I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our little family and about how much I want to be able to give E. a sibling one day.
Partly it’s because there are a number of women on my birth club who are pregnant again (and in some cases VERY pregnant, and it just boggles my mind that people get accidentally pregnant two or three months after giving birth, because really? You couldn’t use protection, or understand that breastfeeding isn’t a good form of contraception? You had to be THAT fertile?!).
Partly it’s because when E. first weaned during the day I was worried I could have been pregnant, since that can cause a nursing strike.
Partly it’s because E’s day-weaning has made me realize that in all likelihood I will no longer be nursing by the summer, which changes our timeline, since I was reluctant to consider pressuring E. to wean just so we could attempt to have another baby. (And yes, wouldn’t I like to be like another mum on the birth club who said, “Well, I weaned J. at 18 months so I could get pregnant with C.” Yep. Pick your month, wean your baby, and bam! You get to add to your family with a safe, uneventful pregnancy and a full-term baby.)
And partly it’s because I’m a planner, and even though I know, I KNOW, that I cannot plan this, in some ways I do have to be thinking about it.
Because we’re not like most families. We don’t get to just pick our month and bam! We don’t get to debate the merits of two versus three years between siblings.
We grabbed that gold ring once, and I have to fight every time not to think it is outrageously greedy of me to even contemplate reaching for it again.
There are a lot of balls in the air. If I get pregnant before the end of this year, I’ll give birth in time to wrangle another four months of maternity leave from my scholarship. It’s a good scholarship. This is a significant chunk of money.
But getting pregnant by the end of this year will absolutely delay my PhD completion, as I will probably not then have a complete draft when I intended to, and then having two kids right when Q. has a huge teaching load will probably drop a huge atom bomb into any plans I had to get any work done, ever. And a slower PhD means I take longer to end up on the job market, which will probably cost us money in the long run (although who knows given how shocking the market is right now in our field).
It all depends, you see, on how I get pregnant. If I am very very honest with myself, this is what I am hoping will happen: E. will wean, either at the year mark when we stop the night feeds, or later if he’s happy to switch to a first-thing-in-the-morning/last-thing-before-bed pattern (for which I am not holding my breath). My period, which remains entirely absent, will do something magical that shows all the problems were fixed by getting pregnant, having a baby and nursing: it will reappear and be REGULAR, and we will get pregnant. On our own. Without a team of the finest medical specialists money can buy.
It can happen. It DOES happen. I know people to whom it has happened. And there is no real reason to think it can’t happen to us, given all of the problems are on my end, and one of the best things for PCOSers is to get pregnant as it can reset the body.
But I also have a contigency plan. I figure once E’s weaned, we try on our own for a few months while I do whatever is recommended to kick start my menstrual cycle. But if nothing’s happening, we go back to the clinic.
Because we have two snowbabies. Two six-day blastocysts, graded very very high. Frozen separately, so we have two FETs up our sleeves.
And then my planning and forethought runs out.
Because I am not currently capable of contemplating that neither of these scenarios could come to pass. That we might both fail to get pregnant on our own, and have both the FETs fail. Not an option.
Because then we’re staring down the barrel of a fresh IVF cycle, and a multi-thousand dollar price tag, and the balance sheet starts to run in my head.
We spent this much on E., and tried this hard, so shouldn’t any potential sibling be given the same chance? Shouldn’t we be equitable?
Except it’s not the same, the second time around. The second time, every dollar that we spend on a potentially fruitless quest to become a family of four is a dollar that could have been spent/saved for the family I have now. The second time, all the drugs and the crazy and the time and the needles would come at a direct cost to the toddler E. will be.
I was in a deep, dark place before that second IVF cycle worked. I can’t go back there again, not with a little boy who needs his Mummy. But at the same time, it is so hard to resist it. Infertility pulls you down.
And if we are going to do a fresh cycle, we shouldn’t be sitting around wasting time trying on our own. Those snowbabies were made with eggs from a (newly) 31-year-old. Any fresh cycle is going to deal with eggs two or three years older, at least.
And there’s the age gap issue. I feel in some ways we almost need to start trying before we’re really ready, so that if it does take a while, we don’t end up with an age gap between E. and his sibling that is more than I feel comfortable with. Right now I think I’d be hesitant to start any further treatments once E. turned four, but I guess that could change.
But always, always, it comes back to the money. Which is just so utterly unfair. How much do we spend just so we can have the chance to complete our family, something that other people take for granted and get to do for free? Where do we draw the line between spending for our future and embracing our present?
We are very very lucky. I know that. Q.’s work benefits cover the cost of the medications, which means, with a lot of sacrifice, we can manage to afford IVF. And we have our E. Whatever happens, we have our most glorious son.
But that doesn’t change the fact that when Q. and I first talked about children, years ago, before we were married, I said that if we were having one, we were having two, because my sisters are the most important people in my entire life and I couldn’t contemplate bringing a baby into the world to be an only child.
It doesn’t change the fact that I have always, always envisioned us as a family of four, with two little faces smiling at me from the backseat (or arguing with each other).
This is partly due to a lot of childhood baggage. We moved. A lot. At age nine, when my mother tried to get me to go for yet another tour of a new neighbourhood to meet the kids, I looked up at her and said, with eyes too old for my face, “I’m not going to bother to make friends this time. It’ll hurt too much when we move.” I figured out from an early age that the only people you didn’t leave behind, the only people you could always, always, count on to be there (even when you didn’t want them to be) were your siblings.
My two sisters are my best friends. One of them has lived in this city for as long as Q. and I have been here, and tomorrow she leaves for a new adventure (an amazing post-doc at an Ivy League school, because she is THAT awesome), and it is soul-destroying to contemplate this city without her. They both get me in a way that Q., although I love him so very much, will never be able to do.
I know I can’t expect that E. will have the same relationship with any sibling (I must say my original visions of our family assumed two little girls, given that was what I knew), but I want so badly to at least be able to give him the chance to form that bond.
So. That’s what I think about in the quiet of the night.