Would you?

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.

 

14 thoughts on “Would you?

  1. Janine Huldie

    But my girls are perfectly healthy, but the decision for us was based more on the fact that I had a high risk pregnancy with my second, was on bed-rest and even hospitalized having to be away from my family. I couldn't do this to my husband again nor to my beautiful, little girls. It just isn't fair to them and also the fear would be weighing on me if I weren't as lucky to have the pregnancy be a success in the end. I don't believe I would be able to deal with possibly losing a baby. Just not the risks I am willing to take and thankfully my husband is in agreement. But you are right this is a personal choice and the opinions of others should be left at the door. Wonderful post and thank you Kerri for sharing.

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  2. Kerri Ames

    YES! Exactly my point, Janine. You had to make the decision based on what is best for your family. That decision is yours, and you shouldn't be vilified for it. Thank you for understanding where I was going with my ramble!

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  3. Jessica Sweeney

    Absolutely! I get asked all the time when I am going to have another (my parents are the worst offenders). I have a child who isn't even special needs and he takes all my energy. I love him to death, but I don't think I could handle another, especially while working full time! It's definitely a very personal decision, with many factors involved.

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  4. Considerer

    You're so right – it's completely down to the family circumstances and whether or not another child (with or without additional needs) is manageable.

    I used to think I really *would* take any child, but now, with Husby's increasing health problems, I would really have to revise that and think quite carefully about the level of input a child would need (in the case of adoption, if we'd even be eligible, given all that's gone on).

    But with a biological child, I would definitely take, and adore, whatever I got.

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  5. icansaymama

    Good post on a serious subject. We thought about a second child for a long time and I was the one willing to “take the risk” (sorry, I am lacking a better expression) but my husband was (and still is) afraid that another child might have a disability, too (because Sunny is still undiagnosed and we do not know if we passed something down). We haven't spoken about the subject for a long time (because we always end up fighting) and by now I feel too old for another child. So I guess Sunny will stay an only child – which is fine with me, too!

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  6. Ruchira Khanna

    I agree Kerri. It is a personal choice. I got struck by arthritis after my first where I could hardly take care of myself forget nursing my little one!

    gotta be self sufficient before taking up another responsibility thus, only one!

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  7. Dana Hemelt

    I cannot believe that people ask you that question, Kerri. Would you have “chanced” another child if Boo was born first? Seriously? Why would someone ask you that? It's none of their business.

    I read the Love that Max post you referenced and it was really interesting to read all the comments. I totally get your “rambling” – there are so many factors that weigh in when deciding to have another child, but all of them are individual and personal.

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  8. Stephanie Sprenger

    Really great post, Kerri. So thought-provoking and honest. Having another child has been on my mind lately, too, and it's been great to read such thoughtful posts discussing this weighty decision. Thanks for sharing your perspective with us.

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  9. Tatum

    I have a confession…you made me realize something about myself. I read what you wrote and shook my head in agreement the whole way through and thinking, “of course, this is a personal decision. It's no one's business.”

    But, then I realized, I do judge some. I've a handful of people who have told me, “I have 5 preemies a 34 weeker, a 32 weeker, a 30 weeker, 28 weeker and 26 weeker” (so I made those numbers up, but you get the point) and while I've never said it out loud, I did think, “what part of the trend didn't you pick up on after #3? I know it's wrong for me to judge, at the same time, I can't help but think about all the medical intervention these babies go through…and the pain they are often in. My son didn't go a day w/out narcotic in his first 9 months of life. I don't worry as much about having additional special needs children in a family, but I do think about what the child may have to go through. Obviously, I think it was worth it all to have my son here today and I understand that's what other's are thinking…I'm rambling…I guess I just have to be honest. I agree with you, everyone should get to make their own choices. I also know, I need to change something about myself so I'm not hypocritical.

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  10. Kristi Campbell

    Kerri,
    When it comes to special needs, I do think it changes the decision a little bit. I mean, maybe. Like I REALLY want Tucker to have a sibling – but I feel like it's too risky at my age. The odds of having a child with a lot more needs than Tucker already has is scary…and it has affected my decision. Not knowing whether he will be able to support himself later is frightening and giving him a sibling who needs more than he does? Well. If I were younger, I'd probably try. But I'm not and we're not…
    A really hard topic though and a great post about it!

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