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I often debate how much to share here.

There are some aspects of my life that I’m quite open about, that other people would not be — my psychiatric issues, my alcoholism, for example. But where my life starts to intersect with other people, that’s where I start to get a little bit unsure about where to draw the line.

I have written before about my mercurial feelings on having another child. About a year ago, I thought that I might be pregnant. It turned out that I wasn’t. I didn’t really talk about it again for a while, but since then we have been sort of haphazardly trying to get pregnant. Of and on. Never really with conviction. No charts or mucous consistencies have ever been involved. We have not really been applying ourselves, you know.

Over the course of the past year, there would be the odd time in which somebody would ask, “Have you decided whether you will have another child?”
“It depends on what day you ask,” I would answer.

To be fair, I do believe Mr. Right-Click has wanted another child pretty consistently. He follows my lead in this, but I know he hungers for another baby. I see him look longingly after strollers and he has tried to get me to reminisce about the “5 S” method for quieting newborns. (He cannot always remember all 5 of the esses. But I can. Swaddle, Shhh, Suck, Swing, and Side/Stomach. That’s part of the problem. I will never forget them.)

The stalling, refusal-to-commit, is all me. When it comes to having another child, I have been like Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites. I’m like the guy in his early thirties who works at Radio Shack, whose hot chick girlfriend manages a hedge fund, likes to cook AND likes football, and everybody is like “WHAT THE HELL IS HIS PROBLEM? WHERE IS THE RING?!”

Here is what parenting has been like for me: it’s a fucking war zone. A war zone with totally fucking awesome feats of glory and triumph of the human spirit, filled to the brim with opportunities to experience joys beyond what I ever imagined possible for myself. I have learned from being a parent that you cannot get the totally awesome parts without weathering the gore of the gun battles in between, and I’ve made peace with that. That is what makes it worth doing. And along with that grossly inappropriate metaphor, I’ll add another: I’ll venture to say that you shouldn’t be so quick to judge the guy who thinks about hiding underneath a corpse to avoid the Viet Cong. Because this is a war, man. You do what you have to do to make it out alive. We cannot all be recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

As much as I love Mini — and dear God! do I love that kid, so so much do I love that kid, it hurts to even think about the prospect of not having had him — holy fuck is parenting a big commitment. You know that going in, but even as much as you know it, you don’t really know it until you’re there, and by then it’s too late, and you wouldn’t turn around even if you could. But still. The past year, as I have sort of half-heartedly “tried” but not tried to get pregnant, I have only been doing so because the truth is that I don’t really want Mini to be an only child. How fair is that to a hypothetical second child? (Not very.) But then, I also have had a kid before, and I know what happens now once they slam that kid down on your boobs, and he or she looks up at you and you look down at her or him, and you both look at each other, as if to say, “Yeah. That makes sense.”

After that moment, it doesn’t really matter whether people were unsure, or if the baby was just made to provide a sibling, or whatever the fuck. Because after that moment, everyone’s done for.

If Mini ends up being an only child, I’m sure it will all work out fine. He will have the benefits of more resources at his disposal. I will have the benefit of less chicken nuggets being smashed into my carpet and no more pregnancies to claw my way through. There is part of me who really thinks that’s not so bad of an outcome.

But in recent months, I’ve finally started to really feel like having another baby. It took the first of Mini’s big movements away from me for me to feel it. Now that he’s in preschool for reals, and he’s turning into a little boy, I can feel myself “losing” him a little bit, and I think that’s the thing that needed to happen before I could even think about being mother to another child. I just didn’t have room for it before that. Some women with bigger hearts and more expansive feelings, less need for control and, perhaps, more emotional space with which to work, can feel it so much quicker. For me it took 3.25 years. But maybe other people just don’t think about it as much?

