I am 40 years old and I have been yearning for a baby for at least 5 years. Sunday was one of the many days that I found out I was Not Pregnant, via one of these very clever Clearblue digital displays which did not exist the one time I found out I was (Pregnant, that is).
My first pregnancy test was bought in South America, when I started being sick every morning, 3 weeks into the trip that I had been saving up for all year, had left my job and my home for…It involved a coloured stick and when it turned blue I called it a Shock. Years later, I would describe it to my daughter as a Surprise Gift, but when I visited a private clinic and paid to have a sensor put inside me and saw a heartbeat on an ECG – well, I simply called it a Baby. My Baby.
11 years later, and my surprise baby is turning into the goddess I named her for, a determined little force of nature, getting ready to blaze her own path through life. She never ceases to amaze me. She was always more than enough for me.
Yet the urge to bring another being into the world with my husband is enormous and irrational. My brain knows that a baby could destroy the equilibrium we have painstakingly established with our blended family. It would take us back ten years to the time when we were constantly exhausted, and consumed with the demands of small children. My brain knows that a year off with a baby won’t pay our debts. It knows that a baby could trigger hitherto untapped reservoirs of jealousy in our children, who have only just managed to adjust to having one sibling.
Yet my spirit cries out for another baby, for that experience of bringing another human being into the world, whatever the problems it brings. Reading a post on Ladyromp about this urge which begins in your 20s, barely understood and possibly socially conditioned, I wondered how to explain the primeval nature of this experience? Babies/children don’t bring fun and happiness; no more than you could find elsewhere. But they make you feel alive. Giving birth to a baby is one of the mysteries of life; being handed a new human being almost as incomprehensible and traumatic as watching somebody die. You have done something akin to walking through fire, leaping from a plane, swimming an ocean – you have entrusted your body to elemental forces which could kill you, and this is the result. You were one, and now you are two. This, is what is was like for me. Climbing mountains or hunting bears could only come a pale second to this for the experience of Being Alive.
I wanted to give my daughter the sibling she yearned for (I remember her, age 6, saying that she had wished on a star for a baby brother or sister, but it hadn’t worked. ‘You’re never having one, are you?’ she said ‘Can I have a DOG?’). I wanted more noisy chaos back in my life, more of that laughter and unpredictability that comes with a child. I wanted to rock a baby in my arms again.
Yet, on Sunday, looking at the authoritative message on the screen: Not Pregnant, neither my brain nor my spirit reacted. My body gave a selfish sigh of relief. Phew, it said. That backache is probably a little bit of PMT, not the start of a 9 month ache, and that nausea must have been the curry I ate. I can sleep til 10am EVERY WEEKEND for the rest of my life if I want to, and I don’t have to feel guilty about the bottle of wine I drank last night, as it harmed nobody but myself.
For this time, my body has spoken. No baby today. Of course, a baby isn’t a problem. A baby is a baby. But this one wasn’t meant to be.