Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I actually figured all of this out a while ago (though, as is usual these days, didn't so much post), but a post today at Beruriah's brought it up again. It's about timing. People with babies the Cub's age, plus/minus a few months in either direction are pregnant again. Not overwhelming numbers of them, but enough for me do a gut check.

I've never made a secret on this here blog of the fact that I want to raise three children. In my before life, I was going to aim for a rather short age gap between the younger two-- two and a half years or so, give or take. In my after life, I was considering an even shorter gap, mostly because I didn't want Monkey to be too terribly older than the youngest. I am eight years older than my sister-- it works and has worked for the duration. I wasn't so sure about longer gaps. By the time I'd had the Cub, though, I was pretty clear I needed a break from this pregnancy thing. Told my MFM I won't be back for at least a year, probably more.

At some point I started to push my mental target for the "next time" ever further out. Factoring in things like the job market (blows; also on academic calendar-- matters both for being able to interview and for being able to start and finish at least my first year at whatever my next job might end up being), and talking to adults who've had longer age gaps with their siblings, and to parents of kids with longer gaps. Monkey, by the by, has started asking a few months ago. And really? The nerve on that kid! Oh, she also thinks eight is a good number. Ha! Told her that ain't happening.

But all of this was happening sort of on low boil in the background, with the occasional eruptions of "I am so not ready yet!" here and there. Until, that is, Christina found herself somewhat unexpectedly pregnant again. You see, Christina was due last year a day after me. The Cub was born shy of 37 weeks, but the lovely miss Cate went almost all the way to the due date. So, you know, when it's Christina who turns up pregnant now, it really rocks my world. I think I even told her in my comment that I can't imagine being there myself right now.

And then. Then I thought about it. The Cub was 11 months old when Christina found out. Which just happens to be three days longer than the interval between when A was born and when we found ourselves in possession of a piece of plastic with two lines in a window. So... ahem... right.

It seems that the actual operative idea here is that I can't imagine, am not ready to do that again. And I really think it's not about the distinction of doing it with or without a baby already at home-- I think for me it's much more about the stress of the pregnancy itself.

My pregnancy with the Cub was hard. Emotionally hard (DUH) but also objectively complicated. (There are things to say about that, and I will say them, hopefully soon.) I am also still incredibly overweight-- weight of two pregnancies (on top of extra ten still hanging around since Monkey), less a few pounds now, thanks to my friend metformin. And I need to lose a hell of a lot more before it's not insane to start piling fresh new pounds on.

I am finding comfort in that again above. It's like I forget that before A died and was born, I was actually pregnant with him. Not forget forget-- I can tell you all kinds of dates and facts about that pregnancy, but sort of dissociate from it, as if it too lives in the before. The again is soothing, a reminder that my body has been through a whole lot in the past little over three years, and that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that fact.

So that's my new internal refrain, whenever I learn of someone else going another round with only a short break: "I did that last time. And right now I am just not ready to do it again." Somehow this feels both more honest and more reassuring to me than my old tune of "wow-- I can't even imagine doing that now."

ETA: It just occurred to me that even though I certainly don't assume a good outcome when I think of a future pregnancy (either in attaining one in the first place or in maintaining it to the point of a take home baby), talking about it in terms of "doing" might be read by someone as if I in fact assume. I think "attempt" would've been more precise. As in "I did that last time. And right now I am just not ready to attempt it again."


Hope's Mama said...

I can't believe I'm doing this so soon again either, with Hope being born 4 days after the Cub and she was almost 41 weeks. And I'm now 24 weeks again. The circumstances are different though, naturally, but shit I'm exhausted. I wish you well, Julia.

angie said...

I know what you mean about forgetting your body was pregnant...I do that too, and then remind myself where all this extra poundage came from (OH, i was pregnant last year.)

Those steps from "No way" to "Not right now," they do bring a sense of peace with them. At least for me. I had an almost visceral revulsion to another pregnancy a few months ago. For me, it moved quickly from visceral revulsion to not now to trying for our third child.

(Hey, I was on metformin for weight loss. Has it helped you?)

With love.

niobe said...

I guess since I'm not personally experiencing the pregnancy thing, my current attitude (applicable only to myself) is the sooner the better. But that's a purely selfish point of view -- I want my twins "back" -- whatever back means in this context and I want another one as close as possible to the current one.

But that's just me. And we all know I'm crazy.

