So, Are You Having Another One?

“Desitin in my cuticles” is not the first line of a poignant country song, but I keep thinking it should be.

No. Desitin in my cuticles is what concerns me when I’m asked the question I get at least once a day: “Are you having another one?”

Really, this should not be an annoying question.

It’s a perfectly normal way for you to take an interest in my family and in me, and I don’t mind it. In fact, I mind people who mind it. Moms of babies or toddlers who get twisted when asked if they plan on having another are like the women who wore “Touch the Bump, Get a Thump” t-shirts when they were pregnant. A human growing inside your stomach is compelling, and no t-shirt is going to change that. Similarly, when strangers or relatives see your baby hitting milestones, getting out of the crib and diapers, it is totally normal to ask if you will do this whole thing again.

What they are really asking–and the reason why this is a tough question to answer is, “Does this whole kid thing ruin your life, or did it work for you?” For me, both things are true.

I mean this with tremendous love and no regret; my life, as I knew it, is over. There will always be a part of me worrying about my child, whether he’s at daycare or camp or college or on his honeymoon. So, I feel vulnerable in a way I never was before. It’s terrifying, all this love and these high stakes. But, ruined is too strong a word, especially for something that can be so euphoric.

On that front, having another kid is sort of neutral because I am already in the game. How much harder can it be? Probably a lot. When I look at the infant toys now collecting cobwebs in the garage, a part of me never wants to go back. Just eye-balling that stupid, red baby play mat with cheap plastic mirrors and crinkly fabric birds and recalling “tummy time” or the washing of various breast pump parts makes me want to donate every single baby thing I own to the Salvation Army and say “Night, night” to ever reproducing again.

It’s an inexplicable thrill ride to watch my two year-old suddenly string a sentence together or count to ten (even if he does throw in “three” where it doesn’t belong). At the same time, there’s a part of me that exhales when certain stages are over. When he gave up the pacifier, I thought, “Thank you. Thank you. No more scrambling for fallen pacifiers to wash. No more stuffing them in my glove compartment. No more.” And a whisper in my head added, “Unless you have another one.” Which explains the jar of pacifiers in a cupboard somewhere. I’m in baby purgatory, with a jar of pacifiers in one hand and a birth control pill in the other.

Most couples I see with two young children look pretty miserable. Or maybe I’m just seeing that because I’m scared. A big part of me wants to do it again, this time knowing how to take a temperature rectally and how to swaddle and not being so terrified and just taking in the joyful parts. Part of me wants a do-over, a second chance to live the peak moment of having a new baby, only without all the paranoia, the inexperience.

Each night, when I put on my toddler’s pajamas and diaper, I cover his little bum with Desitin and there it is, the white paste that clings to your cuticles with the adhesive power of ten thousand barnacles. I can attack it with a towel, or go at it with a wet wipe, but that stuff is powerfully sticky. And I wonder if I’ll miss it.

* This piece originally appeared in print via Creator’s Syndicate and online at the Huffington Post.

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24 Responses to “So, Are You Having Another One?”

  1. Tragic Sandwich
    December 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    It’s an annoying question if you’d like to have another but have no confidence that it’s possible. The accurate answer is “I’d like to, but I keep having miscarriages and D&Cs instead.” No one wants to hear that answer, and I don’t blame them. And I don’t want to make people feel lousy by giving them that answer, even though it’s true.

    It’s also why “Are you going to have children?” is not a good question, even if it’s a “normal” one.

  2. Becky Ann
    September 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I thought after one, there would never be another one. Then surprise!!! My kiddos are 23 months apart, and I have to say, some days are miserable. But, on the other hand, some days are sooo stinking wonderful, I feel like my heart is going to explode. I was worried before the birth of my little man that there was not enough room in my heart to possibly love 2 children. Now that he is 7 months and things are starting to somewhat get into a routine, a crazy, havok-ridden one, but a routine nonetheless, I must say that having two is pretty awesome. Love abounds and leeps you sane. I am so in love with the moments they spend laughing with one another. Now, don’t get me wrong, somedays I absolutely run around like a stark-raving lunatic and never have time to shave my legs, but it’s worth it. It is, I promise.

