Monday, April 7, 2008

No Regrets

Last night while JP and I were lying in bed, I started thinking about how tired we are, how hard this is, and what life was like pre-Landon. I thought about the friends we visited yesterday- how quiet and uncluttered their apartment was and how she was studying on the couch while her husband worked on the computer. I thought about how JP and I used to do that- sitting in our teeny downtown loft, doing individual work in companionable silence. I thought about how weekends used to be restful- how we'd look forward to sleeping in, making breakfast, walking around the city, reading and working in the afternoon, and then going out somewhere in the evening. I thought about all that, and then I turned to JP and asked in a small voice, "Do you think we should have waited to have kids?"

I know that you aren't supposed to ask that question- that kids are supposed to be so great, so full of wonder and joy, that you aren't supposed to imagine life before them. But the thing is, I remember very clearly what life was like before Landon, and sometimes, like when it's 9:30 and I'm exhausted and dreading the numerous baby wake up calls that will probably come throughout the night, I think that life before Landon was quite nice. I've had those thoughts before, but I'd never voiced them out loud.

And JP, who doesn't read parenting magazines or mommy message boards, and doesn't know that you aren't supposed to admit to longing for the pre-baby days, immediately answered with a resounding Yes. But then he qualified it with, "but we knew we were going to do it some time and at least now we'll get our house, weekends, and sleep back sooner than all our friends." And that's true. So then I, of course, had to ask him if he'd still want to hang out with me on the weekends in 18 years, and he responded, "Not if you keep doing this thing where you decide to have deep conversations 5 seconds before we go to sleep." Well, hmph, that's not quite the answer I was admittedly fishing for.

And then, just as if Landon knew he had taken me to yet another near breaking point, he only woke up once last night. After months and months of blaming his fussiness on teething, we can finally see two teeth poking through his bottom gum. We gave him Motrin at 7 PM; it's supposed to last 6 hours and 7 hours later he woke up for more and went right back down. I think for the first time in his life we were correct to finger teething as the reason for his interrupted sleep. He didn't wake up again until 6:15. JP went to entertain him while mommy slept in, and then at about 7:30, a very perky and handsomely dressed baby was tossed onto my bed. He gave me a delighted smile and proceeded to crawl (and drool) all over me and the covers. As I sat there, listening to his stream of babble and giggles and watching him try so hard to crawl, all the while throwing me big smiles over his shoulder, I thought, "this is so worth it."

Landon's presence in our lives has added enormous stress, strained our finances, and taken all of our sleep. We reached a few breaking points along the way. I clearly remember one night at around 3 AM, when Landon woke up crying for the millionth time, JP and I just lay there, literally unable to move and both hoping against hope that the other would get up or Landon would magically stop crying. I remember that I was about to cry when JP turned and said, "try to go back to sleep," and then went to get Landon. I heard him pick the baby up, take him out to the living room to rock him, and start to sing - usually something from Cross Canadian Ragweed or his own version of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", which involves God holding lots of varieties of bugs. And the funny thing is that when I think about that night, I don't focus on how tired we were or how hard having a baby is. What I remember most clearly is how I fell in love with JP all over again for getting up, even though he was probably more tired than I was, and how I laid in bed, smiling at the thought of God holding all the dung beetles in His hands, as per JP's lyrics.

I did not expect parenting to be easy. I did not expect it to be this hard. Sometimes I think we should have waited longer to have kids, most of the time I think it's good we started early. Having kids was never a question and if I have to be this tired, I'd rather it be now. Being in school has also given me the flexibility to attend all of Landon's doctor appointments while avoiding discussions with any boss about billable hours or commitment to my job. And really, none of the advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits, or pluses and minuses matter. If we'd waited, there wouldn't be this particular Landon in our lives, and while I can imagine life pre-Landon, I can't imagine life without him in it at some point. This morning as I was driving down Lake Shore Drive on my way to school, I kept smiling at the memory of him crawling all over me in bed this morning. I wanted to pull over, unhook him from the car seat, and hug the heck out of him. But he was having a happy conversation with his elephant, and I know better than the interrupt a good thing. So instead, I just drove on and thought about how much love and smiles and laughter he's added to our lives, and even though I can definitely remember, and occasionally long for, life pre-Landon, I wouldn't go back for anything in the world.


  1. It is hard. And I haven't had it nearly as hard as you have. But it is good that this first hard year of life and illness was all before you start your new job. Its doubly hard when your baby is sick again and you have no more vacation/sick time left. Hopefully your next baby will have a Superhero immune system and sleep through the night from birth. One can hope right? Of course I don't think you can get one cuter than Landon. I just want to pinch his little cheeks. If people my age really did such a thing.

