Earlier in 2012, I had my first memoir/humor book published called , published by Chalice Press. The book follows my wife second pregnancy with our daughter, Zoe (now 3 years old) from conception (more or less) to birth. Suffice it to say I was less than enthralled by the idea of getting pregnant again, so this book was my way of dealing with my own neuroses.
At one point, my wife, Amy, asked me what my biggest fears were about having another kid. So, like any good writer, I compiled an entire list of worries. Below is the first half of the list, with the final five and the conclusion to the chapter coming tomorrow.
Dont ever kill me, OK? Killing me is not safe.
Mattias, 3 years, 0 months
Whats your greatest fear about having another baby?
I dont think Amy was just goading me when she asked me this back in the early stages of impending double fatherhood, but she knows were both pretty good worriers (though Id argue shes better at it than I am, and since Im the one writing this book, well assume shed agree with me).
Talk about an open invitation to worry! I dont spend a lot of energy worrying about day-to-day matters; Im more of a saver. But when something comes along thats really worth worrying about, you can bet Ill draw down that worry account a bit.
After Amy asked me the fateful question, I started compiling a mental list. I figure Ill lay out at least my top ten here for your edification, or at least for simple amusement:
#10. We could have twins: I cant base this on any real facts, but it seems Ive read or heard or seen somewhere the older people are, the greater chance they have of multiple births. I suppose I could go look this up and settle it in my own mind one way or the other, but its a lot more fun to worry about it. Twins dont run in the bloodlines on either side of the family, but thats all the more reason to worry about it, right? Arent we probably due?
Imagining a baby in each arm is just about enough to make me pass out. And that doesnt even begin to touch the effect it would have on my wife, who plans to breastfeed as long as she can. Hell, Id never see those puppies again. Ill be lucky if they dont fall off, right on to the floor, by the time the twin suckers are done with them.
#9. He/she could end up like me: All things considered, I think I have an amazing life, but it hasnt been all wine and roses getting to this point. I may tell you more about the summer I spent in lockdown at a psychiatric hospital, and the years I mixed my anti-anxiety meds with beer and weed, but suffice it to say, for the sake of my worry list, there are significant parts of myself that I have no interest in passing on to my progeny.
Its really too early to know if Mattias will struggle with some of the same problems that I hadthat I still havebut I am pretty sure that if he does, I can cover therapy for one kid.
Add another one to the mix and, considering my history, it seems a little bit like playing psychological Russian roulette.
#8. He/she could end up like any number of our relatives: I know I run the risk of bruising some egos with this statement, but most people in my family, or Amys family, will readily admit that we have a plenitude of addicts, going back many generations. My dad and I havent spoken in more than two years due to problems revolving around addiction and related issues. His father started most mornings with a cocktail, and he found his mothermy great-grandmotherin the garage of their house after she had shot herself.
My grandmother on my moms side has been known to rely heavily on an exotic combination of prescription pain meds and muscle relaxers and was prone to washing them down with some white zinfandel, at least back before she and my grandfather moved into my moms house. Ill leave Amy to spill her own beans, but more than a handful of her immediate relatives have gratefully found a new life in recovery, while others arguably still actively practice self-destructive behavior.
I dont want to sound like Im knocking addicts; on the contrary, Amy and I tend to love them. In fact, those who have struggled with addiction and lived to tell about it often are the most charming, funny, and interesting people I know. On the other hand, that addiction is always there, just under the surface, and is most likely to rear its head when ignored or minimized.
We go to great lengths to teach Mattias solid judgment, self-care, moderation, and recognizing the difference between needs and wants. But every now and then, I see these obsessive little glimmers in his personality that make me wonder if he has that same unscratchable itch. To witness a child succumb to the ravages of addiction is about the worst fate I can imagine, and not unlike the whole depression-anxiety I have, it seems a bit like were tempting fate with another one.
#7. We cant afford it: I know, who ever has room in their budget for another kid? Of course, when priorities present themselves like this you find a way, but the financial stress can be a killer. Maybe we ought to move, sell a car, or donate plasma. If being a sperm donor was a cash cow industry, I might go that route since Im obviously not planning to use any of my man-juice for my own purposes anymore.
This doesnt even begin to take care of birth-related expenses. With both of us being self-employed, we have crappy insurance, to put it mildly. We have a $5, 000 annual deductible and, oh, did I mention maternity isnt covered? Brilliant.
#6. Birth defects: If Im going to put my worries out there, I cant leave this one out. Im going to be thirty-seven years old, after all, by the time this baby arrives, and Amy will be thirty four. Though were not technically considered to fall in the highest-risk age brackets yet, were not that far from it. And it doesnt help that, a few months ago, some close friends of ours gave birth to a daughter with Downs Syndrome. Like them, we would love the kid no matter what and, also like them, wed find the good in the unexpected. But for now, before we know any better, all I end up doing is worrying about it.
I know that part of this concern comes from my career before I started working with nonprofits, back when I worked in clinics for kids with learning disabilities. I saw kids with everything from mild dyslexia to autism, cerebral palsy, and worse. There was one family in particular that I remember who had three of the sweetest kids Id ever met in my life. The thing is, all three had an incredibly rare disease that not only affected their development but also was expected to prove fatal for all of them before they graduated high school.
Nevertheless, the parents insisted on trying to provide every opportunity to help their childrens lives be as normal as possible, and I felt blessed to be a part of those hopeful moments. But every day they didnt make it to the clinic because the buildup of fluid in their brains caused migraines or made them lose feelings in their limbs, it tore me up inside.
It was all I could do to hold it together for those three little guys, and they werent even my kids. What the hell will I do if I have one of my own?
(Part two of this two-part article will be published tomorrow, October 27th, 2012. For more about the memoir, , click the link on the title.)
Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician and spoken word artist. He co-founded Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, in 2004.He is the creator and editor of and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. Christian has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called . Visit www.christianpiatt.com, or find him on or Facebook.