Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Why Having A Special Needs Child Changes Your Outlook on Having More Children
I posted this week on Facebook about how I have seen soooooo many pregnancy announcements recently. I joked that my uterus was crying, but that I knew it wasn't happening for me, at least not any time soon. That post got lots of comments. For some reason, you guys get all excited at the thought of my having more kids. lol! I guess it's because you love the ones I already have so much! 😍
I had a few people ask why I said it was not in the cards for me to have more kids and it really got me thinking. I know in my heart of hearts that another child is just not a good fit for our family right now, and I also know in my heart of hearts that I long for more children. It's a weird feeling.
Having a child with special needs complicates a lot of things. I wouldn't trade all the uncomplicated-ness in the world for my C, and y'all know that, but the fact is, disabilities can and most often do throw a wrench in our best laid plans. We have adapted and made new paths and kept moving forward, but there is an aspect of letting go of the "what-if's" and "could've been's" that I'm just not very good at.
The most obvious consideration in having more children is the glaring probability that another child would have special needs. When I found out I was pregnant with Chandler, I was immediately excited, but almost as quickly came the realization that this child could have Christian's condition, or something entirely different but equally complicated. "And then what will I do?" are the exact words I asked myself.
I never answered that question. I still haven't. I've been too afraid to answer it. Maybe I'm afraid of what the answer would be, as well. When I got pregnant with Chandler, I set that question to the back of my mind, tried to forget it, but knew I had to hang on until we knew. I wasn't going to even attempt to answer the question unless I knew I had to. Imagine my relief when we saw Chandler's beautiful lenses of his eyes on ultrasound for the first time. I remember it specifically. We had the same ultrasound tech for both my boys, so she was extra kind to show us extra images on the screen and do much reassuring for us. She was so awesome that I wrote about her in Through the Eyes of Hope. I will never forget that moment. That moment of truth. I held my breath. Holding in my panic and relief until I knew which one to let go and which one would be appropriate to feel.
My fear of having another child with a special need didn't come from being scared of a disability. I'm
not scared of that at all. It came from a second consideration I have to make when thinking about the prospect of more children. "Am I going to be enough?"
I'm a good mom. I'm not a perfect mom. I'm certainly not the best mom there is and I'm sure I have plenty of room for improvement. But, I would call myself a good mom. My kids are well loved, have all their needs met and some of their wants, and I would lay down my life for either of them without a second thought. But, I still, and probably always will, struggle with wondering if I am doing enough, being enough, for them.
My kids are high maintenance. They ask a lot from me. I know that's what kids do, but I have found that among my friends and acquaintances, my kids seem to require more and for longer than most kids do. That's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just a fact. While everyone else at the cookout is socializing while their kids run around and play together in the back yard, I'm off alone with my kids keeping them from running out into the road or off into the woods by themselves. I'm keeping them from opening the pool gate and jumping in. I'm giving tube feeds and guiding Christian to the restroom every 30 minutes. I'm showing Chandler the boundaries of how far he is allowed to wander and explaining why he can't chase the strange dog and grab it's face. I'm telling Christian about everything he hears, because he always wants to know what he is hearing, and I am his eyes. I am helping him touch things in a safe way so that he can learn about them, because his little six year old curiosity causes him to be interested in everything and afraid of nothing.
I joke that my kids are in this phase where they constantly and relentlessly just try to kill themselves. Need I mention the broken nose escapade that went down less than two weeks ago from yours truly, Mr. Christian? Swinging on our baby gate, fell down the steps, double fracture, hugely swollen nose, and so much bruising I thought someone was going to call CPS on me. I joke, but the reality is, it is kind of true, and it's really not a phase, but rather a way of life for them. I have saved them both from certain death more times than I could even guess in their short lives. While I will, of course, continue to keep them from harm, it is an exhausting job. I don't get to rest or relax often. Maybe an hour a week, and my sleep is never sound. I am up a minimum of 3 or 4 times a night still, and that's a good night.
So, the reality that I have to look at is, if I added another child to the mix, would Christian and Chandler continue to get the care they need? I don't mean that I'm wondering if I'll be able to keep them fed. I think I can handle that part. lol! But their emotional, social and cognitive/developmental needs.
Right now, there isn't enough time in the day to sit them in my lap and read all the stories they want me to read. There isn't enough time to get in the floor and play with them as much as they want. There isn't enough time to talk to them as much as they want or answer all their little questions about the world. Christian has 5 appointments every week right now between therapies and karate, and we are about to add violin lessons to the mix. Chandler is not far off from being at an age where he will want to do activities of his own as well.
Throw homeschooling in the mix, which is sort of forced on us (the other option is having a less than appropriate and adequate education, and that isn't happening), and I'm just not sure how much more I stretch 24 hours, or how much less sleep I can go on. I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water most days as it is, and I always end my day feeling like I didn't accomplish enough.
Finances is another big issue to consider. Because of Christian's needs, and because we have to home school, the best choice for our family has been for me to stay home with the boys. Knowing that Christian is being properly cared for (and Chandler, too) trumps any amount of money I could make. While I am so, so thankful that we are able to be a single income family, living paycheck to paycheck has it's drawbacks. Surprising, I know. lol! It's difficult for me, also, knowing that I have a law degree and that I can't really put it to much use right now. I would love to start a full time legal career right now, but the reality is, I want more to be with my boys and raise them. One day they will be grown, but my law degree will still be around. I can work until I die, but I only get a few years of being their mama while they are little. So, I am thankful that I am the one who gets to be with them all day, and I never get tired of them or feel like I just need to get away really. (Although I do feel like I wish they'd go to sleep before 10pm lol.) Even though it makes finances more of a challenge and it causes me to have to be creative in making it stretch, I don't mind. But it is a factor to consider, and really, a big one. Could our finances stretch even further to accommodate another child? I'm not sure they could.
I'm not ruling out the possibility of more kids completely, but as of right now, it's just not feasible. My plate is full, although so is my heart, and I don't want to drop that plate because I've piled too much on it. My boys are my life, my reason for living and breathing. The thought of adding another sweet baby to the mix to love and nurture makes my heart fill full, but then reality is always close behind reminding me that another child is just incomprehensible right now.
Maybe one day, or maybe not. But for now, I am thankful that God saw fit to give me the two boys I have. He knew
what he was doing when he chose Christian and Chandler for me. <3