When my husband, Matt, and I decided we wanted to start a family, we were beyond excited and spent countless hours envisioning our lives with our son or daughter.
Now that our son is approaching his second birthday this fall, we’ve started to consider having a second baby, but this time we aren’t as smitten with the idea as we were the first time around.
Don’t get me wrong; I love being a mom. Reggie is an incredible little boy and brings an immeasurable amount of joy to our lives. He is often the highlight of my day and watching him grow and learn is more rewarding than I can put into words.
However, being a mom is also HARD. And now that I’m a (somewhat) more experienced one, I have reservations about adding headcount to our family.
Here are my concerns about having a second baby, not ranked in any specific order:
- Finances: $1,200 a month for daycare… doubled? Ouch. Not only is that a price tag closer to our mortgage payment, the idea of depleting ourselves financially makes me question the quality of life we’ll be able to give Reggie and his potential sibling(s). I always hope to provide him with rich experiences and education. Will that be possible if we add on the cost of another baby?
- Time: During the morning get-out-the-door rush, I find myself contemplating what it would be like if I also had to ready an infant for the day – and on less sleep! Could I function? Would I ever wash my hair again? Would I throw a Lunchable in Reggie’s lunch box in a desperate attempt to make it to my desk by 9 am?
- Presence: This one is huge for me. Because I’m a career-mom, I don’t have a ton of time with Reggie during the week. To make up for that, the time I do have with him is very precious, and I try to be 100% emotionally, physically, and mentally present with him. If I have another baby, will I be able to commit what little free time I do have during the week to experience all of his splendor, or offer that same intensity to the new baby? Better yet, will I even have the energy to “do it again, Mommy”?
- Marriage: I could never quite understand the theory that people had babies to “fix” their marriage. Few things strain a marriage like a baby. And to be fully transparent, our marriage has met some frost heaves the past 21 months. While we’re still committed to our vows, there were rough patches that felt more dismal than I expected. In the end, we’re coming out the other side OK, but can our marriage last another round of infancy?
- Body: Call me vain. I accept the criticism. I HATED pregnancy. Morning sickness and sore boobs aside, gaining weight was very hard for me to come to terms with. I assumed I would have an active pregnancy because I was consistent with my personal fitness. That did not happen. I thought after the baby came, I would be back out there and that nursing would “melt the fat,” which is what everyone claims would happen. That did not happen. In fact, it wasn’t until I stopped nursing Reggie at 16 months that I got the freedom to workout again and my body was willing to let go of the baby fat. Now that I’m back in my pre-pregnancy clothes, I just can’t get my head around going back there again. Will I be able to lose the weight if we choose to have a second baby?
- Career: I won’t get into my views on the fundamental weaknesses with maternity and paternity leave in our country, but I will say that going back to work even 12 (unpaid) weeks after having a baby was brutal. To be honest, I missed my job and talking to adults, but emotionally, it was unrealistic to go back to work and dig back in, especially while my son was still getting up to nurse two to three(!) times a night. Not to mention, I had to pump three times a day at work, which meant I had to take meetings from the New Mother’s Room, miss lunches with coworkers, and basically, feel like an outsider frantically trying to get back in. I couldn’t put in the hours I wanted or the brain power I once did, and that really affected the career momentum that I had worked so hard for. Now that I’m back in my groove, can I really start over again?
- Nursing: Ah, I have such complicated feelings about this. I had a rocky start to nursing. I took the classes, read the articles, and decided I wanted to nurse our baby. But Reggie came a month early and with his early arrival, he had several health complications. He didn’t latch well, my engorged boobs made my nipples flat (can you believe this is a thing!?), and I had lactation consultant visits both in the hospital and daily my first few weeks homes. I was miserable and stressed about feeding him, and it was like a circus act trying to get him on the boob. I had to pump milk, put it in a syringe, attach the syringe to a small tube, thread the tube through a nipple shield, and then slowly push milk into the shield while Reggie nursed. Often this was a two-person job, so my husband’s relationship to my boobs became much more intimate, but probably not in the way he expected. Maybe I should have given up, but I kept plugging away. After three months, we were finally in a groove and it took another month to get him off the shield. Because of our issues, I felt isolated at home during my maternity leave. I wasn’t confident I could feed him discreetly outside our home and therefore never left. Once we did hit our stride, nursing was bittersweet. I loved the alone time I got with Reggie, but I also sacrificed any time I might have for myself and for a while, I felt like I was planning everything around nursing and pumping and obsessing over ounces and freezer stashes and how many bottles they gave him at daycare. Oddly, when I knew Reggie was nursing for the last time, I was very emotional. I felt sad that I wouldn’t have that special bond with him anymore, but I also looked forward to not being the parent responsible for all bedtime and naps. I got a little freedom back, and it felt good!
So, after reading this, you may be thinking, clearly, you don’t want a second baby. But that’s not true either.
I will admit that I don’t really get the aching feeling I used to pre-Reggie when I see an infant. However, I do get that way when I see siblings playing on the beach, or splashing in the pool this summer. And I think about my own siblings, and how much support we had for each other when our mom died. And I think about the memories I have with them – good and bad – and how we shaped each other’s lives.