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Please Don’t Ask Me That

Please Don't Ask Me That: Another Baby

“So when are you having another one?”
“It must be time to give [insert child’s name] a brother or sister!”
“Now you just need a [insert opposite sex of what your child is].

I know they mean well. The people who ask, “So when are you having another one?” They don’t see the knife turn a little more. They don’t know. It’s not that I don’t want “another one.” I do. I do with every fiber of my being.

In fact, we did try for another baby. Our daughter was almost eighteen months old. It was nine months past when I had told my husband I would entertain the idea of a second child. I jokingly told him it takes nine months to make a baby, please give me at least nine months to recover. I made the appointment with my midwife to have my IUD removed.

We had a conversation about another pregnancy. Carrying my daughter to term was not exactly a walk in the park. We discussed all the details, the past infertility, the miscarriages, and my mental state. Was I really ready to face the possibility of another loss? If we ended up using infertility treatments, there was the possibility of multiples. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I was ready mentally, but I was willing to take a chance.

My daughter was simply amazing. What would a second child look like? What would they be like? The thought thrilled me.

Two months after taking steps to try to conceive, my husband was laid off. This was obviously not the best time to expand our family. I stomped back to the doctor’s office, where I found that our insurance policy had changed. The IUD was no longer an option. We were young, in our twenties, we had time. Then there was that pesky little thing called life.

It was my therapist who brought it to my attention: I was not a new parent anymore. My daughter was now twenty months old, and I should not still feel like I did in those first few weeks.

The diagnoses started piling up. The medications I was taking in order to keep working and parenting were not conducive to a pregnancy. I asked my rheumatologist point blank about a second pregnancy. He said it was possible. He also said, with my past pregnancy history and my current issues, he wouldn’t advise it.

I told myself I was okay with not having another kid.

I think at one point I actually believed it.

When my friend had her first child, I was no longer working. My daughter was now seven years old and in school. It was the perfect fit for me to babysit. Part of convincing myself I didn’t want another one was remembering the worst parts. I had not enjoyed feeding my daughter baby food. My daughter was a very hands-on eater. She would  literally spit the spoonful out and play with it, then lick it off her fingers. It was cute to watch, but it made feeding times much longer. Watching my friend’s daughter made me realize how independent my own daughter had become, and that I now had a bit more patience.

The “baby ache” had been awakened.

Everyone talks about the ticking of the biological clock. I guess I had assumed that after having a child, the ticking wouldn’t bother me. It would be silenced no longer. In fact, it suddenly seemed louder. Several friends were having their second, third, even fourth child. The ticking got louder. The biological clock doesn’t care about finances or what your health status is. It just ticks.

I realize my health issues and our finances are big hindrances. Even if finances weren’t an issue, there’s my health. It would be detrimental to my health to have another pregnancy, and it’s hard being a parent with chronic illnesses. I am by far not the parent I had planned to be.

I realized I was experiencing a different type of grief. It’s a quiet grief. It’s a subtle grief. One that people don’t really want to hear about. Truthfully, it’s not something I’m comfortable talking about. Perhaps that is part of the problem. Asking when the next one is coming is just as bad as asking, “Are you done yet?” Maybe it’s time we start thinking more before speaking.

I’m getting closer to accepting I will only have one child. My daughter is nine years old now. It would be like starting over at this point. I understand that. Actually, I understand now what I would be getting into more than I did when I was younger.

I’m still trying to find my peace with it. For now, I’m smothering my friends’ babies in love and attention. The beauty is, I get to hand them back when an unpleasant tasks arrives. Blown-out poopy diapers can joyfully be handed to the mother, with a laugh and an “I understand.”

 

Erin Fangboner lives with chronic illnesses while also being a parent and a wife. She worked in early childhood education and misdemeanor probation until it became too much two years ago. She has been trying to find her way back since, in part through writing on her blog, Chronically Sick Manic Mother.

Photo credit: Christina Rutz

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Comments (15)

  1. Susan Maccarelli

    I always shy away from the ‘are you gonna have more?’ question, since everyone has a story, many like this one and the decision not to have more is not always an easy one, or even a decision at all. Great post!

    Reply
  2. Toni @ Debt Free Divas

    As someone who walked through infertility, I totally get it. We just have to have patience with others who haven’t walked in our shoes. You’re right, they mean well. Your family planning is bt you, hubby & God. Visiting from IBG.

    Reply
  3. Joy Page Manuel

    Erin, you have no idea how much, how deeply I can relate to this. I know that ‘ache’ all too well, and that ‘twisted knife’ feeling when people ask and wonder where the 2nd is or when it will happen. However, I really think I’m done and I’ve embraced it as I wrote here months ago — http://www.joypagemanuel.com/2014/01/embracing-life-as-mother-of-only-child.html. It may simply look like fear to others, but it’s a fear I’ve learned to be friends with and am grateful for. It’s there because it has a purpose. I’ve embraced that and know that whatever happens, I’m at peace where we are NOW. Thank you for your voice.

    Reply
  4. The Shitastrophy

    My sister is 42 and just had her 2nd child – 9 years apart from her other child. She too suffered all sorts of setbacks and complications. Though I do understand your not wanting to start over. I had the baby itch but after weighing my choices with my husband we can not start again, my youngest is 9 now and we are in a good place. We have an 11 yo too. I finally scheduled the ablation and had it after a lot of consideration. Good luck on your journey.

    Reply
    • Erin Fangboner

      Thank you. I am slowly coming to peace with it. If my health was any better I would consider it, but even in perfect health my daughter started trying to come at twenty three weeks.

  5. Bodynsoil

    We only have one child, I’ve struggled on and off with that over the years. I’m sorry for all your struggles and hope you find resolution. In the meantime, I’m sure your friends welcome all the love and attention you give to their little ones.

    Reply
  6. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Erin, I just read this and I am kind of amazed at the similarities we share. Not all, but a few. So glad I found your blog – I will definitely be reading more over there!

    When our Kidzilla was born, we had plans for a second child. Her pregnancy wasn’t exactly problematic, but it was high-risk and wasn’t entirely easy. I enjoyed looking forward to her birth, but I did not enjoy being pregnant. Her birth was an entirely different thing. Loooooong story short, the birth was problematic and the Hub nearly left without either one of us from that hospital. We are all lucky to be here. Immediately following, I was advised that another pregnancy/birth could prove fatal. That word sealed the deal for us. In the years following her birth, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and that certainly changes the game.
    I have generally been fine with the one child life we have – she fills our lives in so many ways and we do not feel that we are lacking. We know for so many reasons that this is the way our family is meant to be. But…every now and then when my daughter asks when she’ll get a little brother or sister – oh, the heartstrings it pulls! I think that’s really the big one that does it for me…knowing she would love that and it’s just not something we can do.
    Anyway…loved your post and going back to your blog now!
    🙂

    Reply
    • Chronicallysickmanicmother

      Yes that is what pulls my strings the most, when she asks….. And then when other people have a second or third child I find myself wondering what a second child for us would look like.

  7. Kristi Campbell

    I struggle with the same issue although for different reasons. I didn’t have my first and only son until I was 40. I never expected to “wait” as long as I did and can’t stand it when people ask me why I did (a lot of reasons, many beyond my control including pregnancy loss, divorce, and bed rest). I’d LOVE for my son to have a sibling. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that he won’t, and I’m mostly okay with that I think. Thank you for sharing. It helps I think – for each of us to realize that these complicated thoughts and yearnings are not only ours.

    Reply
    • Chronicallysickmanicmother

      It does help I think. It helps keep things in perspective for us as well. That maybe our circumstances are not the exact same yet we have similar fears and yearnings.