Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baby Cravings

No, I don't actually want to eat a baby, a la Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal, but I am definitely craving the having and holding of one.

I've said before that motherhood is irrational. I suppose it has to be to ensure the perpetuation of the species. Pregnancy sucks, childbirth, even with an epidural, wasn't the most fun 9 hours of my life, a newborn, especially my newborn, wrecks havoc on your emotional and physical well-being, and my nearly 18-month old continues his negative effect on my finances, the dark circles under my eyes, and my ability to enjoy a nice conversation with my husband before 8pm. And less dramatically, I feel like our life is really good right now. We have lots of family time, lots of relaxing time, and lots of play time, and a big part of that is because Landon goes to bed at 8pm. I can come home from work and jump into playtime with him because I know that in a few hours I'll be able to sit and indulge in something selfish like reading a book or watching TV. I can't imagine adding a demanding new baby to the mix.

And yet, I spend an increasing amount of time thinking about just that: When would we want Landon 2.0 to be born? When should we start trying? What if we wait until the absolute perfect time but I miscarry and we have to start over? (with 9 pregnancies and 4 live births between our two mothers, that is a thought I have often) When will we move Landon to his big boy bed? (feel free to provide me with some insight on that one) What names do I like? Will I be as excited about a girl when I really want another boy? How do I want to decorate the nursery? Time spent hypothesizing about this matter is not billable and it is definitely not helping me get through the 3,000 documents I need to review. Not to mention the fact that we actually can't have another baby right now. Childcare for two would be $2,200/month at Landon's daycare and we absolutely cannot afford that until JP is bringing in some money. I'm not even sure I really want another one now. I think we're doing a good job making time for everything, but it's a precarious balance. Luckily I can recognize this as the craving that it is- it's like my brain has picked up on this idea and now can't stop fixating on it. Maybe it's my lack of big upcoming events in my life- I've graduated, taken the Bar, and started my job, apparently I need a new big change to look forward to at all times.

But part of it is real- I do love being a mother and I want to hold and love a newborn again (preferably one without reflux and colic, but obviously, we can survive almost anything- though I have a feeling I'll never be able to convince JP to have a third, right now I'm working the "there is NO WAY the next baby will be as difficult as Landon" angle pretty hard). I love watching Landon play with other kids and I think it will be wonderful to see him with a sibling. It wasn't long ago that I thought it would be at least five years before we had another, I just couldn't imagine dividing myself into more pieces without breaking. But over the past few months Landon has required less and less of me and I can imagine giving of myself to someone new in a way I couldn't over the summer. At 18 months he's obviously still a huge drain on my energy and time, but he also plays, smiles, and dances, and he generally gives as much as he takes. He's also increasingly able to play on his own and tell us what he wants (not that he always gets it, but crying is easier to bear when I know what I'm denying him). I understand why so many families have kids spaces about 2.5 years apart, it's a major change from totally dependent baby to walking, independently playing toddler.

The financial issues are real. I know I make a lot of money, but my house, loans, grad school attending husband, and daycare attending child take every penny. And when I think about the practical aspects of a human family of four (and mammalian family of seven), I'm not sure I could handle it in a way that won't force someone to sacrifice more of me than they should have to. But on nights like last night when Landon is running around the living room alternating between imitating his dad watching football on TV (leaning back on the couch, hands across his belly, staring placidly at the TV- with little sideways smiles towards JP to make sure he's doing it right), dancing to the music from commercials, and throwing himself onto a pile of pillows in a fit of giggles, all I can think about is having another one. I'm not a baby person- I have never voluntarily reached out to hold one, but the other day when my co-worker brought his new baby around the office I immediately held out my arms to snuggle him. I didn't do that even six months ago.

We'll see, maybe in another year we'll be on the baby path. For now I suppose I'll have to make do with holding my friends' babies (one due tomorrow, another due in May). Maybe facing reality of a newborn and the probable flood of suppressed memories from Landon's early days will be enough to make me content with our longer timeline. But this urge has not been known to obey reason.

28 comments:

  1. I completely understand. I really want to have #3 in my heart, but my brain keeps telling me that it is the wrong time for all of the reasons you just listed. My first two are less than two years apart and I love having them close and I love how they play together now that they are both real little girls. My youngest is now 2.5 and my heart aches for a newborn. I miss the sweetness, cuddliness, the smell. Everything (except the 3AM feedings). I don't know if that feeling will ever go away, even after #3 arrives (ideally 2.5 years from now).

