The Pirates are in the playoffs. Let’s hope these newborns will experience the postseason before they, too, are old enough to buy a beer.
If you, the loyal Mommyhood readers, will allow it, I’m going to be a little melodramatic for a moment.
In the past two months(ish), every, single woman that was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant has either had another child or announced her second pregnancy. I can think of ELEVEN off the top of my head.
Combine the rising number of friends announcing their first pregnancies with the fact that MY baby is now an independent 2 ½ year old, and I’ve got some major baby envy. It appears as baby fever, but that’s just a nice word for what it really is: a big, green, ugly womb of envy.
I want another child. If I could, I would have an entire houseful of children. As it is, we live in a tiny house and two children and whatever pets exist would more than fill it. Being the eldest of four, I believe four is a great number. Three is good, so is two. One is phenomenal, but it just feels lonely.
This pity-party leaves me a bit guilty, because I have so much. I don’t have infertility issues to contend with. I don’t feel a longing that many women feel — for just one pregnancy, just one child to carry in my body — and I’m so thankful I’ve had that experience. I don’t want to take anything away from it. However, this mama is ready for some more sleepless nights, 24-hour nursing, diapers and sweet, little baby clothes. Oh, the sweet, little baby clothes that cover the sweet, little baby toes…
I’m not romanticizing the affair, really. I remember our newborn and infant phase. It’s exhausting. I remember the pain that came with the childbirth recovery, and not being able to walk or sit normally for two weeks. But I knew, the minute I started pushing my son out, that I could do it all again.
This article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, offers a few questions to ask before you add another child.
So, there’s only one question left: When? When will I be ready for another baby? I told new mom me that I would be ready for another when my son weaned. OK, done. Then I said I’d be ready when he was potty-trained. That happened in September. He sleeps through the night pretty well. He can talk, feed himself, undress himself, bathe himself. He’s a boy, not a baby anymore.
What do you think? How many years are in-between your children? When did you know it was time for another?
I think someone is trying to tell me something. I have four friends due to have their second babies within one month this spring.
Erica has a daughter who will turn 3 in March and is due in early June. Tori has a daughter who will turn 2 in January and is due in June. Molly has a son who will turn 2 in May just days before her due date. And Jen has a daughter who won’t turn 2 until November and is also due in early June.
Erica lives in Tennessee, Tori lives in Nebraska, and Molly and Jen live in Charleston. So I can’t blame it on the water.
I guess it’s like the year my husband and I went to something like seven weddings. Our cohort is in the baby-having phase. Still, four in one month is a lot.
Before you ask, I’m not pregnant. Nosireebob. But I’m feeling the pressure. My daughter is three months younger than Molly’s son and three months older than Jen’s daughter. So we’ve been in this together so far.
Are we ready for a second kid? I don’t know. But I dwell at length on spacing between kids.
I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong spacing for kids. Every family is different, and there are pros and cons to every approach.
For example, my husband is one of four, and they are on average five years apart. He was 15 when his youngest sister was born. On the plus side, each child had the spotlight for a decent period before a new baby came along, and their sibling rivalry isn’t bad. On the con side, my in-laws have a both a tween at home and a granddaughter.
When my mother-in-law and I talk about this, she always cites the example of her friend Lisa’s family. Lisa had her three kids at two-year intervals, so she had three under five at one point. While it seemed crazy while the kids were little, my MIL sees the virtue of it now that they’re all three done with college and married and Lisa and her husband are free to enjoy the next phase of life.
My brother was born two months before my third birthday. We fought a lot up until I got to high school, but we get along now.
The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy says that a mother is physically best suited to conceive a second child 18-23 months after the birth of the first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recited that fact. My daughter is just shy of 17 months. I’m not there yet!
My mom says that when she read about spacing, she concluded that the easiest spacing in terms of child-rearing is seven years (for only two kids) because the first is old enough to be independent but also help out with the new baby. My dad is seven years older than his brother, and they are very close as adults.
I don’t think we’ll wait seven years, but I don’t know if we’ll be ready next month either.
I know I don’t want to own two cribs, and I’d rather not have two in diapers at the same time. But I want them to be peers, to go to high school together. That really narrows it down, I guess.
