(Originally published in the October/November 2015 edition of Little Treasures Magazine)
I always imagined myself having two kids one day. Girls, boys, one of each…that never bothered me, but I really wanted two. For a while, it looked like we might struggle to even have one, and the day I saw two blue lines appearing on a white stick remains one of the happiest of my life.
My husband was a somewhat reluctant father-to-be – he was massively supportive, but I’d catch him gazing at my rapidly growing belly with a mix of what can only be described as abject terror. That all changed the second Amy was born, at which point he became The Only Man To Have Ever Become A Father, our daughter was The Most Amazing Child In The World, Ever, and he practically signed up for a second baby on the spot. Given the struggles we had getting pregnant with Amy, we got back on the baby bandwagon (almost) immediately. Surgeries for endometriosis followed, as did failed attempts at IVF, and I quietly readjusted my vision of our family to be the three of us. I didn’t want to wish away Amy’s early life as I raced toward finding out if I was pregnant each month, and she was such a wonderful child just on her own. We decided to give IVF one last try, but the day before I was due to start we discovered that Tilly had happened all by herself!
The suggestion of a vasectomy was first tabled when I was in the midst of severe sleep deprivation. I wasn’t adverse to the concept (in fact, at 3.30 A.M I often actively supported the idea), but asked my husband to hold off until Tilly was one. Her first birthday rolled around, and the subject was raised again – honestly I’ve never known a grown man so eager to have his bits surgically fixed. All of a sudden, I was like a toddler at the cupcake table: “but I want one MORE!” Did I really? Was I serious? Where had this come from?
And so began the most polite marital stand off I’ve ever witnessed.
Him: “If you really want a baby, I don’t want to stand in the way of that. If you’re REALLY sure”.
Me: “Ohh, if you’re not 100% into the idea then we probably shouldn’t. That’s not fair on you – you only signed on for two”.
Him: “I don’t want you to resent me one day when it’s too late to do anything about it”.
Me: “And I don’t want you to resent me one day if it puts a strain on our marriage”.
“No, no, we should have one if you want one”. “No, no, we probably shouldn’t”. Etc., etc., etc.
So polite, with mildly passive-aggressive undertones.
I turned to the best strategy for thrashing out any issue known to (wo)man: a boozy dinner out with girlfriends. With the firm assertion that we all love our kids more than life itself and wouldn’t give any of them back (we each have between one and four), we worked through the pros and cons of having three, both emotional and logistical.
Some of the cons: At least one of them will be sick at any given moment. Staying with people is hard. Travel is even harder. Fitting three car seats in the back is a real pig. You only have two hands, which is problematic when they all run in different directions. Wanting to stab people in the eye when they ask “are you hoping for a boy this time?” All the baby stuff has been given away. Morning sickness (oh, man, the morning sickness), and all the fun things that come with pregnancy and childbirth. The family budget is stretched thinner, as is time with your partner. Going through the Trying To Get Pregnant bit again – which is all fun and games to start with, then at some point dissolves into “I don’t CARE if you’re feeling sick, I’m on day 14, it’s a full moon, there are two lines on my ovulation kit and fern patterns all over my Maybe Baby microscope, so we HAVE to!”
Some of the pros: Tiny socks. Feeling those first kicks. First baby smiles. Hearing that first magical “Mama!” Three nights in a hospital bed with all meals taken care of (admittedly there is a newborn to look after, but they pretty much sleep for all the first day). Having exponential love for another beautiful little person in the family. Did I mention tiny socks?
At the end of the night, I’d come to the realisation it wasn’t so much that I wanted another baby, it was that I was feeling sad about the “baby bearing” chapter of my life coming to an end. Getting pregnant had been so all-consuming, and having babies was something I’d looked forward to for so long…it’s really hard to let go of the idea that I won’t experience that first moment of holding a baby we’ve created ever again.
The next evening while giving our girls a bath, I thought about how lucky we are to have them, and about non-child-related goals I can work towards (for example, I’d really like to run a marathon. I think. God, that looks scary now I’ve written it down). I had a sudden rush of contentment, and uttered the romantic words: “Ok honey, you can book your vasectomy”.
Later that night, after pouring a glass of wine (“O-ho!” I told myself, “you wouldn’t be able to do THAT if you were having a third baby!”), I picked up my phone for a social media fix, and just as Jeremy cried, “please don’t look at Facebook!”, I saw it. A photo of our friends’ two little girls with the happy announcement that a third was on the way.
“Babe? Maybe don’t book that vasectomy juuuuust yet”.