I never had this feeling before Charlie, the temptation to just...stop. Before we had him, I knew I would continue, that I'd be willing to do whatever was necessary — multiple IVF cycles, adoption, egg donation, perhaps even the odd spot of grave robbing — to have a child. Success at any cost, because, hey, I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty; I'm not above a little unholy reanimation here and there.
But the longer we wait, the more seductive it seems to have only (only!) Charlie. I say this to people and they nod knowingly, saying, "Yeah, once you're finished with diapers" — we're not — "it's hard to want to go back." It's not that, although I throw a small private party in my mind every time Charlie urinates into a plastic receptacle, then insists on clumsily carrying it over to the toilet himself, the longest two-foot walk any housewife with a newly cleaned bathroom ever endured. (At this small private party in my mind, there are gleaming cut glass candy dishes of bridge mix — chocolate-covered cashews, almonds, and Valium — on every end table. To say nothing of the single malt. And the hookers.)
It's not that I'm eager for any particular phase of child-rearing to end. It's not the knowledge that if Charlie is our only child, we get to leave behind the inconveniences of babyhood once and for all. It's leaving behind the inconvenience of achieving babyhood. Every one of the choices available to us is inconvenient in some way, more so even than IVF was. And how alluring to think about never being inconvenienced that way — money, drugs, time, loss, fear, or anguish — again.
Sometimes, and quite often lately, I catch myself thinking, It sure is easy not to have another. Easiest thing in the world for infertiles. How easy it would be to just...do nothing. To succumb to the insidious idea I have on these days when I'm feeling deflated, that it might just not be worth it.
And then Charlie does something enchanting — "I will sit on the potty and wait for the pee to come. [Pause.] Peeeeeee! Are you coming? Yes, you are! Dere you are." — and that is when I realize what a disgusting self-indulgent jackhole I can be. Because, good God, not worth it? Not worth some inconvenience? And then I have to go and slam my hand in the drawer of the bathroom vanity seven or eight times, breaking every finger in my body in an agitated fit of penance. Which makes it awfully hard to pick out the chocolate-covered Valium from between those shitty brazil nuts.
In the past, I've told my infertile friends inside the computer that what we go through is worth it. But I've known even as I've said it that I believe it because I can, because for Paul and me it all paid off, because of Charlie. I am never truly sure. Would I think it had been worth it without him?
I'm in a different place now. I no longer feel the same degree of commitment. I can imagine calling a halt to it, stopping somewhere short of our goal, when I couldn't before. Just not yet.
I know better now what we're in for, in both good ways and bad. I know how well the trying can end, and while I've tasted only a few of the myriad awful ways it can all go horribly awry, that's been enough to make me respectfully cautious.
And I know something I didn't before there was Charlie, before I knew what loving him would be like: Even if we do fail in nerve or luck, I will still think the trying was worth it.