Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Done.

I am surrounded by pregnant women.  It amazes me how many in my circle are currently pregnant.  My sister is pregnant with her second one, 14 years after her first.  We have a niece who’s pregnant with her first.  Then we have a friend who also just announced she’s pregnant, and she already has 3.  Oh, and one of my very good friends, who just gave birth 3 ½ months ago, is now again thinking of having another one.  This list does not even include a number of my Facebook friends who also recently gave birth.  So, is there anyone else who’d like to come forward at this point?  This would be the best time so you could spare me the multiple shock experience.   Let’s do this once and get it over with.

Is this the tone of jealousy you are hearing?  Perhaps, but not exactly.  I am extremely happy and excited for all of them.  I know they want it and all of them are (going to be) wonderful parents.  I suppose it’s just that I had forgotten that people do get pregnant naturally and that for some, it’s also easy.  As you all know, assuming you know me or have been following this blog, such is not the case for me.  I have been pregnant three times but only had success once.  The first was an ectopic pregnancy, the third was a miscarriage.  Now that my son is close to turning 5, I often find myself in situations where people somehow feel compelled to ask when the next one will come.  More often than not, these are from people who are unaware of my 2010 pregnancy and miscarriage, and therefore are just assuming that I have not tried again since I gave birth to Noah.  Well, actually, no.  Come to think of it, even those who are aware still ask sometimes and often they look at Noah with a hint of pity for being an only child for so long, and possibly for forever.

There was a time when I used to feel annoyed with those questions.  However, now I’ve learned to just either ignore them and resist the temptation to over explain, or face the question head on with not much emotional investment.  My standard answer these days would sound something like this:  “If I get pregnant, then so be it.  But if you’re asking if I’m willing to go through IVF again and do all the shots and tests that go with it in order to TRY to be pregnant again without any guarantee of success, then the answer is NO.”  This statement, coupled with a stern demeanor, normally ends the discussion.  I’m sure they appreciate my honesty, as well as the point I’m making which is to show them that pregnancy is no easy feat for me.  And to be honest, neither is motherhood. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE IT.  I feel blessed to be a parent and feel that this is one thing I was definitely born to do.  But it’s never easy for me and the truth is, most days I feel that I am not capable of having more than one child.  I’m simply not relaxed enough and frankly, am too highly-strung to handle a lot of the challenges of parenthood.  I know mothers who are obviously built for a lot of kids.  They are relaxed, far from being perfectionists; definitely not obsessive-compulsive; capable of multi-tasking and though mistakes happen, they are also forgiving of themselves and of people and situations.  I am antithetical to all those things.  Some people tell me that this will all change once I find myself with two kids; that I will learn to loosen up more, or that the second child is always easier than the first.  When I hear these statements, I sometimes think they’re joking.  I also sometimes feel offended because in a way I feel trivialized, as if the challenges I experience are either made-up or insignificant compared to what others have and that really, I have no right to complain and that I have it easy with just one child.  Then two steps away from being borderline offended, I get to remind myself that they just don’t know me well enough and are not privy to how I conduct my daily life.  The bottom line is, their opinions are just that…mere opinions and that I’m in no way obliged to accept them as my truth.

A lot of mothers ask the question, “When do you know when you are ready for another child?”  Countless answers have been given, litmus tests shared to inform you of your desire for another child or lack thereof.  I agree that a sense of preparedness (whatever that means) is not a good enough gauge because it’s true that you’re never fully prepared for a child.  But of course, commonsensically you have to be financially prepared somehow.  I also agree that you need to know why you want another child and that your answer needs to truly make sense, at least to you and your family.  

There is one tip, however, I’d like to share to mothers asking themselves the question above, and this is one gauge I find completely suitable for me, given my personality.  Here it is:  Do not make up your mind about wanting to have another child while you're in the middle of a happy, perfect, love-filled, ooey gooey moment with your current child/ren.  Instead, gauge yourself while you are in some form of crisis.  In my case, it's when Noah is sick.  That's when I know I'm probably better off with just one because during those times he is ill, I COMPLETELY lose my mind, get worried sick and for days find myself incapable of exhaling.  Sounds a bit much?  Yes, but it's true.  It's just how I am, given my intensity and propensity to worry.  When Noah's healthy and happy and I look at him with all the love in my heart, it's a no-brainer to want to have another one.  I'm flooded with only happy thoughts of the future and overcome with complete optimism.  However, it's when he is sick, which I consider a form of crisis, that it becomes crystal clear to me that I am not like other moms out there who can still maintain a reasonable amount of Zen within themselves and be certain that everything

I am not proud of this and trust that I am constantly trying to change this.  But I have been trying for years to tone this intensity down but have not succeeded. Though I'm not proud of it, I don't hate it either and I know this same tendency makes me function well in other situations.  In the meantime, my biological clock continues to tick which further lessens my already bleak chances for further reproduction.  

So the next time you meet someone who has only one child, please suspend all judgement.  Don't pity the only child, and don't blame the parent or label them selfish.  You have no idea what the full story is and for all you know, their set-up is what is best for them.  Remember that happiness comes in different shapes, and family sizes.