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One Small Step

A week ago, I stepped into my OB/GYN’s office for the first time in over a year. A half hour later, I left with a new prescription for Clomid, Provera, and Metformin. It all felt so familiar, it was as though I was living my life of two, or five, years ago.

Except I came home to a house full of children, screaming and fighting, and a floor that was unseeable because of the massive field mine of toys that stretched from the front door to every corner of every bedroom, and I had to ask myself, can I even handle another child? Can I handle the constant stress and mess and lack of rest? Because some days it feels as though I am seriously failing. Some days, it feels as though my head might explode if one more child whines about what is on her dinner plate or about how itchy her shirt is or about having to pick up her toys before bedtime. There are days when the monotony of parenthood — the barage of reminders I have to give Cupcake in the morning so that she will be ready for school on time, the taking of Skittle’s hand numerous times a day to lead her to the potty, the gentle (but infinite) guidance I have to give Poppy to keep him from unplugging every lamp in the house, the meal planning, the drawn-out bedtime routines, the toy pick-up over and over and over — seems overwhelming and exhausting. And so often, the worry that ebbs and flows over my children’s health — worry about everything from allergies (yes, lots of them) to asthma (probably not) to mysterious fevers, strep, UTIs, and yeast infections (the last four of which have all made an appearance at our house within the last three months) — just feels like so. damn. much. TOO much for one person, or for at least this one person, to handle with any sort of grace or dignity. And to think of doing it for one second longer than I have to seems foolish.

And then there are the other days. Days like yesterday, when I take just Cupcake out for hot cocoa and we talk about wonderful things while we sip from our cup and she is a delight to be around and declares it “the best day ever.” Days when Poppy takes a few steps on his own and then collapses onto the ground in a fit of belly laughs because he is so proud of himself, or  when wide-eyed Skittle crawls into my bed and whispers into the darkness of the room, “I love you, Mommy.” There are days when the kids are happy and loving from sunrise to sunset, and thank me sweetly for the cookie on their plate at lunchtime, and play nicely together all day long. Or maybe they don’t — maybe they fight or argue about who-knows-what and yell and snatch toys away, but then they say “sorry” unprompted and give each other an affectionate, genuine hug and all is well again. And there are days when we go on adventures as a family, near or far, and nothing on our list of daily tasks to do weighs on us. And there are days when we spend a relaxing morning at home, us adults sipping coffee with our littles snuggled next to us on the couch while we watch home movies, and I am suddenly reminded how quickly the years go by and that they will be all grown up in a flash. Those are the days when my heart explodes and I wish I could do this a million times more.

Though we are not taking any preventative measures — and haven’t in nearly eight years — we are not yet officially “trying” for our fourth take-home baby. But we are putting a plan in place. I have significantly cut back on sugar and caffeine. I will wean Poppy over the course of five weeks starting in April. I will order my regime of vitamins at some point in the future if necessary. And now I have my prescriptions, for better or worse. And perhaps I won’t even need them. Perhaps lightning will strike twice and I will fall pregnant with my one lucky, post-weaning ovulation as I did with Poppy. But that seems like a little too much to hope for and so I am preparing for a harder journey.

I don’t know what will happen in the months to come. I am hopeful and excited. I am apprehensive, scared, and even a little sad. This very well may be our last baby. It’s a relief to be at this point, but it’s bittersweet as well. It hurts to think that this could be the very last time I do any of this. Even more, it hurts to think that I may not get to do it at all. I mean, let’s get real, you guys. My ovaries don’t work as they should. None of this is a given. And so I’m fearful of what is to come. What I will have to endure. What I will put my family through in doing it.

It’s a difficult thing to go forward, knowing that the path ahead could be nothing but a journey towards failure, disappointment, heartache, and loss while also knowing that it’s probably possible to be perfectly happy with what I have right this minute. My children are incredible. My life feels full. It’s hard to imagine being much happier than this. And yet, without this fourth baby, I know that it will forever feel as if someone is missing around here. Our family is not complete and missing someone who could have been here, if only I had tried, is not really the way I want to live the rest of my life. I have never let fear or doubt stop me when it comes to going after something I really want. And this — this big family — is something that I want so much. I have longed for it since childhood, long before I met my husband or ever heard the term “infertile.” Even when we were celebrating just having one, so grateful for the opportunity to be parents at all, my heart always yearned for more. And it feels so, so close.

So we will try. Come what may, we will try to achieve what always feels impossible. A miracle.

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Single Parenting

Four hours ago, Honey left for his first business trip since Poppy’s arrival. All weekend, he worked on laundry so that I would have very little to do while he’s away and, last night, he picked up groceries that would be easy for me to make for the kids — and a few “comfort foods” (i.e. ice cream) to ease my pain. This morning, he woke early to get me coffee and breakfast, showered, changed and dressed Skittle, helped get breakfast for both girls, and accompanied me as I dropped Cupcake off at preschool. Then he kissed Skittle, and Poppy, even the dog, before he came to stand before me. There were tears in my eyes as I said good-bye. We hugged. We kissed, and kissed again. And with his duffel bag in hand and a small smile on his lips, he waved and went on his way.

I watched him through the window, trying to catch one final glimpse of him through the low-hanging tree branches, memorizing the flip of his hair on his forehead, how he opened his door and slid into the driver’s seat in one smooth motion. I saw him look back at the house, but he must not have seen me standing there beyond the blinds because he drove off without acknowledging me in any way. The way I stood there, watching his car drive out of sight, you would have thought he was going off to war, with the threat of being gone for a long, long time or never returning at all.

I’ve known this day was coming for a few weeks and I have been counting down the days, then the hours and minutes, until the very moment when we said good-bye. Counting down as though I’m counting down to my very own death. Which is silly, I know. I feel stupid for feeling such dread over something that women (and men) have to do every day. But, still. These feelings are real.

And here’s the truth — these days will be hard. Honey is not at war. And he will be home by the end of the week. And as far as I know, my death is still a long time away. But these days will be hard.

Partly because I have three kids under the age of six who still require a lot of me. I am TIRED and need HELP by the end of a normal day, when my husband is home by 5pm. Right now, Poppy has the hiccups (which he hates) and is fussing in a bouncer that he has been in for less than five minutes after being held for an hour and I just want to cry because the thought of having to hold him nonstop until 10pm tonight when he goes to bed feels overwhelming.

And partly because Honey is my best friend and I miss him dearly when he is gone. He brings so much laughter and silliness into our home, so much strength and confidence and fun that we are missing when he isn’t here. I want another adult, my very favorite adult, to talk to over dinner, to watch Netflix with tonight. Don’t get me wrong — I’m an introvert. I grew up as an only child. I know how to value my time alone.  But I also crave  companionship. Especially his.

And also? This is partly so hard because my imagination run wilds and I start to worry about what-if scenarios. What if his plane crashes? What if someone opens fire at the conference he’s attending? What if, while we’re home alone at night, there’s a house fire or an intruder? Cupcake was crying this morning because she didn’t want her daddy to go and I started thinking, what if I have to tell her that he’s dead? What if we never see him again? It’s not an ideal place to be in as I embark on my sojourn into single parenting.

I know I can do this. I’ve done it before  (albeit, with one less kid). It’s not fun. The days are long and lonely and the nights are creepy. But I know I can do it. There are many single parents around the world who have to do this day in and day out. It’s not always easy, but it’s possible.

So I will do it.

I will make it through.

But thank God for the pint of Haagen Dazs waiting for me in the freezer.