Monday, January 31, 2011

To Procreate, or Not to Procreate?

When DD was concieved, I was seventeen and (obviously, I think) unwed.

This was not a first for my family, Irish-Catholic rebels that we are. There had been babies concieved out of wedlock before- but few made it through those nine months, and of those, all were given up for adoption, for various reasons and by various women. They are the hushed-whisper ghost children of mothers who went on to bear other, more valid babies to properly wedded husbands.

I was the first to lay claim to my baby, to lock my hands before my blooming abdomen and say "back off". And, for the most part, my family ended up being wonderfully supportive. Really. There were the couple aunts or uncles who judged, who put up walls and let loose words and phrases that scalded my heart, but overall I was so comforted by the wave of love that came my way.

However, this is not to say everyone neccessarily 'celebrated' my pregnancy. My daughter, yes- as soon as she was born, we all fell in love. How could you not? And I soon proved to be a dutiful and obsessively nurturing mother, so any doubts in that department fell away as well. (No, I don't blame anyone for having their doubts- teenage motherhood is a hard pill to swallow, no matter how much you believe in the mother-to-be.)

But I was still seventeen, unwed, and pregnant. And that just isn't something that's applauded in my family- nor am I sure that it should be, in my case or anyone else's.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy- I was a big, glowing, healthy, shiny tribute to fertility- there was a bit of a dark shadow lurking behind me, behind the appraising glances I got in the midwife's waiting room, behind my teacher's eyes in the classes I completed, behind it all. And I get that.

But since DD was born (it's been two and a half years now), as her father and I's relationship has sustained and even bloomed over the bumps and hazards of life, as we have grown in adoration of our amazing, spirited daughter, I've realized that there is a deep part of me that wishes, among other things, to have a pregnancy that is valid in the eyes of the world.

No, I'm not saying I want to have another baby to be accepted, or to be congratulated. For a long, long time, I was certain I didn't want a second child at all, even looking down (I admit) upon mothers who had children back to back, seemingly on purpose. The Monkey was my only, my angel, my everything. And I believe, for the first child, a lone and coddled infancy is a gift.

But the Monkey is no longer an infant, and I no longer the mother of a babe. And she has new needs, new desires, and is growing in new ways. As I look down the road she's traveling on, bending my head this way and that to see around it's hairpin turns and culverts, I anticipate that, with her high social needs and ravenous appetite for actitivity and movement and sound and laughter and play, she would appreciate a sibling.

I was an only for the first six years of my life, and enjoyed it thoroughly. By the time my half-siblings came along, it was all a little too late, and though I love them and appreciate them now, they did muddle with my shine for a bit there. The Bodyman is an only, and he was starved for siblinghood as a child. His parents were older, and boring, and angry, and he told me how he begged them for a brother or sister, even asking them to consider adoption. He compensated by becoming hyper-social, which both served him and screwed him, depending on the situation.

So there's that. I would love for DD to have a siblings, brother or sister- I think it would be excellent for her, and I think she had plenty of time as the beloved Only, time to nurse and play and Be. That time wouldn't end, but it would be changed, and I think she'd love it.

I do have concerns, though.

I'm scared we'd wish we hadn't- of course we'd love this new child, but what if things are perfect now? What if this is the perfect balance, and by bringing another life into the picture, things become so stressed and hectic and crazy that we realize we'd done each other a disservice?

What if I favor DD over the second child, or what if DD feels resentful that her new sibling is here- not in that initial, expected way, but deep inside?

What if it's all too much of a strain on DH's and I's relationship?

Then there's financial worries, space worries, time worries ..... the list goes on.

Deep down, I want an easy decision. I want it to be natural, like nursing or co sleeping or whatever. I don't want to "make" this decision- I want it to Be. Does it work like that?

I'm not sure.

For now, we're Not Trying. When we had DD, we were Not Not Trying- which is to say, we were Allowing. Obviously we know firsthand it's better to be real with yourselves. Either Try, or Don't Try. Either Go For It, or Avoid It. This is my point, really.

If we do decide to concieve a second child, I want it to be a decision. A real, firm, said-out-loud, happy, joyful, excited, LET'S DO IT. I'm waiting for the desire to go 'all in.'

For now, I'm happy to Go All In with the child I have, with my spouse, with our new apartment, with my scholastic goals, and with our upcoming wedding. All of this, and more, are the gifts that are mine- the small moments and long hours of each and every wonderful day.

And while we talk about the possibility of another embryo, while we talk of spring flowers and nuptuals and patterned rugs, I cuddle my daughter on my lap, press my face into her hair, and inhale her scent, no longer baby-sweet but just as lovely, for sure.

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