By Catherine Cameron.
For the past year I have been asked ‘When are you trying for number two?’
It’s a question I have no issue answering.
I always answer in the same manner.
I always lie.
‘We want a big gap.’
Our 2-year-old daughter, a rip tide of conversation, cuddles and endless energy, is almost 3. Most of my fellow mums are trying, have tried, or produced another baby. Each of their situations are unique, and I have been over the moon for them all.
Ever since my daughter was born, I have kept everything. And I mean everything. Every sock, electronic toy, or blanket is neatly saved in storage. So, we have all we need when/if our ‘we haven’t decided we are having nor speak about without disagreeing’ baby comes along.
You only need to read one of my early blogs to revisit the days where my reflux suffering baby turned my world, sleep, and marriage on its head. Yes, things vastly improved and I finally got some sleep during that second year. And, yes one year of hardship is a drop in the ocean in the greater scheme of things.
But, my mental health, marriage, and ability to be a good mum is what makes up that very ocean, in which the drop would fall.
And daily I host an inward battle that a second child could cause this ocean to overflow.
That it could break me.
I still think back to my daughter’s early days, and I have to remind myself that even when things got so much easier; I myself did not.
I have taken a long time to feel mentally strong again, and even in saying that, the walls are a bit thinner.
Now, let’s shovel everything I have just said like snow on a Canadian driveway and see what my inner maternal instinct has to say on the matter. Because, she is yelling and screaming that she’s not done. In fact, she is standing in the wings stage right in her hospital gown doing a tap dance with an epidural needle as a cane.
Pan to stage left, and there is me, wearing sensible shoes and shaking my head.
So, when asked the question of when we will be trying for number two – the answer is a little more complicated than what I provide. He says no. I say no. But I also say yes. Just not yet. When she is 4. Oh wait, so I’d have to be pregnant now? No that is far too soon.
Ask me again tomorrow.
And, although this may well be our fate, I cannot seem to say the words;
‘We aren’t having anymore.’
As it stands, being a family of three means my daughter is the center of our world, and the time I can devote to her bodes well in warding off my irrational mum guilt.
The problem, is the reaction to such an answer, in a society where multiple children has become an expectation (even though there is nothing wrong with a family of three, and only children are perfect as they are. I would know. I married one.)
People feel the need to sway you:
If you change your mind, the gap will be too large and they won’t play together.
The second is so much easier, you know exactly what you are doing this time!
(if your first was testing) The second one will be a breeze.
Only children don’t know how to share.
Everything comes in packs of four at the supermarket. (!)
And then there are those incredible mothers who make it all seem so darn easy. Having two (or more!) so close together, while still managing to wash their hair and leave the house. And, remain married.
I watch these Goddesses with absolute awe. But I am never foolish enough to ask the question; If they can do it, why can’t I?
Because I am not them. They, are not me.
When mothers of multiple children tell me, ‘it is easy,’ I am wiser than to believe a single thread of this. Nothing about this job is easy. What I believe they are trying to say, is that they themselves, are simply better at it, each time round.
But what if me being a little better, isn’t better enough? And what if the starting point is still a work in progress? And worse still, what if even though my heart is unsure, my husband’s resistance is right, after all?
I am terrified of proving him right, and going back to that place.
Worse, I am terrified that I lack the confidence that I need to prove him wrong.
So here comes the part where I impart my whimsical wisdom on the matter of ‘should we or shouldn’t we’ with you all.
Well, this time, I’m stumped. And I’ll be honest, it’s a lonely kind of stumped.
Gone are the days of ‘just get on with it’. We are wiser now, that this is a dangerous sentiment in the hands of postpartum complications.
Gone are the days where ‘let’s just see what happens’ is viable, when your wounds are still healing.
But not gone, is that yearning in my heart.
Nor the love I hold for my husband, and the peace we have in our lives as I am myself again.
And so mammas, I ask, do we nurture what we have, in fear?
Or, do we risk everything, and leap?