Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by Wendy C. Ortiz1
The Not-Prenatal Vitamin: WENDY C. ORTIZ on Not Having A Second Kid
Each day I take the not-prenatal vitamin, I’m reminded that I’ve made the choice to not have another baby.
My partner supports the choice I’ve made. She would have another baby in a second if I said I wanted to, though when I say “she would have another baby” I really mean “If I wanted another baby, she would be on board.” We decided, rightly and a while ago, that it was best for me to carry, for many reasons.
I was happy to carry our first and only baby. Eight of those first 14 weeks were given over to a constant nausea that made me feel lost at sea on a trip to getting-bigger-land. My experience being pregnant at 37 was charmed in many ways, and that feeling of being charmed continues. Our daughter is nearly three, has barely been sick, is a good eater and sleeper. She’s recently been showing us her big emotions, telling us stories beginning with “once upon a time” and her proclivity for puzzles for four-year-olds.
It was all relatively easy. It still is.
In the first 18 months of my daughter’s life, I got used to being her primary caregiver, quitting my part-time job with benefits because it would cost the same as my salary to put her into daycare.I frequently imagined having another. Holding a little chunky silken baby with a natural mohawk and big eyes with enormous eyelashes strangers still comment on can do that. What’s one more? I thought. As I got into a routine, accommodating my schedule to her two short naps then one long nap, I got better and better at scheduling my own writing time. Last year I managed to write more than I’d written for several years. My pace for getting work published picked up. Agents asked to see my work and I pressed harder to get projects up and running and finished. As we moved into the realm of one nap a day I started feeling like I couldn’t imagine adding another kid to the mix. The refrain that some people have shared, how adding another child increases the work load not by one but exponentially, began to play more loudly in my ear.
It would not be so easy to have another child. We conceived with a friend’s donated sperm right before he was treated for prostate cancer, and he is now no longer able to donate. That donation alone saved us thousands of dollars at a sperm bank (not to mention gave us a priceless personal connection we would not have otherwise had). There are lawyer and court fees to secure the adoption of our daughter by her other mother, my partner, since we are not married and not sure we want to be married. There is the fact that our decent-enough health insurance still does not cover everything, which would mean another few thousand dollars over the course of a pregnancy and delivery (assuming all went well). And then there are things less calculable, such as time—pregnancy time, post-partum time, and childcare—all of which affect me bodily, and by that I mean, my body/mind. While I can’t say that a theoretical second pregnancy would be anything like my first, I carry the memory of those weeks of horrible nausea in my body, still. I remember that for those nine months I could barely concentrate on a book, from fatigue or scattered thinking or both. I was unprepared for the C-section I ended up having. I had no concept of the weeks of recovery amid sleep deprivation; the post-partum depression that I didn’t realize I had until months later. This is a powerful mixture, capable of persuading me that having another child is, well, unappealing.
As I take my writing more seriously than I ever have in my life, I find that I can’t imagine what it would be like to have another kid anymore. Selfish? Maybe. My relationship to writing existed before my daughter. It’s benefited from having my daughter, from those early days when naps were more frequent and our communication was largely in hugs, kisses, diaper changes, and feedings.
Now I have a preschooler who likes to be chased around the dining room table, who sometimes bounces in her crib singing Old McDonald at the top of her lungs during nap time, who needs me to stop writing and answer questions, help her with crayons, watch her perform a little choreographed dance she just dreamed up. My writing time is not suffering yet—but I can only speak day to day. I do feel the pressure of needing to find more clients in my psychotherapy internship and securing more paying writing gigs to help support my family.
Every day that I take these new, non-prenatal vitamins, stomaching the extra-stinky horse pill quality that was absent from the prenatal ones that advertised “gentle on the stomach”, I consider that my body is not going to be taking on another passenger in this lifetime. This decision makes room for other opportunities, one of which is a writing life that I’ve worked toward and want to continue. Many women can have multiple children and accomplish more, and I applaud them even as I imagine the different options available to them—heterosexual relationships where impregnating is free, no need for lawyers and adoption papers, resources for full-time childcare, or even the option of abundant friends and family willing and available to help out.
I’m happy to take the stinky vitamin. I’ll continue feeling incredibly fortunate to have the family I have, who in their own unique ways support the writing life that’s as alive to me as the 36-inch tall, nearly three-year-old human beside me.