Liz talks having another kid, the 5-year gap between offspring, lessons from parenthood, and birth control/following h*rny cues.
This is episode 2 of Liz Talks, topic: Liz Talks Having Another Kid
Happy podcast day, friends! So excited to be back with you today. As a reminder, In case you missed it, last week, we talked about:
Liz In A Nutshell (A Very Great Big Nutshell)
My Kids On The Internet
Pandemic Impulse Purchases
Sending Out The Bat Signal
And (of course) my Weekly Overshare
A quick follow up on the “my kids on the internet” portion: I talked in the last episode about why I don’t put my kids’ faces on the internet – about how I’m sort of inherently uncomfortable with the internet, and if my kids are anything like me, which so far it seems like they’re not (LOL), maybe they’ll feel the same in the future…so, I feel it’s best to leave that up to them. I also can’t remember whether I said this, but generally, as far as their SPECIFIC ages, I’m cagey about that too, on public and personal social media. I don’t do birthday tributes or anything adorable like that, although I probably should. I mostly will stick to labels that generally correspond to age, like my oldest is “kindergarten age” and my youngest is in the “nipple biting stage” … that kind of thing. Anyhow!
Today, we’re talking about:
- Having another kid! My Baby #2
- The 5-year gap between my kids
- 3 Things I Learned From Becoming A Parent
On to the show!
So I recently wrote an article about this thing I did in 2020, which was HAVING ANOTHER CHILD, and I thought I’d share a little of what that process was like, personally and mentally and physically, for me, along with a few things I learned in the process. There are a TON of different aspects to this, so this will just be the 101 survey course…don’t forget to check my website for my articles, most of which should appear by the time any given podcast airs (although, no guarantees), because I swear I’m so much better in print.
In particular, be sure to go to realfoodliz.com and see the screenshot of my husband’s Oura Ring stats from the moment I told him we were pregnant with baby number two. And you know what I said to him? I didn’t say “I’m pregnant” or “we’re having another baby!” I said “I got a positive pregnancy test” which in hindsight just sounds SO. AWKWARD. And is probably symptomatic of my complete inability to share feelings or strong emotions with another human in my close orbit. Just facts. Bless my husband, truly.
Before I get going, I want to first say that I know that the “decision” to have another child is NOT a “decision” for everyone and I certainly do not want to be triggering or cause any pain for folks who are struggling with growing their families. PLEASE know, I’m just sharing MY experience, and if it’s not a comfortable listen for you, that’s OK! I promise there will be LOTS of episodes of Liz Talks that will be super fun, where I don’t talk about my reproductive organs.
Okay. so, let’s talk about HOW WE GOT THERE, or “The Decision.”
For ME the will we/won’t we was a 5-ish year process that was honestly very confusing and strange for me and for us as a family. My head told me, for a long time, that we “should” probably be a one-and-done family. What that “should” meant, I’m not sure! Maybe that I didn’t think I could handle it, and due to the existence of those doubts, we probably SHOULDN’T have another? Or, the world is too scary, so we probably SHOULD be one and done? I’m not sure. I do know that whenever I would think about being one and done, my heart would always say “but, but…” and so the issue would linger for me to come back to, and go through the same process, over and over again.
Anyway – I’m not even saying my heart WANTED another kid – again, I am an emotionally stunted person who does not allow myself much room for feelings and gut instincts, I intellectualize EVERYTHING – but I just couldn’t let it go! Side note – as much as I always resisted things like personality typing, it WAS eye opening to do some of that, whether with Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies, or the enneagram, both of which I was introduced to by Diane Sanfilippo on our podcast, the balanced bites podcast – because while I don’t really hinge my entire personhood on the insight from these frameworks, it DID give me some insight into WHY I think and behave certain ways, and that enabled me to detach from certain patterns and see and explore a broader set of possibilities for myself. And that has been super valuable!
So I think one of the conclusions I reached was, I wasn’t going to really find peace in a decision until I trusted myself to come to the RIGHT decision, meaning, I had to conquer some inner stressors that were impacting my life. I convinced myself that, because I struggled MIGHTILY with anxiousness and looping thoughts and panic attacks after my first was born, maybe I shouldn’t or couldn’t reproduce again until I was back to “normal.” (Ha, ha.)
