My partner and I just can not keep a secret. The excitement for new things is just too much to hold in and inevitably leads to early Christmas gifts and disclosing information possibly too prematurely. We have never waited to tell our friends and family we are expecting. Our children know within days of a positive pregnancy test and share in our excitement and wonderment the entire pregnancy. It was no different when we found out that we were expecting our fifth child on my birthday in 2011. Our family celebrated welcoming a brother or sister while I blew out my candles.
This is Offbeat Families's archive of Becoming Parents posts.
It was never going to happen to me like it did with those parents who hit the one-year mark, watch their little baby toddle around and say, "Oh… I want another one!" After a terrible pregnancy that ended in an emergency C-section, I decided I was done for good. Or at the very least a good looooong time. I wrote myself letters throughout the pregnancy to remind myself that YES it was that bad, the same way I kept track of the (still ongoing) night wakings, issues with breastfeeding. Finances have been kept under strict supervision, and baby expenditures can be easily totalled.
I was tired of feeling like I was letting my partner down. It didn’t matter that I knew he was disappointed in the situation and not with me. I still felt responsible. I didn’t need him to say anything, I needed him to act. So I gave him a responsibility: I asked him to do something for the nursery-to-be. Whatever he wanted. What I was really looking for was reassurance that he thought we’d get there eventually.
Before I had my baby, I had a lot of plans and expectations based around an unmedicated birth and high hopes for a water birth. This didn't seem unfeasible as the pregnancy had been entirely uncomplicated. I hadn't bought a pram, preferring a Kari Me sling. I was planning to wear the baby all the time, breastfeed all the time (after all it's free and if you're on limited finances that's pretty important) and was overall looking forward to it.
Even before trying to conceive my husband and I had discussions about how we might handle another pregnancy emotionally. We expected to be ravaged with anxiety and dread most days. We expected to live in anguish for nine months, fearing the worst. I'm happy to report that isn't the case, for either of us.
Recently several newly pregnant friends have asked me if I had any advice for them, which has given me occasion to think over all the things that have kept my partner and me going throughout my pregnancy and our first nine months of parenting. While pregnant, I read as many pregnancy and parenting books as I could get my hands on, and learned a lot, both about what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do.
I share my story because I don't want other new parents to go through what I went through. My advice is simply to trust yourself and trust your child. You know what's best for your family and your child knows what they need. Babies are born with personalities and preferences that can't be accounted for in a one-size-fits-all parenting philosophy. Children are more resilient than we think. If Plan A doesn't work, keep trying until something does.
Even though our story is somewhat unique, the idea of bringing a child into your home years after they're born isn't a new one. So often folks are hesitant to bring older children through their home, through adoption or other means, because of a fear that it'll be more difficult to bond with a child you don't receive as an infant. Through my limited experience (my own family experience!), I understand where this fear is coming from, but want to say that children bond with people who take care of them. Even without a genetic connection, a child, regardless of age, wants to feel love and likes the idea of being part of a family.