Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Baby?

Now that my daughter is 20 months old, I get a lot of the "So when are you guys going to have another baby?" inquiries.

OK, that's a lie. Those inquiries actually started when I was on MATERNITY LEAVE. Seriously. I was like, HELLO? Do you see the tiny pink-clad person sleeping on the Boppy right here? She just came out! Give me a break, please. I'm still sore from labor.

Lately though, the baby issue has been on my mind as well.

It's noteworthy to mention here that I am an only child. As such, I don't really understand sibling relationships. The ones I see around me seem like a lot of drama for little emotional payoff. Since I don't have a sibling and feel like I had a pretty great life growing up with the full, undivided attention of my two loving parents, I always felt like I wanted to have one child. I would consider two, but really I was good with one.

My husband and I met when we were 29. Until me, he had given no thought to getting married or having a family. I am his first and only girlfriend and we got engaged after 10 months of dating. As such, I made sure to have the kids talk with my husband when we knew our relationship was going somewhere. I definitely want one child, I told him, so I need to know that you would be onboard with having at least one. I hadn't thought much about kids, he replied, but I can go along with that. So we were good to go.

Then, two years after we got married, we started actively trying to get pregnant and encountered difficulties. Understatement, much? DIFFICULTIES.

As our battle with infertility wore on, my husband and I started to get a little desperate. We went from wanting one kid to whatever we could get. Twins? No problem. Quintuplets? No worries...we'll just get our own TV show to make ends meet! LOL. And given the drugs and procedures we were trying, multiple births were a definite possibility. When I finally, miraculously got pregnant, we were actually very surprised we were only having one husband was convinced there was a hidden twin at the first few ultrasounds, especially because I popped out belly-wise early and why else would I be so big already? (Thanks, honey.)

Ultimately though, ending up with one healthy baby is the actual end goal of fertility treatments...not the Octomom freak show that you see in the media. And so I was very, very happy and grateful to be having one beautiful, much wanted, much loved baby.

And I'm sure I am biased, but my daughter was/is a wonderful baby. She's got gorgeous blue eyes and blond hair and other than demanding food loudly when it was time to eat (she doesn't like to miss a meal), she was the most easygoing baby ever. She rarely cried and slept ALL the time for the first few months after her birth, so she was easy to take anywhere and restaurants, to the mall, to friends' houses. She transitioned to day school without a hitch at four months. Now she is coming in to her own independent, strong, smart personality, but even with the occasional toddler tantrums, she is a gem of a kid. Really funny and smart and generally well behaved.

So now I find myself at the point where another baby is on my mind a lot.

In theory, I want another one...another beautiful, tiny, sweet little baby to love and sing to and carry around just like when my daughter was small. Because she really was not small for very long and now she looks like a little person, because that is what she is. She's not really a baby any longer.

My I-think-I-want-another-baby thoughts reached a fever pitch this evening when I visited a friend who just had her first baby yesterday (after her own battle with infertility). I went to the hospital and I held that tiny, gorgeous baby girl and my mind flashed back 20 months. My baby's tiny fingers. Her little feet. How she slept adorably all the time. Her little funny faces and movements. Her tiny button nose. How she fit into my arms perfectly, swaddled like a little burrito. Oh, it was magical holding that other baby and remembering my own. I think my uterus actually ached.

None of this is helped by the fact that my friend who was pregnant with me two years ago is pregnant with baby #2 now and another friend is trying to get pregnant with #2 right now. A little part of me feels they are moving on to the next class in Mommyschool and I'm being left behind. I want to go with them and have another beautiful baby too!

But then there's reality. And the reality is I found working full-time hours and being a mommy too stressful for me and was lucky that my company allowed me to reduce my work (and subsequently my pay) to four days a week after being back full time for nine months.

If I have another baby, I have no idea how I would have the energy to keep working and juggle everything, and I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom full time. I'm just not. I love being with my daughter and treasure the extra time with her that I have thanks to my reduced work schedule, but I'm not sure I could handle lacking in adult conversation every day. I drove my husband nuts peppering him with questions and inane mommy chitchat every day he came home when I was on maternity leave. He was like, you really need to go back to work honey. You need the social and intellectual stimulation. I need you to have it. I was like, what...poops and burps aren't stimulating enough for you as conversation?! But he was right.

Mostly though, I have continued to work because if I didn't, I would miss my paycheck. Because I like buying pretty things, and I'm used to having my own money to do so! I also love to travel and with one child, we can still afford to travel and it is easily manageable to do so. It was hard to take a paycut, but it has been so worth it to have every Friday off with my best girl. I don't think I could take a complete paycut to zero though.

So there's the part of me that wants another tiny baby to love in theory battling the part of me that thinks I couldn't handle a second baby in reality, along with the part of me that doesn't want our lifestyle to take the financial hit another baby would bring (our daughter's almost out of diapers!), and then there's the other two factors: my husband and my history.

My husband says he's good with one child. He was good before we had her and he's good now. Until recently, he had not seemed to waver in that viewpoint at all. He is such a great father and loves our daughter so, so much that I thought maybe he would change his mind and want to go for two, but anytime I've broached the subject with him, he's pretty set with one. She's a great kid, he says. One's easy to manage. We each still get time on our own. We're so tired now I don't know how we would make it with another, he says. And he's right. I absolutely concur on all these points.

Recently, in a moment of weakness (I think), he kind of said he had not closed the door completely on having a second child, and that surprised me. And freaked me out, because as I go back and forth on whether or not we should have another baby, it's easy for me to fall back on the fact that he is generally steadfast in being set with one child and that makes my decision for me. I told him that, and now he has reverted to his previous stance of one-and-done. But now, I don't know whether I should totally believe him. Now, I'm starting to get the feeling that if I were really set on two, he'd consider it.

The other factor is my history of infertility. I am so grateful that all I endured resulted in my beautiful miracle baby. I don't want to seem ungrateful or tempt fate. I got one healthy baby. I'm done. It is possible that we could get pregnant on our own without treatment, but it's pretty unlikely. And, if we did treatments again, they might be successful again...but maybe too successful and then we'd end up with more children than we ever planned to have, which would come with its own set of stresses. I am also about to turn 37, so what if another baby had health problems due to my advancing maternal age?

But my bigger issue/worry than all of these is my fear of failure. Ultimately, I'm afraid to really let go and want, really want another baby. Because if I do, if I decide I definitely want one, and commit myself to that journey, I risk plunging myself back down the hellhole of despair I lived in for over a year while I was trying to get pregnant the first time. I don't ever want to go back there. And I certainly don't want to go back there and have my daughter, the miracle baby I do have, suffer as a result.

Maybe it wouldn't be as emotionally hard for me if we tried again because she is here, she exists, and she lights up my life, every minute of it. But what if it did? And what if we decided to go for it and we didn't get lucky this time? How would I handle my disappointment then?

Or what if we did get pregnant and then I realized I really was good with one child all along? That I should've left well enough alone? That I can't handle the reality of two kids? That I was swept up in baby fever after all? How do I know what I really want?

I just don't know. But I think about it. A lot.

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