In November 2004, I wanted another baby. I got breast cancer instead. Not a great trade, but what could I do—except fight the cancer and reassess my baby wishes later down the line. Which is what I did. I had surgery, then chemotherapy, then radiation, then more drug therapy. I lost my hair, re-grew my hair, went to counseling, and physical therapy, and doped myself up on an anti-depressant for a year. And then one day, I was free from cancer and free from treatment. Then the baby question came up.
Or no baby?
I have decided on no baby. I use the word "I"—as if John is not a player in the baby game—because he would take the plunge and have one if it were up to him. But somehow, it comes down to me. I guess my having had cancer trumps his not having had it. And so I get to decide. Because for a while, my decision to no longer reproduce was all about cancer. I didn't want to get pregnant and have my cancer return during those nine—well, ten—months. I didn't want to have a baby and then die and leave John with three kids to rear. Two is more manageable. I didn't want pregnancy hormones raging through my body; fueling tumor after tumor, ensuring a life spent fighting a nasty disease. Cancer made me say no more to more babies. But now, it's not cancer at all that makes me stray from having another child. It's everything else.
I don't want a baby because in two weeks, I'll be 38. I don't want to be pregnant at an "advanced maternal age." I know loads of women have babies at this age—and older—but I don't want to be in this camp. Besides the health implications of later-in-life child bearing, I'm just plain tired. Which brings me to another reason I don't want a baby: I like to sleep. I don't want to wake every few hours to soothe and feed a fussy babe. I don't want to function like a zombie through my days for months and months—and sometimes even more months. I don't want the endless baby chores that would make me, well, more tired.
I like my self-sufficient boys. They brush their teeth, get dressed, give themselves showers, tie their shoes, and buckle their seatbelts. Joey even vacuumed my entire mini-van this morning. It only cost me three bucks. I also like my job. I like devoting school-day mornings to my business of writing. I love my four free hours—the stillness, the quiet, the candle I burn in honor of all that is peaceful during my alone time.
When it comes down to it, I realize I'm really happy as a mom of two growing boys. I even think I'm a better mom for older boys than I was for baby boys. Babies are unpredictable. Big kids are easier for me. They communicate, respond to my questions, clearly express their needs. They can sit through dinners out, manage through long car rides, and tell me they love me. Who said parenting is thankless job?
Nope, no more babies for me. Not because of breast cancer. Because I couldn't be happier at this moment in time with the two blessings that have been bestowed on me, the two guys who simultaneously drive me crazy and make me giddy with love and laughter and hope.
Cheers to Joey and Danny. And our perfect family of four.