17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Balanced

I remember when my first child was around 18 months old, I couldn't sleep at night.

I was not worried, stressed, anxiety-ridden. Oh no, on the contrary, I was well rested. For the first time since she had been born I was NOT feeling tired. It's not like she was still up at night. She had been sleeping through the night for an entire year. It just took a solid 18 months for me to recover and feel a large portion of normal again.

It was then that I began to exercise more regularly (which perpetuated that well-rested feeling), seek out more opportunities for work, and to feel balanced. My body was getting tighter, my hair was growing back in, and the bags in my eyes were receding (along with my boobs of course).

It was then that I started thinking that having another baby was a bad idea. See, I had been "ready" to get pregnant again when she was about 8 months old. Her infant days had been pretty easy, my husband and I had been taking care of her together for about 7 full months before he returned to work, and it was all smooth sailing. I started thinking about it and talking about it, but did not act on it, because the thought of two babies scared me. When I hit that 18-month mark with still only 1, I knew I had made the right decision.

For another year I enjoyed my life...feeling full, balanced, back to the new normal, and immensely enjoying my baby. When my DH sat me down for the talk about a sibling I resisted. That's another story...

We did finally have our second, and she was born 3 years and 5 weeks after our first. Year 1 was a breeze. Truly, she was such a great little thing...so portable...so quiet. She started sleeping straight through the night (after a week of Ferber) at 4 months, and in general the transition from 1 to 2 has been great.

However, I did not get that same feeling that I got with big sis when she was 18 months, until Monday.

Yes, on Monday, nearly 2.5 years after her birth, I declared myself RECOVERED from her birth. I feel very balanced in my life with work, mothering, exercise, and there is even some scripturizing thrown in there...woo----hoo. I have no bottles, no sippy cups, no diapers, no desitin, no breast pads, no cribs, not even a piece of baby clothing under the size of 2T in my apartment. I am officially recovered from my second baby.

Which made me think....does it take this long for everyone? Or am I just slow to heal....I see so many girls with children much closer in age then mine (some of them with a few special surprises), and they just want to as some people say, "pop them out". I can't imagine it. I get asked ALL the time...."are you having anymore?"...and I just don't know right now. If I JUST got to balanced and back to normal from the second, I simply MUST enjoy this feeling, and get back in touch with myself, my friends, my husband, my life, my body, and my nutrition. Thank you, I am NOT drinking a coke every day anymore, and I have cut back a lot on all the JUNK I consumed in the name of keeping my nausea quiet (3 YEARS ago....). I just can't throw this feeling away to another 40 weeks of ...human-growing.

30 Comments:

  • I think about this often....how close together do I want my children. Unfortunately, for me infertility is, and always will be, an issue. It took us almost 2 years of doctors appointments, medications, and many tears to finally obtain pregnancy. As much as I would like to "plan" my next one, I dont know that I have that luxury. We will just have to try until it happens....be that a month, 6 months, a year....etc. I think it is great that most people are able to have children and to have them perfectly "spaced out"....unfortunately, I am not one of the lucky ones.

    That being said, I thank God every day for my little miracle and hope that He decides to bless me with another. :)
    posted by Anonymous Lesley at 10/02/2007 01:37:00 PM  



  • lesley, I in no way shape or form want to diminish the harsh reality of not having the luxury to space out children. I have close friends/family who struggle with infertility and I would never want to speak lightly of their struggle. This is just from the perspective of one spoiled woman's experience....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/02/2007 01:58:00 PM  



  • Kage, thank you so much for this post. I was just thinking today, hey, my second is now 6 months, shouldn’t I be feeling more…like myself by now? Sure, the good days outnumber the bad at this point, but I still don’t feel like I’m back.

    Thank you for the permission to still feel off-kilter. And yes, he’s been sleeping through the night, but I’m still not sleeping as I should. Sometimes it feels like a little piece of shell-shock still reverberating. If I got pregnant right now I feel like I would go off the deep end. Ok, that READS much worse than it feels, haha.

