I know that you’re used to my posts being silly and light, but this one is a bit different.
This is probably one of the most vulnerable and honest posts I’ve ever written, but I’m sharing it because 1) I feel for some reason that now is the time to share it, and 2) Hearing my struggles might help someone else going through a similar situation. All I ask is that if you start reading it, you finish reading it, long though it may be, so that you don’t get half of the story and perhaps take away the wrong idea from the post.
Being that I have a two year old and no baby bump, “the question” naturally comes up a lot. It seems that the expectation of all growing families is to have kids two years apart, and since I’m already behind the eight ball on that plan, and I have this public forum, I decided that I would write a post about where we are and why.
One of my reasons for writing this is to be open and honest about this issue. It isn’t a sensitive subject for me and it shouldn’t have to be for anyone else. That’s because it’s okay to have a different plan than the “norm”, whatever that plan may be. It took me a while to get to the point where I was completely at peace with where we were, without feeling like I was going to be judged against someone else’s ideas of family planning, and so I want to be able to share that openly and honestly, no holds barred.
My answer, as you’ve probably surmised by now, is always “no time soon”. To explain why, I’m going to tell the story of Ali’s first year of life.
Chris and I always had an easy marriage. We never went through that “tough” newlywed stage, or any sort of arguing or not-getting-along phase. We were married for six completely and absolutely blissful years before we had Ali. We were free to do what we wanted, when we wanted to do it, without consulting anyone or making any plans.
We started trying to get pregnant three years into marriage, and it took two more years before we actually did (another post for another day – I really do need to tell that story sometime, though. It’s a good one – remind me!!).
So by the time we had Ali, two months before our 6 year anniversary, the “ideal” of having a baby was unbelievably blown out of proportion in our heads. Because we had wanted it for so long, we had lost any touch of grasping the reality of having a newborn that we ever had, which was minimal to begin with.
So, needless to say, the “shock factor” of the 24/7 care of a newborn without ANY sort of response or positive feedback in return was quite all-encompassing for a couple of months.
Then, around two months, Ali started into an extremely unhappy phase. We had two terms that we coined to communicate about her behavior: an IFB (inconsolably fussy baby), and an ISB (inconsolably screaming baby). Chris got many text messages from me late in the afternoon that said something like this: “ISB all day long. Can’t wait till you get home.”
How is that for a “welcome home, honey!!”?
Anyway, this went on for two months, during which I researched everything that I could possibly find, practically bought stock in Mylicon, took her to the doctor a few times to be told she was teething (didn’t start that for, um, SEVEN more months), or that she had acid reflux and told to give her prescriptions that never helped.
One especially painful memory during this period was our family vacation. It was a 9 hour drive there and back. You can imagine the agony of the travel and of having an IFB/ISB staying in the house with seven other people.
It was an old beach house, and so it had an odd layout, which included an abnormally large, carpeted bathroom off of our bedroom. Ali’s “bedroom” was that bathroom, but she was having so much trouble not screaming through the night that Chris spent two out of three of the nights “sleeping” in the bathroom on the couch (yes, there was a couch in the weird bathroom as well) trying to give me a break. Of course, I was one room over, finding it still nearly impossible to sleep, as I’m sure all Mommies of infants can relate to.
When we got home from the trip, Chris and I did something we had never done before. After we got Ali calmed down and to sleep, we collapsed onto the floor, hugging each other and crying.
At her four month visit, I was able to see her actual doctor, and the cause was discovered. She had gained only 2 ounces in two months.
She wasn’t getting enough to eat.
Of course this broke my heart – I was so sad that I hadn’t at least tried some other solutions to see if it helped, since my suspicion all along had been that I wasn’t producing enough milk. But everyone said, “Oh, no, that’s not the problem. Your body will make as much as she needs”, so I had let it go.
Her doctor put her on extra-fattening formula, the type that they give NICU babies, as a supplement to nursing. The change was almost immediate. It was wonderful, yet heartbreaking at the same time. I felt like it was my fault – like I should have realized that the problem was me and fixed it earlier.
I remember one conversation I had with someone, telling them what the doctor had discovered. They said quite innocently, “Oh! That explains it! You were starving her!!”.
It was all I could do to hold back the tears. Even now, the thought breaks my heart.
Although the formula had fixed the problem, I was still very much feeling like she should be primarily nursed. So I set off on a mission to “fix” my problem. I tried everything in the book (don’t worry – no gory details!!). One solution, suggested by my doctor, was to go on Reglan, a acid reflux medicine which oddly enough also helps lactation (and, ironically, was one of the medications that they had put Ali on when they thought that she had acid reflux).
However, Reglan has a side effect of causing depression, and has been found to cause post partum depression in women using it for lactation. My doctor lightly mentioned that when he prescribed it, but said he didn’t think I’d have any problems. I’m sure he was just trying to keep down the effect of the power of suggestion.
