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Family planning

When I was 6 days postpartum, someone said to me “Oh, you’ve got to start planning to give Joshua a little brother or sister. They’ll be best friends.”

Six days.


Six days after my insides had literally been removed from my body to facilitate the exit of my firstborn and then carefully (I hope) placed back inside. Inch by inch. And here is someone telling—not asking—telling me I need to start planning for another one.

I can still see myself standing in my kitchen listening to this and wanting with everything to shout “are you facking kidding??” But because I’m a good Southern girl, I didn’t. I said…well, come to think of it, I don’t think I said anything at all.

And then this year rolled around and I said “I think I want to have another baby.”

And then I got an offer to take over the yearbook at school which would require one year of learning the job before my first year as advisor. So I thought “Well, I can’t go on maternity leave in the middle of the year with the yearbook incomplete. If we don’t do this soon, we’re looking at another two years before we can even try.”

So that settled if. If we were going to do this, we were going to do this. Done deal.

And then the irregular periods came back and I started sort of panicking about how if this didn’t happen in the three month window we were out of the game for two years and OMG.ENDOFTHEWORLD.DOOMANDGLOOM.

At my last doctor’s appointment, I walked out with a scrip for Clomid in my hand and instructions to call on day 3 for bloodwork and to schedule monitoring appointments.

Then I had a quasi-change of heart about this whole Baby Human 2 thing.

I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know when I’ll BE ready.I don’t know if WE are ready.

I don’t know if bringing another baby into this family in the next year would be even remotely fair to Joshua. He needs me—us—so much.

How do I tell him “No, you can’t sit in my lap right now.  I’m holding the baby”?

He IS my baby. Having another baby means no more time for it to be just us. No more time for one-on-one with him.

How do I tell him to wait and make him watch as I tend to the other child’s needs?

How do I explain anything to a 3 year old and expect him to understand?

Will I sacrifice the relationship I am building with my son post-PPD if I bring another baby into the mix now? When I’m so newly whole again?

And then that got me thinking about how people plan their families. We have no idea how to plan this family other than to look at our finances and go “Well, we could swing this now, but we could swing it better if we wait. But now’s totally good, too…flip a coin!”

In our case, I’m 7 years older than my brother. Dan is 5 years younger than his sister. Neither of us really grew up with those super-close sibling relationships people talk about.

The more I thought about this notion that it’s my responsibility to give Joshua a best friend, I thought “I’m not growing my child’s peer group, here. This isn’t the Duggar family.”

Is that why people decide they want to have their children closer together? So they can be “built-in best friends?”

Or are they just trying to get the sleepless nights and diapers over with more quickly?

Yesterday I read this post by Amber at Beyond Postpartum, which she’d written as a result of this post by Katherine at Postpartum Progress.

And to that discussion I add, do PPD moms sometimes get so caught up in what their “plan” is that they go for another even to the detriment of their own mental health just because that’s the way they’d envisioned it before PPD was a blip on the radar? And if that sometimes occurs, is it to my advantage that I didn’t have a plan? That I still don’t? That I can come up with just as many valid reasons for NOT having a baby right now as I can TO have a baby right now?


Lots of questions. Nearly zero answers.


I know enough to know that if I have this many questions? Now is probably not the time.

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Grace @ Arms Wide Open

Friday 24th of June 2011

i'm late to this post, getting caught up after finally being home...

these words soo need to be said, screamed, sung from the hilltops!! I hate the pressure to have more kids in general. It's such a personal decision that everyone seems to think is their business. For a long time I wasn't sure we would have another child at all. It just seemed to crazy and too scary. S and the new babe will be 3 years, 3 months apart... and know what? that will be perfect. FOR US. We were ready. And if we weren't trust me I would not be pregnant right now.

Don't be pressured into it... follow your gut...


Friday 17th of June 2011

I've always wanted 4 kids. Isla may be an only child. I loved being pregnant.. LOVED IT. But labor? Sucked.. obviously.. and now that she is here? I remember that I am sooo much more a kid person than a baby person. I don't think/know I can do the baby thing 3 more times.


Friday 17th of June 2011

I think there are positives and negatives to both sides of the coin and you just have to figure out what's best for your family dynamic. Personally, I never had those feelings that that I was taking attention away from Gabe by giving him a baby brother. But that is probably because my sister is 18 months younger than me. I don't remember a time when she wasn't around. Now that Isaac is here, I still don't feel like Gabe loses my attention. Does he cry to be picked up when I'm holding Isaac? Yes, but he does that when I'm cooking dinner too. But don't forget the same will be true if Gabe were seven. He might not throw a tantrum on the floor, but he's going to be upset when Mommy can't make it to every single soccer game because it conflicts with naptime. Honestly, whatever you decide, it's going to feel right for your family. Joshua is going to love his sibling, regardless. You are going to love the second, regardless. You're going to have times that you feel completely overwhelmed and pulled in two different directions, regardless. Then you'll have moments where you watch the two of them together and think "I'm so glad we did/didn't wait". Regardless. Good luck in whatever you decide (or don't decide).


Friday 17th of June 2011

I know there are positives and negatives to both sides. I can honestly write all of this down on a pro and con list and the sides are pretty equal. It's just a really difficult decision to make.


Friday 17th of June 2011

My son was 2.5 when his sister was born. I thought about all of these valid points and questions you just posted about. For DH, it was a "he needs a friend and let's get this over with" kind of thing. For me, it was baby fever. My son was weaned and potty trained and I wanted another little tiny baby. You can't plan these things though, you take it one day at a time. Two kids isn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be. It was tough for the first year, comforting 2 crying bebs at the same time, but we managed. My son is sitting right up against my arm as I type this (he is 4.5 now) and we still cuddle. My daughter adores her big brother, follows him around, copies everything he says and does. Yes, they argue over toys or who gets their bath first, etc. but they love each other so very much and I am glad I had them close together! Good luck on whatever happens for you. You are blessed either way!


Friday 17th of June 2011

See? I don't so much have baby fever. I mean, the thought of never being pregnant again makes me sad, and I get all heart-fluttery when I hold babies, but nope. No fever for me.

And I know that things would likely be way less insane than I envision them being. Dan calls me a "hail-stones and hurricanes" planner. It's always the worst possible outcome in my head when in reality, things are usually not that dramatic.


Friday 17th of June 2011

I grapple with this. Obviously I'm not in the right frame of mind. But I love my son. If I could five him a sibling I would. But at the same time I cringe with fear. Having being diagnosed with bipolar I'm not sure. Sucks my friend.


Friday 17th of June 2011

I hate that people's notions of second children can sometimes be that they are just playmates for the first. What about having a second child to nurture his or her individuality, you know? Why does it have to be that I'm having a second FOR the first?

It does suck. And I'm scared.

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