How do you know when your family is complete? Some people want the biggest brood nature allows, some have their number planned far in advance be it zero, two, or five and others work with science for the child their heart desires. But what happens when you didn’t think you really wanted motherhood to begin with but then decided kinda last second to give it a go and fell head over heels in love with the human you created? I’ll tell you, in my experience, it’s not so easy to decide between being “one-and-done” or trying for another.
photos: Nicole Romanoff Photography
On one hand, I love my weekdays spent with just me and my daughter, Petra. We go on cute outings together, she happily joins me on all of my errands, and I don’t have to think about packing a thing—we can even jump on a plane together if my husband’s busy. And the dynamic of the three of us on evenings and weekends is relaxed, possibly because our attention doesn’t feel divided. I never question when lessons or appointments are because I only have one schedule to keep track of and there’s never a time where her sleep schedule interferes with my life because she doesn’t really have one. It’s a breezy little life! I was given a gifted, musical, interesting child who has a quirky, endearing sense of humour and a big part of me thinks maybe I should just be happy with that.
On the other hand, I really love my brother (enough to have toured alongside him in bands for years and build a house down the road from him) and wonder if Petra would be missing out on having a sibling relationship. People have told me to not have another baby just for that reason, that I should really want another to have one, but honestly, that’s the one reason. That’s literally the only one. I’m scared I won’t connect in the same way with my second baby and I’m nervous that a second child will be terribly stressful and exhausting because having just Petra, though completely time-consuming, has never once felt like work. Also, all pregnancies are different and although I feel young and my doctor insists I am, I’m going to be considered an “elderly mother”. Yikes.
But then, a roadblock occurred anyway. Because I was breastfeeding Petra, my body wasn’t ready to get pregnant. And despite my doctor telling me I could easily wait a few more years (and you guys, I know the mother demo is skewering older but there are more risks as my numbers tick along and I’m nearly 37), I also consulted a naturopath as to how I could get back into rhythm. I thought she’d look at my nails and declare I needed more B vitamins or something but she told me the same thing: breastfeeding was the culprit. Meanwhile in my life… if one more well-meaning person told me matter-of-factly that women can get pregnant while breastfeeding I was going to cry. In that time, because I was so sensitive to it, I felt like every acquaintance would ask if thinking about another child only to debate my answer. I did a lot of smiling and shrugging.
I went back to my doctor who suggested cutting out my nighttime nursing routine with my daughter, and to tell her that I had to use that energy to make eggs. So, I explained how babies are made in very gentle terms to my two-year-old, and she understood so well I never had to remind her again that there wouldn’t be milk at night. In fact, the first morning she woke up happily and said, “It’s light out! We can nurse again!”
And just like that, I was back to normal.
When I saw the two lines, I couldn’t believe it. I’d just bought a bunch of my favourite red wine because liquor tax was going up and then bam, my roadblock was taken out of the way quicker than expected. I should have been ecstatic but rather it was a mix of emotion. I think any woman who’s going to treat her body as someone’s temple for nine months feels the same twinge of selfishness, and of course, to begin with I was of two minds about having another child. But then, I remembered being pregnant with Petra: I was apprehensive about the idea of motherhood, was in tears after seeing a positive result, still in shock at my first ultrasound, argued with my husband about whether or not I should have to pretend to be excited (I shouldn’t), and then… my daughter was born and all my doubt melted away into my heartbreakingly beautiful love for her.
As women, there’s pressure for us to be upbeat, to be goal-driven, and to be a caretaker. But life isn’t just one emotion or another and it feels healthy to acknowledge that range, rather than sweeping all worry aside and putting a dutiful smile on our faces. So, I’m okaying myself to explore the space in between certainty. I’m also taking care of my body, feeling great, thinking about all the exciting things that lie ahead for Petra as a sister, and enjoying every last second of having her all to myself.