Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Mother of Two's Last Temptation

Now on to the "deviant" thoughts I mentioned in the previous "angsty" post about what to do with my life.
(and a warning again: this is a long post, full of links, or, in academic-speak, "references and citations," and lists)

After having already "decided" that yes, the more rational thing to do was to agree with my husband's opinion and to "be done," I have lately felt (again) that I do want another baby. K is adamantly against another child for numerous and extremely sound reasons (that I'll discuss later) and I have decided (really) that I am not going to go against his wishes. If for any reason he has a change of heart, however tiny, I'll hold on to that and we might go ahead, but as it stands, we are done :( . I know that this renders the whole discussion that follows moot, but I still want to go ahead and ponder why I feel this way as well as the pros and cons of such a "temptation."

Several events brought these long buried thoughts (I mentioned this desire for the first and last time two years ago, and then actually it seemed that it vanished for quite awhile after that) to the forefront, but nothing was stronger than a dream I had a week ago. I dreamed that I was pregnant and it was the precise moment when I felt the baby move inside me for the firs time. It felt just so real! Last night, a fleeting part of my dream was the fact that I was pregnant and my first worry was to try to verify if our health insurance would cover a midwife and a home birth.

These dreams got me thinking, wishing, and most importantly "feeling" on an almost physical level that I'd like to be pregnant -- all countering the many rational thoughts I've been trying to hammer into my brain for over two years now. The biggest impulse to my sudden desire, however was/is the fact that several of my blogging friends are expecting babies; not only that, but some of them even already have children the same age as mine (5 [going on 6] and 3) and are expecting a third. Here's a list (their names, except for RM, link to the post in which they announced the pregnancy):
Blogger with children of different ages as mine, but pregnant with third as well: Dinka (daughter 4, son 1); Expecting second child: Professing Mama.

Several other blogging friends whose children are more or less the same age as mine, are definitely not having another one, some examples include:
  • Aliki (son 7, daughter 3) who wrote about "being done" here (my comment to her post is very telling, I'll cite it in full later); and..
  • Caroline (two sons ages 5 and 2), who just compiled a handy list of things they're leaving behind with their youngest boy's babyhood, titled "What's Gone, What Remains".
Andi Buchanan's blog (Mothershock) is no longer available, but she wrote a beautiful post in the past year or two when she dismantled and put away her sons' crib -- I wish I could link to it, and also to my comment in it.