    I’m glad to read that I’m not the only one who feels out of it for longer than they thought they would.
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 10/02/2007 01:59:00 PM  



  • My mom told me recently that she is finally feeling somewhat back to normal after having baby number four. My response was "Mom, Ian's 10 now. It took that long?" Though I have not had any children myself, it is my understanding that the older you are when you give birth, the longer it takes to "get back to normal." That's something to think about.
    posted by Blogger Maria Tortilla at 10/02/2007 02:32:00 PM  



  • azucar--
    6 months?? Honey, it took you 9 months to grow the baby, give yourself at least 9 months to recover from it. :)

    Come on, Kage. You know "back to normal" doesn't exist. Yes, we may have sleep and calm, but our lives are changed forever. Our bodies may be the same weight, but they will never be the exact same shape. Our brains have been re-wired to think about our children constantly (even in sleep), and although we claim to have our "own" time, the children are still there --waiting for us. Needing us. But I'm not trying to diminish what you are saying --I'm just stating the fact that nothing will go "Back" to the way it was.

    I have four children under the age of Seven. I have never experienced what you are referring to, but I can understand what you are saying. I'm looking forward to the day (I really am, even with everything I just said in my first paragraph) when I can be at a good weight, be done with diapers and bottles and late nights. But I have never experienced it. Since starting this childhood journey 7 1/2 years ago, I've been pregnant or nursing or changing a diaper non-stop. But I don't regret it, because I know one day, I will be done. And, if it goes well, I'll be done before I'm 32 years old. And I'll have 6 or more kids.

    Maria has a very valid point. The older you get, the harder it is --but not just to "recover". It's harder to conceive. I thought I was immune to that idea because I happened to be one of the lucky ones and conceive my first three children on the first "try". But I learned the hard way --after months of trying and a miscarriage before my fourth child kept--that it doesn't always work the way we want/expect/hope it to.

    I'm glad that you feel good about being out of the baby stage. I'm glad that you are feeling good about yourself and your situation. There's nothing wrong with that --I'm sure every mother enjoys that stage. But I would be wary about what you are saying. If you think you should have more children, then gosh darn it, you better explore those feelings and do yourself some hard praying, regardless of how hard it will/can/tends to be.

    I'm not an advocate of "Have a bazillion children!" just because I happen to want more than four. Also, I do not receive revelation for anyone but myself. So, please don't think I'm judging you in anyway. I'm just responding to what you have written, regardless of how harsh it may sound. I apologize if it does sound insulting. Just chalk it up to an opinion of another mother (who isn't out of the baby stage yet!) :) :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 10/02/2007 03:11:00 PM  



  • cheryl, I did use the term "new normal" in the post, b/c I know it will never be back to pre-kids normal. And frankly, the new normal is better than before kids...healthier, better weight, more mature etc. Hopefully we all get better over time.

    And as for your decision to have 6+ kids before 32, and to your comment: "I'm looking forward to the day (I really am, even with everything I just said in my first paragraph) when I can be at a good weight, be done with diapers and bottles and late nights. But I have never experienced it." Well, I don't want to be looking forward...I just want to be in the moment and be ok with it, and have a break from it...because I cannot endure long stretches of this baby stuff.

    I remember once someone saying I would rather do a ton of diapers in like 5 years time (even if it means 2 or 3 kids in diapers), then like 10 years of diapers back to back....I am for the 10 years of diapers with some good long breaks in between. Or maybe just 4 years of diapers with that one break in between...I just don't know what the future holds. I am just so happy now is here, and that I am feeling recovered from Poopy.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/02/2007 04:10:00 PM  



  • In theory (I have no experience), I like my mom's spacing technique - 4 years apart. I think that's how long she felt it took to recover, as well as having the youngest be at least old to be able to communicate, walk, be out of diapers, etc. With that spacing, she also felt like she had enough alone time to really focus on each individual child during their important development stages and make sure they were grasping important concepts.
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 10/02/2007 05:08:00 PM  



  • Kage--this post has somehow leaked out of my brain and onto this blog. . . I've been thinking about this A LOT lately. I only have one (7 months) and while I feel pretty good in general I'm just not sure when I want to do this again and how many more times. But I feel this urge to "get on with it." I have so many friends and family who are on their 3rd kid and I'm kinda envious. . . I wish I was that far down the road. I want a lot of kids, in THEORY. I would LOVE to have 4+ but since this first one was a little fussy and totally took me by surprise I'm still feeling a little shell shocked from the whole ordeal. I vacillate between having my kids close together or spacing them further apart. My other prob is that I'm already 30 and I don't want to be having kids in my later 30's let alone my 40's. I almost wish I could have triplets so I could have a hard couple years and be done! I've basically just told Heavenly Father that I am going to need some clear cut signs to move ahead with the next ones so that I have them as close together as possible but not so close as to cause permanent insanity.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It really helps to hear that it took you 18 months with the first to get to that "new normal." I feel like I should be there already, but I'm glad to hear even with relatively easy babies it's tough. Hearing from other mom friends is what has helped me the most with this transition.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 10/02/2007 05:11:00 PM  



