When my son started Junior Kindergarten two years ago, I had a really hard time. We were in the throes of fertility treatments, and it was just another milestone that reminded us that we hadn’t yet given him a sibling, despite years of trying. We walked him to the bus stop, and just like a lot of fertile parents, my husband followed the bus all the way to school to make sure he got there okay.
I stayed at home and cried for about 17 minutes, wistful about how my baby was growing up so fast, and how, despite all our efforts and money and time, we may never see another child off to kindergarten.
Fast forward two years. As of today, my son is a 1st grader. How did this happen? How did two full years pass, and we are no further along to giving him a sibling than we were when he first got on that bus? In fact, it feels like we are even further behind, having recently made the very difficult decision to stop fertility treatments and accept life as a family of three.
So here we go again – another school year, another milestone marking our failure to have a second child.
“Back to School” through the lens of secondary infertility is not all backpacks and innovative lunch ideas. Yes, every parent experiences a rush of emotions, wondering how time has gone by so quickly, capturing the time lapse for social media purposes. Every parent is proud as their kid gets on the bus and waves at them through the window.
But as a parent who truly doesn’t know if we will ever be given the chance to parent another child, it is also overwhelming. Today is most likely be the last time I ever wave to my child on the school bus on the way to Grade 1.
And I want to make it clear: this is not my choice.
I would love to know that I had one more chance to wave another baby off to Grade 1 in a few years.
I would love to have both of them come home and tell me all about how they saw each other on the playground, and how my son checked in on my younger one midday to make sure he or she was okay.
I would love to hear about how they were each other’s bus buddies, and how he hugged his little brother or sister goodbye when they were scared to go into the classroom. I would really really love that.
But that’s not our reality.
Instead, I waved my son off bravely, went back into the house, and gave myself another 17 minutes to cry. And when he comes home from school, I will gladly hear about everything he is willing to share with me.
And we will forge on as a family of three.
Because even though I’m sad I won’t get to live out the dream of seeing another child off to school, the son I do have is still entering Grade 1. This a scary and exciting time for him. And I need to be there for him today, tomorrow, and every other day.
The bus will keep coming. My son will keep getting on it. We can’t stop time, even if we wanted to.
He may not have a sibling to rely on for comfort throughout the day, but he does have his dad and I.
Maybe we’re enough.
By Vidya Ledsham