Saturday, November 07, 2009

thoughts on family expansions

Soon after Zach and I got married we sat down and talked about when we wanted to have kids.  We discussed various potential plans and how kids would get in the way of them, but we were both set of having a family and so decided to just set a date and stick to it.  A kid will be inconvenient no matter how you time things, so might as well just pick a timeline and work the rest of life around it.

Soon after we had Donovan we started tentatively talking about when to plan for a sibling for him.  He have a "date" so far but it's much less strict of a timeline.  Every once in a while Zach will come home and start making comments about how nice it would be for D to have a sibling already so they could play together, how maybe we should go ahead and have a baby sooner.  The other night he was even trying to teach D how to say "I want a baby."

I then remind Zach if how much f*cking work newborns are, and he goes, "Oh, yeah.  Right.  Maybe we should wait a bit longer..."

Truth is, I'm terrified of having another kid.  But having only one is not really an option that's ok for either of us. I love having my big family and desperately want D to have at least one sibling to play with as he grows up, and to have those shared memories and experiences of our family when he's older.  I also think to the future, when whatever kids we have are all grown up, and what our current reunions are with all the people and activity and chaos, and thinking about holidays where you have a single child (and his potential family) to come over seems... lonely.  In the past I'd always wanted to have lots of kids, thinking of how great it'd be when they were older.  And part of me still wants that, it's just I'm not sure I could survive past the early years.

I've often read articles or blog posts of parents who worried that they wouldn't be able to love their 2nd (or 3rd, etc) child as much as their existing one(s), that they couldn't possibly have enough room in their hearts to let more children in.  I have no fear of that-- I know love is limitless and endless and that I will love any and all children I have deeply.  What I do worry about, though, is whether I have enough energy (and sanity) for another kid.  I often feel like I'm barely holding it together with one kid as it is, and it seems that these days one needs to have superhuman levels of patience and restraint in order to hold up to even basic standards for what makes A Good Mother.  I know this is probably not the best time for me to fret about all this since we've been having a rough few weeks over here-- D hasn't been sleeping well at all and we've been having to get up with him at least once a night, often for a good hour or more, plus very early mornings, making us all a bit grumpy.  I may not be in the most positive frame of mind right now.  But a newborn would mean, among other things, signing on for another year+ of nonexistent sleep, so it's not like I'll magically feel all well-rested and radiant, seeing sunshine and roses everywhere I go (I know we could possibly end up with a baby who sleeps better than D did, but it's also just as likely we could end up with far worse).

I realize it's silly, but part of me still feels like I must be a terrible person/mom for not being excited about another baby, for actively dreading going through that first year all over again.  The crazy thing is, I've always thought of myself as a fairly optimistic person, and I don't think D has been abnormally difficult as a kid... so why has it felt so hard?  Am I focusing too much on the negatives?  Am I having a week+ long funk that colors everything negatively?  Am I missing some sort of motherhood-is-wonderful gene?  Or is this how most parents feel and they just don't talk about it?

Bottom line is, we want another kid in the end-- we will not be satisfied as a family of 3. And so I suppose that at some point we'll just suck it up and take the plunge.


  1. It's worth it. It really is. And maybe you will also luck out and have a baby who sleeps "through the night" (meaning 5 hours or more per night) from the time they come home from the hospital.

    Nicholas and Linnea are 1 year, 1 month and 1 week apart. Will the next year be hard? Oh yeah. I have no doubt. But it is worth it.

  2. I agree with GL that possibly you could luck out and have it easier with the second. Possibly girls I have heard are much easier when they are babies... Then again, we are really not so sure we will ever have kids...

  3. "I often feel like I'm barely holding it together.."
    I have no kids but this is exactly how I feel about having one now, mostly because of my slightly insane job. But I'm also loving the slightly insane job and not ready to give it up (or to get 24hr nanny for a child, the only other option).

  4. haha I love that post. Jude still wakes up every two-three hours- and sometimes more so I am writing this as a sleep deprived mom of sleepless baby and a toddler who has three 2nd year molars coming in at once! I do not like the newborn stage. I hate to admit that- but it does F@#ing stink. I honestly had Jude so soon after to Eliza becaiuse-well-I just wanted to get it over with and be done with the baby stage forever. I used to want a huge family-but I am just not cut out for this lack of sleep. It is getting better already and I know it will soon be much easier. That first year does fly in the GRAND scheme of things- but I am right with you on not knowing if I will stay sane.

    Jude is MUCH easier than Eliza but even an easy baby changes your life. Now that I have two i don't seem to mind as much when Jude doesn't sleep during the day (this would drive me insane with Eliza)-I have Eliza anyway so it isn't like I would have had a break. In the end it is so worth it but I think you are totally justified in your feelings.

    And of course you are an awesome mom. I am not sure I would have made it though some of the early weeks without your help. Thanks for keeping it real.

  5. Great post. I'm 25wks pg with #2 and still go back and forth as to whether or not I'm ready for a second! I don't doubt that I have enough love to go around, I'm just nervous about the energy/sleep/patience! We talked about it just this weekend and my husband pointed out that even if we waited, we would have to go through another infant stage at some point so might as well "pull the bandaid off" and do it now! Is that bad that we talk like that? I don't care - it keeps us sane! : )

  6. Love the honesty of this post! Personally I would want to get it all done in one go ;)

  7. Two definitely keeps you more on your toes, but I agree with Amy and Rick about "pulling the bandaid off". We don't get more patience as we get older, we get less. So, why wait until you are older to have your second one? Also, babies are very in tune with your feelings, so don't fret about the worse case scenario, or I bet you will get it.

  8. We talk about this a lot as well, and really there is just no perfect time. But the right time is purely up to you guys, and you will figure it out!!

  9. Possibly girls I have heard are much easier when they are babies... Then again, Work from home India

  10. Remember that you lived D's newborn year ABROAD, an entire ocean away from any parents or siblings who could help out. I know you had great friends in CH to help out, but that's not the same as having your mom there, or being able to call her to babysit because of X. I'm sure this put an added strain on you and your first year as a mom (on top of the "I'm living in a foreign country and don't really speak the language" and all that other stuff).

    Now you have Jen nearby, but she's not a grandparent (grandparents oftentimes are either retired or have copious vacation time and can come over to help when grandbaby has a fever and is extra cranky and mom needs a break). She's limited by a new(ish) job and lack of transportation, so she can't be there to help out as much as she'd want to or you might need to.

    If you have a second baby, knowing what you're in for (or having a clearer idea, already having gone through one newborn; all babies are different so who knows what you're actually going to be in for...) should make things "easier;" also being in the US, closer to family, will probably help as well. (Not that I'm trying to tell you to move back to Texas... even though maybe I am...)

    And, to answer your questions, I think your last one hits the nail on the head: most if not all moms struggle with this, but society doesn't want to hear it, so you're not supposed to say it. Which is why the emergence of mommyblogs and Dooce and all this is so important and healthy. Motherhood IS HARD, you need this honesty and support.



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