Monday, 23 March 2015

No More Babies

My husband had a vasectomy last Friday afternoon. Kind of a blunt way to start a blog, but there it is. It’s weird how differently we’re dealing with it. Like, you marry somebody and you kind of assume that you’ll feel the same way about the big decisions in life. Moving to a new neighbourhood, getting a cat, deciding to have kids, deciding not to have more kids, but... Nope. People have been saying to me for the last couple of months, “If you’re not sure then you shouldn’t be doing it” and, “Why don’t you wait a few more years?” because it was clearly obvious that I felt conflicted about it. And I know it’s supposed to be helpful, but hey! SO NOT HELPFUL.

Babies are cute, aren’t they? Sure, they cry a lot and crap even more, but they’re essentially incredibly cute and very forgiving of all of the things that make mums human and not Wonder Woman. But they soon grow up and become toddlers, who are a little less cute and far less forgiving. You fall asleep on the couch with a toddler and, even if you were absolutely certain that they were thoroughly engrossed in whatever they were playing with or watching on the TV, ten seconds later they will be jumping up and down on you and poking you in the face, shouting “WAKE UP, MUMMY!” and generally making you feel like you want to cry. Babies don’t do that. They either don’t notice for a good half hour that you’ve fallen asleep, or they fall asleep with you. And you can only cuddle a toddler for a maximum of ten seconds before they get bored and look for entertainment in using you as a trampoline or bashing you repeatedly over the head with a stuffed animal. Which, FYI, still kinda hurts after a while. Those are just examples.

Of course, there are also lots of reasons why toddlers can be much easier to deal with than babies, the most obvious of which being that they have the communication skills to tell you when they are unhappy without screaming about it for hours and leaving you to play the never-ending guessing game of WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU AND WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?! Which brings me to the sleep issue itself in that toddlers usually have the sleep thing nailed by this point in their lives, while a baby might not figure it out until they’re coming up to two years old. And let’s not forget the “I love you, mummy” moments that tend to make all of the shit things feel okay after all. All great examples of why toddlerhood sorta rocks, in its own thoroughly draining way.

So, Baby Taylor is coming up to six months old now and becoming more of a small person than a baby. We’ve had our share of problems with him, most of which have been caused by a severe case of reflux which still shows no sign of going away any time soon, and I’d be lying if I said that a new issue didn’t arise every second week. This week, for example, Baby Taylor has decided that he hates sleep. Or maybe he hates his room. I’m not sure. All I know is that as soon as I start walking up the stairs with him at nap time, he starts shrieking and thrashing and trying to make me drop him, because he would rather fall down the stairs than go to bed. So yeah, that’s not so fun. But the rest of the time, when he’s awake and happy and being unbearably cute, he’s pretty awesome.

Watching him grow rapidly out of babyhood makes me miss the days when he would fall asleep on my chest and stay snuggled there for hours. It makes me ache for the early days of bonding and breastfeeding and getting to know each other. But this is mostly my selective memory at work, because the truth is that at best we had a tenuous breastfeeding relationship, which made bonding very difficult as we both so clearly wanted different things. When I finally gave in – and when he was diagnosed with and properly treated for his reflux – our relationship improved dramatically and we now have a solid bond. So, putting aside all of the hell we went through in the first three months, I would be delighted to have another baby. Never mind the fact that we don’t have enough space and my car isn’t big enough and we actually can’t afford more kids... All irrelevant at 27 when closing the door on babies means ending a chapter in your life that a lot of your friends haven’t even started yet.

The thing is, my husband is a more rational being than I am. He loves his kids, but he also loves the idea of getting a little bit of his life back sooner rather than later. And, unlike me, he very clearly remembers the Reflux Hell and isn’t keen to repeat the experience any time soon. So where I could probably have 10 kids and still feel a pang when the last one reached their first birthday, he tends to view each milestone as one step closer to feeling a little less exhausted and a little more human. I get it. It’s not like I don’t ever fantasise about what I might be doing if I didn’t have kids, or if my kids were older and more independent, but a lot of the time I do genuinely enjoy being a mother and having children who are young enough to still think I’m the most wonderful human on the planet.

So on The Morning of the Operation, my husband was more concerned about surrendering a part of his masculinity – not to mention the fact that it might hurt to do so - than he was about the fact that no more sperm = no more babies. In fact, he was pretty clear on being totally at ease with the idea of no more babies. I, on the other hand, was nearing hysterical meltdown and had visions of crashing into the treatment room right at the critical moment screeching, “NO! IT’S A MISTAKE! A HUGE FUCKING MISTAKE!” I didn’t do this. I sat patiently in the waiting room, tapping my feet and chewing my nails for a whole hour until he walked out, relieved of his ability to procreate and of all the associated worries he had carried into the clinic with him. He probably would have bounced out if it hadn’t been for the unfavourable kinetic effects that would have had on his area.

We drove home, kind of talking about it, but mostly not and I woke up at regular intervals during that night and felt peculiar about it. And while every day since my darling husband has been giving me chirpy updates on bruise progress and suture dissolution, I have tried to come to terms with the idea that I will never again carry or birth a baby. It’s not easy, but during a WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU AND WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?! incident with Baby Taylor this afternoon, I felt like maybe getting some of my life back might not be such a bad thing after all. Because, actually, it wouldn’t be so bad to eventually have date nights and eight hours sleep and an uninterrupted nap on the couch someday. But don’t expect me to be glad about it just yet. And please, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, don’t tell me to be grateful for the kids I already have because I KNOW AND I AM, but it's just not that helpful to point it out right now.