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Thursday, April 2, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be

Photo from here.

It feels like it’s been a looong week. Usually Wednesday is mummy’s day and Beanie goes to Nanna’s for some quality time in the garden. The first week of the month though is different, Nanna has her on a Friday and it makes for a long week. I have been more tired than normal (and I’m pretty tired anyway as a general rule) and the delight of my moon-time has been much enhanced this month with PMT that, had I not already been busy, could have seen me lopping the heads off passers-by with gay abandon. Guess St John’s Wort is too much of a wussy herb to deal with ‘women’s problems’ and, let’s face it, I have a spectacular array of those right now.

So, here I am. Pondering choices. The trouble with choices is that there are usually too many of them and they fill the head like a band of annoying Peruvian pan-pipe players (try saying that fast three times) until you just want to find a cave somewhere high in the Himalayas and stay there. And not even ‘until’ - just stay there. Period. So, what are these choices? Well, given the recent diagnosis of PND and my struggles with the whole motherhood thing, the choice I am faced with making is around whether or not to have another child. Its always been pretty much a given that I would have another baby. I have assumed that this is what would happen eventually but wanted to wait until I ‘felt better’ or less angry or less overwhelmed, which I don’t. Obviously. There is also the issue of my ‘advanced’ age in baby making terms. I am turning 40 this year and obviously fertility is an issue even if I don’t entirely believe that once you hit 35 all your eggs head speedily for the exit as if the ovaries are on fire. So now I’m not really wondering about how hard it’s going to be on my body and on my energy. I’m wondering if my assumptions about having another child are wrong. I’m wondering if I’m cut out to be a mother of one, let alone two. I’m wondering if I really will ever get to experience pregnancy and birth again. I’m wondering if my husband will get the second child he really wants but would sacrifice (how very biblical) for my wellbeing.

It’s a really hard decision for me. I have lived with the expectation that another child was a given. I have been preparing the groundwork for a long time despite much resistance, both conscious and unconscious. I have been chipping away at said resistance and now, with the PND Fairy taking up residence, I am having a good hard look at what I really want, what I think I want, what hubby wants and what is good for us as a family. I’m also allowing myself to think about the possibility of NOT having another baby and how that makes me feel. Actually, I know how it makes me feel. Sad. I have honestly been looking forward to the creation of another life, to another pregnancy and yes, despite my very natural fears, another ‘go’ at having that longed for water birth. I want another sibling for Lily. I grew up feeling very much like an only child despite having 3 (much older) siblings and it was rather lonely. I want Lily to have a confidante, a friend, a playmate and I want to see her become a ‘big sister’. If I choose not to have another baby, I lose all of that. I miss the opportunity to grow round and heavy with new life. To feel the little life moving around inside of me, pushing against the walls of its little home, letting me know that all is well and that he or she is there. I lose watching another soul come into being. I lose the opportunity to marvel at tiny fingers, tiny toes, feet so small you want to take them gently into your mouth, big navy blue eyes looking up at me. I will miss the tiny growsuits, the weeny nappies, and the hungry little mouth fixed on my breast And the milky sleepy smiling that comes after feeding. I will make a choice that forever limits my experience of pregnancy and birth to what I have already experienced and, to be honest, not all of what I experienced was good. I know its foolish to think such things but I still have the urge to ‘make it right’ – to have the birth that I so wanted for Lily, rather than the shock of the birth that we had. I know that these things cannot be mapped out. I am living proof of that. Yet, the yearning remains.

I remember when I had my termination all those years ago. I felt such loss and such a sense of yearning. I knew that I had begun a journey that my body longed to finish. I had started to call into being my mothering self and then had to abandon her because of the restrictions and difficulties of the time. I remember that body ache so well and I feel it now. The unfinished, unwritten chapters of my life are tugging at my hand and at my heart. Sometimes I think that I can feel also, the little being that still wants me, despite my failings, to bring him into being. I feel him with something other than my normal senses or awareness. He is waiting to see which way the dice will fall for him. And I don’t honestly know.

