Under Pressure


This morning after my shower, I got back into bed, snuggling with my cozy warm sleeping husband. One thing lead to another, and next thing I know my husband is putting it in and he has yet to put on a condom.

“Stop, I don’t want any more babies!” I shrieked. He looked startled for a minute, but then went to put on a condom and we continued with our lovely early morning activity.

For a while this past spring, I decided I was okay with the idea of having another baby. I wanted Emerson to have a sibling, a playmate, and to learn how to share and work together and have patience with a little brother or sister.

And then that feeling passed.

Family of Three

My husband and I had a talk this past summer. It was a beautiful night and the sky had a purple tinge to it and all the stars were out. We were drinking very cold cans of beer, feet propped up, listening to the sounds of the woods and the occasional chirping baby monitor. We agreed we didn’t want another baby right now, neither of us were hard-pressed to have another baby at all, but we would revisit this topic in a year.

I don’t discuss this topic a lot with my husband because I don’t want to pressure him one way or another, or have him feel as though he has to hide his true feelings. I think of it the way I did about marriage -- I wanted to marry him, but I wasn’t going to discuss it because I wanted him to come to the decision on his own that he wanted to marry me. I don’t want him to decide he only wants one child because I only want one child; I want us to have our own opinions, discuss the pros and cons and our feelings, and together make a decision about our family.

When we decided to try to get pregnant for the first time, we didn’t really discuss it. We knew we both wanted children, and we knew we both wanted to be a couple for a couple years before starting a family. We knew that it may not be easy for us to get pregnant -- I was over 30, he had testicular cancer, months of chemo and the loss of one testicle. He went to Jamaica to attend a music festival, came back and said, “I’m ready to be a father.” I realized… I was as ready as I would ever be to become a mother. So I pulled out the NuvaRing and three months later there was a little smudge on a sonogram.

We have always worked this way -- we know how one another thinks and processes things, so we don’t talk out everything to the nth degree. We feel each other out, and when we feel it is time, we bring up an idea for change or progress for the family unit.

By screaming this morning that I didn’t want another baby, I went against our traditional method. It may seem like a minor thing, but it’s influencing his opinion on the subject. If he blurted out that he wanted four kids, I know that I would start envisioning our life with four kids, adjusting my plans and ideas to include his dream. Soon I wouldn’t know what was his idea or mine. By keeping things a bit more quiet and waiting to discuss, no one’s wants are more important or more powerful.

Part of me feels we should have The Talk about another child sooner than this summer. I look at the stash of newborn cloth diapers in my office, recently returned to me by a friend who borrowed them for her newest baby. I think, “I could sell my newborn stash and make a nice amount of money -- better to sell now than later when they may completely lose their value.” I think of all the plastic bins in the attic full of Emerson’s old clothes and cloth diapers, separated by age -- do I really need to keep all of that? And who am I keeping it for? Emerson may want a lot of her baby clothes for mementos or to have her child wear, but she really doesn’t need a whole Rubbermaid tub’s worth of 6-12 month attire. Will I have another baby? How will I know it’s a girl, or born at the time of year where these clothes will fit appropriately? For a close friend or my sister? How do I know that person will want all these used clothes, and again how do I know their baby will be the right gender or born at the right time of year to be able to use them?

I recently washed our old Moby wrap. I had it stored in Emerson’s closet along with the Boppy and two covers, her crib mobile, breathable bumper, and other items I really valued when she was younger. These aren’t items she can use now, but are really good quality and can be reused for another baby. But what’s the point in keeping them if there won’t be another baby? I found the instruction manual for the Moby and decided I would sell it on eBay or Craigslist -- another family could really use it now, and it’s not such a costly item that we couldn’t afford to replace it if we did have another baby. However the wrap and booklet sit on the cedar chest at the foot of our bed, collecting dust because I feel that if I do sell it, I am pretty much deciding for our family that we will be a threesome. And that’s not for just me to decide.

As a feminist, part of me feels that it IS a decision for just me to decide. My body, my choice. If I don’t want to carry and deliver another child, then we won’t. However, a feminist is a person who believes all people should be treated equally, and that includes my husband. He shouldn’t be penalized and lose his voice purely because he doesn’t have a uterus. That’s reverse discrimination, and I KNOW that if he could carry and deliver a baby he would in a second.

So I apologized for my outburst this morning, my husband said it was no big thing. I hope he is being honest, and that it’s not worming its way into his brain, changing what he already believes. I really want us to get together another beautiful summer night and admit together, without pressure, that we both feel the same -- or at least come to a mutual decision about our family’s future.

Alison Gary is the author of Wardrobe Oxygen and Me & Emerson Elaine. She is a 30-something working mom located in the suburbs of Washington DC.


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