We wake up from another night of broken sleep as the morning sun illuminates the blinds. Liam was up again throughout the night. I’m okay with it; he’s been a bad sleeper since birth, and we get by with naps and coffee. Suddenly, as it does throughout each day, the thought of a second baby crosses my mind. It may just be the sleep deprivation talking, but I wonder how I could manage parenting two kids.
I’ve been thinking lately about my hesitancy to have a second child. I expected that I would be the mom who couldn’t wait to be pregnant again. I love that my siblings and I are all within two years of each other, and I want my babies to be close in age. I pictured that we would have a new baby around my son’s second birthday, a timetable that’s already passing us by.
But I simply don’t feel ready yet.
With the first baby, we were undertaking something more or less unknown. I could hardly believe the immediacy of those pink lines. We were terrified but really not sure what to fear other than a vague sense that our lives would change. Now I know what those changes entail.
It’s still morning. We’re sitting on the bed covered with a fluffy, white duvet. He shrieks excitedly about a dog he saw outside. I love my son’s early morning cuddles and jabbers. And I think, “I want to do this a thousand more times.”
But then again, there are the things I now know to fear. I know what birth felt like. I know more about loss and infertility, and it paralyzes me. Can I risk loving another tiny human this much? Can I risk wanting another tiny human this much?
We sit on the playroom rug after breakfast and play our game–the one where I pretend to sleep, making exaggerated snoring noises while he tries to grab the toy I’m holding. It turns quickly into a wrestling match; my son shrieks as I tickle him. And I wonder if I’ll still be a good mom if I’m pregnant.
I remember how uncontrollable pregnancy is. I don’t know if I can deal with the nausea and fatigue while chasing a toddler. The high schoolers I taught during my first pregnancy can’t hold a candle to this little boy when it comes to energy.
And honestly, I like our lazy little life right now. It’s just in the last few months that I feel like I have a grip on things, and I’m so scared to lose this again in the whirlwind that is a baby’s first year. Though our first son overhauled our lives completely, with any subsequent babies, it will be fitting them into this life we’ve established–a life we love. And it’s kind of overwhelming.
It’s time for Liam’s nap, and as I take some time to write, I wonder how I would find time with two children to care for. There’s no guarantee that we’ll have an easy baby, and the newborn stage is hard no matter how you cut it.
After Liam’s nap, we mop the house. Liam follows behind me with his child-size broom, and I marvel at what a helper my son is becoming. I want to give him a playmate, but I wonder if this is a good time for him. Is every time good? Is no time good? Will I be forced to neglect one of them? Will I still be able to be patient with the tantrums? And if we don’t have a baby soon, will we smother our son with too much attention?
I think about seasons–wouldn’t another summer baby simplify my maternity wardrobe? I think about gender. I think about the families I know. I think about food aversions. I think about prenatal check-ups with a toddler in tow.
Will we even reach a point where we just know?
On Instagram, I see baby bumps, and instead of the longing I anticipate, I feel my waistband tighten and envision that un-loved bag of pregnancy clothes and belly bands tucked away in my closet. But in rare moments, I long to place my hands on my belly and feel a kick. There’s nothing like that feeling of new life surging through my veins and invading every thought.
It’s a new experience for me–not knowing. As I see each baby announcement extending a month further from March to April to May, I mentally count.
On parenting forums, if you ask which is better–kids closer together or more spaced–people always support what they did. This gives me hope. We will see the beauty and goodness in what we do (and probably try to sell it to everyone else).
I’m tucking my son in at the end of the day. As I risk waking him to plant a kiss on his pudgy, warm cheek, I think about our day. I love being a mother. And right now, I love being a mother to one son. I enjoy the quiet moments when we read, the lazy walks down the sidewalk, the days that are filled with cars in chubby hands zooming all around the carpet. I don’t want to rush through this for some timetable we no longer feel is right. I want to be sure my heart is open to another little life.
And maybe–just as in all of motherhood–it’s about following instincts. Because sometimes you just know. At least, I’m hoping that is what will happen!
When did you know it was time for a second baby? What was the transition like?