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  2. I could have written that post. I go thru that same struggle in my head all the time.

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  3. And then there is always the loop thrown at us went for just one more baby (prior to our split) and have TWO on the way.

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  4. I'm totally drooling for another baby, now, too! Made worse is my rationalization that having them about 2 years apart is the way to go. Which means I need to get on the ball. Like now. Which isn't practical since I'm studying for the bar and don't want to suffer the misery of first trimester while studying for and sitting for the bar. And yet I don't care and want another one anyway!

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  5. After three miscarriages between my daughter and my son, I swore I would never willingly jump back on that roller coaster. I have two children, one of each (as they say), I should be done, right? Except...I'm not. After a year of trying unsuccessfully, I'm scheduled for the first test of a full infertility work up on Friday. There's a part of me that feels crazy for even going down this road--my children are 8 and 4, life could start feeling really easy pretty soon. But here I am, completely immune to logic and rational thought. Luckily, my husband is as nuts as I am.

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  6. I hear you on it not being rational! For some reason every single day after a "good" night of Wesley sleep I start thinking about having a third... and Wesley is only 3 months old!! You'll know when the time is right. And you have a wonderful toddler to enjoy right now!

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  7. Bengali Chick1/6/09, 5:51 PM

    If I remember correctly from your blog (back in the day), you got preggo pretty quickly with Landon? I know fertility issues are hella scary but you may not have inherited any of those problems (fingers crossed).

    And it's pretty awesome you met your hubby when you did b/c it seems you have the biological clock on your side.

    I'm in freak out mode with my unborns. I know we have stable jobs and make amazing money, but jeez with huge investment banks going under, it's hard not to worry about the sky is falling scenario in this economic market.

    Ugh, hard decisions girl!

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  8. Yeah we got pregnant in about 4 months with Landon. In our families it's not the getting pregnant that's the problem, it's the staying pregnant.

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  9. Oh yes - my #1 was 18-19 months old when I got pregnant with #2! So funny how nature works...!
    I won't lie - the first year was brutal (but in large part, that's because #1 was EASY and #2 was OUR colicky, refluxy, non-sleeping baby) but seeing them together now is breathtaking. Hmmm....!!!

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  10. When we got pregnant, we were already thinking about what that meant for when we would try for number 2 because we want our kids about 2-3 years apart. Probably will be tricky being a young associate at a big firm. I think no matter what happens, you just adjust to your new life and enjoy your new family... at least that's how I feel now. I knew my third year of law school would be easier without a baby and I would miss going on a bar trip, but I already wouldn't give up having Timmy here for anything.
    Maybe you can time version 2.0 to be born when JP is done with school. You def have to take advantage of the firm maternity leave before you decide (if you do) to change your career path!

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  11. I really enjoyed reading your perspective. It seems like you had such an unfairly trying time with Landon and who wants to go through that again!

    I, on the other hand, would be very happy if I could get my husband to agree to have four kids! I want another one right now and I still have a baby. It is really hard sometime and I just want to give up or throw somethign against the wall (usually the cat). But I LOVE babies to death, even the ones that are not mine. And I truly believe this challenge has been the most rewarding and has enriched my life more than going through law school and more than anything career related.

    I made a human! Nothing in my life will be able to top that, aside from making Nos. 2 and 3 and 4.

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  12. You're right; it's often far from rational. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. As long as we can recognize it for what it is and try to make at least a semi-rational decision as to timing.

    My two girls are 3 years apart and I found that to work fairly well. But you can't forget the financial and all the other considerations, including your own sanity. When should JP actually start working (for money) for a living?

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  13. Thanks for the honest post. I have a question, though. (And please read this as what it is -- a true question with no hidden meaning). If things are so great now, and you are loving life with Landon, why does it make you want another child? Again, to be clear (because asking a question in writing makes it hard to convey tone) I'm honestly curious about this. I have no children, and always wonder what convinces parents to have a second. (If they aren't enjoying having 1, why would they want another, and if life is so great with 1, why would they want another?)

    Do you ever think to yourself, "I couldn't love another child as much as I love the one I have"? (And I realize that all parents probably have this concern, and then after they bond with Baby #2, they realize their concerns were ridiculous).

