Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Round and Round She Goes

Out of the maelstrom of my befuddled, bewildered and bespectacled (no wait, that can't be right...) mind comes a subject that I don't want to think about, much less write about. But it's there in the back of my head, in the front of my head, in the great swirling emptiness where my rational brain should be. I've tried to brush it aside, push it away, dodge it, run from it, run to it, embrace it, love it and no matter what I do it's always there, like the audible hum of a fluorescent light. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, it creeps ever closer. The Boy is rapidly approaching the two year mark, the semi-arbitrary date that we chose to make the decision: Do we want another child? Although you make this decision as a couple, as a family, I think that, in some respects, you also make this decision alone. And hope to hell that your partner made the same decision you did.

I've always imagined that if I had kids, I would have kidS - plural. (And, by plural, I mean two kids, not three or four...) It was sort of a given in my head that children should have siblings. It's a testament to how much your childhood experience really does affect the rest of your life, I guess. Almost every one of my friends had a sibling, came from a two child family. And, as I believe that motherhood is an important experience, one that expands your horizons and makes you a better person, so too is brotherhood or sisterhood. It's a gift that only we can give The Boy, and lasts longer than any toy. But is that enough of a reason to have another?

And then there's the fear, my all-consuming fear of: CHANGE. Change is bad, very very bad, and we are in such a good place right now. We have a lovely Boy who is a joy to be around (most of the time), and why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why would we want to change that? I'm back at work and The Boy talking, running, jumping (well, trying very hard to jump) and, to my surprise, is loving daycare. I'm doing some university courses enroute to a career change, which would give me the extra time with The Boy that I crave. I'm volunteering and The Husband is doing a show and life is good. I'm selfish, I know. I want to have kids, love kids, be with kids, without being consumed by them. I don't want to lose my sense of self. I don't want to lose my relationship with The Husband. I need to know that I can have kidS (plural), and still have something left for myself, and for us. Selfish, selfish selfish. Most of all, though, I don't want to wake up one morning many distant years from now and find out that I made the wrong choice. That I do, in fact, want another child, and it's too late.

Too late. Silly, this conception of time, isn't it? I know that women have children rather late in life now. I know it's possible. I know it's not for me. For me, it's a now or never thing. I may be the one imposing this time crunch, but it doesn't make it any less real. And the truth is, I'm not getting any younger.

Honestly, I don't know why I'm so conflicted. Re-reading this, it sounds very much like I don't want another child. But the truth is, I do. Maybe I just want this baby to spring, Athena-like, fully formed out of the top of my head at the age of 12 months. I want to skip the round the clock feedings and non-stop crying jags and get straight to the good stuff. Selfishally, selfishaliscious, selfishiveness.

Many of my friends have made the leap or are actively TTC, and I am so envious of their certainty. Did they wake up one morning and just "know" that this was right thing to do? If I can't come to a decision, does that mean that it's not the right thing for me, for us? Actually, I wasn't one hundred percent sure when The Boy was conceived, and look how wonderful he turned out to be.

When I was doing some research on the internet, a site asked the question: "If you found out that couldn't have another child, would you be sad or relieved? Trust your gut instinct." Ironically, I had both reactions. I was sad that such a personal decision was taken out of my hands, but relieved that I didn't have to decide. And all the while, in the playroom, in the nursery, in the kitchen, there is this little person who flickers in and out of view like Princess Leia in her message to Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Help me, NoMo, you're my only hope." How can I say no?


Anonymous said...

I've got no good advice here - for me, having a second child never felt like a decision or a choice: I always knew I would try, and figured I'd better start trying as soon as possible.

When it comes to a third child, that's another matter. Hubby would like a third child, in some ways, whereas I don't think I'm up for it. He likes to tease me about it: after the ultrasound showed that the Pie would be a girl, he said, "Well, I guess we have to tell little Wes [our boy name], 'Sorry, buddy, but you don't get to be born!'"

