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Poll Time: Why would anyone have another child?

14 Oct
Cutest Baby Alive

Incidentally, HOW GORGEOUS IS MY BABY???

Jake and I had the chat last weekend.  Yes, THE chat: Should we plan to have another child?

Now, before you get all WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS SO SOON? let me explain.  Jake and I are both sprinters.  We don’t tolerate lollygagging.  If we are going to give Seabass a baby brother/sister, I’d rather it be sooner than later for two reasons:  one, I don’t want to change diapers for the better part of a decade, and two, my body isn’t getting any younger.

So, we entertained the idea over a nice lunch, and, unfortunately, Jake and I are experiencing a difference of opinion.  Can you guess who wants what?  That’s right.  I want to keep building our family, and he’s crying uncle.

Each of us has some very good arguments and some not-so-compelling arguments.  In general (and not surprisingly), mine are more emotional, and his are more practical.  Here I share my own, and then Jake gets to defend his reasons in his own words.

Jaime:

I want a girl.  I know, I know.  I can’t control that.  And if it’s another boy, I’ll still be over the moon.  But the thought of having a little girl touches something really deep inside me.  I guess it’s always been my assumption that I’d have a daughter sooner or later.

I’m finally (mostly, pretty much, generally) having fun with Seabass.  And glimpsing this makes me curious to experience more, with a different little bundle of love.

I don’t want to be left out.  One of the greatest gifts of my nascent parenthood is connecting deeply with other moms in the same boat.  The thought of being left behind as they continue having kids makes me sad.

I don’t want Seabass to be an only child.  If he’s anything like me, he’ll be horribly self-involved without having to learn how to share.  And that’s a valuable lesson that’s only fully absorbed in the home.

Four makes a family.  This isn’t true, of course.  Two makes a family, and Jake and I have always been very clear on that.  But something about an immediate family of four just feels nice.  Okay, not my best argument.  Shut up.

Jacob:

We can’t afford it.  With the first child we had state-sponsored health insurance for the birth and the boy’s first year, making him cheap to have.  A second kid would likely run us $5k+, in addition to an extra ~$300/mo in health insurance.
 
The pain.  I feel the first child nearly broke us spiritually/emotionally.  My wife’s on meds for crying out loud!  I experienced many moments with Seabass screaming like a banshee in which I swore one was it.  I told myself I don’t care what anybody says, I will not be swayed from this absolutely final decision that there can be only one, because it was that painful.  I am a peaceful, mellow, even passive guy, and I was tempted towards violence.  Violence!  That’s not even considering Jaime’s birthing pains.
 
We’ll have a boy.  Jaime wants a girl.  When will the madness stop?  10 kids?  15?!
 
We can’t afford it.  Did I mention that already?  We want to buy a house.  We want to send the first boy to college.  We want to live above the poverty line.  Don’t give me that BS about how kids don’t really cost that much.  Jaime can insert here some link to how much a child is supposed to cost in the first 10 years or whatever.
 
People only have a second kid for the first kid’s sake.  My theory is that foolish newlyweds say they want five kids.  Then they have one and realize how hard it is, and the count goes to two, maybe three.  But why have more?  Just because they think the first one needs a friend, that it will teach him to share.  The second one comes along and they see how hard THAT is, and they run to the doctor for a vasectomy.  Then the two they have that are supposed to be friends and distract each other so that their parents can take a breath end up at each others’ throats until they move out of the house…at which point they become best friends.
 
C-Bass will be better off.  If we can conserve all our precious resources (time, money, energy, attention) then C-Bass will get to enjoy more of them.  Maybe he can go to a better school.  Maybe we can take him traveling somewhere special, whereas when carting two kids around it’s unlikely we’ll make it further than the local campground.  Knowing how dead to the world we are currently with a  5-month old, imagine us trying to pay any attention to him when he’s a couple years old but his 5-month old kid sister has drained us just like he did.  It doesn’t get better as they get older because there’re just more events, activities, clubs, etc. that will divide our attention between children.
 
The difficulties will be different.  People say that if we had such a hard time with this kid, then the next one could be easy.  BS.  No kid is easy all the time.  Not even a vast majority of the time.  I remember Jaime being jealous of other moms whose kids were so easy during get-togethers and whatnot, only to find out that they’re waking up with them throughout the night.  Each kid has its difficulty now or later, and it will most likely be something different than what we’ve figured out with this first one.  New pain.

Alright folks, here’s the poll.  We want to know how you all feel about this and how your thoughts play (and played) into your actions.  So please answer the following three questions, and be honest!

