I attended a baby shower for a work friend on Friday, and drinking in her obvious joy at the imminent arrival of her son, I was struck dumb by the almost visceral longing for another baby.
The primal yearn to feel the swell of my abdomen as it grows large with child and promise. To have my child, mine and JF's, growing once again under my heart. To the sweet delight at hearing your child's first cries and seeing the face that you've dreamed countless dreams of seeing. Of hearing that satisfied sigh as the baby drops off to sleep after nursing. To marvel at the tiny toes and fingers. To be wrapped securely in the knowledge that this one perfect, tiny person, is wholly, truly your heart.
Now, Offspring is 11, and would be 12 before any child would be born. That's too large a gap for me. I have known plenty of people who have had children that far apart in ages, and it works fine for them. But not for us. I just don't think that it would work out well at this late stage in the game -- we're done with the family planning. It's just the three of us.
JF and I have never really sat down and had the "we're not having any more kids, right?" talk, but we both seem to be in agreement that Offspring is our one and only. We don't really want another child, no matter how my heart swelled as I watched my friend lovingly caress her belly. We can't afford another child. (But, that's an argument that we made about the FIRST child, and we've done all right there.) We have nowhere to put another child, much less all the apparatus that goes along with a small human.
Offspring has never complained that she's lonely, and/or wants a brother or sister. She's asked questions about what it was like to have a sibling growing up, but she's never made mention that she feels as if she has missed out on some great adventure by having grown up alone. She has always been, even from the time of infancy, a child who was quite happy to amuse herself, and has been equally happy playing alone as well as with others. I wonder if she misses a sibling that could have been or never was. I hope not. One of the main reasons that we chose to have just her is that we wanted to be able to devote our time and attention solely to her. Both JF and I felt the stings of parental censure because we were not the favored child within our family, and we never wanted her to feel that. I would like to say that we wouldn't have acted that way, but in this way, the issue is moot. She *is* the favored child. She is our joy.
The thing I miss most about not having any more children is that I will never experience the joy and wonder of pregnancy again. I will never again grow large with our child. I will never again feel those fluttery kicks within me. I will never nurse another child. And part of me dies a little each time I realize that. Part of me cries hot, bitter tears at the thought that I am done with the baby-making. And another part of me celebrates.
I will just have to console myself with passing through the infant department and longingly touching the small, soft outfits. I will run my hands over the soft woods of new cribs and sigh. I will not linger in the baby name section of the book store, but will hurry to catch up with my whirlwind tween girl and not look back. I will not want what I cannot have, for I have already had it, and it has been sweet indeed.