I have a Nissan Maxima with 213,000 miles on it. I love that car, its sunroof, its leather seats, its peppy engine. Two weeks ago it started idling funny, as cars with lots of miles on them do. The mechanic is starting to seem skeptical when I drop it off to fix it.
The Oregon coast is one of my favorite places in the world. In the summer, we pack the kids up and stay at various coastal spots all the way down to northern California. We explore the beaches and the lighthouses and attempt to gain massive amounts of weight as we eat our way along. Then I entertain my husband the whole way home with my petty and childish whining about wanting to live on said Oregon coast. He's definitely lucky to have me.
Combined with the funny noises, the high mileage, and the impending road trip I would really hate to try to reschedule, we decided it was time to shop for a new vehicle. New vehicle purchasing always seems to stress Jerry and I out. This time it's worse. This time it feels irritatingly fraught with tension as we attempt to answer the age-old question, "How many children are we going to have?"
I think every couple goes through this to some degree. Money, time, so many factors to consider when you are attempting to plan a pregnancy. But we've been trying to get pregnant for a few months shy of two years. We've seen the doctors, the specialists, the specimen cups, the blood draws. Husband got a day surgery, and I got an HSG. I've read research papers, printed them off and highlighted the sections that apply to me and my used-up, battle-scarred uterus. I've cried in the bathroom at work when I had myself convinced I was pregnant, only to find out that the pregnancy was imaginary. I'm trying not to do that anymore. The crying or the imagining.
We try to picture our lives with our two living children. And it's not a bad picture. One of each, and there are so many people who are forced to get along with less. I'll have to be drunk to go through the bins of baby paraphernalia piled up in the basement and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. But shouldn't everyone be slightly inebriated for that exercise? I can take them on more vacations. I love vacations. I can be there for each of them without feeling spread too thin constantly.
And... I can keep the two kids in a normal sedan car. Unless, of course, I have another baby. I think the uncertainty of it all gets to me sometimes. There are so many life decisions that hinge on whether or not we have another baby. Like whether I should go to nurse practitioner school, and when. Or whether we should buy a car with 3rd row seating.
"How many kids do you have?" the salesman asks us politely. I feel the familiar clench of my insides as I answer "Two." I never pictured myself in a minivan or an SUV. Mostly I picture myself in something small and red with a manual transmission. So I already feel like I am compromising. If I knew I would have another child, the matter would be simple. But it's never really simple, is it?
I clamber into the back row of an SUV that costs more than my education did. I picture where I would put the imaginary baby's car seat, along with my son and daughter. I test whether or not I could hand the imaginary baby a toy from the passenger seat as we drive along. I can tell my husband is trying to picture what cargo room would be left after the imaginary baby's car seat is installed.
I move on to the cheaper options. No need to go deeply into debt and feel regret when all the seats aren't filled in a couple of years. My husband maintains that the extra space would be useful, no matter who might or might not show up. I nod and say nothing. He loves cargo room so he doesn't really understand. To him, it wouldn't be an empty seat, but for me there's a chance that extra seating would always be there, mocking me and my imaginary baby.