Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Baby Quandary

Last week, after changing my 18-month-old's cloth diaper, I dumped its solid contents into the toilet. As I did this, toilet water splashed up and got me squarely in the eye. As I yelled "EEEEWWWW!" and scrambled to the sink to splash water in my eye, I thought, "At least I'm done with diapers soon."

I was taken aback by this thought, since until my 18-month-old turned one and started walking, I desperately wanted a third child. Once she started walking, she and my 3-year-old kept me so busy, every day became an intense juggling act to keep them each from hurting themselves, hurting each other, destroying the house or all of the above. They are adorable, brilliant, hilarious and delightful and they absolutely, totally kick my ass.

I'm so exhausted at the end of the day after keeping up with my two children, the last few months I've started to wonder if I really want a third. My 18-month-old still doesn't sleep through the night and I'd like to sleep again sometime before I'm 40. I'd also like to take a shower someday without hearing the screams of sibling rivalry. I'd like to be able to have a quiet lunch and watch a few minutes of my favorite soap opera without turds raining down next to me as my 18-month-old jumps up and down on the couch and her diaper comes undone.

I want to take vacations. I want to finish paying off my car (only one year to go!) and see what it's like not to have a car payment instead of having to buy a minivan. I want to go on more dates with my husband. I want to be able to have some me-time without having to wait till midnight on the weekends.

But at the same time, I look at my two girls when they're playing together nicely or when they're being funny or sweet, or I look at their baby pictures and I think, "Can I really not do this again? Can I really not experience this incredible miracle one more time?" I've heard both my mother and my mother-in-law say that they wish they'd had more children. I don't want to feel that way when I'm their age.

I'm just not ready for more kids right now, and at 35, I know that not having another soon may mean not having another ever. I am both stressed out and somewhat frightened by this decision. We're not doing anything permanent to definitely not have another baby, but waiting too long could have the same effect. What if I continue not to feel ready for another baby and then one day when it's too late, decide that I do want another after all?

I try not to think about it. I try to tell myself that it's all up to fate anyway, we'll have as many as we're meant to have. I remember the pain of childbirth and the discomfort of that last, seemingly endless month of pregnancy and think, "Do I really want to go through all that again?" Sometimes it's "yes." Sometimes it's "no." Lately, it's mostly "no."

I wish I were as sure as Dana is about not having another. I wish I were sure that I wanted another. I wish I weren't trapped in maybe-land, vacillating between "Hell no, no more babies" and "Omigod, they're so amazing, I have to have one more!"

What do you think? Do you have a baby quandary of your own?
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