Family Planning

It’s been coming up more than usual lately, and in multiple places. I’ve been catching (and voluntarily watching) more of the maternity and childbirth-related shows on the Discovery Health Channel. On the one-year anniversary of my “new” job, my Mom reminded me that now I’m eligible for family leave. Aaron and I talked about it over sushi a couple weekends ago. And now Dooce is pregnant with her second child. Not only that, but after doing a little math, I figured out that, when she announced her latest pregnancy on her blog, she was right about at the place in hers that I was when in mine I had the worst damn experience of my life.

Whenever I write about that experience, it seems like I really dance around the subject. I don’t often use the word “miscarriage,” or say that “I lost the baby,” but will instead refer to the emotions that surrounded that terrible weekend. You’d think that, almost two years after the fact, it wouldn’t be such a tender subject. But it is.


Despite the fact that I can’t get excited about subjecting myself to the possibility of that kind of tragic letdown again, it’s something that we’ll need to be thinking about relatively soon. We still have a few years yet before we need to really get on the ball, though. I’m 32½ right now — I’ll be 33 in April. We won’t be dipping into the *really* not-so-fresh ova until, say, the beginning of the next presidential campaign.

There are some things around the house that, if we’re going to get them done, will need to be done before we procreate. Like painting, and getting new carpet and flooring, and replacing the window in the green bedroom (a.k.a. the cat’s room, and someday to be Junior’s room). Other things, like getting the leak in the tub fixed and installing a new bathroom faucet and replacing the garage door, those things could potentially be done with a small human being in residence, but the cash flow we have now may no longer be in effect. There are also some personal habits of mine that will need to change, like my housekeeping, and my health and hygiene (e.g. I’m way overdue for a trip to the dentist). I also want to reach my goal weight (about 20 more pounds to lose) before going and getting pregnant.

When I contemplate this laundry list of pre-partum to-dos, it occurs to me that we might just be stalling. Finding reasons not to try again just yet. That’s a completely reasonable reaction, I think, for several reasons. Neither of us want to be in a place in our lives where we resent having had a child too soon, before we could discover who we were and experience the world and do the things we wanted to do. I don’t want to be driving the family minivan to soccer practice in another ten or fifteen years asking, “What if…?”

That goes both ways, though. I also don’t want to someday find myself pre-menopausal, without a child of my own, wondering what it would have been like to be a Mom.

Sometimes I feel like I’m too passive to be a Mom. Not responsible enough. Not selfless enough. But, every now and then, something comes up — say, Aaron turns pasty-white and clammy in the middle of a gaggle of people at the Ren Fair and needs to sit down before he falls down — and Responsibility Mode kicks in. And I’m reminded that I do have some innate something-or-other that can take hold when I need it to.

I’ve been easing myself back into the idea. The concept that the experience might actually be as joyous and fulfilling as people claim is starting to seem realistic to me.

But please pardon me if I remain stand-offish and skeptical for a while longer.

8 thoughts on Family Planning

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  1. After the pain and loss of a miscarriage, who wouldn’t be hesitant to try again?

    Instead of saying “I lost the baby” maybe you could say “I lost a baby,” because “the” implies there’s only been one…

    I don’t know if your mom reads this but I think it’s kind of mean to remind you about family leave.

  2. I think mom’s have the best intentions with those comments. As scared as some of us are about starting a family (believe me, I’m in the same boat!), our mom’s are just as anxious to be grandma’s! That’s the reward for raising a child- one you get to spoil and then give back to mom and dad.

    That’s nice you have family leave. My company offers this thing called Short Term Disability. Nice, huh? You have to pay for it each week AND you only get 60% of your pay! I decided to enroll for 2009 “just in case.”

    Doesn’t it amaze you how some folks never ask the questions you pose? Am I selfless enough, financially stable enough, responsible enough, etc. I drive myself nuts with those insecurities, but I hope in the long run it makes me a better parent. I agree- no regrets.

    My best friend had two miscarriages and was deeply affected by the losses. She had a medical issue at the root of her fertility issues which was corrected with surgery. She gave birth to a healthy boy in August and I think that offered her a lot of emotional healing.

    Good luck to you both whatever you decide.

  3. Di, there’s no “perfect situation”. There is no “right time”. There is no “perfect parent” and no “perfect child”.

    You can plan all you want for everything to be just right, but in the end, it’s humanity you’re dealing with. We’re all pretty f’d up!

    Don’t worry about the drafty window or the leaky tub or the soy sauce stain on the carpet. Don’t worry about if you’ll mess with the kid’s head, if you’ll parent right, or any of it.

    The only questions to ask yourself are, “do I want a child?” and “will I love my child?”

    You’re at a point where whether you’re a responsible adult isn’t a concern anymore, and I think the answers to the questions are a given.

    So g’on, git! Makes us some mo’ geeks!


  4. yes mom reads this and no mom doesn’t remember mintioning anything about family leave. I am willing to wait as long as needed or not even to have grandchildren if that is what Diana wants. I want DIANA to be happy that is and always has been first and formost in my mind. I would NEVER do anything “mean” on intintionally to Diana, she is part of me and I love her with everything I am.

  5. @mom – I know you didn’t mean it like that. You actually said “just kidding” right after you mentioned it – I just hadn’t even remembered that I had family leave coming to me after a year until you mentioned it.

    @Paul – re: the drafty window? It’s one of those with the plastic panes with the handles that slide open sideways, and the one edge of the window is actually separating from the inner pane. Just big enough for a little finger to get caught in, y’know? Plus, there’s a crack in the windowpane itself, which is doubleplus ungood. Everything else is just cosmetic.

    @Jess – I get six weeks of FMLA, at 60% (I think) of my normal pay, then I can take the option of six additional weeks unpaid – I’m not sure if that’s technically short-term disability or a personal leave of absence.

    All – Thanks for letting me know that people really do read this thing, and really do care. 🙂

  6. My sister just announced her pregnancy, so she and her husband will be ushering into the world a new member of the geek army. I’m so proud. No, it’s not perfect, no, things aren’t ready. But they want him/her, they will love him/her, and it gets our mom off MY back about making grandkids. 😉

  7. About the whole “housekeeping” issue, don’t worry about it. Some nights I’m bummed because I’ve spent the whole day cleaning and not spending any time with the kids. On the days when my apartment is a mess and there are toys everywhere,fingerprints on the glass doors, those are the days I know my kids had fun and will hopefully remember, because I played with them, and read to them, and didn’t worry what everything looked like. As long as they are clean, healthy, and have full tummies I could care less what my apartment looks like.