My husband had a vasectomy last year. There was a lot of discussion around it – another baby would not have been unwelcome, and so I wasn’t eager to close off the possibility – but we both knew that it would be madness for me to risk repeating the more or less pretty awfully terrible anxieties and stresses and mental and physical health concerns that I endured in my pregnancy and delivery and post-partum experience with Jasper. “You can’t go through that again,” my husband said, repeatedly, last spring. “We can’t go through that again.
He was right, of course. The pregnancy with Jasper wreaked havoc on my mind and body, as did his birth, as did the post-partum aftermath of that pregnancy and birth. In many ways, I’m still recovering. But still, I have moments in which the loss of the possibility of another pregnancy, another birth, another baby weighs so heavily upon me that it’s difficult to breath, in which the closing off of that future feels a little bit like heartbreak.
It’s a visceral, irrational thing, this feeling – a little bit like thwarted puppy love, like an unrequited crush – I know that I don’t need to have this desire fulfilled, I know that it’s probably better for me to not have this desire fulfilled, I know that the reasonable thing, the rational thing, is to reject this desire and put it in its place, but that knowledge is powerless, in those moments when that knowledge doesn’t stop the desire from pulsing and aching and drowning out everything but the want.
(I think about what we would name this child, I ruminate over whether Emilia and Jasper would prefer a little brother or a little sister or whether they’d care, I push aside the anxieties around another difficult pregnancy and birth and think about that feeling of fullness, I think about how we’d need a new vehicle, perhaps a new house, and then I think about how we couldn’t really afford it, anyway, and about how hard the depression was, this time around, and, really, we had a vasectomy, so it’s moot, this issue, and it’s all for the best anyway.)
And I have another moment, and I think: Beatrice. Oliver. Olivia. Alice. Theo. And my heart flutters, a little sadly.)
I don’t know whether, in those moments – and they are only ever just moments, sometimes protracted, sometimes not – what I’m yearning for is another baby, or just for the possibility of another baby, for fertility and promise and the experience of knowing that my body can do this, that it can grow and nourish and bring forth and nourish new life. I don’t know. I do know that when I look at my children I feel grateful and whole; I look at them and I don’t feel any lack, I don’t feel that anything’s missing, I know that we are complete as a family and that everything about us is good.
But then I have these moments, these utterly destabilizing moments of want and I’m confused. Just, confused.
Does this ever happen to you? How do you make it stop? Do you want make it stop? Or do you just keep your running list of baby names and make it a little game make-believe where you pretend that you have infinite abilities of baby-making and infinite resources for baby-sustaining and you can have as many or as a few babies as you like and you never wreck your body and you never get depressed and your boobs are glorious, resilient fonts of nurturing liquid gold that never ache or scab and you just get to live out the fantasy of motherhood as it never, ever is and then you have a shot of vodka? Or what?