This time will be different

“You said this time will be different!” he said indignantly.  Maybe even self-righteously.

“How?  How will having another baby this time be any different?  I just saw you at your wit’s end, yelling at the kids!   How would having another baby have made today BETTER?  We have our hands full enough as it is!”

The words stung.

But there was truth to them.  The question was legitimate.

A new baby wouldn’t have.  It wouldn’t have made. Today. Better.

I would have been more tired.  (Is that possible?)  I would have had less free hands to do more things.  And there would have been another really good reason to tell kids to bring the noise level down. “The baby is sleeping!” I would have been pleading.

So what is the difference now?  Now meaning, since Samuel died.  Does the very rational reason that we have our hands full enough as it is mean I can simply stop wanting another child?  It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to my desire to try for another baby.  The practical limitations of having more kids did have an effect on our family feeling complete after our fourth.  So why isn’t this sense of pragmatism having a significant impact now?

Maybe I am just different.  Certainly, my expectations are different.

I know now that it was actually never possible to do this, meaning have a larger family and maintain some semblance of balance and harmony, without outside help.  And that is what we had been doing.  We had help from our parents who each took the kids once a week when I went to work, but otherwise, this ship was powered exclusively by yours truly and my husband.  When I say “outside help”, I mean someone you hire; a cleaning lady or grocery delivery, or a nanny; whatever the current situation calls for.  It means paying a guy to paint the window trim, or cut the grass on occasion.  It means finding resources which help take the pressure off, allowing you to relax a bit and actually enjoy the life you have spent so much time creating.  

We have never embraced this idea as a couple.  We actually (mostly) enjoy our DIY approach.  However, when we were expecting Samuel, our fifth child under age 8, we sponsored a nanny to come from the Philippines to help us.  This idea of a live-in nanny had never ever appealed before.  We had never been prepared to make the adjustments required to make it work.  And the truth is, I kind of felt like for us, having a nanny would be cheating.  We signed up for lots of kids after all.  Being time and energy challenged was just part of the deal. 

Oh how I think differently now!!

Once I got pregnant with Samuel, I knew that unless I suddenly became capable of bi-location, or auto-cloning, I would need another set of full-time hands around here.   Suddenly, hiring a nanny seemed not only justifiable, but necessary.  There was only so much that caffeine and extreme organization could accomplish.  I finally had admitted my limit.  

And that changed everything.

Claire’s presence in our lives was undeniably positive.  We embraced her as family, and hoped to sponsor her child to come to Canada as soon as she have us the green light.  She gave me the gift of time so that I could heal my heart.  There were challenges to our arrangement, but they seemed very manageable….. to me.  I had begun to feel balanced, and had started to make future plans for this first time since our baby died.

Last week, quite out of the blue, our nanny quit.  It shocked us and has thrown us sideways a little.  But not completely.  (Most things don’t seem to be a crisis now, unless they really are.)

This was simply a momentary set-back.  Yet once again, I found myself adjusting to change and re-assessing every facet of my life.  But this change in circumstance has not change my desire for another child, nor has it made me want to abandon my other new-found goals.  What has changed is who is going to be the person we hire to help us, not if someone is.

So how do I think this time will still be different?”

It will be different because  I will not pretend that we can easily accomplish the goal of another baby or any of our other goals for that matter, without a few critical people on the payroll.  No way.  Just because that nanny decided to jump ship, doesn’t mean that having her hadn’t been helpful.

The fact that I get that is what is different.

The answer to that other largely rhetorical question, “How would having another baby have made today better?”  is this.

A new baby wouldn’t have.  Made. Today. Better.  Having extra help would have made today better.  Baby or no baby.  And if we are blessed with one more bundle of joy, (insert hopeful prayer) without question, we will also hire another nanny.  Sure, there is risk that she too might come and go, but in the end, there is always someone else willing to fill those shoes.

And now, I am happy to let them.

The “Why Have More Babies” Debate

This was the debate my hubby and I were having last night over a glass of wine.  Perhaps you can guess which side of the debate each of us were on?  I do, he doesn’t.  It is that simple.  And therefore it is so complicated.  It seems we cannot effectively have the conversation about another child without seriously reflecting on what it all means that our son died, what we have taken from this experience so far, and where we go from here.  We were “done” having children at four, and felt very pushed at the idea of five. Given our last pregnancy was a surprise and was a serious miracle at that, it seemed out of our hands and meant to be.  We were thrilled!  Our worlds both changed first because he lived, and then entirely because he died.  These changes have been uniquely profound for me, as the mother in the equation. Not that I believe my husband has not been changed.  He has, but our experience of this event has impacted us differently.

