This is going to be a difficult post to write. I wondered for a long time whether I should even write it at all. But then, in the end I decided to go ahead because I wanted to sort out the thoughts inside my head and, obviously, I wanted to hear from you guys even though I already know what some of you think about this.
I am an only child as the regular (read 2 nos.) readers of this blog might know. And as Boo has pointed out in her latest post, I always thought our family of 3 was just perfect. I had loads of cousins and extended family staying in Coimbatore and even though we did'nt live under a single roof, we met up very often. I, however, was not very close with any of my cousins while I was growing up. I was always a bit of a precocious child, quiet and shy and was happiest when I was in the company of my books.
Amma and appa made for wonderful company but they were also quite happy to leave me alone in the company of my books and imagination quite often. I have never known the joy of playing long hours under the sun, getting into mischief with cousins and siblings during balmy afternoons while the rest of the household slept, of small adventures in the neighborhood. I always got all the action I wanted from my books. I lost myself in a world of mystery and intrigue, got hopelessly thrilled by the adventures of the Enid Blyton books and the action in the Nancy Drew series well. I started reading these books while other kids my age were still reading Amar Chithra Katha and Tinkle, I moved on to bigger things.
The strange thing about all this is I never felt anything was amiss while I was growing up. I was never the athletic rough and tumble kind anyways and it wasnt long after the last vestiges of childhood were gone and I was married and listened to hubby talk about his childhood did I wish that I had had a little more action-packed eventful childhood. That I had been a little more naughty, a little more bold and daring and had lived, at least for a while, a little dangerously.
Today, after all these years, I wonder if some of my timidity may have been due to lack of company as a child. And it brings to fore uncomfortable questions for me. Do I want to deprive kuttan of a sibling's company the way I was? Is another baby right for us?
When I got married, I never had a single doubt that I would have 2 or more kids. The more the merrier, I thought. Then came the c-section, the nightmarish post-partum recovery period and the intensely frustrating period of the first year of kuttan's life when I quit my job and realised I did'nt enjoy it as much as I thought I would. After a couple of disastrous attempts to get back on the career wagon, I finally succeeded in doing so by the fag end of 2006. Things, touch wood, have been reasonably stable since then.
It seems to be my nature to rock the boat when things are fine because suddenly the desire for another child slowly seemed to be forming in my mind. The famous baby shower with so many moms expecting their second babies strengthened my conviction that it is the right thing to do. When I finally found a moment of peace and quiet that is required to discuss matters of grave importance such as these, I enlisted the err...help of my partner-in-crime. He succinctly said, 'no'.
Simple and straightforward describes husband best. He definitely did not mince words. He reminded me in painfully embarrassing detail about all the times when I had whined and cried about having to stay home. He played his trump card when he cunningly asked me, 'Do you really want to give up your career after having fought for it so hard? And if you don't, can you bear to leave 2 kids instead of one in the daycare day after day? How much time can you spend with them?'. I was defeated hands down. I let things lie low for a while before deciding to take it up on a war footing again. But no matter how much I begged and pleaded, this usually sweet-natured, easy-going man seemed strong-as-steel on this one.
I don't blame him. I think I might have put him off babies forever with all the whining and crying I did. We got married when the husband was barely 25 and had a baby by the time he was 28. He had given up doing all the fun things for 2 years and now he was READY to get back his life..he deserved it. And in many ways, he is right. But that's not why I am still hesitating about this. My reasons are quite, quite different from his.
My first and most important reason is lack of support. Amma has been diabetic for 12 years now. Every year, I see her systems getting weaker and weaker as she battles with this insiduous disease. It took all the energy she had for her to see me through my first delivery. I do not think she has it in her to see me through a second one and I am worried about the effect it could have on her health. The MIL is faring no better in the health department either which basically means we will be left with 2 kids to take care of, all on our own, and the prospect is daunting, to say the least.
My career is another thing that I have to think of. 2 kids definitely means quitting my job. Double the expenses and half the income. But the most important thing is this - it takes two to make a baby and I want both the people to want it just as badly. The husband is an ambitious man. He wants the best in the world for kuttan and me and I love him for it. How can I not? He has taken up the MBA course for this very reason and he will need the flexibilty to experiment and take a risk or two when he is done with it. How can I weigh him down with a baby at that crucial point in his life?
I am not saying that we will never ever have another baby. Life is funny that way. Just when you think you have it all figured out God smiles to himself and alters all your plans. But it is unlikely that it may happen anytime soon.
And still, whenever I see a tiny baby, whenever I hug kuttan and wistfully see the baby frame disappearing and a gangly boyish frame taking its place, when I go to a toy store and see the cutest possible cribs and smallest possible booties that I am sure no human feet can ever fit into, whenever I see the tiniest pattu pavadais and I bury may face into sweet smelling babies of other people, I have to admit, the heart does skip a beat and I desperately wish things could have been different.