I’ve always known I wanted more than one child. My husband and I both grew up in two-child households, and most days, that number seems ideal to me. As my mother says, “two eyes, two hands, two kids.” And as A nears her second birthday, family and friends have started to ask, “Are you thinking about Baby #2?”
Well, sure. Of course we’re thinking about another child. But for so long, my life felt incredibly overwhelming. I loved motherhood, but the exhaustion that was a consequence of the constant lack of sleep (when A was waking up eight times a night) and her sometimes challenging temperament both made me feel like another baby was way out on the horizon. I knew I couldn’t even begin to consider getting pregnant again until A was sleeping through the night and I had had a few months (maybe years!) to catch up on all the rest I had lost. Each time I would grumble to my mother about how overwhelmed I sometimes felt, she would remind me that there was a reason why my brother and I were spaced four and a half years apart.
But then it happened: several months ago, A did start sleeping through the night fairly consistently, and I began to feel whole again. The sleep made me feel like I could think again. I also didn’t wake up every morning looking like death. I didn’t even have to go to bed at 8 pm, which meant I could also carve out a little sliver of time for myself and my marriage at the end of the day. And it was around that time that I started to wonder what was holding me back from Baby #2?
Maybe it’s the fact that, some days, I still feel like something’s gotta give, and I need to recognize my own needs much more often than I do.
Certainly, another thing is knowing, now, what an incredible commitment a child is. Am I really ready to be up every two hours nursing again. All the spit-up, all the diaper rash, all the breast pads… And how will I be able to balance that with the needs of a toddler—a very active toddler?
What about the financial considerations? We’re down to one income so that I can be at home, and now we want to feed four mouths with my husband’s paycheck? Obviously, lots of families can manage this, but are we ready for the financial sacrifices (goodbye new iPhones!), especially with preschool charges on the horizon?
What about A? Is it too soon to take some of the focus off of her, because we all know she’ll at least temporarily lose the spotlight when a new baby arrives. And what if I, too, have a difficult pregnancy, and she can’t rely on me the way she always has?
Will I ever feel ready for another baby? I’m not really sure. I haven’t felt those pangs that other moms describe when they see a newborn, the ones that are supposed to tell you that you’re “ready.” Will practicality be the deciding factor? I’m still young-ish, but as I approach my 29th birthday, maybe my biological clock will dictate the spacing of my children.
Is there such thing as ideal spacing, anyway? My husband seems to think that the closer together the children, the better—the more bonded they’ll be—but I’ve known plenty of closely spaced siblings that can’t stand each other. And spacing our children just 18 months apart, as my husband and his sister are spaced, wouldn’t have worked for my sanity.
Maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing. But can you really “overthink” bringing a new life into the world??
What are your thoughts? Which factors impacted/are impacting your decision to add another child to your family?