Recently, I was asked by an acquaintance when my husband and I planned to have our next child. I wasn’t sure how to answer the question. Personally, unless I am super close with someone, I refrain from asking people questions about their family planning. Even then, I’m careful to couch the question in terms like “if” or “should you choose” rather than “when.”
We’ve been getting this question, it seems, since the moment our son was born, in my first month of motherhood. I can remember a handful of people eagerly asking when we planned to have our second. I remember wincing at the question, wanting to seriously question their sanity.
Had I met their gaze, the inquirers would have seen me staring back at them as if they had two heads. “When are you having more?” is definitely not the question to ask someone lost in a sea of sleepless nights and around-the-clock feedings, still searching for their comfortable identity as a new mom.
As my son nears a year old, I’ve started receiving the question more frequently. I still don’t know the answer entirely. I no longer internally recoil at the thought of “more.” I know that we definitely want more, eventually, but when the desire will strike to actually have more remains to be seen.
Seasoned moms have told me that there is a certain amount of “forgetting” that happens when the decision to add more comes. You forget how difficult pregnancy may have been. You forget the pains of labor and delivery. You forget the helpless newborn stage, and instead marvel as your child blossoms into this incredible being with their own personality.
I’ve so loved motherhood, and I’m so thankful I’ve had to privilege to watch him grow and develop into the little person he becomes more of every day. When I think about adding another child to our family though, I know I’m still not ready. I’m not ready because I still haven’t forgotten.
I haven’t forgotten what it was like to be in the throes of acute nausea and vomiting. I haven’t forgotten having to hold my breath on my way to work because the entire city suddenly smelled like onions. I haven’t forgotten vomiting on my lap, or in my hair, or on my shoes, or in any number of places in my office.
I haven’t forgotten heartburn and round ligament pains and pregnancy insomnia. I haven’t forgotten feeling out of breath, watching the scale creep up and up each week, and wondering what had happened to my body. I haven’t forgotten the anxiety and worry I felt before major doctor’s visits, hoping and praying that our tiny little being was safe and healthy.
It was the same worry I felt most days, always hoping that our sweet baby was inside growing healthy and strong—always hoping we’d welcome a healthy child into the world with ease, but never fully knowing that day would actually come. I haven’t forgotten grieving for the losses of moms who could not welcome the babies due the same time as mine.
I haven’t forgotten the precarious nature of labor and delivery. I haven’t forgotten the delicate and fragile nature of a new baby, how every precious ounce gained was something to be celebrated. I haven’t forgotten long nights awake with a tiny little life able to communicate only through fitful cries. I haven’t forgotten looking into the mirror, all eye bags and leftover belly, and wondering who that person was.
I haven’t forgotten trying so hard to succeed at breastfeeding, succeeding only so long, and feeling like such a failure when I did not succeed as planned. I haven’t forgotten lactation consultants, pumping and supplements, research, scales and guilt.
I haven’t forgotten longing for our past lives yet clinging so desperately to the new life we made.
But, I also haven’t forgotten the rush of excitement I felt the moment learned I was pregnant. I haven’t forgotten how special it was to share the news with my husband. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to be partners in a special secret before we shared the news with family and friends. I haven’t forgotten the feeling of knowing we were on the cusp of something so ordinary yet so monumental.
I haven’t forgotten how we spoke sweetly to a tiny being no larger than a grain of rice, asking how he was doing, and telling him our plans for the day. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to first see that tiny being on a grainy screen and watch him dance for a captive audience he did not even know was there.
I haven’t forgotten how it felt to nourish myself and know that I was simultaneously nourishing our child. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to watch myself grow and expand and know that our son too was growing and changing.
I haven’t forgotten early butterflies and flip-flops, or hours spent staring down at a rippling belly. I haven’t forgotten seeing him for the first time, drinking in his features and sounds. I haven’t forgotten tiny kisses, long gazes, and cradling a tiny creature whose only desire was to be held and kept safe.
I haven’t forgotten the way my soul warmed when my son’s lips curled for that first intentional smile or how that light continues to burn stronger with every new smile. I haven’t forgotten first steps and first words, first foods and stolen bites.
I haven’t forgotten the sound of the first laugh or how proud I am every time he learns something new. I haven’t forgotten rushing home to see him or how great it feels to be the first person to get a morning hug.
I haven’t forgotten how incredible it is to love so deeply and want something you once lived without.
And because I haven’t forgotten these things, I know I will again be ready for more—one day.