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Two Reasons Our Anniversary Is Different This Year

5 Oct

Jake's Gold Standard: Funfetti.

Exactly eight years ago today, Jake and I were married in my childhood home.  (I would love to share pictures, but alas, that was before digital cameras were the norm.  How quickly things change.) 

I know I’m biased, but I still consider it the best wedding I’ve ever been to.  Not only was it beautiful – thanks to my family and friends’ hard work – but it was sincere.  Jake and I fell hard for each other, marrying after just four months of engagement, and I think our wedding reflected that love.  In the brutally honest words of my best friend, Caroline, “Your wedding made it seem like your marriage actually might survive.”  And indeed, it has.

That being said, the nature of our anniversary celebrations has changed pretty dramatically this year: 

Reason #1: Seabass.  He’s here, we adore him, and yes, he has caused us mild brain damage.  Whereas in years past we used to ramp-up to October 5th with secret plans to sweep each other off our feet, this year, neither of us even realized it was our anniversary until late last night in a sort of “oh yeah – huh” stupor.

Reason #2: I’m sick as a dog.  I’ve heard that illness is de rigeur for mothers within their first year with baby, so I’d been waiting for the inevitable.  It hit Saturday night like a tsunami.  Since then, I’ve been either in bed, nursing Seabass in the glider, or sprawled on the couch watching the Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum because seeing Jason Bourne kick serious international butt just makes me feel better.

Thankfully, romance is not quite dead in our home.  No, not yet.  This morning I found a precious love note from my sweet husband tucked into the one place he knew I’d find it: in the roll of toilet paper I’ve been carrying with me around the house.  (Cue: aaaawwwwwww.)  And for him, I’ve prepared his absolute favorite sweet treat in the entire world: Funfetti cupcakes.  From a box.  He knows what a sacrifice this is because a) I’m sick and b) it KILLS ME to buy the box with the Pillsbury doughboy on it.  (I mean, have you ever heard of such a thing?  A man preferring Pillsbury to from-scratch cupcakes?  I ask you.)  But it is a special occasion, so whatever Jake wants, Jake gets.

Happy anniversary, darling.  You’re still the man I didn’t know I could hope for.  Now pass the Nyquil.

Variation on a theme by Rod Stewart

4 Sep

As overheard while Jake changed the baby’s diaper this morning:

[To the tune of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart.]

IF your name is Seabass
AND your diaper’s dirty
COME on, baby, let me know…

Heart Firmly Attached To Sleeve

2 Sep

One of these babies is not like the other.

Have you noticed how boring my posts have been lately?  Seriously: SNORE.  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I’m happy.

And I’m happy, at least in part, because I’m on anti-depressants.  That’s right, mommy’s on meds. 

I have debated whether or not to share this bit of information with the World Wide Web since I popped my first pill a little over three weeks ago.  While it’s true that I am a drama queen sans pareil, I also have a deep desire to help anyone who might find themself in a similar situation at some point.  The friends who have told me their stories and helped shepherd me thus far are godsends.  So I’ve decided to follow in their footsteps in the hope that someone out there finds in me a sympathetic virtual shoulder to cry on.

I was so naive pre-Seabass.  Colicky babies were born to patient people, and post-partum depression was for Brooke Shields.  During my pregnancy, I had a voracious appetite for books on how to nurse baby, how to put baby to sleep, how to implement a schedule, blah blah blah.  All of the chapters on colick and postpartum depression were for some other mother.  So I skipped those.

But all the books in the world couldn’t have prepared me for Seabass’ arrival.  He screamed – a manly, deep, earth-shattering scream that belied his young age – in a way that gave entirely new meaning to the word “inconsolable.”  Surprisingly, I was hopeful and upbeat for the first six weeks.  This will end, I told myself.  Everyone says it will end some day.  I clung to a chart in the book The Happiest Baby On The Block which shows a precipitous decrease in babies’ crying from six weeks forward.

But when Seabass’ crying didn’t decrease at six weeks, faith in my own endurance started to wane.  I’d heard that one in eight women experience postpartum depression. Looking around the room at my moms’ group, I saw seven happy, engaged babies and mothers.  And then there was me and Seabass.  (Beneath the exterior, I’m sure those moms felt the same sense of panic and unease as me, but to my bloodshot eyes, everyone else looked like they were on the best carnival ride ever while I was still stuck in line.)