This morning I noticed a zit, which makes me think that I’m not pregnant, again, this month. I feel kind of sad about it. But then not, because I do so despise being pregnant it’s hard to get upset about (probably) not being pregnant. When I was pregnant, my OB/GYN told me that the stress hormone, cortisol, could be toxic to a developing fetus. I’m starting to think that maybe my body, after becoming a mother — the type of mother that I am, anyway — is no longer hospitable to a developing fetus. With Mini, it was almost effortless, and though I was younger then, I cannot help but think that maybe nature is trying to tell me something here. Maybe my resources are best used by being Mini’s mother. And if that’s the case — well, I can think of much worse fates.

Comments (28)

  1. Oct 5, 2010

    You generally make me think Anna, but this time you made me cry. Maybe proof that I’m not in the family way myself (I hate that phrase btw)?

    I said this on someone else’s blog the other day–I don’t know how anyone makes the decision to have another. Right now, I can’t imagine another one. I don’t want J to be an only child (but why, I don’t know. N.C. & I were both only kids, and we turned out ok), so I find myself thinking about it in those terms. But parenting is bigger. and….MORE. than I could have ever imagined. I don’t know how you split yourself for more than one. I’ve heard it just happens, I just can’t imagine it.

  2. Oct 5, 2010

    You know, I think it’s going to be fine if you have another baby, and fine if you don’t. This is one of those things where lots of people don’t have control over the outcome, but it more or less turns out okay either way.

  3. Oct 5, 2010

    I’ve been writing a lot about wanting another baby lately (specifically I want one and he doesn’t), and I’ve learned so much by writing about it. So many people struggle with deciding how many children they desire, and how to reconcile that with how many people their spouse desires. Also, everyone is full of thoughts and advice and convictions about what *I* should do. It’s just such an… interesting topic. These days there really isn’t a social “norm” like in the past. Sure, the average american family has 2.5 kids, but some say 3 is the new 2 and others swear by raising an only and others believe in large families and others have multiples (like me!) that confuse the entire situation.

    Motherhood is a warzone. I totally get that. And I’ve hid under a corpse a time or two, I’ll admit.

  4. Oct 5, 2010

    i’ve been wondering about this since your post last year.

    good luck, whatever path you choose. or, more appropriately, whatever path chooses you.

    parenting IS a war zone. no joke.

  5. Oct 5, 2010

    I want another one so bad I have to turn away from the strollers so I’ll not cry. My husbands children are 24 & 22 he got snipped 22 years ago. He didn’t know then he’d get divorced and meet me, no one can foresee that. Just like I didn’t know I’d get divorced too. With the reversal we have a 9% chance of getting pregnant. It looks like it’s not going to happen. My son will be an only child. He doesn’t really want a sibling or rather he doesn’t want a baby. He wants me adopt one his age so they can hang out together. He doesn’t get the whole thing about how he’s such an awesome kid BECASUE I got to raise him from a baby.

    If it happens or not, you’ll be okay with the outcome, and so will Mini. Just like I know, that there’s something else down the road for me as well.

  6. Oct 5, 2010

    You’re a wonderful mom.

  7. AKD
    Oct 5, 2010

    I was wondering about this, too. Anna, you write so eloquently about parenting. I’m glad you chose to share this with us.
    It’s funny I came to read this right at this moment. I just discovered a tooth poking out in my 4-month-old baby’s mouth – a TOOTH! Just after the pediatrician told us most kids don’t teethe until 6 months. I got a little pang of “he’s growing up so fast!”
    I’m surprised by how strongly I want a second child. My husband and I are both only children, so we have no idea what we’re getting into. Of course, there are the big questions of money and if we can even conceive a 2nd time after our troubles with the first go-round, but yeah, all things being equal, sign me up for #2.

  8. Oct 5, 2010

    the most surprising part of this whole entire post wasn’t when you referenced “Reality Bites” but that you let your kid eat chicken nuggets! What kind of monster are you?! šŸ™‚

    I always like when you end up writing about the stuff that you think you shouldn’t be writing about.

  9. Oct 5, 2010

    I’m in the same boat. Earlier this year I really wanted to have another one…but on a day like today? No thanks. And, as we have been doing the whole “not trying to not get pregnant” thing and it hasn’t worked yet it’s probably not in the cards…and there are days when I’m upset by that. Today isn’t that day, though. šŸ™‚

  10. Oct 5, 2010

    I guess I always knew on some level how much of a commitment parenting is, that’s why it was always “maybe….someday…” And now that NSA is disabled and it’s a “probably…never…” and I find that I’m okay with it. Just no maternal drive, I guess.

