A couple weeks ago Love that Max had a post asking how did you go about deciding to have another child? Some people were not so kind in their responses. More recently Jessica wrote wondering if she was being selfish having only one child.
It is weird because I get this question a lot:
If Boo was born first would I have “chanced” Allie.
I would like to say heck yes. But part of me wonders. Not that I don’t love Boo nor do I wish she was anything but herself. Okay, I could live without the exploding diapers. But having a child with special needs is tough. Julie has two sons and hit (as she says) the Autism Jackpot. She loves both her boys but it is difficult sometimes. Sylvia has a nine beautiful children (yes I am in awe), one of whom has faced brain cancer, seizures and a host of other issues. She doesn’t love Bethany any less than her other children. Yet even Sylvia wonders sometimes what God was thinking.
I believe, in my soul, that all children are born perfect. With any child you do not know if that perfection will be flawless. Let’s face it the terrible two’s disabuses you of that notion as soon as the new baby smell wears off. You might hope that your child will be a Rhodes scholar, but you don’t know at day one where your child’s path might take them.
Another I know, when asked if she had other children replied, no they could only handle their daughter. Her care is sapping them of their energy, their finances and their sleep. But she is also giving them love, her smile and her utter beauty of being a child who is adored by her parents. They in no way ‘regret’ their child, but they understand the limits of their own being.
On the flip side, J’s (Boo’s Yogi) first child was born with Down Syndrome. Her and her husband went on and had four more beautiful girls. Loving them all equally. Even if sometimes they are climbing on the counters, sometimes making their oldest be the easiest to raise.
Sylvia, as she is wont to do, puts it perfectly: Living with their new normal. Whether that new normal is having a child who is seemingly perfect or a child who needs a little extra.
Deciding to have another child is a personal choice. Boo was our surprise. We never imagined having a second child. Okay, David did. I was one and done. Couples decide the amount of children they have based on economics, time, age. Why should they be vilified for by putting a child’s special needs into the decision process?
Parents of children with special needs do not wear rose colored glasses. They understand that their child may not go to school, go to college or move out of the family home. That their care will mean limited vacations, longer work hours, less rest and a shorter retirement.
Parents of “typical” children don’t know what they are getting into either, that all of their hopes and expectations really depend on their child. You can offer a child the world and they may decide not to leave the room.
Almost parents who never get to experience the ups and downs of having children, those with and without special needs, probably feel that they would take any child just to feel a moment of that love.
I guess my point in this long ramble (I feel like I am channeling Rich!) is that having another child is a personal, sometimes heart-wrenching, decision. No one has the right answer.
When I am asked if I would have another child after Boo, my answer is no. But that is not because Boo has sometimes extraordinary needs. It is because I know we cannot handle more than what we have. Two children, a dog, a home and two working parents combined with our age? It wouldn’t be the right decision for our family.
But my decision shouldn’t impact yours.
You just have to decide what you can handle and leave the opinions at the curb.