Friday, December 29, 2006


How do you know?

How do you know your family is complete? How did you decide? Did you always know? Did you just stop? Were you forced to stop by circumstance, or forced to accept more than you expected?

What’s it like for families who don’t have the spectres of infertility and loss lurking in the shadows of their hearts? How different would all this be if we hadn’t struggled so hard to earn the two precious boys we have?

In one minute, I’m perfectly content to stop. Two beautiful boys is a lifetime of blessings. And then the pendulum swings, and with entirely the same amount of conviction, I know that we’ll have another child. Know it in my bones. It’s a truth, a certainty. That lasts about an hour, and then I don’t know again.

When I look at Tristan and Simon and how truly wonderful they are, I can’t help but think that having another child – boy or girl – would be more of the same, therefore wonderful. How can I say no to the idea of more of the most amazing thing that ever happened to me?

And then the fear kicks in. The fear of pain, the fear of loss, but mostly the fear of really fucking things up. It’s not the idea of the third child that scares me. It’s the risk. The what-ifs.

What if we decide to try, we commit to the idea of that third child, and then we can’t conceive? How long do we try? How do we decide to stop trying? Can I face month after month of not conceiving - again? Can Beloved?

And if we can get past the fear of trying (and let me tell you, even after Tristan and Simon, the struggle with infertility has left deep and painful scars on my heart. Mine, and Beloved’s too)… even if we get past the fear of trying, there are so very many things that can go wrong.

If we are lucky enough to conceive again, I'm now 37 years old and officially of advanced maternal age - and with a history of infertility and miscarriage. Can I deal with nine months of paranoia? What if I have another miscarriage? What if I don’t have another miscarriage, but something is wrong with the baby and we have to face a horrible decision? What if the baby is born, but that baby has needs beyond our ability to cope? Do I even have the right to risk my family’s collective future simply because I selfishly want that which was denied to me?

And these are beyond the more pedestrian worries of whether the boys will be content with another sibling, whether Simon be okay as a middle child, whether I’ll have enough time and energy for a whole other person in the family, how we’ll cope with the logistics of five in a world that favours families of four. All these things seem trivial now, but just six weeks ago seemed like epic problems.

I need closure, trite as that expression may be. I need to know that I can give away my maternity clothes, get rid of the crib, and pack up the baby gear for good. I need to be able to pick out a few favourite things that I’ll keep for sentimental sake, and get rid of the rest of it. I have boxes on boxes of baby and toddler clothes, toys, bottles and spoons and bowls, a baby tub and a cradle and a playpen. I have baby gates and booster seats, stacks of bibs and blankets and towels, and shoes in every size. I have three strollers and three car seats and a beautiful pine crib – and I just to know whether I’ll ever need them again.

That’s a lot of clutter in my house, but mostly it’s a lot of clutter in my heart. I need to know. I can’t just let the idea of my next child drift away like the sunlight fades out of a summer day, dragging on for months or years. I don’t want to feel this sad yearning uncertainty forever. I need to know.

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