  11. surcey
    Oct 6, 2010

    I completely identify with you on this one, especially the guilt in considering my child will be an only child. Your description of love in the war zone is perfect. I try to explain this to others who don’t have kids, and then I just feel like I’m being condescending. It’s true, though, that parenting is about the hardest thing we do. I suppose there’s just this nature urge that fulfills us at times when we are in it; otherwise, why would we keep coming back for more?

  12. Oct 6, 2010

    I am—after having gone through many, many things I wouldn’t have chosen for myself—rather a big believer in life working itself out. (Though I would cheerfully punch anyone who tried to Pollyanna that sentiment at me during times of difficulty, you understand.) One of my friends says, “Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end, yet.”

    This is a roundabout way of saying that I believe this for you, too; what you’re going through right now is preparing you for what comes next, whether it be pregnancy or reconciliation to having just Mini or eventually taking another route to building your family. That does NOT mean it’s not hard or that it doesn’t suck, it only means that (even if it doesn’t feel like it), you are on your way to where you need to be. And you will get there, and it will be okay.

    (If that thought is comforting to you, yay. If it makes you want to punch me, I respectfully retract and vow to zip it next time.) šŸ˜‰

  13. You’re a great mother Anna, no matter what the future holds, your love for Mini is amazingly beautiful.

  14. Oct 6, 2010

    Well, everyone else has said essentially what I was going to say, except much more eloquently. This is a tough issue, and I agree with those who have said that things will just work out in the end, however this plays out. I think it’s so fascinating to hear about your parenting experience and what has now made you have that inkling that you might be ready for another tour of duty, as it were.

    If you do have a second, there’s no question it will be difficult, maybe even more so than the first. At the same time, you have all the knowledge and experience you gained from having Mini, so that has to count for something. The level of chaos is sure to increase, but maybe it’s the best kind of chaos, the one that makes you feel most alive.

  15. Oct 6, 2010

    I wanted two kids in theory, but it was really hard for me to really commit to trying to have a second. And now I’m pregnant, and I’m really happy that it worked out for us, but I’ll probably have many moments of panic over the next few months. Being a mom is awesome and amazing, but hard and scary too.

  16. Oct 6, 2010

    Funnily, the other day i said to my 3.5 year old and my .5 year old, “This isn’t Nam. This is naptime. There are rules.” The kids just stared at me. Either they hate the Big Lebowski, or don’t know what Nam is. It is really hard to decide to have another if you remember the five esses and why you need them (read: screaming, kicking, not sleeping, colic). Once you get out of the shit, it is really a big, hard decision to willingly go back, and by shit, I mean, the Nam of sleepless nights, tired and cranky, and having fog-brain, yet still enjoying a baby that doesn’t seem to quite get you yet. Most people just remember that babies smell good, and that kind of seems enough of a reason. I know that in my blog I cross the line about what is acceptable to talk about daily.

  17. Oct 7, 2010

    This is one of those moments where it’s helpful to remember that there is no “right” way to live a life. Life just gets lived and we correct course accordingly. I know plenty of well-adjusted only children. I know plenty of screwed up people with siblings. It is what it is.

    And I’m just going to call you out on this line: “Iā€™m starting to think that maybe my body, after becoming a mother ā€” the type of mother that I am, anyway ā€” is no longer hospitable to a developing fetus.” That is nonsense. Body-hating nonsense.

  18. Oct 7, 2010

    I tell people who are young who say they don’t want kids — and I mean it — that I once felt this way. I really did, but there is something about being a parent that you really cannot get any other way. It is a fulfillment, for me, anyway, that is just not comparable to anything else. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fucking hard. And the fact that it’s so hard makes you think really hard about doing it again. I think that probably, for me, anyway, the fact that it is so hard is part of why it is so fulfilling, that is wrapped up in it, anyway.