Beruriah said...

Wow. And here I feel like I still practically have a newborn, 20 mths old or not.

I think I too, forget I was pregnant, although there is definitely the feeling that I already did this, the spending of a very long time in what now feels like it was an elephant gestation.

missing_one said...

It sounds like you know where you are at, and I admire that. Too often we look around at others and even what we didn't want yet, we start to want.
You are strong, for sure and will know when it's the right time.

oh, and if you are really wanting to lose the weight, South Beach Diet worked for me after all my pregnancies and got me down to my prepregnancy weight (my weight in college!). Read the book though and not the hype. It is a healthy eating style

Ya Chun said...

i think your body and emotions totally need a break. And maybe a babe out of diapers before any nect one arrives....

k@lakly said...

I thought, briefly, and probably chemically induced, right after Cason was born that I wanted another right away becasue all of the losses had put the age gap between him and his sister at a whopping 7 years and his brother at 11. I thought he needed one that was closer to his age and if I got pg right away I could give him one.
And then I thought about being pg again, for the third year in a row, and then the idea of going through another pg again literally made me physically ill. Terrorized me. And so it came to be that I was able a few weeks later to say with assurance "I am done." It came with a whole new set of feelings and depression that still lingers to this day. I haven't even been able to wrap my brain around all of it to write about it. But the bottom line is that it felt more like it was forced on me instead of a choice I wanted to make. Eventho I never wanted 4 before...
And all that's a really long way to say, "oh yes I so know those feelings you speak of". I hope, with time, the idea of another pg won't be so terrifying for you. You deserve some gentleness next time around.
Ans FWIW, the age gap, it will work itself out. I have a younger bro who is 8 years behind me and he and I are very close just as he is with my older bro, 10 years his senior and my little sis 5 years up on him. I think it has to do with our family and our raising not the years between us.

Amelie said...

There's so much more to sibling relationships than the age difference. Monkey will be a lovely big sister no matter the gap, I'm sure. For now, it sounds like you really want (need?) a break.

serenity said...

This is a great post. Somehow you've put into words some of the very same things I've been thinking as well.

I also felt the same sort of physical revulsion at the idea of getting pregnant so "soon" after Baby O. That has slowly been changing to "well, maybe some day." Though, truthfully, I am not there yet. Because I know too well what it means, for me anyway. More doctors. Appointments. Embyros. Et cetera.

And so I say something similar to what you're saying. "I'm not ready to do that just yet." Attempting to get pregnant. Being pregnant. Staying pregnant. Et cetera.

Anyway. Long way of saying I agree with you. Thanks for putting into words what I too have been feeling for a while.


erica said...

It's okay if "again" comes later than planned. Sounds like the break is a good idea.

Caro said...

Sounds sensible to me.

Once A Mother said...

finding this post seems so appropriate for many things that i had on my mind today.

Anonymous said...

You will know when and if you are ready to do it all again.

Tash said...

I am so beyond "normal" timing that it's comical. I can't for the life of me imagine being pregnant again. I actually try and forget Maddy's pregnancy since it was horrible in its own right, birth notwithstanding, but am reminded pretty much daily that I was (Pee when I sneeze hard? Yes! Face still a blotchy mess? Why, yes!) And two and half years later, I still look like I delivered a baby about two months ago. Metformin is the only way I've ever lost weight; wish I could find a doctor to give it to me.

christina(apronstrings) said...

You know, I couldn't agree with you more. As much as I'd like another child, I am just not ready to be pregnant again. It is so exhausting and the puking-the puking! And the fear. So, I think I'll wait. Oh wait, it's a little too late to make this proclamation. Dammit!

You're smart to wait-I let fear control me a bit much on this one.

Since it took us two years to get pregnant with Cate-I thought the idea of it happening too soon was insane. Apparently, not so much. I just was so afraid of more infertility and more m/c's to get to a second baby. I mean, it's all worked out and pray God-the universe-it will--but I wouldn't have chosen to be pregnant now. Fear made that choice for me.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I found this post very moving--both in knowing yourself and the situation itself. The shifting perspective--how life changes perspective.

charmedgirl said...

i feel crazy inside whenever i read or hear someone planning when to get pregnant again. i know that, even with the speakers/writers, it's not always as easy as they plan...but it manages to happen in a relatively acceptable timeframe. that will always be my lot, i guess.

it's some question, julia. good luck with that...for real.