To have another baby or not... that is the question. This dreaded decision has been bouncing around my brain for months now and I am no closer to making a decision now then I ever was.
It was pretty clear I had a pretty rotten pregnancy (read a few of my posts from the summer of 2011 and that was no secret). I had terrible swelling, which has left me with minimal nerve damage in several places. I got one of the worse cases of PUPPS the doctor had ever seen, and it lasted for several weeks before and after Reagan was born. Imagine being covered in the pregnancy equivalent of poison ivy, without any real medication to treat it. By 39 weeks I ended up being induced due to preclamsia and labored for almost 12 hours without much progress. We later learned most of my pain was coming from my cathader, and I never progressed past 2 cm. I had an emergency c-section when my kidneys stopped functioning due to my high blood pressure and I was so drugged up I don't even have much memory of the day. It was not the joyful experience I envisioned and sadly I was so medicated I was barely able to stay awake for the delivery. It seemed once one medical intervention was made it was a landslide of issues. My recovery was very slow and painful. I am allergic to several narcotics so I was also limited on my ability to take pain relievers after my surgery. It took me weeks just to be able to get around the house. It was no fairey tale, and I still cringe to even think about going down that path again. Nothing went according to my plan, and I still struggle with not getting a chance to experience labor or pushing. It took me a long time (and a tattoo along my c-section scar) to come to terms with how everything played out. All in all, it was a tough ride and I don't know if I could handle a second spin around that track.
Then there is the whole police wife life to consider. I solo parent frequently, and thats not an easy task. I also work full-time and I feel stretched incredibly thin on most days. Sort of like I am barely keeping my head above water. I'm holding on alright, but its a thin thread that allows that to happen. This morning that thread broke, Reagan's hysterics broke me. She was just exhausted and did not want to leave the house for daycare. I had left her with a sitter last night so I could work late but that meant a late bedtime for her. She is also on the last day of her 4 day stretch without her dad (he works four 10 hour shifts that don't allow him any time with her) so she is already clingy and hurting for her Daddy. For a daddy's girl, time away from him slowly wears on her and Tuesdays are the hardest time. By Wednesday morning I can always tell she has had enough. Unfortunately, its career fair week so I am needed at work. She begged me to go back to bed, screamed to "Stay home!" and I could do nothing to calm her. It's heart breaking knowing she just wanted time in her own home and I couldn't give that to her today. By the time I wrestled her into clothes and got her to day care I found myself in tears too. Hello Mommy guilt, happy Wednesday. How in the world would I juggle another kid in this chaos? On those really bad days that I feel I barely survive what would another child do for that struggle?
Without close family, how do people do the multiple kid thing? I am worried I just don't have enough sanity left to successful do it with 2 kids. I never pictured myself with an only child, but I also never pictured myself raising a family without the help of my extended family. I just don't know how to take more sick time, pay more daycare and delivery bills and still make things work. Maybe I should say, and still be happy.
The newborn, infant stage is especially terrifying. I think about how much I have already given up and I can't imagine the additional sacrifices that I would need to have a second baby. The sleep, the money, the ability to plan and participate in things.... and I have to remember that though Chet helps when he can I still do the lion's share of this ALONE. Its me who has to carry, deliver, and care for both kids. I don't really have a partner in this, and I don't know if its something I am willing to take on knowing how hard that is without much help.
Travel is also always on my mind. Thats a big part of this decision too. I live 26 hours from my family, which means flying is really the best option. I get terribly homesick and try to get home twice a year. That can be expensive for Reagan and I and it means a chunk of my salary goes to those costs every month. It's even worse when all three of us travel... now imagine it for a family of four. The reality is I would not be able to fly home nearly as often as I currently do. I would be giving up time with my extended family to have another child. And that means they would all miss out on time together. I desperately want Reagan to really know my family, and that means they have to have a relationship that lets them spend real time together. At some point we could drive the trip, but that too would have its own set of challenges.
But on the other side of this decision is the idea that Reagan won't have a sibling. I think about my own childhood and all the memories I have with Juli and Josh. Would our beach trips have been as fun without them playing in the waves with me? Would snowmobiling have been the same without Juli riding behind me? Would Christmas morning be as special without them tearing into gifts beside me? When I was in college I used to make the long 8 hour drive home to visit during breaks and it became a sort of tradition that when I finally pulled into the driveway I would blare my horn repeatedly until my brother came running to engulf me with a bear hug. I love that memory, I don't want Reagan to miss stuff like that. Me and my sister used to fight like cats and dogs, but even the memories of trying to ditch my little sister are special to me now. I remember getting blundled up on snow days and going exploring around the farm to find the biggest snow drift with her. Exploring grandmom's creek, riding bikes on our country roads, working on the Christmas tree farm, jumping on the trampoline, swimming in our pool, and so many more everyday things were infused with spending time with my brother and sister. How can I expect Reagan to do those things alone? Sometimes this part of the equation seems so much more important that the money and travel arguments.
For the most part I feel content with just Reagan. I feel like her and I could take on the world together and that doing special things and making plans for us is manageable for me. I think about getting season tickets to the football games with her, or flying to Disney. Traveling together to visit PA and the beach would be possible and fun. Packing our stuff to go to the zoo or tailgate works for just us two. But with a third, I know there will be things I just couldn't do or couldn't afford. Do I limit our activities to expand our family? Do I give her a sibling but take away family time?
There are times when I feel confident I am ready to make the decision to not have another but it is shortly followed by a wave of guilt. I feel selfish too, like I am making it easier on me by choosing to just have one kid.
And there are other times when I see a picture of two siblings snuggled up and think about how special that is, how that would be worth the sacrifices. There really is no substitution for having a brother or sister. I think maybe it would be hard only temporarily and as they got older it would be better. Even though Chet has some family here in Oklahoma, they live 2-3 hours from us and we are rarely included in their plans. With Chet working most holidays, its often just Reagan and I for memorial day, labor day, Easter, Halloween and the other smaller holidays. I know those times would be more special if she could share them with a sibling. She doesn't even have a cousin! The poor kid is all by herself, will there be a day when having me isn't enough for her?
Sometimes I think about never being pregnant again, and that sort of hurts too. Am I really ready to say never again on growing a baby bump and meeting another little person who came from me? Can I really never give Chet the chance for a son?
So here I am teetering on the fence. Leaning one way today and the opposite way tomorrow. The truth is I am not ready to make this decision and while I want to just put it on the back burner and give it more time that is also a difficult thing for me. Trusting God's plan is very hard on this subject. Maybe it will never become any more clear than it is now. The decision is a big one, and I hate not knowing what would be best for my family.