January 6, 2009

Helpful Thoughts

When I think about the No More Babies Decision of 2008, the things that come immediately to mind are the sad things, or the things that won't now go as I was thinking they'd go, or the things I won't get to look forward to. These are not helpful thoughts to have.

I was so grateful for all the great and comforting comments I got on that post. One of the many I've thought of again and again was Giselle's: she pointed out what her mother had pointed out to her (and what her grandmother pointed out to her mother): that there will always be a Last Baby, no matter how many you have.

This helped me separate out "sadness over no more babies" from "sadness over no sixth baby." In my Sad List, many items are sixth-child specific, but many others are things I'd be just as sad about after a sixth baby, or after a seventh, or after an eighth. And as we math geniuses know, if something is present on both sides of an equation, you can strike it out. If something is the same whether we DO or DON'T have another child, then it is...well, irrelevant, in a sense. Irrelevant, at least, to the decision of whether or not to have another child.

I choose not to apply this math when I think of things that make me feel better: even if they'd be just as comforting after a sixth baby as after a fifth, I'll take them now.

1. No more pregnancy nausea. It's like having the stomach flu for three months. I'm not sorry to kiss it goodbye, and in fact I'm not going to kiss it.

2. No more OB appointments. It's a 35-minute drive, a 20-minute wait, a 5-minute "wham, bam, measure you ma'am," and then another 35-minute drive---and the babysitting arrangements get more challenging each time.

3. I can get rid of clothes as Henry/Elizabeth outgrow them. Those clothes take up a LOT of space in the basement.

4. Our city is doing a fundraiser, the kind where you can have whatever you want engraved on a brick that then is used in a public walkway. I wanted to get all our names on it, but it seemed sad to do that if we might later have another child whose name wouldn't be on the brick. Now I can go ahead and order the brick. (Shut up. I am TRYING here.)

5. I don't have to worry anymore about miscarriage, Down Syndrome, toxoplasmosis, Fifth Disease, placental abruption, uterine rupture, or any of the other things I worry about during pregnancy.

6. I can see the caboose: as we pass through each of the less-pleasant stages with Henry (the mobile-but-brainless early toddler stage, the potty-training stage), I can wave goodbye to them. See you later, stages. Bye, stages. Soon we won't have to have a baby gate, or outlet covers, or car seats, or strollers, or...okay, I'm getting sad again, let's move on.

7. I can move on to the next stage of life. I may be sorry to leave this one, but that doesn't mean I don't also look forward to the next one. I can start thinking about what job I might get after the kids are in school, and how nice it will be to have that second income for braces and glasses and sports equipment and college and all the other expenses of older children. I can start thinking about what interesting projects I might divert my Baby Energy to. I can start thinking, as some of you mentioned, about grandchildren. (OMG.)

8. I can better appreciate the children I already have: if I'm not looking ahead to the next baby, I have more attention to focus on the babies there already are.

9. I don't have to worry that if I complain to Paul or act overwhelmed, he'll use it as evidence in the court of whether or not to have more children. If the household dips briefly into chaos/squalor, as it so often does, I don't have to panic that Paul is RIGHT THIS SECOND deciding "That's IT! NO MORE!"

10. Paul can talk more freely about how cute the children are or how happy he is to have them, without worrying I might use it as evidence in the court of whether or not to have more children.

11. I can take medicines and supplements and vodkas and so forth, without thinking about how someone else's body will be affected.

12. I can buy myself treats and little gifties, and I can buy cute little baby outfits for my soon-due niece, justifying the purchases as bandages and ointment for my sad heart.

41 comments:

Miss Grace said...

It's true, there will always be a last baby. There will also always be more babies, somewhere in your life. You'll always find a way to get that new baby smell. Your new niece for instance.

I think you should buy yourself a giftie.

And, uh, my word verification is, I kid you not, prggers

Jess said...

These reasons are all great, every last one, including the brick. And I love how you think of everything, like the fact that some of these reasons aren't specific to this baby, and then choose to ignore it anyway.

I'm so sorry you have a sad heart. I think a little giftie is a good start toward mending it.

Hotch Potchery said...

About four years ago I NEEDED another baby. I was really yearning, and all. Then my family was blessed with Steamboat, and now I feel really good about where we are. I love being an aunt. Now, if my sister tells me she is done, I might get sad again. But then, hopefully, there will be grandchildren. I guess I have figured out they don't have to be MY babies for me to get my baby fix.

Alice said...

ha, as someone who HASN'T had babies, coming up with *icky* things you won't have to deal with anymore seems far easier for me. no more throwing food on the floor! no more DIAPERS! no more poop in the bath! no more screaming ear infections! no more toddler vomit! ...at least, not in your own kids. soon, you get to HAND BACK a kid that pukes all over himself, but then retreive him again from his mom when it's time to sniff his head. :-)

Jessica said...

And no more birth control pills, because he's getting the snip! Right? *crickets* Hrm...

Erin said...