So tell me, moms, what have you learned about spacing kids? Is there an ideal interval?
Last month, I blogged about our new arrival — a beagle pup to be named Betty. As you may recall, I went all out for this pup… special food and water bowls, a pretty collar and leash, and a tartan plaid bed with her name prominently monogrammed on the side.
Well, Betty turned out to be…a boy.
A very long story short, we simply came up short. There were several girls to choose from, but our deposit held a selection spot, not necessarily a particular puppy. The night before we were scheduled to pick up Betty, we were informed a few pups in the litter developed pneumonia and died, and only three girls survived. Based on our place on the list, we’d have to take a boy if we still wanted one.
When I told my husband that the pup, which I had branded as Betty the Beagle since Christmas Eve, wasn’t coming to live with us, his eyes lit up like blue C9 bulbs. “Ha!” he exclaimed. “Outnumbered no more!”
I wasn’t upset, because I had said up front that I didn’t care about gender as long as the pup was healthy. My reaction was also due to experiencing something like this before. As Yogi Berra once said, it was déjà vu all over again.
During my second pregnancy, I went through quite a few ultrasounds to make sure everything was progressing normally. During one of the first scans, the technician turned to us and said, “I know what that is, and that means you’re carrying a little boy.”
Off the table I jumped and down the road I drove… to Lowe’s… for blue paint. I had it all planned: blue walls, chambray and red linens, and a giant stuffed moose head for the wall above his dark cherry crib. I had planned a wild animal theme… lions, tigers and bears, oh my… and a pair of denim overalls from Gap. Twenty-four hours later, I was trying on baby names from my favorite mini-series, The Thorn Birds.
My husband was not impressed with my source of creativity.
“You’re not going to name our son Stuart. He got killed by a wild boar. And you are not naming him Dane, either, because he drowned in the ocean. And you can forget about the other brother who died when a burning tree fell on him,” Mike spat.
What about Ralph? He was sitting in the rose garden when he slumped over. Does that make you feel better?
Three appointments later, a different technician scanned again to check the baby’s development. “How’s he doing?” I asked nervously. “He?” the technician replied. “You mean SHE? She looks good so far.”
But… but… we were told we were having a boy! What happened to that certain something the other technician was so convinced of? “I have no idea, but this is a little girl for sure.”
A few months later our second daughter, Maryn, was carried into a bedroom painted a pale, spring green (to be on the safe side). And, I’m pleased to report that she’s 100% all girl.
BUT, getting back to my story about our beagle blooper: Since Betty would not be joining us, I had to find a name within 24 hours for our baby boy. And, if you hadn’t already guessed, I pulled The Thorn Birds novel off the shelf and began flipping through pages.
Paddy? Hal? Luddie? Bob? Jack? Hughie? Rainer?
Mike, proving to be the alpha in the family, took the book and gave it a toss. “His name is Copper,” he stated. From The Fox and the Hound? A Disney movie?
After an hour of debate, I realized that I didn’t have a dog in this fight. The story of a deep friendship between an unlikely pair (also true of a Roman Catholic priest and his mistress) would serve as the inspiration for our little “surprise”. Copper the Beagle has become man’s best friend. Sometimes, that’s simply ‘howl’ the ball bounces.
My son will be 19 months old next week. As every day passes I am amazed at this tall, confident child walking around. Who is he, and where’s that baby I just brought home?
This week, for example, I sorted his baby clothes to sell and converted his baby crib to a toddler daybed. He’s only fallen out twice.
In all honesty, he never slept in his beautiful white crib. I like my babies where I can see and hear them whenever I want, and the best spot for that is in the bed, right beside me. He’s slept through the night, in his own bed, exactly three nights of his 560+ days.
But lately he’s been a bed hog and I don’t take kindly to someone kicking me out of a beautiful dream, then stealing my covers. In a moment of bonding, he and I grabbed the Allen wrench (the tool for only the finest furniture) and the Phillips-head screwdriver and spent an afternoon taking apart his bed, then putting it back together.
There were three meltdowns, only one of which was his, but we persevered through cross-threading and uneven hinges. At last the mattress was on the bed, then the pale blue sheet and mint green minky blanket.
