The Ache

It hit me around 7am as I was walking into Vince’s room to separate the two kids because “She’s wrecking my Lego Village!!!” and “He won’t let me playyyyy!!!!!”

Legos strewn everywhere; applesauce pouches tossed aside in the melee; the dog dodging and weaving to see if anything that’s been launched from their hands is edible…and the feeling was still there in my chest.

It wasn’t a phase.

I want another one.

Every time the weird sensation has begun dancing around inside me over the past few months, I push it away like that last bit of stuffing on Thanksgiving that looks great, but that you know damn well will wreak havoc on you. I’ve ignored it, denied it, even laughed it off when someone suggests we have another baby.

I swiftly blink away my frequent visions of a chubby blonde-haired boy crawling after Rocco, learning to slurp spaghetti from Vince, getting rocked to sleep by Gracie. I tell myself it’s my hormones; it’s the fried egg I ate for dinner; it’s just nonsense.

But standing there, watching Legos soar through the air amid the ear-splitting shrieks of my 2-year old daughter, I realized it’s not just a weird sensation or a passing daydream- it’s an ache.

As I stepped in to break up the royal rumble, I remembered a conversation I had many years ago with my grandmother.

“Every few years, the baby wouldn’t be a baby anymore. Suddenly I had a kid who was ready to go to school. I missed having a baby in my arms. I’d start to feel an ache for another child. So I’d talk to your grandfather and tell him we needed another one. And that’s how I ended up with four kids!”

Of course, that was a much different time, a fact that I repeat to myself every time the ache starts to creep up on me.  It’s become a mental pep-talk. “Those were different times,” I think to myself in my best old lady voice.

Actually, I’ve been giving myself quite a few very gentle, very loving pep-talks these days.

“Stop being ridiculous. You can’t handle three kids- you failed at having 2 dogs for Christ’s sake.” Actually, dog #2 turned out to have severe emotional issues and lunged at Vince, teeth bared and growling, so I don’t know if our decision to give him back really counts as not being able to handle 2 dogs as much as making sure my kids don’t get eaten.

“Remember the heartburn? The bed rest? Sliding down the wall and onto the floor of the bathroom every few hours like you were made of rubber? Losing your meals to every sink and garbage can in the house, and sometimes your purse, for 9 months? That time you spit up blood? You ready for that again? Huh?”

“How was that year of post-partum depression? Did you like that? You really want to go THERE again?”

“You have no right to mope around for another baby. There are women who struggle for years and never get to experience motherhood. You have a boy and a girl, and they are healthy, happy, smart, loving- you have everything you’ve ever wanted. Pull yourself together.”

“Two words. College Tuition.”

“Do you hate sleep? Do you not want to ever sleep again? Is that what this is about?”

“Vasectomies aren’t easily reversed.”

“You’re mere MONTHS away from never having to buy another diaper- ever again! Don’t ruin it.”

“Remember all those neat trips that your friends are taking? The places you daydream about one day seeing? If you can’t afford them now, you can really kiss them goodbye if you have another mouth to feed.”

“You’d need a bigger truck. You still have 3 ½ years left before you pay this one off. Where would you put this additional baby- the trunk???”

“Your ass gets bigger with every pregnancy. If you have one more you might be mistaken for a Kardashian.”

This was my entire commute this morning- listening to my daughter sing along to the radio while mentally admonishing myself into oblivion.

It didn’t work- the ache is still there.

And where does my husband stand in all of this? In a puddle of my often-unannounced and freely-flowing tears, basically. He disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a jar of peanut butter and a bag of kettle corn when I dissolved into silent sobs during the birthing scene on This is Us. He held my hand as I tearfully recounted the number of people I know who are pregnant, about to give birth, or who have just posted adorable pictures of newborns on their Facebook feeds. He gives me quick, supportive glances every time our friends discuss expanding their families.

But he’s done.

There will never be any reason that my husband will entertain the idea of a third child in our home. And he’s not faulting me for having this ache for another child, so I can’t very well blame him for not having the ache. Sometimes I want to….but I don’t. I promise.

And I don’t think for a moment that I’m alone, or that my ache is the worst ache of them all. Not by FAR.

I know countless people who have the ache- it might be for a baby, or a home of their own, or a different career, or a different spouse, or a different life entirely. I guess we all have the ache at some point in our lives. Sometimes you achieve the goal, realize the dream, find “the one”- and you can finally silence the ache, almost like blowing out a candle.

Or, the ache becomes a part of you, burning sometimes brightly, sometimes dimly…but always burning. It’s kind of like that one bit of hair on your head that never cooperates with the rest of them. Sometimes you can smooth it away; other times you need a hat. But you make it work.

So where do I go from here? Well, I guess I just remain endlessly grateful for the family I have, stop ignoring my ache, and learn to live with it.

And adopt a puppy. Definitely adopting a puppy.

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