Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thoughts on Family Planning

"How many kids should we have and how far apart should we space them?"

Is a question asked by many.
I've heard people say that you just keep going and you will know when you're done. I've heard people swear by a certain number and do whatever snip-snip necessary to insure that to be reality. 

The thing is- the answer to this question is going to be different for every family. The reassuring thing is? There is no moral right and wrong answer. Many different things are considered- finances, age of the parents, schedule of the family, health needs of existing family, etc etc etc.

Aaron and I, mid-twenties and full of energy, went into family planning very casually once we were ready to start making a family. We waited three years (to finish grad school and get settled in a house...personal preferences once again) and then our worlds were rocked into first time parenting PLUS first time parenting with a disability.

I think that once you have a child with a disability, family planning takes an entirely new twist. There's the thought- who will take care of your child with a disability after you're gone? But then of course there's the argument that you shouldn't give birth to the next child with a pre-scheduled caretaker job. You think about how slowly your child is developing and want to wait until they've achieved a few key things first (like potty training)...but then the reality of the situation is- you have no idea when that might be because typical age milestones don't apply.

We decided to have Carter very close in age to Addison (they are nineteen months apart.) I'm not going to lie. I barely remember his first year of life (good thing I blogged it, huh). It was a ROUGH transition. She was still so much of a baby herself. She wasn't walking, feeding herself, talking, or anywhere close to potty trained- not to mention she had hours and hours of therapy each week that I still had to keep up with.
But now I am very glad that we planned it this way. They are besties. They do everything together. They teach each other. They thrive off of each other. Yes, my hands are very full. Yes, the transition to adding him to our family was horrible. But it has all been worth it. As I look to our future I am confident in our family dynamics being the kind of hilarious dysfunction everyone dreams about. (ha)

Well, long story short, we knew we wanted at least one more. We didn't feel done. We wanted a big family full of sibling camaraderie and love. But we were stumped as to when it should happen. Should we wait a long time and have the twinsies and then an outlier? Should we have one again right away and have another year (or five) from hell adjusting?

It is tough when your oldest has a disability. Because there is no guarantee in nine months that they will be behaviorally nine months older. We found the decision of when to add a third very difficult to make. Especially since we weren't foolishly naive about the transition- like we were when we went into Carter's birth. It would be nice if Addison would be helpful like an typical four year old instead of strolling along in her own timetable of development. But the truth is- she's not. And we just had to be OK with that being part of our family planning story.

Anyway, long story short- this pregnancy surprised us. (Yes, we know how "it" happens-promise. But sometimes you can do everything right and yet still....) In another sense, it was perfect this way. Because the tough decision was taken out of our hands- something that we wanted, but didn't know how best to plan. Also- it lines up perfectly with the end of Aaron's landscape season so I will have more help this time than I did when Carter was born in September two years ago.

For those of you who asked- I am due November 27th (the day before Thanksgiving). I am currently 12 weeks pregnant. I am feeling OK. Not as sick as I was with the other two (thank goodness...there is a God). But definitely exhausted and off-and-on sick.

We will have three kids three and under (Addison will turn four two months later). It will be overwhelming. It will be crazy. Life will no doubt be ALL CAPS blog post worthy (if I can find time to stumble to my computer once every other month.)
But in spite of some apprehension of what this will exactly look like- we feel very peaceful about the timing of #3. We are excited. And we love the thought of another baby around our house- another sibling to fill up our nest. Not "another caretaker for Addison" or "another teacher for Addison" or anything like that. A third baby- equally loved and cherished as our other two with no expectations put on the future.

Family planning will look very different for each family. I am certainly not an expert. (Especially since I am the one who will be chained to my house for the next ten years.) But, we are happy to do this while we are young and able to. We are thankful for the impressionable lives in our care. We feel blessed, and know that this is the perfect path for our family.

After watching my sister lose an infant- watching friends battle infertility- and working so hard for every accomplishment with Addison- having children means something entirely different to me now than it did starting out as a first time mom. It isn't a burden or an "oops I did it again." It is a privilege- one that I don't take lightly. 

If you have caught an edge of overwhelmedness from me here on the blog lately- that has a lot to do with first trimester exhaustion. Add "super tired" or "just threw up" or "had a huge headache" to almost every story and then you have the true picture. ha.

So...spill it...are you one to space children out a specific number of years? How did you know when you were done having kids? If you have survived the three, three and under game- RAISE YOUR HAND AND SHOUT (and also...use your other hand to pat yourself on your back. You are officially my hero) Since we all have different answers to these's only fair to share. Right?
pssssst- thank you so much for all of your congratulations! Your sweet words meant so much!

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