Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Having a Baby to Benefit my Child with Down Syndrome?
The past few days I have been obsessing over the question of whether to try for another baby. Stressing and obsessing, having dreams about taking pregnancy tests and going into labor.
I just don't know if I want to have another child.
While planning for children, I always said I wanted two, so my kids would have a sibling. My sisters are my closest friends and the sibling relationship is so important to me. Yet, in the back of my mind I was thinking.... "Well, maybe one would be enough for me."
After Cora was born I thought that of course we'd want another child. Everything I heard and read discussed how beneficial it can be for a child with developmental delays to have a sibling.
We originally discussed starting to try when Cora turned two years old. I mean, if we do have another child I don't want them to be too far apart, and I am not getting any younger. Well, Cora just turned two. And after searching myself up and down for the past few weeks, I think the only conclusion I can come to is that I'm just not ready.
There are so many reasons I don't feel ready. Most of those reasons can be waved away by parents who've been there and for whom it's turned out just fine. She's not sleeping well and never has. We are exhausted. She is still quite dependent on nursing and I don't want her to rush to wean. She is so, so attached to me. I love the one-on-one time I have with her, helping build her interactive and social skills and taking her to activities on a whim. I love having the freedom to just focus on her.
I know that having a second child could be a great thing for her. I see photos of other children with their siblings and then I start waffling again.
But what if it's not a great thing for her? What if we have another child with even more significant needs than Cora has had? What if we have a child that doesn't interact with her or who interacts negatively? Perhaps that's not likely, but it could still happen. What if we choose to have another child solely for Cora's benefit and it doesn't end up benefiting her?
There is always a lot of talk on the Down syndrome boards about having another child after the birth of a child with Down syndrome. For some it's whether and for others it's when. Many fear having another child with Ds. Some want the opportunity to have a typically-developing child or to help eclipse some of the pain surrounding their child's birth. Many more want to provide their child with a sibling. I can understand all these things. Part of me would like the experience of parenting a typical child. Part of me wants to have a baby at home and not have to send her off to the NICU and watch her have open heart surgery. And part of me would even like to have another child with Ds.
In my heart, I think I would be sad if Cora never had a sibling, regardless of Down syndrome and whether it will be good for her social, cognitive and physical development.
But I don't think that having another baby just for Cora is a good enough reason. It's something that my husband and I need to want for ourselves and for the whole family.
So for now I'm putting it on the back burner. I hope that in time I will know what I really want. I don't expect all my doubts and concerns to disappear, but if we do decide to have another child, I want it to be because it's what we all want.