Saturday, May 1, 2010

Number Two?

I’m in a lineup at our campus coffee shop when I see Nicole*, who I used to work with years ago. We hug and share pleasantries, but it’s no more than two minutes before I get the question.

“So, when are you having number two?” she asks, expectant eyes on me.

I laugh. “Oh, you know, we’ll get around to it,” I say vaguely, hoping to move the conversation past this requisite query.

Ever since Lucas has turned three, people I know and barely know seem compelled to bring this up. Most people see this intensely personal topic as perfectly acceptable fodder for line-up chit-chat. I wonder if there’s some biological imperative that forces people to point out that I’ve stopped procreating. Because other than that, I find their line of questioning intrusive and presumptuous.

As we wait for our latte and London Fog, she continues, “I hate to say it, but only children usually turn out pretty self-centred.”

If my back wasn’t up before, it is now. “Actually, I’m married to an only child, and he’s the most selfless person I know.”

“Well, you can’t wait too long. You want them to be able to play together, to relate to each other.”

I think, even if I got pregnant today, they will be four years apart and likely won’t be playing or relating to each other. But seeing as this conversation is not ending, I try and actually explain myself. “Honestly, we are so busy as it is. We’re both working full-time, and I’m writing part-time. We just moved and aren’t settled yet. And Lucas is a strong-willed little guy that takes a lot of energy. So, at this point, I can’t imagine adding anything to the mix.”

The barista calls my drink, and I pick it up, relieved to have a reason to leave. As she grabs her latte, she physically pulls me aside. “I need to tell you what my doctor told me when my son was little. He said, you can’t be selfish about this. Think about when you get older. Your son will need support from someone. You have to think about the future.”

I clench my teeth, smile a goodbye and make a beeline to my office, but I’m fuming. And I don’t know if it’s because she said I’m being selfish or because she hit the cord inside me that believes it.

We always planned to have one or two. And now here we are, in the place between, the unborn child already envisioned in our imagined future. I know deep inside, we both want him or her, but I know without a doubt, I am not interested in adding to our lives now. I'm in the middle of a career change, launching myself as a freelance writer, and enjoying our family of three. It's taken me three years to recover my identity and regain my sanity, and I’m not ready to let it all go again.

So, I buy myself some time, have “the talk” with Hubby, and secure another two year’s worth of birth control. Knowing full well my eggs are aging, my fertility declining, and I will be deemed “high-risk” when I do get pregnant, I still decide I’m going to be selfish.

*name changed


Tru said...

You had a lot more patience with that woman than I would have. I would've been tempted to haul off and sock 'er one! How many kids you have, and when you have them, is YOUR business and nobody else's! And for her to act like it's her assigned mission to save your child from your "selfishness" is the height of rude!

Anonymous said...

Can't tell you how many times I've had this question!

liesl said...

Thanks TRU and you. I am always nice in the moment, and five minutes later realize I'm mad and it's too late.

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