Things have been quiet around here for a while. There’s a reason.
Much of our parenting/family wavelength for the last 6-12 months has been taken up deciding if we want to try for a third child. This blog is not really anonymous (anymore, it was when we were trying for Ira). Plenty of our real life friends and family read, and we like it that way. But it seemed like a bit much to drag everyone through our thoughts on this, including work colleagues for both of us.
But now we’re opening the can of worms. We missed you. We probably could have used your smart advice.
Almost as soon as Ira was born, I was thinking about another baby. We’d only ever had two kids in our concrete plans, so this was new territory. Even though Ira’s sleep was hideous, and his first year was at times absolutely excruciating (especially at work), if I looked at him and thought “what if this is the last time?” I felt like I got kicked in the gut.
Gail, on the other hand, was fine to be done. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked at three-plus kid families with an analytical eye. How did they do it? Why did they do it? Was it possible to have three kids without a parent home full time? I crunched numbers. We could sort of afford it if you squinted and looked at it funny and threw in some of what others might consider deprivation (another round of part-time daycare was the biggest hurdle). The closest I could come to pinning down why I was so compelled by this idea was wanting more of what we already have, more of what’s totally awesome about our family, and more of a deep sibling culture for our kids.
We’re not exactly a normal family, even among queers. Our kids are part of a two-mom, Jewish family (in which both parents converted). We live in a tiny house (650 square feet for a family of four, and we are enthusiastic about it. We don’t want to live someplace bigger). We are even more enthusiastic about not (ever) owning a car, even though it’s standard for families in our city neighborhood. For goodness sake, Gail and I are both mathematicians, and that’s really not normal. I wanted our kids to have plenty of company in our offbeat, talkative, bike-y, bookish, nerdy, over-analytical, energetic, tight-knit family. Somehow, adding a third kid felt like the thing that would put us over the line. We’d be a clan, an institution.
Apparently I was pretty convincing, because after several rounds of this sales pitch, despite her initial reticence, Gail caught the vision. She was on board with the idea. She wasn’t just on board with the idea. She was ready and willing to step up to the task of another pregnancy, assuming her 39-year-old ovaries were up to the job. She did her intake at the little clinic where our sperm is stored, spruced up her cycle with a bit of acupuncture, and whipped through one cycle of trying over the winter. We were so excited. During the two-week-wait, as we went through the airport on our winter travels, we saw so many families of five, all with extremely peaceful and well-behaved children. We were sure it was a sign. We were sure this was the right thing to do. But it wasn’t a go. That cycle was a bust.
There were many additional plot points in there. What if Gail wasn’t fertile anymore? Well then maybe I could be up next if trying with Gail didn’t work in some amount of time. Then our donor suddenly ran out of vials so we were limited to only the amount we had on ice (some, but not a ton). Well then what? Should we really go with Gail? Maybe my 33 year-old eggs were a better bet, cholestasis be damned. Maybe we needed to get a doctor on board. Maybe we needed more tests. Maybe I should sneak a peak at IVF prices just in case.
As this took up more and more space in our lives, someone finally told me to stop, cut out the drama, and notice this was a situation in which there was no bad outcome (I swear I knew that at first). We have two happy healthy beautiful kids. We both have jobs we like (and sometimes love) that are flexible enough for both of us to take some time with our kids. We’re still in love with each other. We even still have sex (not a given in any long-term relationship, especially with little kids, maybe especially for lesbians).
So we stopped. At first we were on hold to evaluate our (especially Gail’s) fertility. But then we were on hold to knock off the obsessing, and maybe try on the idea of being done. I replaced thoughts of “I want” with “I have.” If I looked at our kids and thought, “I want them to have such rich sibling bonds,” then I instead thought, “My kids have such a rich sibling bond.” And you know what? It’s true. They do. Leigh was so clearly deeply pleased to have Ira in our family from the very beginning, and that has held. As far as Ira is concerned, Leigh walks on water. They have each other, and I have a sense that they really have each other, that it’s going to stick. I also noticed the bits of space that Ira’s emergence from babyhood has opened up in our lives, and the thought of taking it all on again feels almost suffocating. I thought the baby-craving would deepen as he got bigger. But it hasn’t. There’s a light at the end of the baby/toddler tunnel, and I catch glimpses of what we could take on next.
I’m sure if we added a baby to our family, we’d fall head over heels in love, we’d make it through the baby gauntlet (again), and we’d never be able to imagine life any other way. Life would be crazier, we’d be a little poorer, but there would be even more of us, and we’d be awesome. Ira would get to be a big brother, and believe me, Leigh could big-sister seemingly infinite siblings. She’s a natural. But as I was biking home from a great day at work a few days ago in the nice spring weather (without mittens on!), I felt so complete and at peace with who we are as a family right now, and where it is we’re going, both as individuals and as a “clan.” We truly do have everything we ever could have hoped for and then some, and that’s more than enough. There are new adventures ahead for us, but those adventures don’t include another baby. Which is good. Because then we’d have to come up with another blog title.