So between my first being born and when she was around 5 and started asking for a sibling, I did a lot of things to try to “fix” myself, which I suppose accounts for the 5-year gap between my kids, which has been interesting: first, because most of my friends had kids much closer together, and also because we were so far OUT of diapers and night wakings and such that it was very strange to be thrown back into that. I mean, I was playing tennis while she was at preschool, living footloose and fancy free…and beyond that, the parenting world changes SO MUCH every year, products in particular, so it was like I had never even been there before in some ways! That said, it was a cool opportunity to be fully detached from all the preconceived notions I had the first time around and just be open and look at things with fresh eyes. (Of course my eyes are not fresh, they are tired, and I am tired, but you get what I mean.) One thing that has been so sweet about this larger gap is watching my first sort of intellectualize sisterhood. Parts of it are instinctual for her, but it’s not like she’s forgotten what life was like before baby. She remembers it, and she misses it sometimes, and she can articulate that to me SOMETIMES (other times, she just loses her marbles and we try to get to the root cause). But she has adjusted beautifully, even in the pandemic-homeschooling-perpetually together year we last had. And it’s amazing to have her at an age where she’s reasonably self-sufficient, able to communicate, and able to go knock on the neighbor friends’ door and play for the afternoon rather than having to schedule a supervised play date.
Now, going back to all my attampts to “fix” myself in those 5 years between kids – I’m not saying that I actually NEEDED to be fixed – and maybe that’s what I learned, in hindsight, but I will talk more about this journey in future podcasts because damn if I didn’t do some interesting stuff to “figure myself out” – transcendental meditation, EMDR processing with a therapist, some medically supervised hallucinogen therapy, working diligently to improve my lifestyle and coping mechanisms with things like expressive writing…just so I could truly tell myself that I made the decision either way being the healthiest and most mentally clear I could be.
Again, I do plan to talk about all those things, but I’m not always sure as to the order I’m going to tackle different topics, so you can always go to askmeanything.liztalks.com and put in your requests for what you’d like me to tackle first.
But what’s FUNNY, is that my wonderful therapist, at one point, just told me I should do it. I was like – can you say that? But she knew me, she knew the situation, and she was COMPLETELY right. And interestingly, this was all pre-pandemic, pre-2020, and even with everything that has happened since, I have been able to cope. Maybe this is because of all that work I did in between, or maybe it would have always been the case. I don’t know!
ALL that said, I still wondered how I could ever make room in my heart for another kid? And I still don’t know how it’s possible. there was a process of emerging from all that deer-in-headlights and chaos right after my second was born to realizing that there was just a PLACE for her, that was always hers.The realization wasn’t instantaneous – right after giving birth I was just totally spent and glassy-eyed and my friend Jamie, who is the kind of friend who makes total sense in a room filled with placenta, the kind of friend who I’d have stop by seconds after giving birth, she says I was basically on drugs (and I was not, as I had a home birth, which I will also talk about on the podcast), and for the first 6 weeks I was sort of terrified of nighttime coming and questioning all our choices…but the dust settled, and now we have this second child who has never questioned *her* belonging, which means *I* certainly have no reason to question it! Maybe it’s more of a loaves and fishes scenario, where whatever love you need is what becomes available to you.
But one theme to some of my struggles as a parent, that I feel like I can articulate now, is that my experience doesn’t always seem to match up with what I see and hear about. So I wanted to write and speak to that through my channels. Because when I’m not in the throes of a panic about (fill in the blank) – and these panics still happen, even though I said that I’m much calmer and much more able to cope, they still happen – when I’m not in the depths of something, I truly do intellectually and spiritually grasp one of the first lessons I want to share from Kid #2: that EVERYONE’S EXPERIENCE IN PARENTING, and AS A PARENT, is different. And that’s hard in a culture that values sameness, and frameworks, and best practices, and sometimes even brow-beating people into conformity. It’s really hard. But it’s ok. And this is by no means my only example of this, but here’s one: my experience with birth was NOT necessarily this empowering, mama lion thing. I was lying there like a glassy-eyed fish right after birth, not feeling that OMG my baby! moment like you see in the birth videos or from the goddess-like birthing influencers AT ALL. I have a video of it and I honestly HATE it. That’s the honest truth. And that’s OK! Not feeling those first golden moments. Struggling through the first 6 minutes or 6 weeks or even 6 years, or feeling like you’re going-through-the-motions, or like you’re on a long walk across the coals, or that the entire experience is beyond grueling, or that you’re completely out-of-control, or that you’re in a perpetual tectonic vortex…just feeling off, or different, or alone, or like you’re possibly wrong about some REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS…none of this makes you less suited for parenthood. It means that THIS PARTICULAR experience of parenthood is uniquely yours, and that however it cracks you open might be the way you learn that you’re more capable than you ever thought possible. This is the experience of experiencing. That might mean getting help, which I did in several different forms after my first. It might mean saying you can’t do it and figuring it out from rock bottom. It might mean making decisions you never thought you’d make so you can survive. Something in this will shape you in the way you need to be shaped, if you literally let go of any preconceived notions you had about any of the above – getting help, deciding to sleep train so you don’t wreck your car on the way to daycare drop-off, what have you. (And yes, I’ll have a podcast one day about sleep training. And I promise, it won’t be what you think)
So this is a bit of what I wrote about on the blog – this idea that you might look around you and feel that you’re the only one making certain decisions or feeling a certain way about (fill-in-the-blank). And while it’s unlikely that you’re truly alone in the world, it sure might feel like it. To take some of the “wrongness” away from this feeling (#enneagram6), just remember: though it’s unlikely that you’re really alone on your island, it’s actually okay to be “the only one.” As Michael Scott would say: “…society sucks. I don’t even consider myself a part of society.”
What I’m saying is: it’s okay to have a completely different parenting experience from your friends or family. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. In a lot of cases, it means you’re thinking deeply and truly feeling the weight of your responsibilities. More people should be like that!
This is not easy in a society that, AGAIN, values sameness and conformity, that sometimes seeks to SHAME parents into sameness and conformity. But you can handle it! I think the only requirement is that you give other parents – maybe parents that YOU don’t “get” or understand – and not just light “oh, weird that they use a stroller when I prefer a baby carrier” type stuff. I mean the MEATY stuff. The stuff that you believe with all your heart is wrong. Extend them the same grace that you’re learning to give yourself. In fact, that’s good practice. Sometimes it’s easier to extend grace to others than to give it to yourself. So start with the easy stuff and work your way up to the harder stuff.
Parenthood cracks you open in ways you never expected and never knew you needed, and forces you to transform, often painfully and in ways you resist until you realize it might just be less prolonged agony to just submit to it. I don’t know that I wanted to hear any of that before I had kids, but now that I’m in that club, there it is. And listen: nobody would do it if these little muffins were not literally the most delicious, darling things on the planet. Because they are! This might be silly, but I have this line from the Rolling Stones song that I often repeat to myself…”You get what you need.” I really feel like there are circumstances where we need to trust that we might not be getting what we expect, what we want, what we think we SHOULD get, but we ARE getting what we need.
And I think that just about covers it. The other 2 lessons, which I talk about on my website, are really simple, and I think they’re inherent to what I’ve already talked about here: The second lesson is that “Becoming” a parent is a process, not an instantaneous shift; and the third is that you have to learn to trust yourself. The latter I think we already covered. With regards to the former, If you’re like me, and you didn’t feel some magical transition into parent-ness, you’re not alone. So my solution is: Try to notice the little things, the day to day things, that are PARENT things. Did you just KNOW that your baby had something dangerous in her mouth? Did you remember the extra lovey for the long car ride? Did you anticipate a need before it even popped up? Did you get out of bed this morning and feed your child? Then you, my friend, are are parent, and I encourage you to bear witness to those wins because THOSE comprise parenthood. Parenthood isn’t a feeling or something you ascend to after birthing a baby. It’s the sum total of those little, everyday actions that you take even when you feel like you’re clueless, unqualified, and flying blind.
And also: if you did have that instantaneous shift, that is freaking AWESOME and I am fully in awe of you! No jealousy, just respect and admiration.
Before we close, PLEASE, join me, message me, communicate with me! Email is best – join my email crew by going to liztalks.com – you can always reply to ANY of my emails – or join me on instagram @realfoodliz.
That’s it for episode 2. Stick with me as we talk, food, beauty, families, babies, birth, exercise, friendship, marriage, and LIFE! Thanks for listening, friends!