I know it might seem shocking, since people seem happy to constantly expect things of you when it comes to children. But there’s actually no rulebook anywhere that says you need to have your first child at a particular age, there’s no list of guidelines that say you need to have a second child when your first child is exactly 18 months and 21 days old, in fact there’s nothing anywhere that says you need to have any children at all, or that you can’t just be happy with one, or that you need to stop at 4.
Yet for some reason we love to ask, and sometimes asking is not enough and we love to give our opinion, which obviously we know everyone really wants to hear (insert eye-roll emoji here…I love that little emoji so much). Oh you’ve been married a while, time for kids? When are you going for number two? You don’t want them to be an only child do you? Hmmm that age gap is too small, oh and that age gap is really big.
What’s wrong with: wow your kid is gorgeous! Or shall I take your kid for five minutes? Or even better, shall I put you up in this expensive hotel for a night and you can sleep all night and I’ll babysit? THESE are the questions we can happily answer!!
As for the others, I don’t speak for everyone but we felt there was no right time to have a baby, so at some point we just threw our hands up and said, may as well be now. There’s always something you haven’t done yet, or a career goal that hasn’t been met, or something that’s tugging for your attention. And we felt that would never change, there would never be a quiet moment where actually nothing else was happening and we had everything absolutely sorted and there was a light flashing “baby time” in front of us. We decided ‘now’ wasn’t an AWFUL time so why not? Whether you plan or you get a surprise, the time never seems ‘right’.
I always wanted to have a big family, I wanted heaps of kids, I love kids!!
And then it took us almost a year to get pregnant, which I know isn’t long compared to many couples, but I thought how do we go through this over and over? How can you wait each month and hope and dream and be disappointed. How can you enjoy the physical act of making a baby if it never gives you what you want, it begins to feel pointless, and that’s scary because it’s something special you have with your partner and nothing should be able to take that away from you, but it does.
And then we got pregnant with twins and life exploded into plans and dreams and joy and excitement before it got smashed into a million heartbreaking pieces and left us in a world where the sun was dark and cold and everyone seemed to be happy but us.
When you lose a child you lose something of yourself. I used to want to be surrounded by my family, piles of children clinging to me and playing all day, now I want to hold the one I have as close to me as possible and never move again. I don’t want to share him and I don’t want him to have to share, because he had a buddy he was going to share his life with and he’s gone. I am filled with fear. It is just under the surface, bubbling, ready to come up, even as I write this I can feel my heart rate increasing. I’m afraid of pain (which seems kinda rational to me, no one wants a bee sting, so why would you pick up a bee? -apiarists excluded of course, crazy folk!). I’m afraid of trying, of the waiting and the hoping and the disappointment, when it feels like you’re surrounded by people who are somehow pregnant the minute their partner walks in the room, seriously HOW?
I’m afraid of being pregnant, because I’ve only ever experienced the disaster of it, and why would I risk that again? I’m afraid of going to that scan and seeing two little blobs again, I CANNOT do that. I actually just can’t. I’m afraid of repeating everything we have just done. I’m afraid of losing again. I’m so afraid of so many things that the possibility of ‘going for number two’ is a complete and utter impossibility to me.
I just. Simply. Cannot.
So when you ask me (if you have to…) and when you tell me that I’ll change my mind in time (not sure why you have to do that…but you do…), well, maybe you’re right, but maybe you’re not, and at the end of the day it’ll be our choice and I’m not apologising for the fact that you have to accept that, because you haven’t lived our reality.
Everyone makes choices in their lives, and they don’t always announce aloud why they make those choices, all they want is people to support them, and love them. With or without kids, with or without siblings, whenever the hell they want. If you want to hang with your partner forever and play with other people’s kids, then do it! If you want to have 5 kids in the next 8 years, get started. If you want to give your 15 year old a sibling this year, go ahead. Whatever way you do family, we’ve got your back.