Wednesday, September 8, 2010

State of the State

So remember how I wanted another baby?

Well, I still do. But something has changed. See, before I wanted a baby... in the future sometime. I wasn't ready to get pregnant, but I wanted to get pregnant at some future point. Now? I'm ready to be pregnant. Like, yesterday.

It happened overnight, this sudden shift from someday to NOW. I'm actively longing for a baby now, I'm doing "pregnancy math" as far as due dates and how old my other kids will be, etc. My arms ache sometimes, wanting a wee sprout to hold. I'm thinking about my cycle a ton, wondering, hoping, calculating.

But the crazy part is, I can't be pregnant, WON'T be pregnant, unless my husband changes his mind, or unless the universe decides for us, which seems unlikely since our current method of birth control has been fool proof for the past, oh, at least 8 years.

Can I take a moment to tell you how pissed I am at him? I've done everything I can think of- up to and including begging and bribing- and he steadfastly says no. I've tried giving him time (ah, like 3 years), not talking about it so as to not nag the issue, reasoning, explaining, and- as I said- begging and bribing. I've even threatened to outright trick him, though mostly jokingly. MOSTLY being the key word.

Still no.

I've tried to explain to him that if we don't have another child, I will long for one the rest of my life, whereas if we do have another child, he certainly wouldn't regret it. He agrees. But he still doesn't want one. I've tried to explain to him that our next child already exists- can't he see that child? Over there? Just past that shimmering veil? Our child- our precious baby- is waiting for us, and HE is keeping me away from him/her.

He doesn't see.

I tried explaining to him that this longing I feel is like thirst- you can tell me all you want that I've had enough to drink- I have three perfectly healthy glasses of water already; I can't possibly need more. But if I'm thirsty- if my tongue is dry and my body is longing for water-nothing you can say to me will change that. I'll still be thirsty until I get a drink. Just because it only takes you three glasses of water to be hydrated doesn't mean I too will be hydrated with that amount. I'm still thirsty; I need another glass of water. And it's not fair for you to keep that water from me, just because YOU are not thirsty.

I used the analogy of "this is the last computer you can own. Ever. If it gets older, etc, no matter what you can never have another new computer." Funny enough, this was the only analogy that actually hit home with him.

Yesterday when we dropped all three kids off at school, my longing and begging and hoping suddenly transformed into a ANGER towards him. I'm pissed that he refuses to have a change of heart; I'm pissed that he is keeping me from the water I crave; and mostly I'm pissed that HE hold all the cards, all of the control.

Something about dropping all of our children off at school awakened a raw emotion in me, and it surprised me. Perhaps it's because when we dropped Kate and Joan off for their first day of preschool (at the same place we dropped Marin off yesterday), I was hugely pregnant with Marin. I had 3 weeks of "no kids at home during preschool" before she was born.

Now, my body is not carrying a baby. My body is not even all that hopeful of carrying a baby anytime soon.

This past weekend, we had a overnight date to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We had 24 hours of no children. We stayed downtown Minneapolis, walking and biking all over the city.

We roamed aimlessly and peacefully around the Sculpture Gardens.

We talked and held hands and didn't worry about the clock or anyone's schedule or anyone else's needs. We remembered what we were like before we had children.

It was a lovely time, and I cherish looking back on some of the photos I took, knowing we were so happy together, knowing I was still in the "hoping state" instead of the "angry state". We are usually happy together, with our three little ducklings underfoot. And it was nice to be happy together without them, too. We've had 10 good years of marriage. I'm proud of that. (More photos start here.)

But right now- just a few days later- I'm mad, not happy. I'm restless and aching, not content. And I don't know how to fix it...


Jess said...

Ugh. It is SO FRUSTRATING when you are not on the same page as your partner on such a big issue, and ESPECIALLY because the one who is on the NO page gets to overrule the one who is on the YES page, and that just seems UNFAIR.

