I ran into a former classmate yesterday, and as we ran through the bullet points of how our lives have changed in the 2 0r 3 years since we were in school together, I realized that I have all the things I hoped to have by this point in my life. There are things left to do but I no longer feel like I’m playing catch up in my life.
I have my Master’s degree.
I have a baby.
I have a job.
But now, there are two things left that I want to do, and they’re both pretty big things. I want to have a baby– as in, get pregnant and birth it out of my very own body– and I want to get my PhD. I have every confidence that I can do both of those things. But can I do them at the same time?
I have wanted to be a parent for as long as I can remember. I’ve wanted to be a gestational parent for most of that time (there was a brief period in middle school where I wasn’t sure). The aspiration to get my PhD is more recent, but I’ve been accepted to a program and even offered funding. That one’s happening. It’s in the works.
Over the past several weeks, and perhaps especially while I was in Pittsburgh helping with my little niece, I began to remember how much work early infancy is. And I began to think how much more work it will be with a toddler around, too. And I began to question whether I am up for that. Over the weekend, I had a bit of a meltdown. I cried to Rachel, telling her I wasn’t sure I wanted another baby (even though I still wanted to be pregnant and experience childbirth), and was having a crisis– of identity, of priority– and didn’t know what to do. She said all the right things. She would be a little sad, but she understands and would accept it if this is where our family stops growing. It was exactly what I needed in that moment.
A few days later, we were talking again about another baby, and she asked where I was on that. What we should realistically be planning for. I told her I was feeling better and that I thought we should still plan to try to get me pregnant as soon as we can afford to. It’s something I have always wanted, and I don’t think I will ever feel complete if we don’t at least try. I’ll always wonder what could have been. If there are other reasons that we don’t have another baby– if it turns out I’m unable to carry, or any of the unknown variables that happen– then at least I’ll know I didn’t make a wrong decision somewhere in not trying.
Again, Rachel had the exact right response. She got very excited, and said “I’ll sell everything I own!” so that we can afford it. I asked, “Really?” as in, I didn’t realize how much of a priority this had become for her. I’ve always been the one to really push having kids, so this was a new position for me to be in, to be the unsure one. But she’s excited. She wants the Buggle to have a sibling, maybe more than one. That knowledge was enough to get me excited again, to feel like it isn’t something I’m doing because I want it, but because it’s right for our family. And suddenly, it didn’t feel like competing priorities anymore, it just felt like life.