This weekend Paul and I reached the end of a 13-year discussion entitled "Babies: Should We Have One, and If So When?" Before we were married, our agreement was that we'd take it one baby at a time---that there was really no way to decide on a number AHEAD of time so we'd just see how it went.
Our fifth baby was not planned. In fact, Paul had decided we were done after four. I was sad, but I agreed. And then...Henry. I was delighted, to the point of worrying Paul would think I'd tricked him (NO). Also, I am good at Big Picture thinking, and so my feeling was that in the long run this was going to be fine: in 25 years we'd be at Fifth Baby's wedding and we wouldn't even remember that the plan had been to stop at four. I considered him an enormously lucky bonus. After he was born, I looked at him often and thought, "If things had gone according to our plans, you would not be here! Our plans SUCK!"
Paul really, really loves Henry---it is almost comical to see it. It almost brings the word (favorite) to mind. So I guess I had nurtured the hope that Paul had come out of this experience with the same feelings I had: that we had more room than we'd thought; that adding another was HAPPY and GOOD; that it didn't really matter how many we had, we'd always be glad about it.
In fact, I'm afraid my mind tends to make plans before they're needed, and so I had been thinking next fall would be a nice time to have another baby. I'd been looking at my Pill pack and thinking that Paul and I should have a Serious Talk in the next two weeks, because maybe I'd stop taking it after this pack: I'm in my mid-thirties and don't want to wait too long. I went too far and started thinking, "I wonder if the baby will be a boy or a girl?" I didn't quite start imagining what I'd order from the maternity ward room service menu, but almost.
Today I called in a refill on my prescription, and when they asked if I wanted to put it on auto-refill so I wouldn't have to keep calling every month, I said yes.
I'm not okay. I am good at Big Picture thinking, as I mentioned, so I imagine I WILL be okay, and I'm not the kind of not-okay where there needs to be Worry. But I'm not okay. I'm sad. I'm worried I'll always be sad: that I'll be an old lady still wishing for another baby, that we're missing out on someone we needed very badly. I keep thinking of The Baby---the baby I'd been picturing arriving next year. Then I keep saying to myself, "No."
I'm self-medicating. I had about three cups of hot coffee this morning, with heavy cream AND flavored coffee creamer. I'm taking candy out of the supply I bought for Christmas stockings. I washed my hair and used a special conditioner. I put on my second-favorite shirt (my favorite one is in the wash) and my new favorite cheery pink/red/orange earrings I got at Target on 75% off. I put on a happy face, because I've heard it takes more muscles to frown and I'm all about taking the easy way.
I feel ridiculous, being sad. I mean, let's compare, shall we? On one hand, let's look at all the people who got a late start and are hoping to have just one or maybe two babies before fertility is gone. Let's consider all the people having miscarriages, and fertility treatments, and stillbirths, and then let's think of the people who try for years and don't have enough money for other options. Let's think about the people who are trying to adopt just one single baby and it keeps not working out, or they finally get a baby and then the birth mother changes her mind. Let's look at all of them, and then let's look at Swistle: Swistle, who has had a total of four easily-conceived and healthy pregnancies leading to a total of five full-term and healthy children, and is sad because she can't have a sixth child. Yeah. Real pitiful.
On the other hand, I think that kind of thinking is crap when other people do it. "I shouldn't feel so sorry for myself that my baby is premature and in the NICU: I should be glad she's alive." "You shouldn't complain that the dishes have food on them after your husband 'washes' them---some people's husbands are DEAD." I think negative-positive thinking can be a good tool for feeling better, but not if it makes a person feel bad for feeling bad. What, we're not allowed to feel bad because Things Could Be Worse? By that policy, only the Worst-Off Person in the World is allowed to feel bad; everyone else has to feel lucky and happy when their cars get wrecked and their basements flood and their pregnancies fail and their husbands have affairs, because other people are killed in accidents and other people's houses collapse and other people can't even get pregnant and other people's husbands die. And THOSE people have to feel lucky because at least it was only them who died and not their whole family, and at least their house collapsed when no one was inside, and at least they didn't have a child and then have that child die, and at least they had a husband.
Well, screw that. I do feel bad. I do feel sad. I am helping myself by thinking about how lucky I truly, truly am---but I'm also unlucky, as is everyone who has a decision they don't like made for them by someone/something else. As is everyone who wants a baby they can't have.
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...