  19. Oct 7, 2010

    Listen, about the chicken nuggets . . . let me tell you. I wasn’t blogging back then, but you should know I hate chicken nuggets, and when I was pregnant I was so sick, but the only thing I could eat was chicken nuggets for like 2/3rds of that kid’s pregnancy. That kid is like 2/3rds chicken nugget. And then he gets out, and all he wants to eat is bread, cheese, chicken nuggets, cheetos, and milk. And I’m trying to get him to eat better but for god’s sake, he’s a hellion.

  20. Oct 7, 2010

    Annika, I’ve been meaning to congratulate you on your baby! I’ve seen a few pictures, and he’s adorable. It’s great you already want another one, I say go with it. For me, it was just such a shock to be a parent, it took a while to recover. But if you love it already, then you know, why not? Two is way more than one, they say, but you adjust.

    Some kids are quick to teeth and grow. You’re tall, so I’d be surprised if you didn’t have a big kid, like Mini is. Mini got his first tooth pretty early, and has always been far bigger than all the other kids. He’s already wearing age 5 clothes. Get used to it!

  21. Oct 7, 2010

    Thanks, Susan.

  22. Oct 7, 2010

    Yeah, I think it’s kind of out of my hands at this point. But I will probably start paying more attention to it now.

  23. Oct 7, 2010

    This morning I was thinking, man, I don’t need to be pregnant, do I? But then I remember days when I actually was pregnant thinking that, so you know, that’s not really much of a test. šŸ™‚

  24. Oct 7, 2010

    Well, you’re right in that I hate my body, but what I meant by that was I have been thinking lately that my stress had gotten so high that the cortisol was just too much and it was interfering with my ability to conceive. I don’t think that is so crazy of an idea, if you are super stressed it *can* complicate getting pregnant. But I think probably a more reasonable explanation is that I’m 37 and I haven’t been tracking ovulation because before I never did and I assumed I would not have to this time, and maybe that’s not true anymore.

  25. Oct 7, 2010

    Thanks, Beth.

  26. Oct 8, 2010

    Our first child (both adopted from China) was the result of our desperate longing to have a child. We did the whole thing the stereotypical way and enjoyed every single second of it. It was so precious because we waited so long. I was 40 and he was 46. It was magical, every bit of it, and we actually fought over changing wet diapers. Madeleine is a challenging and difficult child. Moody, tempestuous, and now at 12 shows promise of being a truly un, interesting adolescent. Don’t get me wrong, she’s me times three, and I adore every bit of it.

    Our second was a weary sludge through the same mounds of paperwork. The kids reached their weight in the paperwork we filed when they were 10 years old. I did it because I wanted Madeleine to have a sister. I didn’t want to chase a toddler again or deal with nights of 104 temps and vomiting again. When we got our referral, I left work early and made a little sign on the home computer with a picture saying Hi! My name is >>>>> Would you be my daddy? Roger walked in with Madeleine (3 1/2) from their daycare pickup and both kind of stared at the sign like I had just ruined their life. I half expected that BOTH of them would immediately start mixing martinis.

    And to wrap it up with a Hollywood ending our second child turned out to be the perfect happy bundle of moonbeams and unicorn glitter. She’s Roger’s kid, all happy and sunny and joyful and loving and caring and sweet and kind and I totally don’t get her but I love her like I love chocolate cheesecake.

  27. Oct 8, 2010

    I was 37 and started fertility treatment and my eggs just laid back in their hammocks watching cheesy reality TV and sneered at me. “Too late,” they said. “Where were you when we were raring to go 10 years ago?”

    “um…my fiance broke up with me and I wanted you to have a daddy?’

    “Lame,” they sneered, and turned back to watching The Real Eggs Of Jersey

  28. Oct 8, 2010

    Here’s the good news…at least for me, I found the second to me a fairly easy adjustment. You already have figured out how to integrate child rearing into your life. You already have the six billion things you need to buy. Mostly. You kind of “know” this time when they’re really sick and when they just need a nap and some Cheerios.

    And they do play with each other!!! omg what a cliche but what a joy on rainy Sunday afternoons.

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