View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

6 February 2014updated 28 Jun 2021 4:46am

Squeezed Middle: Why I should definitely not have another child

Is that what I want? Is it? Yes. . .

By Alice O'Keeffe

‘‘Do you ever think we should have another baby?” The words are out of my mouth before they have even passed through my brain. Where did they come from? Has my womb established some kind of direct line to my vocal cords?

Curly turns pale. After a few seconds, he gathers himself sufficiently to utter one syllable: “No.”

“Oh,” I say. “OK.”

That’s fine. I knew he’d say that. And he is 100 per cent right. There is nothing I want less than to go through the whole messy business all over again. I swore I never would after the last pregnancy, which incapacitated me for five months with relentless, broiling nausea. I swore it the morning I was sick on a businessman’s shoes on the 8.42 train to Liverpool Street (he was amazingly nice about it) and again when I got acute mastitis, passed out on the kitchen floor and had to spend the whole of Christmas Eve in casualty. I swore it every time Moe woke up more than four times in the night. Which was every night. For six months.

I certainly swore it when Curly and I nearly split up and I got that weird depression that was maybe more hormonal than I thought, looking back on it. If you’ve had that kind of thing once, the chances are you’ll get it again.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Now that things have calmed down and life is nice and fluffy again, it would be so easy to forget what a tremendous palaver the whole process is; to look at my two beloved boys and imagine, ever so idly, how lovely it would be to have another.

I must resist. I must not think about cute, chubby baby legs, or the pure animal exhilaration of giving birth, or how fun it would be to have a great, big, noisy gaggle of a family. I must not think about how I’m nearly 35 and that’s the age at which, according to some newspaper article or other, my fertility will “drop off a cliff”.

No, no, no. I must think of the practicalities: there is no way we could stay in the slightly-too-small flat if we had another child. We would have to sell up and move to Hull, though perhaps even that wouldn’t be an option now that it’s going to be the City of Culture in 2017 and prices have probably rocketed and I’ve left my job and there’s no way a reputable mortgage lender would look on us with anything other than amused pity. The more I think about it, the worse the idea seems.

Satisfied, I hum a little tune as I trundle off to get the boys ready for their bath. If only all decisions in life were this straightforward. I wrestle Moe on to his changing mat, strip off his clothes and tickle his pudgy tummy. His legs are so big now, they are hardly baby legs any more. He can walk and say “hiya” and “car” and “teddy”. Soon, he won’t be a baby at all; he’ll be a boy. And then I will never, ever have a baby again.

Larry and Moe will grow up and go to school and I’ll crack on with my life, start thinking about the outside world again, working . . . Things will get easier, more manageable, less intense.

Is that what I want? Is it? Yes, I tell myself firmly. It is.
 

Content from our partners
Future proofing the NHS
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE
Labour's health reforms can put patients first

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU