Juxtaposition

Today Isa and I were at the Discovery Museum, a place I avoided like the plague during our struggles to get pregnant. If you’re hoping to refrain from seeing pregnant women or growing families, DO NOT go to the Discovery Museum.

Today was not the first time I’ve been to the Discovery Museum since I’ve been pregnant, but the only other time I was feeling quite sick and there was a huge event that day and it was insanely crowded. Plus Mi.Vida was around to distract me. Needless to say I didn’t have much time for deep thoughts. Or any thoughts at all.

This time I was alone with Isa. There weren’t many people there and I found I had a lot of downtime to sit and watch other families as they drifted in and out of our shared space. While I’m sure there were some single child families, the two situations that I noticed over and over again really me struck me in their highlighting of two very conflicting emotions: how broken I still feel and how scared I still am.

The first family I saw a lot of was the hugely-pregnant-woman-with-the-barely-walking-toddler. I must have seen six or seven women like this! And yet I didn’t see one that was pregnant with a child as old as Isa. All those children has siblings already out and about, playing with (or at least beside) them. When I think about it rationally, a 3.5 year gap seems very normal, and yet we don’t know anyone who has kids spaced that way and we don’t seem to see many either. All the people we know who have kids Isa’s age (or younger) already have their second babies. There is something about always seeing everyone else doing something a different way than you’re doing it (especially when it’s the way you wanted to do it) that hurts. It’s also a constant reminder of what we couldn’t do, despite increasingly desperate attempts. Seeing all these families with their obvious (secondary) fertility makes me feel broken. I doubt I’ll always feel this way, especially not after the baby is born, but right now it seems to slap me in the face. (And I can’t imagine how much it stings for women whose first child is much, much older than my daughter).

The second kind of families I saw were those with the still toddling one year old and the very new baby, commiserating with the toddler/preschooler families about how hard it is. The families who have been doing this two-kid thing for at least a year or two (or more) try to reassure the families coming after them that it DOES get better, but they don’t seem very convincing. In fact, they seem downright weary.

Last week, Mi.Vida got an email from a friend of his congratulating us on our good news. After exchanging pleasantries, the friend said, very bluntly, that he felt he could share something with us now (I still wonder if he meant now that his second son is one and his first son is three or now that we’re finally pregnant). This is what he choose to share: “having two kids kinda sucks.”

Um yeah.

The thing is, it didn’t even piss me off in that self-righteous, I-dealt-with-infertility-how-DARE-you kind of way. Actually, it kind of scared the crap out of me. And I kept thinking about it as I watched those weary parents of a toddler and preschooler trying miserably (and probably failing) to assuage the desperate fears of the sleep-deprived, half-crazed parents of the newborns and toddlers.

Because the thing is, my struggle does not blind me to the fear of having another child, at least not all of the time. When my daughter screams a blood curdling, furiously defiant NOOOOOOO! in that way she has now of asserting herself and making known her frustration, I wonder how my patience will grow to encompass two tiny, needy beings. When she wakes up at 5:30am on a Saturday morning having peed through her diaper, pajamas and sheets, unable to fall back asleep, I wonder how I’ll manage twice the sleep deprivation. When I hear the more seasoned mother of two agree with the newer mother of two that sleep, along with personal time, is something you just have to give up for a good five years, I fear for the health of my relationship.

I try to tell myself that the parents of two under two, or even two under two-and-a-half, have a different experience than I will with 3.5 years between my children. I try to convince myself that my experience will probably be different, but how can I know? Maybe those first years are just insanely brutal, no matter how old your second child is.

So I sit there, stewing in that fear, until the hugely pregnant woman with the drooling one year old waddles by and my fear quickly morphs into jealously and longing, for that thing that they have, that I couldn’t manage, that thing that scares me shitless.

The prefect juxtaposition of desire and dread; I want it so much and yet I fear I won’t be able to handle it.

I guess at this point all I can do is hope. And have faith. And stop going to the Discovery Museum.

 

10 responses

  1. My first 2 kids are less than 2 years apart and it was busy, no doubt. The third came along almost 3 years later and it truly wasn’t bad at all. Your 3.5 year old is way more capable than that infant and you need to make sure she knows it! She will be your biggest helper! And trust me, you will be able to enjoy the baby-ness of your new babe because Isa is that much older. Sure, life is busy and insane but I’m certain you will handle it, maybe not always well, but no one does it perfect all the time!! As long as the love is there, laundry will get done another day 🙂

  2. Ok so having 2 kids IS hard (but you know that) but it definitely doesn’t suck. I promise. I think Isa will be the perfect age to really help with her new sibling. I’m so sorry the spacing wasn’t what you envisioned. I hope that when Baby arrives those hurt feelings will fade and your family will be perfect for all of you.

  3. Before I got to the second half of your post, I was already thinking “but there are real advantages of having a decent space between your children.” It’s not such a big space that the children will have nothing in common – my sister is three years younger than me, and we’ve always been good mates. Yes, we fought – that’s more the tween-teenage years though. And I was always just that bit older so I could look after her too. And yet there was enough of a gap that there wasn’t a lot of competition between us. I’m not sure it would have worked out so well if there had only been two years between us.

