By: Shannon Ralph
Someone grab a fire extinguisher and douse me. Pinch me. Pour water in my face. Do something. I am afraid I have finally gone off the deep end. I am thirty-eight years old and as I type this, I feel my fertility oozing out of my body. Fertility that I have never really cared about in the past. Fertility that has been a non-issue for me for five years now. Suddenly, inexplicably, I have a desire to have another baby. What the hell?!
It all started with my partner, Ruanita. At least, I like to blame her for everything. Prior to a few months ago, the thought of having a fourth (fourth!) child never even crossed my mind. I have never been a woman who had an overwhelming need to have children. I wanted children, but didn’t feel like I had to have them or my life would be an empty shell. That is, until we started the process of trying to become pregnant. Then it became a competition. My will versus the family uteri. I was a temperature-taking, mucus-checking, ovulation-targeting phenom. In the end, I was victorious.
Don’t get me wrong. I like kids okay. Babies are cute. But puppies are cuter —and they learn to take that messy business outside after a couple of weeks. I’ve never been the type to ooh and aah over babies in the supermarket. I don’t feel the need to hold every baby that comes within an arm’s length of me. I adored my own children when they were babies but, if we’re being honest, I rarely notice babies that are not related to me.
Ruanita, however, is my polar opposite in this matter. She holds any and every baby whose mother is willing to give her up to the stranger foaming at the mouth over her child. She kisses and pinches cheeks and fawns all over other people’s children. It should have come as no surprise a couple of months ago when she started making thinly-veiled comments about having another baby. Or rather, not having a baby. Out of the blue, she would announce that we were, in no uncertain terms, not having another baby. While lying in bed doing a sudoku puzzle —with not a word of conversation passing between us— Ruanita would turn to me and say, “We’re not having another baby.” Ummm…okay. Or while emptying the dishwasher in the morning (Ruanita insists on emptying the dishwasher the minute she gets up in the morning —before breakfast or caffeine or any other wake-inducing substance) as I sit in a stupor at the kitchen table catching up on Facebook and chugging a Diet Pepsi (my rebellion against the crucial 6:00AM dishwasher purge), she will look up and say, “There’s no way we’re having another baby.” Ummm…okay.
This has gone on for months now. Obviously, Ruanita is thinking about having another baby or she would not be so vehemently opposed to something that we never discussed as a possibility to begin with. So now she has planted a seed. A seed that has rooted and is beginning to grow in my feeble, previously baby-indifferent mind. Suddenly, I find myself wanting a baby. The thing is, Ruanita is older than I am. I am 38. She is 47. If anyone in this duo is getting pregnant, it will certainly not be the 47-year-old. Strangely, I find myself not entirely opposed to being pregnant. See…I have lost my mind. Nine months of puking up my guts. Breaking out in a pimply rash from head to toe. Peeing on myself every time I cough. Gas and heartburn galore. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?
This weekend, I broached the topic of having another baby with Ruanita. She held firm and refused to do it. Thank God! However, I am afraid her resolve is not the impenetrable fortress I need it to be. I can be persuasive when I want to be. We were, in no uncertain terms, not getting a dog —until the day we went out and adopted a dog. It’s a slippery slope we’re treading. I have gone so far in recent days as to peruse sperm banks online. Last night, while Ruanita was channel surfing and I was checking out the alumni baby announcements in my college’s quarterly magazine, I actually found myself saying to Ruanita, “I like the name Griffin” and “Eliza is a nice name.” To which she did not respond by chucking the television remote at my head. She actually said Griffin was nice and asked me how I would spell Eliza. Come on Ruanita, you need to be stronger! Get violent with me if you have to!
Yesterday, we took the kids to the zoo. Babies as far as the eye could see. Babies in strollers. Babies snuggled all cozy in carriers. Babies toddling through the crowds. Babies smiling toothless grins. I miss my cuddly, sweet-smelling little little babies. Those same babies are starting kindergarten this year. Someone stop me. Please…