  3. Faith
    September 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Yes, absolutely, have another! Give him/her a pal.Give him.her someone to learn conflict resolution with. Give him/her someone to help out when his/her parents get old. No, not twice as much work. If you do one, you might as well do two. Best decision I made. Go for it.

  4. Jennifer
    September 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Having one child is quite lovely.

  5. Lea
    September 4, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    This truly hits home for me! It’s hard to decide if you want another one or not. Do you really want to start all over. There are days when I questions it, and days where I do want another child. But can’t stop taking that birth control… so therefore, I really don’t want one! haha

  6. Rick Johannsen
    September 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Dalring T,

    You have so much going for you, it’s unbeleivable you would consider harming yourself. Ask a suicide survivors group how they feel after a family member has taken themselves out. It ‘s a horrible feeling. No T, not you. You’re way too smart and full of life with your son and husband to do that to them. They love you so much. You are such a special person.

    Adam daily podcaster,
    Ochie

  7. Debbie
    August 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    “Moms of babies or toddlers who get twisted when asked if they plan on having another are like the women who wore ‘Touch the Bump, Get a Thump’ t-shirts when they were pregnant.”

    Oooooooooooor…maybe they’re the moms who’ve been unsuccessfully TTCA without success. Or maybe, like me, they’re the moms who struggled to concieve the first one and aren’t sure they’ll have enough luck/perseverence/insurance coverage/money to do it all again. Just saying.

  8. Bradley
    August 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Teresa,

    I’m catching up on my Adam Carolla podcasts and noticed there is a new one with you so I immediately started to listen. It is soooo good! Just like old times. I truly miss having you on the show and what you brought to it.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know I never bought your book because it didn’t relate to me. I’m a guy with no kid prospects. But, you know what I did after hearing you talk to Ace? I went on Amazon and bought the book. I got it yesterday and started reading. I’m literally laughing out loud as I read it on the plane. I always knew it would be good, but thought I would wait one day wait to read it when it was more relevant to my life.

    So please know, as Adam does, that you bring so much to the table and I for one am glad you worked so hard on the book. Even if the book doesn’t make you rich, you should know that it does at least make a dude, who hopes to exploit his own baby some day, very happy.

    Just wanted to share,
    Bradley

  9. Anita
    August 29, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    Igmf is right…having two is harder. Oh so much harder.

    This is probably really dependent on each child’s temperment, however. My first was such an easygoing baby & my husband took paternity leave since I had my own business. 9 blissful months of the 3 of us bonding & spending our days together. Besides the fact that he had horrible projectile vomiting due to reflux, it was pretty euphoric.

    Cue #2…a surprise pregnancy. We always knew we wanted a sibling for our first, but we weren’t expecting it THEN. Ankle biter #2 is more high needs…he had health problems in the beginning, is very clingy, a major whiner & crier & to be honest, he makes day to day life SO much harder than it was before he came onto the scene. Does it mean I love him any less? Of course not….does it mean I’m pretty darn adamant I’m not having a third child? You bet ya!

    Those that say having two is easy, I’d love to hear what tactics they implement to make life so easy….because twice the amount of diaper changes, trying to coordinate the schedules of two children so I can have a life, dealing with sibling jealously & trying to divvy up equal amounts of attention…so totally not easy from where I stand. Our stupid mini-van is filled to capacity with two seats taken up by car seats & the back seat that’d normally fit 3 people piled with diaper bags & toys for longer drives & stroller accessories etc. I don’t know where a third child would ever go!

    But I digress…I know life is what you make it & your outlook probably also plays a huge role into how you handle daily situations involving two or three or more kids…& clearly my outlook would not bode well for having more children. I love the ones I’ve got but I’m already spread too thin.

  10. Jane
    August 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Two is easier than one. Three would be the bigger question – bigger house, car, odd-man out on the roller coasters – keep to even numbers.

    I might be just lucky because my sons are best friends. Maybe it would be different if they didn’t get along.

    Sad note that hopefully you won’t experience: I got divorced. One of my sons wrote a poem expressing how it was only his brother who could share the experience with him and understand. It made me feel sad, and glad.

    Even though that won’t be your story, it still is a great thing to have a sibling who can share your life story. I have four siblings and we were raised in a happy home and we love that common bond that we can all share.