However, I do see his side of it. You're thirsty right now, so you want a fourth drink. But that doesn't mean your thirst will always be quenched. Eventually it is entirely possible and indeed possibly quite likely that you will be thirsty again and want a FIFTH drink, and then a SIXTH, and so on until you have become the Duggars. From what I can tell some people just always have that innate need for another baby and the line has to be drawn somewhere.

I'm not saying it necessarily needs to be drawn HERE, at three drinks. But just that I can see why he would feel that since he doesn't actively want another child, and there's no telling how many more times you WILL want another child, that he might as well draw the line right here in the sand. You know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

I felt this same way when my husband was reluctant to have a second child. I was furious. Just because he didn't want another child, why did that mean I didn't get to have one when I DID want one?

Now that I'm past the hormonal quagmire, I can see his point. Just because I do want another child, why does that mean he has to have one when he doesn't want one? Who's to say which desire is more important?

I know that my husband loves our new baby beyond a shadow of a doubt. I also know that he is resentful of having a second child when he didn't really want one.

This resent is slight and he thinks he hides it from me, but I see it. It breaks my heart. It's put a strain on our otherwise wonderful relationship. I tell you this so that you'll be careful. You may wear him down and get the forth child you so desperately want, but there may be a cost you're not expecting to pay.

Marie Green said...

Jess- you make a good point. However, I've always said- since the beginning of our "child planning" convos- that four was my absolute upper limit. In fact, I wanted four exactly... no more no less. I've agreed- and David knows- that if we have one more, this WILL be my last baby. So while I see what you are saying, that's not exactly where he is coming from...

When Marin was born, I instantly knew that she was not our last baby. I've just felt, since meeting her (and no worries- I've been totally, completely smitten with that child from the very second I saw her) that there was someone else waiting to join our family... I know I'll always love babies and maybe even always crave babies, but if we have one more I will continuously be thinking and behaving as "this is my last baby".

I think it would be different if we ever thought that Marin was our last baby, but we never did. *I* most certainly never did, and he knows this. And like I said, he also knows that if he will agree to one more, that will absolutely be IT.

(Don't get me started about fearing having twins again...)

Sarah said...

I'm really sorry. Disagreeing about something so foundational in a relationship sucks, period.
I'm kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum, at least at the moment, and am quietly hoping that we maybe DON'T end up having any more, since it has taken three miscarriages, three crappy pregnancies and endless doctor visits, blood draws, medicines, etc. to get us the three kids we have now. I just feel like I am DONE. Not so done I'm going to have my tubes tied or anything just yet, but done as in "I have totally sacrificed enough on the altar of growing our family and for you to ask me to do more or even LOOK at me with those sad puppy dog eyes because I say that I'm not sure I want more is totally selfish and unfair."
Jim always makes the same point you do, that of course once a baby comes no one is going to regret THAT decision, while you may very well look back and decide it would have been worth it to try again after all and regret that you didn't.
But I agree with Jess too: at a certain point, if you follow that logic, you just end up with a whole litter of kids, Duggar style. WHich was NEVER my goal, even when I thought I wanted four or five for sure.
Anyways, babbling. Just to say that I feel bad for you, I know how sucky it is to be stewing in anger at your spouse, and I have no concrete suggestions but this is obviously something that DOES get resolved, one way or another, in every marriage. I just hope it is resolved inn a way you both can feel ok about.

Marie Green said...

Anon- I totally see what you are saying. David is eternally, painfully pragmatic, though, so he nor I thinks this will be the case. When discussing whether or not he will regret another child once that child is here, his response was "Regret it? If we have another, that child will be a FACT, and who wastes their time regretting FACTS?" He's just so... level-headed about stuff like that.

The main reason I don't really want to "trick him" though (ie. holes in a condom) is because what if we- for example- have a child with extreme health problems? If we find ourselves in a very stressful situation, he MAY start to resent it if he was somehow "tricked". However, I know him well enough that as long as he had a change of heart and really truly AGREED to another, he's not the resenting/regretting type. It's simply not in his... range of emotions, so to speak. *I* am totally the resenting/regretting type, and fear resenting HIM for keeping me from having my last baby. But him? He's far too... I don't know how to describe him... practical?... for such emotions.

