This is more of a musing “talking to myself” post, just because I’ve been thinking on this subject lately. No, I’ve not really gotten the “baby bug” yet, although on occasion, rarely, and briefly, I get a slight urge that way. My mother-in-law spent a few weeks with us over the summer and said that my husband “needs a girl.” I said, “Talk to somebody else about it!”
My two kids are 19 months apart, and that is plenty close for me (although I know several women who have children spaced much closer together, and more children than I have). A friend of a friend has children nine months apart. Wow. My younger son recently turned two, so if I were to get pregnant now, they’d be about 3 years apart, which would be doable. Except I don’t want to do it. 🙂
One thing that turned my mind towards having another child, is that yesterday I had a pain in my lower right abdomen, and (since I was on my period) my first thought was appendicitis. After looking up the symptoms of said problem, it didn’t really sound like that, so I opened my mind a bit more and realized it felt almost like mittelschmerz. I’ve heard of women getting pregnant while on their period, so I know it is possible that I was ovulating, even if it is unlikely. Since we use “natural family planning” instead of birth control or other forms of contraception to avoid pregnancy, I’m pretending right now that I’m in my fertile time.
We’re not Catholic, by the way, so we don’t have a moral problem with condoms or spermicide — this is just what we’ve chosen. Our older son was conceived despite spermicide, and I’ve heard of numerous other “failures” that resulted in such blessings. (I and my next older sister are also here because of failure of spermicide. My mom had her tubes tied after she gave birth to me.) I’ve also previously written about birth control, but would add this one thing: I’ve read since writing that post that it’s possible that birth control does not cause abortions. The author is extremely pro-life, and said that the studies that indicated that birth control pills might cause a fertilized egg not to implant were flawed, because they looked at hormone levels of women who did not ovulate (because of the Pill) and said that these levels were not sufficient to sustain a pregnancy; however, if a woman has breakthrough ovulation, the follicle and ovary itself will produce hormones that can maintain a pregnancy, regardless of the Pill. I say, “Perhaps.” The old birth control pills had very high levels of hormones, which did prevent almost all ovulation; but Pills from 10-20 years ago had much lower levels of these hormones, which had more breakthrough ovulation, but not necessarily a higher failure rate. Modern “mini-pills” have an even lower level of hormones, and I’ve read that the breakthrough ovulation for them is fairly high… yet they still have a low failure rate. It’s possible that even when ovulation occurs, that the sperm can’t reach the egg because of the thickened cervical mucus due to the Pill, but I’m still not personally comfortable morally with taking birth control pills.
Morality aside, when I was first pregnant, I gave the midwife my medical history, and when I told her that I had never been on the pill, she immediately said, “Good!!” Medications can do weird things, and I’m simply not comfortable taking them if a suitable alternative exists. Some women wouldn’t find NFP to be a suitable alternative, and that’s fine. To each her own. Now, back to the subject at hand.
Our second baby was a planned pregnancy, although there have been many times I wished there were more space between my children. I’ve also counseled other women who were considering having children that close together, and suggested they wait. It’s just hard. There are some good things about it — don’t get me wrong — but it’s just hard, because the older baby is still a baby in so many ways, and the younger baby is truly a baby and very needy. Both of my boys are “mama’s boys”, so when they need comfort, they come to me — only mommy will do. And there were countless times when they both needed me to be cuddling just one, but had to try to hold both at the same time. (And this doesn’t even take into account meal-times, laundry, chores, and everything else a mom has to do.) The good side about having them this close together is that now they play together better, since they’re interested in the same things (but then, they also have more fights, too, because of the same reason).
One thing I read before getting pregnant the second time was a mother saying that your older child (or children) doesn’t become a big brother (or sister) at the birth of the younger baby, but rather, s/he becomes that when your second (or third, etc.) child is conceived. At the time I discounted that; but now believe it to be accurate. I don’t think I “baby” my younger child; however, he does seem more babyish than my older son was at the same ages. And I think it was because when he was 10 months old, I was pregnant, and moving him into “older brother” status already, and preparing him for that. I haven’t done that with my younger son. I’ve let him be a baby longer, and I recognize that now. Part of me thinks that I wouldn’t do much different if I were pregnant now, but most of me thinks I would be pushing him to do things differently — to be more mature — to prepare him for taking on the role of big brother.
At this point, I’m not planning on having another baby. I wouldn’t cry or freak out if I found out I were pregnant, and I think I might even be able to quickly be happy, after getting over the shock of an unplanned pregnancy. If it were just the pregnancy part, or giving birth, I wouldn’t have a problem — but seeing a newborn infant, and the extreme neediness of the baby, and thinking about all the work involved in raising a child from birth to age 2 (in other words, repeating the last 2 years of my life), I just don’t want to go through all that again. I like being able to sleep all night, instead of waking up every two hours to nurse. I like being able to have my kids help dress themselves, instead of being all floppy. I don’t want to go through teething again. And so many reasons more.
But I’m a positive thinker, so if I found out I was pregnant, I’d start thinking about all the positives — another baby to love and hold and raise. Another pregnancy to try to do things better, and another chance to give birth (hopefully without all the negatives of Seth’s birth). Now, I’d better stop, or else I’m going to think so positively about everything that I’ll forget about everything I’ve just spent this whole post talking about, and start trying to talk my husband into having another baby!