    Clearly you are not alone in this, but I just wonder if you can explain the feelings that make you want to do something that will essentially allow you less time with your current baby. Does this make sense? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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  14. Kelly, you didn't ask me, but I thought I'd comment on one aspect of your question. I have only one child and I sometimes think about whether I could love another one as much as I love her. But then I think about how I never thought I could love someone as much as I love my daughter until I had her. And then I think about how motherhood (and probably fatherhood, but I'm not a father) changes you (how you feel; prioritize things in life) in a way you never imagined and just as you fell in love with #1, you will with #2.

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  15. Kelly, you didn't ask me either, but as a Mom of two, I feel that I am qualified to answer. The desire for a(nother) child isn't really rational. In my heart, I know that my family is not complete (I want a third child).

    Before I had my second, I never worried that I could not love another child as much as I loved my first. I think a third will be equally loved. Love for your child is something that is not measured or divided. Think of it this way - when you use one candle to light another, the flame on the first candle still burns the same even though you now have a flame on two candles. My love for my children is different from, stronger than, and more all-encompassing than any other love I have ever experienced. I could never tell you which child I love more. I can simply say that there is enough love for each child because that love is limitless, without boundaries. Before you have a child, you cannot understand how much love you are capable of giving.

    When you see your child and get to know your child and see the beauty that you created, you often wonder what other amazing combinations are out there that you and your husband/partner could produce. If you love a child more than life itself, it is only natural to perhaps want another as soon as you feel that you could physically handle the task of caring for another child.

    As a mother of two, I don't think my oldest has suffered or lost out because she has a sibling. I love her no less, devote no less time to her. As your child gets older, they need less of you to begin with. And it is healthy for a child to not rely on its mother for everything. So I never thought of having a second child as taking time away from my first. Whether or not I had another child, my first child will need space and learn to be independent. Having two children is definitely a balancing act and makes life more complicated, but the reason for this is more logistics than the inability to give enough time to each child.

    The desire to have more children is not a rational thing. It is instinctual, this deep craving for a baby. I suspect that even after I am formally "done" and I know psychologically that my family is complete, there will always be a part of me that would like to have a baby.

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  16. To the commenter who asked "if life was so great with 1, why have 2?"
    I must admit as a child I felt the same way.

    Why did my parents need my sister when they had Me!

    Yes, serious, serious jealousy issues involved in a 2 year 4 month gap.

    My sister and I hated each other until we were well into our adult hood (we are good friends now - but it really did take a long time)

    She was adamant there was no way she was having a second in the gap between 18 months and 3 years, where jealousy issues are at their most extreme.

    In the end, she conceived at first try and delivered 3 weeks early, so Baby number two was born 4 weeks before her brother's 3rd birthday.

    They love each other, there is no skerrick of jealousy apparent, and it's a great gap (It helps that it is boy-girl)

    From what I've seen a 3-4 year gap seems to be a really good one. I'd really recommend waiting until you have at least 3 (albeit, these urges...)

    Would I guess correctly in the fact that your Moms' miscarraige/live birth ratio prompted you to start earlier?

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  17. Oh - adding another, my brother and youngest sister have a 4.5 year gap and they've always had a great relationship, same for my 2nd sister and brother who had 4.2 years.

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  18. formerlawstudentcurrentmotherlawyer1/7/09, 2:37 PM

    OH, the urge knows NO reason. There is never a good time to have a baby and never a way of knowing whether you should or not. With our first two, there was no decision making process: #1 we just decided to see if I got pregnant and I did; #2 was a surprise. Trying to rationalize or come to some satisfying decision about whether to have a THIRD, is where we are now and it is a complete excercise in futility. There is NO good reason to have another baby at this point, yet NOTHING will put the idea out of my head for good.

    The only thing that helps me, which may help you as you deal with babycravings is the thought that "if this is a good idea now, it will still be a good idea in a year". I'm thinking that by buying that time, I may buy a little clarity as well.

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  19. Rj, I found your comments interesting. There are 4 years between my sister and I and we weren't close until we became adults. In contrast, a lot of my friends had sisters who were close to them in age and they were good friends. Different families have different experiences perhaps?

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  20. My sibling and I are 4 years apart and we have little in common. Whether or not siblings are close depends on individuals. My kids are 18 months apart and so far, I have not had any real jealousy issues (#1 didn't even notice when #2 came along) and they play together constantly. There is no way to guarantee that you will avoid sibling rivalry. Go with the spacing that works best for you.