Then, the last straw was that last week I found out that one of K's friends from high school who we visited in Florida last August and who also has two sons (4 and 2) is expecting A GIRL for later this year. And she's two years older than I. (her story is interesting, though, she used to work full time at an administrative position at a big company even after her oldest was born and during her second pregnancy, but she took a rash and quick decision to quit and become a SAHM after her youngest was born and wouldn't be happy at daycare [she had a really hard time adapting to the transition]. What's really interesting is this thing from her past that she shared with us last summer, this "strange" girl from my husband's class in high school -- they all went to a co-ed boarding academy together -- once "read" her hand and predicted that she'd find a great guy, get married, have two children and then something tragic would happen, so she spent all her life with this silly notion that she'd break the spell if she had a third child -- I'm sure that motivated her to go ahead). But anyway, what makes me really really jealous is that she is having a girl. You can check this heartfelt and loaded post for my position on this subject.

~~~~~ ~~~~~~
But back to my feelings about "being done:"
Aliki wrote that
It's a strange notion, this one of being done. Lately I've been hyper-aware of the fact that we are moving into another phase of our lives. There's something that happens when your child turns three and begins hurtling towards four. Three marks a type of demarcation line between toddlerhood and childhood and when it's crossed many of the aspects of babyhood are thrown off: diapers, baby talk perhaps; the rounded limbs of toddlerhood begin to straighten out and become more angular.
And this is how I responded:
I kept reading as fast as I could and saying, don't make me cry, don't make me cry... but I almost did, the tears are stinging my eyes and I can't bear to re-read.

Three. yes, he just turned three, my "baby," and I totally know what you mean. The worse part is that I'm not totally sure whether I'm done or not. I'm afraid that another one might push me over the edge and I'd literally go "crazy." It's just too much work... I spent five years not being able to wear regular clothes (just today I wore a dress I had made in 1999 [by a seamstress in Brazil]for the first time since 2001) - it was either maternity or nursing clothes. I started wearing "regular" clothes at the end of last summer, after we night-weaned Linton and he didn't nurse as much during the day either.

If I knew I'd have a girl I'd do it for sure, but since I can't plan that, I think I'm done. I wish I weren't, but it's the most rational decision to make. :(
And now, I want to wrap up this post (which is already getting waaaay too long) with two lists (with subdivisions) of the pros and cons of having a third baby. I just hope that maybe I can convince myself once and for all that, as we say in Portuguese, "One is not enough, two is good, three's too much [or a crowd]."

- Having to get back or buy many of these countless items which had already been given away, loaned to friends, or donated to charity. And having to baby-proof the house again.

- Now that both are weaned, sleeping through the night, in their own bedroom, and ON THEIR OWN (since we moved we give them good night and leave the room, that's unbelievable!!! And it took us 5 and a half years to get to this point...), and Linton is half potty-trained (still poops on diaper or underwear, or whatever he's wearing), do we really want to start it all over again?

- Having to wear maternity clothes and then nursing clothes for many more years again...

- Having a third child is not environmentally good -- if we have only two, we're simply "replacing ourselves" in a way and not over-filling the earth. (Yeah, K came up with that one, and the next one).

- It'll be hard to send two to college and sending a third would be even tougher. And we haven't even started saving for Kelvin and Linton!

- The age difference would be huge between this new child and his brothers. Kelvin would be 6-7 years and Linton 4 or more. So, he/she would probably feel lonely and not really get to play and interact with his brothers very meaningfully. (This is how it was in my husband's family: K is 4 years older than K2 and almost 8 years older than K3 -- luckily for K3, K4 came along just one year later to keep him company. BUT I don't think I'd have a fourth baby, I'd just pressure my brothers-in-law and their wives to give him/her a cousin the same age ;)

PROS: (with some counter arguments)

(first, my "stupid, selfish, superfluous" reasons for having another baby):

- Fulfilling my dream to have a home-birth -- Jamie/Selkie (blog now gone) fully convinced me that a home birth is a life changing experience, as opposed to a hospital birth. I was already convinced, but reading her just made me wish to "try this at home," really (I know it could go wrong).

- Giving me the change to be a more fully "crunchy" and green parent in a way that I was not with my first two: wear baby in a sling a lot and use cloth diapers. (most other things I did do -- breastfeeding, co-sleeping).

More serious pros now:
- Fulfilling my desire for more children.

- The age difference might not be bad, really. Since my sons are older and easier to deal with, it might not be as stressful as having two closely spaced ones like it happened with Kelvin and Linton (they're 2 years and 3 months apart -- too close for my taste, but I didn't really plan it that way, it just happened). And the boys would really enjoy having a baby, or so they claim (they sometimes ask for one). I worry that they would still feel jealous, though.