Anonymous said...

No real advice here, either. I can only say that my husband and I made the decision to try for number two when our boy turned one last spring, under the questionable theory that close in age would be good, right? Our scary plan seems to have worked: number two is due in early March....

The real question will kick in for us in a couple of years: we're having another boy. I would love to have a little girl, too. But the thought of having three is very, very daunting. We probably won't go there.

Julie Pippert said... wish I had something good to say. Helpful I mean.

Yes, you nailed it. It's a very personal decision. Each person has to make it on his and her own, and then you have to come together in a relationship and discuss and decide.

The decision was taken out of our hands, in a manner of speaking. Our children...we had to decide not just to TTC, but to TTC medically with multiple medical professionals and pay loads and loads of money.

I can't explain why we did it twice. I could talk for hours about it, but I can't explain it.

I's really only knowing having siblings and knowing how much my siblings mean to me.

I'm one who will saying that for us going from 0 kids to 1 kid was a breeze. We'd been 2 people for so long (about ten years) and had been ready to be a family of 3 for so long that when it finally happened it was like the perfect honeymoon...winning the grand prize. We floated ecstatically for a long time. It all felt very natural and happy, like you describe.

Our pain point was going from 1 kid to 2 kids. That didn't feel natural or easy and the transition (ongoing still I believe because the youngest changes so much in the first two years) is challenging.

Then...they are SISTERS. Really. And the love there, the love they share is...amazing.

Even when they fight.

Or so I tell myself, over and over and over.


Good luck!!

You aren't alone!

P.S. The choice to have a third? I pretty much accept it isn't necessarily a choice for me. With my "advanced maternal age" and infertility background, I know it isn't likely. And we won't go through treatment again. Still, I feel a mixture of regret and relief.

Her Bad Mother said...

DUDE. I just wrote about this, JUST NOW.

I'm totally confused. I used to be pertty certain, now - not so much.

penelopeto said...

we've gone back and forth on this many, many times. are we ready? don't know. can we handle it? don't know. but we're gonna do it anyway.

jen said...

what a gorgeously honest post. i couldn't even plan the first, let alone the second. i have no advice, except clearly, you will do what is best for you and your family - it's clear from how you are knocking it around in your head and heart.

Jenny said...

It's like you dipped my thoughts out of my head and spread them on a page.

I'm so afraid of making the wrong decision about having another that I'm paralyzed from making a decision at all...which in fact IS making a decision.

How freaking confusing.

sunshine scribe said...

No advice on this end either. I am sure the decision will come to you when its supposed to. There's no harm in practicising trying in the mean time :)

kittenpie said...

I so know what you mean!

metro mama said...

It sounds like you are having a lot of the same thoughts I am right now. Things are good, so why rock the boat?

What are you studying?

I'm sorry I missed you for my party...I'm just discovering there were a few TO bloggers I missed.

Beck said...

We always knew that we wanted plural kids, which is a good thing because we have three of 'em. But it's a hard thing to decide and not something that anyone can really help you with.

Right now, I'm letting go of the idea of having a fourth child - my physical health is very precarious, but it's hard to give up on the IDEA of what you wanted even when it doesn't fit into the life you love. Good luck with your decision-making and sorry you had a nasty day.

Pieces said...

This is one of the hardest decisions in the world. One of the things that made it hard for me is that everyone seems to think that kids need to be spaced two years apart--to make it easier, so that they will be friends, whatever. I just wasn't ready when Boykiddo was two so we waited. And then there came a moment that I was ready. My kids are nearly five years apart and I love the age difference. They get along great. And there are other benefits. Only one in braces at a time. Only one in college at a time. See?

I'm not telling you I think you should wait--no one can give you advice like that and I don't know how old you are and what kind of window you think you have. But trust your gut. Will you really ever look back with regret if you know that you made the best decision you could at the time?

Best of luck to you.