  2. It's normal to have those feelings, because it IS hard. And you've had it rougher than many...JP is so right about getting your weekends, house and sleep back earlier than others...I think about that too! :> And you'll still have energy to play with your grandkids.

  3. Delurking to say that I feel exactly the same way about my kiddos. I've often felt that parenting was just too hard and I wanted to push the rewind button--and then the little rascals do something so adorable you'd never trade them.

    Now our younger one is 2 and we do sleep...I promise you it will get better. I AM looking forward to the day they can turn on the TV for themselves on Saturday mornings so we can sleep in.

  4. It is hard, but you have had it more than most.

    Average baby:
    Sleeps through night (Meaning a 10 or 12 hour stretch) with some reliability/predictability by 3 months with occasional night wakings for illness and teething. Rarely sick in the first year.

    Difficult baby:
    Sleeps through night with predictability by 9 months with occasional night wakings for illness and teething.

    Landon has been incredibly tough. Not only did he have reflux, not only does he not sleep, not only has he had health problems . . .DCFS gotten involved. Your first year of parenthood is harder than what anyone bargains for. No one could have predicted how hard it would be and I doubt you'll ever experience a year that has been as hard as this one. If you have another baby, it will most likely be a piece of cake for you.

    It is totally normal to have those feelings - we all have them. But also know that for you, parenthood has been way harder than it has been for most.

  5. It's really hard at times. But you don't have to wait 18 years to start getting some of your life back. Once your kids start getting school age, you can start hanging out a little more on weekends. They start sleeping later. They like to read too. By the time they are teenagers you've got people who want to go to movies with you and eat out once in awhile. The key is to not let them take on so many activities that your life is sucked away with running around. Also my completely unsolicited advice is to have 2 kids. I have 4, I love them dearly, but 2 are easier to balance.

    You are in the most intense part of parenting. It's so natural to feel everything you are feeling- both in terms of doubt and joy.

  6. A few months ago, I found your blog when my husband and I were debating whether we wanted to start a family during my third year. It felt amazing/comforting to know that someone in a similar situation had done it and hear about your experiences. Because your blog is such an honest account of the pros and cons of having a baby in law school, in some ways I value what you say more than advice from people I know, who are usually biased one way or another. After going back and forth for a month or so, and wondering if we would regret starting early (or not starting) a year from now, we just started trying and are very excited. I would like to think we are not naive about how hard it will be, but I'm sure we can't even imagine what's in store for us. It was just really nice to read your post today because I think it reinforced our decision and validated our (sometimes) self-doubt since it is a hard decision to make. I hope everything keeps getting better for you all!

  7. Like others have said, it IS hard and you HAVE had a harder time than most. And I remember asking myself that hard question a number of times in the middle of the night during the early months. But this cute stage he's in now? It keeps getting better and better. You have a lot to look forward to.

  8. It IS hard. There will be several times when you will question why you've done what you've done. But you'll always know that is was, indeed, worth it. It's not always something you like (nor are your children) but it's something you love (just like your children). We, too, started earlier than most of our friends and I am so grateful.
    Keep being honest. The world needs more honest moms.

  9. You and JP are amazing. I cannot believe all the three of you have been through since (before) Landon was born, and you are still managing to all get up and get dressed in the morning and do what you need to do every day and even plan for major life changes coming up.

    Sometimes I think that my marathon labor with K showed me how strong I could be. You can look back on the entire past year and know you are capable of incredible strength.

    Like everybody else, I also sometimes long for the days when I could sleep in and do whatever I wanted, and I have an easy baby. I'm so glad for you that at the end of it all, you know it's worth it. But honestly, I wouldn't fault you, and wouldn't think any less of your parenting, if you weren't so sure. It's been so difficult for you and I hope that not too long from now you'll be able look back and say, "Thank goodness the hard part is over with."

  10. P.S. - Maybe you can get Landon bitten by a rat. My mom was bitten by a rat as a baby (in Calcutta) -- she still has a scar on her arm -- and we joke that it gave her superpowers because she never gets sick.

  11. Once again you made me cry (specifically it was about you falling in love again with JP and the dung beetles in God's hands). And remember - that friend you visited would love to be in your shoes right now. :-)

  12. I have to say, this is one of the best posts I've EVER read. Seriously.

    First off, I've SO had that moment with my husband when even though he had to get up and go to work, he was the one to go feed the baby. He was the one who volunteered to take the "second shift" at night because he knew I hated it during Sumo Baby's ear infection. This post made me miss him SO much . . . not just miss the extra set of hands (though of course, I miss that!) but miss how selfless and giving and wonderful he is. *sigh* Too bad Iraq is so far away.

