…because, babies are hard. Real hard. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t change anything about becoming a parent. But the rest of the day is up for grabs (just kidding, just kidding…).
We are a “one and done” family. Aside from the roller coaster of emotions that comes with raising a human being, I had some medical issues that would make it not fun/kinda scary to get pregnant again. I don’t feel badly at all about wanting only one child, even though
some people family friends EVERYONE constantly asks me/us if we are certain we only want one child. “You may change your mind in a few years.” Um, no. We’re good. You guys can have all the babies.
But, for reals, it’s HARD. Like, taking-a-test-that-your-life-depends-on-but-you-didn’t-study-for hard. There were times I didn’t think we were going to make it. Just kidding — I still think that. Though, we are now at the 12-month mark of my son’s birth, and I do find that some things are a tad easier to handle than in those first months. I think most issues arise early on due to one simple factor: sleep deprivation. Your whole sleep cycle is thrown to the wind in those early days. You TRY to sleep when baby sleeps, because otherwise you get no sleep, but that is not always possible.
You just fed baby, you lay down, and you’re on the cusp of sweet dream land when *BOOM*…baby starts gagging while he’s sleeping. Oh my gosh, he’s going to DIE! CALL 911! Look up how to do CPR on YouTube! Just kidding. Baby is just clearing out all of that amniotic fluid still stuck in his little lungs from being inside your belly. Okay, whew, catastrophe averted. You lay back down and just as you’re on the cusp of dream land again…*BOOM*…baby grunts and instantly you think he’s suffocating and going to die from SIDS! AHHHH! Flip him over! Pull down the swaddle blanket! Move him away from the side of his co-sleeper (I was CERTAIN that mesh stuff could still suffocate a baby)! Okay. Whew. Safe again. You lay back down and think the third time’s the charm. You’re almost there and *WAHHHHHH*…baby is ready to eat again.
Of course, sleep deprivation is never-ending with children. Why isn’t baby sleeping? Oh, it’s a sleep regression. Why isn’t baby sleeping now? Oh, he’s going through a developmental phase. Why isn’t baby sleeping again?! Oh, he’s teething. Why the !&!*#*$&* isn’t baby sleeping now?! Oh, that’s right…he’s a baby.
Then there are the other stressors that arise as a result of you being a new parent, your baby being a newborn, and you living in a semi-constant stupor. Why won’t my baby latch? Is my nipple too introverted? Do I have enough milk? Maybe he’s lactose intolerant. Why doesn’t he like this bottle? IS HE GOING TO DIE FROM LACK OF FOOD?!! Or he has infant GERD. Or torticollis. Or asthma. Or a lip tie. Or a tongue tie. Or positional plagiocephaly (i.e., flat-head…yeah, my baby had that so now I think I’m an expert). Or any other number of short or long-term diseases or disorders that require you to have more energy than you should have to muster when you’re living on bits and pieces of sleep.
And you’re constantly questioning yourself. Is he pooping enough? What color was it? How many pee diapers did he have today? Is he too cold? Maybe we should put socks on him. Is he too warm now?! Let’s take him outside to get some natural Vitamin D going. Was that too long? Is he going to get a sunburn?! Let’s just stay inside for forever.
On top of everything you’re worrying about with this new little creature in your life, you’re dealing with your own problems. Lady parts or cut abdominals so sore you can barely waddle around? Check. Cracked, scabby, bruised nipples? Check. Black-hole bags under your eyes? Check. Or maybe you’ve got a little bit of the Blues. Or it turns into full-blown Postpartum Depression. Or Postpartum Anxiety. Or you have other medical issues (prolapse, fistula, diastasis recti, nerve damage). Or you have to go back to work way sooner than you should because your family can’t survive without your income.
Like I said: HARD. So, how do you function when you’re suffering from perpetual sleep exhaustion and all that other stuff? How do you get through it? How do you make sure you and your baby thrive?
You just do. Day by day, you get through it and you both survive. I can vouch for that (and that’s with having a 12-month-old who still doesn’t sleep through the night and nurses at least eight times a day). It helps having friends, family, and community support, so get connected with as many of those people as possible. They will help you stay sane on the really bad days.
So, why would any of you want to do any of this all over again?! Well, I don’t. But obviously billions of women have successfully raised children over the hundreds of thousands of years we have been in existence, and they keep doing it. There has to be an answer. Here is my short list of reasons why we still procreate (and why a lot of you do it more than once):
- Babies are cute. They suck at sleep, they cry too much, they throw food at you, and you have to wipe their butts for years. But they’re cute. And this makes you want more. This is science.
- You’re in such a fog those first few months that, as a defense mechanism, your brain makes you forget the realness of sleepless nights, endless crying (you and baby), constant diaper-changing, and anxiety over worrying every second of every day if something is going to cause harm to your baby. If you didn’t forget those things, the human race would have died off after the first baby was born.
- Wannabe grandparents hassle the heck out of you for a grandchild. You get so tired of hearing about it you take the plunge and gift them that baby grandchild. All is well in the world…until they start pestering you a year later for a little brother or sister for baby grandchild. Le sigh.
- You’re selfish. Listen, I get it. You meet some hunk and you think “Wow, he’s so handsome I bet we’ll make the most beautiful baby alive.” So, you get it on and make that baby. And then you can’t help but ogle that beautiful little baby and think “Wow, we did a great job bringing a good-looking human into the world. We should do this again.” It’s okay to be a little conceited, but don’t do it around the not-so-good-looking babies (yes, they exist–it’s a fact of life–not all people can be blessed with physically attractive features. But they’ll make up for it in other ways, so don’t worry!).
- You don’t want your kid to be an only child. You think they won’t have good social skills or learn how to share unless you give them the built-in friend of a brother or sister. So you give him his best friend, and they all live happily ever after. Or, at least, ever after.