Friday, December 21, 2007

The - one or two - dilemma

I read this post by Bangaloremom on “reasons to get married”. She delurked and commented on my previous post and mentioned that one of my posts about “stopping with one child or going for the second” started a raging war at her home. And as you may have read in my previous post – having two children and taking care of both – especially the first few years - can really push you to the limits of your patience. So in the context of all this, I was thinking to myself – What would be some reasons to go for a second? Would I still do it if I had a choice?

It is tempting to think of a life in general where the work is less than more, where worries stop with just one child rather than two etc…but in reality I think we all love to be pushed to the limit. If not with a child, we find other ways to push ourselves.

That said – why a second child? Let me first say – this is just my own personal opinion. I am not asking you in particular to have a second child (not that you would for that reason anyway!). I am again gathering my thoughts regarding this issue. If my close friend were to discuss this issue with me, I would feel at liberty to strongly advocate going for a second child rather than stopping with one child. Aside from the fact that misery loves company and I would make sure to drag such a close friend into the net with me – why would I be telling her to go for a second?

This used to be my thought process while talking to my husband before we decided to go for a second:
Goodness, I have to go through pregnancy all over again?!
What happens to my career – I can feel my brain rusting and chipping off and falling out of my head as it is – now I have to wait another two years? (Day care was not an option for me for at least one year minimum – for several reasons – let me not go into that). And the cost of raising two kids?
The tension of waiting till a healthy child is delivered?
Do you know what it was like to feed KB this afternoon – to have to do this for two kids?!
I just went back to being able to wear my old pair of jeans – you want me to go back to maternity size and start from there all over again?
It’s not like you and your sister keep talking to each other all the time – so why is it so important for KB to have a sibling?
Well, you* are not the one who will be pushed to the limit – it is ME who will probably be on the verge of collapsing every night!
Those and variations of those dialogues featured during our discussions about this. Add to this my two brothers – one on each camp – telling me the benefits of having one or having two children. And mom who would not even hear of it if I said one is enough. “Nee edukku appdi solre? Rendu porakum’nu irundha poraka dhan pordhu. Neeya onnum solla vendam.” (Why do you have to say anything? If you are meant to have two, you will, you don’t have to say anything.) Hmm…are you saying contraception is not fool proof? I used to flippantly think when she said such things.

I have to say though the one person who was key (besides for obvious reasons of course) to this decision was B. He did not have any doubt that left to himself, the choice would clearly be two. I felt I could rely on him in all that this meant for both of us. His conviction made his reasoning also sound strong. He left it up to me to decide though since he did see that I had to give up more than he had to at that point.

I was personally very content with one child. But as with most people the over driving force in my decision was not because B wanted to have two but that I wanted KB to have a sibling and the other child to have KB. That and only that was my main reason. It was strong enough to convince myself that I simply have to do it for the sake of him and the second child. And now when I see them interacting even at this tender age – he is 27m old and she is 6m old – I have no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing. There are fleeting thoughts during moments of mental and physical fatigue if I did the right thing – not so much with respect to the child itself – but in over estimating my own energy levels – in going for a second child. But the next day dawns, I feel more rested and as soon as KB wakes up he wants to see “kutti baby”. And she gives this huge toothless grin at the sight of him. It is quite unbelievable actually – they act like buddies already. He simply dotes on his sister. I am sure he will be annoyed with her at times and there will probably be sibling rivalry and what not – but at the bottom of it all I can see that there will be friendship. It is already there – the natural bonding – we just have to nurture it and preserve it until it takes a form that will not be broken by anything. In his joy when he sees her first thing in the morning, I can visualize him celebrating her every victory – even if not in the young and restless teen years but later when he is mature. When she smiles back at him, I can see her relying on him as a friend, a confidante and someone she can count on always. May be the dreams of a parent – but I have invested a lot into these dreams – and I would like to believe it will become reality some day.

