Monday, May 10, 2010

The Courage (or Stupidity) to Try Again

Bar Mitzvahzilla at six months
After I had Bar Mitzvahzilla - all one and a half pounds of him - things were a little crazy around here for a couple years. There were the ten weeks he stayed in the hospital, the whole coming home with an apnea monitor and oxygen tubing thing, there was my postpartum depression that was so psychotic and so delayed, only hitting after he came home, that in some ways I still feel like if I write about it, it may come roaring back. There was the fact that, trained to sleep, or not sleep, on a hospital schedule, he didn't sleep through the night for a year and a half.

Bar Mitzvahzilla at one month
(actually lying down)
Yet, a year after he was born, when he finally looked like other babies and weighed what other year-old babies weighed, Husband and I started trying for number two. One of my sisters-in-law said to me, "Why would you want to go through that again? Why can't you just be happy with one? What if it happens again?" She was talking about the preemie thing. She had no idea that the only thing that terrified me about trying again was actually the postpartum depression.

I ignored her of course, because what if none of it happened?

Maybe I'm just stupid. Or maybe I'm courageous. Or maybe I just didn't believe that it could happen to me again, but all I knew at the time was that I felt like there was one more baby out there for me. There was a certain feeling of incompleteness right then and then there was completeness when she was born. I was prepared to try my best. And my best was pretty darn hard. And then - only then - if it wasn't meant to be I would happily raise my one child.

I gave birth to a little, old-fashioned Yiddishy looking baby. Anytime I was out among Jewish ladies, they'd  rave over her and remark upon her Yiddishe punim (little Jewish face). For fun I used to put a babushka (scarf) on her head and she always looked just like a Russian peasant baby from the 1800s, ready to be swaddled and put in a wooden cradle by a fireplace in a log cabin.

How did I get this little antique-looking child, one straight out of a medieval book of fairy tales? A plump, happy child, ready to eat the house? How did I get a child who slept so long and hard that I used to put my hand on her chest to make sure she was still breathing? She was my bonus, of course, after Bar Mitzvahzilla almost killed us.

A tranquil baby. A moony, dreamy baby. A little girl baby, the perfect companion for her brother, the courageous preemie who beat his way out of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit and taught his parents a little something about determination.

Do you have any baby pictures that you love above all others? Do you ever think your kids are throwbacks to some long-ago relatives? Were your kids different kinds of babies - difficult and easy?

This post is part of Momalom's Five for Ten series. Go to their site, meet Sarah and Jen, and link your blog up!


  1. Wow, Linda. This is most definitely a story of courage. I love how you say that you just knew there was another baby out there, in the universe, waiting for you. Both your little ones are adorable!

    I'm new here, thanks to Momalom. Of course, I recognize your name from comments on other blogs - but now I understand what Mitzvahzilla means! Ha, just hilarious! Love it.

  2. What precious photos. She does look like some old fashioned baby getting off the boat at Ellis Island. And he? Well, too beautiful for words. I'm in awe of what you went thru, from my view point as both mom and nurse. I also had PPD the first time around and feared it above all else. It never returned, thank goodness.

  3. Such cuties! When I look back I have to knock on wood and appreciate that in the scheme of things, my boys were relatively easy. Note use of the word 'relatively.' But not easy enough to have a third, although my husband would have done it.

  4. Your poor baby boy... he looks so fragile. And your little girl... I see exactly what you mean. I can just imagine her with the scarf. My mother says that I never cried. Ever. If I cried there was a problem... dirty diaper. Something. There was never just crying for no reason. My brother must have had colic (sp?). He cried non-stop for the first few months. Mom says that if she'd had him first that there would never have been a me. He'd have been an only child. I admire your determination to have your second one after all of the angst over the first. I suppose what is meant to be, will be.

  5. Wow! The depression thing sounds awful. I'm so sorry. But he is about to enter high school and all those sleepless nights will begin all over again! Only kidding.

    Your second blessing made it well worth your courage and you strike me as one courageous person!

  6. Thank goodness for your courage. Just think of what you'd have missed. She's so beautiful, and poor Bar looks so delicate and vulnerable.

