My children are fourteen months apart. It has not been easy raising them, even with their father present and active in their life. It hasn’t been until recently that I grew to love the fact that I had my children back-to-back but when I found out in August 2009, six months after my firstborn made his entrance into the world, that I was pregnant again, I fell into a deep depression. I was 22 when I had my first and that wasn’t my plan. I was supposed to be on my way to grad school, not Baby’s R Us. Here I was carrying another?
Abortion was not an option. Keeping this baby was not going to make the matters at home any better. The bills were piling up, the price of formula and diapers were going up in New York City and there was only one source of income coming in. We went downgraded from Huggies to Costco-brand pampers and were still broke. We applied for WIC and food stamps and after two weeks, it still wasn’t enough.
My hormones were always on 10 and coming home after an hour and forty minute commute, minutes to midnight – sometimes after – from a nine-hour shift in retail, skyrocketed me to a 20. I was Godzilla with a bun in the oven and bags under my eyes and the twenty-something pounds I’d gain in comparison to the eight from the first pregnancy made me dislike who I saw when I looked in the mirror. I called myself fat. He called me “annoying and aggravating”. They called me “emotional”. I was everything but happy.
Another baby wouldn’t solidify us as the perfect family. My partner and I still had a lot of growing up to do individually and collectively. There still were a lot of issues to work through that we’d much rather avoid until shit hit the fan and it was the same result – kick him out and feel alone with an infant in the house and a baby kicking me all times of the day in the stomach. I was physically and mentally nauseous.
But my little one came and somehow those nights of prayer and kneeling by the crib with newborn vomit on my shirt made the difference. Life at home improved and I told myself, sometimes you have to hit the bottom before things can get better. That’s just the way it is.
So here I am, four years after the birth of my second son, and I find myself thanking God for those moments of heartache and confusion, questions that didn’t provide me any answers until two – three years later and counseling sessions. My partner and I are in an… interesting place, but overall, we’re good. We give each other much needed space but now I wish for one more thing:
Space from people asking me about when I’m going to have another child.
No one will ever know what happened behind closed doors of my little one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx while I was pregnant with both of my children and the entries I wrote on my blog and in my journal don’t do any justice to how I truly felt during those months. I think people form conclusions based off of what they read and run from there – as they should. Take the entries and read between the lines. Get your Inspector Gadget on and scope out details and clues to how you think things went down but whatever you do, please don’t ask me personal questions about my life that isn’t detailed in my work. This is the first and last time I’m going to write about how I felt having children.
I went to an event recently where I asked bloggers-turned-book writers about the things they won’t write about and limitations on their platforms. The answer was simple; you define and draw your own line. Everything EnJ is my space. From A Wildflower is a community space. People still have to give us space as writers who are exposing our lives and sharing our experiences for the world to read. Do not continue to ask me about why I’m not married after decade long relationship. Do not ask me about my womb. Do not ask me about specifics on a certain (pitched) piece. You get what I give you. I’ve found myself telling people what I now tell my children – I don’t like to repeat myself more than once if I’ve given you the instructions and the details the first time around.
Respect boundaries, the writer and the stories told, whether you agree or disagree. Do not pry after we have explained the nitty-gritty and have given parts of us that have been hard to heal. Some of us continue to go through the healing process as we type the words on the screen with tears in our eyes and a broken heart, reliving the miscarriages and failed relationships, the family dysfunctions and self-identity crises.
We live in a world where social media reigns supreme and your Twitter timeline can provide you with breaking news before CNN and MSNBC on your television. We give you glimpses and pieces of our pretty little lies lives on Instagram and update you regularly on Facebook but that does not mean that because we write publicly that you have a right to know what happens privately. Yes, we blog and we want you to understand and connect but no, you can’t ask for more than what’s served. More than anything, understand that.