    Ehhh. Who knows? Not all siblings get along, so maybe that is a false selling point. But from my experience, the second child seemed easy and did not make anything harder in the least. I already was tethered to he home anyway. Even the actual birth was easier. The first birth was hours in labor with the doctor in the room next door coming in to tell me to be quiet because I was upsetting the floor. The second birth was like a sitcom with everyone laughing and joking, no pain (I wrote a thank-you to the anesthesiologist who turned up several years later on Dr. 90210 – wow he was good) and the doctor barely arrived in time to catch the baby.

    H and W are two years apart and really really different from each other. But I always drove it into them that they would be there for each other forever. And I think they will be. They even created their own holiday when they were 6 and 8 called “Brothers’ Day” where they buy gifts for each other and I have make their plans for their fun day happen, Disneyland, etc. (smart kids).

    After I had my first, I thought, “I could never have another baby because I couldn’t possibly love the next as much as this one.” I was wrong.

    I just ordered your book after hearing you on Adam Carolla’s podcast. You two were a great pair on the radio and it was nice to hear you together again.

  11. Jo
    August 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Rip off the bandaid and do it before you think about it too much. It really does all become a blur when the kids get older. Seriously. Next stage below- full on- forgetting it.

    Don’t Get Mad at Us with Older Kids- We Have Baby Amnesia

    Somewhere between diapers and sleep deprivation, laundry loads and tantrums it has probably occurred to you that some of your friends and family just don’t get it. That certainly isn’t news. What might have surprised you is that it is oftentimes well established parents: siblings with school agers, your own parents, friends who had their children years before you. They may be even mentors of a sort, ones that you would be happy if your kids turned out like theirs.

    How is it possible that the people in your life that blazed the trail before you now seem oblivious to your world? Unfortunately, this happens to the best of us. We develop baby amnesia.

    A friend of mind with kids that were older school-agers had me over when I had a 10 month old, 3 year old and a 5 year old. After a series of what I perceived as bizarre inquiries on random things such as what they eat, or bedtimes or something, The last straw was when she was handing the 10 month old a cup without a lid over the carpet. I finally turned to my friend and said, “Gawd, how do you not remember?” I was surprised. I mean she had done this, and her kids were great. I continued with more than a hint of sarcasm, “Do you have Baby Amnesia?”

    She basically answered, “Of course I do, you can’t stay in that world forever.” We then glugged back some wine. I, of course, realized and resented the fact that I likely would suffer more the next day from the wine glugging due to the demands of the young ones.

    Baby Amnesia is similar to recalling memories of childbirth. Women don’t quite forget it, but the memory fades, and changes, and blurs around the edges. Most of us cannot stay at the intensity level of young children forever.

    The “amnesia” hit me hard this year, sometime around my youngest child’s 6th birthday, and this came as a great shock to me. I was, or at least liked to think I was, the grand know-it-all of baby information. I was the one that thought the new moms were cute, at least as cute as the new babies. Their initiation into the mothering realm, the struggles with breastfeeding, the sleep issues, fretting over vaccines and colds, I adored these new sisters in the bond. How, of all people, could I forget?

    I can pinpoint the moment that I could officially self diagnose my onset of Baby Amnesia. While at a family gathering this year, my cousin’s toddler – wait, I digress – is toddler the word for a 13 month old? Is she 13 months? When do they start walking again?

    Anyway, the baby was just cruising the furniture, round and round the tables, up and over the sofas. She certainly seemed busy to me but that is all that registered. My wine was on the table, and with super speed, she grabbed it and it went everywhere. I sat dumbfounded and in shock, and not from the disaster in front of me. I absolutely could not believe that I had not anticipated the outcome. Where were my lightening quick reflexes that could sense baby danger? My super little kiddo juju was gone. I had become one of “those” people. How could I? I was a traitor to the sisterhood.

    As my cousin managed to race across the room while giving me stink-eye, I did not even move. At that moment I had crossed a line, never to return again to my former abilities. I was no longer a part of the helpful village that could jump in and just “get” it. My radar had gone to black. I was simultaneously happy and sad. Sad because while it seems like an eternity when you are in the thick of little ones, it does not last forever. Happy for the start of a new chapter, where sleep deprivation and temper tantrums don’t rule. My parenting challenges were now different: school issues, rebellion, puberty, social drama between children.