When I decided to get married (oh yes, I have to do that post on the post decision celebration in my family) finally, I called every one in my family one by one. One of my sisters (the only one who knew I had visited B) was teaching her daughter Math when I called her. She came to the phone and told me she could only talk for two minutes since she had to go help my niece.
“I said Yes”, I told her calmly.
She could not even believe what she heard.
“WHAT?”.
I repeated myself.
“Please don’t joke about this, Noon”.
“No, am not joking, really”.
“Sathyama?”
“Yes”
Pause. Silence on the other side.
“Hello?”
A weak and trembling voice said, “Yeah am here”. She was crying. She could not contain her joy – she was crying so much. My niece walked into the room and said “ You are crying?”. A second later, I heard her say, “You are laughing?”. She then told my niece, “Chithi said Yes…she is going to be married soon”.
“WHAT?”
And that’s it – her math homework was forgotten for another half an hour. She had to know the fine details of how it happened, what made me decide…
You can go through all this joy with a close friend or a cousin as well. And I did too. But with my sister – she knew everything that I had gone through and how my mom and dad felt before this and how they would feel now – the feeling of that shared history - of knowing what this means to every member of the family – it cannot be put in words.

When my father passed away suddenly, the grief was unbearable – his body lying there cold and frigid in a casket. My father who would wear his winter hat at the slightest hint of cold weather. The sight of his body in ice cold condition was one of the worst moments I can think of. I felt like my heart would break and fall apart. At that point I was held together not by my grief stricken mother but by my siblings. They too were falling but the feeling that our loss, our grief was common – different from that of my mother’s. All of us knew how it felt to have lost a father at that point. All of us talked so much about what little things he did for us, the very things we miss so much now. How much he used to annoy us with little things – he would insist that I write the “from address” if I mail a letter to my friend, he would keep telling me not to have coffee at night before bed time etc etc…each of us had a different story. My sister was telling us about how he would come into the room when she was studying way past bedtime when she was in medical college and he would sit with her near the table and after a while insist she get some sleep at least before she went to college the next morning. She used to think he had no idea how much she had to study – now when she worries about her own children getting enough sleep, she knows how he felt. I am digressing here I know. But the point is that during such moments of extreme pain, the kind of support you get from your sibling/s is just enormous. I felt grateful to my parents then for giving me siblings. I imagined how it would have been for KB if we were both not alive and if he did not even have a sibling – well you can always imagine the extreme – but somehow at that point – I felt better thinking he will have a little sister who will be his own family. Who shares his history. Who has been raised under the same roof. Who I will do my best to make sure will love him dearly (and vice versa).

When we used to discuss this issue of going for the second child, B used to tell me “See how much fun it is when we go to visit your sister or my sister – how excited they are to see KB – don’t you want KB’s kids to have that – an aunt who will be excited to see his children? Even if he has cousin brothers and sisters – unless they live close to each other – it won’t be the same – they won’t feel as compelled to visit – but with siblings they will make it a point to meet – because they are siblings”. And I could imagine that scenario as well.

Both B and I knew that there is no one right answer to this. If say, I could not have a second child for medical reasons, the whole discussion would have not come up. We would have been happy to have at least one and move on with life. Either way, the kids will grow up, they will find a way to be happy. It is finally a choice that we make – in the way we envision their life and our lives around them. Now it feels good, it feels complete. I feel exhausted, I feel isolated – but at the end of the day – I still know deep down this was the right decision. You will be pushed to the limit, you will hate it all at times and want to run away. But I cannot imagine that if you had a second and you saw the two children together that you would even remotely regret your decision. You just won’t. The pain of raising them and worrying about their well being will be for ever but somehow that complete feeling you get when you walk into the room at night and see your two children sleeping peacefully – it will make up for all the down swings you go through during the course of the day. If someone decided that one child is what’s best for them, I would not even suggest to them that they should go for a second child. If you are someone who feels you would like to have two children, but are not able to make that leap – this post is for you. I was that way and this is how I feel now. It is your own personal decision – especially for the woman. If all else is manageable - in terms of medical condition, finance – and it is just a matter of not being sure – well, this is how I feel. Just wanted to share it with you!

28 comments:

Aryan said...

Woww..was just waiting for this post..and that too to hear from your mouth noon..
I am of the opinion to have two kids...just for the sake of Aryan..You wrote it right. My hubby is fine with one as he feels that one itself is taking lot of my time...
But thanks a lot for this post. Brothers and sisters are needed in life. I almost laughed hearing what your Mom said. Even my Mom says like this only.
"Vidhichadu thaan kadaikum, kodhichadu kadaikatthu. Unnakku erandu kozhandhaigalayai valathanenam na ne valathevai..."

KB is giving a cute pinch to Kutti girl..!!!

Tharini said...

You have a certain and simple way of touching a chord in everyone. It is your innocence and the way you put yourself out there with your feelings for everyone to see.