  • I really enjoyed reading this post. Feeling balanced as a mother is SO crucial to maintaining self-confidence and success. My youngest is 11 months and I still don't feel quite balanced yet. I have four kids under age seven (although the 6 year old is my stepdaughter) and I am VERY overwhelmed and busy. I have to be SO organized, or my life is crazy.

    If I could do it over, I would definitely have spaced them out a bit. Areas of my life have been tested because of that- emotionally, physically, and financially.

    I used to visit teach a lady who had three kids under age 4 and said she wanted to be done by the time she was 30. There are quite a few women where I live (Utah- Happy Valley) that are in a hurry to have kids one after another or just are too careless to take birth control precautions. Then I see such families suffer with the lack of individual attention as tamarobot talked about and the mothers become completely overwhelmed and consumed in mothering duties that other aspects of their lives diminish.

    I think if you can afford it and you emotionally and physically ready for more children, go for it. However, I think a woman SHOULD feel balanced as kage described or else her individuality will get covered up with the many duties of mothering. It DOES take a long time to recover and even just one or two children is a lot of work! If you are blessed enough to be able to plan your children, then you and your spouse should feel completely ready. Otherwise, little surprises can completely turn your life upside down! :)
    posted by Blogger LJ at 10/02/2007 06:21:00 PM  



  • I also have a 2.5 year old and have to say I am loving this stage. I can enjoy my children as independent beings and I get a full night of sleep. My children are 3.5 years apart (it took me over a year to get pregnant with my second) and I love enjoying my time with each child. We are hoping that our next one will come next year, but there are no guarantees.

    I thought that I would be done with having kids at 32, but that may be impossible and I am fine with that. I thought having them two years apart was a good idea, but I now know that I could not handle that age gap. As I have gotten older I realize that its not about the numbers and more about enjoying the journey and finding the "balance" for my family.
    posted by Blogger cj at 10/02/2007 08:09:00 PM  



  • I think the hard thing about this is that everyone is different. Sure it's great to hear about other mothers' experiences about how/when they decided to have more children, but we all know what we can handle and what our own personal limits are, and they are gonna be different for everyone. I have friends who have popped out a baby, one after the other. I can see why they do it, but I'm not sure it's for me. I also have friends who have their kids five years apart, and that works wonderfully for them and their circumstances. I guess in some ways it teaches me to not be too judgemental of how/when other people decide to expand their family.

    Personally Kage, I totally relate to feeling "balanced". I think: get to that balanced phase, enjoy it for a bit, and then it's time to challenge my perameters once again and contemplate another child perhaps. Sometimes when I get too comfortable I think, "Oh, it must be time for a change again". But you are very young. You have tons of time to decide when you want your next baby.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 10/02/2007 08:58:00 PM  



  • lj-
    Are you sure you weren't my visiting teacher? :)

    kage-
    I'm sorry that I read your post in a "wrong" way (I'm not being sarcastic here). I was confused by your wording in your last paragraph. It took me a couple of times of reading it before I realized what you were truly saying. Sorry! :)

    tam-
    As much as I wish you and your sister were closer to your brother's age (I wish it all the time), I know it was the best thing for your mom. God truly does know us --He knows what we can handle and when we can handle it. To be honest, if it had been MY choice, #3 would NOT have been born 18 months after #2. But it wasn't my choice. And boy, how grateful I am for that!
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 10/02/2007 09:18:00 PM  



  • I have been thinking a little about this lately. I am 5 months pregnant with my first baby and it has been a rocky road. I have thrown up basically every day for the last 5 months, and the thought of getting pregnant again--ever--terrifies me. I'll do it, because I don't want #1 to be an only child, but I don't know when I will ever be brave enough :)
    posted by Blogger Kris Akarti at 10/02/2007 10:44:00 PM  



