Most days, I feel good about having only one child. I snuggle my girl and I hold her little hand, grateful for the opportunity to have these moments. The thought of "baby #2" has been pushed so far down into my subconscious that I sometimes forget it even exists.
And then, I witness something that brings it back to the surface, along with a tidal wave of emotions. This week, it was the pregnant lady climbing into her minivan at daycare.
It's not that I want another child. Okay, maybe I do. A little bit. But I don't think that I'm depriving K by choosing not to go through any of these processes again. In fact, I think it's a benefit to her. Sure, going through infertility treatments or adoption again may bring her a sibling - if it works. But who is to say that she and this sibling would get along? Instead, I tell myself that I'm saving her the pain of when it doesn't work. Or rather, I'm saving me the pain and her the side effects of having to deal with my depression - the devastation that goes along with the failure. It's not fair to her, for me to have to put my body, our bank account, and my psyche through these struggles again. (More on this in a moment.)
What bothers me most about not trying for baby #2 is not "depriving" my child of a sibling. It's the lack of choice in the matter.
We didn't make a conscious choice to stop at one because we just don't want more kids or we don't like them. We didn't say, "Well, the early months were hard. I missed sleep. I'd rather not go through that again." It wasn't a decision that we made out of lack of want. It was the decision we made because there was no other decision.
There is the financial burden of having another. It's not like we can wake up one day and say, "Let's start trying again." No. When you're infertile, it involves far more thought and planning. There is the question of how. Would we try again to get pregnant? Would we adopt again? Would we pursue a completely different avenue, like surrogacy or donor embryos?
I think back to the weekend, when I watched Love It or List on HGTV with my mom. The woman who couldn't decide whether she wanted to love or list her home decided to list it because the renovator couldn't give her an extra bedroom. And she needed that extra bedroom because they were going to have another child. She wasn't pregnant. In fact, they'd just had baby number two. Yet, they still knew that a third would happen. They weren't dreaming about it. They were for certain.
It must be nice to have your family decisions under such control. To not have to pick up the phone and call the RE, to see if you can get your husband's sperm shot up into your uterus this cycle. To not have to send an email to your social worker and ask about renewing your home study. I think of all of the things we would have to do, just to start the process for another child. If we decided to do IVF, we would need to go back to the RE, redo all of our fertility testing, make sure we had the time off of work to do a cycle, and travel 90 minutes each way to every appointment. If we decided to adopt again, we would need to get back on the waiting list with our attorney, redo our home study, and redo our profile. And regardless of the choice? We would need to make sure that we had at least $20k in the bank. At least.
That doesn't even take into account how your finances should look after you get that match or after your embryo takes. Then, you have the "ordinary" money issues that come with having a second baby: more diapers, more formula, a second kid enrolled in daycare, another nursery, more baby clothes, and the list goes on. (You can add the minivan to that list, too.)
And let's not forget about the emotional burden.
There is the waiting game. Will it work? Will it take? Will I ever get a phone call? What's wrong with us? Will someone ever pick us? When it works, it's great. I know first hand that it's worth every moment that you worry and second guess. However, when it doesn't, it destroys you - only it's not just you anymore. It's a tiny person, too, who depends on you to take care of her. The sun rises and sets with you. You are her emotional rock, yet you can't be her emotional rock when you can't even be a rock for yourself because your cycle just failed or your match fell through.
All you can do is be emotional.
Even when it does work, there is still fear. There is the worry that it won't stick. There is concern that the paperwork won't be signed. Will you have a child with medical issues again? Could you live through another 5 weeks in the NICU? Longer?
I sat in my car and stared at the mom at daycare. I watched her walk to her minivan, her hand placed gently under her belly as she pulled herself into the driver's seat and took off, the stickers that represent her family size mocking me from their place on the back window.
Or maybe they were just reminding me that I was lucky once, and to enjoy that. To think about my little one sitting inside of that same daycare - healthy, happy, defeating the odds stacked against her. I remember that I don't want to be pregnant, and I don't want to adopt again. I just wish we had the option. I wish we could say that maybe it would happen. I wish that it was my choice, instead of someone else's - my body, the universe.
Instead, that idea - that notion of having another - is long gone. It disappeared along with my fertility into some deep, dark place. And it will never return.