycare just sent me of her smiling and tracing letters — a number two pencil in one of her little hands and a lined, teaching sheet under the other. Or maybe it is because after two years of diapers and bottle boiling and sleepless nights I am starting to feel like myself again. Maybe it is because after two years of songs, Lego forts, and bedtime stories I am starting to see my daughter shift from a baby into a little girl. Maybe it is because she doesn’t need me anymore, or at least not as much, but today I cried for you.
I cried for the child I do not have. I cried for the sibling and playmate my daughter doesn’t have, and maybe never will. And I cried because I still don’t know. Of all the decisions I’ve made in my life, this is the one I still don’t know. This is the one I cannot make: to have you, or not to have you.
And I feel like there is a wrong answer. Not some societally-imposed, “oh, but you have to have at least two” answer, but a self-imposed one. A decision that has the potential to become one big and terrible regret if I screw it up.
Make no mistake, I want you. I can feel the chasm in my heart where you should be, I can see the spot in our bed where you could be, and I can see the sliver of space in each and every family photograph — on the edge, teetering between the images border and life just beyond the frame — where I want you to be.
I want to share my love with you; I want to share our family with you, but it isn’t that easy. It just isn’t that easy.
Oh, well just have another. You’re not too old!
While true, there is more to having a child than age. There is more to having a child then simply having the desire to have a child. There is more to having a child than “doing the deed.”
Did you ever consider some women have trouble conceiving? Some women simply cannot carry a healthy baby? Some women’s wombs are not suited to childbirth and some women’s own health would be put in jeopardy by the entire pregnancy process?
Did you ever consider the financial implications of multiple children: hell, even the implication of “just one?” What if we have another and cannot care for him or her because another child would mean less work — see money — for this stay-at-home and work-from-home mama? Is it better to have a child so my current kiddo has a playmate, even if that child — and my first-born — suffer because of it? Would it be wise to dig ourselves into a pit of financial ruin all in the name of sibling camaraderie?
Did you ever consider the mental health of the mother? Postpartum depression is one cold and callous bitch — I would know. What if I go through it again? What if I hurt my children? What if I hurt myself?
I consider these questions every day. They are the questions that matter, they are questions that torture me, and they are questions that torment me. Because I don’t have a right answer for any of them. I don’t know what is right aside from “not right now.” Not yet.
And for that I’m sorry, sweet baby. Know that I ache for you every day. When I’m doing laundry or picking up little socks that aren’t so little anymore. When I’m pouring my daughter’s milk into her favorite, and always demanded, Mickey cup instead of a bottle. When I scroll through my Facebook feed and see nothing but end-of-summer snapshots, “pumpkin butts,” and beautiful back to school photos: when I see families of children. When I see kids holding hands. Kids linking arms. Kids holding kids.
I weep for you, little one. I hope I find the answers or, better yet, I hope I find the strength to move forward without them, because there are days I yearn for you. There are days I cry for you. And there are days I feel ready to meet you, days I feel like my husband and I should just start trying, but I’m not there yet. Not just yet.