How is that you can shed tears for what is not yet in being? How is it that I can feel such sadness, such loss for things I shall never experience if I make the decision I am contemplating? Perhaps I have simply filled my head with too many ‘perfect birth’ scenarios, watched too many beautiful DVD’s about what birth could be like, if only we trusted ourselves enough. Maybe I have simply attached myself to this outcome too deeply and now that the time has come to pull out the hook, I am finding it painful.

And so. And so I sit here thinking impossibly difficult thoughts and asking myself impossibly difficult questions, (just for a change). Allowing myself the space to sit with it. Allowing the possibility that 'this is it for me' to be a fact and see how that feels. (Still sad). I know I don’t have to make a definitive decision tonight. But I do have to make a decision soon because neither my apparently absconding ovum nor me have the luxury of too much time. Most especially with our current fertility challenges to overcome. The question of course is, can I cope with the results of my decision either way? With second child or without second child, my life is difficult. The question becomes then, would it be more unbearably difficult with an additional child to manage? Would the joys of motherhood be overshadowed by the struggles? Would the PND fairy give up her rental and just move in? Am I simply giving in to the drama of it all and, on some bizarre level, enjoying the misery and all attention that struggling brings? I’m almost certain there is an element of that in there. I’m not saying that I’m enjoying my current difficulties but there is something in me that knows and loves drama. I come from a family of drama queens and I think that sometimes I don’t know how to live a peaceful, non-adrenalised life. I think that this little glitch in my programming leads to horrible incidents like last night, where we were nearly in a very bad car accident because I got stuck on the wrong side of the road with a car coming towards me that wasn’t slowing down. That was pretty dramatic. And I was the one that put us in that situation, albeit accidentally. I mean, what better metaphor for my internal life right now than a head on collision!

I jest. Well mostly anyway. I am just curious about myself in these places. I have been practicing mindfulness recently, (mainly in the car when I feel like I’m about to lose it with beanie), and keeping a questioning mind about my life. It’s sometimes liberating to think that I won’t have to do the whole toddler thing again or the severe sleep deprivation thing. But then I look in my cupboard at the tiny socks and shoes and run my hands over the tiny soft baby clothes, or I hold a newborn and feel that soft heaviness in my arms and that wonderful newborn smell, and I am lost. That mothering ache begins in my womb and I am full of sighs and deep longings once again.

What complex creatures we women are. How full of wanting. How full of light and warmth and life. And yet, how easily we walk with darkness. How calmly we hold hands with the devils of our own unexpressed longing. How willingly we sacrifice ourselves and quietly mourn the death of our wild gypsy selves.

Yes. To Be or Not To Be - that really is the question.
But what will be the answer?


Carin said...

Of course only you guys can make that decision, but I sympathise, I really do. We have are own issues with age, health and fertility so know where you're coming from. I'm not yet able to let go of the dream of a second child, but am concentrating on health for now, in the hope that better health will make for easier conception and healthier parenting. Will reassess towards end of the year.

In hope you'll find an answer, or a reprieve soon.

docwitch said...

We're going through something a little like what you're experiencing.

I'm quite reluctant to have another child, but there is a sadness at the possibility that I am saying goodbye to that part of my life, (like so many women do at some point).

I love the idea of being pregnant (although that is a potentially fraught and traumatic experience for me because of my risk factors), having a good birth, and the thought of a little baby. But for me personally, I don't feel those reasons are good, solid reasons enough to bring a little soul into the world.
As to whether I want to devote my life to another child, I don't think I do. However selfish that sounds. I want to be the best mother I can be to the child that I have.

Also, in this day and age, a child not having a sibling is not going to be a dreadful thing. A lot of the time sibling relationships aren't always positive anyway. I get so sick of hearing from other people that it's not fair to my child that she has no siblings. I just don't buy it, and children can be lonely for a number of reasons - with or without siblings.

Whatever you decide, I hope it works out, and you find what is best for you. Caring for your health is the best thing you can do for the child that you already have, and any potential baby.

Mon said...

I'm with the Doc, I don't into the sibling thing. It CAN be amazing, it can also be traumatic.

And the whole 'I want to get it right the next time around' is fraught with a LOT of problems.

