Whenever people ask me when I’m going to have my next child, my immediate response tends to be to shout “Not until we take real action against climate change, and I know any further offspring will have enough food and water to live!” Apparently that tends to upset people, so usually my response is to just grin and say “Probably not till the end of the year”.
Ok, I admit, that shouting part was a lie. But it’s definitely what I shout in my head. It’s definitely something that I lay awake at night worrying about. And it’s definitely something that I am actually considering when I ask myself about when I want to have another child. The plan that my husband and I always had was to wait until the end of this year to start trying again. And by trying I merely mean “opening the vault”. For those of you playing at home, and haven’t read my previous entries, my son was conceived via IVF and we were lucky enough to have 3 extra embryos which are currently chilling in my fertility doctor’s freezer. I like to refer to them as “my children in the vault”. I usually do this in an Igor like accent and hunch. It really disturbs some people. I find it hilarious. Anyway, the logistics of having another child is actually quite convenient for us, so it will just come down to when we feel ready. Yet that “ready” feeling for me, just keeps travelling further and further into the future. For various reasons. Climate change and the uncertainty of the future is a big factor. Thanks to the latest elected US president, “Will we go to another World War, and this time will it be completely nuclear?” is usually my next worry. But knowing how much I struggled with Stormaggedon, the third worry is “Will I be strong enough to do it all again?”
But all of this pales in comparison to the worry and anxiety I feel of inevitably being asked the question by every man and his dog on when I’m going to expand the family. I’m sure all parents can understand. You might even be on your 7th child, and you’ll still get that curious well-meaning friend/neighbour/family member/random stranger on the train just casually dropping into conversation “So when’s the next one coming along?”
Just this weekend I was mingling with a new group of people and I inevitably brought up Stormaggedon. Because as a mother, I have nothing else to talk about in my life. Literally, nothing else to talk about. One lovely lady asked me how many children I had, and my response was “Just the one”. Without a beat her next question was “Plans for the second one yet?” WITHOUT. A. BEAT. I don’t even think the last syllable of my pervious answer had completely left my mouth by the time she was forming this next question. Now admittedly, I believe she only asked the question so she could get out her desperate “DON’T!” in response. Apart from her first child, she tells me her next three were all unplanned and life was a little “crazy” at the moment. I believe she thought she was doing a civic service by encouraging me to just quietly wade out of the gene pool, you know before the madness kicked in. We had a laugh about it, and went back to enjoying the array of chocolate that had been put on offer at this little get together.
Yet, I can’t help but feel a little out of sorts when people ask such personal questions. I know it’s a perfectly natural, curious and almost automatic question to ask. I’ve spoken about it before in a previous blog, but I felt it necessary to bring it up again. I think we’re all aware of how contentious the subject of having children can be. We all have that friend who is currently trying, or secretly trying, and really struggling. I was that friend. I have another friend who is now in the same boat as I was 4 years ago. But the idea of asking someone, badgering someone, about when they’re adding to their brood to me feels very invasive. Stormaggedon turns three this year, and I tell you it feels like a blink of an eye since we brought him home from the hospital. I know that “Now’s a good time to start trying again”, but I’ve only just found my feet with this first one. Can’t I enjoy him for a little bit longer? Can I just figure out what I’m doing for a little while longer before complicating the matter? Can’t I enjoy my rediscovered freedom for just a few more minutes? The water looks a little bit cold, can’t I just give it a minute before I jump back in?
So I’ll make you a deal, if you don’t ask me, then I won’t ask you. And maybe when I’m ready, I’ll let you know at the end of the year what I intend to do. Deal?