“Go to an island and have another baby. I love you mommy.” The thought, the dream awoken, shaken, I can’t forget. The childish fantasy that having a baby sister was simple. The no thought of consequences or of feelings for her baby brother. In that moment, she was telling me I wouldn’t be breastfeeding Gavs anymore. No more boobies for my little man. I stood in the forest crying. It all felt too real. Somehow, I knew that I had gone too far. Somehow, I knew it was time to stop. I had a journey ahead of me. My own Dark Tower quest. I didn’t know when I would be home. A calm washed over me though. I knew my kids would be safe. I knew I trained them well. I knew we were at war and the time had come. Then I woke.
A few months before, Gavin kept ripping two keys off my laptop keyboard. Shift. Control. I would put them on, and he would do it next chance he had. You could say that was when it all began. The crazy. The path to total insanity. Let’s ruin my reputation and be off the wall because something strange is occurring. Yes. Maybe that really did mean something. Maybe the kids were as fed up as I was. Shift Control. Yes. Now was the time.
I wanted a new start. Was it so crazy to think he wanted one too? The first year of his life was terrible and petrifying. He was born sick. He had FPIES, a severe case. Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. At some point we were up to 25 food allergies, including through breastmilk. If I were him, I would want to forget all the pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. All the dumbass doctors who were useless. All the people telling us that it is normal for little babies to throw up. On the other hand, we did our best to show him love and affection. We nursed endlessly to help his sore, swollen throat. We did everything we could to make it okay. To make him okay. No matter what the intention or coincidence, there he was, always with a grin and the shift control keys.
Ellie had talked about wanting another baby a few times. This time she wanted a sister. That really would never happen with my husband. He had a vasectomy while I was pregnant with Gavin. I hear a lot that we have the “millionaire’s family”. A boy and a girl. At the time though, we didn’t know what we were having. In a way, I hoped for a girl. I wanted them to be able to share a room. We have a nice two bedroom apartment with a perfectly painted girl’s room. Three of the walls are blue to make it more unisex though. The furniture and the last wall are all ombre purple. The double bunk bed is covered with Frozen bedsheets. Elsa and Anna over our pillows.
When Greg and I met, we wanted three children. Shall I say I wanted three children and he said that was cool. He himself had three sisters and a ton of pets growing up. After our daughter was born we quickly thought one was enough. We briefly tried for a second but I was breastfeeding too much. We planned our wedding and put ideas of more children to the side. As the wedding approached, and all the planning was done, I yearned for another child. We talked about it a lot and decided that it would be nice to be pregnant at the wedding, so that both my children would technically be there. Maybe that was my childish wish. Impulsive in a way. Nothing was changing my mind. My wish came true. I found out two weeks before the wedding, just a few days before my bachelorette party. That really put a damper on the party, all the sobriety and such, but I was too excited to care.
Greg thought four was a perfect family. I secretly hoped for twins. Four, when you are having a rough day, you each get one to deal with. Four, you get deals when going on vacations and hotels. I will never forget Greg’s appointment to meet the vasectomy doctor. I insisted on meeting the doctor with him to make sure we were all comfortable before the surgery. On the way there, Greg took the wrong road and I got extremely car sick. As we sat waiting for the doctor, I could not calm my stomach. I ended up having to excuse myself, missing his whole appointment. Apparently, they don’t normally do vasectomies on young guys but between the sounds of me hurling and Greg saying that I was 18 weeks pregnant, the doctor agreed. She gets terribly sick while pregnant. We are really done. Hurl. Oh yeah, sounds bad, okay. I can imagine the awkward conversation.
In truth, beyond all reason and judgement, I want another baby. I shouldn’t have another baby. My children and I all have FPIES. Gavin is perfectly healthy now. Ellie and I have issues on and off. Gavin could have died from the extreme case he had but recovered in record time. Ellie and I would have never gotten diagnosed if it wasn’t for her baby brother. It was all quite the miracle in disguise.
Ellie was breastfeeding and refusing to wean. Like nuclear level intensity, refusing to wean. I tried to find a family doctor who supported extended breastfeeding but couldn’t. After nine meet and greet appointments I gave up. When Gavin was born, we did a lot of tandem breastfeeding. It was nice. At two weeks old we were sent to a lactation consultant at the hospital. He was making this squeaky noise and he had lost half a pound. Down to 5.5 lbs from 6.
Going to the appointment gave me anxiety. It was at the hospital. Gavin was born at home. Would another professional shame me for breastfeeding my daughter? She was only three. A baby still to me. I knew I had lots of milk for them both. At the end of the day though, I would have followed any of their advice. I wanted my tiny string bean to be okay. The lactation consultant watched me feed him and hold him. She weighed him. She could see how exhausted he was. He had Laryngomalacia, a baby throat condition. Breathing and eating were more effort for him. He would have to see a pediatric ENT. She said that tandem breastfeeding was the best thing that could have happened. She said if it wasn’t for my daughter, the way he was too tired to eat, I wouldn’t have had much milk come in. Ellie was keeping my supply up and helping the milk come out easier. The consultant suggested we feed him every two hours, 24 hours a day. Yes, 12 feeds a day. On top of that, offer him a bottle of pumped milk at the end of each feed. After a few days he was weighed, and his weight had shot up. After two weeks, we were allowed to stop the bottles.
Ellie got Gavin milk, Gavin got Ellie and I diagnosed. It feels like we were made for each other. The most intense part about it was Gavin, as it turns out, was allergic to formula. Not just Walmart formula. Formula that you need a prescription for and that is $70 a can because it is hypoallergenic, not covered by insurance. I often wonder about all the things that had to go right for my tiny 37 week 6 day baby to survive. We were so lucky to have midwives and a homebirth. What if he was born in the hospital? What if he ended up being tube fed formula at some point? Would he have died? Even his first poop was projectile diarrhea. Was he sick in the womb? He must have been. My placenta was three times normal size but looked totally healthy and meaty. Was it overcompensating? Did he need to be overfed to be nourished?
If I had another baby, how sick would I be? How sick would he/she be? How much more could we withstand. It’s just a hard, sad realization to know I’m done. I don’t want to be done with this phase of my life. I just love babies, maybe too much. That’s okay with me though because my son is alive and my daughter is healthier now. I must have done something right. Maybe this is how baby Gavin feels. In all the suffering there is so much joy. Wanting a fresh start but not wanting to let go. Maybe he just wants a toy car. Maybe it’s all me stressed and worried, overanalyzing. It’s over. How do I let it go? How do I move on?