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  21. I hear ya... now that Micah is so much more toddler-like and won't cuddle, I have the longings for a little lumpy newborn to snuggle. And the miscarry thing, my mom had 4 and Malinn had at least 2 (can't remember for sure) so I am right there with you on that one!

    As far as the big bed goes, don't rush it. Remember, as soon as he's in a bed, he can climb out and walk to your room. That is assuming he hasn't figured out how to crawl out of his crib yet. :-)

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  22. I always new, before I even had a child, I would not have them close together. For some reason I knew I couldn't handle it. Two "babies" at once scares me to death. So, after saying I wouldn't have another due to a baby that would not sleep more than 2 hrs at a time til he turned 1, i finally said ok around his second birthday but waited to take part in a wedding so my sons will be almost 3.5 yrs apart. I was stoked that i would only be changing one set of diapers but potty training is not going so well over here :( Anyway, i would say you know when you are ready, but don't ignore the financial issues. As you said, they are real and can reek havoc on a marriage. As for moving to the big boy bed, as a mom of a child w/ major sleep issues, we chose to wait until he could physically get out of his crib. Even at 3 he never climbed out, but our crib was recalled and we needed to dismantle it to get a voucher for our new crib which we need in a few months. I say, why rush it. Baby jail is good :) Also, at 3 he "understands" staying in bed, or the consequences.

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  23. I just wanted to add in reply to Kelly that a lot of the decision to have more children depends on your family of origin: I am the oldest of five, and I cannot imagine growing up without my siblings to keep me humble and teach me what it means to work together as a family. Sadly, we lost one of my brothers a few years ago, and I decided that I wanted as many children as my body could produce (even though it seems to have other ideas), not so much for what it will add to my life as for what it will bring to theirs.

    My grandfather, on the other hand, was the youngest of seven, and he was determined to keep his family small. He loved his siblings, but there were too many mouths to feed and never enough of anything to go around. He drew the line after the second child and never looked back.

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  24. Yes, baby cravings. I had my first experience of this when I was 24, utterly single, and in absolutely no place to want a baby. It didn't matter. I had this bizarre biological drive to reproduce; sitting behind a baby in church was seriously excruciating. And my "normal" rational self had no desire for a baby then, either - I had in mind that 26 was a good age to marry and 28 to have a baby. So my biology was waaaayyyy off. (I didn't hit those dates in real life either, btw.) So YEAH. I'm with you on completely irrational.

    Big kid bed: I am terrified of this, but have truly heard NO horror stories yet. My friends have moved kids to big beds between 16 months and 3+ years, and they all tell me it was fine, fine... so we'll see. Chloe is 23 months, and with a six-week-old her tenure in the crib was already coming to an end... but then yesterday she kicked out one of the crib slats. Nice. So tonight we bought sheets and she will be moved pronto. You want to know how it goes? If I didn't need the bed, though, she'd seriously be in it until she left for college.

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  25. I'm completely a lurker, but I just wanted to say LOL at the Modest Proposal mention.

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  26. I can't relate to all these comments confessing that the baby urge will never go away! Every once in a while when I see siblings playing together I think how great it would be to have two, but to me the newborn part was the worst. Yes, they're snuggly, but oh, the exhaustion. (Maybe it's because I need lots of sleep to function!)

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  27. For me, the baby urge went away ... once it was sated. After my second baby, I thought I was done having babies. Madhubby's vas was scheduled, then cancelled, then rescheduled, then cancelled again.

    The baby craving was persistent for about a year because that is how long it took to convince my husband to have a third baby.

    Eight weeks after Bubba was born, Madhubby had his vas. We knew we were done having babies. Three kids just feels right for us in a way two never did.

    Now, I am content to cuddle other people's babies. I daydream about what life with four children would be like but we both love the freedom of having sleeping through the night, drinking from a cup, potty-trained kids.

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  28. I totally sympathize with this! What is it about having one baby that makes you want another? As a single mom working on a public interest salary, it would be suicide to have another, but damn, I wish I could. I think it's partially due to seeing how wonderful it is to have a baby, missing your baby's early stages, and just plain wanting to have that wonderfulness all over again.

    Gag me with the sappiness of that sentiment, but I can't think of any better way to say it.

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