  • kris akarti, I had a pregnancy like that with my first, and the second was similar but WAY less severe. Sometimes when the thought of pregnancy washes over my mind, I am like: NO PUKE....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (think, horror movie scream)...but unless you are tracy m, you might have every pregnancy be a bit different each time....and the good thing is (though I am sure you don't want to hear this just now), is that is is temporary.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/03/2007 03:56:00 AM  



  • AMEN Kage!! I needed this post today. So many people tell me how great it is to get it all over with and pop them out all at the same time and eventually it will get better. I see their point, but I wasn't made like that - I ant to enjoy the journey.. AND my kids. I mean, my one year old is still throwing me into loop-de-loops. My mom had such a tough time getting pregnant, she'd time them way in advance (while still in the hospital with a newborn) and she hit her mark each time, so to speak. She even plotted it all out for me on a calendar for my next 3 kids;) I appreciated the sentiment, but I feel like you - I know I can't do another one or enjoy another one until I get settled again and just KNOW. I'm waiting for the sign!
    posted by Blogger Rocketgirl at 10/03/2007 06:06:00 AM  



  • Thank you for this, Kage.
    posted by Blogger Emily C at 10/03/2007 08:10:00 AM  



  • I'm like you Kage, a spoiled woman who has had the opportunity to plan out each pregnancy with no real surprises or glitches. And I am also like you in that I need some time between the children to really feel like me again before the thought of another even enters my mind. But it doesn't necessarily have to do with getting rid of all signs of baby in the house before the next comes along.

    I also think it is really important to remember each woman's circumstances are so different - personalities, talents, age, geography, work (theirs and their spouse) not to mention medical problems. While most people say just listen to God and He will tell when it's time, I think God also expects us to weigh the decision on our own based on our personal circumstances as well.

    God knows me and I know me. And we both know that I need some time between my children. It may be less time than some women need and more time than others need, but this is something you can't really compare with others around you.

    I have always wanted a "large" family, but right now I just take my children one at a time and enjoy my balanced life. I definitely have no urge to have my large family before I'm 30 (not to say that women who have lots of children before they are thirty can't also have a balanced life, I just know I couldn't).

    So there is a chance that my biological clock will time out before I get my "large" family but I still believe children will still come to our family one way or another.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 10/03/2007 09:49:00 AM  



  • I just think we are all so different in our mothering and in our family planning preferences (whether they work that way or not) and I think what we all need is to give each other a break and not judge one another's decisions. I'm in the 5 kids in 6 years club and it has been very difficult in so many ways, but the most wonderful, blessed 6 years of my life. Would I change anything? - NO! Do I get comments from other moms of the "bigger spacing is better" club? YES! All the time. But it goes both ways. I think people in my club (closely spaced kids) don't "get" why moms would PLAN 4 years between kids. So we comment to each other, or judge in our minds the moms who do it differently. That's what needs to change. Aren't we all doing the best we can?!
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 10/03/2007 11:09:00 AM  



  • I am in the middle of getting rid of our baby stuff right now and I can only call it a cleansing, almost sacramental experience. I have no mormon guilt about having a small family, no attachment to these things....only attachments to the memories of my boys as babies.

    I only wish that I wouldn't feel judged by (some) women with large families, as though I am taking the easy way out/being selfish/not being completely faithful for bailing out after two. Some of this is in my head, I am sure...but I hate taking Asher to playgroup and hearing from the other moms with 4+ kids...oh, it must be so nice to just have one (well, actually, if you paid attention to my life at all you would know I had 2 and the oldest has autism...so it's really not all that easy.)

    And, I've heard this more than once...what do you do with all of your free time?(well, just because I'm not changing diapers all day doesn't mean that I am not busy and even sometimes overwhelmed with my life...)

    I think it's awesome when women decide to have lots of kids. I know I enjoyed growing up with lots of siblings...but I hate the divide between small families and large going on in the church...and if women with lots of kids are going to resent me, maybe they need to look harder at their own choices because family size IS a choice.