(Anyone that knows David in real life want to help me describe it?)

Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said...

This is so hard, SO HARD. I don't even have one speck of advice or insight, but I will say that it seems unfair for one partner (him) to not even consider the possibility when the other partner (you) TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY wants another child.

On the other hand, you don't want him to end up resentful and ultimately unhelpful.

So hard.

Marie Green said...

Sarah- I feel like, since it's YOUR BODY, you actually hold the trump card. I feel this way, too, about my situation. Since it's MY BODY- I am the one the carry the baby, have the sore back, aching legs, waddling, constantly peeing, heartburn, doctor's appointments, etc NOT TO MENTION the childbirth aspect (possibly another csection), the healing from that, the lactating, the newborn feedings, lack of sleep, ALL OF IT... I feel like, since I KNOW what's involved for me and MY BODY and STILL want to do it, that I should hold some kind of trump card in a stalemate. Right? Anyone agree with me?

Swistle said...

I love that photo with the bridge and the dots of sun (I forget what those are called, or maybe I don't know).

This post hits so HOME with me, I got kind of weepy. I just felt so exactly like this, and I sobbed and reasoned and explained, and Paul WOULD NOT BUDGE, and I can't tell you how angry I was, how angry I STILL AM, that in the face of THAT, he wouldn't budge. He understood how I felt (I used the computer analogy too!) and he understood that he wouldn't regret it but that I probably would, and he STILL WOULDN'T BUDGE. And I felt at the time that he might have permanently damaged our marriage, and I hope all he's done is left a scar, but it depends a lot on how I feel over the years about what ended up being HIS DECISION.

Swistle said...

Also, I GET the idea of the "it could lead to the Duggars" thing, but I don't see any reason to make a Duggar-preventing situation wayyyyyy before that's even on the horizon. If you had another and THEN you wanted another, after SWEARING you were done at four, MAYBE that could START to enter the discussion, though it would STILL be way too early for it---and also pursues a line of reasoning I deeply dislike, which is "If we don't draw the line HERE, that means we can NEVER DRAW IT!"

d e v a n said...

:( Well that just sucks because it sounds like you both really know what you want, and unfortunately it's not the same thing. I don't really have any advice, but I do hope that he changes his mind. ;)

Jess said...

I think your explanation about having always planned on four kids changes my perspective a bit--it makes your desire feel a bit less like a possible ongoing situation and more like a desire for completion of a long-planned and long-desired family unit. To me it sounds more like the terrible situation where a couple gets married planning on having kids--and then one person changes their mind. That would be AWFUL and I can see why this feels similarly awful to you. I really don't know how to resolve it other than to hope that he comes around on his own and that you're right that he doesn't have the type of personality that would create resentment over the decision.

What does he say when you point out to him that you've always planned on four kids?

Marie Green said...

Jess- I always said I wanted "3 or 4 but more leaning towards 4" and he always said "3 or 4"... and honestly, if I'd had three pregnancies, three newborn experiences, etc, I'd probably be fine to stop with 3. However, I had one extremely stressful twin pregnancy, one extremely stressful twin newborn-hood (that lasted 2 years), and one easy-ish pregnancy and newborn hood. So I feel like having twins robbed me of a pregnancy AND a newborn hood... Anyway, I'm 100% certain that we would stop at 4. Logically, I don't even really WANT a fourth (the logistics!), but I CRAVE and DESIRE a fourth that is beyond logic.

Man, there are so many layers to this...

Oh, and Swistle- I love what you said about "not drawing a line NOW means NEVER drawing the line". So true. Well, actually, so untrue! We are far- FAR- from the Duggars over here, and I was warmed that you pointed that out, too. Man, I wish the two of us could go out and get drunk and have our "need more babies" woeful togetherness.