A pro that I don't want to even think about because I think it's not fair for the child:
- Trying to have a girl. --> This one WOULD NOT be my main motivation if I went ahead and I'd want to do lots of serious thinking to make sure it was not. The only problem is that Kelvin has been saying for two years or more now (entirely without my prompting) that he wants to have a baby SISTER , but I've talked to him about this and he says it would be OK if he had a baby brother too.

So... I guess I'll stop now since I've been writing this post for two days now and it's already long enough. I hope that putting this all out there will steer me away from temptation and hopefully I won't have any more dreams about being pregnant -- that would certainly help!


Yvette said...

Lilian, this post really touched me. I am the opposite of you: I always wanted 2 kids but only wanted to be pregnant once. By having twin girls right off the bat I certainly got my wish!

But even then I have had some sadness at "being done" as you say. The other week, for example, my girls and I were looking at some old photos. In one you could see one of our baby-gates in the background blocking acces to the stairs. Both girls commented about that and I realized I did not know where that gate was. Then a few days later I explicitly looked for it in our storage rooms and closets. When I couldn't find it, I realized that we must have gotten rid of it during one of our major cleaning episodes.

For some inexplicable reason I was heartbroken at the thought! I didn't even get a chance to say "good-bye"! LOL (But w/a tear in my eye even as I laugh and write...)

Anyway, know that what was meant to be for your family will come to pass (or may already be). Take care!

Caroline said...

Sigh... this stuff is so hard. I'm ok with my decision at the moment (which is partly why I'm rapidly purging the gear!), but my youngest isn't even quite 2 1/2 yet. I might start to feel differently when he hits three...

Aliki2006 said...

Oh Lilian, this is so hard. A friend once told me that no matter how many kids you have, you will be "done" at some point and look back and wonder what you could have done differently and that the "if only this" thoughts and the "if only that" thoughts will continue to plague you, even when you consciously know that you are done.

Because I am teetering on the brink of this move into this new stage of our lives I have those fleeting thoughts of another baby, too. It doesn't help that Tessa asks for a baby sister all the time! I think there is a "coming to peace" stage we all go through--a coming to peace with the fact that we won't ever be pregnant again, or nurse, or go through the infant milsetones.

I truly think that if I were even 3 or 4 years younger we would try and go for a third. But I'm pushing 40 and I really do want to carve out my own way. We've managed to skate by with tag-team parenting for so long, but I'm not sure we could continue to do so. I think we have come to realize our limits, and we do have an unusual number of parenting challenges to deal with.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm rambling about--but I do so understand you.

RocketMom said...

Maybe its instinctual, this craving for babies - kind of like how we always forget the difficult parts of pregnancy, childbirth, and newborns when they aren't currently a part of our lives.

Here we are, pregnant with our third BOY. We think three is probably enough, and I think if this one would have been a girl, then I might be more certain. But when I told my doctor this is the last one, she asked if I am interested in a tubal ligation! That seems so awfully final, and surgery, and why? I can't do it. Babies are just too beautiful and precious, even if I plan for this one to be the last.

RocketMom said...

Oh, by the way ...
I don't buy that business about more than two being bad for the environment. I agree that there is a population problem in the world, but I see it more as a problem of distribution that we won't solve by having fewer children in affluent societies. Really, how many more pounds of greenhouse gases would you emit because of another child? You already have your house with central heat & air, your cars, your suburban lifestyle, etc. Environmental problems need to be dealt with, and the solutions will probably involve lifestyle changes, but except maybe in some extreme situations I don't see population limitation as the solution.

Anjali said...

Ditto to just about everything rocketmom said. There is definitely something biological -- that hits particularly hard around the mid-thirties mark -- when you are faced with the realization that your time to bear children is limited.

I'm one of those people who, despite being pregnant with #3 and feeling pretty strongly that 3 children is enough, probably won't completely close the door on another until I'm close to 40. I just can't bear to see that part of my life end.

Also, the US is nearing zero population growth. There is no explosion here, we just need to conserve are natural resources better.

Cloudscome said...

I, too, can really relate to this post. Just this past week I found myself wishing for another baby. I scared myself! LOL Then I remembered all the other stuff about another child that is overwhelming and I relaxed. I don't honestly know if I will ever be totally certain I am "finished", but that's OK.

Another thought: I have always heard that dreaming of being pregnant isn't necessarily about an actual baby. It could be your psyche telling you a new side to yourself is getting ready to be born; a new creativity, a new aspect, a new stage in your own life. Perhaps the youngest moving toward 4 gives your spirit a little space to dream of your own blossoming in a new phase of growth...

Brikebrok said...

Adoption is out of question ?