We are absent-mindedly watching the telly when an advertisement for a current affairs programme comes on. A slick voice booms out, “Pregnant at 13…”I don’t hear the rest because I am too busy saying, “Terrible, terrible, terrible,” over the promo, in order to communicate to Amanda that teenage pregnancy is unacceptable.
I don’t care how mature you think you are or whether it is your bloody right to reproduce like a rabbit, but teenage pregnancy is totally unacceptable. I want Amanda to get that in her head. What better time to drive the message home then when the issue is presented on TV, right?
“What is terrible is old ladies refusing to get pregnant,” says His Royal Highness.
I narrow my eyes. “Who you calling an old lady?”
He looks at me, amusement dancing in his eyes. “Are there any other old ladies here? One more year and you’ll be considered an older mother.”
“That’s if we have another child.” I’m perfectly happy with the one we’ve got. She’s a hundred flavours of fun rolled into one; cheeky one minute, astoundingly astute the next.
“Think about it. In one year’s time, if you fall pregnant, you’ll be considered an older mother and you’ll have all the pregnancy risks of an older mother.”
How wonderful! I’ve never quite thought of myself in terms of old or old and pregnant. Every time I check the calendar on my Mac, it still feels like there’s a lot of time. Of course, I’m well aware that fertility decreases with age and that soberingly, 1 in every 100 women my age are already infertile. Nonetheless, since I had Amanda at 26… I read somewhere that my changes of conceiving at an older age are higher than someone who’s never had a child. I also read that babies born when their mothers are about 25, have a good chance of living until 100.
But do I want another child right now? The clock in my head is ticking louder and louder, reminding me of my ageing eggs. Why can’t women be like men and have babies into their 60s, the struggle of keeping up with young un’s at that age aside? We’ve made such progress in the sphere of rights and opportunities for women but are hampered by basic biology.
One of my forty-something girlfriends has her eggs stored for later. It’s a wise move given the dearth of suitable male prospects in her life at the moment. God knows when they’ll come along. Over thirty-something men who lust after women their age are rare specimens. If you find one, I suggest you chain him to the bed until he agrees to your proposal. You’ll have to do that too, because today’s men never seem to get around to it.
I’ve got me a man, so that part is sorted. Now, I just have to figure out if I want to add to our family. His Royal Highness considers this a question of when, not if. He says that we should have at least two children – the number favoured by most modern Chinese living outside of China. Before Amanda was born, he said three. Immediately, after she was born, he said one is enough. He was then very jealous of her monopolising my attention.
Now, he misses those days when he could cuddle her like a human bolster. She only agrees to lie still next to him if I am lying right next to her on the other side. As you might recall my mentioning in previous posts, at seven going on eight, she still shares our bed. Friends have said that a new sibling will sort that problem out.
But I remember the three sleep-deprived years that followed Amanda’s birth, and I shudder. I was a zombie, constantly smelling of sour milk from breast-feeding, sporting scaly hands and torn cuticles from all the hand-washing after each diaper change, and my days consisted of nothing but mothering and wife-ing. It’s very different in Malaysia where I have family to give me the occasional hand, but here in Australia, I’m all on my own.
Apart from the first 6 weeks, when my mother was here to help me, I raised Amanda single handedly. My parents come to visit me almost yearly, but I have NEVER relegated my parenting duties to them. They’ve brought me up to adulthood so their job is done. Whether Amanda has another sibling will depend largely on how involved her father wants to be this time. The first time around he was so caught up in his career, he was still stapling her into her nappies when she was 3.
“What’s wrong with that?” he asks.
“There are tabs on the nappies, Pup.” Amanda says to him, outlining the obvious. She likes to call him Pup.
“Well, you can change your sibling’s nappies,” he says to her.
Just what I thought. I’ll need to think about this some more.