Deciding to have a second or subsequent child is a no brainer for many couples. However, once you have had a child with special needs, this decision becomes a lot more complex.
Thinking About TTC a Second Child
I don't know if there's something in the water or what, but it seems like all of the women at my son's school (teachers and parents alike) are either pregnant or have just added a new baby to their family. It made me start thinking recently about how my husband and I had planned to have had another baby by this point since we wanted to have two children that were close in age. Obviously with Brody's autism, that plan got put on hold, or maybe I should say changed entirely.
Over the past two years, I've found myself absolutely adamant that I am done having kids and don't want another baby. I'm still not sure if I truly don't want another child or if I'm just terrified by all of the uncertainties and unanswered questions that would come along with a new addition.
The first thing that always pops into my mind is the level of care that my son currently needs. He seemingly keeps us busy 24/7 and isn't really at any stage of independance. Unlike parents of neurotypical children, I have no idea when or if that fact might change. He also still does not sleep through the night most of the time. How on earth would I care for a new baby? How would any of us sleep? I feel certain that someone would end up getting neglected along the way. Some days my son is so needy that I feel guilty taking five minutes to clean up the kitchen or run a load of laundry, and to be honest that makes the thought of having another baby just feel downright selfish to me.
Then, of course, there is the thought of how to cope with the possibility of a second child having autism, both emotionally and financially. Part of me feels that if I did things differently and avoided things that I feel are toxins and triggers, I could eradicate the possibility of autism in a second child. The other part of me knows that none of my suspicions are 100% confirmed and it's quite possible that genetics could be at play more than we are aware. Even if I thought that I had enough patience to care for two children with special needs (which I'm not sure of), how on earth would we afford it? We have gone broke paying for equipment, therapists, and now an almost unheard of amount of money for Brody to be able to attend a decent school.
On the other hand, Brody sure does love other children. He wants to hug and kiss every other child that he meets and loves being in the company of other little ones. And this will sound awful, so let me first say that Brody is my greatest gift and I wouldn't change him for the world...but sometimes I think that I would like to experience what it is like to have a "typical" child. Maybe to know what it feels like for everything to not be SO hard, to see the wonder of a child who experiences those milestones that I would never take for granted.
Despite all of this, sometimes I think that I'm missing something. I see families every day that have or are in the process of having another child that will have a big brother or sister with special needs, and they seem to be nothing but elated about it. I envy that. Do they know something that I don't? Maybe they are braver than me, or more optimistic? I always want to ask them how they manage it all, but that seems like an offensive question, so I don't. I can't say whether or not Brody will ever have a brother or sister, but I do know that now is definitely not the time.
In the mean time, since hopefully you all know that I'm sincerely wondering and not trying to be offensive, I'll ask those of you who are in this situation...how do you do it?
Have you already had or are you planning to have more children if you already have a child with special needs? How will you or did you come to your decision?
Previous Special Needs Living posts from aurorabunny:
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