If you wait long enough, some life decisions will be made for you. Career, marriage, children… where we will live. Practically anything can be decided by procrastination. Maybe everything isn’t what I imagined for myself when I was young. Some things have exceeded my expectations, and other things took a wrong turn that was completely out of my control. But for the most part, I am on the right path now, and I know exactly what I want.
Except for one topic.
Over the holiday, a conversation reminded me that we have made no decisions about having more children. I say “reminded” me, because I don’t think about it at all anymore – I just go about my days, oblivious to the thing that once dominated my every thought. But somewhere in the back of my mind I am aware that we have not really settled this matter. We are both officially in our forties, and Teghan is about to turn nine. Has the decision already been made for us?
Infertility has made it easy to procrastinate. Adoption is the only option, and that gives us more time to drag our feet. Adoption is a big “maybe” that takes more effort and is less fun than the natural way, so you can imagine how easily time passes without us ever bringing it up. It would be easy to say that means we must not feel too passionately about adding to our family, but it’s complicated. In the last three years I have had three miscarriages. I no longer hope for a positive result in that test window, but it does keep us from moving on too quickly. I don’t know why.
I cannot imagine the luxury of choosing how many children I have.
There are times I want to scream those words at women who take it for granted. People are always asking me if I want more children as if the question has any relevance at all to me. For many, “wanting” is synonymous with “choosing.” I can choose to accept my circumstance, and I can choose another available path. But I cannot choose to make another person.
If Teghan had never come along, I suspect I would have firmly called “no kids” a long time ago. Technically I did make that decision three years in.The fertility drugs were making me emotional, and convincing myself I didn’t want children felt a whole lot easier than trying to fix what was clearly broken.
I’m sure turning forty without children would have been far more dramatic than it was, but I would have only considered adoption for the sake of my husband. His paternal instincts are unusually high, and I know he would have wanted three or four. If it were as simple as stopping birth control, I probably would have agreed.
But Teghan did come along. And since we are already doing this parenting thing, why not invite more kids into our world? Maybe it’s selfish to want to experience something a little more typical, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a factor. Especially for Dave, who is far better at conversing with small children and is too wonderful a father to simply stop at one.
And then there is Teghan. She might not like a baby around – which (I tell myself) is great, because we can’t afford one. People aren’t handing babies out for free, you know. But an older child is possible. I have seen what happens when a child outside of Teghan’s autism class takes an interest in her. She loves to be around other children, but communication gets in the way and she becomes anxious. When another child takes time to understand her and be a voice for her, it changes everything.
What if she could have that every day at home?
I suppose the next step is to pay more attention to the topic of autism and siblings. What are the pros and cons? What age difference would be best? Are we prepared for the unknown? How many children do we want — and is that choice even available to us?
The older she gets, the harder the decision becomes. I don’t know if I’m ready to think about it quite yet. And so we procrastinate a lit bit longer. And time keeps passing.