So as Ali got better, I got worse.
It was very gradual, which made the cause very un-obvious. But over the next five months, I became very depressed without even realizing what was happening. Thankfully, I had some very wonderful friends who had gone through similar situations and were able to help me see it, reassure me, and encourage me to go back to the doctor.
I went back to my doctor when Ali was nine months old. I told him what had happened, and he immediately said, “Oh – that’s because you were on Reglan. Happens all the time.”
So he took me off the Reglan, put me on an anti-depressant to recover from the damage already done, and left it up to me whether to keep nursing or not.
It was a hard decision, but with all the trouble I was going through to just get a minimum amount of sustenance for her (even on the Reglan I was not producing enough), I decided that without the Reglan, I couldn’t go through any more of that.
So I quit nursing, took my medication, and in about a month, I was back to my normal self, and for the first time in nine months, both Ali and I were happy. Life got drastically better extraordinarily fast.
Needless to say, the first nine months of Ali’s life were not what we expected. Obviously, if you’ve been reading my blog for more than a couple of days, you know that we are absolutely in love with Ali now. We love every minute of it and enjoy her and cherish her more than words can say. She is an amazingly delightful and sweet toddler! But those first few months were painful, to say the least.
One of the biggest leftover reminders is being responsible for a baby that is inconsolably screaming. I worked in the infant room at Church two Sundays a month for Seven and a half years. I LOVED it. I loved it years before we had Ali, and even while Ali was in that stage, I still liked it.
But after Ali moved out of the “crying” phase, taking care of multiple screaming babies at once is complete and utter post-traumatic-stress-syndrome-torture for me. I had to request to be moved out of the infant room because every time, I would leave the nursery, go find Chris and tell him, “I’m going to get my tubes tied tomorrow!!”.
All that to say, although we are pretty sure that we’ll have another child at some point, neither one of us are ready now. There are actually multiple other reasons as well, but I would say this is my main reason.
And yes, I know that the next child might be a perfectly perfect infant, that I might have no problems nursing, and that everything might just be easier and more perfect and idyllic and heavenly in every way (can you tell that a lot of people have tried to convince me to have another baby??). But we just don’t feel ready. If God tells us it’s time (or just makes it time without telling us), that’s okay. But we’re not ready to make that decision.
I have felt a lot of guilt and unsureness about this unreadiness of ours because it really seems like everyone we know is on the two-year-plan. It’s as if common knowledge is that the ideal age difference between children is two years or less – it is expected, and that’s just what you do.
But I now realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of functional, non-scarred people who didn’t have siblings for four or five (or more!) years. One of them being my husband, who was perfectly happy to have a brother five years younger than him.
So, the answer is “no time soon”. We love our little family. Having one child gives you this reality of having a “little buddy”, or “tagalong” that is so precious. And hey – two on one parenting isn’t such bad odds, either.
Everyone has different plans. God made us all different, gave us different experiences and different children. And that is GOOD!!!! This world needs people with different ideas and different walks of life. So if your plan is to have 24 kids, I support you in that! If your plan is to have no kids, I support you in that! If your plan is to have three kids exactly two years apart, I support you in that!
If you are struggling with any of the plethora of issues I have touched on in this post – infertility, having “shock” over the responsibility of having a baby, feeling pressure to conform to the “normal” expectations of when to have children, screaming babies, lactation issues, PPD, or any other issues in here and feel like it would help to be able to talk to someone who’s been there (or is there!!), please let me know!! You can always comment here, or feel free to email me.
For updated information on our “baby plans”, click here.
20 thoughts on “Why My Answer is Still "No Time Soon"”
Great post! Don't worry about what other people think. It was the same way with me, after having Em. She did a lot of the screaming & crying that Ali did, as well. Only in my case, it was the formula I was giving her. It was horrible to hear her scream. I would call Michael at work & beg him to come home. I never wanted any more. And I wouldn't have had anymore, but God had other plans.
I found out I was pregnant when Em was 2 1/2 yrs old, but I miscarried at 11 wks. Then the falling spring, I was pregnant again… this time Livie was our results. At first, I was scared. We had/have our own issues with number 2, lol. But I'm glad it was spaced out the way it was.
Em was 23 days shy of her 4th birthday. She loves being a big sister & loves helping us with Livie.
Like you said, it will happen when/if it happens. Don't worry about what others say!
we have decided to only have 1. we knew we would have to adopt and after 3 years of marriage we adopted our precious son. he’s almost 9 and people still ask if we are going to have more our answer is probably not. i always say if God drops one in our lap then i’ll know that it’s meant to be.
even though the adoption process was wonderful for us it was still incredibly stressful not to mention very expensive. he was a perfect baby, but when his little personality really emerged around 15 months life was suddenly difficult. every aspect of my day was a battle. of course we adore him even more than we did when we brought him home, but he’s still extremely strong willed although it is definitely much better now that he’s older. still the thought of going through the stress, mentally and financially, and then dealing with all the issues of parenting doesn’t make me want to jump into it all again. not that i wouldn’t do it again if a situation presented itself i would. that would be my clear answer from God.
