I’ve talked before about how it breaks me to think I won’t have another child, but what I haven’t talked about is why I feel that way. Like most things in life, it’s a complex set of emotions. Emotions that are trying to pull and push me towards a life that is currently very far from my reality. Perhaps some of you will relate; whether you’re single or not, the drive to have another child is not always matched by an ability to click your fingers and realise that. So here it is, broken down for you all to see.
I want my son to know the love, and hate, that (only) a sibling relationship can provide. When I see him tenderly interacting with a friend’s baby – picking them flowers, getting onto their level and enjoying crawling along beside them – I believe that he too has an innate desire to have that constant connection with another child, something that is so very different to a friendship.
I personally also want the chance to view that relationship growing from the inside. I want to push myself as a person, and a parent, to learn how to nurture it positively. I want to master the art of giving my childREN the space to be themselves, whilst encouraging them to embrace the closeness of a unique unit. I’ve always longed for a team of my very own and I thought my nuclear family would provide it – my own mini troop, where despite the inevitable arguments and tensions, at the end of the day we are all there for each other. Somehow a twosome doesn’t quite cut it; I was always more into basketball than tennis after all.
It runs deeper too. If I’m honest, perhaps I see it as my opportunity to make up for some difficult sibling relationships in my own life. I don’t lack siblings, but I do lack a feeling of closeness to (some of) them and we rarely, if ever, feel like a strong unit together in this world. I want a chance to learn how to ensure that doesn’t happen with my own children; I want to break that cycle. I know it’s probably just an illusion; a picture perfect image of sweet siblings playing in a picket fenced garden, the hosepipe spraying water over their beautiful souls, as they skip merrily through the green, green grass. On the other side. But that doesn’t stop me dreaming, right?
If single parenting has taught me one thing, it’s that nothing in this world matters more than loving relationships. Whether those are with a partner, friends or family members, we all need them. In our society the nuclear family is primarily where we get to observe and test out how to create loving relationships. Having a single mum as his only parent means my son has no chance to see how partners support each other, or (just as importantly) how they argue, compromise and make up. As an only child, he’s also not getting the chance to test out his relationship building skills in a safe, contained environment with a sibling. This seems like an incredible disadvantage in life.
Throughout my son’s pregnancy I was constantly worried that I would not be able to carry the baby to full term, as had happened with my first one. If you add to that the stress of my decomposing marriage – which by the six-month mark had become a highly damaging environment to be in – my stress levels were through the roof. I’m angry about that. I feel cheated. I want a pregnancy where I can enjoy it, not so much the physical side – although the presence of another being growing inside me day by day is a miracle I’d love to experience once more – but the feelings that come with that. I want to feel excited. I want to linger in the anticipation of the start of something beautiful; after all, pregnancy is the start of the most beautiful thing in the world – life itself – but when your own life is crumbling around you it’s difficult to focus on that.
I want another chance. I want to plan and to dream. I want to spend the time curled up smiling on the sofa dreaming of the cuddles to come; not huddled in a corner crying silent tears. I want to experience a birth where I don’t have to drag my partner to the hospital despite letting him sleep through the first 12 hours of labour as I lie awake contracting, worrying if I wake him he won’t cope with the real deal later on. I want to experience a labour where the birthing partner stays awake throughout the eight daylight hours we spend in the labor room. I’m not saying I want some perfect, supportive partner there beside me, sure, I won’t deny that would be nice, but actually I’d be
nearly just as happy with me, myself and I. I know I could do it now; I didn’t know that then. A big reason I stayed with my ex-husband in the run up to the birth was because I couldn’t get my head around the thought of being alone in that sterile room they call the birthing suite. People don’t do that shit solo. I had no idea who could be there for me if it wasn’t him, so I chose to stay. The support wasn’t there anyway, and an unsupportive partner ‘assisting’ in childbirth is worse than any alternative.
Those early days too, I remember so little. My main memory is agony; stitches, paired with a nasty fall down the stairs, and a severe bout of constipation – a post-birth benefit – meant that a trip to the toilet ended with me collapsed on the floor in agony unable to move for a good hour or so. And this man, the one I hadn’t felt I could manage without, what did he do*? He stepped over me. Literally, as I lay there in the hallway unable to speak from the pain, he stepped over me. I’ve seen people do it to the homeless. I’ve always thought it so inhumane, how can people pretend other’s don’t exist? I want to experience early motherhood without that humiliation and degradation. I want to re-write those memories.
Most of all though I want to write new memories. I want the chance to grow a seed in a loving, happy and excited environment. I want to bring life into this world, life into our lives – my son’s and mine. And most of all I want the pleasure of another child. I love my son to bits, the idea that I have the potential to make another little human who I could love that much. Another person who could bring me that much joy. I have no idea how I could deny myself that indulgence. Perhaps one day I’ll try.
*To be fair to the man, while he was on paternity leave he changed the bulk of the nappies and sang numerous songs to the little one. Beyond that though I can’t really say I felt supported and I certainly can’t say I felt loved or cared for.
If you liked this post you might like my post on Just the Two of Us about being a single parent to an only child. You can keep up to date with my latest blog posts by subscribing online at Ellamental Mama, or liking me on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter @EllamentalMama