A Solo Mom contemplates having a baby in a healthy relationship
When my ex-husband and I decided to have kids, we were obviously not planning to get divorced.
I had so many plans, in fact: We’d have two beautiful kids. We’d navigate the chaos of the infant-toddler years together, each fully committed to sharing the load. After the kids grew up and moved out, my ex-husband and I would spend the rest of our lives together. We’d get old and wrinkled, and we would travel and laugh and fall deeper into love with each other as time marched onward. This dream is going to be my life, I thought.
And then my marriage crashed and burned into a million tiny pieces. Life makes a fool of those who make plans, and life certainly made a fool of me.
Fast-forward several years, and here I am on the other side of that rubble. For the most part, my divorce is just a hazy image in the rearview mirror. I’m mostly recovered, though the memories do rear up on occasion like a bad dream. These days, my ex-husband is less like a bulldog on a chain and more like an annoying gnat that flies up in my face.
The experience of divorcing and battling for custody sucked, but I’ve moved on.
I’m in a wonderful, very serious relationship with another man. He is everything my ex-husband was not: good, kind, honest, and thoughtful. I love him. My kids love him. We’re building a life together.
And he wants to have a child of our own.
My partner and I have danced lines through this conversation, over and over. We’ve explored each part of it. We’ve shared the feelings as they’ve arisen, trying to grasp how we’re each feeling about it. What would it be like to have a child together? Is it a sound idea? Could we afford it? Is it what we want?
Right after my second child was born, I looked up at the nurse and I said (through the sweat and blood and birth goop): “I’m never ever f**king doing this again.”
I’ve had two very difficult births, made more difficult by the fact that my ex-husband was a jerk who did not support me through either of my pregnancies, births, or infanthoods. It’s very likely that my perception of having babies is warped because I married and had children with a man who acts like a sullen teenager. A man who is incapable of emotional expression. A man who was essentially the equivalent of another child.
It’s also likely that my perception of motherhood is tainted by the fact that I’ve been raising my children alone, which has left me emotionally drained and physically exhausted. More kids? I think about it and immediately feel tired.
Secondary emotions, thoughts, and worries also come into play: I worry what my friends and family would think about me having more kids. Whether, after such a failure of a first marriage, they would even trust my judgment.
I worry that another child is just too many children for me to mother. I wonder whether my heart and body and brain could manage the expansion of my family.
I worry that my partner has absolutely no concept of how exhausting parenting will be—though, to be fair, we all jump two feet into the ring without any idea of what it will really be like.
There are so many things I worry about. And yet, at the same time, I also really, really want this.
There are moments when I want another baby so badly that my entire body feels like it’s reverberating. Sometimes I see a pregnant woman or someone holding a newborn, and I desperately miss those baby smells and sounds. I miss that first year and all of the “firsts” it brings—the first smile, the first laugh, the first steps. Sometimes (and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this), I even miss getting up at night to rock a baby back to sleep.
There are times when I think there could be nothing better than sharing all those tiny moments—moments that become months and years and shared experiences with my partner—when I think having another baby is absolutely what I want.
My partner is not even remotely reminiscent of my terrible ex. They might as well be from different planets. My current relationship, which is good and healthy and kind, is not even a shadow of my marriage. And I am nothing like the naive girl I was when I was first married. I’m stronger and wiser. I’ve developed a thicker skin. I trust my intuition. I’ve got my shit together, and I know what I’m made of.
Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball or someone to tell me what to do. Should I have a baby? I want to ask. I try to close my eyes and imagine the dinner table in 15 years. Who will be around it? Will there be four of us, or five?
In the end, I’m the only one who knows what’s right for me. So I’ll listen to my intuition, and I’ll process with my therapist, and lean on my trusted friends who have been with me through hell and back. And, of course, I’ll continue to have those honest, soulful conversations with my partner.
Because one thing’s for sure: whatever I decide—baby or no baby—it will be the right thing for me.
Are you a Solo Mom, partnered or otherwise, who jumped back into maternity? We’d love to hear from you!
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