Something had been bothering me since Breanna was born (almost four months ago, hard to believe!). I finally mentioned it to George a few weeks ago in the hopes that saying it out loud would make it go away, but it hasn’t so maybe “typing it out loud” will help.
I’m sad. Actually, that’s not really accurate. That makes it sound like I’m sad because I wanted a cookie and there are none left, or it might give the impression that I am depressed, and those aren’t true (though honestly, I wouldn’t mind a cookie if anyone has some to spare).
To be more accurate, I should say that my uterus is sad. And it’s a very strange thing.
When I was a kid I briefly thought it would be amusing to some day have triplets, all girls, and name them Faith, Hope, and Charity. Aside from the fact that naming my children like that would have guaranteed that they would kill me in my sleep, I started babysitting soon after coming up with this brilliant idea and quickly realized that triplets might be, you know, a lot of freakin’ work.
Aside from that temporary insanity, I only ever wanted two children. I didn’t care if they were girls or boys, though I did hope to have at least one girl. I just knew that I wanted more than one but that two would be enough. Right up until I had Hayley, I continued to state that I only wanted two children.
Now I have two and the family is complete. I have what I wanted and that makes me happy, especially when I know how many people wish they could have a child of their own. Having two beautiful girls is absolutely a blessing and I don’t take that for granted.
I know you think you know where this is going, but no. I haven’t changed my mind. I don’t suddenly want a third child. For one thing, I’m not the best pregnant person in the world. As much as I may be fascinated by the miraculous way my body can grow a baby, I hate a lot of the side effects and tend to be pretty damn grouchy about a lot of it. Also, I don’t know if I could be a good mother to three children. Sometimes I have so much trouble managing the two that I have now that I think a third could cause my brain (or the apartment) to completely implode. I already find myself needing to write notes to myself so I remember to feed the fish or fill up Hayley’s sippy cup for the next morning. I have four proper-sized diapers left because I didn’t write down that we were running out so I forgot to tell George, and so I have to use the next size up and hope we aren’t plagued by leaks until George can bring a new pack home. If I’m this scattered now, one more child might push my poor brain too far and I’ll have to walk around with a post-it note reminding me to breathe and pee.
I have my two kids and I love them fiercely and I’m very happy with my now-complete family. I do not actually want another one.
Breanna is growing so quickly. Every week she outgrows something else and so I fold it for the last time and place it in a bag which will eventually be given to some charity. Two days ago I found a bag with a pair of pink sheep pajamas that Hayley had worn, pajamas that were my absolute favorite and when I finally found them I nearly cried because I’m almost sure that they won’t fit Breanna and she never even got to wear them. Each time she does something new, some milestone or just something awe-inspiring, I feel so proud and then I feel a little melancholy that I will never again see my own child do ___ for the very first time.
Hayley is three and a half and already practicing to be a teenager. I don’t know how or when she got so big but I look at her baby pictures and can barely grasp that they are the same person. I listen to her talk in long, rambling paragraphs about everything from dinosaurs to her television shows to what happened in her dreams last night and I wonder when she stopped saying “mamamamamamama”. How did my first baby become big enough to tell me knock-knock jokes?
It’s the finality that makes me sad. Although I don’t want more children, I’m sad that I’ll never have a newborn again, that I’ll never lie awake in a hospital bed watching a brand new baby’s eyelashes flutter against her cheeks as she sleeps. Although I don’t love pregnancy, I love birth. I wish I could rewind and re-live both births at will just to experience it once more.
It has nothing to do with numbers. I could have seven kids running around and I’d still feel this way. It’s not the number, it’s the never.
I mentioned it to a friend of ours and he said he had often felt the same way and that he made it stop by telling himself that instead of feeling sad that he’d never experience something again, that he should try to remember to be happy that he had experienced it at all. He’s right, and I’ve been trying, and often it does work. But sometimes it strikes out of nowhere: That onesie that doesn’t fit and doesn’t need to be packed away for the next one. Seeing Hayley get into her own bed in her own room and going to sleep all alone and realizing she’ll never get smaller, only bigger. Hearing Breanna have a fit of belly laughs over the screensaver on our television. It’s those times that make something primal deep inside my uterus not only ache, but scream. I guess it’s this screaming that helped humans to reproduce in the first place.
In the meantime I’ll just hang on to the memories of all the firsts we’ve gone through and be grateful for everything that I have. Then I’ll look forward to all the firsts that still lie ahead. And hopefully one day at least one of them will have children of their own and I can live vicariously through all their parental firsts too.