Thursday, January 14, 2010

One is the Happiest Number

Apparently 18 months is the magic age. Baby is a baby no longer, it’s undeniable. Your toddler now walks and talks and feeds himself and can sit and play or read or watch ‘The Soup’ quietly by himself. You have time to take a breath, and you step back suddenly one day and look at this little person and realize, ‘Holy crap, I hope I did ok because it’s too late now if I didn’t – she’s a person!’. This funny, smart, interesting little creature walking around in your house (or standing in the middle of the kitchen, spinning in circles, screeching) has moods and temperaments, likes and dislikes, and is more and more self-aware, every day. Newborn struggles, the birth experience, even the nausea and sleeplessness of pregnancy grow dimmer and dimmer. 18 months is when you look at your child, and wonder – is this it?

I always wanted to have a big family. I never had career aspirations, or a need to climb a corporate ladder. I don’t like annual review time because I don’t want to grow and develop, or take on more responsibilities or a stronger leadership role on the team. If I have to work, then I want to keep my head down and my nose clean and do the bare minimum, because it’s just not a priority for me. My job is ok, but it’s not my life’s ambition or my heart’s desire, because that is being a mother. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I find myself still single and at the tail end of my child-bearing years (that hurts even to type, weird). I’m not really sure how I ended up here, but here I am. I’m incredibly, unbelievably lucky to have my one and only Jellybean, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about what it would take or mean to have another.

Happily married women have luxuries that us single gals don’t have. Traditionally, a husband means financial and emotional support, physical comfort, security, stability, and most importantly, magic baby-making key ingredients. When married women thinks about having another baby, their considerations are hugely different; their primary focus is how it would affect existing siblings, what it would mean for the household schedule, whether the budget could support it. The single mother has those concerns as well, but first and foremost is the ‘how’. Where will the magic baby-making ingredients come from? Will the sibling be a full sibling, and does that matter? Is the original donor still willing and able? How do you go about using a bank if the first father is now an ex-husband? Can you afford any necessary fertility treatments, or the payments for the ingredients and all the appointments?

Jellybean’s donor, as most of you know, use to be a really good friend of mine. He kinda cracked up a bit when I got pregnant, and doesn’t exactly return my calls any more. Which makes me sad, but I am so grateful to him that I can’t fault him anything. So, in summary, I can’t get more Jenny-maker where that came from. There’s the first hurdle – a sibling wouldn’t be a full sibling. Does that bother me? No, not really. But going to a bank? That does. The time and cost and hassle and agony of choosing ‘who’, and the shipping and the doctors and the washing and the timing of ‘when’, the same old fears of ‘what if’ magnified by another few years of ‘advanced maternal age’. The thought of going through it all again, still alone, but with Jellybean to take care of as well – I know people do it, but it’s overwhelming to me. I would become a totally different person for Jelly. It’s not like there’s someone else who could give her extra attention, spend some special time with her when I’m exhausted and distracted. As much as I like the idea of siblings and always hated the idea of ‘the only child’, I don’t think a baby is the best thing for either of us.

I will turn 39 in five months (and omg, thank you to everyone for saying I looked, like, 10 years younger!! I heart you all!). My magic date is 40. Yes, there is still a chance for me to meet a special someone and decide to share a life with him, so I won’t say ‘never’.* But if I have to be a mama-of-one instead of a mama-to-many, is there a better kid I could have? I may be a little sad, and have to be a little more careful about not dumping all my expectations on one little person, but who wouldn’t be totally, completely satisfied with a Bean? She doesn’t have a sister to commiserate with, but she doesn’t have a sister who will make her drink perfume out of a play tea set. She doesn’t have a brother to hang out with, but she goes to playdates with friends and has a huge non-related family who love her. She’ll travel more, and college will be paid for, and she’ll always know how wanted and special she is.

My first, my only.

*The internet dating thing is on hold. Ugh, so awful. Stuff blew up at work, and the holidays happened, and I got depressed by all the rednecks in Nascar jackets who wanted to hook up with me. In a few months when I've forgotten how horrible it is I'll try again. Besides, I'm working on my winter hibernation weight, so don't exactly feel like getting gussied up and going out. More like sitting on my couch in a bad acrylic reindeer sweater watching 'Go Diego Go' and eating Sour Cream & Onion chips.


Rector Funhouse said...

It's all so true (especially about watching Diego and eating chips).

One of the greatest injustice/tragedies of this life is that you (probably) won't have five kids. I still can't accept it.

I know you probably think I'm not sensitive enough to the situation but I do try to be. Sometimes I just don't know what to do or say, because I'm still mad at the world for letting it happen this way.

You're right, though: if you have to have one (which of course is better than none - yay for initiative!), Jennifer Jillian is pretty much the best you could wish for.

And like you say, the positive side is that you'll never have to struggle with knowing that you're giving her less than she needs because you're dealing with another child.

Unless you get a dog.

Genkicat said...

What a huge decision! I'm just having my first at 40 and contemplating what I will do when it comes to two. Are you finding that you change your mind on the issue still, or are you pretty sure that you wont t42?

I have some frozen embies on ice, so I could wait a year or so before deciding and am taking my time with that decision. BUT I never intended to have more than one. I think if it wasn't for IVF, it wouldn't even be crossing my mind. I also have a good friend that I've offered to "adopt" my embryo's to and if she takes me up on it, that offer will stand firm.

Chris said...

It's funny [funny?] that you posted this .. we [i'm sure much easier than just myself, or not, because it's not just my opinion] decided to not have a 2nd, or even to store for the future. One is enough and perfect for me as well. We're craiglisting the baby stuff and selling the baby clothes. I'm sure you saw on fb.

I remember your post about folding all of Jelly's clothes when she started growing out of them.