Monday, February 20, 2012


My daughter asks me for a sister. One that is alive and plays.

She begs me for another.

"OH, pppppleeeeeeease, Mama. Please. Lucy is dead. You can't bring her back, Mommy. But we can still have a little sister who is cute."

My husband agrees. He nods and points his thumb at her. "Getta load of the girl. She is making a decent argument," he seems to say, smirking and devilish. I tell her that she may get a brother. There is no guarantee it would be a sister.

"That is okay. I will play with a brother too. I promise. "

She wears the deer antlers we made and sings a reindeer song. That is what she calls it. It sounds like shrieks and gurgles and whinnies. She gallops through the house. She looks like a woodland creature, some kind of fairy nymph that pops out of a knot in a tree and blows a forgetting dust into your face.

I want to try for another fawn. I do. Sometimes, particularly after baby showers and holding newborns, the idea seems incredibly good. They smell like vanilla and breastmilk and malted milk balls. Their feet are as tiny and soft as mosses under our favorite tree and their voices are bells, clear and fine reminding us of something bigger. But even the fairy dust can't help me forget the anxiety of Thor's pregnancy and the raw pain of Lucy's death. And I said I was done, dammit. Done. Yet this doesn't feel done. They cry for another fawn. I wonder if I feel that tug to have more babies because Lucia died. I wonder if we will always feel like there should be just one more baby, because there should be one more baby. Or rather there was one more baby. It is a riddle I cannot figure out. A Chinese handcuff--one idea goes in this side, and the other on the opposite side, and struggling only makes them tight and claustrophobic, inescapable.

I am too grounded in my comfort for a newborn. It is different when the bottoms of your feet hurt in the morning, and you have grey hair. I am already the oldest mom in the line waiting. The crow's feet and the paunch.

I ache, sometimes. I yearn. My uterus reaches up and opens its hands and moans, "Just. One. More."

She says a sister would play deer with her. Her brother wants to rip the antlers to pieces. Chew them and bury them and transform them into the trees. He is the Trickster, hiding and ripping and causing a beautiful chaos.  I try to explain to her the myth. He is playing a different role than deer. He is something else entirely.

I admit that the boy seems completely uninterested in having to share me with anyone. He wants to be on me. All night. All day. He grabs each cheek and stares into my face when I am talking to Beezus. If she climbs on my lap, he pushes, like a linebacker, all shoulders squaring off. And she screams, "She's my mommy too, Thor." He tries to move her off me. I find it so endearing and lovely to be wanted. I am wanted. I can't believe these children want me, and then I remember that I am their mother.

I am a mother!
I am thirty-eight!
I have three kids and a house and two trucks!
I clean the house every day and make dinner every night and listen to NPR!
I spend 24 hours a day with the kids and I'm not sick of them!

These things surprise me. Constantly. Do they surprise everyone?

My husband woke late this morning. We had a rough night with the kids. He was kicked in the neck, and went to sleep in the bunk bed with the little magical deer fairy who had a nightmare. I woke up with Thor sitting on my shoulder, repeating the word DOWN!  and pointing to the stairs. In the morning, after the neck kicks, my husband whispered, as the children ran with juice toward the fire.

"The middle of the night makes parenting so challenging," he said. His voice weary, defeated. "I wish I were twenty-five."
"If you were twenty-five, you wouldn't have the patience for the middle of the night."
"Very true, but at least I would be 25."

I am tired. I am not 25.
And I am thinking about deer.

What are you thinking about? What do you think? Will we always want one more when we are missing one?


  1. You have to stop with this, "I am old" shit, because you are only a year older than me and I AM NOT OLD! No no no no. Not old. No.

    Seriously, there are moms 15 years older and younger than me at the school and daycare. I like being in the middle. I don't want to be a mom in my twenties. I was too busy having crazy wild fun then. But this is a good age to have young kids, and certainly not at all too late to have a newborn. :)

  2. I haven't even gotten this one here safely, and I am already mourning that our family will be smaller than I ever thought it would be. We are unlikely to have the resources- financial, medical, or emotional- to do this again. And, don't forget, I will be 40 well before you are 39. But we have two missing, and I never wanted fewer than 3, and I am sad and scared already that this will likely be it for us and family

    So that's what I'm thinking about these days. That and every possible effing thing that could go wrong in the next 10 days.

  3. I wonder about this, too. Already. I'm just a few years younger than you, and I worry about running out of time, about feeling old, about whether more babies would never be enough babies, about how pregnancy is scary and will I really do it three times? Four?