    Both of my children were underweight and looked like Gollum at birth. Quite sad.

  7. I swear, we lead parallel lives. I find more similarities the more I read. First of all, he looks so tiny and fragile! Wow... but he's adorable, and you are right, your daughter is beautiful She looks like one of those rosy, plump antique prints of babies. Just gorgeous!

    I had PPD with my first... the psychotic kind like you describe. My son, although perfectly healthy at birth, cried all the time. I'm not exaggerating, he literally cried all the time.. so much so that his pedi said it couldn't be colic, because that eventually stops. He just called said he was a fussy baby and could provide no explanation why. My son, too, was 18 months old before he ever slept through the night. 28 months of no sleep and constant crying and I never got help for my PPD. Magically, at 2, he turned into a dream. We feared the same thing happening again and put off having another child, although, in my heart I knew I wanted another. When Noah turned 3, we got pregnant again... and I gave birth to a beautiful girl who did have a health scare, but was an angel baby.. she slept from the beginning and was always happy. When she hit 2, she completely changed too. Now, she's loud, she's demanding and difficult. I don't know, something about age 2. And, for the record, I had PPD with my daughter too, but not the psychotic kind and I got help pretty quickly which shortened its duration immensely.

  8. sorry I always write a novel in your comments.... and that was supposed to be "18 months of no sleep" rather than "28"... see? It seemed much longer than it actually was. ha!

  9. So beautiful - the post, the pictures, the babies. And so worth the risks involved!

  10. My babies were healthy, strapping boys but my labor and subsequent c-section with baby #1 was scary as hell.

    He was three weeks early, and after 40 hours of labor, he was delivered by a c-section. He had decided to turn into my pelvic bone, and had the cord wrapped his neck three times, wearing the rest of it like a crown. We could have lost him.

    However, the second I laid eyes on him, I knew that I wanted another. There was no doubt in my mind, regardless of what fear those 40 hours held for me.

    Beautiful story of how we can overcome just about anything.

  11. One of my friends calls her last daughter her "dessert". Good for you for facing your fears and going for it again! It says a lot about how bad the depression was for ranking ahead of all of those needles. My fear was that I'd have a boy and those chances were too high, so I just stuck with my little Shana Punim. It was so great to see you in the flesh on Saturday. Happy Mother's Day!

  12. Precious! They are gorgeous and you are one courageous mama! Parenthood is a leap of faith in any situation, but yours took a lion share of courage. Congratulations on beating your fears, and for being rewarded with your darling babies.

  13. my oldest only had a little time under an oxygen hood. But she looked like a little fairy princess.
    She was just beautiful. Clear skin, and big brown eyes..but she had the worst time from 1 to 4 months with colic.
    cry cry cry...cry cry cry...till I wo uld cry.
    I was 19.....I was so young.
    My second...came out healthy as a horse...and as big.
    she had skin problems and red hair and CRADLE CAP.
    I was horrified. I always thought cradle cap came with babies that weren't bathed...but nope.

    Every night I would sit there with a soft brush and baby oil and just do little circles to get it all off only to find it back in a day or two.
    She had reactions on her first set of shots and my oldest never bad we had to stop immunizing her.
    Now my oldest is 16 with bad skin and the idea of looking like a princess is a faraway thought.
    My big strapping girl is very tiny and petite and wears tutus and dances ballet.

  14. Beautiful words! Thank you for sharing your courage, Linda!

  15. Oh that Yiddishy baby! I mean ... Courage and parenthood are inextricably linked. I know what it feels like to not feel "finished" having children. I know what it feels like to have your sanity questioned for wanting another. My circumstances are very different from yours--no preemies, for instance--but I think I know where the courage came from to do what you felt so strongly must be done. What a wonderful success story.

