When I was young, I assumed I would have kids someday, but I was never one of those girls who had names picked out before they were even participating in the activities that lead to creating babies. I guess I just thought it’s what adults did – everyone I knew did – and someday, I would do the same.
Then as I passed certain ages and milestones and hadn’t yet reached that point in life, I started thinking maybe I wasn’t going to have kids after all. And the thought didn’t really affect me, other than perhaps providing me a small amount of mental freedom regarding plans for the future. In my mid-twenties, after my long term relationship ended and my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend almost immediately got pregnant, I did vaguely consider that I might not be able to have kids since we had not been very careful during our six-year relationship and nothing had ever happened.
And then it happened. And it wasn’t planned. And I knew I was going to be a single mom. And I thought about all kinds of things, but I didn’t really consider what it would be like to have a relationship with the human being who was growing inside me.
My pregnancy was almost completely symptom-free; even my weight gain was that full body plumping type where I didn’t even look pregnant until the last month and even then, not many strangers would have been sure enough to ask me when I was due. It made the whole idea of being a mom pretty surreal. At every appointment, I expected them to tell me they had made a huge mistake and I wasn’t actually pregnant.
I didn’t spend months preparing a nursery or choosing a name. There were no late night conversations about what kind of parents we were going to be because there was no “we”.
When she was born, I didn’t feel a rush of maternal love and devotion. I felt responsible for her and I had every intention of doing everything I could to take care of her, but there were no angels singing or trumpets playing, and I didn’t feel God’s presence, like someone predicted I would.
Something happens though when you spend every minute of every day taking care of a completely innocent little human who relies on you for their basic survival. They kinda grow on you. And when it’s a mama and her baby girl, sharing not just a bedroom, but a bed – heck, I shared my life-force with her when I nursed her – going to work together six days a week, finding ways to make ends meet, a bond develops that is different from what I’ve always imagined about the rush of feelings moms supposedly always feel about their babies, but more powerful than I could’ve possibly imagined.
Not quite two years ago, there was going to be a second child, but it apparently wasn’t meant to be. Even though we had only known for a few weeks, a lot of subconscious life-changing happened. My husband bought a book about pregnancy for dads and my daughter tried to decide which of her possessions were too “s’ecial” to share with a sibling and which she would magnanimously donate to the cause. I was sad for me, but heartbroken for my daughter and husband.
After a while, we tried to do it again on purpose, but still had no answer for my daughter’s question: when is the new baby gonna be here? She knew the first time “didn’t work out” but she was still fully expecting to be provided with a little “brudder”. After the phantom symptoms that somehow break your heart nearly as badly and then month after month of the sinking feeling from seeing that first little bit of blood that blares another failure, we just kinda stopped trying. We stopped using our fertility app, stopped talking about it.
Now, a year or so later, I sometimes consider that it might be better that things “aren’t working out” on the baby-making front because I really, truly don’t know if I can love another child like I love my daughter. I know everyone says you do, but do you? Really? How? And how do you overcome the thought that you will be taking something away from the child you’ve spent so much energy protecting and loving?
Before we met my now husband, my daughter and I were happily living our Gilmore Girls life; every decision I made, every ounce of my energy, was devoted to making sure she never felt like she was missing out because it was just the two of us and we struggled financially. There’s no getting around the fact that I would be taking attention away from Giuli for a new baby. And I am already woefully unskilled at balancing self-care with being a working mom. How on earth would I manage to carve out a place for a new baby?
NOTE: In the weeks between starting this post and picking it back up and finishing it, I have discovered that my recent queasiness is not simply an antibiotic-related digestive issue as I thought. Two pink lines indicate that, assuming things are successful this time, I will have to answer all of these questions in about 8 months.