Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fishing for Advice

...is what I'm doing over at my NPL blog today. Regarding actual fish.

And here, too, from other moms (or dads) of "only" children. As the date of what I've come to think of as my "hysteretceterectomy" gets closer and closer, I seem to be hearing more and more from Bella about "another baby" for our family, or simply "our baby," as a matter of fact, as if she already has one on order. (She did, indeed, just speak of getting a "new baby...at the baby store." And we are not the type of parents to make up fanciful stories about where babies come from, so the origin of that idea, beyond wishful thinking, is unknown to me.)

As I've mentioned here, she has already asked me if, after my operation, when I'm "all better," I THEN "can have another baby." And there have been other questions and comments about babies, specifically us having one. And I've explained over and over that we will not be able to have any more babies, that she is our only baby, and that God gave us SUCH a wonderful, special child, that He decided she was a very great gift and that we were a perfect family as we are. And then, every time I think I've just about got MY emotional roller-coaster halted on this issue, we have an exchange like the one from yesterday, when Bella drew a family picture. With four figures in it.

Me: (getting to the last figure, a very small one) "And who is this little one?"

Bella: "That's the baby."

Me: "What baby?"

Bella: "OUR baby. Our NEW one."

Me: "And where did we get a new baby?"

Bella: "At the baby store."

Tell me honestly, More Experienced Parents: How much is the desire for a sibling actually affecting my just-one-month-short-of-four-year-old daughter? Because, you know, I don't have ENOUGH angst in my life right at the moment, and would like more to worry about, please. But I could (and often do, once I've gotten out of sight) cry when my only child speaks wistfully and wishfully about a baby, or a brother or a sister, or talks about the babies that are in the families of other children.

And how much of this is just my own stubborn railing at the fact that the family of my lifelong dreams just did not stop at THREE? AS IF WE ARE GUARANTEED ANY SINGLE THING IN LIFE, MUCH LESS THE BLESSING OF ONE CHILD, NOT TO MENTION MORE THAN ONE.

23 comments:

  1. (HUGS)

    Alan has made 1 or two comments about siblings and points out all the babies we see. He's going to be an only child also (although I'm not having surgery).

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  2. I think most kiddos go through a little stage like this... it is tough that it just happens to coincide with your surgery...

    Isn't the whole motherly guilty thing THE BEST?

    ((Take care))

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  3. Whose to say that God won't send you another child in another way. It could happen. There are lots of children that are abandoned and need a family and just want to be loved.

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  4. I nearly died giving birth to my second son. The doctors said I would die if I got pregnant again. So we sorrowfully stopped our family after two boys. Both my sons talked all the time when they were little about wanting a baby sister. It stabbed my heart every time. I think most small kids talk about wanting their parents to have more babies. It's just really painful to listen to when you can't.

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  5. Regarding Koi - I know someone in Houston with a Koi pond (is that zone 7B?) E-mail me and I'll connect you.

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  6. I don't have any advice about Bella...but I send many big hugs your way, knowing you will be able to weather out this one.

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  7. Our daughter is only a few months younger than Bella, and she too has started in with the "I want a brother/sister/baby" talk. As this event is highly unlikely, I was concerned about "letting her down" and spoke with my dear friend about it. She assured me that this is a normal thing for kids to do as they meet other children and make friends. Indeed, she pointed out that, with the new school year just started, her older daughter recently lamented that they needed a baby in the house--and her younger sister is 2! So it isn't just an only-child thing. I imagine Bella's recent start of pre-school just jump-started it. The timing certainly is horrid for you, as you deal with your own grief over the issue, despite how vital this surgery is to your wellbeing.

    Bella is loved to the moon and back, and she knows this. That is the most important thing. She'll be fine.

