My marriage is happy. My daughter is amazing.
I love my job. I have a great network of friends.
I say these things – not to brag – but to convince myself that I’ll somehow be okay.
That I will be happy and whole.
Still, I have doubts.
You see, I desperately want another child.
We are not infertile. We are both healthy. We are not financially incapable.
I sometimes tell myself that if any of those things were true, it would make this time in my life easier in a morbid sort of way. It would somehow absolve me of the illusion of choice and while it would, of course, come with its own trauma and sadness, at least I’d have a path to travel that I knew I could not change.
Instead, I now travel a path that has a tiny sliver of hope but alas, not enough to change its ultimate destination. It is a path people don’t openly discuss. A path people do not warn you about. A path there aren’t “help” articles about or online communities you can turn to and vent your frustrations, sadness, and fears. A path that, when shared with outsiders, there is much sympathy for but very little “true” understanding of. On this path, there are plenty of things to say and yet, so much more that is simply left unsaid. My path is this: My husband and I disagree as to whether we should have another child.
He is adamant he does not want another. I desperately do.
I have always wanted a big family. Adam has not. We did discuss the issue before we got married and came to, well, an agreement on numbers and general timing. But the realities of fatherhood changed Adam’s opinions and now, we are at a stalemate. Normally we are in lock-step traversing this world together, but this is one area we cannot seem to reconcile.
And this particular irreconcilable difference influences the contours of the world around me.
I no longer feel intense joy when friends and acquaintances become pregnant or give birth. Instead, I feel bitterness. A deep, dark bitterness that is ugly and unkind. This bitterness also takes hold at seemingly random moments — like when friends casually discuss their own family planning or when I see siblings arguing over who gets to sit in the shopping cart at a store. It even rears its head when someone mentions their own adult siblings or tells stories from their childhood. It cuts deep and I feel myself retreat back into a kind of despair. One where I avoid uttering my biggest fear aloud; that this stalemate will not have a happy resolution for me.
Of course, Adam’s feelings on the topic matter. They matter as much as mine. And they are strong. Just as strong as mine. He has his reasons and his logic. Those must also be honored. And it wouldn’t be fair to bring a child into this world if it isn’t wholly wanted by both of us. Another child simply wouldn’t be. He doesn’t long for it. He doesn’t want it.
But I do. Every fiber of my being wants it.
My heart isn’t done. It isn’t done with pregnancies or childbirth. It isn’t done with mothering a newborn or watching first steps. And my heart longs. It longs to watch my daughter nurture a younger sibling. It longs to see how different or similar a sibling would be to her. It longs to watch them grow up together – getting on each other’s nerves, having each other’s backs, and ultimately being each other’s family.
But each day, I grow closer to the dark realization that my heart isn’t likely to get what it wants. At least, not fully. It, of course, can still have the happy marriage, the amazing daughter, the awesome job and the wonderful friends. Those things aren’t going anywhere and I try to find solace in that fact.
But it is a very real possibility that I shall never again feel the kick of life growing inside of me. That my arms will never hold another infant that belongs to me. That Holland will never know the deep love and loathing you can have for a brother or sister. That my life, as happy and as wonderful as it is, will never truly be whole in a way that it could have been had the stalemate just ended differently.
“Our parting was a like a stalemate…
Neither of us won.
Yet both of us lost.
And worse still… that unshakable feeling that nothing was ever really finished.”
I want to be happy.
I want to be whole.
I will be happy.
I will be whole.
But this path I travel… is one, I fear, will never truly be finished.