I hate making decisions with a fiery passion as pure as the driven snow. So when the question of if we should have another child presented itself, naturally I was a mess. My biology is ready for another child; this is not in dispute. But what about my heart, my mind, my wallet, my marriage?
One of the reasons I abhor making decisions is that I perseverate on an Olympic level. I spend hours creating and deconstructing imaginary futures and scrutinizing my current existence for signs that I am on the right or wrong track. Spending your time imagining what your future will be like is an exercise in futility. Nothing ever turns out the way you imagine it, am I right? For instance, my first pregnancy did not go as expected and ended more than 10 weeks too early. The post birth life I had imagined that involved cuddling in bed with my newborn and my husband for weeks was viciously replaced with huddling over an isolet, maneuvering IVs and NG tubes, taking blood pressures and desperately smacking my kid on the foot to get him to start breathing again. At this point you may be thinking, “well of course you aren’t sure about having another baby”, but I’d be having trouble with this decision even if I had a plump term baby who nursed immediately, slept through the night from day one, and potty trained themselves at 18 months. This is just who I am.
I am also a firm believer that every question can be answered with a thorough Google search. Well, let me tell you that after weeks of Googling ‘should I have a second baby’, ‘only child families’, ‘risk of a second preterm birth’, ‘will having a second baby ruin my marriage’… there is no answer to the second child question available on the internets.
On to the tried and true pro and con list.
- No sleep
- Having to pump at work
- Having to share my love for my son
- Having to do much of the early parenting on my own since my husband is in graduate schoo
- We could have another preemie, maybe one born even earlier
- We don’t have enough money
- Getting to create another human from the love I have for my husband
- Getting to breastfeed again
- Getting to share my love for my son with another baby
- Providing my son with the tremendous gift of a sibling
- Getting another chance to get big and fat and carry to term
- We have a tremendously supportive family who will help us in any way we need
I like this list, my heart easily falls on the pro side and love always trumps logic, right? Have I made a decision? Close enough! Let’s start making a baby! There is just one little snag.
My husband does not want another baby. Wow that is a heavy sentence, like a confession. "Hi, my name is Jessica and my husband doesn’t want a second child." My husband was an only child and absolutely loved it. He thinks life as an only child is the tops, the bee’s knees. I don’t get it. But I have no concept of what an only childhood is like since I am the youngest of three. When my husband and I discuss whether or not we should have a second, my stance tends to revolve around extoling the virtue of sibling relations. Arguing the benefits of having siblings to a person who loved being an only child is difficult; like trying to convince somebody who has only ever seen the color blue that they need to paint their house yellow.
My husband I can agree on one thing, that our life right now is pretty amazing. I can understand his disinterest in anything that may change our current situation, for better or worse, because when things feel perfect you are afforded the opportunity to revel, to bask, to roll around in the dewy wonderfulness and to just be without feeling the nagging need to search for something better. It is a wonderful feeling and something I have felt very little in my life.
Maybe this is enough for us, for my family. What gives me consolation when I feel my opinionated irritable uterus, listless incompetent cervix, and valiant little ovary begging for a shot at redemption is that I know I don’t have to, and can’t, make this decision alone. Having a 29-weeker was hard, hard on our relationship, hard on my body, hard on our bank account, hard on our collective psyche, just hard, the hardest thing I have ever done. But what made it easier was that my husband and I were both 100% on board, we both really wanted a baby. That isn’t the case right now and I know that is what we would need to make it through another early birth.
So for now we are a three-person family, a strong and happy tripod. There is beauty inherent in this structure. My son is my life. It is very simple. I am almost at peace with this decision, but when I see a brother and sister hug each other at the park my peace unravels. This is why I hate decisions, even after weighing all the evidence and choosing the best possible outcome, you still have to mourn the choice you didn’t make. I will mourn a little, then I will listen to my son tell his boats a story about this stuffed monster eating raspberries in the forest and realize the truth, that things could never be more perfect than they are now. They could be different, but never more perfect.