One morning, just two hours after Jake had left for work, I called him in tears.  “I can’t do anything right for this kid,” I sobbed, barely holding a howling Seabass in my arms.  “I don’t know what to do.”  When Jake asked me if he should come home, I didn’t even know how to answer.  I just mumbled “Um, um, um” into the phone until he finally said he was on his way. 

This scenario recurred with increasing frequency; I worried that Jake would someday say he couldn’t come home.  When people asked how things were going with expectant smiles on their faces, I tried to be honest without being a wet blanket.  “It’s okay,” I’d moan.  How could I tell them that I wasn’t fit to be a mother?

Getting out of bed to feed the baby in the middle of the night, I felt a resentment like nothing I’ve ever experienced before – not at Seabass, but at life.  Like someone was out to get me.   To make me miserable.  To find my breaking point.  And insult to injury, Seabass was wide awake and wouldn’t fall asleep after eating.  So I lay on the floor of his room trying to get some sleep while he rocked in his swing, eyes wide open for an hour and a half.  When he finally went to sleep, I crawled into bed and promptly started to weep bitterly, hoping Jake wouldn’t wake up.  But he did.  “I’m so worried about you,” he whispered over my shoulder.  “I think you should talk to the doctor about getting help.”

Interestingly, I balked at his suggestion that I was struggling with postpartum depression.  “It’s not depression,” I snarled.  “It’s just a tragic combination of tough baby and hyper-sensitive mother.” 

But on Seabass’ 10-week birthday, I felt cracks in the dam.  The whole week I’d been listless, heaving monstrous sighs and thinking that nothing I’d ever done was right.  Seabass couldn’t do anything right, either.  Every little chirp and minor fuss he made joined a chorus of voices in my head saying that the good life as I’d previously known it was over.  Talking over dinner one night, Jake was gentle but firm.  “I think you need to tell the doctor how you’re feeling, love,” he said.  “Life can’t go on this way.”

Still, I wasn’t ready to “give up.”  It took conversations with two different friends who’d struggled with postpartum depression to get my attention.  I relayed these stories to Jake.  “She went on anti-depressants?” he asked, amazed.  ‘And she did, too?”  Something about knowing that normal, otherwise healthy women had felt the same uselessness and despair changed our perspective.  Suddenly, postpartum depression didn’t seem so improbable.

I wanted my doctor’s opinion, though.  After hearing an account of the previous weeks, he suggested I consider anti-depressants and gave me a short but thorough explanation of how they work.  I started the medication the next day and haven’t had a single regret.  I suppose I could let myself feel defeated or incompetent about the whole situation, but honestly, I’ve been too engaged in enjoying Seabass to feel much of anything besides gratitude.

A new mother does not envision herself taking medication for this sort of thing.  She does not set up her registry to include diapers, receiving blankets and a six-month supply of Lexapro.  And many women probably muscle through depression in early motherhood without giving anti-depressants so much as a thought.  It’s very possible that they are stronger women than me.

But exciting blog posts be damned.  I’m sticking with boring and happy.

Good Stuff #1: HUSBAND

1 Jul

I have a single friend who recently revealed that she is thinking about having a baby via a sperm bank donation.   At the time she told me, I was still pregnant.  I hadn’t yet experienced any of parenthood’s highs and lows. I think my response to her at the time was nothing more than a hearty good luck and a smile.

Just two weeks into motherhood, though, I called her up and had her come over under the guise of showing off the baby.  My real motive, however, was to exhort her not to go forward with the sperm bank plan.  And why?  Because having a baby without a father is downright kamikaze.

Although I’ve always believed that children need the love and security of both a mom and a dad, practically speaking, if it weren’t for the love and security Jake has shown toward me, lil Seabass may have ended up on someone’s doorstep by now.

Hyperbole, of course.  Mostly.

I’ve had Seabass alone during the day for about three weeks now, and I can’t describe the sense of relief I have when Jake comes home from work.  The sound of his key in the lock at 5:30pm heralds the first full breath I take all day.  It means that the baby will calm down in new, different arms and hear a new, lower voice.  It means there will be fresh energy restored to our home.  It means there will be a shoulder to cry on when I’m bouncing on the exercise ball and trying to breastfeed but Seabass just refuses to eat.  And it means there will be new ideas to try when every response to “WHAT NOW?!?” has been worn to the nub.

So, I gave my whole opinion to my crazy friend, half expecting her to look at me askance and ask when I’d become June Cleaver.  But she didn’t.  She sincerely thanked me for the tip.

It may have had something to do with the fussy, grunting, back-arching Seabass in my arms.  Just a guess.