My Seventh Baby: My Marriage
All I wanted was another baby. My husband wanted us to go to marriage counselling instead.
My sixth birth was my favorite of all. It was a water birth like I had always dreamt of having. I had my close friend Sarah with me, holding my hand and encouraging me every step of the way. It was an amazing and very healing experience after my other births that were medical and unnatural.
At the time there was no doubt in my mind that I would have more kids. And I got the question often. Almost every day friends, family and even complete strangers would ask me:
“So...are you done?”
“It looks like you have your hands full with six!”
”Woah, they couldn’t all be yours!”
If I had a dollar for every time someone gave me an unsolicited comment about having more kids I’d be able to buy the fanciest Bugaboo stroller on the market! I’m not sure what I answered all of those well-meaning people. Usually I just smiled politely (not knowing quite what to say) but sometimes I just said, “Yes, I’m done!” just to get them off my back. But in my heart I knew I was not done. I didn’t even understand the question: How could one ever be done? How can one make that decision? It just boggled my mind.
It was as if with each new child born to me I grew another chamber to my heart.
I wanted at least one or two more children. It wasn’t merely a religious choice for me to have so many children; it was something I felt passionate about and good at doing. It was as if with each new child born to me I grew another chamber to my heart. I was 32 years old when I gave birth to my sixth child and I was loving the “two year plan” that seemed to be working well for me. (Of course having or not having children should be done in consultation with the guidance of one’s rabbi and mentors.)
Except for a few spontaneous miscarriages in between my second and third, I was going strong and giving birth every two years. I would nurse each baby for over a year and then naturally fall pregnant again when my body was ready. It was great. It was bliss. I was so high on all those good-feeling oxytocin hormones and I was in ‘baby la la land’.
I loved those years. I loved every smile (even though it may have been gas), every burp, every sleepless night as I lay awake watching their little chests rise and fall in soft even breaths, and I even welcomed every dirty diaper. I loved it all.
But then things changed. We moved to a new city. Life got more complicated. Kids got older. My Bubby had always told me, “Little kids little problems, big kids big problems.” Well it was true!
They didn’t go to sleep at 6pm anymore. They started to have opinions. They needed more from us emotionally. Responsibilities weighed heavily on our shoulders. Tuition kept climbing up and up. We became friends with this awful thing called debt. Finances suffered. Shalom bayit (harmony in the home) took a back seat often. Stress was very real and at times survival mode set in.
But I still wanted another baby. Badly. I cried. I prayed for it. I thought about it numerous times a day to the point where I was worried I was going out of my mind!
My husband told me that we can eventually have another baby, but first we needed to get to a place in our marriage where we would be best friends. I thought he was crazy. We had a decent marriage and I wasn’t looking for a best friend; I already had my little cuddly sweet smelling angel snuggled right next to me in my bed each night. I was good, thanks!
I was ready to do whatever it took to get what I really wanted, a seventh baby. In the end, I got so much more.
But my husband stayed strong and level headed. He was sure that only after we were in a stronger relationship with one another would we be able to handle the storm that comes along with having another child. My husband suggested marriage counseling.
“Okay,” I said, “how many sessions?”
I was ready to do whatever it took to get what I really wanted, a seventh baby.
In the end, I got so much more.
I sat in the first few therapy sessions stealing glances at the clock. How much longer? I have things to do. This is a waste of my time. I felt this counsellor couldn’t fully understand me, my dreams and where I was coming from. I was rolling my eyes inside my head. This was harder than I had imagined.
But I stayed with it. Learning new communication tools after 15 years of marriage is very humbling indeed. At first I was holding back, not able to fully let myself change. But then, over time, I let my walls come down. I realized that I desperately wanted another baby because it would be easier to have a baby than to do the inner work that I needed to do. Being busy with another pregnancy and then with another baby would have been a pleasant distraction to avoid looking myself in the mirror and seeing all the work and growth that I was avoiding.
I realized how much healing needed to take place. It scared me much more than the most colicky baby.
That was a while ago. We still go to marriage counseling from time to time but now I am not going for him. I am going for us. I am going for myself. With the help of an amazing marriage counsellor (who I now consider a dear friend) it became clear to me that marriage is like a baby – it needs constant nurturing and attention. It needs lots of love and time, and it takes lots and lots of hard work.
Marriage and babies are like lumps of clay ready to be molded into something amazing. The potential is endless. The more you put in the greater it can become. Marriage can be fun and deep and incredible. Who knew?!
I am enjoying my seventh child – my marriage – intensely. It only took me 16 years to see the gift that I had all along. So wish me a mazel tov on this new baby! It’s a keeper! I think I’m gonna hold onto this one for the rest of my life.
And you are all probably wondering...so nu, are you going to have another baby? Only God knows. But for right now I have my hands full.