I want a baby. Let me rephrase that. I want to hold a baby.
With 40 right around the corner (as in late 2013), I know I don’t want any more kids. One and done is the motto in our household. Most of the time, our daughter doesn't seem too bothered by the decision. Sure, every once in a while I can tell that she wants a little sister, but all it takes is a play date with a pair of siblings to remind her of the benefits of being a one and only.
During a conversation with her recently, she questioned why I didn’t want another child. For just a second, I struggled for an answer. Then I asked her, “How do you feel after having the Pecan Pie at Frontera, the one with the chocolate sauce and fresh, yummy whipped cream on top?”
Her response came quickly, “I feel full and happy.”
“Awesome,” I say. “That’s exactly how we felt after we had you.”
And it’s true. Once we made the decision years ago to start a family, I yearned to be pregnant. I yearned for a baby. I call it “the tingle” – when every part of my body wanted to be kicked, jostled, and stretched, on the inside and out, by what eventually would become my child.
Then she arrived and I was blown away by how deeply and completely I could fall in love with someone who weighed only 6.1 lbs. I still remember what her face looked like when she was gently placed on my belly. After struggling so hard to get pregnant and dealing with complication after complication during the 40 weeks and 2 days she was in there, all I could do was hold her tight and weep.
I wasn’t the only one swept away by this magical moment. Hubby became so overwhelmed that I heard him say, through my tears and exhaustion, “I can’t feel my hands and feet.” I looked south and saw both the OB and largely inept ER Resident simultaneously lean to their left 15 degrees, with identically puzzled looks on their faces and ask, “Are you OK down there?”
My daughter was beautiful and not even that hard to care for. This, like most things associated with new motherhood, made me very nervous. When she was six weeks old, I sat hubby down and said, “Listen, I need you to be honest with me. I won’t be upset, but I need to know the truth. Did you drop her on her head? Is that why she’s so mellow?” He, of course, thought I was crazy.
And I felt a little crazy. Despite how easy she was, I was miserable. I was lonely, I was tired, I had fat hanging off of me in strange places, and I felt totally lost. I wanted my close friends by my side, I wanted to be in a city I was familiar with, but we had relocated to Boston for my husband’s medical residency and I knew almost no one. Let me tell you: having a child might be the coolest thing on earth, but having a child and being alone is one of the hardest. I felt like my life was over.
I wish I could say I got over it easily and life became one cheerful trip to the park, but it took more than a year and my daughter’s observant and caring pediatrician to notice that I needed help. With time, the dark clouds that seemed to be chasing me gradually faded away.
One could argue, perhaps successfully, that my less-than-perfect experience led me to decide that I didn’t want another child. But I’ve seen much, much worse. One dear friend of mine collapsed on her way out of the hospital and couldn’t hold her child for the first few weeks. Another woman had new-mom Tourette's, swearing at her husband uncontrollably, telling him she hated him, and declaring that she’d never have another child. Fewer than 20 months later, both of these ladies gave birth to beautiful little girls.
So whether it’s simply because of circumstances or not getting the tingle back, I know deep down inside that our family is complete. But that doesn’t mean I don’t long to hold a precious baby in my arms, to smell that sweet combination of milk, baby shampoo, and Aquafor. I still crave the curious and eye-wide open stares, the googoo gagas and, especially, the moments when a baby falls fast and contentedly asleep in my arms.
So for those of you reading this while holding a calm or even screaming, teething child right now — call me. I'll be right there to care for your little ones for a bit, until you're ready to take them back. Because you will have to take them back. Seriously.
~By Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop
The pic comes from Women's Health Tips.
Filed under: family