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  8. leslie--I wonder if it will get better, or worse, as they get older and see their friends with older/younger siblings? My nephew has longed, vocally, for a sibling, as my sister has suffered from secondary infertility for the last 8 years or so. And she started 10 years earlier than I did! And I'll try to hack into my giant email backlog later after I wake up from the morning painkiller coma and get in touch with you--Houston is much farther South that us, but any help is help, you know? I think if I'm not allowed to feed my fish ALL WINTER LONG I might lose my mind. ;-P

    tracy: YES! Mother-Guilt! And thank you for pointing out the fact that I'd be having it NO MATTER WHAT. If not this, then something else!

    anon: you are, of course, absolutely right. What's that saying about how when we make plans, God laughs? We have no idea what might be in store for us. My husband was adopted, and that certainly could not have worked out better for him--or ME--have I spoken recently of how great his Mom is? Wow. Thanks for the reminder.

    Marsha--your two may be the closer for having just each other. My sister and I certainly could not be closer or love each other more. She is like a part of my heart, part of me. We have decided that her son and my daughter are just going to have to form some kind of cousin-sibling bond, since they're both "onlies!"

    Karen: See how lucky you are? Bella would do ANYTHING for her very own Troll Baby! Hmmm...maybe if I could have an actual baby around for a day, getting the bulk of the attention, as they are wont to do, she'd give it a second thought? At least at this age?
    ;-)

    siobhan: Thank you for cutting right to the heart of the matter, which is how I am coloring HER feelings with my OWN grief over the whole "no more babies" thing. To be honest, if we were going to do it, we'd have to have done it by now, and I can't imagine having an infant in the middle of our current stress issues. Again, we make plans, God laughs. And? Thank you for the phrase, "to the moon and back." I love that, and have to use it now!

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  9. I can't comment as a parent, but as the only child of two only children I can say that I always wanted a little brother or sister when I was growing up. For me it was about loneliness: as the youngest in the family, it kinda sucked to be alone at the kids table.

    But, as an adult I can tell you that my longing for a sibling was in part based on my absolute certainty that I knew EXACTLY what having a brother or sister would be like: he or she would just like me; we would be best friends, agree about everything and would never, ever fight.

    I'll pause to let those with brothers or sisters and the parents of siblings stop laughing. Ready? K.

    I'd bet my librarian glasses that what she's wanting is the perfect playmate, a best friend she can go home to. That is something that can be met by kids who are not family, so you needn't feel guilty about it. You guys are good parents and you love your daughter dearly - that fact comes out loud and clear even to those of us who are total strangers. Keep doing what you're doing, she'll turn out fine. My sibling longing certainly didn't scar me for life...

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  10. This post brings up a whole host of thoughts for me, but I'll try not to hijack your comments section too much.

    We tried to give Sam a sibling and...well...it didn't work out...twice. We aren't willing to try again right now and we may never be willing to try again (it's just too painful). But we ALL agree that our family is not complete and we are looking into adoption. It's something that we all want...so we're going to try to make it happen. It's not the way we dreamed it...but we have to deal with what life gives us in the best way we can.

    Quite honestly, there are a whole host of complicated emotions that go into deciding to have a baby or adopting. Most of them can not be fully understood by adults, let alone small children. Sam doesn't quite get it (and he too has talked about the baby store)...but my husband and I don't fully understand it either...so we're all just sort of muddling through together.

    I know a lot of single children who are happy and healthy. But if that is not what you want, then that is not what you want. It's ok to grieve the loss of that family of your lifelong dreams. But you have to also figure out where you want to go from there. Unlike with biological children, the choice to adopt is pretty much up to you...and Mother Nature doesn't get too much of a say. You just have to grieve...accept...and move forward. Easy, peasy (which is, of course, sarcastically said and, as I mentioned above, is difficult to fully comprehend and process for most anyone).

    Whatever you do, I hope you are able to find some peace. I truly understand the concept of the missing child/ren in a family. And I know how hard it is to give up a dream and create a new one. I wish you luck with whatever path you take.

