While I was at CBC a few weeks ago, one of the staff members asked me if I was planning on having more children. “I don’t think so,” I said, without hesitation. ”I love my daughter endlessly, and now that she’s part of my family, I can’t imagine my life without her, but I can’t lie to you. I didn’t enjoy being pregnant. I wanted a baby, but spending nine months pregnant was very, very stressful.”
The staff member who asked the question looked disappointed. And in that moment, I sort of wish I had lied. “Oh, you look disappointed. I’m sorry! It’s not just because of diabetes stuff. It’s my own personal preference. I don’t want to lie!”
And I won’t lie. The end result of my pregnancy was the most beautiful, smiley baby I have ever laid eyes on, and having her as part of our family has been the greatest joy that Chris and I have ever experienced. Seriously — it sounds like a cheesy Hallmark card, but it’s true. This kid fills a hole in my heart that I didn’t even know existed until I heard her cry and I finally felt complete. But being pregnant, the actual journey of carrying her inside of me, was not an experience I’m looking to repeat. This isn’t entirely a diabetes-based decision, either.
There are a lot of factors that play into my decision. Of course, being diabetic for almost 24 years does play a big role in my decision to have only one child. I feel like my body has been through a good amount of chaos over the last two plus decades, and pregnancy didn’t improve any diabetes-related complications that were starting to bloom (namely retinopathy, which I’m having checked again in August). When BSparl was born, she came out healthy and strong (and with a lot of hair, which surprised me for some reason), and I was in decent medical shape, too. I feel like she and I beat some odds, and I’m not sure I’m ready to roll the dice a second time.
Because it wasn’t just the diabetes complications. It was a lot of the guilt, too. I didn’t do well with the pregnancy-related guilt that remains even now. While I was pregnant, I felt like every meal came with a side of extreme guilt. I worried that I was eating the wrong foods, taking too much/too little insulin, and that every blood sugar spike was literally boiling the baby as she grew inside of me. I watched the graph on my Dexcom and wondered why it looked more like an M than a nice, flat line. I worried incessantly about every low blood sugar.
Being a high-risk pregnancy, I spent a lot of time at the doctor’s office. I had approximately one ultrasound a month, and each time I held my breath as they searched for my daughter. Part of what comes along with a diabetic pregnancy is a lot of information, about complications that could arise and birth defects and risk factors and all kinds of scary stuff. Sometimes I would lie in bed at night and think about all the health factors that were in play in my frame and the fear would chew on my mind, then settle in my heart. It was almost too much information, and I had a difficult time emotionally handling it.
Nevermind the weight gain and the preeclampsia and the body image battles and the stretch marks and the emotional rollercoaster. And nevermind the 3 1/2 weeks of hospitalization and bedrest before my eventual retinopathy-instigated c-section. (That’s just a plain ol’ perfect storm of crap there.)
I always pictured myself as a mom, but I never saw more than one child in that picture. All diabetes and health-related issues aside, I feel comfortable with one child. I don’t feel ashamed that I only want to have one baby, or embarrassed that I’m deciding to keep my family small. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a lot of kids. But there’s also nothing wrong with only wanting one child.
Of course, I have had a lot of people ask, and most of these people seem to live in my grocery store and stalk me in the checkout lines:
“Oh, how old is your baby?”
“She’s three and a half months.”
“Ooh. She’s a cutie. When are you planning to give her a little sister or brother?”
… or (and this has been my favorite one so far)
“You should hurry up and have another one so your daughter doesn’t end up a screwed up only child.”
I love my daughter, and the difficult pregnancy that brought her here makes me love her even more. But I feel more than content with one child, and I’m not sure how else to answer the question of “Are you ready for another one?” with “No, I think she’s going to be an only child.”
I felt bad when the girl from CBC asked me that question, because I wanted to tell her “Yes! I will be the Old Woman in the Shoe, with so many children I’ll be clueless as what to do.” Because I wanted her to know that anything is possible, even with diabetes, and if she wants to happily end up in a shoe, then she should go for it. Anything is possible, depending on what you want. But the truth is, for me, I don’t want to live in a shoe. (Three cats in a shoe? Insanity!) I also don’t want to put my body through another pregnancy, for way more than just diabetes reasons.
I feel content. I’m very happy with my daughter, and I love her endlessly. And at this stage in my life, in my 30s and with more then two decades of diabetes, I’m comfortable with having the humans in my family even with the cats. If circumstances change and our family is graced with another child, we will love that baby, but at this point, we’re happy being a team of three.
*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*