We decided to take g to the zoo last weekend. Somehow, the obvious only struck me somewhere in between the monkeys and the tiger: zoos are places for families with young children. There is, of course, nothing remarkable about this observation but on closer inspection I was reminded that families typically consist of more than one child. Siblings were everywhere, arguing, adoring, often just coolly ignoring one another.
And pregnant women.
Lots and lots of pregnant women.
I felt like I was watching from afar, removed enough to make mostly unimportant comments to myself about maternity fashion or the way that genetics plays out in the visages of the next generation. Sometimes I walked casually among them, bolstered by the joyful observations of my own small primate, perched high up on his father’s shoulders.
The topic of having a second child seems to have permeated my existence from every angle as of late. Several close friends who have toddlers g’s age are expecting their number twos in just a few months. Others are plotting the logistics of making their move. Some are torn.
We talk about it often and I feel comfortable enough to dispense my shallow version of childmaking wisdom in regards:
Listen to your heart, I tell them. The finances will fall into place. Deciding to have a first, second or any other child is not a decision based on reason. You are not looking for extra hands to help with harvesting the potatoes or milking the cows.
I say these things because I believe them to be true but I don’t see them applying in MY world. While THEY live in a world where children are planned for and pregnant women are lovely, I live in a world where children die and being pregnant means a series of long, terrifying weeks of counting the days until the next milestone: the end of the first trimester, the big ultrasound, viability…….
In THEIR world I can imagine how wonderful it would be to give g a little brother or sister. I can believe that we could be so lucky to have another amazing little one. In THEIR world, I could be ready to do it all over again, armed with my experience to make this time a little easier (under normal circumstances, the second is always easier than the first. It’s a truth that has been tested so often that it has moved from theory to law, I tell THEM).
In MY world, I remember that I have conceived three sons but only one is here with me. I know that things don’t get easier as you get older. I don’t know how I could weather another loss, how I could ask G to assume such a wearing risk.
It is also true that in MY world, I look at this boy, this one delightful toddler, and I can hardly believe that he’s mine.
In MY world, I feel very blessed indeed.