    So...anyone need a breast pump?
    posted by Blogger Jen at 10/03/2007 12:13:00 PM  



  • Love this post! I definately see the advantages of both sides, the close spacers and the long. I think there is no guarantee your kids will be friends if their close in age. My little guy is almost three and we felt pretty ready to have another, but after a miscarriage, it will take another year, if all is well, to have another. I never wanted my kids super close, but not too far apart either. I think, like others have said, God ultimately knows what's best, and maybe I need some more time with my handful of a child. We can have a "plan" or an opinion of what is best, but it's not really up to us.
    posted by Anonymous Angie at 10/03/2007 12:55:00 PM  



  • Jen - I feel like women do that all the time. When my first baby was born (and only so far) so many moms with two or more would say, "Oh it's so easy with one, just wait until you have more". Ummm, didn't feel that easy when I had my brand-newborn and had NEVER been a mom before. Now that he's almost 20 months I understand where they were coming from..... but still. I think you're right that there are a lot of mormon "stigmas" out there about how many kids to have, etc., and sometimes it's in our heads that people are judging us. But just stick to your guns and be confident with your perfect sized family.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 10/03/2007 01:52:00 PM  



  • Jen-
    The only time I have a problem with women "only" having one or two children is when they say to me: "Wow, you must be so tired/crazy/busy! I would never do that to myself." Of course, that would just be me judging the judger...

    Here's my unsolicited advice. The next time a person asks you those personal questions about your small family, just lay it out there. Say "Well, God has told us we're done." That will stop the judgemental remarks --or at least maybe give you a segway into sharing the gospel...? :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 10/03/2007 02:16:00 PM  



  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger Maria Tortilla at 10/03/2007 02:43:00 PM  



  • Great post, Kage. I have to point out that some people space their kids closer not because they are back to normal or ready, but because they feel like it's what God wants them to do. I never got back to any kind of normal after the first one. I managed a kind of normal after the second one, though it didn't involve being diaper-, bottle-, or sippy cup-free. It did involve me writing 500 words a day, being mostly on top of housework, and enjoying my life. It happened when my 2nd was 13 months, and it lasted for a whole month before I found out I was pregnant with the third. I think it's possible that (for me) if I let myself get back to normal before deciding to have another kid I would never decide to have another kid. I know I really didn't want to give it up this time, but the decision time was past by then. I don't regret having my kids so close together, because I've felt like it was the right time for each of them, but I certainly never wanted them this close together. It's insane.
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 10/03/2007 02:45:00 PM  



  • vada, 500 words? what's that about?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/03/2007 02:59:00 PM  



  • I love to write, and would some day like to actually publish a book. Maybe even make some money writing books, though that's a long way off. But writing 500 words every day translates to significant progress on the current novel, and makes me a happy person. I haven't really written anything in the last few weeks, though. Pregnancy does that to me.
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 10/03/2007 03:15:00 PM  



  • Beth, thanks for that...well said.

    Cheryl, yeah...I would be pretty irritated hearing those kinds of comments, too. The judgement can definitely come from both sides.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 10/03/2007 06:33:00 PM  



  • Kage - I understand...I just get touchy when I read how easy it is for some folks. Sorry to put a damper on your beautiful post...didnt mean to do that. I am glad you are balanced and I hope to attain that one day. I am still waiting for that after almost a year with DD!
    posted by Anonymous Lesley at 10/04/2007 11:13:00 AM  



  • Love the post and all the comments.

    My two cents on this whole issue is this...

    Though I believe in personal revelation, having God tell us what to do (that includes having kids), denies agency, (though of course He can inspire us with ideas). We make the decision when to have unprotected sex. If we get pregnant and carry the baby to term depends on nature, and God.

    The good thing about choosing how you live your life is it brings confidence so when others say, 'I'd go crazy with that many kids,' or, 'you are selfish for having so few,' we can let it roll off our backs and not be too hurt.

    It's tough being a woman today, no doubt about it. But I'd still take today with all our advantages in health care, the workplace, the home, and yes-birth control, over anything else.

    Kage-great post! You have a knack for writing on issues that get our emotions going!!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/04/2007 11:38:00 AM  



  • Yeah. I know what you mean. My kids are closer than yours, but mostly just because I knew I needed to steel through it, or I would chicken out.

    Now that Abby is almost 18 months old, usually I would be pregnant again by now, and I'm not. My OB says another baby would be too hard on my body because of the hyper-emesis (I'm famous for something! Whoo-hooo!) and for a while I wasn't sure I was ready to give that idea up. But...

    I was holding a friend's newborn, and while I was loving her smell, I found myself, for the first time, thinking: "Hmmmm- glad I can give her back..." It let me know that I can be done.

    I'm certainly not recovered completely from three close births-I know my body isn't.

    Thanks for the post, K.
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 10/07/2007 03:37:00 AM  



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