Monday, February 27, 2017

Adventures in Parenting: "Don't You Want Another?"

Disclaimer: This post may come off a little ranty. I'm not apologizing--just giving you fair warning.  Here's an adorable old photo of our kid to make up for it.
It seems like no sooner was Lil' Man on the outside of my body instead of inside that the questions/demands started.  They vary slightly, but the same underlying base is there.

"So when are you going to have another?"

"He needs a sibling!"

"When does he get a little sister?"

"You're getting rid of your baby stuff?  Why aren't you saving it for the next one?"

"Don't you want another?"

There are some instances when this last question is appropriate.  Do you want another glass of wine?  Yes please.  Do you want another cupcake?  Sure.  Do I want an extra day off from work?  Definitely.  Do I want another layer because it's cold outside?  Good idea.

But the answer to whether we want another kid is not so simple.  Technically, the answer to any of those questions is not simple.  First off--I'm not psychic.  Even if I was pregnant RIGHT NOW (which I'm not), I wouldn't know the answer to "when" that baby will be born. Or whether it would be a boy or a girl. Or, whether my body would actually carry it all the way to its birthday.  Because that's a heartbreaking reality that happens to hopeful parents every day (approximately 2500 times a day in the U.S).  OR--let's say we were actually TRYING to get pregnant (again, we're not), but it wasn't happening.  That's what happened with Lil' Man--it took almost 2 years of trying to get our miracle baby. Every time someone asked us "when we were going to have a kid", it was like they'd just stabbed me in my seemingly dysfunctional reproductive system.  It's a simple question that stirs up too many sensitive possibilities.   So let's just all agree to stop asking "when". Mmmkay?

Back to the title of this post.  "Don't you WANT another?"  For some couples, I'm sure this is an easy answer: "Yes, we do" or "Nope, I'm good with one."

We are not one of those couples.

First--let's address the inadequacies of the question itself.  There is no "you".  Baby-making is a two-person job.  One partner can want another baby all day long--but if both parties aren't on board, that baby ain't happening (except through potentially nefarious means, which is definitely NOT a healthy relationship goal).  So... "do WE want another?"

There is no short answer to this question for us.  If I'm dealing with someone that I don't want to get too deep into a conversation with, we'll just smile and laugh.  Or possibly joke, "not until I forget how rough those first few months are!"
P.U.R.P.L.E. crying.

Because we haven't forgotten.  Yes, our lil' guy now sleeps through the night most of the time, but those hazy, crazy, sleep-deprived days of the first year are still very fresh in our memories.  Everyone says "you'll forget eventually.  There's some sort of amnesia that happens."  Well, it hasn't happened yet. I JUST started getting to sleep through the night again (most nights). 
So. Tired.

I'm JUST getting back to a point where I can focus at work when I'm at work and not worry about my kiddo.  And I'm ENJOYING that.  That first year was pandemonium--why would you purposefully rush back into that?  Yes, babies are cute and tiny and adorable and smell like heaven and are so much lighter to pick up...but they don't give me any of those ovarian gut-punches. I will gladly hold your wee one for you while he snoozes peacefully in my arms, in exchange for you following my toddler around and making sure he doesn't fall down the stairs, eat a crayon, or throw the remote in the dog's water bowl.

Had you asked me before I had my son, I would have said, "yup, two kids.  That's the goal."  Because I was an only child, and I hated it.  I had no one to share chores with, no one to blame things on, no one to have fights with, but also no one to be my first and forever best friend.  With that personal experience in my life, I don't want my kid to have the same sense of missing out.  But does it have to mean a birth-sibling?  Maybe fostering or adoption is in our future.  Or maybe he becomes extra close to his cousins and school friends, like I did, and "adopts" siblings of his own.
With my "adopted" sister (actually cousin, but we lived down the street from each other and both wanted a sister, so we just started calling each other "sister" when we were kids).

Then there's logistics:  Right now, it's pretty easy for the three of us to pack up and go somewhere.  Restaurants, the park, weekend trip to Grandma's, whatever.  And there's two of us to keep an eye on him.  You start upping that ratio, and things seem to get zany.  I see our friends with young multiples, and sometimes it just seems like pure chaos.  If Lil' Man gets sick, we can take turns staying home from work, or back each other up when things get rough (read: when he barfs and has the butt-squirts all at the same time at 2am).  If he throws a tantrum or has a really fussy night, we can give each other a break when the other starts to hit their Toddler Screaming Wall.  But if you've got two (or more) kids?  Seems like a free-for-all, divide and conquer type scenario.

Also in the Logistics Department, Let's lay out some True Facts:
- I am currently about 37 years old.
- My husband and I will qualify for senior citizen discounts when our son graduates high school.
- The projected cost of a 4-year degree at a public college for a kid enrolling in 2033 is almost $100,000.
- The risks of having a child with a chromosomal abnormality, or other birth defect, increase progressively as the age of the mother increases, with the chances being around 1 in 200 at age 38 (it was 1 in 350 when I had Lil' Man at age 35).
- Risks to the mom also increase, such as miscarriage, premature delivery, need for C-section, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and just general lack of being able to keep up with a young kid. Mom's got bad knees, son--so no, we can't go up and down the stairs 20 times just because you think it's super-fun.

So...when do the risks outweigh the reward?  Or would it simply be safer/easier to adopt/foster a child who's already a little older (bypassing that whole horrible first year)?  That process, of course, comes with its own set of risks and challenges, both physical and emotional.  Are we up for it?  We really don't know yet.  At this point, we struggle to figure out who will stay home if our one child is sick.  If we had two?  It's a different environment altogether.

All this to say:  We really just don't know.  Life isn't that simple.  Maybe it is for some people, but it isn't for us.
Our little family unit.

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