You know it’s this interesting thing that happens at a certain stage in life, isn’t it? The question of you as a baby maker, being obviously that you only need to be a woman as the common denominator for the general public to feel it is of their concern to ask you.
I know I have child less friends who get asked this all the time and who rightly so get sick and tired of it. I know that the minute Josh was born, people where suggesting it was time we considered another! And I also know that we are not alone in feeling that pressure as I heard it often from others too.
Now we have the “two kids” package, the pressure this time round is less, but never the less the question still gets posed regularly enough that its of uncomfortable interest, “will you have more kids?” or “maybe time for another?”
Its asked in different ways depending I guess on your circumstances but the thing people over look quite often when they ask it is, despite modern concepts of contraception and control and planning over these events in our lives for some of us, it doesn’t always work that way.
Yep some people it is like that, planned, coordinated and executed, but not for everyone. When James and I first got engaged and people would regularly ask us about kids, very few of them knew we had been ‘trying’ to convince already for some time. Every time the question was asked it was like a sting that my body hadn’t yet got the message everyone else was asking me about.
We had been ‘trying’ for two years, we got right to the point where the doctor said, “maybe you guys should consider IVF?”
The pressure I had put myself under and the disappointment I kept feeling at myself every time I did get another period, which was like a soul crushing reminder my body still hadn’t conceived, was getting too much. The ‘trying’ was taking the fun out of our relationship. It was all too much…
This was relatively early stages of our relationship still, we had almost been ‘trying’ almost since we began our relationship. We decided that we would just wait. Focus on other shit. Live life. If the issue was still the same in a few years’ time, we would look at our options then.
Effectively, we stopped ‘trying’. See this sounds silly, cause the only thing that changed was that we didn’t have the same pressure on ourselves, on the situation. It’s not like anything had effectively changed but sex was no longer scheduled or timed and well, I guess I don’t need to say more than it put the fun back into it…. 😉
It was two months later we conceived Josh but I didn’t realise for quite a while. Having PCOS means I don’t usually have regular cycles anyway, the fact I hadn’t had a period in three months meant nothing to me and I had stopped living in hope that a skipped cycle meant I was pregnant. Before then, before then we had kept stacks of pregnancy tests in the bathroom and I would take them all the time, but at that point I had put the concept from my mind.
It was actually a friend of ours who came over after work one evening with an aged bottle of rum which is usually a keen favourite of mine and he offer me a drink, “ohhh nah, thanks, I just don’t feel like it and I’m really tired, I’m gonna go to bed I think guys, I’ll leave you to it.”
He and James both looked up at me surprised and our friend said, “omg, what? Are you pregnant?” I laughed, “I don’t think so! I’m allowed to turn down a drink guys! It that so shocking?! I’m just tired!”
James too laughed, “it’s just that its 40-year-old Appleton’s babe! You love this shit!”
“Meh, not tonight. I’m good, thanks…” and I wandered off into the bedroom, too thinking, I really do love that shit, I just don’t feel like it… Maybe that is a bit strange…? When did I last have a period?
Needless to say, the next day I went and bought a fresh box of pregnancy tests. I did the first and it came back positive… I showed James and said, “no, I think there is something wrong with the tests, give me another one”.
Needless to say, the second one had the same result. Still not letting myself believe it, I said to James, “it’s gotta be something wrong with the packet, you do the last test!”
Entertaining me he took the third test in the packet and after me sitting in suspense on the edge of the bed for the two minutes it took him to return, I eagerly looked up as he walked around the corner, “well, one if of us pregnant and it’s not me!” he smiled. Showing me his negative pregnancy test, he put it alongside the two positive one’s I was still staring out trying to get my head around it.
We thought we had lost Josh when I had a placental abruption at 13 weeks, we didn’t. The placenta grew massive to reattach to the womb lining and he is now a full of energy (and testosterone!) four-and-a-half-year-old.
Between my boys, we had another pregnancy, a baby we call Jellybean. Who was our honeymoon baby, conceived when we went and eloped when Josh was 18 months old. That pregnancy ended in what is called a ‘missed miscarriage’. In between the time when we went for a scan, Jellybean had died and had no heart beat but my body hadn’t caught up with the message yet. I hemorrhaged in the processes of waiting for my body to miscarriage naturally and ended up getting an ambulance ride to the hospital and coming home with a tiny little box coffin with Jellybean inside.
