Before you read this, I have to preface that this is a rant…
My husband and I waited a long time before we had our daughter. We enjoyed our time together. We have moved across the country, traveled, eaten at fine restaurants, attended concerts, and all of the things we knew would become prohibitive once we had kids. When we were trying to get pregnant, my friends would often say, “Enjoy it while you can,” or “We always wonder ‘what did we do before we had kids?’” I hated those expressions. I knew exactly what I’d be missing, but I was ready to make the selfless decision to get pregnant and start a family with my spouse. Sure, some could argue that having children can be incredibly self-serving, but in my case, and I speak only for me, I was making a huge personal sacrifice.
It took us 18 months to get pregnant. I monitored my ovulation like a statistician by taking my basal body temperature and recorded it in a special ovulation grid, which I kept folded neatly on the nightstand. This ritual was followed by the monthly pregnancy test, which always gave me the single negative sign in bright pink, which boldly said, No…you’re not fucking pregnant. Sometimes I’d take a second or third just to make sure. Those said, No…you’re still not fucking pregnant. My husband travels often with his job, and I knew he’d be away for a couple of weeks, so instead of me sharing the monthly test results with him, my girlfriend and I made a trek to the drugstore during our lunch-break to get one. I felt like we were in high school. Don’t ask what kind of high school I attended, but let’s just say that I recall purchasing (read: stealing) numerous pregnancy tests back in the day. But I digress.
I sat in the stall, put the test to the side and glanced at it once. With my usual sarcasm I said, “Nope. It’s negat—
“Wait… it’s. It’s not negative.”
“Huh-uh. Shut up,” my girlfriend responded. It really did feel like high school.
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed while tossing the door open. I held the slender, white piece of plastic in front of me and stared at it. My friend stepped in to get a better look. And kabam! That was it. In one instant, my life changed. Suddenly I had to rethink the long run I had planned that night, the hot bath and the glass of Pinot Noir, and whether or not I should ask my dad to come over and change the litter box. I didn’t care. I was so excited to become a mother that I let those items slide right off of my plate. The novelty wore off quickly for me however. My pregnancy was long…and my labor was longer. I couldn’t wait to get a semblance of myself back.
Twenty-two months later, I am beginning to see myself again as an individual. I am going to be 35 next year and I don’t particularly feel the maternal pull to have another child. The bells of reason and societal norm are sounding out the contrary however. My cousin called last week to tell me she was pregnant with her second child, and because our first children are only a month apart, I initially felt envious. But as I sat and listened to her story, I took a sip of my wine and thought, You poor sucker. My envy was swiftly eradicated from our conversation. I was happy for her, and relieved it wasn’t me.
Guilt is my new cape. When I am trying to be super-mommy, it gets stuck on things and I almost hang myself. If anyone asks me if we’re going to have another child, I say, “Oh sure. I think so. Elsa deserves a sister or a brother.” The answer trips awkwardly out of me as if I am trained to give a particular response. I try to avoid eye contact, so that the conversation will just quickly change to something else entirely.
My husband is ready for more kids. He loves them. Then again, he hasn’t had to raise one yet, so I chalk his romanticism up to my loving anecdotes about our daughter, and skip most of the stories about her tantrum throwing, keeping me up all night with teething, etc. The truth is that I know that my daughter would be a terrific sister, but the thought of getting pregnant again right now and starting all over with an infant is terrifying. I know that things would be different if we were together as a family, so my bias is falling toward my odd, single-married-lady life at the moment. I think I’m just going to take it one step at a time. I’ll give it a year. until then, I am hitting the snooze bar on the biological clock, which I’m not even sure if it’s ticking at the moment.