(Also, I think the dots on the photos is called "sun flare"... but don't quote me on that.)

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about going from "in the future" to "right now" overnight. When we were deciding it was time to try for #3, I thought, huh, I'm not totally craving this like last time....that lasted for about a week. I am now totally devastated I didn't conceive in a month, and was in a dark place and thinking not nice thoughts at every pregnant woman I saw. My husband has said this is the absolute last...and I worry I might want 4. After my first I always had my heart set on 4, but my DH seems sure THIS is it! He wants the big V like the day after the birth! I think I, too, feel robbed. My first baby I was sick, had horrible PTSD over her birth, and she had colic and it was just a difficult start to Motherhood. Then welcome #2, a good birth but that's about where it stops. To even begin to describe the trauma and PTSD I have from her heart stuff...well I can't. I just want a healthy pregnancy, a normal birth, and some uneventful newborn time. Is that so much too ask? Yes, so many emotions that surround all of this. Crazy!

Kelsey said...

We would be having this argument right now about a third baby if the medical establishment weren't so against us having any more. After what Matt went through when I was pregnant and right after Michael was born, I really can't argue with him.

BUT you situation is totally different and I wish I had some good advice. I just home that you can come to a place where you can agree on what's best, even if it isn't what one of you (he) wants right now...

GratefulTwinMom said...

Wow, this is such a hard thing. I know that feeling to the core of wanting to have a baby, although for me it was just my first baby since having twins at 40 really left me with no additional opportunity for more than the one pregnancy.

Longing is such a weird thing. I wonder if it ever really goes away. Your anger seems like a natural reaction to the unfulfilled longing.

I sincerely hope you and your husband can work it out.

Mrs. Haid said...

I hope you and your husband can work this out, too. I've thought about this post for a few days, and as someone who has had four pregnancies, one live birth (he's now 13 months), and now I am 8 weeks pregnant, I understand the desire for more babies. I think that if this baby dies, I will want to try again at least two more times. Then I will want to adopt. I think there will be a limit for how much pain I will be able to endure and still be a good mom.

My husband thinks of things differently. He thinks, "So what?" about the Duggars. He came from a smallish family with small extended family, and he wants something very different for our life. I never thought about this much. I had two sisters, and never asked why my parents stopped after 3 (I found out this year my dad had a vas. two days after my sister was born). I cannot imagine knowing when I am "done" with babies.

I am not sure if you are Christian, or if your husband is, but I think the philosophy of Christian parenting is accepting a child as a blessing to your family, not as a liability or a added stressor to your life. If I follow this philosophy, I cannot imagine drawing a "stopping point" to our family size. Because this is my view point, I cannot understand someone being selfish and demanding no more kids. I can also see the point of someone who LOVES babies so much that they kind of make mothering a new religion or an idol. Of course, if you aren't Christian, these perspectives might mean nothing to you.

Does your husband read your blog? If so... maybe he can glean some sort of insight into this very charged topic or see your point of view!

Maggie said...

I wanted four. I just barely convinced my husband to accept three, and have agreed to No More Than Three. But I am very VERY afraid that my feelings will not toe the No More Than Three line. I feel like I can do it, but what if I want one more? How do I turn that off? I am already mad in advance for him getting to make the decision. ARGH.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I missed this the first time. I think my mom was in town.

This sucks. Is he afraid you'll want more again if you had another? Or is he just done, complete, finished.

If it's the former, could you agree to draw up some sort of contract between the two of you. You say he's Mr. Practical, so this is what popped into my head. The contract says if he agrees to try for #4, you agree to not ask for #5. & if you do, he pulls out this contract and it becomes End of Discussion. No questions asked. No hard feelings. Something along those lines anyway.

CARRIE said...

I followed Swistle's link. Nice to meet ya.

