02 December 2005

one more time, with feeling

To sib or not to sib. I've been thinking about the whole second baby thing for a while now. With my 40th birthday less than two months away, time's a-wastin'. This entry on Blogging Baby was the impetus to finally write about the topic. Thanks for the kick in the butt, Karen.

One of my first thoughts after surviving Oliver's delivery was utter amazement that some women go through it more than once. I was thrilled to have my son but my body felt like it had been through hell. My mother had five kids. The mind boggles. When I got over the initial trauma, and the area of my body known to my nurses as "the war zone" finally surrendered, I started to go back and forth in my head, many many many times a day, over whether Oliver should have a sibling.

There are so many good arguments on both sides. I fear a child who is the polar opposite of Oliver, starting with the pregnancy. I would have morning sickness with the next baby. She would sleep like a log at night and be grumpy all day. She wouldn't nurse well, would develop severe nipple confusion with bottles, hate all strangers and would be happy only in a bathtub. She would have no sense of humor. Thoughts like that are almost enough to make one consider tubal ligation, or better yet, vasectomy.

On the other hand, CD and I won't be around forever and I don't like the idea of Oliver being alone in the world. Or having to figure out how to push both of our wheelchairs by himself. I would like to know he has someone to talk to who has shared closely in his life experiences should there be difficult decisions to make. And while I have known perfectly well-adjusted only children, necessary lessons about sharing may be easier to teach at home with another child.

But then what about all the alone-time I've had with Oliver? I would never have that with baby #2. Would he/she feel cheated? And how could I possibly give Oliver any less attention, parcelling out time between two kids? Some would argue two is twice the fun. I must be a "glass half-empty" girl because sometimes I see twice the work and thus, half the fun, in the bizarre calculus going on in my head.

Then there's the desire to balance things out by adding a girl to the family, though with the dogs and cat factored in, girls are already in the lead in our household. Before Oliver, I never imagined myself the mother of a boy. I could only picture myself with girls. Now, as so many mothers of sons before me have discovered, it's hard to imagine adding a girl to the mix. I should really let this one go since we don't exactly get to place our order anyway. But then it seems like CD would like one of each and there's the strong desire to make him happy. I'll never forget the day in Maine, when I was coming up on 12 weeks pregnant and a few days before we got our CVS results and knew the gender of our baby. One of my family members asked CD if he was hoping for a boy or a girl. He responded something along the lines of, "It doesn't matter with the first one." That was truly the first time the idea of a second child ever crossed my mind. Clearly, he had been thinking about it a bit longer.

So this is how it's been in my head for a while now. Back and forth. Up and down. Round and round. A couple of months ago we agreed to discuss it on Oliver's first birthday, in April of 2006. I don't think I'll be physically ready before then and given my age, we don't want to leave it much longer. We also liked the timing of that pregnancy. I wasn't big or uncomfortable during the summer heat, which I hate anyway, and Oliver arrived after the end of the very cold weather. And of course, I already have maternity clothes that are seasonally correct.

At last, in just the past week or so, I have figured out what was really bothering me, and it is ridiculously simple. It's the "older parent" thing. Growing up I was very conscious of the fact I had older parents. It was more my dad, who retired when I was 12. I always said it wasn't being 40 and pregnant that scared me. It was being 55 with a 15 year old. But the more I think about it, the real problem isn't my fear of being an older parent so much as my fear that my kid(s) will be the only one(s) with older parents. I need only look around Oliver's school to see this is not the case. The parents under 30 appear to be in the minority. Demographics are on my side.

That doesn't entirely solve my dilemma, but it goes a long way towards putting me into a frame of mind where I can envision making one more trip down the parenthood path. And the slightly faded memories of "the war zone" help too.


Coeur d'Court said...

I was blog surfing and found yours. This post couldn't have said it better about childbirth!! You put it in such perfect words.:)

I'll NEVER forget the overwhelming thoughts going through my head as I got up to go to the bathroom for the first time after I had our first baby. I looked in the mirror and marvelled that I actually lived through that experience.

While I showered, I remember staring at the wall in front of me and wondering how people not only LIVE through having a baby but turn around and do it again and actually SURVIVE that as well. I remember thinking that even attractive, glamorous movie stars have babies and they can actually go back to a normal life and then have more kids.

My mom had 7 and I couldn't even imagine recovering from 1 let alone 6 more!

I didn't have long to wonder how I could do it again... I found out I was surprisingly and unexpectedly pregnant with a girl when our son was not even 5 months old. I'll say it once though I could say it a thousand times: baby #2 is a piece of cake compared to #1. My little girl's delivery was simple compared to my little guys. Easy was the word I used to describe my labor and delivery.

You have a cute little guy (loved the pic) and I'd vote that I think he needs at least one cute sibling. Since you did such a good job on him, you have a lot going for you for the next one.:) It really does get better.

Sorry for snooping -- just wanted to tell you that I like your blog and the way you put your thoughts into words.


Misfit Hausfrau said...

While I was fortunate to have two good pregnancies and deliveries, I have to say that my body didn't recover as easily the second time around (still hasn't). Hardly earth shattering news, but it did make me decide that I don't really feel that I ever HAVE to get pregnant again. We didn't even think we could have kids since it took us 5 years to get pregnant with the first one. We thought all along that we would adopt. We think that is the general direction we are heading for #3.

I always find myself doing the math as well. I do feel better that the Moms in the Moms Club I joined all appear to be my age.