The Question

It started when we got married.  Before, really, since we’d been together so long.  That age old question: “When are you going to have kids?”

It’s a delicate question, especially when a couple doesn’t have any kids.  Maybe they’re trying and haven’t been successful, maybe there have been losses, maybe they don’t want kids at all.  The curious, in general, are easily placated.  

The frequency and persistence of The Question have picked up considerably since our first.  Now that we have one, and people are sure that not only do we want kids but that we’re able to have them, it seems as if everyone wants to know when – and if – we’ll have another.  

Good question.  

Not Unlike The Situation, The Question.

I guess I always thought that if I had one, I’d want another, but the secret and honest truth is that I don’t know if I do.  I’m happy.  I’m comfortable.  My house is too small, our budget is too tight.  We have no family in town to help us out, to give us a night off or be there quickly in a pinch.

Training my daughter to sleep took months and months and MONTHS, and now?  Everyone in my house is sleeping through the night.  We are out of the infancy stage, which frankly – please don’t judge me – I found boring.  My 20-month daughter’s vocabulary is exploding, and being able to have a conversation with her is a relief.  Our days at home together have become a joy – actually fun, instead of hours of long, hard work that drains me.  I hated the crawling stage, I couldn’t wait for my daughter to hold her own bottle.  

I feel like I hit the jackpot.  My daughter is (in my humble opinion) sweet, beautiful, smart, and well-behaved.  She is happy to hang out and color while we have drinks with our friends.  She’s flexible and hilarious.  

I know it sounds selfish to say this, but after three pregnancies and struggling to find our footing in the first year, I feel like I finally have my life back.  It feels magical.  We have friends from all walks of our life – with kids and without – and it’s working!  My sweet girl isn’t cramping our style, she’s enhancing and expanding the great life we had before she came along.  It feels like the best of all worlds.  And for the first time in a really long time, I feel surrounded by a really great and diverse group of friends.  Life is fun again.  My daughter is thriving, and so am I.  

I am really, truly happy.

But I can’t help but feel that I’m being selfish.  Maybe when life settles down after a second baby – or at least once we’re out of that first year – I could have this magic back.  I’m frankly not getting any younger – and in a few more years (good god, probably less than that) it might be really hard to have another.  What if I’m squandering my chance for the family I’ve always wanted?  What if that family IS what I really want and I’m just blinded by the easy fun I’m having right now?

I can’t help but think about the worst case scenario.  I’ve lived a worst-case scenario.  What if something happens to my only baby, my precious girl, and I’m left alone and it’s too late?  The thought of something horrible happening to my beloved daughter makes me want to irrationally fill my tiny house with babies.

What if only children just aren’t as happy?  New research shows that they are, but who knows? If all my hopes and dreams rest on my daughter, is that too much pressure?  Is the love/hate of a sibling one of life’s quintessential experiences?

What about that second baby that I know I’ll fall madly in love with – am I letting him or her down?  If I have that baby, I know I won’t regret it.  Yes, I’ll find my new kid just as smart and beautiful and irresistible as my daughter and maybe I’ll even wonder how I ever got along before.  Poor example I KNOW, but I got a second dog once.  I won’t take him back now that he’s here, but damn sometimes I wish I had a do-over (anyone interested in a terrier that just. Will. Not. Stop. Ever?).  No, I won’t offer my second baby up on this blog if it’s hard (and it will be), but haven’t you ever wished you had just taken the other road?  Deep down?  Can any of us really admit that we didn’t have at least have one tiny moment with that first baby when we whispered to ourselves, “Oh my god, what have I done??”

The truth is, when I picture my family in 10 or 20 or 30 years, I picture us with more than one child.  The picture in my head is lovely and we’re all happy and I weigh 20 pounds less.  Is that really what I want?  And to what extent do I set aside my happiness now for the fantasy?  We never really get the fantasy…right?  What if right now is the fantasy?  

One day over coffee, MD told me that there is no right or wrong – the right decision is whatever works for me and for my family.  But what works for us?  I just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: I want to be happy.  I want my family to be happy.  I want to look back and have no regrets.  I want to have fun!  I want to be comfortable.  I want to be a good person.  I don’t want to be selfish.  I don’t want to let anyone down.  

My answer to The Question?  I just don’t have one.  


The Unknown

It’s been nearly four weeks now since my husband and I sat speechless in the ICU waiting for our son’s bone marrow biopsy results. During the week prior we had watched S’s health deteriorate quickly and knew something was very wrong. His normally high energy level had disappeared and he had very swollen lymph nodes, an altered voice, fever and lethargy. Many tests were performed and none of the standard illnesses were identified, however, some unusual results and new findings suddenly caused great concern for one other possibility. My husband and I shared the dark suspicion that bad news was about to arrive. We tried to comprehend why this horrible disease would invade our baby. We were convinced our healthy, strong, happy, funny little boy was about to face an uncertain future and he had just celebrated his fifth birthday.

In the time before the procedure I immersed myself in countless Internet searches (not recommended), studied the statistics, traditional and alternative treatments, remission rates and any other information I could find. So many questions to answer. How would we explain this to S and get him through this? How would we put on a happy face for him each day and try to keep life “normal” for his little brother? How would we save him? 

After we had held our screaming, thrashing little boy down while the nurses inserted the IV and took yet another blood draw I also tried to imagine what possible explanation we could offer as to why we would help people hurt him over and over again? 

We waited and waited for the leukemia diagnosis. Finally, the pediatrician stepped in the room and smiled. Negative.

Mononucleosis was the culprit, though it’s presence had evaded numerous prior tests. S’s health has improved dramatically and most of his symptoms have since disappeared. His energy level will be low for a few weeks yet but he will soon start kindergarten. We are thrilled that we can share in the beautiful joy and simplicity of discussions surrounding his new school, swimming lessons and play dates with friends. 

I look at our children, and all children, a bit differently now. At odd moments, like while watching a group of kids happily running around at a birthday party recently, I get a rush of anxiety and fear that I have to wish away. There are so many things people told me about how parenthood would change me but no one could have prepared me for the realization that, in a moment, our family could have entered such an alternate reality. Now the experience is with me, my baggage of appreciation for one simple thing-health.

Happy S

We are getting back into our normal daily groove. I’m about to take the boys to the library and, merely because it’s a gorgeous summer day, we might stop for an ice cream cone afterwards.

To the friends that stepped in to help at a moment’s notice, and to all the others we knew would, Thank You. We are so grateful to have you all in our lives.

S and R

– RC

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