Wednesday, July 25, 2018

1y5m15d : One or Two?

I wrote this as a response to someone else on the SMC forum. This comes up a lot for me, this idea of one child or two.  I liked what I wrote so I thought I'd put it here as part of this story.

I went into becoming a single mother thinking I would only have one. My 'dream Plan A' of finding a partner included having 2, but when I reduced that dream to the Plan B just me, I also reduced the child count to account for it. Not that this makes sense to anyone else necessarily, but I sort of felt like, two parents to two kids is a replacement one for one in an overpopulated world, and so one to one just made sense to me.

I'm an only child, and I really don't remember minding being an only child and now as an independent adult, I really don't mind being an only child at all. I think every individual person is so different, you can't know what a person will feel or want in terms of their relationships or 'how they'll feel about things' that they have or don't have. You also don't know if two children will have a great sibling bond, or a horrid sibling bond. I know people with both, and as I don't have any myself, I don't romanticize it either way. I think it's a crap shoot be honest.

So with me being so sure I wanted one, why have I felt conflicted? The online SMC forums. Peer pressure. That's it. I've posted about it before in other places. It never occurred to me to want another child, until I was suddenly faced with lots of people both here and in real life from my mum and baby groups that do. Suddenly, oh the pressure!!! The doubt!! I can afford my one child and we can have a good life together where I can give her enriching experiences and we can enjoy travel and other such things together. I do not have the capacity to live that life with two children. I would need to live an entirely different life with two children, simply for the sake of having two children. And when I think very hard about the type of life -I- want to live, it is very much the one with one child, not two.

But I still feel pressure. It's very real and tangible. It doesn't mean I actually want 2. I'm not sure what it means exactly. But I know when I take MJ to swim class, that there would be no way I could take another child to swim class. So she'd have to give up hers, and I couldn't offer that to another child. I know I can just about afford nursery fees for one, but I'd be stretched and either sucking down my savings or going in to debt to pay for nursery for 2. The knock on effect would be, I couldn't jaunt off to Denmark next week to see a friend if I had two. I couldn't afford it, and probably couldn't manage it (I'm taking a travel cot for one, but two??). I look ahead and think about maybe private school and music lessons and other classes/lessons and more travel and whatever else and I know that lifestyle is predicated on my one child.

And when I think about her, and me and her together, my heart is so full and I think our relationship is so special, I am actually satisfied. And I think that's important- that I am actually satisfied with what I have.

Because it means when I feel that pressure, and nagging guilt, that I really have to think about why I'm feeling it. It's not because I'm not fulfilled. And as I said, I don't have strong feelings about siblings either way, so I don't think MJ is going to have a worse life without a sibling. So what is it? It's just this other thing of expectation and pressure and external society and a bit of 'keeping up with the Jonses' and it's not really about what I actually want at all. It's more about what I somewhere in some part of my head think I should be doing. Except I really don't.

It doesn't make it less real however. And it means I'm never entirely comfortable even though from the start I really only wanted one. I still pay storage on my 3 embryos, 7 eggs, and 3 vials of sperm and I honestly don't know what I want to do with them. I may try to donate the eggs and embryos in the future. But I also probably hold on to them a little bit to make the decision a little less final. Even though I'm 98% sure I'm a one and done mom.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

1y5m8d: Handling being a parent

I see in various places sometimes the question, "How do you handle being a parent?", especially from people who are not yet parents and thinking about being a parent.  And I think that part of this stems from seeing children out and about being active and rambunctious and thinking, "Oh my god, I couldn't possibly handle that!".  I think there is some foundation for this reaction, but the wonderful thing about being a parent is that you learn and grow alongside your child's development stages.

You aren't suddenly thrust into having to care for and manage a howling toddler. A newborn is for the most part, not that difficult, once you account for the lack of sleep and your tolerance for crying (and how much your baby may cry for that matter- mine didn't much).  Of course there are things that seem BIG and you are all encompassed by it while you're doing it. Slowly but surely though, your newborn infant will start to be more interactive. They roll over. They sit up. They look at things. And you, as their parent are right there with them. In fact, the reality is, you will likely miss many of these changes as they blur into a happy memory of newborn haze. The reality is, in the first six months of your child's life, you are becoming an adept parent just as your child is moving from a newborn to a baby.

The same transition happens from baby to toddler. Children don't one day wake up and start running. There is a learning curve. And again, you are right there by their side, watching their actions, learning what they do so you can be there to support them. The change in some ways is fast, but in other ways is slow and incremental. So slow, that you don't really notice, but again, your skills at managing your child are keeping up with their development.

Does that mean there aren't moments of desperation or exasperation? Of course not. But they aren't the end of the world. They're a moment. Moments pass.

It's funny though, because as much as I understand this paradigm, thinking about the reality of having two children based on having one, is one of the key reasons I don't really want another child. Because I see what it takes, and I don't think I have enough to go around for two.  At least, not to do it the way I want to do it. However, the reality is, if I had another child, I would adapt day by day until my new reality was commonplace. I still believe there would be more moments of exhaustion and exasperation, and I still know that financially it's not really what I can afford (or consequently what I would want if I did). But it's the same principle. Everything about children seems overwhelming until you have one. Then you just take it it day by day. And each day isn't actually all that hard upon reflection. That's how you handle it.