I wanted 3, and hubby was more than good with 2. We had a very unpleasant anniversary dinner, and I told him if he was completely sure he was done he better just make it permanent, which was kinda like my "line in the sand" of sorts. (And I threw in all the analogies you did, especially the computer one....).

I weaned our son the next month, and the month after that got pregnant with our 3rd child. Hubby had obviously not taken steps to make it permanent.

And my husband still thinks I did it on purpose (which I did not and have said so at least 10 trillion times).

Of course he loves the baby, but whenever I say anything about being tired or how loud all 3 kids are or whatever, he will throw in a comment about "See, this is why I didn't want 3 kids."

In our situation, life just happened, but I think whenever there is a difference of want in terms of children, someone is going to harbor resentment. I'm still glad it is him and not me, but it's there.

Wish I could make this muddle go away for you. No question--it sucks.

StephLove said...

I really sorry you are not on the same page about this. My partner and I were at odds for a while about whether to have #2 and it was hard, hard thinking I might not get what I wanted so much and hard not to be united in our desires. When she agreed it was so grudgingly I wasn't sure if we should even do it, if she would love the new baby, etc. But we did. I worried all through that pregnancy because she was so much less enthusiastic, never put her hand on my belly to feel the baby kick unless I asked her to, etc. Once the baby came, though, she was completely on board. I can't say it would happen the same way for you, though. I feel like it was a risky thing for our relationship.

I love the cherry and spoon sculpture. We saw it on a trip to Minneapolis around 20 years ago, pre-kids, and it brings back happy memories of just-us time for me, too. I hope you can get those feelings back.

jen said...

Oh I get it so much I couldn't even read the rest of your comments. I wanted four, no more, no less. Husband thinks he did me a huge favor by letting me have 3, like he's some kind of hero. Every time I get overwhelmed and have a bad day he snarks at me that if I had my way, I'd have FOUR and my day would be that much worse. And he is so logical I don't understand him. It is like he is the head and I am the heart. He is so logical and pragmatic and practical and I am just wild and crazy and irrational. And yet I am always freaking.. I know this is cliche'd.. but I can be in a room with all 3 of my kids and have that little "oh no! one's missing!" panic. It happens to me all. the. time.

I have tried begging and pleading, even made him a Deal and I feel so very dirty for that, but he won't budge and I just don't get it. I can hope for a miracle but just like you, our b.c. method has been foolproof this long... The only thing I hope for is that maybe something will fall out of the sky and hit him in the head and he'll change his mind... sometime before mid-october that is, because that's when the big buffoon is getting himself a vasectomy. An appointment he made without my blessing and his reaction to my reaction was to "just figure out a way to deal with it."

I know if I had one more, then I'd be FINE.. and someday I'd be sad that my babies weren't tiny anymore but I'd be satisfied and content.

Jenny said...

Oh man. I am very much feeling this post. Right now I am in the "one day in the future, but that day MUST come" camp. I'm in nursing school now and it was so hard to get in that I wouldn't want to jeopardize what we have going on, but if we don't have another (we have two children now) in the future, then I will feel VERY disappointed. Like, miserable.

I see what my husband says about how we are this perfect family of four, one son, one daughter, let's stop, it's expensive, blah blah, hard finding sitters as it is, we just got through the diaper phase, why start all of that again. BUT! I always said I wanted four and he said, no three would be good, and now he says it must be two? Forever? I'm upset that he doesn't want more, but I'm more upset that he shoots down the possibility of contemplating it in the future. He gets to say "NO" now and that has to stick forever.

St said...

I am SO WITH YOU right now. My longing is turning into anger and I don't know how to work through it. I've always wanted a large family, all I'm asking for is number four. I'm happy to stop there. I wish I had one of those husbands who loved kids s much that he wanted lots of them.

Bethsix said...

And hello. Also from Swistle.

