Before we get started: I am ever so very grateful for my two beautiful, wonderful children. Okay? Pease don’t forget that and feel the need to remind me about it because I AM.
Sometimes I’ll be driving along and I’ll start thinking that maybe we actually could cope with another baby, and I’ll wonder if perhaps we might even get a girl. I’ll start going over the dialogue in my head, how I would present the idea to my husband and I’ll think about the possible reaction I might get and how I would feel if he flat out rejected it. Then it hits me with a sickening lurch that seems to knock me sideways; another baby isn’t an option for us anymore. And it really doesn’t matter how many times I forget and subsequently remember that fact, the force of the impact never seems to be any less devastating. But we decided this. We looked at our options and we made this choice. And, truthfully, there are a lot of reasons why it was the right decision to make. Logical, sensible reasons with strong foundations in the reality that is our life together. But there are a lot of reasons why it was the totally fucking wrong decision too, and some days I find that I really resent my husband for how easy he found the whole thing. I know that’s really unreasonable. I’m self-aware enough to realise that. But here’s the thing about me; sometimes I am really unreasonable. And illogical too, a character trait for which this precise situation is a case in point.
Here’s a list of the things that would have to change for my husband and I to have another baby. It’s not a short list. In fact, it’s a list that falls just short of EVERYTHING.
I would need a new car. Probably some hideous people carrier effort with shitloads of seats and cavernous boot space for all the crap that I would need to cart around all the time. A new car would be expensive, and I just bought one that I really like and which suits our current family perfectly. I don’t want a people carrier.
We would have to move house. About six weeks ago we had a new bathroom fitted. It is a bathroom that I have been lusting after since ever we bought this house and the bloody awful bathroom that came with it three years ago. I like this house a lot, and there are a whole bunch of reasons why I wouldn’t want to move out of it. It’s not all about the bathroom. But right now, a lot of it is about the bathroom.
We would need more money, which means that I would need to think about taking on some evening work as well as my day job. And it might sound selfish, but I kind of value my quality of life over a hypothetical baby right now considering how hard everything has been during Baby Taylor’s first year and how sleep-deprived I still am. That’s just how it is right now, and how it will probably be for some time to come.
Okay, so actually laid out like that, it’s not a long list. But if you expand on the repercussions of just one of those things, the whole concept kind of takes on supernova status and suddenly I WANT ANOTHER BABY doesn’t really seem to hold much weight or make a whole lot of sense. Then there’s all of the stuff that wouldn’t so much change as change back.
Night feeds. Show of hands for everyone who hates night feeds as much as me? Yeah. Thought so. They’re shit, aren’t they? Particularly when bad experiences with Baby Taylor’s night feeds would mean a constant inner monologue of, “I wonder if s/he will actually go back to sleep when s/he is done...” I can’t even tell you how much I am done with night feeds.
Alongside night feeds... Explosive nappies in the middle of the night that get all over the bed and then the whole bed needs to be changed as well as the baby and the baby has shit in his/her hair and I have no fucking idea how it got there or what I’m supposed to do about it at 4AM and... NO. JUST NO.
The What The Fuck Is Wrong With You And Why Won’t You Sleep/Stop Crying/Eat guessing game. Because now Baby Taylor and I sort of understand each other well enough that most of the time he can find a way to tell me what he needs without screaming the house down about it and I usually figure out what he’s getting at pretty quickly. When he was a baby? Nope. And it was the same with Toddler Taylor, made even harder by the fact that he was my first baby and I had no bloody idea what I was actually doing.
Immunisations every four weeks. Absolutely necessary, of course. But “please don’t cuddle your baby until we’ve given both jabs”? Seriously... Fuck off with that right now.
Weight Clinic. Does anybody else come out in a cold sweat of panic every time they have to take a newish baby to weight clinic? Like, what if s/he’s not gaining enough weight? What if they tell me I’m doing something wrong? What if someone says FAILURE TO THRIVE? This has only become less of an issue for me since I bought my own set of scales to alleviate the fear of nasty surprises. I actually wish I was kidding about that, but HI. I’M NEUROTIC.
You know how people always tell you to “weigh up the pros and cons” whenever you’re feeling a bit on-the-fence about something? That’s my Could We Have Another New Baby cons list. Oh, and there’s one more: MY HUSBAND HAD A VASECTOMY IN MARCH AND WE CAN’T HAVE BABIES TOGETHER ANYWAY. I always somehow forget that one. It gets lost in the myriad of other cons, but then it always seems to be the one that flies back up and smacks me in the face because it’s the only one that really matters in the end. And a lot of the time I can see this for what it really is, rather than what my conscious mind would like me to believe it is. What I think this is actually about is how much I just did not enjoy Baby Taylor’s first few months, how guilty I feel about wishing that time away and how much I wish I could go back and find a way to not hate every second of it. It’s about me wanting to “fix” myself, and I think I always knew that I would feel that way. So my pros list would probably look something like this:
I could exorcise my I’m A Shitty Mother demons by doing an absolutely perfect job of nurturing and breastfeeding (I can’t even. It still kills me) and bonding with my new baby, then I might start feeling better about myself and stop obsessing over all of the things I regret that I can’t fucking change because it’s too late.
But my selfish desire to not feel totally shit about the whole experience forever is not a good enough reason to bring another child into the world. Not at all. And it wouldn’t actually work anyway. I was going to do a better job of a lot of things with Baby Taylor than I did with Toddler Taylor and look how that turned out; I got thrown a curveball and that whole notion went to hell. If we’re going to start looking at it like that – and we shouldn’t, because I know it wasn’t my fault – the chances are it probably wouldn’t be any better or easier next time either. So it’s really a good thing that we can’t have more children, otherwise I might just end up forgetting all that and convince myself that it would be a smart idea to try again.