Earlier today, I spent some time reorganizing my bookshelves which, on the face of it, probably doesn’t sound terribly significant. Shifting books to and fro is hardly cause for excitement, nor is putting books away in a closet in order to make room for other books. Unless, of course, the books that you’re carefully piling away in storage are your pregnancy books, and you’re putting them away because you’ve more or less reached the conclusion that you’re not going to be needing them anytime soon.
For a long time after The Kid (I’ve decided he’s too big to be the Little One anymore) was born, I refused to even consider the possibility of having another. After all, it had been a difficult pregnancy and a complicated birth, one that could have cost me my life. We’d tried to have a child for nine years, and now that we’d finally succeeded, I couldn’t imagine putting myself through all of that again. I was emotionally drained from my pregnancy experience and terrified by my birthing experience, and the prospect of pushing our luck and trying for a sibling was simply too exhausting to contemplate.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted another child. I liked the idea of giving our son a sibling, but when it came down to it, was that really reason enough to try again? At some point, though, I realized that perhaps it would be nice to have another, but that I wasn’t prepared to take extraordinary measures to do so. If it happened – great. Our son would have a sibling, and people would stop asking us when we were going to give him one. If not, well, we had somehow managed to bring a pretty fabulous little boy into the world, and given the road we’d traveled to do so, counting our blessings would not be difficult.
My collection of pregnancy books – ranging from the usual “What to Expect…” fare to books about high-risk pregnancy – remained on the bookshelf, and as the years passed with only a few glimmers of hope that were dashed rather quickly, I started to accept the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen. I hadn’t given up yet, but that being said, I was still feeling ambivalent. There were times when I wanted another child more than anything, yet there were also times when I absolutely didn’t. The thought of going through another high-risk pregnancy and birth didn’t thrill me either, but through it all, the books stayed where they were.
Until today, for apparently today was the day I gave up. It wasn’t premeditated; in fact, rearranging the bookshelves was very much an unplanned activity, coming about only after the contents of one of my shelves suddenly crashed to the floor, leaving me with no choice but to clean up the mess. Items were sorted into piles – books, magazines, papers and so on, and each pile was given a new home. As I sorted, I stared at those pregnancy books. And I realized, with a twinge of sadness, that perhaps the time had come to put them away. They had sat on that shelf in the bottom, right-hand corner for years, collecting dust and taking up space as I clung to the possibility of being able to open them once again. Allowing them to remain on the shelf was symbolic, for in that position, the books were easily accessible, which meant I could grab one at a moment’s notice should the need arise to do so. Today, I reluctantly accepted the fact that the need was probably not going to arise, that in all likelihood, we will not be providing our son with a sibling. One by one, I pulled those books off the shelf, carried them down the hallway, and with mixed emotions, placed them high up in a closet with all the other books I have no plans to open anytime soon, if ever.
It always feels strange to give up on something; I suspect that we finally succeeded in having our son because it was easier to keep trying than to stop, for as long as we kept going, it meant we still had hope. Today I packed those books away, and while I suppose there’s always a chance I may need them again, the hope – like the books – is now gone.