Coping, Society

Second Thoughts on Second Thoughts

Hart had a migraine this morning. So did I. We both slept until 1:30 p.m. and are still in the headache hangover phase. I am so thankful that we don’t have a child to get out of bed, make breakfast for and get to school. I’m even glad we don’t have a dog to feed and take out to potty.

Of course we’d make it work if we had to, but it’s a blessing that we don’t when we have days like this.

Sure, we have second thoughts. We’re 30 and 31 and are watching the joy our friends’ babies bring them. The overwhelming love they feel for their children is beautiful. Even from the outside I know that it’s an astounding experience that is impossible to match by any other.

I am reading Why Do I Love These People? by Po Bronson. I picked it up as a tool to help my own writing, an example of telling other people’s stories without losing their essence. A passage on page 47 almost made me give up on it. It’s about young men and women who choose to not have children.

“They go around saying things like ‘I’m too selfish to be a mother,’ or ‘I’m not a baby person,’ or my favorite, ‘I love my life too much to do that.’ A friend of mine calls them the Petrified Forest — people who would freeze their life in time if they could. . . . When the Petrified Forest imagines parenthood, their hearts are flooded with the feeling of doors closing, not opening. . . . Every account is weighed — every account of sleep deprivation, diminished sex life, a promotion passed over, and social events missed. The Petrified Forest sits like a jury, considering the facts, making their calculations, collecting more evidence. . . .”

“But can those calculations ever truly account for the experience between a parent and a child?”

Who was he to discount the importance of such a decision? Just because he changed his mind didn’t mean I was going to. Besides, he can’t speak for me — my circumstances are special. Hmm, could this be an issue that’s too close to my heart?

Then there’s what happened this morning. In the comments of On Having Kids, my previous post on the topic, someone described having a child with such a severe form of illness as tantamount to “planned neglect.” I identified with that. It’s certainly not the case for everyone, but that’s how it feels in my life.

As I’ve said before, we’ll see what time tells. It’s a choice we have years to make, especially when adoption is an option. You can be sure that I’ll spend those next 15 years second guessing my decision and then second guessing my second thoughts. Maybe our decision will remain the same, maybe I’ll be posting pictures of my baby for you all to see.

By the way, the book is turning out to be terrific, both as an example of storytelling and as a member of a family. It’s a reminder of the capacity of the human heart to forgive transgressions or make excruciatingly painful decisions.