    As I side note, I used to ask my mom for a little sister, too (she never obliged). I have a brother who's three years younger than I am, and now I'm perfectly content that it was always just the two of us. I've always loved him, but I really like since he graduated from college and became a human being instead of a little bother of a brother.

  4. OK, there aren't moms 15 years older than me at daycare, just 8 or 9 years older. But the elementary school definitely has mothers much older than that.

    The pregnancy after a stillbirth is just so excruciating. A non-stop internal chant of 'please don't die, please don't die, please don't die'. I'd like to think the chant would be a bit quieter with another pregnancy. Much luck with your decision.

    (And my twenties weren't really all that wild, at least not the second half.)

  5. For me, I think the longing for one more is almost impossible to separate from my feelings for C. There is a person missing from our family. We will never feel complete. My seven year-old daughter drew yet another school picture of her family for the start of the year, complete with her halo-clad sister standing apart from us. It seems we all feel like a part of ourselves is missing.

    For the longest time, I wanted to try for a third living child. I had my son at 38, I figured I could probably have one more by 40. But then we moved overseas (and all the stress that entails), started new lives, and time just ticked over. Add to that a husband who was adamant that he was done and didn't want to risk any more losses. For him, it just wasn't worth it and our medical history was stacked even higher against us with each subsequent pregnancy.

    Now my youngest is at Kindy (preschool). I get 2.5 days a week to myself for the first time in over seven years. Next year, he'll be in school full time and I'm transitioning to this new phase of motherhood. I still look upon newborns wistfully. I think I always will. I have a keepsake bin for each child, with their little sleepers and booties. But I'm slowly making peace with where I am on the path. I'm thinking about future school trips, tween years, sports days, swimming lessons and such. Every stage of this is an adventure.

    And yes, I'm continually surprised as well. Mostly by the depth of emotion, all emotions, involved in this parenting thing, but most of all, by being someone's mom and what that means. When I was a kid, I thought my own mother knew everything and had all the answers because heck, "they" wouldn't let our parents be parents unless they had a handle on everything. Ha ha. I can really appreciate now how much work it took to make it all look that easy.

  6. I would love one more. I have time on my side. I don't think that is going to happen though, and that does make me sad. I do wonder if that is just Hope-related stuff speaking, or a mother just yearning for one more. I don't feel done...

  7. You're a couple years younger than me, and I'm doing it again. For what its worth, I am far less anxious this time around and dare I say, almost feel like a normal pregnant person.

    I relate to the never feeling done though, because as you say, there will always be one missing.

  8. Once I looked at a picture of my sister in law's children, the 3 of them all happily smiling together and thought.. wow! They look complete! I looked at a picture of my two girls and thought.. someone is still missing and I wondered if it would always be like that.. if there were 10 kids in that picture would one still be missing? I think the answer is probably.. because one IS missing - I'm waiting until June when I get the new little guy in a picture with his sisters to see if things look complete - I hope so, cause this is IT! I think Bea is right though.. another sister would be a nice addition! ;) and you are totally NOT too old! Though, I'll be honest... having 2 kids to chase after makes pregnancy a little more exhausting- I'm just hoping that after this baby comes out, I'll be able to stay up past 10 again!

  9. We're the same age, Angie, and so many of these thoughts are familiar to me. I want another. I guess I've always wanted two. And while I kind of have two now, it's a having and a not-having and it doesn't rest easily in my mind. I'd love to have two living, two playing together, two squabbling and learning to be friends. But to put myself through another pregnancy, to put Dot and N through it with me - I'm not there yet. (Plus, we aren't as financially secure as I'd like and with both of us working, we'd have to make some big decisions because we can't pay for childcare for two and I'd like Dot to get to go to college, never mind that it might be nice to own our own house someday.)

    I have a friend expecting her sixth child and there are days when I look at her and feel so very jealous that pregnancy seems to come so easily to her, that she seems so free from all of the things that hold me back. (And now I'm knocking on wood for her like crazy.)

  10. Once upon a time I held in my heart the certainty that I would have two children. Two, no more. Then I got pregnant with twins, my second pregnancy. We had a healthy 2 1/2 year old, and I was devastated because the high-risk pregnancy was going to take me away from her. I'd be admitted in the second trimester, try to get the babies to 32 weeks. Then, very quickly, it became one baby, try to keep her alive. My heart aches the same way, maybe one more? I feel old at 37, from the loss, from my surviving twin's health issues. I think wanting another is directly related to our loss. Somehow my mind got used to the idea of three (begrudgingly) and now there is such a void.