    Like my friend and many fine others before me, I bid you all adieu until you catch up because I just couldn’t stay in that world forever.

    • Sarah
      September 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

      Wow, this is an awesome story. I am also at a point in which I am struggling with wanting a sibling for my 2 year old daughter but then not wanting to start all over from square one with a baby. My daughter was soooo easy, there is no way I can get that lucky twice.
      But you made me realize something so important, before I know it, all of this baby and toddler stuff is just going to be a blur. If I just stop and think about how fast the two years have flown by since my daughter was born, it is unbelievable.
      Everything is just a phase and before I know it, the things I worry about today may not even be a memory, I may just forget all about them…
      You really may me stop and put things into perspective, thank you!

  12. Dave
    August 26, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I’m a grandpa, so I encourage my kids to keep on having babies. So far, they are going in five year intervals so as one hits the age of being emarassed to hang with the old dude, another is coming to the sweet spot of pure hero worship and the ability to express complex thoughts. As there is no other forum to easily stalk you, I am begging for a podcast on the Ace network. Your writing is incredible, but to hear your written words in your voice and inflection makes them tracscendant. In addition, your intellectual quickness lends itself to truly entertaining impromptu interactions, pardon the alliteration. We would also like to support you through something like the Amazon click-through banner. Help us help you. Thank you for all you do, and risking commandment breaking, you are a truly beautiful lady.

  13. Mr. Michael
    August 26, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    I’m going to respectfully disagree with lgmf up there, but just a little. I love having two kids (I’m an only child) and I was terrified I’d hate it. lg is correct that it’s harder having two at first, but duh. Having a new baby is hard as shit under any circumstances. But now my kids are 6 and 4 and they play together all the time. Hell, as I type this they are playing “cleaning lady” and vacuuming the family room rug. How freaking awesome is that?!

    Additionally, we got off easy because our second son was way more mellow than our first about sleep. Or possibly all our experience is making everything easier.

    That’s what first time parents need to remember: You have experience now. All that experience is applicable.

    The bad news, which is important for people like you (and me) to remember is that the “kids get easier” graph is not a straight line. Our first son hit all those great milestones, then turned into a raging a-hole till he was almost 5 and a half. From about 2.5-5.5 he was this crazed fiend who’d wake us up randomly throughout most nights by coming into the room and flicking our lights on and off. And that’s when he wasn’t yelling at us.

    good luck

  14. Stephanie O
    August 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Chiming in to say pretty please do a podcast. I loved you with Ace, loved you on The Parent Experiment, and would love to listen to whatever you do.

    Also – if you ever feel so dark again or just want to get away from it all, I have a nice guest room in my basement. I live near Salt Lake City, and Utah’s pretty nice (we moved from northern CA, there’s been quite a migration in this direction!). Seriously – you can hide out any time – there’s space for the whole family and my sons (8, 5, 2) can teach your son some bad habits. :)

  15. lgmf
    August 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Having 2 kids is infinitely harder than having only one. Having 2 kids is like having 16. Your life as you know it, will be over. Again. Yes, it’s great, wonderful and awesome to see them playing together, to see them hugging and loving each other completely unprompted. But there is also a lot to be said about losing your relationship with your first one. Because it will be lost and forever changed. Maybe the way you react to it depends on your personality. I see plenty of mothers with multiple children who seem just fine. In fact, I am becoming one of those myself! But it took me about 16 months.

    People fooled me into thinking that “having two actually makes things easier” But it is NOT easier. At least not in the beginning. And the second child is generally a bigger pain in the ass (both literally and figuratively) than the first. The first is a piece of cake. The first and second together had me teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown for about a year.

    But in the end I am so damn thankful that I was fooled because, now that they’re here, having two is great. I’ve learned so much about myself and about love. It’s amazing how infinite love really is. Plus, it’s a fantastic excercise in patience!

  16. Rob
    August 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    I’m a father with one 2.5yo son, and both my wife and I feel extremely certain that one is enough for us!

    Teresa, not sure if you read these comments, but after hearing your recent Carolla podcast, I wanted to contact you regarding simple paid promotional work for our product (see BubCap.com for product details and contact info). I see you have an agent and publicist, but this would hopefully be below their radar (why should they wet their beaks for doing nothing, as Adam might say).

