Saturday, January 31, 2009

Astrid wants a baby brother

Astrid is on a "I want a baby brother" kick. Sometimes she'll say she wants a sister too, but it's always about getting a baby brother. Today she said Papa had told her she was getting a baby brother next week. She told this to me and later to her nanny. Wishful thinking I guess. I don't know what brought this on other than maybe other children at her preschool (classmates) have baby siblings that they talk about. And then there's Astrid's Godmother Jill who recently adopted a newborn through an open adoption and Astrid met the birth mother, and then of course the baby afterwards. So she sort of understands where babies come from and that women have them.

Today we were sitting in a restaurant and she spotted a woman pregnant with twins (so it was obvious there was at least one baby in there). Astrid pointed and said, "Mom, is she going to have a baby?" And then she asked if it was named Maddox (the name of her Godmother's baby). She was fascinated by the pregnant woman and I could just see the wheels turning in her head about a baby living in the womb, soon to come out.

Then she asked me, "Mom? When I grow up, will I have a baby?" I said, "I hope so, when you're much older like mommy was when I had you." Then she asked, "I'm going to be a mom?" That one caught me by surprise. My 3 year old, little baby is already thinking about motherhood. And I pictured myself as a grandmother and got a little choked up. I want to be the best mom possible to her, so that if she does decide to become a mother one day, that she'll have lovely memories of her childhood and confidence in her own ability to be her child's mother.

So I've been hesitant to post about having a second child, for a number of reasons. One because I'm still on the fence about it. Two because it brings up so many mixed emotions and anxiety. And third because there are no definite plans yet to have or not have another child.

I get that question all the time though, "So when are you going to have a second one?" Even from my OBGYN who probably wants me to pop out another one since I was the model patient with Astrid, and bought him a nice bottle of Argentinian wine (my doctor is originally from Argentina) as a gift after the baby was born. (Because he was a great doctor and I really appreciated everything he did for me and my family.) And I'm not quite sure how to answer the question. I don't want to get into a deep philosophical discussion about it, yet it's probably too harsh to respond, "And why would I do that to myself?"

When I had Astrid the timing was perfect, and I don't have any regrets. We planned on having her and tried for almost a year before I became pregnant. It was one of the best decisions I made, and my beautiful child lights up my life. I'm thankful that my husband who is a bit older, was ready for a child (it was his biological clock that started ticking) and persuaded me to make the leap when we did. Astrid is the perfect addition to our family. My husband and I have grown so much from the whole parenting experience and continue to become better people. It is such a big life lesson & blessing to be a parent.

So why not jump at the chance to get knocked up again you ask? Well there's the actual pregnancy itself. The 1st trimester I lost 10 pounds. It was a true starvation diet. Three months of throwing up from constant nausea from the morning sickness. Which is a misnomer because it's not just in the morning - it happens ALL day long. The reason for it is progesterone poisoning which affects women differently. And I just happened to have it real bad, like my mom. I have a photo of me during that time when you can see my esophagus jutting out of my throat. I was teaching at the time and there were times when I'd be in the middle of a lesson and would have to run over to the sink to dry heave - then would go right back to continue teaching. I was driving on the fwy one time and I threw up in my mouth and had to swallow it. Telling my husband that story he said, "You're a bigger man than me." Just brutal.

And then there is being pregnant for 9 months - again. After the 1st trimester, the morning sickness just disappeared and I felt great. Only thing that got really bad was the heartburn the last trimester and the back pain between my shoulders from the boulders I was carrying around on my chest. I was popping Tums all the time, and asking my husband for massages all the time. (I did have at least 1 professional massage a month, so I can't really complain there.) No sushi for 9 months. A hardship for me. No alcohol. I love wine and cosmos. And then what it does to your body. Let's just leave it at that. I'm not one to let myself go, so it's of utmost importance I'm in the best shape possible before, and then can whip back into shape afterwards.

The birth (surgery) still scares the bejesus out of me. It's like a distant memory that happened to someone else. Everyone woman knows the fears that sets in the last month - Oh my gawd, the baby's gotta come out somehow! Thinking about them cutting through scar tissue and the recovering afterwards. Oy. I was sleep deprived as is with just one, and can't even image what it's like to care for a newborn and the 1st born - you're completely outnumbered.

And then there is the career quotient. I'm very much focused on my career and driven to boot. Having another child would mean I would have to put my career on pause. And who knows how I would feel after the birth of the child. If I would feel okay with going back to work after 3 months, or if I felt the need to stay home to bond and care for the baby. It's a lot to juggle being a mom and a career woman with just 1 child.

Also, being first born, I know how it feels to suddenly become the "big kid" when baby #2 arrives. Suddenly all of the attention is on the baby, and you're given less attention, have adult responsibilities, and your needs are neglected. I don't want Astrid to be traumatized by that. I want her to be our baby for as long as possible.