Wow Rachel! I admire your honesty. Although I do not have any children of my own, I have similar questions asked to me about marriage especially now that my sister is married and has a baby.
I think that there isn’t really a norm, it should be whenever you, Chris and God decide it is time for Ali to have a sibling. Yes my sister and I are 2 years apart but I don’t think my parents planned it that way.
With everything you went I don’t blame you for wanting to wait. I have seen PPD first hand in relatives and it is hard to deal with.
Awesome post…thanks for sharing. Some of that I knew, but a lot if it I didn’t.
Just remember no matter what stupid comments people make, you have to do what’s best for your family. I am starting to realize that more and more each day in every aspect of my life.
What a relief!!!
God’s timing is perfect…in everything. If He has given you a desire to have children farther apart than what everyone else thinks, then that is great. I also think that you and Chris will know,, without a doubt, when the time is right.
I had problems nursing #’s 3 and 4 and it was really difficult. By the time we had a our 4th and 5th children (twins), I knew for sure I wanted to nurse them along with supplementation. I didn’t have the energy to do otherwise.
We have typically done the 2 year plan, but that is because we were ready each time. That’s what each of us clearly wanted and it has worked wonderfully.
You are highly intelligent and from what I’ve read for the past few months, you are a person who thinks things through. With that said, how can anyone doubt your decision?!
May the bless your family know matter how big or small. Great post!
Thanks for the post Rach…Like Jaci some of that I knew and some I didn’t!
I will say that I too have struggled with the comments and what I perceive to be judgements of others because Scott and I have chosen NOT to have kids YET…I didnt say never, just not yet…and he’s 30, I’m 29 and we’ve been married for 7 years…*gasp!
We “should” have had at least one by now!
But, God’s plan for our life together has turned out quite different from what we thought it would be, all those years ago when you and I were wedding planning together! :) And I’m OK with that…actually, I’m more than OK, I’m great with that now! (Took me a while to be ok) I love the kids we have right now…20 or so college-age kids!
Anyway, I’ll stop now…thanks again for the transparent post…
I’m sure that if I had the proverbial nickel for everytime someone asked me “when are yall haveing kids?”, I would be able to retire! :(
Oh Rachel, you had mentioned this in part to me before. I am so sorry you had to go through that heartache! (and I hope I am not the one that made that comment)
I, too, had my heart set on nursing when I had my first baby. However, it soon became clear that it wasn’t working for either one of us. Our culture puts such pressure on mother’s to “give their child the best advantage possible through breastfeeding” that there is tremendous guilt when for whatever reason, we just can’t. My pediatrician gently, but strongly urged me to go to formula, and I did. Harris did not turn out to be a sickly baby after that. In fact, we’ve had far less sickness that some babies/kids who were nursed. He is above average for height and at average for weight, and his intelligence amazes most people. So, it’s not vitally important to nurse your children, in my opinion. It is vitally important to do what’s best for them and to nurture them with unconditional love, and that is what you have done with Ali. Do NOT let the enemy torment you with those thoughts of guilt from those early months.
Oh, and btw, I’ve also formula-fed my other two, and they are also perfectly healthy, smart, and “growing like weeds”. :)
thanks for your honesty! i often succumb to the guilt of “what might people think?” and have been convicted to do what i think is best, trusting that God has given me wisdom as a mother/wife/woman. of course, this involves the wisdom God has given Carlos as well, and he’s usually more even-keeled when it comes to making parenting decisions:)
Great post! We too get tired of the questions on when another one will be coming. We were married for 5 years before we had Jackson and had taken us almost a year to conceive him. I too had issues with nursing and not producing enough. That is so frustrating! I’m thinking we want another when he is about 4 years old, but I get so tired of the outside pressure and questions. Since when is there this “ideal” timing? Are they going to help pay for this new addition? Now when people ask, I just say, “Not this year.” and leave it at that.
You all have written some amazing comments! It’s wonderful to hear that other people feel the same way and have had a lot of the same struggles that I have.
I would like to clarify one thing, though: I do not mind when people ask me when we’ll have another baby. That’s what I meant when I said it wasn’t a sensitive subject. I even rewrote part of this post to make sure I wasn’t giving that impression. I certainly ask other people about their baby plans sometimes, because it’s the natural question at this stage in life – and shouldn’t be a sensitive one, in my opinion.
My struggle was more of an internal one – not personalizing and feeling pressure when (most) people don’t mean any pressure or “you should-ness” when they ask that question.