As I covered my sweet boy for his first night in his big boy bed (it lasted an hour) I realized the newborn bedding we have used for so long is no longer appropriate for my rough and tumble boy. He wants cars, animals or balls, not toile, lambs and satin.
OK, he might not care, but I do! I’m not shopping for myself until I kick the rest of this baby weight off, so I have to shop for somebody.
As I looked through sites for boy room inspiration I ran across monsters, ferocious lions, bold blues and reds, and a lot of frogs. It was like watching the Biblical plagues go by, but in fun colors and patterns.
I look around as I type this and see my son’s baby months gone. His baby clothes are in piles, ready for consignment. Bottles are long gone, pacis and diapers are following close behind.
Toddlerhood awaits, and with it fascinating possibilities.
I just can’t believe it’s gone this quickly. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have his baby book filled out just in time for his high school graduation.
It’s a defining moment in a woman’s life when she’s advised by a doctor to stop having children. The experience is similar to being put out of business; the sign on the door flips from “open” to “closed.” The soundtrack to a woman’s life changes as well, from the sweet maternal hymn, “Baby Mine” sung by a member of the Disney choir, to the Texan twang of dearly departed Don Meredith. “Turn out the lights…the party’s over!”
All kidding aside (no pun intended), it’s a sad moment to learn that your last baby is indeed your last. There will never be another first smile, first tooth, first word, or first step. I remember giving my youngest daughter her last bottle, which resembled feeding a baby goat as she devoured its contents and toddled away.
Now, as our little one turns five, I’m experiencing a different type of closure. In a few weeks, my husband and I will attend kindergarten roundup and enroll her in school. I won’t have any children at home during the day, and that means I won’t have as much to do.
When I stew in these moods for too long, friends grab my shoulders and shake them without mercy.
“Freedom!” They scream. ”Now you can do as you please! Take on more clients! Take Zumba! Take a nap! Take your pick!”
But, I can’t take it. I need someone to take care of. It’s instinctive.
With the shop closed (as my husband reminded me), then I’d simply have to find another way to keep the cradle rocking, and I discovered that a man in Southside, West Virginia could help.
“I’ll have an outstanding litter of beagle pups ready for homes this March,” Bob the Breeder told me. “Are you looking for a boy or a girl?” he asked.
I didn’t care, as long as it was healthy.
“The due date is January 6th,” Bob the Breeder continued. “I’ll send pictures as time goes on, and keep you informed of the mother’s progress.”
That night, I suffered a panic attack like none other. My eyes flashed open, and fear filled my entire body.
Howling. Crate training. Veterinary bills. Shots. Chewing and scratching. Accidents. Spaying and neutering. Food. Heartworm pills. Dog sitters. Obedience school.
Does it sound familiar? Crying. Circumcision. Teething. Vaccinations. Potty training. Well child checkups. Sick child visits. Bed wetting. Biting and hitting. Formula and diapers. Childcare. Preschool.
What was I thinking? What had gotten into me? I climbed out of bed and staggered to the bathroom for a cup of water. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and noticed the small scar on my left cheek, a permanent reminder of my clash with a Pekingese.
It occurred to me at that moment that I wasn’t grieving my inability to have a third child. I was grieving for my own children’s babyhood. I was frightened by how quickly they were growing up, and how I didn’t realize their firsts were lasts.
We greeted 2011 with a telephone call from Bob the Breeder, who informed us that we could have our choice of several female pups. Thrilled by the idea of naming another little girl, I ditched my tattered baby name book for the urban dictionary found online. I wanted to name the pup something that defined her true spirit.
Betty: One that is attractive, stylish and self-confident. A Betty is typically a looker. Do you see that girl over there? She’s a Betty!
With our new arrival in mind, I drove to the farm supply store to shop for baby Betty. I chose a pink lead and collar, a polka dot dish and bowl set, a pastel blanket, and a few toys. When I got home, I ordered a tartan plaid pillow with her name monogrammed on the side.
Of course, I realize that many people will accuse me of having lost my mind, but they stand corrected. I’m having a ball. It’s the nature of the beast.