  17. Sheila
    August 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    T – caught you on ACE… wouldn’t have missed it. I am happy / sad about your job announcement … happy for you, sad for me, Peter and Los Angeles. You already know that every employed mother listening was shaking her head in agreement or rememberance about the torture of dealing with an always-snotty-fevery-blistery-crabby baby/toddler “every damn night” as Bryan’s drop would echo… then having to be Miss Susie Sunshine, top of your game at the crack of dawn. It’s been two decades for me yet hearing your tearful voice snapped me back in a heart beat. I always say if I cannot recall the date of an event there are only two periods of time it could have occurred in either Feb 1990 to Feb 1992 or Jan 1995 to Jan 1997. That kind of bone crunching sleep deprivation is against the Geneva Conventions for many sound and humanitarian reasons. You lose your mind, your memory, your humor, your perspective and almost all of your fun when sleep deprived long term. Please don’t eliminate the possibility of another book – those of us who bought EMB, and gave it as gifts are waiting patiently for the snot and viruses to clear and the language quotient on Buster to reach the useful stage for another offering from the hilarious and twisted mind of Ms. Strasser. Most certainly consider a podcast opportunity with ACE if you can work that out.

  18. Tawny
    August 25, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    I struggled with this question for nearly14 years! My only just started High School this week while my second husband and I decided that yes, we absolutely do want a child together. So off to the micro-vas reversal Dr. with him. (This will be his 5th)

    I have spent those 14 years well, building a career, soaking up the knowledge afforded me at University. I am excited, but also scared, rightly so. I was 22 when my darling was born. I am 36 now. We are so near the empty nest we can smell it from here. So though we have committed to the project, we won’t be heartbroken to sit in our nest and invite his grandchildren to be spoiled. Yet, we also hope to have one of our own, together. How different it would be for both of us. Our maturity, our experience, our stable employ, will lend well to raising a child together.

    One rarely regrets bringing a child, but I’ve learned the decision is a difficult one. Funny thing though really, when we wed last year no asked us if we would be with child soon. It was assumed that because of our ripe old ages of 35 and 41 with 5 children between us along with his 8 grandchildren we would do bloody well to keep an empty womb.

    I’m rarely one to follow the assumptions of those who meddle and think 36 is a quite proper age for childbearing.

  19. Shauna
    August 25, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    T,
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
    It has been a joy and a blessing to have you & your blog to follow while experiencing first time motherhood.

  20. Mike
    August 24, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Yes the second one is easier because of the experience factor and yes it is harder on the marriage, but the good outweighs the bad in my opinion, plus It’s nice knowing your kid has a brother or sister to go through life with. I have a 6 yr old son and a 3 yr old daughter.

  21. Sarah
    August 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Hi Teresa!

    I just heard you on Adam’s podcast and wanted to let you know that I would LOVE to listen to you through a podcast on a regular basis. Please do it! I sooo understand your neurosis because I have the same over analytical brain only you do a much better job at wording it than I do. I was constantly nodding and agreeing with you through the entire interview. Hopefully, this doesn’t sound starker-ish, does it? Crap, I think I was over thinking again.

    • Katie
      August 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      I also think you HAVE to do a podcast! No option! I’ve missed you since your departure from the Carolla Podcast and am THRILLED at the idea of having you in my earbuds once again!

  22. It Is What It Is
    August 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m about 3/4 of the way through your book which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I share many of your feelings and observations.

    I am now 45 and my son is 4 1/2. We began trying (and by trying I mean 5 more own egg IVFs and 1 donor egg cycle) for #2 when our son was 5 months old. He is still quite the only child and we are now 10 months into the adoption wait (and 100K poorer).

    I have been very focused on #2 (and to a great degree feel like I cycled my son’s infancy away). For 4 years I have WANTED another. And, I know now that having another this far apart is going to be abundantly easier than the many friends I have who have children only 2 years apart (and I mean easier in the ways that matter to me as I well know that there are pluses to having them close in age, too).

    All that said, I am worn out from trying and from waiting and I am no longer sure it will happen for us. I’ve been working on being OK with that. Which is to say, if you are OK with one, one is OK. And, even if you are unsure and begin to try and it doesn’t happen, you can live with nostalgia that comes from wishing it were different.

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