I have been struggling for a while now with the absolute ache in my soul to have another baby. Every fiber of my being longs to have one of my own to hold in my arms. It’s more painful that I can explain to hear even an utterance about a cousin of mine, who is expecting her third child. I want so badly to feel joy for her, to join in with the others who express sheer delight that, after generations of boys in her husband’s family, there is finally a girl on the way. But all I feel is envy. We are the same age and grew up very close, and all I could muster was a puny “Congratulations!” on her Facebook page. I have two other cousins who each have babies under a year old. My brother has four children and my sister has three. When I’m out and about and I see a pregnant woman or a mother with 2 or 3 children in tow, I literally have to take a deep breath and look away, like seeing them will burn my eyes. In actuality, it burns my heart.
My desire is not purely selfish. As much as I would once again cherish smelling that new baby smell or running my fingertip over a soft, plump cheek or staring at him or her for an eternity, I want more than anything for my daughter to have a sibling. When the inevitable question comes from every new person she meets, “do you have any brothers or sisters?” I don’t want her to have to answer no, because I know it makes her sad. I can see the disappointment in her eyes. Like since there are families all around us with multiple children, it’s one more thing that makes her feel different from her peers. Even with all the fighting she knows comes along with having a sibling, she wants so badly to have that live-in playmate. Someone she can run to when mama and daddy are being unfair. Someone she can tell secrets to and have imaginary adventures with. Not to mention the benefit of having that constant exposure to another child that could possibly help her develop the social skills she desperately lacks. There have been times when she’s begged me for a little sister. Heck, she would probably even love to have a little brother at this point.
Also, I don’t want her to have the sole burden of taking care of her dad and me when we get older. I’m not sure it’s something she’ll even be able to handle. That is something else that I can’t think about right now though. That is a “tomorrow” worry.
The plan was to have 2 kids four years apart. Well, there were many stressors in our household from the time Bailey was a baby that kept having another baby at the bottom of the to do list. When Bailey was 4 we uprooted and moved to Boston. A year later, off to Ohio. A year and a half after that, Virginia. Nine months gone and here we are in Pennsylvania. Somehow in the middle of all that uprooting, financial struggles, Bailey’s diagnosis, school stress, work stress, social struggles, and being tossed around in the autism ball pit, there just hasn’t been a “good time”. Whenever I bring it up now, I’m shot down before I even get the “b” out.
I try to remind myself that Bailey isn’t a typical child and requires a great deal more of my time. Would it be fair to bring another baby into the mix? Would I completely lose my marbles, as I have so few left as it is? There is also the possibility of having another child on the spectrum, as apparently studies have shown there is a greater likelihood of siblings having an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Maybe God’s plan for me is to just have this one child. Maybe He knows that she needs more attention and more focus to be on her. Maybe He knows better than I do that I have a very difficult time focusing on more than one thing (just like Bailey) and another child would take away from the extra care that Bailey needs. Maybe He placed all those annoying obstacles in my way throughout these recent years because he knew that if I had it my way, I would have bitten off more than I could chew… and the one to suffer would have been my daughter.
Those realizations don’t make it any easier though, and it doesn’t make it hurt any less. But when it starts to hurt I can always go to that super silly, gangly 8-year-old bundle of energy and wrap my arms around her. And when she wraps her arms and legs around me in return and nonchalantly tells me she loves me… the hurt stops and I feel like I have everything I need in one sweet package.
And I’ll do whatever I can to make sure she knows it.