My husband and I always said we'd have four, but four seemed like a lot, so it was always a kind of OUT THERE IN THE FUTURE goal. After each of my children, though, I've always wanted another. And I've always worried I'd be one of those people who just doesn't know "when to stop," someone who always wanted more no matter the practicality or whatever. When I was pregnant with #4 and even right after he was born, I wasn't sure I'd want to stop with him, even though we'd said we would. But now? Absolutely positively sure we are DONE DONE DONE (he's 16 months old). I don't know what happened, but a switch flipped in my mind, probably something to do with me losing it from the four kids. I'm finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Like, this is MY FAMILY, and this will always be MY FAMILY, and we can start CAMPING and stuff now, and everyone can GROW UP, and OMG it's so exciting.

I think I'd feel the same if I were you, especially with the twin pregnancy. I think I'd always feel like I missed at least one pregnancy/newbornship. There's just no good answer. I can't imagine not being on the same page. The urge/desire/instinct is just SO STRONG, either way.

larajean1 said...

I have been here...we had 3 and my husband said he was going down the hall for his vasectomy right after I delivered #3. He was only partly joking. He wasn't even sure that he wanted 3. He knew that I wanted 4 and two years later with no asking or mentioning from me...he took me out and said that we could try for #4. That was one of the happiest days of my life. It took longer than the others but we did have baby #4. I do feel much more complete and would never suggest we have another but if he wanted more...I'd be fine with that too. Anyway...I NEVER thought my husband would change his mind. I was nervous that he'd be resentful but he isn't. He just said that he realized that I would always regret not having another and he loved me and he knew that he would love the baby.

Deanna said...

I love this post and comments...but for different reasons than most. I love it because I so clearly see that I DON'T have that aching for another baby. I have 18-month old twin girls, and while I feel the exact same way about missing out on a lot of the joys of pregnancy/newborn stages because of twin stresses, I am actually pretty content with just my two girls. I would love to be pregnant again, but do I feel like we need another baby to complete our family? Nope. Will that change? Possibly. But for now, I am sure in my decision, and reading posts like this one remind me of that.

I can only imagine how hard it must be to be on the other side of the fence...and to have your partner feel the opposite way.

KS said...

I so hear you, sister.

Why is it that David doesn't want to have #4? If he gives you specific reasons, are there solutions that you can come up with? Men are practical like that--they want to have their problems solved. Maybe you can solve them...

Same conversation has been happening on and off in our house for about two years, initially by him always changing the topic whenever I brought it up, and eventually, when I kept insisting that we HAVE to talk about this, him saying we simply can't afford to have #3. Funny thing, until we had that conversation, I wasn't completely sure whether I really wanted #3. Like you, I enjoy the freedom of not having a newborn. I have my moments of going completely crazy with just two. I also feel that as much heartache as it took to get to #2, I simply can't ask the universe for another chance. I prayed and prayed that if we had a healthy #2, I would never ask for anything else. Am I pushing my luck for asking for #3? So I wasn't sure...

But it wasn't until this conversation, when he said no, we are not having #3 that I realized just HOW MUCH I want a #3. That conversation completely broke my heart in ways I didn't expect. And I hate that. I hate the fact that he is looking at it from strictly a practical point of view. As a matter of fact, he didn't even fully close the door on the topic--he simply said "no, unless you can figure out a way we can afford it--then I will think about it." But I can't. I can't find the solution that he will find acceptable. I tried. My answer is--we will make it work. We are not poor, far from it. We will simply have to sacrifice a few things to pay for child care. But that plan is not good enough. And the thing is, I want him to want it, too. I want us to want the same thing when it comes to BIG things--and lately, that hasn't been the case on more than one occasion, and it has made it very tough on our marriage. I know there is a lot of give and take in any relationship, but with something so lifechanging, I don't want to simply get my way or him get his way--I want us both to agree on it.

I am bitter, very bitter. I am trying to resign to it, but I am so resentful. I wrote a long, long post about it that I never published, and that made me feel slightly better. I don't know if it helps at all knowing that you are not alone in this.

Lots of love to you.