Friday, June 29, 2007

What the Hell Am I Thinking?

Despite being busy working on a dissertation, raising an 8-yr. old who's going on 16, and taking care of my wonderful 8-month old baby girl, I seem to be thinking A LOT about being pregnant again. Yep, I said it; it's finally out there.

Due to a variety of issues with the Pill, I've decided to go off it. I unexpectedly ended up not having any pills left this past month, and the difference has been amazing. I've had energy, a sex drive, and I've generally been much happier. Between the hormone problems that come with borderline PCOS (which I was diagnosed with when we were trying to conceive) and the fact that I'd only recently stopped taking the pill, we figured we were pretty safe in having sex this past month. As I was waiting for my period, though, I started counting the cycle days and realized we had indeed had sex on one of my peak ovulation days (had I been ovulating). So, we knew the chance was there, but weren't too worried about it. Hubby said, "If it happens, it happens." I didn't really want to be pregnant, but there wasn't anything I could do about it by then, so I just waited. After I was a couple days late, I got concerned. In the end, we were right, and we were safe: period came, not pregnant.

At my annual gynie visit, I told him of my decision to go off the Pill and explained that hubby and I want to have a third (and final) child, and we'd probably start trying next August (2008). [Reasoning: This way, I'd be pregnant while finishing diss revisions, but not showing while on the market. I'd deliver just after the Spring 08 term is over and have the summer to stay home with baby. And, we're both funded for up to three years after completion, so we wouldn't be in fear of being kicked out into the cold, cruel world.] He said IUDs are really meant for women not wanting to get pregnant at all or at least for 3-5 years, so he suggested I not go that route. Instead, he recommended that we either use condoms or the natural family planning method (or both), especially if it wasn't going to be a problem if I did end up pregnant unexpectedly. I just don't like condoms. I have this weird thing about a "condoms just aren't for married people" mantra. I know it doesn't make sense, but it just seems odd to be using a condom with my husband.

The point is that over the past month, all of this has gotten me thinking about pregnancy - again.

On the Con side of this issue:
1) I'm a busy academic mother, married to a busy academic father, and we're both living on graduate student budgets (meaning we pay the bills, but there ain't nothing left over). The only way we could afford daycare for another baby is by dipping into the financial aid we get each semester.
2) We both want to finish by next fall and plan to enter the market then as well. Hubby is fairly emphatic that dissertations must be almost finished before any baby making can begin.
3) Every once in a while, I realize that I would be lost trying to care for a newborn, while also trying to enjoy all of the baby- & toddler-hood that's left to come from Baby E. My mother has added her two cents that "it's not fair to E" to have another baby so quickly.
4) And then there's the shudder of shame I feel when just thinking about the idea of having to tell my dissertation advisor that I'm pregnant - again - while finishing my dissertation. Not that she'd judge, but I'm sure she'd be disappointed in my decision-making ability (and possibly question my committment to academia).
5) I'm still not sure if any of this is related to my previous breastfeeding issues. Not that I'll ever get completely over those feelings, but I'd hate for a decision like this to be primarily driven by them.
6) I'm not fond of the idea of having another child in daycare.

On the Pro side of the issue:
1) I really can't help the feeling that I'd love to be pregnant right now...or soon. I actually like being pregnant. I like the specialness of it. It's such a unique time and experience, and I enjoy it.
2) As I've been told time and again by long-tenured faculty, I'll never have as much time as I have right now. It only gets busier in terms of academia, especially once you're on the tenure track. From what I can tell, most places don't stop the tenure clock while women go off to have a baby.
3) As far as money goes, we have health insurance, and at least right now we aren't paying back any student loans.
4) I *think* we could both still get our dissertations written on schedule. Actually, as grad students who only teach 1 class, we're in the most flexible positions we'll be in for a looooong time. We schedule our office hours, our diss hours, etc. and we have no committee obligations.
5) I don't really believe that I'm somehow cheating my baby if I were to decide to have another one soon. Lots of people, for a variety of reasons, plan and deliver their babies close together.
6) In the end, I'm never going to let what other people think stop me from making my own reproductive decisions, whether they be advisors, faculty, family, or friends.
7) I'd get to breastfeed come hell or high water!!
8) I know my husband and I would do our best to limit time in daycare.

