Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meandering Around My Head

I have a whole jumble of thoughts in my head, so I'm not sure where this post is going to go, exactly. Things are good here. We have some decisions to make, but they are good ones.

Miss M is finally eating an array of foods, and is sleeping through the night. She's finally learned to fall back asleep on her own, without wanting/needing to nurse for comfort. It was a bit of a slow road to get there, but we let her lead the way, and I'm glad we did. By following her needs and cues, we got through nursing/weaning/sleeping relatively easily and without much unhappiness. As a recap, at about 5 months, just after she learned to roll over, she started waking herself up every time she rolled over, and then she would be FULLY awake and have a complete meltdown in her crib. We were up 764 times a night, and it was awful, so out of desperation, we brought her into our bed. This solved the problem. When she woke from that point forward, she nursed herself back to sleep, so even if she woke a lot, she went back to sleep very quickly. We all slept, and life was good (except for the occasional baby feet in my face as she invariably turned sideways in bed). She's been in our bed ever since. Fast forward to weaning, which we started after she turned a year old. She's always loved cow's milk, so that was never a problem. However, she nursed for comfort in the morning, at night, and when she wanted to fall back asleep. Getting her to give up "comfort nursing", as opposed to nursing for nutrition, has been more complicated. I have let her nurse as she needs to, but tried to gradually decrease it, putting the pacifier in at night rather than letting her nurse when she awoke. At first, I thought we'd never get there, but gradually, she started having fewer "no I don't want the binkie--I want to nurse!" meltdowns, and started accepting the pacifier more in the middle of the night. And then, she started not needing anything, and falling back asleep on her own. She still wants to nurse a bit to fall asleep, but that is pretty much the only time we are nursing. She is just shy of 14 months right now. The concept of "cry it out" is completely foreign in our house. We've just kind of let her fall asleep when she's ready and without much fanfare. Ditto with naps. It seems to work. The upside is that if we're out and about and she needs to sleep, she just kind of falls asleep. The kid can (and will!) sleep anywhere.

The surprising thing is that I still have a bit of milk left when she nurses. I had thought, given my struggle to maintain adequate supply the entire time I was nursing, that as soon as I dropped a bunch of feedings/pumpings, that my milk would dry up completely. The really weird thing is that my period still has not returned. I think we are getting back there, though, because I've noticed some slight hormonal changes. Which brings us to the next thought we've been mulling over. . .

What to do about #2. . .whether, when. . .the whole decision. I never wanted only one child. As a general rule, I think it's better to have siblings than be an only child. On the other hand, the idea of multiple children kind of stresses me out. It's two things: the idea of them going in two different directions at once, and the inane bickering that invariably goes on between two kids. Neither thing appeals to me, and both are clearly part of the package. I worry about feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, especially when things are working so nicely now.

T very decidedly wants another child, and he wants one now. There is no equivocation on his part. Hell, he wants more than one! The noise, the chaos--doesn't mean anything to him. But then, he came from a large family himself. He also feels (somewhat naively, I think) that two won't be much more work than one. His big thing in pushing for a second child now, rather than waiting a bit longer, is age: he's in his 40's, and he feels like we'd better get going if we want to have another.

I can't really disagree with him on this point; 40 is right around the corner for me. If we are going to have another, I also want to do it before we're done with diapers, and before Miss M gets even more independent. I think that for me, there is a certain point after which I wouldn't want to go back. I talked to someone recently who decided to have another child when her youngest was 7. I just can't imagine that! I wouldn't want to go back to diapers and all of the other less-than-fun stuff about parenting a baby. Not that any of it is really hard or truly unenjoyable, but still--the stages are miles apart, and I think I'll want to enjoy them in the moment, and not go back to some long-ago visited stage when I am miles down the road.

When I look at it objectively, in a vacuum, I can say that yes, I would like to have more than one child. That's what I've always imagined, what I always pictured. Except. . .except. I LIKE the way things are now. I like having just one child. I like that we can focus on her. I like that it's just the three of us. I like that she is this amazingly flexible, fun kid who is happy and always up for anything. I love how portable she is. I like how life works now. Life works now! Adding a second child brings the great unknown. A second baby may bring utter chaos. A second temperment may change our family entirely, and I worry about whether it will be in a positive way. I worry about whether I will feel exhausted, whether we will be able to manage. I know that it works now, but with another? I don't know how it will be. I worry I won't have the energy and enthusiasm to meet the needs to two children. But still. . .I still imagine another. It still feels like someone isn't here yet. I feel like there is a spirit baby circling our family, patiently waiting for her time to come and settle in with us.

In an ideal world, I would wait a bit longer. In an ideal world, I think I would very easily and very naturally get to a point where I would be clamoring for #2. I can tell that in a perfect world, more time is probably what I need. The idea of pregnancy again is a bit off-putting to me at this point. I was so careful about what I ate and drank. I took such good care of myself while pregnant, while nursing. It was, frankly, a lot of work, and I'm kind of enjoying having my body back to myself. I'm not quite ready to give it over yet. In a perfect world, I would probably wait to try to have another until Miss M is two. . .or maybe even three. But I worry that I don't have the luxury of time. First, there is my age. Second, there is my history. Third, there is the fact that we are going to be moving again next summer (not sure where yet, but I know that we are). The move complicates the hows and wheres of having a baby. It would be in some ways ideal to have a baby before we move, because I think from a sheerly logistical perspective, we could make that work.

Indulge me while I play out a few scenarios, as I try to work a few things out in my head. . .if we started trying for number two, we could try between April and July (March is out, because I want to have at least one normal cycle before we start trying, and that hasn't happened yet). That would give me enough time to have the baby, have a maternity leave, and go back to work for a bit before the move. (Utterly setting aside how my office will feel about the baby--I can't consider that at all this time. I just can't.). That's not a very big window. We'd have to stop trying in July, because I can't be about to deliver at the time we have the move, because we HAVE TO leave the country at that point. Non-negotiable. And since airlines won't let you fly past a certain point, we'd have to stop trying for a bit to account for that. But I suppose we could start trying again after we get past the point. There are lots of things to take into account from there, in terms of timing, and in thinking about them. . .it gets complicated. Among the complications is the fact that we may be moving from here (nice European country with nice Western medicine) to a place where I would neither want to give birth, nor would I want to have a tiny infant. Complicated. But I guess I could just cross that bridge if we needed to. . .

So, yeah. It's complicated. Or maybe more accurately, I'M feeling complicated. April seems really soon. But that damn clock keeps on tick, tick, ticking. . .


Jamie said...

I really sounds like the weaning has gone well. It is nice when you can read your babies cues and let them sort of set the pace. With any struggle we had (and by 'we' I really mean 'I') I was afraid to make too big a deal out of it and bring it to Skeeter's attention. Sort of like he would go "Ah! So this is something we should fight about!)

Lots of good points about #2. I hope the decision becomes more clear as you move along.

jjiraffe said...

Wow, lots of well-thought out points. Good luck as you come closer to a decision.