The world was quiet, aside from the sound of my dog’s tags echoing against empty houses.
She and I were walking in a part of my neighborhood where homes are still under construction.
The empty buildings stared at us with darkened windows, the shadowed framing inside barely visible.
The weather had just started to cool, which on any other day would be welcoming. This day, however, it was chilling. It was lonely.
The day before, I was watching a young mother as she held her months-old baby. The child’s fuzzy head nuzzled into her mother’s chest, poking up only occasionally to give a toothless smile to passersby. The mother swayed back and forth the way all mothers do when holding a baby, occasionally leaning down to breathe in that heavenly smell that all new babies have.
“I want another baby,” I said to my husband. “I do. There is no doubt about it. I just feel it.”
“Kate, my vasectomy appointment is next week.”
He wasn’t trying to be cold. We have spoken at length about this. I want another baby, and he doesn’t. I had agreed that he should get a vasectomy, so he moved forward with those plans. I could have stood my ground, but I chose instead to realize that asking my husband to have another baby when he doesn’t want to would be cruel. A baby is a lot to take on in any situation; I wouldn’t want my husband to end up resenting the child or me.
I told myself that over and over again as my dog and I walked the streets of my neighborhood. I reminded myself how terrible the morning all-day sickness of pregnancy is. I forced myself to think about how getting pregnant again would undoubtedly take a toll on my body. And oh, the sleepless nights. “Don’t you remember how little you slept?” I pleaded with myself. “Even less than now,” I reasoned.
But it didn’t work.
What my husband – nor most people, I imagine – can never and will never understand is that when a woman feels it in her bones that it is time to have a baby, it so much more than an emotional desire. It is an instinctual pull that no amount of logic can dissuade. It is a longing like I have never experienced nor probably ever will again.
And now, I will simply have to live with it until it fades away.
It may sound selfish to mourn a baby I never had, especially when I already have two wonderful children. Yet I couldn’t keep myself from crying as we moved up and down the dark hills.
No more bite-size footed pajamas. No more little eyes struggling to focus and then sparkling when finally recognizing my face. No more cuddly naps. No more baby-wearing, which was one of my favorite things to do despite the damage it did to my back. No more tiny legs kicking excitedly during tummy time.
No more first smiles, first steps and first words.
No more cooing, no more nursing, no more tiny hands reaching up for me.
I still have so much love in my heart that I have always thought was meant for another baby. It feels like something is missing.
One day, I’ll focus on the silver linings of the situation. But I didn’t want to do that as I walked in the dark that morning. Not when I was alone and no one could see my tears. Right then, I wanted to grieve something I never had and never will. I was going to be openly sad and look to the sky and wonder when that ache would go away.
My dog and I turned around to walk back home. We passed the empty houses again, and I told myself that one day soon, those houses will be homes with walls, lights and families.
They won’t always be so empty inside.