The fright of new life

THE old lady held open the door of her cubicle and talked about being a mother in her day.

I had tried to wheel my pram – the London Bus, on account of its colour and double-decker stature – as close to my cubicle as possible so I could use the cramped facilities.

Unbeknowst to our new friend, I was in there to conduct a pregnancy test. Her talk of the difficulties of transporting two children before Phil & Ted’s (pram manufacturers sent from heaven) was making me uneasy.

The logistics of shopping with two children, aged two and under, were significant enough. The idea of a third, even smaller passenger (which, paradoxically, always takes up more room. Not to mention brain space.) was simply terrifying.

Of course, the pram situation was the least of my worries.

At a certain point of the afternoon for the past few days – while feeding the baby and trying to keep my two-year old from becoming too obstreperous – I would stare into space and the enormity of what I faced would take on an amorphous, dangerous shape.

I was undecided about a third child but I knew one thing for certain – now was not the right time.

There were numerous reasons… It would mean that at the end of my current maternity leave, I would either have to forfeit my job and significant financial security or work from home two days a week while minding a three-month old, a one-year old and a three-year old.

I would also be spending my nights getting up to three children for feeds and cuddles.

And what if I had morning sickness for the next nine months? How fit would I be to care for the other two children?

Or forget the pregnancy… Here was the big question: How would a third baby affect my mothering?

Some mothers with many children talk of how they think faster and love harder. But, while nothing could diminish the love I have for my children, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be more stressed, more unhinged and – let’s face it – less available for each of them.

My heart may be big enough for more, but my hands still only number two.

So, if I was pregnant, the answer in my head was “no”.

But that was just the first part of my problem. I am pro-choice but I cannot say the word “abortion” let alone go through with it.

In fact, writing it just now was the first time I ever allowed a real cognitive thought on the idea. Every time my husband and I tiptoed towards the topic, I would wave my hands and say “let’s not think about it till we know one way or the other”.

But what would it mean if I couldn’t go through with an abortion? A new life created on the unbalanced basis that I couldn’t go through with something I think women are entitled to do? It’s not so often that your moral decisions take on such real and far-reaching consequences.

And if I did go through with it, what kind of impact would that have on my parenting?

I would undoubtedly harbour guilt and shed many tears. Would I one day tell my children? How would they feel?

Like I said, my head swirled with conflicting thoughts till I couldn’t see straight.

A couple of days later, I sat in the toilet, waiting, praying, on the verge of tears and terrified of making a decision I simple didn’t want to make.

Outside, my son was asleep and my daughter cried for attention. I was still wondering what kind of people they would be when I looked down and saw a blurry “negative” result.

My smile was shaky and my fears evaporated slowly while I pushed my pramful of children back to the car.

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