“It’s a question every parent faces…”
My one and only child is now three, which is terrifying. No, not because “I can’t believe she’s growing up so fast,” but because it puts me in a position. A “shit-or-get-off-the-pot” type of position. And that position is this: do we let her travel solo, or do we create another human to help her navigate childhood (and raise bail if she needs it)? It’s a question every parent faces, and the stats have been fucking with me every single day:
2.3: the number of children in each American household
2.5: the average age difference between siblings
3-5 years: the ideal age gap between siblings
Adding fuel to my fire is a recent conversation I overheard at my daughter’s dance class. One of the mothers was lamenting that she couldn’t take this summer “off” from being pregnant, because then her 8-month-old would be too distant in age from her third child. My thoughts turned immediately to my own daughter—the eldest, and the only sibling-free child, in this group. I had a small panic attack.
“Now or never,” my uterus told me.
And so we did it. We started our first round of IVF.
After two rounds of daily needles, obnoxiously frequent appointments with doctors, and more than a few hormonal rampages that would have put the Green Goblin to shame, we finally conceived our second. Now, it probably seems obvious enough that this little bean was quite intentionally conceived. And if my saying that doesn’t convince you, I invite you to look at my bank account. I’m thinking of sending the new addition to the family a “conception” bill in the mail when he or she turns 18.
C’mon, it would only be fair.
Nevertheless, I woke up the other morning, and it suddenly hit me that I was eight weeks pregnant. And despite the amount of time and money invested in this baby’s conception, all I could think or say was: “FUCK. I’m going to have another baby!”
RELATED: Lies I Told Myself about Baby #2
The thing is, I don’t even like babies. I like things like sleep. Massages. Vacations, even. And I was just starting to get those things back. “Are we doing the right thing?” I asked my husband. “I mean, what the fuck are we doing?!”
The truth is, we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing. We live in a two-bedroom house and my husband works long and grueling hours. Our life is happy as it is—we have a potty-trained child now, and we finally get to engage in lovely events, like drinks with other adults and reading long novels on the couch. Life with one child is… well, it’s easy. Delightful. Fulfilling, even.
So why did I let my ovaries—and the musings of an insane dance mom with a chronically-occupied uterus—lead me down this path? After all, my one and only sibling has proven quite useless when it comes to the important things in life, like free babysitting and pro bono psychotherapy sessions. What exactly was I thinking?
I think I have an answer. And it’s really quite simple: I wasn’t thinking.
If we as a species really thought about the sleepless nights, the endless vomit, and the colicky screeches, we would never have children. Reproduction is the antithesis of thinking. We’d never have babies if our brains were making the decisions.
I have seven more months to wrap my head around all of this, but I probably never entirely will. The closest I can get to rationalizing our decision is my hope that after all the endless hours of conciliating fights, giving up my pillow, and wiping two sets of asses, I’ll enjoy at least a few fleeting junctures: times where my two children will exchange hugs, or defend each other with vehemence. And in those moments I will feel something that couldn’t otherwise be felt.
It was when I realized this that it all made sense. Because all the best things in life are fleeting—the shorter-lived, the more intense the satisfaction. I liken my decision to gardening peonies. I work hard tending to them, and all year long they just don’t seem to give a shit. But once a year they bloom for just a very short while. And each year I gaze upon them, there are just a few more buds than the year past. Just a few more buds, but each one brings with it such epic contentment.
This original piece by was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured image © seenaad via depositphotos.com.