The physical and emotional connection I had with my baby was so immediate and tangible.  Nothing about Samuel was theoretical.  He was real time for me.  Every kick and turn and twitch I felt in my own body and heart all at the same time, and his health and safety was mine alone to ensure.  Or so I thought.  The loss of him did not protect me from all of the post partum experiences a mother of a new baby has.  I just didn’t get to have him to share them with.  My body had no outlet for the hormonal changes I was enduring.  It has been the single most painful thing I have ever gone through in my life.  And because of that, the lessons I am learning from this experience have been life altering.

When I reflect back on the loss of our little one, I can tell you that I had a sneaking suspicion, a funny sense, something that didn’t feel right, throughout my pregnancy.  Only in retrospect does it all fit together and I now recognize that this unsettled feeling foreshadowed that Samuel was not going to be with us in the end.  None of my gut feelings really served to change the outcome or prevent what happened to our baby, because his death wasn’t predictable or preventable.  This is the medically validated truth.  I am at peace with this fact now most of the time. Yet I am told by an experienced obstetrician that 99% of the mothers in his practice who have had still born babies subsequent to other live births, say that they too just didn’t feel right. They had a funny feeling, but they just didn’t know what it was.  Something felt distinctly different. Only later can we know what to attribute that feeling to.  

Because of this experience, I have resolved to reconnect with my gut feeling in a very intimate way.  I am purposely tuning into this intuition every day and giving it more airtime when I am trying to make decisions, big or small.  It is like Samuel is telling me “Mommy, listen to your heart.  Trust your instincts about every single thing.  Know that your mind cannot make sense of all of what you feel in a place that is deeper than your thoughts can reach.  Be in synch with your intuition and faith and follow it where it takes you.  Even if it doesn’t make sense.”  I imagine this is his voice speaking, because this is the most life changing and profound lesson my baby boy gave to me.  This was his gift.

So now my gut feeling is strongly telling me to go forth and make a baby!  The trouble is, my husband has to agree with my gut feeling’s advice.  That’s the tough part.  For him another child doesn’t “make sense.”  My gut feeling doesn’t care.  But as a responsible adult, I know that I must put a gag order on Mr Gut Feeling for a moment, and try to assess the idea of another baby from a pragmatic standpoint.  Husband is worried that I want a baby to replace the one we lost.  This seems a reasonable and even necessary thing to suggest, I am sure.  It must even seem like  a responsible question to ask.  But it makes me want to shout, “If it were only that simple, it would be done already!”  I swear with my right hand on the Bible, I am fully aware that replacing Samuel is not possible.  We are not talking about say, the dead cactus in the living room.  You pop it out of a pot, toss it, and in goes the new cactus.

Nope, this is not the same thing.  

However, losing a baby for whom you have prepared and made space, does leave a void in your life.  That space is his alone and it will always be there.  Protecting that space is your job as your child’s parent.  You say his name, show his picture, honour his memory and talk about him freely.  In doing so, the space continues to exist and remains only his forever.  But losing your baby also opens up the idea that there is room.  Maybe even room you didn’t think you had before, and now you know you do.  You hold the space in your life for a while and try to imagine different things that might fit there.  For me, the space is there for a new baby.  Nothing else fits like that does.  And nothing about that is pragmatic.  That is my loud mouthed gut feeling weighing in. I try to ignore it for a moment, so that I can think logically.  I ask myself, “If Samuel was here today, would we try to have another child?”  The answer is no.  “Did we ever plan for five?”  No.  “Would having another baby facilitate more life balance?”  Unequivocally no.  “Would having five be financially beneficial?”  Duh?  HELL no.  You don’t have kids because they make sense financially, ever.  “Can we afford one more?”  Probably, unless something went totally wrong, but the tally sheet is still in favour of the status quo. So why in the world are we even having this discussion?

Because it is a deep and unrelenting desire.    I feel it past the tips of my toes down to the depth of my soul.   And from there I feel peaceful and things feel right.  It is that simple.  There are practical disadvantages to having another baby in the short term for sure. But I also feel more willing and able to problem solve some inconveniences.  In our case these concerns are not remotely insurmountable.

So that is it.  I want another baby.  He is not convinced.  Now what? It is now just hubby and me and the bottle of wine.  We still aren’t on the same page.  Let’s hope we can both find some way to come together in a way that respects both of our hearts’ desires.

Wish us luck.