Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm
Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, is in the middle of a very busy year.
In her latest blog, Röhm and fiancé Ron Anthony are considering having a second child. The actress reminisces about growing up an only child, what it would mean for 3-year-old daughter Easton August, and starting the IVF process again.
How did you decide when and if to expand your family? Have you done IVF more than once? Elisabeth wants to know.
One is the loneliest number?
You see, I always wanted a big clan. I had visions of having five kids and living in a perpetual whirlwind — which is so different from my own very simple only child existence with a single mother. Our house was chill, to say the least. No big fights on a daily basis. No mountains of laundry. No sit-down dinners where everyone talked over each other in a familiar rhythm. Nope, it was just me and my mom.
But I have to admit that in the Röhm-Anthony household, we have been enjoying the mellow easy nature of a single kid home. It’s a breeze with just one. All aspects of organization and juggling fall into place so easily with just the three of us. Plus, I guess I’m just used to this type of familial dynamic. It’s familiar.
Time is passing though, and I’m watching my baby turn into a little girl. In September she’ll be 3½. Waves of baby fever are hitting me everywhere I look. I pass a mom or dad with a new bundle of joy and the presence of babies begins permeating my dreams. All of the memories of that first year with Easton are swirling around me, making my biological clock tick faster and faster, louder and louder.
If I wait too long, there will be too big of an age difference, I often think. So I’m spending a lot of time these days wondering if I’m ready, willing and able to have another little one. I always thought I’d be on to number three by now! There are pros and cons to not being able to get pregnant naturally. I never have to worry about getting knocked up accidentally, but it does aid in time just passing by.
The truth is, being an only child isn’t that bad. If that’s what’s in the cards for Easton, I feel assured that she will have all those wonderful and special qualities that only children have in spades.
For instance, I can eat at restaurants all by myself with a good book and not feel self-conscious. I mean that’s huge, right?! Also, I could easily travel on my own and not long for companionship; just me and my journal. Alone time is a-okay with me! And how about all that time in your imagination? As an only child you are forced to have a vivid life of play and dialogue on your own. This makes for very self-sufficient and creative folks!
Therein lies the question. Who wants to be alone? I was always longing for a brother or sister to torture and protect me. I wanted someone who really knew about my life; little moments that have made me who I am and that I can’t play back for anyone exactly as it was. The impressions of a shared childhood.
And then there are the big moments too. When my mother passed away a year and a half ago, I swore that I would start planning for another child so that Easton wouldn’t have to do this life thing on her own, as I’ve had to. The truth is though, even at that time I wasn’t longing to have another baby. I really just wanted it for Easton.
One is the loneliest number, I would think at the time as I went through my loss. Even after a year had gone by since Mom passed, I still didn’t have a burning desire for another little one. I’ve been a little stumped by that because I’d had a vision of a huge family! But I was actually enjoying our tight-knit threesome and the peace that goes along with it.
And then there is the whole rock-n-roll ride of IVF that we’d need to begin again. In fact, I’d spent more time just being grateful that Easton was here and healthy and that we’d made it through the medical journey it required than thinking about doing it all over. After all we had been through, I was deeply satisfied with our success story.
I didn’t want to press my luck again with IVF — I know that has a lot to do with my mind not wandering to the next one. I mean, what if it doesn’t turn out so perfectly next time? I can list 1,000 things that could make it harder than it was, the first and foremost being that we got pregnant with Easton on the first try! That was huge and it doesn’t always go down like that.
What if took two or three or more trials? What if I had twins — or triplets? Or what if it simply just didn’t ever take? I have friends who’ve been through all of those scenarios.
Admittedly, we do enjoy our trio. Our life is easy and unencumbered with the chaos of several children’s needs and schedules. Not to mention traveling with all that stuff!! All the carseats and suitcases to get around! It surely is not easy.
A friend of mine who just went from one child to two confirmed that the single child family is something to behold. And so I’ll be clear and say that we do enjoy the flexibility our small household affords us. Life is a breeze. But all that wildly busy stuff is just the price of love — you give some to get some.
I want to have another baby. Not just for Easton, and not so that she won’t be lonely. Just to feel it all over again. Being pregnant was wildly amazing, as I’m sure you will all agree. And my heart grew six sizes more on the day Easton was born. The whole nine-month journey was probably the most blissful moment of my entire life.
Well, maybe the first seven months. Those last few were brutal — what with the bladder control issues, fatigue and the general feeling that goes along with waddling my 202 lbs. around. The majority of pregnancy, birth and the brand new hours that first year were truly beautiful. I would love to do it all over again.
I’ve got baby fever, as they say! It’s been creeping up on me. I fantasize about it.
To disrupt our seriously well-adjusted life with the emotional journey of infertility and then the chaos of a no longer single child household? But what if? What if we let this moment pass us by because we are comfortable? Or because the IVF process is so tumultuous? What if Easton went her whole life as I did? Would I regret that for her? For us?
I don’t know the answer quite yet, but I can tell you that I do miss the sweet smell of a baby in my arms these days. And I know for a fact that having a sibling would have been pretty darn cool. Hmm, so I’m wondering a lot lately…
The IVF journey is to be continued, PEOPLE.com readers.
— Elisabeth Röhm