    And I know you’ve thought all this through, and I’m not surprised that you’re feeling a bit daunted. That’s only natural I’m sure, whether it is baby number 1, 2, or 5!

  4. The idea of 2 scares me. 2 under 2 scares me even a little more. But I’m old, and if I wanted more kids, I had to do this. I know it’s going to be a lot of work. I know there will be times when I feel it sucks, but it will all be worth it. But here’s the thing…ideally, 3 years would have been my spacing. My sister and I are 3 years apart and we’re very close. But since I had a late start, I didn’t have the choice. When people talk about ideal spacing of children, to each their own. I don’t know if there is an ideal. It will be what it will. People may have what you want, but you may have what others want. Always remember not everything is as it appears.

  5. I find the most challenge with family time– two kids of such disparate ages (3 and 13) really mean two separate parenting challenges/ needs in every arena. It means we are both parenting but not together. My hope is that you find that Isa is a huge helper and that it brings you all into an even tighter family unit. It has been the story of a few couples I know who didn’t conceive their second right away.

    Xo,

    Pam

  6. Most people in this area seem to have them two years apart. Or if they’re hugely pregnant and also have one who is barely walking (I’m gonna guess if you say ‘barely walking’ and drooling that you mean one 16 mos or less?), it wasn’t necessarily planned that way. I have a friend whose two are 16 months apart and it was horrid for her to be pregnant while trying to deal with an infant. I know from her mouth that she did not plan it that way. I have two other friends whose kiddos are spaced that way, and while it wasn’t totally an accident, it certainly wasn’t planned that way, either. (In one case, it took her 11 months of trying for her first, so she started trying a bit early for her second and got pregnant right away…). Here, though, it really does seem like if people want a second, they try to space it 2-2.5 yrs apart. Once your kid hits 2.5, people start to assume you aren’t planning a second child (which is also the case with two other of my mama friends).

    Anyhow, that “advice”, that having two sucks, phrased that way, was perhaps supremely insensitive, and wholly unnecessary, since it obviously won’t change the path you are already on (and thus you will inevitably discover for yourself the challenges), BUT, from what I’ve seen, I do sometimes wonder whether two at different ages is almost harder than twins sometimes. People see you with twins, and they (ham-fistedly, but still) try to boost you, or at least pity you. As a parent of twins, you readily admit that you haven’t the foggiest effin’ clue what’s going on, and your life is pure chaos 99% of the time. With one, at least as seems to be the case with the majority of my friends who have had their children one at a time, the adjustment is abrupt, but you slowly figure things out, gain confidence, etc. You think you have the baby thing figured out, and so, you have a second child, sure that this one will be easier because you already know what you are doing. But that second child may or may not be the same as the first, plus the dynamic of adding another human to your pod is disrupting to *every* member of that pod, which just makes everything harder.

    So yeah, your friend was probably right that having two sucks sometimes (it certainly does for me), but I think what may have been even more accurate is that two may be a shock, and it may be harder than you imagined, and it may be nothing like you expected, and it may temporarily change your family dynamic for the worse, BUT– adding a second child, for you guys, was important enough that you went through months and months of trying, and diagnosis, and stress and therapist appointments, etc. You guys have all the tools possible in your arsenal to deal with this addition in the best way possible. Yes, it’s gonna be hard (no one can deny that), but you guys have so methodically moved through your difficulties, first with Mi.Vida’s reluctance to add to the family, through your own worries and trials, and then as a couple, to get your diagnosis, to get an idea of what possible paths could be, and then to an unexpected positive pregnancy test. You guys have this figured out. It’s gonna be hard, but you’re gonna do fine. You’re not going to sleep much, but that’s not a surprise with even just one infant. You’ve got this.

  7. I also wanted my kids closer together, but ended up with a 5 year gap. I’ve dealt with many people asking why we would wait so long, which wasn’t my choice at all . Most of our friends have kids spaced about 2.5 years apart. Interestingly, we’ve also met quite a few couples with only one child due to secondary infertility. It’s when I meet those families that I’m reminded once again of how lucky we are, regardless of the big gap in age.

    Honestly, I don’t know how I would have done it if they had been born closer together. I would have been fine, of course, but I honestly don’t think I would have had the perspective or the down time to enjoy it quite as much. My oldest daughter is pretty independent, goes to preschool most days and has become a great helper. The whole experience has been relaxed and highly enjoyable. It wasn’t what I envisioned, but it turned out to be pretty awesome!

  8. Ugh! The Discovery Musuem never fails to make me feel like crap. It seems designed to bring out our insecurities. When I’m there I notice the twig Moms who make me feel like shit and also the 3 kid families, which, ditto. It always seems like moms there are doing a better job than me, at whatever it is they are doing.

    I can’t advise you on the 2 kid thing because I’ve never NOT had 2 kids. 😉

  9. I’m not even pregnant yet, but I often feel nervous about having two someday. It does seem really challenging…in a good way of course…but still tough. As you know, you can totally do it. You’ll learn as you go and be just fine. We all will.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s