As I was getting Lylah ready for bed this evening, she looked up at me and asked whether or not she could have a little sister.
This didn’t take me hugely by surprise, as she has talked about wanting a little sister before (probably down to the fact that she is constantly harassed by her little brother), so it wasn’t completely out of the blue.
She looked up at me with wide eyes, you could see the hope behind them, watching me beadily and eagerly awaiting my response.
“Go and ask Daddy”, I said, dodging the conversation for a few minutes or so. Off she ran and a few seconds later I heard the outburst of laughter from Chris; he probably thinks I’ve put her up to this.
I walk into the conversation and he’s explaining to her that we’re not having another baby, and I join in, reminding Lylah that I might have another little boy, so she’d be getting another Malachy, rather than the little sister she dreams of! She kept on and on and on, and when I said in a more final voice “No sweetheart, we’re not having any more babies, we’re happy with our family”, she burst into tears!
I’m not quite sure where this has come from, but I’m probably to blame, as I’ve knowingly floated the idea past her before, wondering what her response would be. I’m torn when it comes to this conversation, and it has been brought up on more than one occasion since Malachy came along.
Before we had children, Chris and I talked of having 4. Boy, girl, boy, girl was our ideal and we picked all the names. It turns out that we had a girl first, and chose a name we’d never even considered before, but after our first baby, we knew there was no doubt about having number 2.
While I was pregnant with Malachy, I said regularly that this wouldn’t be my last pregnancy. It felt too natural. I mostly enjoyed being pregnant, and while both deliveries weren’t without their complications, I also enjoyed the labours. I felt that Chris was on the same page as well. We never really spoke about how soon we’d have baby number 3, but I’d imagine it would be pretty quickly. I think by the end of the pregnancy, we realised that 4 babies might be a stretch too far for us, but number 3 was still in our future thoughts.
My delivery of Malachy was horrible. That’s another story that I haven’t told yet, and one day I will, but for now, just know that it left me feeling like I was the luckiest woman in the world when I got to hold my new born boy in my arms. I didn’t want to let him go, and quite literally one of the first things I said to Chris was “We don’t need any more children, he’s perfect, I’m done now.” I don’t know what it was that made those words come out, but I remember such a feeling of completeness and love having Malachy against my chest, and knowing that we had Lylah at home, that I felt like we didn’t need to add anyone else into the mix. I also felt such relief at his safe arrival that I immediately thought why would I ever put us through that again?
It probably took until Malachy was around 9 months old before I began to feel the pangs of broodiness. My maternal instinct was strong with Malachy, and I really enjoyed the baby stage. I breastfed for a long time, because part of me couldn’t let go, and I hated the thought that I would never do that again. Chris was different though. He was happy with our family, and felt strongly that he didn’t want any more children.
I can confidently say that I feel 50/50 about it. Part of me wants another baby so strongly, I regularly feel huge tugs on my heart when I even begin to imagine the idea, and the other part of me loves my new found freedom when they are both at pre-school and school, and the joy I get from the time I spend on myself now.
I have no doubt that if we were too accidentally fall pregnant that we would embrace it and expand our family, but I know that it would make me anxious in a way that the first two didn’t, perhaps feeling unprepared or fearful that we’d struggle to cope.
So it breaks my heart to to have to say to Lylah “No, mummy and daddy have made the decision not to have any more babies, and you won’t have a little sister”, but I want her to understand how lucky we all are. How lucky that she was the first-born adored little princess into our family with a mummy and daddy who think she is the most wonderful thing on the planet. How lucky she is to have a little brother like Malachy, who, although he takes her toys and pulls her hair, loves and looks up to her so much. How lucky that mummy and daddy are to even be able to make a choice about more children; many people don’t even have the option and aren’t blessed with one child, let alone two, and when I think of those people, I’m so grateful every day for my children and pray that those should-be parents get the families they dream of.
I want her to know how lucky we are that we are the four of us. Picked for each other by a greater good, and how wonderful that is.