Me, I'm happy wth one. I couldn't and don't want to do the pregnancy and newborn thing again. But originally the idea had always been two. I just want to be the best parent for the one that is here now. If in the future I get the urge to parent again, it would be adoption.

It's amazing though isn't it, how our bodies crave this of us? Even when you're struggling with mamahood now, you still consider another. Hormones have a lot to answer for, lol.

Sara said...

After two and a half years of trying for another, my husband and I made the decision to stop trying almost two years ago now. It was traumatic for me, but I worked through the emotions and have come to a point now where I am happy with the decision. I know that it was the right one. I had to go through what I was feeling and decide why I was feeling that way. Although sometimes I still think about what it would be like to have another. I know I don't want to go through pregnancy and the infant stage again. I am spoiled with my five year old that can have his own time, allowing me my own time. I'm selfish! There, I said it. I'm at the point of being able to have more of a life of my own and I like it. I don't want to give it up, even for a few years. How awful of me (not really). I still see myself as a good mom, just a little different from other moms possibly.

Only you and your partner can make the decision. Just know that having a single child is a wonderful experience, just as having more than one is. Your heart will lead you in the right direction.

Cave Mother said...

What a brave and exposed post. I almost cried, though I'm raw from my own mothering experiences at the moment. I hope you come to a decision you can live with.

sol y luna said...

I was quite alarmed and upset reading this post. That image of you two with a car heading toward you... Fu*k! I'm so glad you're ok. My tummy is still tensed up, and yes, a pretty evocative metaphor for the intensity of everything going on, in and out.

I feel less qualified to comment, being childless, but I well recognise that ache of longing from a termination, that journey begun. My body and spirit have been tugging at me for years to get to work, so much so that I frequently have dreams about being pregnant, birthing, and breast-feeding (sometimes the little one is a kitten rather than of the human variety! which says a lot about my ailurophile tendencies and love of De Bernieres...)

I agree with Docwitchy and Mon re the only child not having to be so lonely and traumatised. I'm living proof. Kind of. Cue maniacal laughter.

I also "here, here" the ideas that honouring your health and inner rhythms/intuition will yield much that will nourish, and help you decide.

Love, sol XX

Sarah said...

What an open post. That is a lot to work through.

I've heard the sibling arguments too, especially the "They need to have siblings so that when they're adults they have those relationships in their lives." I'm here to tell you that as a child with 9 siblings, none of those are close sibling relationships. A few of us have hard-won *friend* relationships, but there is no sibling camaraderie, there-for-you-no-matter-what relationships among *any* of us.

I hope you're able to come to a peaceful decision either way.

sarah said...

I am a new reader here but was so caught by this post, I must leave a comment. I hope you don't mind.

I can empathise with the place you are in right now. I was in that place a couple of years ago. And I let fear and doubt and practical reasons make the choice for me. And now it is too late.

By the way, don't let motherhood make you think you can't be a wild gypsy! My dd will tell you that I am wild, strange, only half in this world. Be your true self so your child has encouragement to be her true self too. :-)

You have a beautiful weblog.

mountainmama said...

dear awakened heart~ i felt sure that i had commented on this blog previously, but i think now that i read it and felt so many things that i was ruminating and forgot to comment :)

i agree with all the things the other posters have said, especially that i don't think siblings automatically provide love and companionship. and i know getting older is scary when you still want to have a baby, but i know things can still turn out fine. a friend of mine became pregnant at 43 and had a healthy baby boy.

but i also think that choosing not to have another baby would not be selfish at all. i see mothers who look like they're at their wits end at the market, trying to juggle groceries and multiple children and i look down at my only daughter and feel so happy. my partner and i have discussed having another child, but honestly the thought terrifies me. i don't think i could handle more than one. but i'm not sure i want to either. i want to give all my love and focus to our daughter right now and the thought of having to divide that attention away from her makes me feel sad. i want this to be her time.

but i can completely see how torn you are as part of you really wants another baby. i'm so sorry you are struggling with this inner conflict and longing.

my heart goes out to you. i wish you peace in whatever you decide~~~