I help people become parents. It’s part of my job. Even if I am not directly representing them, but am instead working with their chosen donor or gestational carrier (surrogate), I am still helping people become parents. Every day.
I always knew I wanted children – to be a mom. My husband and I are beyond blessed (I know, I know, that word #blessed gets thrown around too casually and I know it’s annoying – but the truth is we are blessed) with our two amazing boys who keep me laughing, frustrated, exhausted, and in awe every second of every day. And we WORKED to make those babies. It didn’t come easy. It wasn’t a nice Pinot and a romp in the hay, and I openly admit I sort of secretly despise everyone who has become pregnant after a nice Pinot and a romp in the hay.
Two kids is a lot. Two kids who were born 20 minutes apart is A LOT. Two boys born 20 minutes apart make my head spin sometimes. They are healthy and happy, and, to me, perfect. But I want another. My uterus aches for another. When I see pregnant women and newborns, I know in my heart and soul there is another child out there for us. For all four of us. Getting everyone else on board might be the biggest issue (especially my one son who declares “I will NOT share you with ANYONE ELSE MAMA!”).
There are also these thing called age and economy and finances and selfishness. Are we being selfish by wanting more? Shouldn’t, after everything my husband and I have gone through, shouldn’t these two beauties be enough? Can we even afford, both physically and financially, to add to our family? I’m going to be 41 next May. My husband is nine years older. We both married “later in life” – I was 33 and he was 41 (scary, isn’t it, being considered “later”). We both had our own life experiences. I was widowed at age 28, and he enjoyed his bachelorhood as long as he could. We wanted to enjoy each other before having kids, even though we both knew we had to get started sooner rather than later. This is also the curse of being an assisted reproductive law attorney – I can feel my eggs aging and my husband’s sperm declining. And that meant we had to get while the getting was good.
People – friends and family – keep asking when I am going to clean out the garage and sell or donate the cribs and the strollers and toys and baby clothes. It’s time, they say. It’s just taking up space, they say. It would be dangerous to have kids now (you know, being so old and all), they say. Why risk having a child with a health issue when you have beautiful and healthy kids at home? You can barely handle the two you have, with work and life and everything else. It’s time to clean out the garage, they say. Repeatedly.
But it isn’t time. Because I am not ready. I would like to think there is one more baby out there (one that my husband is scared will turn into two) who I can love and take for walks and wear strapped to me while I work. A baby I can sing to and rock and cuddle with. A baby who will be adored by two big brothers. A baby who I believe will complete this already beautiful family we have made.
And that brings me back to age. When I started in my field, I remember thinking “why on earth would a 45, 48, 50, 55, 60 year old think having a baby is a good idea? How unfair to those kids!” And, in some instances, I readily admit I am uncomfortable with those of “advanced age” having babies. It’s just funny how I am now so close to the age I once had as my “do not cross” limit. I don’t feel too old to be a mother to a newborn.
The reality is that I know I am a more stable, rational, empathetic, and in tune mother than I would have been in my 20’s. In my 20’s I was too busy reading Melody Beattie and the 12 and 12 and recovery literature and trying to control my boyfriend/then fiancé/then first husband’s addictions. My middle name was co-dependent. A child would have likely been traumatized by my efforts to get my shit together.
Sure, I would have been younger and thinner, but I don’t know that it would have made me a better mom. And don’t misread what I am saying. My friends who had kids in their 20’s? They are FANTASTIC parents. I look up to them. Their kids are in college or graduating college and doing amazing things in this world. And they are now enjoying empty nests while my husband and I are discussing public vs private school and saving for college and HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT TWO SMALL HUMANS COST SO MUCH?!
My reality is that because we had to do IVF to conceive, we have frozen embryos remaining. And, I could likely make peace with being “just” a mother of two if those little ones weren’t on ice right now. But they are there. In limbo. Waiting to be claimed. And every year we pay to keep them stored and every year we say we have to make a decision one way or the other. I always said 40 was my cut off. I didn’t want to be pregnant past 40. Now that I am 40, I have added a few years. If the doctors say I am healthy enough to carry a pregnancy, it’s something I want to try. There isn’t guarantee these embryos will thaw or even implant or even result in a pregnancy. The good news is that my eggs were retrieved when I was 34 – just shy of my 35th birthday.
So, this is the struggle. The question that lingers every day. The ache that I feel. It doesn’t make sense to most of the people in my life. It doesn’t seem “smart” or “responsible” or “prudent.” I wonder how supportive they will be if we do decide to try again. And I ask myself constantly, do we serve ourselves fully by always being prudent and/or responsible? Or, am I just trying to convince myself that despite age and finances and every day life issues, this is a good idea? It’s all just a big muddle in my head.
What I know for certain is that when I am working, and my iTunes gets to the song “Apron Strings,” I burst into tears. Every. Time.
And I’ll be perfect in my way
When you cry I will be there
I’ll sing to you and comb your hair
All your troubles I will share
For apron strings, can be used for other things
Than what they’re meant for and
You’d be happy wrapped in my apron strings
You’d be happy wrapped in my apron strings
~ Everything But The Girl – Apron Strings
The ache is what gets me. And, looking at my beautiful boys (all three of them), I can’t help but wonder how a new life would do wonders for all of us. Even at 3 a.m. when it’s feeding time.
You can also find Mamalawmadingdong on Facebook. There, I share some of the daily grind happenings.