I loved this post from you. And I don't think I thought quite so much about WHY I wanted a second child, except that I know I wanted one and so had one. But when I see that many years ahead and get a slight feel of the kind of bond that they may share and the fact that they can have each other, when they can no longer have us, their parents, I feel happy and satisfied.

The craziness of these days seems to suddenly add to the charm of the whole thing. :) I am sure this would really help other unsure moms out there to take the leap.

Sumana said...

Hello Noon,
Just stepped by your blog. Very nicely written and true. I have a 3 year old daughter and a 7 month old son. As you say, they fight at this early age, but it is only her who can make the little one laugh sometimes. We fail at times and wonder what did we do, that they both hug and smile at each other so much.

Rohini said...

Lovely post. I had written something like this months ago but I think it was missing the touching quality of your writing...

noon said...

Aryan - thanks. Well hope you do since you seem to be for it...am sure if you guys decide on it, you will not regret it later.

Tharini - thanks for your warm comment.
Before I got married, I used to think 0 or 2 kids. After I had one child, I just felt like one was enough - I could be happy with just one. So I had to really think hard - esp the thought having to stay home another couple of years was so scary...I used to talk to B so much in hopes that he will convince me to go to where I really did want to get over my fear and go - having two children.
You are lucky that way - you clearly knew and that must have made the decision easier. Another thing I told myself was if it did not work out by any chance, I would only give it one year time - beyond that no trying. Destiny has it's ways...

noon said...

Sumana - thanks for visiting. I know - I really feel like KB is able to communicate with the little one better than any of us can...

Ro - thanks. I re-read your post - I loved it - you have written it so clearly. I had said some of the same points in this post in some previous post as well. But now I wanted to write from the perspective of, "I have two children now, how do I feel about it now?".

BangaloreMom said...

Hi Noon

LOVED ur post!! Could'nt help feeling as though u were just reaching out and talking to me :). And yes yes yes yes...I agree with EVERY single, beautiful word that you have written. I am an only child and I am happy, I always have been happy even as a child. As a child, I grew up with an extended family with my aunts and cousins and never wished for a sibling. But now, with cousins gone all over the world, do I miss having someone else apart from my parents who I can call my immediate family? Definitely. And I know that down the years I am only going to miss having a sibling even more. No matter how close you are to your spouse, I think the bond with a sibling is very, very special. Thanks again Noon..you have given my battle weary senses a fresh perspective...and have given us more to think about over the holidays:)

Usha said...

You are right. Growing up with siblings is a joyful experience - you learn so much from each other and there are some moments which only a sibling can understand - not even parents.
Very well written. You captured the essence of the bond in the 2 examples you have given.

~nm said...

What a wonderful and straight from the heart post! It has got me thinking when we are on the crossroads of having or not having a second child.

shweta said...

"If all else is manageable - in terms of medical condition, finance – and it is just a matter of not being sure – well, this is how I feel. Just wanted to share it with you!"
I have been a religious follower of your blog..I am exactly in the position you describe above..Somehow I had decided that I will go in for second if I get some sort of sign from GOD within this year end...call it foolish/childish..!! Your post comes to me like a strong positive sign straight from HIM...I am really thankful for helping me make the biggest decision of my life..I am indebted to you for writing this..I have been going back & forth with the second kid..My husband has left the ball in my court..My best friend cannot have a second one due to medical reasons so she has made up her mind for one..but so I didn't have any body to share my fears & help me through them..(Amma is always preaching abt second..but her life in India was different from what we have here..so I wasn't convinced..)
Sorry for writing such a big reply..
But couldn't thank you enough.
Wish your family Happy Holidays & Happy New Year !!.(Will keep u posted on any updates :) )

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Such a touching post ... and there are no frills ... plain, innocent writing which touched me.
Felt like you were talking about / to me all through the post!!

noon said...

Bangaloremom - Thanks!!!
I hope you do decide in favor of it - since it looks to me like you really do want it! And it's OK if your husband hates me for this post and creating trouble at home - probably a lot of argument over this topic during the holidays - but since he doesn't know me - it won't matter ;))


Usha - thanks. I know you have a nice relationship with your siblings - from your posts...I don't think it is always smooth sailing when it comes to siblings - and in a lot of families there is so much friction they would have been better off without siblings - but in the hope that it won't turn out that way - I think it is a nice thing overall...

noon said...

nm - Thanks!
Well bite the bullet girl! :) Like my cousin (who used to keep telling me to go for a second) used to say - if you think about it too much, you wont' do it. It is not easy one bit - it is mostly a lot of work - but as I have said elaborately in my post - in my opinion - it is worth it.

noon said...

