Monday, July 18, 2011

It's One-derful

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Hearing Rob tell me he wasn't sure he wanted another child was like having a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. I think I shrieked. Or maybe that sound was just my heart ripping down the middle.

It was almost a week before I calmed down. I was handed another lesson in not assuming—not assuming my partner and I were on the same page, not assuming we had the same goals—but I wanted no part of it. I wanted to react emotionally, histrionically, and make this about him being an asshole. His change of heart-and-mind was a betrayal to Our Family Plan. Did this mean Rob was actually kind of happy that I'd miscarried? Oh God.

The crazy part of my mind had a field day. A series of them, really.

And then we talked about it some more, and Rob explained that he was worried about "starting over" with a baby. The older Westley gets, the more capable Rob feels. For him, a child who can communicate in complete sentences, use the toilet, play on his own, and be curious about Rob's hobbies and interests is "progress." A new baby takes the parenthood journey back to "Start."

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Was it all so awful? I wondered.

Westley's babyhood was nothing like I'd imagined it would be—and I was half-suicidal most of the time—but there are some wonderful moments. There are things I'd like to do again. Whole days, here and there. I'd even do the awful parts again with another child if it meant not having all of my eggs in one psyche, if you will. I can't imagine putting the entirety of my parenting energy into just one little person. And anyway, a huge part of the awfulness came from never having done it before!

If it were up to me alone, I'd still choose to have another baby. But after Rob's and my conversations about his fears and concerns, I feel much more mixed on the subject. I'm not quite at a Whew, dodged a bullet on that one! place about my miscarriage, but I can almost see the silver lining around the cloud. (Westley might possibly have started preschool and welcomed a new brother or sister in the same week.) It doesn't help my more-kids cause that the past several days with Kid Number One have been especially challenging. More than once, I've been so thankful that there wasn't also a rarely-sleeping, always-breastfeeding baby around.

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I think this is one situation where I can't win. There is no right choice. The facts are: Westley is wonderful and difficult, and being his mother is really difficult, but also pretty stinking wonderful. There are advantages to being an only child. There are advantages to having siblings. Motherhood blindsided me. Finally conceiving a second time and then miscarrying was a one-two punch that still smarts.

Also: Having another baby will not "undo" the awfulness of Westley's first years, even if I do it perfectly the second time around. Having another baby will definitely not correct the physical and emotional fallout of a miscarriage. My husband has a point about the "starting over" thing. Despite promising myself otherwise, I will be so fucking scared if I get pregnant again.

The most important part of all of this mess of thoughts and emotions—and the only thing that makes me feel remotely better—is that my One truly is wonderful.

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5 comments:

joanna said...

i've battled with some of this stuff myself. i had 90% decided that i wanted to seriously discuss having a second child with matt when a friend asked if i could watch her newborn for a few hours. he was happily sleeping when he arrived, then after being here for an hour, he started that colicky cry. i tried everything i could to make him happy, but he continued to cry for 45 minutes straight. finally, matt came home from work and kicked right into gear, using the old happiest baby on the block routine, and had the baby silent and asleep in under 2 minutes flat. i felt that old panicky "JUST STOP CRYING!" feeling from when milo was colicky, except i couldn't pop a nipple into THIS child's mouth.

anyway, it did the trick. i can't imagine how much we would need to ignore milo's needs -- not to mention our own -- if we had another newborn. i'm so happy with my 3.5 year old.

candace said...

Baby 2 was a semi-accident and now that I have her I am so glad but I was pretty sure Emma was it for us. I had just started to get my shit together when I found out I was pregnant. Now that Adeline is almost one, I feel like things are getting back to where they where when I got pregnant.

There is no easy answer here but you can totally be happy with 1, and you could change your mind and have another. It is all scary and challenging no matter what.

Melissa said...

Whether or not you have a second child, you are going to be happy with your family. In general in life, I think it is a bad idea to avoid something you are going to love in the long run because of short term pain. Westley's newborn years were horrible for you, but you are Rob are not the same people you were then. With a new baby, they could be better, or they could be worse. But don't deny yourself 80 years of joy with a child because the first three years won't be wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been lurking here for quite a while. Our lives seem to run in eery parallel and, I admit, I struggled with the first year of my son's life. I was depressed and I felt isolated and scared. But when my husband and I started discussing whether or not we wanted a second child I realized it's not just my decision, it's a family decision and I am only one of three members of that family. As an only child myself, I remember feeling very lonely as a child. Lonely despite my wonderful relationship with my parents. So that swung the balance for us. And I agree with Melissa, don't deny yourself the happiness to avoid the first painful years because those years disappear so quickly.

Ellie said...

If you get pregnant and are not 100% satisfied, ship one of your kids, your husband, or yourself to me for any amount of time or permanence. I will pay shipping and handling fee's associated with this.