We also enjoy traveling as a family. Astrid has joined us on many trips to 12 countries. But there are still places and things we cannot do just yet, until she is older. For instance, hiking and activities that require you to walk for long distances or to have stamina. My dream is to travel to Tibet, but she has to be much older for that to be able to withstand the low oxygen and also the arduous journey. By having child #2, that date would need to be pushed back on where we can travel to, and limit us on what we can do. It's also more expensive to travel with 4 vs. 3. What if we have a child who doesn't travel well? I cannot even imagine that nightmare.

And then there is the added responsibility which includes financials. Suddenly there's a full time nanny to pay in addition to school tuition for the older child. There are 2 college funds to start saving for. Room for 2 children, two separate bedrooms, a bigger house, or remodeling. And how the hell do you juggle the responsibility of caring for 2 kids at the same time? It would complicate our lives for sure, and I don't want to be boxed in to a lifestyle of the 2.5 kids, which is not how I see myself.

Now the pluses of having a 2nd kid are numerous too. Astrid has a sibling to grow up with and play with, and learn responsibility. Also, when my husband and I are gone, she will not be left all alone. I would enjoy having a big family immensely when I'm older. Being surrounded by my adult kids and their grand kids would be such a joy! Having a second kid would potentially be easier than the 1st one because I know what to expect and I'm more confident in my abilities to parent. (That is unless the kid won't sleep, or eat, or is just an all around pain in the a*s.) It would also be great to go through that experience one last time, this time being less stressed out about everything. When the kid sleeps for 4 hours straight the first time, I won't freak out and check if the kid is still breathing. It would also be nice to bring another life into this world, to experience that baby's temperament, personality, quirks and how different or similar they are to Astrid and my husband and myself.

To date my biological clock remains silent. I keep waiting for it to go off. But maybe because I already have a child and that relationship is so fulfilling, it'll remain dormant forever. I want to think about both short term and long term, as it's a very heady decision. I can't send the baby back if it doesn't work out. If it turned out I'm not able to get pregnant, so be it, I already have a child who completes me, but I also don't want to miss an opportunity that I may regret later in life.

Conflicted? Absolutely.

Anyone care to share their thoughts on the subject?


Kelly said...

I aplaud your well thought out argument. I think when a clock starts ticking, that's when you know. Not to scare you further, but we had 1 child and then had twins (all w/fertility drugs/treatment) so going from 1 to 3 was crazy to say the least. I think having 1 more would be a dream (2 kids) but my best friend did just that and she also seems stressed like we are so I think it's all relative. Reading your blog, I must admit, makes me jealous at times because I really miss the times when it was just one. We could dote on him, really pay attention to him, do fun things, etc. But, I wouldn't miss having my twins for anything. They really make our family complete and so much richer. I often think about when they are in highschool, when they get married, have a family of their own. I hope they stay close. Overall though, I would have never known the joy of having a daughter, or having a second son who looks alot like my first and yet can be so different. I am amazed at how much I love them all individually and can feel that love each time I hold each one. When putting our oldest to bed, I can't get over how much I love him. The same for the other 2, it simply shocks me how full my heart can be for these 3 kids of mine. Alas, my best advice, go with your gut and follow that clock. Either way, I don't think you are making a mistake. One is great for all of your reasons, but more would be just as great a blessing. Plus, after they are born, the "negatives" have a way of taking care of themselves...priorities change, etc. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Rose, our son and DIL are pretty much facing the same dilemma as you are. They just aren't ready for #2 and may never be. I had mine close and at a young age BUT I have to say if I had to do it over again I probably would have done things differently. I love my kids and grandkids desperately but I know we had our kids when we did because it was expected of us and that's not the way to do it. This is such a personal choice to make and I really think you already know deep down inside what the answer for you is. Everything has a way of working out the way it should in the long run.

Amy said...

Because I had twins out of the gate, I can't relate to disrupting the life of my first/only child by having another child. All of your arguments are compelling, though. I know Chris and I traveled a good bit before we had kids, but haven't gone anywhere that required flying as a family since they were born. It's just too daunting to imagine going with two toddlers.

I sometimes think about having another, but my husband is certain he doesn't want to. I'm okay with it. I don't feel some unexplainable longing for another child or feel our family is incomplete the way it is. I am one of three sisters, and I would love Baylee to have the opportunity to experience a sister relationship like the one I have with mine, but who's to say I would have a daughter if I tried again? It's just not a good enough reason.

I always knew I wanted at least two childre...mostly for the reason you mentioned--I don't want them to be alone in this world after Chris and I are gone. There's no one that will understand Baylee's history as well as Brayden, and vice versa. However, it is a very personal choice...and one that can only be made by the people in a particular family.

Just didn't mention how U feels. Does he want to add on to the family (if you want to talk about it...if not, forget I asked :))

Rose said...

Uwe and I are pretty much on the same page. For him it's not a matter of "should we?", but "when?". We both agree now is not the right time.

Where we differ is that Uwe wants a second child and I'm still on the fence. Uwe thinks we'll have kid #2 when Astrid is 7 years old -the age spread that he had with his sister.

For now we're both content with Astrid and want to focus on our careers. Time will tell what the future holds. I haven't closed the door completely on the possibility.