Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Full-On, Unpretty Truth in Thought

I am not pregnant, but OH and I have been talking, bantering about the idea of having a child together. What a wonderful idea, I think. I love my husband, I would love to have a baby with a man I am so in love with! Then two milliseconds later, against my will I enter Freakedthefuckoutland, where I am paralyzed and can hardly breathe. This is why:

I have read two separate blog entries recently where mothers describe their children as totally worth the spit-up stained shirts, sleepless nights, and the like. This made me respond in two very disparate ways. On the one hand, I thought how right they are. Babies are so cute, cuddly, and chubby! Love the babies! And then I remembered the crying. Oh god, the endless crying. And the screaming. Endless screaming alternating with endless crying; ongoing physical pain, sleeplessness; not to mention the wild emotional ride of not knowing what that screaming ball of anger wants or needs, or when they will actually stop crying.

What if you agree that it's worth it to sacrifice for a child you already have, but question your ability to do it for a child you in the future? In other words, why is it so hard to get past thinking about how hard it is to have another baby?

When you have a baby, you think it's hard, but you're in it, you're doing it. Sometimes it's not that bad. And then there's all that great chubby, cuddly reward stuff and there's how your heart is all overflowing with love for that wonderful little baby right in front of you. I mean, it's hard enough to work up the enthusiasm needed to go on in the midst of feeding and sleeping problems when your darling baby is right in front of you, but what about an unseen future child? How can you get all excited and geared up for sore boobs, sleep deprivation, and a much more stressful marriage for some future baby whose head you haven't smelled yet? (Because the head smell? Will suck you right in to their little world. I don't know what it is.)

How do parents gear up for the second baby, when this time they have some idea of what they're getting themselves into? Of course, every child is different, but you know right now the little bundle of need is going to eat every two motherfucking hours for weeks at a time, will require dozens of diapers changed per day, all while you endure the physical pain and changes your body will undergo, the likes of which you've known already. And let's face it, now you are older, so it's probably going to be a lot worse.

I am scared. This is all fear. Useless, paralyzing fear. I suspect that I am not ready to ramp up my stress level from happily medicated to batshit crazy, the only kind of batshit crazy that being the parent of a newborn baby can bring. Maybe that's because I want to puke every time I see Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Or maybe it's not. Maybe I am internalizing her experience from my outside-looking-in perspective. From there, it looks like she has been absorbed into his life, with no life or separate identity of her own now that she's his personal baby incubator. Maybe it's that, but it could be the sleep thing.

I like my sleep. I also like my sanity. And, and, I have a brain, you know! *sigh*

What I really want to say is, how do you know you're good enough to have another baby, when you've made so many mistakes with the one you've already got? How do you justify it then? Please don't say, "Learn from your mistakes", because, duh! What I mean is, how do you do this again, knowing it's hard and you will make mistakes, and there's no guarantee that you won't make the same mistakes again, or worse this time around? What do you think? What do you tell yourself? How do you know you can do this?


snowballinhell said...

There's an eleven year gap between my two children and I didn't get pregnant deliberately either time. Yeah, apparently it was hard for me to master birth control.

That said, it's just one of those leaps of faith you wind up taking. It's quite clear that you know you'll love Future Baby to distraction, and that's the first and BEST step you can take towards being a good parent. None of us is perfect.

Maybe wait a couple more years. It was nice to have a big gap between my kids. The older one has been downright useful, in fact!

Marivic said...

After 4 kids in 4 years, I swore up and down I was done. So very done.

They're now 18, 16, and the twins are 15. My newest, Lola, is 4 mo.

The older ones are magically deliciously helpful, which makes it a lot easier. My fiancee wants more (yegads) ("Just one more! So Lola has a playmate!") and I understand (I LOVED having my girls close together, and IF we have another one, I'd want the same).

That being said, yeah, it's daunting. I was *this* close to the light at the end of the tunnel...but I'm only 34, and I told myself starting another family, having more kids, just gives me the same tunnel as most women (vs. the child bride I was). I remind myself I've already done SO much of what I set out to do in life (travel, cool jobs, great friends, etc.) and yes, I want to know how the other half lives. I want to raise kids WITH someone, not that my ex and I didn't actually manage to co-parent quite well.

And, ultimately, I knew that if I survived 2 toddlers and 2 newborns, I can do ANYTHING. Cuz the hardest things really are that hard, but it doesn't stay hard forever, and those wide-open toothless drooly grins really are better than crack. (And? They don't remember those early mistakes thank GOD and by the time they remember the mistakes you made everyone's onto bigger/better things, like making sure they pass driver's ed and re-negotiating allowance. Everything's phases.)

Anyhoo - I'm enjoying your blog. Look forward to reading more!