Today, three weeks before my son’s fifth birthday, I found myself gazing longingly at a picture in the doctor’s office waiting room of a Mom cheerfully accessing her medical chart online with one hand while holding a sleeping baby in another, and I thought, “gee, I wish I could have another one.” Even though I know the picture was total bullshit and that’s not what it was like at all.
I can’t, and won’t, for a million different reasons, not the least of which being my age and inability to get pregnant due to a belly full of scar tissue from all the surgeries I’ve had – IVF was my only option the first time, and no way could I afford to do that again. Also, my first and only pregnancy worsened my back condition (spondylolisthesis) from a grade 1 to a grade 2, so there’s real vertebral separation now, and Lord knows what would happen if I went through it again. And of course the crushing, obliterating EXPENSE – babies cost a ton, and daycare for them is more than most people’s mortgages. And, I mean, I know I REALLY don’t actually want one; for the past several years, all I have been is glad to be gone from the days of a little thing so very, very dependent on me every single minute. Of never having time of my own to watch TV or cook or get a real shower. Or go to the theater or spend time with friends. And what a relief not to have to drag the fucking stroller and diaper bag and Ergo and everything with me, everywhere I go all the time. And of course diapers, though that really didn’t bother me as much as it bothers most people – maybe all those years of being sick with colitis and living with my own GI problems have made me immune to such things. I cloth diapered, and really didn’t find it some huge deal, other than the constant laundry and the sometimes difficult aspect of finding daycare or sitters who would agree to the system.
But babies. They are so soft, and they just love you so much. I miss those languid moments of half-asleep breastfeeding in bed with my son, his little hand reaching up and touching my face as if to say, “Thanks, Mom.” The portability of just slapping the kid in the Ergo backpack so I could get my shopping done, or go on a real hike, his head flopping as he dropped off to sleep, his little hot breath keeping the back of my neck warm and making a constant connection between the two of us. How old people cooed over him in the stores, waving and playing peek-a-bo. The oversized, cute baby toys – those plastic bath books, the keys to chew on, bouncy seats with cute little patterns of baby giraffes and zebras on them. I am selling his nursery rug at an upcoming consignment sale, and I felt so bad folding it up and pricing it that I cried a little. My son saw, and took the rug away from me and said it’s ok Mom, I still want it in my room. Even though I know he doesn’t, and he just did that to make me feel better, which I love him for. He pushed it into a corner and I took it out a couple of days later and put it with the rest of the consignment stuff again, and he didn’t argue. We both know it’s time to let it go, one of the last vestiges of babyhood in this soon-to-be kindergartner.
I had my son very late. I was not only “advanced maternal age” and “high risk” but “over the hill” would have been checked, if they had that category on my file. Giving birth at 40, I felt like a very young 40 and I really enjoyed being pregnant, I felt great almost the entire time and generally loved every minute. But my 45 feels really like an old 45, and 45 is pretty old – I’m already going to be retirement age when my son graduates high school. I know how lucky I am to have the son that I do, and I love him with all my heart. But sometimes, I see a picture like that one today and think, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice…”