Jai was conceived shortly after and again, despite some issues with bleeds and my massive concerns about losing him too throughout my pregnancy, he is now a full of beans and troublesome 20-month-old. Pregnancy after miscarriage in my experience is quite different. There are fears and concerns and doubts I never had in previous miscarriages the same, even with the huge issues we had early on with Josh. The threat of loss felt much more real.
And I had an amazing birth with Jai, don’t get me wrong, but I really don’t like being pregnant. It’s not a ‘mother earth’ time to me haha I gain shit loads of weight and my hormones go out of whack and symptoms of PCOS seem worse even though they are different. But as soon as Jai was born, James and I kind of looked at each other, “I know we only ever planned for two kids, but is this really our last baby?”
So, I don’t know. I am currently at the point where never having to be pregnant again is actually an incredibly appealing concept. I haven’t got to do things like open water diving in so many years because my body hasn’t been my own, I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding or both. Now with Jai close to weaning, the light at the end of the tunnel in that sense is close enough to catch glimpses of momentarily sometimes.
But I hate what contraceptives do to my body. I hate how they mess with my already normally slightly out of whack hormone levels and yep sure sometimes that stabilises, but at a different kind of balance than what my body considers normal and I find the issues of PCOS worse. Weight is more difficult for me to manage, all kinds of other symptoms I usually don’t struggle too badly with become facts of daily life again like they did through my adolescence.
Jai weaning himself off the boob and having days sometimes in between feeds now means my hormones are already changing balances and messing with me anyway. I think a lot of us overlook how much that affects us as the mothers when a baby or child is weaning from the boob. It makes our hormones jump all over the place too.
And sometimes I sit there on the rare occasion he still asks for boob and I get a tear in my eye and wonder if it might be the last time and I try to savour it as much as I can. Then I catch myself thinking, “would it matter if it is the last time I breastfeed?”
I know after all our battles, struggles and issues with fertility, James and I quickly jumped from, ‘two kids max’ to ‘whatever life throws at us’ but really… there are lots of benefits to just having two kids right? That’s why we always originally agreed on two, well that and we both come from two children nuclear families which probably does have a bit of bearing on how we conceptualise our understandings and expectations of family when we are getting to make the decisions.
But two kids means you’re not outnumbered by little people. We can still tag team and break them up when it gets too much, “you take one, I’ll take the other”. Travel is still somewhat affordable (but man, travel even with one kid is hard, I’m not sure my expectations of that argument still stand in my mind). You don’t need a different car – that one was like a fundamental two kid argument for us but when you really think about it, that one is ridiculous, we have changed cars several times over the last few years anyway.
And while I had thought before I had kids, one on one was easier, when you actually have a wee pack of children, like happens with friend’s kids etc, sometimes they can actually be easier to manage from the adult perspective. They entertain each other more.
But as I watch Jai at the age Josh was when he was conceived and see him finally getting to all those stages of independence, he plays by himself now, he likes pottering around the garden, he is more independent, more capable. He is interested in toilet training, he is trying to drop his day sleep. He runs and jumps and keeps up with his big brother. He is not a baby anymore, even if he is my baby.
They say you never regret having another child but you may regret not having one. And I imagine there is a shit load of truth to that. Because you bond with children, well you are meant to, and of course you wouldn’t regret that extra person to love.
I kind of expected that the threat of doing all these ‘lasts’ with Jai would make me more clucky, more keen to do it again, more set in my mind that whatever life throws at us is the direction I want to go. But strangely I am finding almost the opposite true for me, the idea this might be the last nappy I have to change, the concept this could be the last time I have to lie on an awkward angle to breastfeed my baby back to sleep… while heart moving and somewhat bitter sweet, it’s not making me miss doing it to the point where I want to jump up and start from the beginning all over again.
Its making me rethink just how much I want to in fact… so when you ask me, “will you have more kids?” well, guess what, I dunno… But maybe just realise often when you are asking a woman this, you have no idea of the context, journey or experiences she has faced on this exact topic when you do. You could be actually being really rude and hurtful, in fact, regardless of her journey, you are being rude.
It is her body, her family, her choices. How about we drop the expectations that we are all meant to do the same thing or plan for life the same way or even know what we want or what we are doing or need to explain that to someone else. Because this question of asking a woman about her choices around children, well it’s kind of like asking someone if they are pregnant… Just don’t. They will tell you if that want to talk about it. Otherwise you risk putting your foot in your mouth big time and really upsetting someone.