Monday, March 18, 2013

Some recent reading

Today's dilemma at the New York Times' Motherlode blog: "I Want More Children, He Doesn't." Ahh, the luxury, the good fortune of having easily produced two children -- and knowing (or at least, believing) that only that your husband's wishes stand in the way of having the two more you have your heart set on.  

Of course, I know family size is also a point of contention for some couples in the ALI community. In most of our cases, though, our dream of having a family of any size, let alone the size we once might have though ideal, is tempered by the harsh reality of what's physically possible. On top of all the questions the author & her husband are struggling with, infertile couples must add these:  how long should we chase this dream? When is enough enough? Is it time to stop? Should we try again? Do we have the time, the money, the physical, mental and emotional reserves of strength to go through this again?  Not all couples find themselves agreeing on the answers. 

I can sympathize to some extent with the author's desire to realize the family of her dreams. The gap between the family we always wanted and the family we wind up having is something that I think we all struggle with, although perhaps it's harder for some of us to accept than others. I think what bothered me most about this article, though, was the author's assurance that:
"It’s one thing if a higher power – call it God, biology or nature – determined that two children was the right number for us. We would feel as blessed as we are today. Absent that intervening force, this battle between husband and wife ends with a “winner” and “loser.” We stand our posts on opposite ends of the spectrum, waiting for the other to cave."

It's very easy to say -- secure in your fertility (or assumption thereof) -- having already produced two children -- that if God, biology or nature decided two was enough, and conceiving a third proved difficult/impossible, you'd accept it and stop, end of story. I'm willing to bet there are more than a few people out there in the ALI community who thought that too -- until they couldn't conceive that second or third (or even first) child they wanted so very much.  

It's a difficult question and I wish the author & her husband luck in resolving it.

It's early going in the comments section, but one reader has already cautioned the writer that "things don't always go like you think they will."  Amen to that. (And of course, someone has already advised her to "get a clue, get a grip -- and if you really HAVE to have another child -- in your own household or elsewhere -- ADOPT.")(!)

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An article in the Sunday New York Times -- titled Mother of all Comedy Topics -- explored the recent preponderance of fertility & pregnancy topics in the movies. "For a while Hollywood was into bromance," the article begins.  "Now there’s momance." Hardy-har-har-har. :p

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Yes, I wanted children. (And I like holidays.) But when I read stuff like this plea from Rage Against the Minivan -- "Let's Bring the Holidays Down a Notch" -- I sometimes think that maybe it's for the best that I didn't. I don't think I could handle the pressure or measure up to the Martha Stewart model of competitive parenting that seesm to be in vogue today. :p  Thanks to Msfitzita and Ellen K for bringing this one to my attention!


  1. Glad you liked the article. My mom said sarcastically, "I didn't know the leprechaun brought gifts until I joined Facebook." D. and I are struggling against the tide of "more is better." The amount of trinkets and candy that follow the girls into the house -- I'm not buying this stuff! -- is unreal. D. gets really frustrated because his mom is a hoarder and his impulse is to sweep everything from the counter into the garbage!

    Thankfully the parenting culture at our school is pretty low-key. At the Valentine's Day party, all the kids save 2 or 3 handed out store-bought valentines with some cartoon character on them; only 2 were handmade. Parents are pretty blunt about not being able to afford this or that (for example, lavish birthday parties where the whole class is invited). We're all broke from paying tuition. : P

    I'll have to read the Motherlode article. It is off-putting how much people talk about family size under the illusion that it can be always controlled. I think at least twice last week I was asked about whether we are going to try for a boy. I can see how it could drive a rift in a marriage. More is better, indeed... (my own sarcasm)

    I remember reading somewhere -- maybe in Ali Domar's Conquering Infertility -- that if you were struggling to have even a fifth child, that should still be treated as secondary infertility. I'm not lining up with sympathetic wishes, though. : P

  2. The big 21st century news story: someone didn't get everything they wanted out of life.

  3. I'm with you Loribeth. That comment assuming that she would be okay if she couldn't have any more children really bugged me. She seems to think it is a message you get sent through the mailbox. That one day you are told "no more children" rather than the months or years of trying, of stress, and often of loss too, before the message arrives. Sometimes you have to write the message yourself too.

    This article annoyed me more too - in that she said, in a rather holier-than-thou tone, that she was raised to believe that "character is developed through adversity." But she has selected the adversity she wants - which kind of means it's not adversity at all. True adversity would be making an honest effort to come to a consensus with her husband, and face the prospect that she wouldn't "win." At least she acknowledged that "winning" means that the other partner in the marriage "loses" and that is not a desirable outcome for any of them (or any new child either). Like you, I hope they can resolve this.

    I am so glad I don't have to get involved with all the mompetition. I would be torn I know between wanting to do the best I could, and hating the competition and one-up-manship/womanship.

  4. Thanks for all your links (here) and on my blog. The common denominator seems to be conflict and stress and lots of misaligned expectations.