Oh dear heart. This is a wonderful list. Read it over and over, for as long as it takes until it just becomes your immediate thoughts.

Kim said...

All good reasons, though number 11 stands out for me, as medicines and vodkas have both helped me through some rough times in life. Not in large quantities or mixed, but still.
The fact that you are still able to find humor encourages me a lot with my own trevails. Not sure if that's the right word, but I'm keeping it.

mom huebert said...

That's a GREAT list, all very helpful. And I think like you about the brick...

Mimi said...

I like your list. Esp. the moving onto the next stage point, and the drinking vodka point. I could use a vodka the size of my head right now.

Michelle said...

There ya go! That's quite the way to turn the list around. I think I'd still be on the self-pity phase. It must've been that baked oatmeal that got you turned around!

Angella said...

Vodka is a great reason not to have more kids.

WHAT?

Not Your Aunt Bea said...

Hooray vodka! And thank you for writing this post- I may need to reference it in the near future. Right now I can't help but be sad (even at the morning sickness), but I'll get to where I can kiss it goodbye, right?

Anonymous said...

I will never understand people who feel done, so I am, in my maladjusted way, perversely happy when someone else hits the we're-stopping-but-I-don't-feel-done phase. Meet you at Target?

Also, re: your Twitter -- they wrote "query"

Love,
Slim and her dried-out, unloved ovaries

Nowheymama said...

I think Paul needs to buy you a tasteful piece of jewelry (charm bracelet?) that represents your five beautiful children. And he needs to buy it, like, YESTERDAY.

DCMomma said...

What a great post. All good points!

:)

Beth said...

Oh Swistle - what a great list. You write SO well.
I've been thinking of you and your sad heart lately and I hope you are feeling a bit better every day.

Tess said...

Holy...WOW. I just had one of those lame-o, Oprah-esque A-HA moments with that "if something is the same on both sides of the equation, you strike it out" thing. That is just...GENIUS and also SO HELPFUL to me right now.

Mommy Writes said...

Excellent list. To expand on the brick idea -- now Paul can buy you one of those lovely "mother" rings/pendants/pins . . . the ones that have a birthstone for each child.

Glad to hear you're focusing on the positives. :)

CAQuincy said...

I, too, have been trying to focus on more helpful thoughts such as these as I've tried to come to terms with my own husband's "no" (BUT you PROMISED me FOUR!). I kept hoping that I could eventually change his mind (no permanent fixes YET), but as my 36th birthday just went by...and the youngest just turned FOUR...well.... Anyway, thanks for the helpful thoughts. I may bookmark this post to read again and again and again as I heal my own no-more-baby wounds.

d e v a n said...

Great list. I don't think the brick is silly. It's the same thing keeping me from getting a cute decal for our car.
Also, I know what you mean about the "court of whether or not to have more children" because we are in that place right now.

Anonymous said...

That's a wonderful list and none of it is silly, not even the brick. One last thing, and this might be DUH or not helpful, but it's something I have learned as the years have gone by and I have only had one child: I enjoy him and love him every single day, even though he's getting his drivers license on Friday, and he has toe hair (and hair I don't even know about and don't want to know about) and is tall enough to reach everything in the kitchen without a stepstool and argues with me incessantly.

No matter how many you have, they are going to grow up and become little people, then teenagers, then become people again, and you will still love them and all their toe hair and 10 dirty pairs of jeans per week per child.

Just like you said, there will be a last baby no matter how many you have, and there will be a time when none of them are babies, and you will still feel like a complete family, even without a baby in the house. Your children may grow up to be each other's drinking buddies (if they are lucky like I am with my siblings), and one day, they may show up at your house with a bottle of vodka and bloody mary makings for dear old mom. And they will still be your children, and your family will still be complete.

I need my own blog, don't I? I hope this hasn't beat you over the head with what you already know.

Anonymous said...

It would help if I at least owned my own bloggy comment. I am Laura, not anonymous!

Giselle said...

It's good to see you trying to work through the sadness and into the inevitable.

And I totally understand the brick thing. I was *slightly* sad when my husband ran off and have the vasectomy in what seemed like my 3rd child's first few breaths. But then I got to order the Christmas stockings with names embroidered on them...because I knew we were all done so they would all match. And it made it a bit better. :) Next on my list...a whole family photo...because now I know that in 10 years there won't be a little person missing from that photo. I can hang it up forever. No, wait, NEXT on my list is to figure out how to lose some weight since I am going to have to be in that photo. I think it would be easier to have another baby...despite the vasectomy.

Astarte said...

I'm so glad that you're starting to think of good things rather than being lost in depression about it. Hey, if you get too desperate, you can always do what your mom does!!! Ha!

Katie said...

I'm so sorry you are trying to heal your sad heart. It must be really hard....

I am on the other side of the fence, though. I am DONE. We have our last baby. And I LOVE babies. It is the CHILDREN I have a problem with. I could have 10 more babies. But toddlers? No thank you.