  16. I think it says it all that you can talk about it now. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

  17. It is ironic that inorder to experience the pleasure and fullfillment of a family, you have to go through so much pain and anguish. The thing that fascinated me, we want to do it over and over again. There is such a high and satisfaction from making it over a hurdle, especially a life and death hurdle. And then to look at Mitzvazilla, and know he has no idea what his life has put you through. Courageous, stupid, surivor, love, pain: I would never go without any of it. I love that you admit, with such honesty that it is toss up between stupidity and being courageous. I think the most courageous moments are often looked at in hindsight as "what the f@## was I thinking",when others think ,"wow, she is so strong". Great comparison, and one that I am so glad you bring to light. Nicely written.

  18. What a lovely, lovely post, Linda. I cannot imagine what it must be like to get through those long months of dealing with a preemie. That in itself is so courageous. As for number 2?

    Every pregnancy is a leap of faith - yours, perhaps more so. And yes, courageous. And look how it paid off.

  19. Linda, I have been really curious about your whole experience and am so glad you posted it! When my little brother was born (the preemie one), my parents were sure they were finished. For whatever reason, though, my mom couldn't have the surgery at that time. Amazingly enough, my mom got pregnant 6 months later. Thus, my little sister Alivia was born. Yes she was a preemie but she was meant to be in our family. After that, my mom KNEW she was done. KNEW it. That is what I am looking for with my family. I KNOW that I am not finished. I don't know how many I will have but I will know when I am done.

  20. Ahh, Linda, this post speaks to me on so many levels, especially the idea of completion that comes when you meet your second child. I applaud your bravery to take that leap of faith once again, even after your medical adventures with Bar Mitzvahzilla and your own experience with PPD. I'm glad you were rewarded with the Yiddish angel baby! (And she's just as angelic now, right?) :)

  21. You don't have to look too far back for my kids' look-a-likes. My daughter looks just like me, my 2nd has both his grandpas, and the last four are spitting images of their father. I guess I used all my genes up with the 1st.

    It would be especially hard to try again after the first was so traumatic. Way to be courageous!!

  22. Swoon! Your babes are beautiful and perfect and the world just wouldn't be the same without them. Parenthood is a journey through courage, no?

  23. Quite an ordeal you went through with your first, I'm glad he's thriving now. My first came out big enough, but still ready to deprive of all sleep, colicky and impossible to soothe. And then the second came out literally smiling like the Buddha. I love them both, as we all love all our kids, but I was rather glad to have the hard thing first.

    Despite his Buddha nature, my younger one's big fear for several years was of some mysterious woman he feared he be kidnapped by in the park, wearing a babushka. I always thought it was either a past life memory from the Shtetl, or a dread of Baba Yaga... or maybe he's destined to meet your girl one day and just wasn't ready at four :)

  24. That was quite an experience you went through with your son. He looks so tiny, even at one month of age, I am amazed he caught up so fast and at 12 months looked like other year old babies. A miracle indeed. Your daughter was a beautiful baby. You were so courageous deciding to have another baby after going through so much, but you are proof that if something is worth having in life it is worth being brave and fighting for

  25. What sweet, sweet babies :)
    When you feel the call, it's so hard to deny. And I think it's rarely stupidity to try again :) when the intentions are in the right place!
    (and thank you so much for your comment - it's such a journey! Thank you for the encouragement!)

  26. Wow. Going through it again after the heart-wrenching first year you had just endured with Bar is absolutely an act of courage. That leap of faith you took was huge yet somehow you knew that it was the right thing for you, that your baby girl was waiting.

    Me? We waited 7 years to have our second. We love our first baby girl so much. She was enough for the time being. Sometimes almost too much and we were young. Now that we have two it is better than I ever could have imagined. Here's to all kinds of brave.

  27. Having a preemie is most definitly a different kind of parenting experience. When we adopted our twins,born at 28 weeks, each was little more than two pounds. My husband and I took a leap of faith, as we wer so tired of waiting for a baby and we always wanted three children. This was our chance.

    And our 7.5 year old daughter wanted both a brother and a sister.

    People looked at us like we were walking earthly angels. Honestly, it waas not our children who were lucky, but my DH and I. We have been blessed.

    And out twins finally started sleeping through the night at 7 years old!

    My favorite photo is on our fireplace mantel. It is my DD holding both of her babies, and the look of love in her eyes as she gazes at her brother wrenches my heart.