31 May 2013, by Tan Yi Lin
I guess the title of this entry says it all.
It’s a funny question to ask, isn’t it?
Well, not an entirely inappropriate question in itself. But given the fact that I had only just delievered my second child not that long ago, I thought it was a tad odd for people to question when we were planning for our third child to arrive even before Claire was barely a month old.
Maybe it’s just a roundabout way of asking whether we intend to have further additions to our family. Or maybe they expected us to have an ideal age gap in mind, say, two years between siblings.
The situation isn’t too different from when Coco was born and people started asking when we were planning for our next baby (now known as Claire; previously known as Twin A and Kenobette.) Back then, the very question irked me no end, probably because, as an inexperienced new mother, every move I made was steeped in uncertainty and I wasn’t yet confident of being a good caregiver to one Coco Monster, much less more children.
This time, I’m less uptight about being on the receiving end of “So when?” I figure that such questions stem from genuine curiosity and there’s no point in getting annoyed, although I can’t fathom why people whom I hardly know would be interested in how many babies I’ll be popping (or shooting, in the case of Claire) out during my lifespan. We give a range of non-committal answers, such as “We’re taking a break for now”, “Not so soon” and “We’ll see how we cope with two kids first”. It’s surprising how these banal and obvious responses go far in satisfying the inquirers. Yes, motherhood can teach you some lessons in the art of zen. If you can calmly step over the aftermath of a toddler tornado, or train yourself to ignore the putrid odour of spit-up milk drying on your shoulder, you can tolerate an inane question or two. Ohhhmmmmm.
However, behind the wan (and tired) smiles and polite replies, Dan and I have been discussing how big a family we want. Having grown up in a family with three children, I do want to follow the footsteps of my parents because anything fewer than three feels as if there’s something amiss. For now, the honest answer is that we haven’t decided yet but in the event that we do try for no.3, we won’t be thawing any frozen embryos until Claire is at least two years old (and Coco would be about four.)
Being in the throes of juggling “two under two”, I now understand why people say that three years between siblings is the ideal age gap. At three, the older sibling/s would be able to speak clearly and coherently in English (or a second language) and the chances of tantrums stemming from a toddler’s frustration at making herself understood are lower. It’s a less stressful environment for everyone. Coco can talk – but it’s mostly in toddler-speak and sign language. Having conversations with her is like playing charades 24/7, which in itself offers a fun challenge and it’s exhilirating when you hit the nail on the head, but it’s an exhausting perpetual guessing game nonetheless.
Also, the older child/children would most likely have been toilet trained by the time the newborn arrives and we wouldn’t have to change diapers around the clock. Our friends laugh when they see our stash of diapers ranging from newborn to XL sizes, and in a variety of brands and regular diapers and pull-up pants, and jokingly ask if we have robbed NTUC and Cold Storage of all their diapers.
If we do decide to try for no.3, our next attempt at IVF would be with a frozen cycle. We have three embryos from our recent round of treatment sitting pretty in the freezer at the KKH IVF Centre. Coco was one of our two remaining frozen embies from the first cycle. So with Claire, we had to plan carefully and set aside the few months needed for hormone treatment prior to creating more embryos through a fresh cycle.
So with a frozen cycle, we can afford to wait a little longer between babies. We can try month after month using the remaining three embryos – not unlike how regular couples would try naturally for a baby.
The question is: do we transfer only one embryo at each attempt? Or two to increase our chances of conceiving successfully? I’m sure we’d be thrilled to conceive twins but honestly, to be very practical about it, having four kids under the age of five is an incredibly scary thought. Already, as devastated as we were to have lost Twin B, I cannot imagine how stretched we would be with twins now.
If logic and common sense prevail and we use one embryo at a time, we would have to be prepared to fail and try again at Life’s lottery game. I hope that when that time comes, we can still afford to take our time as I will be turning 36 in the year that Claire turns two and Dan, 40.
And what lies beyond three kids, assuming that we still have frozen embryos left? Some people say that three being an odd number, one kid will feel left out. I don’t remember feeling that way but then, I was older and more independent when my siblings came along. Maybe I’d have to ask my sister (the middle child) or my brother (the youngest and only son) if they ever felt lonely. Having four kids to square things off is, however, a scary thought at this juncture.
Well, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves and count our embryos before they thaw, much less hatch. We’ll see how our little bunches of cells thrive and make a decision from there. We’re banking on at least one of them to make it and if no other embryo remains or survives thereafter, I do believe we’ll stop at three. I don’t think we’ll go through yet another round of IVF and try for number four.
Whether we’ll have two, three or four children is a decision for the future. In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying every moment that we have with our two precious Little Embryos Who Could and field the “So when?” questions as they come.