Oscillation

I know I’ve written before about the gratitude I feel about having a second child and how happy I am that our family can finally feel complete. But I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard sometimes to walk away from the idea of a third kid. I don’t know where it originally came from–I only have one living sibling so it’s not like I’m trying to recreate the kind of family I grew up in by having three kids. Maybe I’m trying to have the family my parents wanted but didn’t get. My mom wanted four kids and my dad wanted two so they settled on three. But then my sister died and my mother had three stillbirths so they stopped when my only living sister was born. Maybe I wanted three kids because they couldn’t have three themselves.

Three kids is not in the cards for us. And honestly, a lot of the time I’m totally okay with that. A lot of the time I actually think it’s what’s best for our family. We live in an expensive city. The only way we survive here financially is through the very generous help of family, family we can’t depend on forever. It would be selfish of us to ask them to help us with a third child and without their help, we absolutely couldn’t afford childcare for three children.

We can’t afford it, my husband doesn’t even want it, and our fertility issues make it all but impossible. Not having a third child isn’t even a choice for us. It isn’t meant to be. Our family is complete. And yet… it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to let go of that original dream. It’s hard not to wonder… what if?

I think it will be hard for me, when people I know start having third children. I almost asked my friends yesterday, the ones who have kids close in age to our own, if they were planning on having a third child (they have initiated the conversation in the past, which is the only reason I would ask now). I know they originally wanted four, but then decided that was too much and even said once that they might be done at two. I’m guessing they’ll have three. I’m guessing my cousin will have three. Probably quite a few of our friends will have three. It’s something I have to be ready for, people expanding their families while ours stays the same size. I will be very happy for them, but it will be hard not to consider our own family size and not think of my original dreams. Watching someone do what you can’t, but wanted to, do is difficult, even when you know in your mind that what they have isn’t what’s best for your family.

Our hearts are stubborn forces. I wish our minds held more sway over them. I wish all the rational thinking that helps me know it’s right for us to be a family of four could keep my heart convinced.

There are other feelings swirling around this issue too. One is the immense gratitude I feel that we even have two children. I really didn’t think we’d get to have a second child and then we did and he’s amazing and I am so thankful. There is also guilt, because I have TWO children and so many people want a second child, or any children at all, so who I am to want a third? And honestly, I know this isn’t a popular sentiment in this community but I truly believe that I SHOULD be grateful, JUST grateful for what I have when I know so many people who have less. I get that we all want what we want and we have our own dreams for our family and we can grieve those dreams. I get that, I do, but I also think it’s kind of selfish of me to wish I had more when so many people have less. This is just how I feel about myself, it’s a deeply personal expectation (as in, I don’t expect others to feel that way, nor do I think they should) and most of the time I live up to it, but sometimes I falter.

Like when Mi.Vida talks about scheduling his vasectomy (have I mentioned how much Mi.Vida DOESN’T want to have another kid?) and the finality of that action settles like cold stone in my stomach. I feel that tight weight when I get rid or something from Monito’s infancy, like the co-sleeper and bouncy chair I recently sold.

And then there are moments, like yesterday, when I pulled out the baby food ice trays and I thought, “When I stored these away I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to use them again. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m pureeing carrots for a second child.” In those moments I am flooded with this warmth of gratitude, I literally feel it wash through my body like a wave, emanating heat from deep within me. It’s an incredible feeling, one I can wrap myself in for week, and even months, at a time.

The feeling of wishing I could have a third child is murkier. It’s more distant, like a memory of something that happened in the distant past. It’s not usually a visceral reaction, like my gratitude, it’s more like that tingle you get in your jaws when you think of eating something sour. It’s intense for a short moment, but it fades quickly and then you barely even register that it’s there.

That is where my wanting a third child is now. Just a tingle in my jaw when I read a post, or see a family that might be announcing their third pregnancy. It’s a very dully ache that I can’t quite place and that disappears before my mind can linger on it.

I’m sure I’ll oscillate between these two feelings a lot in the coming years, as those we know build their families while we do not. I just hope that I swing to the side of gratitude and acceptance more than to the side of envy and wanting, because I do have so much and our family is so very lucky.

What is your experience with infertility and family size? How do you feel about it?

Why me?

I’ve read many posts in which ALI bloggers ask the question Why me? But usually they are wondering why they are being forced to endure the struggles of IF and loss.

I have been asking the question Why me? a lot lately, but I’m asking it for the opposite reason.

What I want to know is why do I get to have a second child when so many others are struggling to have their first or were never able to have a second… or have no living children to parent at all? Why do I get to have so much when so many others are left wanting, when they have struggled for so much longer than I have and endured so much more suffering? Why were we able to get pregnant despite two diagnoses when others can’t get pregnant when no causes are found? Why did we only suffer one miscarriage when others have lost so many more babies?

I know I will never know the answers to these questions. I try not to let the guilt overwhelm me, but sometimes I just feel horrible that I’ve been given so much when others are wanting. I feel like I cut in line, not once but twice. I recognize how horribly unfair it is and I feel guilty for being the one who is on the more advantageous side of the lopsided equation.

The truth is, my life is pretty close to perfect right now. We have achieved everything we worked for in the last five years. We had our daughter. We bought a house in the city we love. Mi.Vida got a new job that will better support our family and give him valuable opportunities in a field that interests him. We are expecting our second child. We can finally get married in the state where we live.

Why do we get to have all of these things while other people are left wanting one or more (sometimes all of them). Who are we to have so much?