    Also, I think it's very brave of you to be honest about how frustrating life with Landon can be now. I swear I think you guys are getting all the hard stuff out of the way now and you should ENJOY the teenage years! All the bad stuff will already be done, so you can just enjoy the rest.

    Anyway, that was a really long comment, but what a GREAT post.

  13. Thank you Law Student Hot Mama- and thanks for the little story about your husband. I know I don't even know you, and I know almost nothing about him, but I often think of him in Iraq and you waiting for him to come back, and I wish you both a speedy reunion.

  14. That was so sweet and so honest. I get so frustrated with Justin because he gets so short-tempered with Cooper (who is a difficult baby, especially compared to Gavin) and I keep wondering, "maybe we should've waited to have him," because I feel trapped between my unconditional love for my baby and my love for my husband who is an incredible father.
    thank you for your honesty...we truly appreciate it.
    plus, could you imagine trying to go through all those sleepless nights when your an old lady like me? :)

  15. Listen, you. Having two nearly perfect children who were at least (actually more, but I'm their mother) as adorable as Squirmy, I can tell you--it's easy some days to be convinced of the enormous mistake you made. You can be convinced of that even when your kids don't have exotic medical issues and do tend to sleep for reasonable lengths of time. And of course it wasn't a mistake at all. It is, though, a sweet day when you look at each other and realize that soon it will be just the two of you again, and you're still young enough to enjoy it. ;)

    Also: hurrah for teeth breaking through! Big day.

  16. This is a great post, LL.

    If you'd waited to have kids, it wouldn't have been easier or harder ... it just would've been different. And you wouldn't have had Landon at all ... he would've been someone else.

    And I think that when you think of it that way ... you'll find that you happily would've done it the same way, all over again.

  17. I've wondered the exact same thing many times. I've even thought maybe all of Cora's health problems were some sort of cosmic karma for being so smugly certain I was ready to have kids. But I don't think anyone's ever ready to have kids, regardless of their age, experience or circumstances. And I definitely have to applaud the single parents out there, because I honestly don't know how they do it.

  18. wow. great post. i love your honesty. I could see myself having those very same doubts, even after going through fertility treatments. heck, i have them now!

  19. I have been reading your site for a while, but never commented before.
    I just have to say, the way you summed up life before a child and the joys afterwards, was one of the best postes I have ever read anywhere. I have often had the same thoughts, but never the courage to say them out loud or even finding the right way to say it in my head was hard. My husband and I are young and are the only one of our friends who are married and have kids and it makes it hard sometimes. When they are all going out last minute or just hanging out late night..Sometimes it gets us wondering if we made the right decsion too...Thank you so much, and personally, I think you writing this post, makes you an awesome person and a GREAT mother.

    Thanks again,

  20. The whole time I was reading your post, the song "You're Gonna Miss This" was running through my head. I have had those feelings before (and still do sometimes). This song says it perfectly. Check it out:

    Not the best video, but the sound quality of the live performance was really bad...

  21. I love that song dramamama! Every time I hear it, I think I should write a blog post about it. I suppose I just did...

  22. This is a wonderful post. I've always felt a baby's 1st birthday marks a greater milestone for the parents than for the baby, but you will get to that point having had a MUCH tougher year than most first time parents. You've got a great baby there though, that's for sure. You and your husband are doing an incredibly difficult job incredibly well, and with so much love. Good for you!

  23. Thank you so much for this post- it came at the perfect time.
    I'm a 1L at Georgetown and we are going to start trying later this year- aiming for pregnancy in my 2L summer if we get really lucky.
    Last night my husband started to seriously question if we were doing the right thing, if we were too young (we're both 25 now). Reading this post has helped to reinforce my belief that this is the right choice. After all when is it any going to be any easier? The saddest thing I see really is women waiting and waiting for the 'perfect' time, and time just slips them by.
    Thank you for your strength and courage- this blog has been a wonderful find!

  24. You rock, LL, as usual. Oh, and "average baby" does NOT sleep 10-12 hours by 3 months! Their tummies are still small! My "easy baby" sleeps 6 hours max, wakes up, then sleeps 3 more and I'm thrilled :)

  25. I've followed intermittently for a while now, but never wanted to butt in until now. You guys have had such a tough break in this first time with your baby (who is adorable btw). I have really felt for you guys, but at the same time I have been in awe of how well you have handled it. You have really rolled with the punches, and I am amazed at how you have kept up with your studies!

    I hope that your move to Austin (totally jealous) will be a positive change for all of you.

  26. Wow, this post actually made me tear up. JP sounds like an amazing person- you're both so lucky to have each other. Keep your chin up. We're all rootin' for you! :) (Even if you are ditching out on Chi-town...)

  27. you certainly know how to make a hormonal pregnant woman cry. in a good way. beautiful post.