I wanted to write this blog to open up those lines of communication, say it was okay to talk about and that it’s okay (and good!!) that everyone has a different plan. We shouldn’t feel pressure from each other because of course we all have different plans, because we are all different!
From an old lady. Who set this 2 year thing? I had friend from 2 year to 19 years apart and they all loved each other, although 19 is a little extreme. No couple should ever feel any pressure from anyone else on the earth to have a baby or have more. That is each couple’s personal decision,unless of course God steps in, but that is another comment. I say go with prayer and it is what is right for you. And this comes from someone who would like 5 Ali’s, but who knows they would be Ali’s anyway. LYB, kitty
Rachel, I’m glad you added your comment. You said what I was thinking: The big issue is how we all tend to allow the opinions of others to put pressure on us. Combined with the pressure we put on ourselves to be “perfect” parents, it can be a recipe for disaster.
I’ve struggled with depression, and while I didn’t have a baby with the issues Ali had, I dealt with more screaming than I’d like. (As does I’m sure every mom. ;)
I think we start out on the parenting journey with all sorts of plans. And then over time, those plans are slowly undone. Whether thru infertility, a not-thriving baby, or -in my case- an emergency c-section, we slowly learn that we’re not in control. It’s a tough lesson. Frustrating. Depressing sometimes. But accepting it is necessary.
I think we come up with “right” ways to parent in a futile attempt to control the uncontrollable. It makes us feel secure to have a formula. But as you’ve learned, when you’re dealing with other human life, formulas don’t work.
It doesn’t end with infancy or toddlerhood either.
But it does get easier to deal with. Charlie and I have an expression for it: surfing the chaos. You can’t stop the waves of chaos, and if you try to fight the waves, you just end up knocked on your rear. ;) So you’re better off surfing it.
As for your baby plans, there are arguments for every age difference between kids. For what it’s worth, I preferred 3 yrs apart over 2 yrs apart. But as you keep hearing, you’ll know when it’s the right time.
And if you’re still beating yourself up for not being able to feed your baby (I don’t mean that harshly; I’m saying it the way we often say it to torment ourselves), you might need to release yourself. If the sound of screaming brings any feelings of guilt, then it’s pretty hard to be calm and excited about bringing more of that into your life.
THANK YOU for sharing this.
what a wonderful post… there is no “right” way to plan a family – each one is different, just like each individual is different… we’ve been asked all the variations on that same question throughout our marriage – we just smile and answer “ask God” :)
I feel you sister. You've just voiced exactly what I wish I could tell everyone who gives me that question.
I could have written this post word for word pretty much. Except for the postpartum thing. So sorry you had to go through that.
I love your brutally honest post. I had a similar situation, yet my nursing incompetencies started from the beginning, I still tried everything hoping not to have to supplement. Every time I tried to go without supplementing formula, I would get a super fussy baby (I have two that are 3 and 4 now). After the first babe, I tried traditional pumping to stimulate, some medications, lactation consultants, etc. When I found out I was pregnant again when my first was 3 month old, I was still determined to make nursing work. I was undergoing a completely natural post partum depression fueled by feelings of incompetence at not being able to provide for my baby. So At five months, I went totally formula, thinking pregnancy might have been the culprit. When I had the same issues with my second babe, I decided to go holistic: eating a regimented diet, having excessive amounts of skin to skin contact with baby, herbs, etc. I still dried up at five months. Since I knew I had tried everything available to me that I knew of to solve the problem, I had a much better time with the depression the second go round. As parents we are not responsible for just one facet of children's life, but for many, and I realized I was much more than a boob to my babes. Parenting is always a rediscovery of ourselves and children, and sometimes it takes some time to become comfortable and confident about our discoveries – but hopefully that will be the result most often :)
Just read this after you linked to it in another post. So sorry for what you went through, and I’m praying it won’t be the case for you this time around. I have low milk supply due to a breast reduction. Luckily, I was prepared for breastfeeding by finding bfar.org and reading an excellent book about breastfeeding after reduction, so I knew not to try Reglan when my Pedi suggested it. Here’s a little of my experience: http://www.thetowells.com/2009/04/for-women-in-my-situation/ and http://www.thetowells.com/2009/07/for-women-in-my-situation-part-ii/ . I have a part 3 in the works, but I just haven’t published it yet.
oh that just broke my heart. you poor thing! i am sorry that happened to you. being a mommy is hard enough without hurtful comments. ug. it seems like you had an okay time noah though right?
YES – Noah was the exact opposite experience. Even though I had the same nursing problems, I knew what the problem was, I knew what to do about it, and the whole thing was SO much more enjoyable!! Also, I had that experience with him of immediate bonding, and I didn’t have the shock of “first time mommyhood”.