Over the years, some incredibly observant folks have had the perspicacity to notice that my wife and I only have one child. A few bold souls, mostly strangers who have no idea what they’re in for, have even had the misfortune of asking me if we plan to have any more.
If I’m in a good mood, I usually respond by asking, “Sure are you selling any of yours?” or “Yeah, but I can never find exactly what I want on ebay.”
Usually I’m not in a good mood, and my responses tend to go downhill from there.
For some reason, when you’ve only got one child, people feel comfortable asking questions one would never ask in any other circumstance that didn’t involve a lot of tequila or, perhaps, a latex suit and a lot of tequila. People shy away from discussing politics unless you’ve known them for a few decades, but if you’ve only got one kid, then out comes the stupid. These are the sorts of people who feel compelled to touch pregnant women’s bellies in public or comment on the contents of one’s grocery cart in the checkout lane.
“Are you buying 14 grapefruits?”
“Nope, just leasing them. Now move along, Rain Main.”
It usually starts with the observation, “So you’ve only got the one…”—the underlying implication being that there should be a good reason why I don’t have more (children, that is, not grapefruits—keep up). Instead of approaching the matter in a more mature fashion befitting a man of my advanced years, I immediately jump to outright passive aggression.
“Yep, my dick stopped working after Vietnam, but I’d still go back if they asked me. It’s hard to get real Vietnamese food around here.”
“My wife and I decided that the world already has too many white people, but we didn’t want to adopt. All the good Asian babies have been taken.”
“I had to hire a hobo to bang my wife to get her knocked up with this one. Twice. We couldn’t afford to give him any more money. If anyone tells you they’ll do it for a sandwich, they are lying.”
I’m sure that, more often than not, these questions aren’t intended to be insensitive, but that’s not how I interpret them. The fact is that my wife and I would love to have another child, even two, but our age, our finances and preexisting medical conditions preclude the possibility.
It took us quite a long time to conceive our daughter, and I can say that I’m not all that excited about going through the process again. We took basal body temperatures, timed my wife’s cycle and even sacrificed a few chickens (i.e., buried a bucket of KFC’s 12-piece special) in our backyard during a full moon at midnight on more than one occasion. It made for a lot of mediocre sex but not many children.
To complicate matters, it turns out that the penis is a remarkably neurotic organ that does not necessarily perform well when its owner is under duress. One minute, it’s stiff enough to be the kickstand on a Harley and the next it’s like trying to jam a marshmallow through a coin slot. (Note: I thought that I’d invented this phrase, but after a Google or two, I discovered that the comic genius Al Jackson beat me to the punch. Crap.)
As a heads-up, ladies, the worst thing you can do at this moment is to start a conversation.
“Is everything all right?”
“Yeah, yeah, everything’s great. I always get flaccid before I finish. If you really want to help, we can also talk about my mom.”
My wife had her problems as well, but for propriety’s sake, I won’t go into them in much detail. Suffice it to say that the Rube Goldberg machine that is the female reproductive system is much like an aging Buick and tends to have issues the older it gets.
Eventually, we sought the help of experts and endured multiple rounds of IVF. The full telling of that story is too long for this venue, but I will note that if anyone tells you that jabbing your wife with a couple needles every night brings you closer together, they are lying. After four years and a like number of doctors, we ended up with six viable embryos. Through a screwup, the surgeon thawed four of them for our first implant instead of the two we’d requested. Neither took and the others didn’t make it through the process to put them back into cryosleep or whatever it is that embryos do when subjected to sub-zero temperatures.
Our daughter, Darcy, was the result of the last implantation. Like Thunderdome, two embryos went in and only one came out, albeit an appropriate amount of time later. We were convinced that neither embryo took and prepared ourselves for the inevitable disappointment. When the doctor called, she requested that Laura and I both be on the line, and we steeled ourselves for bad news.
“Laura is pregnant,” we both heard over the phone. Neither of us believed what we’d just heard and demanded that the nurse repeat herself.
“Your wife is pregnant.”
Even after the confirmation, neither of us quite believed that Laura was, in fact, pregnant. Regardless of our predispositions, our daughter was born 10 months later.
Laura and I have discussed having another child. We no longer take precautionary measures during the few times a month we’re not too completely exhausted to have sex. Even then, our odds of conceiving a child are equal to those of Polish calvary against an onslaught of Nazi Panzers circa the beginning of Word War II. For those of you who aren’t history buffs, those aren’t good odds.
We’ve considered adoption but ruled it out. I like to think that I’m a patient and understanding man, but I’m really not. My fear with adoption is that I would resent the child if he, or she, became a problem, and the ensuing fallout would effect my daughter. Given the fact that most children have issues from time to time, I’ve determined that adoption is a no-win scenario for all involved parties. It’s not the most enlightened viewpoint and one that is, quite frankly, selfish, but if I’ve learned anything over the past 40 years it’s that accepting my limitations is far easier than dealing with their complications at a later date.
Adoption is out, and likewise, IVF is also off the table. The process is too involved, too expensive and honestly too exhausting for a man of my aforementioned advanced years and limited patience. IVF is not pleasant. In addition to the shots and the hormones, there’s a lot of other poking, prodding, hoping and wishing. It took us quite a while to have our daughter, and IVF has no guarantees.
We’ve considered our prospects many times, but after much discussion, my wife and I have concluded that we have a little girl to raise. Rather than devoting hours of time, concern and money to the crapshoot of IVF, we’d rather focus our energy on rearing the child we have instead of worrying over the one that we might or might not.