I'm very excited to know our family is "complete" and that I can finally get our stockings embroidered with our names. And I can GET RID of all the giant piles of plastic crap as we out grow them now (exersaucer, I'm looking at you!) Then, the car seats will be gone and we can go on vacations like normal people without dealing with pack and plays and portable swings and diapers and sippy cups ACK! All that. So, I feel a big feeling of relief.

You may just need a good mourning period now, and then be quite ready to move on. Or maybe you won't....and either way, you're going to be okay. You're going to be surrounded by people who love you and who you love, and that is the most important! Plus, you can bitch to us as much as you want and we all get it--except for the part of wanting more toddlers. I don't quite get that part! :)

Little-Bit said...

Go buy a giftie, Swistle! And make some muffins. And have Double Italian Seweet Cream. I am sad with you. And BTW, Anonymous/Laura, I love your post! i can't wait for my kids to be my Friends, ant not my Absolute Responsibility.

Swistle said...

Just ordered the brick! I covered my bases by making it "Thistle Family 2008" and then our first names---in case our family DOES change in 2009 or after. I swim in a river in Egypt.


Jessica- I know, I know! But I don't want there to be NO POSSIBILITY of him changing his mind. River in Egypt!

Nowheymama and Mommy Writes- YES! MOTHER JEWELRY!! That's a really good one!

Tess- We math geniuses love mathy thoughts.

Laura- GOOD STUFF.

Whimsy said...

Chiming in on the giftie. You most definitely deserve it. That, and the fundraising brick, which just sounds awesome.

Also, I love the whole algebraic way of thinking about pros and cons. Excellent.

Hang in there.

Katie said...

Swistle,
I just posted an entry on my blog to try to cheer you up. Go check it out!

(*Oh God. I hope it cheers you up and doesn't make it worse! My intentions are good!*)

Twinsplus1 said...

Thanks for this list. I am in the same boat, as I can't get the husband on board for #4.
I am glad that at least I have wine to help me through it...
Love your blog!
Claire
Tutus for Toddlers

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Giftie is definitely in order. Sorry you are feeling sad.

Julie said...

That's a great list. If Paul's getting a vasectomy (?) you can add to the list "sex for fun and not procreation." It's made a difference for us! :)

pseudostoops said...

I don't have anything very helpful to contribute, but I'm thinking of you and sending ointment-y thoughts.

Cari said...

I love this list, and also the idea of this list. It can be applied to a lot of situations.

The city I live in is doing a fundraiser with bricks...something about "millennium," I think. do you live near me?!?

Also, you definitely deserve a giftie. Either from yourself or something very sparkly from Paul.

HollyLynne said...

Right on with that last reason! And then you need to post pictures so we can ooh and aahh over your self gifts :D

Frazzled Mom said...

I can so relate to 9. & 10. I only have 1 and would like 2 but my husband is stressed out by the idea of 2. I blame his co-workers. When we first got married he also wanted 2, but then his co-workers started telling him with 1 child there is plenty of extra time and money but with 2 - forget about it. I want to slug them!

Anyway, as my first child is approaching her second birthday, I'm trying to determine the best time to broach the subject. When we are going through chaotic times, I'm thinking "Please don't say, ‘how could we possibly handle another...'" The good news is that he hasn't said that in months, and he suggests I put some baby toys AWAY, but hasn't suggested I GET RID OF THEM. So there's hope!

And your post is well-timed, because I wasn't going to admit this - it's rather weird - but the past couple of days I have been writing draft letters to your name advice bog with no plans to actually send them to you since I'm not really pregnant yet.

And I can imagine my husband saying, "Admit it, you only want another kid so you can name it." That's so not true, but it is part of the fun.

In your case, I think the grandchildren are great to look forward to because with 5, the odds are in your favor that you will have some grandchildren. With 1 the concern is if that kid doesn’t want kids of his/her own, then your progeny ends right there - depressing really. That’s one of the reasons why I want another one.

Swiggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swiggy said...

I'm so with you and how you're feeling, and my husband had the snip a few months ago (right after that dreaded fourth trimester was over!). He scheduled it himself with only one comment from me, so I took that to mean that he was really serious about the Chipmunk being our last one.

I think I'm a little psycho though, I still find myself dreaming about getting pregnant again.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I think you are coping very well! I agree with the mother jewelry idea!

Um, am I the only one who is interested in the boy hand me downs? Because I am. :)

Julie said...

I know that there's always a last baby, but I'm afraid my last baby might also be my first. Nicky is almost 2 and I'm almost 37 and I'm not so confident that we'll get another. It is hard to think about not having another itty bitty baby bunched up on my shoulder with his/her little feet tucked in and his/her little fists all tight. It's a feeling like no other, and more than compensates for the diapers and sleep loss. Oh - I feel your pain, Swistle Sister!

Amy said...

Awesome post...we made that same decision this year (no 3rd child for us), and about 90% of the time I'm totally at peace about it. Until a cute baby sits in front of us at church or Baylee mentions how much she loves babies...