If you didn’t read a few weeks ago about how I was wondering if my biological clock is broken, stop right now and read it. I’ll wait.
Okay, see where we left off? I had some people wondering if I was declaring my son officially an only child or if it was a thinly veiled attempt to announce a second pregnancy. I’m sorry to say that it is neither. I’ll give you a little insight.
I love the idea of having lots of kids. I truly enjoy being around kids. I have fun with them. I make them laugh. They make me laugh. It might have something to do with the fact that I can appreciate potty humor.
I love having my son. Although I’ve always admitted I’m not a “baby person,” I fantasized about the sweet moments we would have in the nursery. I would sing to my son and rock him to sleep. He would coo at me and then grow into a precious little boy as we all lived and slept happily ever after.
You know that sound. That’s the sound of reality crashing in on you. If you’re a parent, you know that I truly was living in a fantasy world. I’m still not a “baby person” but now I know why. I feel helpless with babies. I don’t know what they need. I stress about what they aren’t getting and what they are getting. And my son was an easy baby.
Then there’s the whole sleep thing. Some people live in some kind of baby euphoria where their body seems just fine regardless of how little or how broken their sleep is. I’m not one of those people. The stress, the lack of sleep, the uncertainty. It was no surprise to anyone but me when a year into motherhood I suffered a severe bout of insomnia brought on by depression.
I remember saying, “I’m not depressed! I’m just tired!”
Turns out that the two often go hand and hand. It took me a couple of months and a lot of family support to feel like myself again. I started to really look at why I became depressed. You could call it post-partum depression. But a year later? Maybe I was just building up to the diagnosis. I was certainly overstressed, much of it brought on myself. And my biggest stress? The stress of having another baby.
Although my husband and I talked about having kids, we surprisingly didn’t talk that seriously about it until my first pregnancy was confirmed. He said, “well, if we’re having one, we’re having two.” Really? Ummm, okay. That kind of sounded like my original plan anyway. And I planned to have the kids two years apart.
I wanted to make sure my kids were close in age. I wanted to make sure they would be best of friends. I wanted a tight knit family. That meant that I would start trying to get pregnant with a second baby when my son was just over a year old. Factor in a few months of trying and BINGO, we’d be right on schedule.
Can you guess when my insomnia kicked in? The month before I was going to start trying. Coincidence? Not in the slightest. As any mother of a one year old will tell you, the last thing you are looking forward to is going through that first year all over again. Yes, there are wonderful moments and milestones. Surprises I could have never expected. Delights at the simplest things. But let’s face it. It’s hard.
So for a variety of reasons, we put off thinking about baby #2. My mommy friends all got pregnant. They all had their second child. I felt envy. I felt jealous. I felt angry that my body seemed to betray me. Well, my brain anyway. I also felt relief. I had more freedom. My life was settling into a routine. The three of us were becoming a family. I showered every day and put on make up. I had forgotten what a frazzled Fadra looked like. And most importantly, I got to enjoy every moment of toddlerhood on into the preschool years without a distraction.
Now those second babies are getter older. The moms are still a little frazzled but those toddlers are just so darn cute. They are walking and talking and I see the blossoming sibling relationship. I’m still a little jealous.
My son is three. He’ll be four next January. I couldn’t even tell you how many months he is. I forgot how much diapers cost. I’m not sure I would know what to do with a bottle. Or when to give them solid food. And what do I look out for? Lead? Cadmium? BPAs?
I’m rounding the corner to forty this year. I’m okay with that. But I realize that my biological clock is ticking. I don’t want to be an “old” mom. With my first pregnancy, I was already of “advanced maternal age” according to my clinicians. If I had another one, would they be embarrassed of their old mom at their high school graduation? And who’s to say I would stay sane this time around?
For now, my choice is to focus on my one and only. My sweet baby Evan, who is growing like a weed. I still delight in him. He still surprises me, usually in a good way. I also accept the fact that he may miss out on having siblings. My mother was an only child and insists it is a sad and lonely existence. As one of four kids (my husband too), it is this fact that keeps me up at night.
Is it better to be a good mom to one or a harried mom to two or more? It’s a highly personal decision. I’ve tried to get people to tell me what to do so the burden of the decision wouldn’t be mine. But there is no wrong or right.
Parenting is hard. Motherhood is indescribably hard. I’d love to hear how you’ve come to terms with the “right” number of children. I’d also love to hear if you struggle as much as I do. And thank you, as always, for sharing!
If you didn’t get a chance to read the essay I posted yesterday (Love by the Numbers), it’s a beautiful perspective written by a father of three.