Shweta! Thanks! I hope I come to know of the arrival of a cute healthy baby this coming fall! :)) BTW - go for a Fall baby (get into action soon i.e.! :) ) - winter can be really depressing shut indoors for 3m in the cold :) Sorry to talk of trivial matters - but now that you have decided - why not! :) But really - you can't go wrong with this one - even if you curse me for the next ten years when you feel exasperated and tired managing two little ones - there will also be moments when your heart is filled with sheer joy! Not at all childish - I too have such random thoughts - "if this happens, then I will do that" kind of thoughts. When I was in such a fix as to which way to go regarding two kids - my cousin sent me a pic of her two kids sitting inside one bucket of water and playing and looking so happy - she sent just the picture with a post it note saying "When in doubt, look at this picture". She is a great believer in signs of this nature by the way! :)
Tons of luck to you!!!


CA - Thanks!! Somehow in my mental impression of you - I feel you will finally decide to have two! :) You seem happy go lucky, at peace with life...for such people I think this decision will be much less difficult!
Yes yes, I was talking about you (the likes of you!) :))

Mystic Margarita said...

Beautiful and straight from the heart, Noon. I know I want to try for a second baby, and God willing, Popol, too, will have a sibling! :)

noon said...

Hi Mystic, Am sure your wish will come true! Best wishes for the coming year - hope it brings a lot of joy with the arrival of another little one!

Squiggles Mom said...

I know I want to have a second child at some point but not now. I treasure my relationship with my brother and I want Squiggles to have that one day too.

shweta said...

HI Noon,

Thanks for wishes..I was planning for fall baby too ..:) let's wait & hope for the best.Happy New Year to you & Your family !!

Preethi said...

Aaw noon... what post... you touched a chord .. this is the same turmoil we have been going through in our household... I think I will make a post on this...
Thanks for sharing this.. you sure have given me more food for thought...

Aryan said...

Where are you???
Happy NeW Year...

Tharini said...

Noonie...long time. Where are you? Hope you had a good new year. Update soon. Miss you.

Anonymous said...

WOnderful post, reinforced my faith on going for a second child. I have a 3 year old daughter, and DH has been mentioning the need to have a sibling for her.

Ruchika

noon said...

SM - wish you the best...am sure you will know when you are ready for a second...the only advantage in my opinion - to having the second sooner than later - you really keep the same momentum and get through the difficult first years - if not, you finally feel like you can sit back and relax after the first one is about 5 yrs old and then you have to start all over again...I am hoping that after age 3 for the second - half the entertainment will be between themselves and I don't have to worry about that part at least! :)

noon said...

Shweta - You would have made my day with the grand news of a fall baby - esp since you gave some credit to this post :) Although in reality I know you would have gone for it one way or another - just small pleasure to think that this post helped! :))
Wish you luck...I really hope it's a fall baby. I don't know why I am so amazed at people who manage winter babies - gosh those three months if I could not have stepped out for a walk when ever I had time I would have been so upset!

noon said...

Preethi - thanks...I went through that in between phase myself - I know what you are going through...

Aryan - Was away for a few days end of Dec. Went to my brother's place - family get together etc...now kids are out of schedule - so no time to post!

Tharini - thanks! Happy new year to you! We got back day before night - it's been so crazy - baby girl got so used to tons of attention - so she was so difficult yesterday...will post soon!

Ruchika - thanks for visiting and for your comment. You won't go wrong with this decision! :)
You have a blog site?

BangaloreMom said...

Hi Noon

Wishing you and your wonderful family a VERY happy new year!! May this year bring you lots of joy and happy chaos :). Work has been crazy the last couple of weeks. So no time to post. Will do something about it soon, I promise!!

the mad momma said...

Hey - how could I not comment on this post?! Sorry -not been commenting for a while since those jobless nuts went around leaving comments in my name, spreading hatred.

Yes yes yes.. to everything you said. But as Tara mentioned, I never thought abt it. I always wanted two kids. I cant imagine it any other way and when i see the kids together I get all mushy and cant imagine denying them this...
even the brat wakes up and sits up in his bed and demands.. where's beanie? i want to go to her...


http://thebratthebeanandbedlam.wordpress.com

Lavs said...

I came to your blog from Indian Mommies. You have a beautiful way of penning down your thoughts. Your words touch a chord in my heart. I am gonna link you up at my space. Keep writing:-)