How do you know when your family is complete?
This is a question that has plagued me for a while. When I was pregnant with Emily, I knew I wanted to have another child. Then I gave birth. Things didn’t exactly turn out the way that I expected. The delivery was difficult. Emily wasn’t breathing when she was born. Then she was taken across town to a different hospital where she would spend 6 weeks. She was hooked up to various machines and alarms, endured countless tests and examinations, had her g-tube surgery and struggled through feeding and weight gain issues. Add to that, a very difficult recovery for me (possibly because I was a little stressed and not taking care of myself as I should). The whole experience was just a bit traumatizing. So right after her birth, I thought one child was plenty.
Of course, when Emily came home and we got a team of people helping us with her care, things settled down quite a bit. We got into a routine and things really started to feel “normal”. So I started to warm to the idea of expanding our family. Around Emily’s first birthday, Mike and I decided to try for a second child. With Emily, it took us a while to get pregnant. If any of you have dealt with infertility, you know how hard it can be. Every Mother’s Day that passes, every baby shower you attend is sort of like pouring salt on the wound. You start to feel like everyone else in the world is having babies except you. Of course, that isn’t true, but that is how it feels. Many of those same feelings came to the surface as time wore on and I was not getting pregnant with a second child. I felt like I was living in limbo constantly. Could it be this month? Am I pregnant now? And the disappointment that came every month was wearing me out!
Well, after a year, I talked to my doctor about it. We decided to try a fertility drug to see if that would help. I didn’t feel comfortable doing anything “drastic”, so this drug was a last ditch effort for us. My doctor suggested we give it 3 to 6 months. Mike and I decided that if this didn’t work we would be done. We ended up deciding on just doing 4 months because we were absolutely drained by this time. After 4 months, we weren’t any closer to getting pregnant than when we started. On one hand, I was relieved to be done with the roller coaster. It was nice to get back to “normal” life and not be so consumed with having a baby. On the other hand, I felt like there was no closure. I almost wished the doctor would tell me that there was a medical problem and I couldn’t get pregnant. Then we would have an answer – we would know that our family was complete.
Although I was happy to be done with “trying”, I still had this desire for a second child. I would go long stretches where I was happy with our family of three and then it would hit me at the oddest times. I would be in a store and see a shirt that says “Big Sister” and get teary-eyed. Isn’t that silly? But I wanted Emily to have a little sister or brother. Someone to grow up with, to play with, to be silly with, to torment, to bond with. At the same time, the idea of getting pregnant terrifies me. I cannot go back to that naïve outlook I had when I was pregnant with Emily. I cannot assume that everything will turn out OK. I know what can happen now. I know there are no guarantees. If God wants me to have two children with special needs, that is what I would have. That scares me just a bit. I know the joy that comes with raising a special needs child – Emily is such a blessing and I wouldn’t want to imagine my life without her. I also know the work, the worry, the stress that comes with raising a special needs child and I am not sure I could handle it being doubled.
This inner debate is the reason why I cannot seem to find a definitive answer to the question. As Emily has grown, I have kept all of her stuff just in case we had another girl (except for a few things I gave away in the beginning when I was convinced that I didn’t want any more kids). I have all of her clothes from when she was a tiny baby. I have her crib, her pack n play, her tub and so many other things. We moved to Kentucky almost 8 years ago. We had a storage unit while we lived in our two apartments. Some of it was Christmas decorations and luggage and summer/winter clothes, but some of the stuff was not touched for years. Now that we live here and have our stuff in the garage, we have been trying to go through the boxes to determine what can be tossed and what to keep. When it comes to getting rid of Emily’s stuff, I cannot bring myself to do it. I am just not ready to close that door completely.
So that makes me wonder...Is our family complete and I just cannot accept it? Or do I feel this way because God wants me to be open to expanding our family.
I wish I knew for sure...