Week 17: Oh the Pressure!

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17 weeks

Cravings this week: not as many and mostly healthy!

 

– baba ganoush

– oranges

– ataulfo mango

– lettuce

– tomato

 

So it’s taken me a while to write this post. I’ve been blaming my crazy calendar and that I have been busier in April than I have ever been in my life, however I think part of it has to do with the fact that this is a hard post to write. It’s hard because it digs down deep into my own feelings about having multiple children, and because some of the things that I feel and will be writing may come across as offensive or insensitive to people in my life. In my last post, I promised that the next one I wrote would be on the ‘pressure to have #2’, so here it is.

 

***Before I start, I should note that I am extremely excited about this pregnancy and baby #2; it was planned for a long time with lots of looking forward to it. In this post I am writing in present-tense about how I have felt in the past leading up to this baby and being ready for it – please do not confuse my past feelings with my current feelings towards the situation.

 

I am one of four (the second middle child – probably the worst position, so bad it doesn’t even have a syndrome) and we are all pretty spaced out with almost 15 years between the oldest and youngest. I wanted a big family, lots of kids, close(ish) in age; I pictured the (seemingly global) average of 2-2.5 years between my kids, and around 3-4 of them. Do you know that means getting pregnant again while your youngest is only 15 months old?! That sentence didn’t mean anything to me until I had Caimen. Now, it’s meaning is astronomical.

 

I’m not going to lie – having Caimen was/is hard! Ken and I went through our roughest times as a couple during his first two to three years. The issues weren’t always the same, in fact they were ever-changing. We had wonderful highs among the lows, but we definitely had our socks rocked!

 

I started to feel the pressure to have #2 when Caimen was around a year old – the time when it would be appropriate to start thinking about #2 if the kids were indeed going to be 2 years apart. Now this was mainly internal pressure; my family never asked when we were going to have another one, and usually family pressure is the worst for having kids. I had the odd friend who would bring it up but it never bothered me as they were close friends and I value being candid with them. I have had many strangers ask me “So when is the second one coming along?”, or say “Oh he’s two? Best to have them close together!” (insinuating that I should get on it. Literally.) These comments from strangers really bugged me. I felt like saying “You don’t know me! Who the F are you asking about my personal life, pretty much inquiring as to when me and my husband will be having sex? What if we have been trying to get pregnant and are experiencing fertility issues that I’m very sensitive about? What if we don’t WANT more than one child?!”

 

I know my reaction and what I WANTED to say to so many strangers may seem over the top, but I think it’s because I was fighting my internal pressures to have/not to have number two. They looked like this:

 

– I definitely want more than one child

– I don’t want them too far apart

– I am really enjoying just having Caimen right now – he is awesome!

– I am not ready for another baby

– I am not ready for a toddler AND a baby

– Why am I not ready? I don’t know.

 

This last question is what I’ve had the most trouble with over the past few years. How do so many people have babies close in age (by choice!), and I, who have loved pregnancy and babies since I was a kid myself and have dreamed of a big family, am not ready? It’s not even the choice whether or not to have #2, although Ken and I did do a fair bit of discussing it. My problem (with myself) is why am I not ready when other people are? I knew I wanted another baby eventually, but when would that be?

 

Then everyone around me started having their second. I remember being at playgroup one morning when Caimen was about 16 months old. I was with three other friends and we all had toddlers the same age (within 3 months of each other). The kids were playing and we were standing in a circle of four, talking. I was the only one NOT pregnant. I wasn’t even listening to what we were talking about. All I could think were the following thoughts:

 

– why are these mothers ready and I am not?

– am I a bad mom for not wanting another one right now?

– are they better mothers than I am?

– what am I doing wrong?

 

Now I know this is silly! I am a very confident person so this is especially silly for me! That didn’t change the fact that these thoughts were consuming me and coming up over and over again; every time I heard of another person pregnant with their second before me, I had awful feelings!

 

This is the part of the post that is going to sound offensive or insensitive to some people – my apologies in advance and it’s nothing personal to anyone in my life!

 

I would actually get upset (more so at myself) when I would see yet another ultrasound picture on Facebook. As happy as I was for the family, and I truly was, I was sad and angry about the situation in general; the situation being that their kids will be closer in age than mine. I had a couple of people in my life that had kids the same age as Caimen and weren’t onto their seconds yet and I mentally hung onto them like they were on the same page as me, and that made me really happy. *Insensitive warning! I was very disappointed when I found out that one of them HAD been trying for over a year without luck. The other one had experienced a miscarriage over a year ago and was trying for a while before that as well. I almost couldn’t be empathetic for their experiences (and I normally am very sensitive to issues like this) because now the thought going through my mind was “Great. They actually WERE ready before me”. Awful and ridiculous, I know.

 

I could go on and on about the different times I have felt like this over the years, but I am going to change pace now to finally being ready and getting pregnant, and the irony that came out of it. Ken and I decided we would be ready for #2 around the time that Caimen starts school – we made this decision a full year before we would start trying so we had a year to digest it, talk it over, and look forward to it. Making this decision lightened my internal pressure a little bit, thank goodness!

 

The irony that arose is that AS SOON as I got pregnant, so many of the people in my life with two kids already (mostly close in age) did the math figuring out that Caimen will be 4.5 and in school and said things to me like “Your timing is perfect!”, “It will be so much easier having your second when Caimen is in school. I had such a hard time!”, “You guys are smart for waiting!”. Um, HELLO?! Where was all of this positive feedback while I was tormenting myself for years? I actually ran into an old friend last week and was introduced to his two young daughters (3.5 and 16 months or so). He congratulated me on my pregnancy, asked how old Caimen is, and then said “I wish we would have spaced them out a little more”.

 

These new comments I am hearing now and the fact that we ARE ready and are currently on our way to number two makes me feel really good about ‘waiting’. We are doing what is right for our family and although I struggled with what I knew was right for us but felt wrong, I am glad we listened to ourselves. We are delighted about having another little one and Caimen being a big brother (he is over the moon!). It took us a while to get here, but I’m sure glad we’re here now.

 

 

heather_pro3

Heather Jones is a bebo mia trained doula and is expecting her second child in October. 
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