    Oh...and your daughter...she'll be fine. Remember that at that age, they want what they want when they want it. Today it's a baby...tomorrow it's a bike...the next day it's their own island. You gotta do your best with the endless stream of I wants and gimmes...and sometimes you just have to say no.

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  11. Boy 1 already has a brother he'd love to sell on eBay, and I'm a single, not-dating, mother. But? He still will bring up in conversation his baby sister, "You know, the one you're going to have someday?"

    Uh... what?

    I think it's just a kid thing. I wouldn't worry about Bella. She has two great, loving parents, she'll be fine.

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  12. As a parent of one child, I can honestly say I feel for you and Bella.

    Geo has told me straight up that the days of having another little one are way gone. He doesn't want any more children and that's the end of the discussion. Adoption also got the kibosh.

    Dink is forever asking for a little brother or sister. I dance around the subject like Michael Flatley. Geo is as subtle as a handgrenade with his answers. They range from "No" to "If we have another baby, you have to share everything including Daddy." For the most part, that keeps her in check.

    So, since I'm stuck in the same quagmire, I have no words of wisdom. But thankfully your commenters do, so I'm using you as a proxy for me and reading their advice.

    Hang in there, chickie.

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  13. Belinda~
    Part of it is her age.

    But also, Bella is one smart cookie and has heard and felt all the talk that is going on around the hysterectomy.
    I really think that part of the reason she's so insistant is that she's picking up on your desire to have another baby. At three they figure if they just ask often enough they'll get what they want.
    Terra's doing the same thing lately, talking a LOT all of a sudden about a baby. I can't figure out whether she wants a new one, or the one she already had. Either way, she can't have it, so it's become her most common conversation.
    I know it's hard, and painful - for yourself, and for knowing you can't give her what she wants, but this too shall pass.

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  14. I would LOVE nothing more than to send him to you for at least a week. ;)
    Karen
    xo

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  15. You poor thing -- I'm sorry you are going thru "double-stress" right now.

    Not all only children want siblings. My daughter is an only, and was emphatic from an early age that we not have another baby. I was an only (was abandoned and later adopted), and never wanted one, either. BUT...you can always adopt a child, if you indeed feel like your family is "missing someone."

    And your little one might think a new baby is all fun and games - is there a family friend that would let you "borrow" their child for an extended play-date? A child that is at least 2 years younger? Maybe if yours sees what it's REALLY like, she'll change her mind.

    Good luck with your surgery - I'll be thinking of you!

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  16. I have one child and have no plans to have another. I have often wondered if it was the right thing or the wrong thing, or what my 2.5-year-old little angel will do when she hits the Sibling Years (which I've been told by my seven sisters-in-law is 4-7).

    You're doing the right thing. Nothing hurts a child who is loved unconditionally so deeply as you are fearing.

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  17. I have absolutely no good advice to give but lots of hugs and support and good wishes.

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  18. My husband is an only, and I like to joke about how it made him all weird and that, but really he's OK, I mean, I married him right? So don't worry about having one. His mother miscarried five times trying to give him a sibling, and I believe the strain may shorten her life.

    Here's another side to the story: I have one brother, very close in age to myself. We've never gotten along and probably never will. Not all sibling relationships have happy endings.

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  19. K. is 4, and has a big brother, and she asks when we are going to have another baby regularly. I thing it might be the age. We are blessed to have two, but we would have liked more and her question always makes me a bit sad. I hope this will be easier on you once the operation is over and you are, at least, not in pain.

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  20. Belinda~ My daughter used to make these comments when she was little too. She's now 22 and has told me that she thinks her childhood was better because she was an "only". Who knew!

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  21. Children pick up our emotional vibes, even in infancy, so as you become more settled with the coming operation, so will she. I'm sad because you're so sad and I hope you heal quickly, heart and body.

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  22. All only children go through the stage of wishing for a sibling. I did. But now- now that I know what all I would have had to SHARE with some other BRAT- yeah, I'm perfectly happy being my mom's only baby. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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