Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3 Negatives Don't Make a Positive

For about 7 days, I’ve thought I was pregnant. So many things have been running through my mind. What will it be like to be an old mom? How will our household withstand a kid in puberty, 2 in their late teens, and a menopausal mom all at the same time? Could I bear to play Barbies or Thomas the Tank Engine again?

Would this body that has held together, albeit tenuously, all these years be able to handle another pregnancy without going to crap? Why, oh why haven’t I exercised the past two years? Will I ever have a career? Would I resent the baby? Would having a baby strengthen or strain my marriage? Was it okay for a mom of two perfectly healthy children push her luck to have another? What would it be like to go from the freedom of having 2 kids who are currently off playing somewhere in the neighborhood, to having one tethered to my leg, my breast, my heart? What would it be like for a kid to have such older siblings, who already drink soda and say "butt?" Why the heck did we ever get a dog???

Okay, it wasn’t all about me. My first fears were about how much Diet Pepsi I’ve been drinking and how few vitamins I’ve been taking these past few weeks. Is self-tanner bad for a baby? What about my recently colored gray roots? Coming from an older egg to start with, would this baby be saddled with additional problems brought on by an ignorant mom?

On the flip side, I thought about how after 7 years of indecisiveness, the decision had been made for us. We would have another child! Our family would feel complete. Soon there would be a baby in the house. That meant footy pajamas, bath time, and blowing raspberries on a jiggly tummy again. That meant a clean round head to smell and kiss, so delectable I could almost take a bite! That meant a baby to fold up against my chest, to sing to, whose eyes would light up when I entered the room. Someone who really believed I could make it all better. With a 7 and 9 year old, the jig is up. We all know even Mom can’t make everything all better.

I thought about how I might be more relaxed this time. With my first, I put so much pressure on him (and me!) for him to be the perfect child. With my second, I felt so in the weeds from lack of sleep and caring for 2 kids while my husband worked long hours, I simply did my time and rated my days by how much sleep we got. The days were relentless, and I sometimes found myself hiding in the bathroom just to get away from them. Maybe this time I’d have more perspective.

When people told me “this too shall pass,” I didn’t believe them, but now I do. Those babies whose babyhood I wished away are now riding bikes, reading chapter books, and (thankfully!) wiping their own rears. I’ve learned a lot in the almost 10 years since my first pregnancy, especially that all kids are different and mine don’t have to be perfect. I hope I would take some of that wisdom into mothering a new little one.

On the flip side, I wonder if I would be able to muster up the enthusiasm to embrace the wonder of seeing things from a baby’s viewpoint again, and not have a “been there, done that” attitude about parenting.

Well, 3 EPT’s later—all negative—I’m relieved and sad.


Shana said...

Oh, I'm sorry, been there/done that. There is something to be said for moving into the next stage of life, the one where you have big kids and live a big kid family lifestyle. (This said from the woman who has kids 10 years apart, so take it for what it is worth!)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh - I'm a little sad too! But hopefully your relief outweighs everything else. My twins aren't even two yet and I feel like I'm too far away from the newborn stage to ever want to do it again.

Vanessa said...

Oh, can I relate! You expressed it so well. I'm sad and relieved for you, too. I say adopt a 1.5-year-old and skip the pregnancy and early infancy and enjoy adding another little one to your wonderful family! 10 is the perfect age to start babysitting. Of course, I want all my almost-40 friends to go back to toddlerhood with me.

Gretchen said...

Oh, I don't know what to say. I've been on both ends of the boat. My 3rd child was born a month after my 1st turned 3, so I was very "in the weeds" too. I was kinda depressed/crazy for about a year. I was on kid overload for 5 years. Then I had my daughter. It's everything you explained - the baby head smell, the smiles, mom is everything and can do anything. It's also everything else you described - getting up to nurse in the middle of the night, then making lunches and driving carpool a few sleepy hours later. It's changing a poopy diaper while you're in the bleachers watching your son play flag football. It's bringing a stroller to trick-or-treating with your older kids. It is what God intends, whatever it turns out to be. My very favorite verse is Proverbs 16:9. Check it out!

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Thanks for the reminder!
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."