On the one hand I feel like I should apologize for all I have, that I must constantly acknowledge the MUCHNESS of it. On the other hand I feel this great responsibility to appreciate it all, to take nothing for granted. Knowing how much others would give to have what I’ve been given is a great weight, resting heavily on my shoulders.

With great happiness comes great responsibility.

My therapist urges me to combat my anxiety with gratitude work, but she doesn’t tell me what to do when all that gratitude becomes guilt. How do I appreciate everything I have without feeling guilty for having it when others do not? I don’t know how to do that yet. It is a puzzle and I’m barely able to piece together the edges, let alone see what the picture is.

I know this community is a complicated place. I want to make clear that absolutely NO ONE has made me feel this way. I have only received love and support for my successes, even from those who have been left wanting while I have forged ahead with my shiny new perfect life. Everyone’s gracious support has been so appreciated. I know this is my own shit that I have to deal with, and I’m sure I’ll figure out how. Eventually.

Have you ever felt guilt for what you have? How do you manage it?

Trial and Error (Light on the former, heavy on the latter)

So yesterday I went to a baby shower. I was lucky enough to never attend a (non-work) baby shower before this one (except my own). I didn’t know anyone there besides the mother-to-be and it was really far away from my place, requiring over an hour of travel time each way. Being at the shower meant I’d miss most of Isa’s awake hours, which was hard. But I was still excited to go because I love the woman having the baby (she is my best friend’s wife) and hope we can see them a lot when when they enter parentdom.

There was only one moment during the shower when I felt the difference between our two experiences (she got pregnant the first month trying). She was retelling the story of how she told her husband that she was pregnant and I suddenly remembered both the times I told Mi.Vida about our pregnancies. The differences between the two instances are substantial.

The first pregnancy I found out about while traveling without him in New York. When I got home I bought him a Father’s Day Card (it had just passed that weekend) and wrote, “I know you’ll be the most amazing dad” in it, or some such sentimental saying. And then I gave it to him with a positive pregnancy test. It was amazing and I was so excited. Of course we lost that pregnancy two weeks later in an ER with an MVA and two methotrexate shots in the ass.

The second time I told Mi.Vida we were pregnant it was 6am on a work day and I was sobbing with fear that we’d have another ectopic. There was so little happiness in finding out about that pregnancy. And for some reason, hearing her tell her story made me realize that for the first time. And I had to take a few minutes to mourn the excitement I should have felt when I found out about the pregnancy that brought me my daughter. It only lasted a moment though, and I rallied to play all the silly games and watch her open present after present.

On the way back I thought of how I’d tell Mi.Vida we were pregnant for number two, if we’re lucky enough for that to happen to us. I don’t want to share it because Mi.Vida reads my blog. I have to say, I’m excited about it.

Until I wonder if that will be another doomed pregnancy, and I’ll be wasting my special idea on a something I will remember later through the anguished lens of loss. There is no way to know until it’s too late, so I’ll have to take that step in faith, if the time ever comes.

Anyway, enough of that sad-sap stuff. I mean, I didn’t have to go to work today. Why am making myself feel shitty in spite of that awesome fact?!

I actually made myself feel pretty shitty earlier today too. I’m sure you all remember that I was a little over-zealous about Isa’s sleep schedule, especially about her naps. Well, the good news is she’s a great napper now, taking two 1.5-2.5 hour naps every day at consistent times. The bad news is, we’ve become completely beholden to said nap schedule, which leaves us these times to do anything out of the house: 8:30-10:00, 12:30-2:30, 4:00-6:30 (give or take 30 minutes). By the time Isa is up, dressed and fed we’ve lost 30+ precious minutes of that time, leaving less time left than most outings would require to execute.

I’ve really noticed the constraints of this nap schedule when trying to meet up with a mom who lives in the area. Her son is only five months and is still taking three naps. Which means our children are on completely opposite schedules. Whenever Isa is awake, H is asleep and vice versa. We haven’t been able to see each other since I went back to work.

So today I did a bold and uncharacteristic thing. I said f*ck it and took Isa out, leaving after she was supposed to go down for her nap. Not only did I do that, but I stayed out for 1.5 hours, bringing her home when she sometimes gets up from her nap. Oh, and I also didn’t bring a bottle.

About 7 blocks from home she totally lost her $h!t. Like back arching, shrill screaming, tears streaming lost her shit. I felt horrible. I hurried home, made her a bottle and put her to bed. She was so tired and looked so dejected as she finished those eight ounces, I felt horribly guilty. I promptly broke down when I walked out of her room declaring myself the Worst Mother Ever.

So my first attempt at flying in the face of Isa’s nap schedule did not go as I had hoped. In the end I wasn’t even thankful to see the woman that I met up with, even though I was so desperate to talk with a fellow mom that I took Isa out during her nap in the first place. Of course, I did nothing to ensure a successful outting, and I only have myself to blame for that. The next time I try this I will be home much earlier (and I will have a bottle with me, just in case).

We spent the rest of today making some homemade baby food (which I will tell you more about on Useful Tuesday) and hosting some friends for a couple of hours of adult conversation.

Tonight I’ve said I will cook dinner, as Mi.Vida has much to do and little time to do it. My pipe dream is to bring Isa downtown between this nap and bedtime so I can use an Old Navy coupon before it expires. I doubt that will happen, but a mom can dream.

In the meantime, I’m so behind on my Creme de la Creme comments, I need to get on that. I’ve read up to 80 but have only commented up to 65. Gotten shrink that gap!