Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Baby

Today I made the acquaintance, for the first time, of the magical little infant daughter of one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world, and it was both lovely and unsettling.

I've been debating for a few years now the question of the second child. It's a boring debate, really. I'm so precious that I sicken myself--who cares one way or the other? I've taken family planning to a ludicrous outer limit of analysis. But I constantly ask the same questions of myself over and over again: will Hedgehog be lonely without a sibling? Or is it nicer to be a family of three? She's super, would another one be? How could we afford two private school tuitions? Where would we put the little feller? Can I go through the monotony and claustrophobia of infancy and toddlerhood once more? Will anxiety and depression rear their ugly conjoined heads again? But will I miss out if I never get to care for another infant in this life? And here's the deepest darkest secret thought: I don't want to go back to work really, but can I justify staying home if I only have one child?

In the annals of the Lady Wars, women have a lot of judgment to pass on each other. You know the drill, mothers vs. those without kids, working mothers vs. stay-at-homes, breast-feeders vs. bottle-feeders etc. etc. Might I say, as an aside, I've received quite a bit of tacit disapproval about my choosing to be home, and then again some disapproval over "extended" breast-feeding (okay, I did nurse Hedgehog for a long time, but I think some people are freaked out by anything over six months). Anything you do as a woman, someone (mostly other women) are going to have something to say about it. But the newest criticism I've fielded is the "only child" criticism. A well-meaning neighbor, whose daughter recently gave birth to twins, commented to me that I "have it so easy" with one child. S***t did that p**ss me off. How presumptuous! And I'm constantly asked if Hedgehog is "my only one" and when are we planning to have another...it's just impossible not to feel pressured. But then I worry that this pressure is fueling my consideration of another baby.

Then do I want to do it all over again? I don't know if I like the thought...but I'm afraid of regret...

I was very nervous about holding Baby P today, at first. Then I did hold her, and it all came back to me in a single, visceral rush. And most of the sense-memory was sweet...

7 comments:

Suzanne said...

Hi Sweetie!

Just want to let you know Cecile has reopened the cafe. It's now the Wild Onion. It's going to be a hoot. Stop by when you have a chance.

Parenthood. Regrets. Hummmmmmmm. I would have been a terrific mom. Always planned to. After college, after law school, after UCLA, after we moved, after we moved to a bigger place, after we bought a home, after we moved back to the Bay Area. So much thought went into it, but we waited too long and before I knew it I was 45. I still thought I was 30, but I was 45. I thought my heart would break. I never, in a million years thought I wouldn't have children. Never. If you know me, you know there is no truer statement. I still can't believe it some times. I heard my neighbor's visitors arrive the other afernoon and the words "Hi Grandma, oh how I've missed you." I'll never hear those words. I've often thought of adoption, but I'm tired and don't think I'd have the energy.

Honey, I think you should do what's in your heart. Don't listen to anyone else. Put your hands over your ears and look into your future. You'll see the answer. I over think everything. Don't. Just feel what's supposed to happen and you'll find your answer.

I'll tell you a funny story. We have dear friends we met at Berkeley. They married and have two beautiful children. They're very wealthy (Randy's dad was a post master general, the head of major corporations, etc.,) but you'd never know because Randy's the most down to earth man on the planet. I was at the house one day and the kids were showing me the master bedroom and the oldest one says "we all sleep in the big bed and Daddy sleeps there," and points to the cot next to the big bed. I couldn't stop laughing. When I told Randy what Owen had said we laughed way too hard. Kids. Randy said "You believe that honey?" I replied "Yup!" Katie nursed for ever and the kids get the big bed. See sweetie, you aren't alone. There are other parents just like you! And I agree with all of you. Do what feels right and don't worry about any one else. As far as having another child? You have time. Make a choice and don't have regrets. Be happy.

Love you dear,
XO

Gig said...

Hi Leah,
Decided to de-lurk. I agree with everything Suze said, go with your heart and cover your ears...

I have one daughter, she has blessed me with 7 grandchildren, no I did not stutter. 5 beautiful girls and 2 handsome boys. All healthy. I am blessed. I never thought I would have just one child, but I have never been sorry at having just one.

Whatever you decide will be the right decision.

I have enjoyed visiting here,
come on over to the *Wild Onion*
and we all will chat and whatever happens at the *Wild Onion* stays at the *Wild Onion*...

till later,
Gig

Too Little Time said...

I have found that in 99% of the time no matter what decision you make you will wonder if you made the right one. There will be times when you revisit whatever topic and think hummm, what if I.... However, you will always be considering your decisions in the light of added information. I felt awful when Lissa had to go to daycare, but I had no choice. With Joshua I could keep him home. However, I found that Lissa was more self assured because she did go to day care where Joshua wasn't as he was home. Make your best decisions and sail forward. =) Karrie

Leah said...

Suzanne, thanks for such an honest and soulful reply. I really enjoy getting to know you and your story, and I'm so glad you stop by here to share mine. Your words have consistently been supportive; they make me not regret all this heart-on-my-sleeve posting! XO to you!

And Gig! I'm really delighted that you de-lurked. Stop by anytime! And now I'll be a-visiting soon at your place too. 7 grandchildren! That's pretty much my ideal vision--just Hedgehog, but then tons of her progeny for me to love and cherish and send home at the end of the day!!!! I'm kidding there. That is a really neat story, though.

Karrie--that's really interesting about Joshua and Lissa and their personalities. See, there's every sort of argument to be made for every way of doing things with your kids and family! You're right, I do agree that, especially if one is like me, there are always questions after any big decision. I shall just have to make my peace with that. But I am a consummate overthinker...

ShutterSpy said...

I might have misundertood, but when you say 'the little fella' it sounds like you're seeing it in your mind as being a boy, and maybe that's what you want, but does that mean you'd be disappointed if it was another girl?

Sorry if this makes no sense. I'm no good reading word blogs! :-D

Leah said...

It's true Shutterspy, I did say little fella--but actually I call everything "little fella," I'm not sure why. I guess it's my designation for cute! I think if I did have another baby, I'd be happy for a boy or a girl...I know Hedgehog wouldn't mind a boy! I've always imagined myself with two girls, but I think that's cause of growing up with a sister.

Lisa said...

Okay, I agree with the cover your ears and go woth your heart advice! The size of your family is only something that you and the other half should have any say over. Enough Said!

I have two girls and wouldn't do it over any other way ever! The Munchkin graduates from College in 33 days! My heart has never been so heavy with joy and happiness, except for the day she was born. Enjoy Hedgehog and the rest is gravy!