These lists aren't exhaustive, but they represent the kind of internal dialogue I'm having with myself. I haven't shared all of this with my husband, because I think he'd freak out. But I can't deny that these are my feelings. I really wish I knew why I'm feeling this way!! I don't have many readers, so I'm not counting on much light being shed here, but at least it's out. I've put these feelings down somewhere. Maybe they'll subside. I've been hoping they would. I keep thinking that if I just focus on my girls, stay busy with them, stay busy with my dissertation, that this quasi-yearning will go away. Maybe it's temporary? My brain and my gut seem to be pulling in opposite directions. I'll keep praying to find some guidance, and we'll see what happens.


mgm said...

Wowza, it's like you are reading my mind! I'm going through the same thing.

SuperDad wants to wait . . . a few more years. I want to have another one this coming year. If I were to get pregnant in August, I'd have the summer to be with the new baby and I'd go on the market in the fall (hopefully) having lost the baby weight.

SuperDad worries about his increasingly demanding school schedule. Since he's doing his BS in education, his work load increases whereas my time commitments decrease. I'd be primary parent. BUT . . . we'd still have more time than if we were full time teachers, one of us in academia working toward tenure. And even though we are broke, we do have some school loans to buffer us

It's hard because I can't expect him to make a decision solely to make me happy, but I fear if I don't have a second child soon, we won't have a second one. I want The Toddler to have a sibling but I don't want too much space between them.

I don't think I've done much to alleviate any of your fears, worries, etc., but just know you aren't alone!

Brandi said...

For what it's worth, my advice is to trust that it will all work out! I have two children and went through lots of ups and downs (let's have another--let's not!), both before and after the second. Give it a little more time--if you are really ready for another one, you will know. If not, you'll know!

I also have to say that I disagree with your mother: a child is never "cheated" because they have a close sibling! Those sib relationships are important and valuable. Even though it never feels like it--there is usually enough Mom to go around.

I also tend to think that both parents need to be fully on board before going ahead with enlarging the family.

One more totally unscientific "mom" theory of mine: I think I (and probably other women) "grieved" a bit after pregnancy. It is a special time and it never happens the same way again. A few days after each of mine were born I sort of "realized" that I wasn't pregnant any more. I still remember clearly how it felt to be pregnant and at times I miss it a little (then I remember what comes after and I snap right out if it!) :)

Best of luck to you.

AcadeMama said...

MGM - thank you, it does help to know I'm not the only one going through this back-and-forth..

and Brandi, your comments are thoughtful and helpful as well, especially your mentioning the "grieving" that comes after a pregnancy is over. that's feeling was definitely magnified by the breastfeeding issues I had to deal with after E's birth.

wwwmama said...

Well, I don't know if this will help, but ever since I came out on my blog as having recently started thinking about baby #2, it's been more and more on my brain. I'm in the process of interviewing for a job, and if I got it, I might try to get pregnant this year (yikes!) because then if I ended up going on the job market next year (if I hated this job), I wouldn't be pregnant while on the market. Basically for me it's about timing: if I don't do it now, will I have to wait another 3 or 4 years, etc. Part of me wishes I could get pregnant accidentally so I wouldn't have to figure out all the math and planning. (No! I take it back! We use condoms, so I'd better be careful what I wish for, as they're not always effective.)
I think you just have to sort of feel it out for a while. If you both know you want a third child, it wouldn't be such a bad thing to get pregnant now. Maybe we'll be pregnant at the same time in the future. That'd be cool

AcadeMama said...

wwwmama: We both know we want a third child, but we've both come to realize that there are practical obstacles to that right now...But who knows, when motivated, I usually find a way to get what I want. If I really want this to happen, I'll save enough so we could trade in one of our current vehicles for a similar year/mileage minivan. Viola!