  11. I'm so glad you posted this. For awhile I was really, really, RILLLLLLLLY wanting another baby. Like, for REAL. But C seems to think he's too old at 40 to be a dad again (he's not, but there's no talking him out of it).

    But then I got to thinking about it, and all things being equal, I don't know that I have the emotional fortitude to withstand another pregnancy after Calla's death. I barely made it out of O's with my sanity.

    I am envious of friends like you whose husbands have not made the decision for them, as mine has. Who knows--maybe I needed the decision made for me.

    Whatever you decide, it will be right. I get this so mightily.

  12. I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel done. This aching for a baby has been part of me for so long that I wonder if I will ever be able to turn it off.

  13. Hmmm, I'm 42, 43 in a couple of months. I'm done because I can't put my family through the crazy again.
    I adore babies, I get broody, but I couldn't do it again.
    I have those weird thoughts that loop around too.
    I hate that I've transformed into someone who no longer wants more babies, it's another example of how different I am to the old you can see it's not exactly something I'm reconciled with.

  14. I can't say it better than Jen already has. I'm so used to having that ache that I can't imagine not wanting another.

    But I'm afraid. But I want. And I so I am just stalled for the moment. Trapped in the Chinese handcuff. We wanted three. We have three. And I do want three here. But I'm scared. I don't fall pregnant easily and I don't stay pregnant easily. And any fall out from this attempt to have a fourth would fall on the heads of the living no. 2 and 3. I just don't know what to do for the best.

    I have a lot of the exclamation point statements in my life too. As you said, life is surprising. I decided that 'Here lies Catherine W she was Bewildered' should go on my tombstone but maybe it should be 'Here lies Catherine W, she was Surprised. Constantly.'

    Hmmm at 25, I wouldn't have the patience for the middle of the night. I hardly have it seven years later. But the twins taught me something about patience, much as I hate the idea that they were a lesson to be learnt.

    I can't believe that you are the oldest mom in the line. Although I think these things are so dependent on the context. I've been in places where I am the oldest by far, the only one in her 30s. And some where I am the youngest, also possibly the only one in her 30s.

    And when they ask for a sister? What to do?

  15. I am 36, my husband is 46. We lost our daughter following labor complications 6.5 years ago and now have a 4 yo at home. He has told us our house is boring because we don't have a baby or a puppy. I had an early (8.5 weeks) miscarriage last fall, following 3 years of trying/not preventing. My husband is done and doesn't want to deal with the risks and thinks he is too old.

    I would love to have another baby. And even though I know that it will eventually be ok if we don't, the thought of not having another baby makes me sad. I think I always imagined raising two children, but I do wonder how much of my desire to have another is to fill the void of my daughter (which I know will not really work).

  16. This has been the exact thing on my mind lately. Many of your thoughts mirror mine. Some days I'm determined we'll have another. Most days though, I'm scared. I often think Simon will be our only living child.

    After moving, we are now 3 hours from the nearest high risk doctor. I was complete mess with Simon's would we manage another one? I wonder if we stop with Simon, when I'm older, and unable to have more, will I regret not having more?

    And honestly, having another girl scares me. A lot. I don't have the words to explain why, but it just does.

    A lot of my reasoning is based in fear. L is supportive either way...we just keep the dialogue open for the time being.

    Thank you for sharing this - it was good for me to feel a small connection to someone today. Someone who understands. I hope your deer and beautiful chaos bring you much joy today. Sending love.

  17. I am thinking of deer. More fawns... Whatever, more babies bbut at 35 and heavy with grief I feel twice my age. This saddness of camille's death has made me look and feel much much older. The ache in my heart makes Me tired, and yet I yearn. I am scared but my anxiety seems to shift and be focused on my son.

    My son says we will have another baby, we will have another girl baby. I ask him how he is so sure and he says. "I don't know, we just will" I say "what if we had a boy?" he says "we can have one of each".
    Some how he knew he was having a sister before any of us did. It is hard not to get caught up in the thoughts and desires of our small ones. Maybe we only get caught up if we recognize our own dreams in their words.

    I am sending light and live and hoping for the best decision for your family.

  18. Me too. Pregnant 5 (maybe 6?) times, gave birth 4 times and raising three living children ... the maths don't add up and my hormones know it (although they don't know that the maths will NEVER add up). My husband is DONE - so completely and utterly done. Which is a relief and a torment. Like Mary Beth said, maybe it had to be this way. One of us needed to see it clearly.

    I have sensations now of possibility aside from pregnancy and new babyness. And then I retreat from them in fear, into my usual total broodiness.


What do you think?