Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life Reframed

By Cynthia Prest

Two children, one boy and one girl…a house in the suburbs...a big, green lawn with space for the kids (and perhaps a dog) to run around...a neighborhood filled with children who skip and ride their bikes to school...tree-lined sidewalks for long walks with the kids…this is the life I expected. Ok, so I could take or leave the dog; that wasn’t an essential part of the dream. What were essential were the two kids. Perhaps it was because I grew up with an older brother or maybe it was the “Dick and Jane” books. Regardless of how it started, my dream for as long as I could remember was two children, minimum.
I now need to reframe my life to possibly not include two children. Hubby has already nixed the dog idea. It’s one thing to know all along one child was all you wanted and to make that conscious choice when building your family. It’s quite another thing when that choice is made for you.
When my son asks if he’s going to get a baby soon, I have to steady my breath before I say no. If several more years go by without a brother or sister and he inevitably asks me why, I will have to be prepared with a coherent answer. What will I tell him? I tried, honey, I really did. It just didn’t happen. I know my mothering is impacted by having one child, but I’m not sure how. Will he feel my regret at having one child? Will he grow up feeling that something was missing or that he wasn’t enough? As if he isn’t enough. Believe me, he’s enough.
I sometimes wonder if I’m a better mother because I have one child. He gets my full attention. He doesn’t have to share me with anyone. He doesn’t lack for anything because we have other kids to consider. He is the center of my and my family’s universe. The more I experience motherhood, the more I am baffled by how parents divide their attention among two or more children.
I’m getting older, and while the wrinkles have yet to appear (for which I am grateful), each approaching birthday reminds me that my reproductive system is aging right along with me. When I read in People magazine of another celebrity having a baby, I immediately scan for her age. “She was 38, good.” Sigh of relief. If she could do it, so can I.
Except… I have other factors conspiring against me. I’ve had six miscarriages. I’m not sure statistics have even been compiled on how many other women are in this particular boat.
Except… I have visions of another baby. I feel myself pregnant with her. I see myself holding her. I envision introducing her to her brother. Where is she? Will I ever get to meet her?
Except…I dread being pregnant again. It’s been a nightmare of medications, exams, procedures, ultrasounds. How much more can I endure?
I know, without a doubt, that one more pregnancy will be my last. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been putting off making the decision, since I know there is finality in it. I want another child; I also want my sanity. I want to enjoy my life - the life I have now, not the life I dream of having.
I try to live every day choosing hope…believing that the best is yet to come…knowing, even though not quite believing, that I can survive anything. I do hope to have another child some day, and for the first time since this nightmare began, I know I’ll be okay if I don’t.