Even though my second child was very much planned, finding out I was actually pregnant was scary. In fact, the fears I had about having another baby really didn't come to the surface until after I peed on that magical pregnancy stick and it came back positive. While I was still happy and excited, I moved quickly from pure, unadulterated excitement to happiness mixed with the stunned realization this was happening, to OMG WTF have you done, you idiot? You didn't think this through, did you?
Unlike with my first pregnancy, the majority of my biggest fears had to do with my children, whether inside or outside of my uterus. That's not to say I wasn't preoccupied with worries about my baby the first time around, but now "my baby" wasn't some nebulous concept. My firstborn was already an actual human being who had a name and a face and a favorite food and weird and endearing quirks. My still-gestating second child was still a little nebulous, but I understood what her arrival would mean more clearly than I had understood the realities of her brother's presence in my life. I knew what caring for her would entail and what life with a newborn would be like and just how deeply I was going to fall in love with her once she arrived (even more than I loved her already, even though she was only the size of a blueberry).
The scary things weren't based on not knowing like they had been the first time: they were based in experience. The stakes felt higher and, honestly, they were. So, what were these fears? Were they reasonable? Well, let me tell you...
I Was Going To Throw Off Everything Good About Our Existing Family Dynamic
Before we had any children, my partner and I wanted three children. Immediately following our son's birth, we still knew we wanted another. However, as we got into the swing of parenting and fell in love with the way our life was going, I began to wonder, "Do I really need another child? This little guy makes me happy: he is enough. What if another baby upsets the balance? How could things get better? They could only possibly get worse, right?
Should I have been afraid? Not really. Obviously dynamics changed (my partner and I were evenly matched now and no longer had numbers advantage on our offspring) but a second child, for us, somehow managed to improve upon perfection.
I Was Going To Ruin My Son's Life
After all, he was used to so much love and attention and was not accustomed to sharing. What if introducing a sibling sent him into an emotional spiral from which he would never recover. What if it ruined his relationship with me and his dad? What if it isolated him and made him feel as though he hadn't been enough for us? WHY WOULD I EVER DREAM OF DOING THIS TO MY BELOVED CHILD?!
Should I have been afraid? No. Kids are mad resilient, dudes.
My Son Would Be Jealous And Resentful
OK, so maybe it won't ruin his life, but what if he completely resents his sibling? Is that fair to him? Is it fair to the new baby? Will my days be spent keeping him from being mean to the little one? Am I setting up some sort of never-ending-rivalry between the two?
Should I have been afraid? No, and that still boggles my damn mind because it's totally normal for a kid to be jealous of a sibling for a while. However, my son skipped over that completely. Maybe because we were so paranoid he would be jealous that we worked super hard to make sure he wasn't. Maybe because, truthfully, our daughter was so easy she didn't actually take too much attention away from him. Maybe he's just a naturally more magnanimous child than I gave him credit for. Whatever the reason, it was actually a non-issue, and for that I am tremendously grateful.
I Wouldn't Be Able To Give My Daughter All The Attention I Had Given My Son
When I had my son he was 95 percent of what I had to focus my time and energy on when I wasn't at work. I would never be able to do that for this second baby, because my son still took up 95 percent of my time and energy. He may have even moved the needle to 97 percent by the time he was a toddler. I mean, I fawned over every little thing he did. Maybe that's why he's such an extraordinary, happy child. I'm basically setting up this second child to never have all that attention. That's terible!
Should I have been afraid? Honestly? Kinda. There are still times when I do feel a little guilty about that. Don't get me wrong: my daughter gets a ton of attention and every bit the amount of love her brother received. Still, there's no avoiding the fact that there's only one of me and two of them, and overall, my daughter is a lower-maintenance than my son. I take great pains to spend equal amounts of time with both of them, but there are often times when my son demands more of me and I can give it to him because my daughter is super sanguine and chill. I do my best to stay vigilant about this one.
We Would Go Broke
*insert image of me opening my wallet and moths flying out here*
Should I have been afraid? I mean, duh. Kids are expensive. You've gotta prep for that aspect of things. Fortunately, there are ways that you can.
I Was Playing Russian Roulette With Genetic Diseases
My partner and I are both cystic fibrosis (CF) carriers and, while there was a better than average chance our children would be unaffected, there was a 1 in 4 chance they would have a really awful illness that would drastically decrease their life expectancy. We did not discover we were CF carriers until after I was pregnant with my first and my OB-GYN ran some precautionary tests. (Many people who are carriers will, in fact, never learn they are one, since they are asymptomatic and will not go on to have children with CF, either.)
Should I have been afraid? Again, yes. It's simple statistics. Fortunately, they worked in our favor both times.
My Partner And I Would Have Favorites
I know a lot of parents go into a second pregnancy terrified they will never love a second baby as much as their first. I never worried about that. Maybe it's because I'm one of five kids, so I know the drill, or maybe it was just some innate, motherly intuition, but I knew I would love both children equally. That said, love is not the same as preference, and I worried that my husband and I would each have a favorite and then the family would be split into creepy factions. Before we knew it, our apartment would be an HBO drama full of deceit, machinations, and emotional torture.
Should I have been afraid? Definitely not. In the grand scheme of things there are absolutely no favorites for either my husband or myself. On a day to day basis, any parent who tells you they don't have a favorite based on their good or bad behavior is a liar and you can say that to their face.
We Wouldn't Be Able To Provide As Many Opportunities For Our Children As We Would For A Single Child
A second child, in many cases, represents at least one more vacation that you otherwise could have taken annually. So it's like, "OK, firstborn, here's why we can't afford to send you on that chorus trip through Europe this summer. But you have this sister you can play with!" Was that fair to my son? Was he going to resent the fact that we couldn't indulge his every whim? Was he going to suffer because we couldn't afford every possible opportunity for him?
Should I have been afraid? Yes and no. Swinging a family vacation to Paris is probably not in the cards but, at the end of the day, giving our children the experience of growing up with a sibling is a pretty amazing opportunity.
Going Through The Infant Stage Again
Granted it's been under three years since the last time we did the whole infant thing, but one "new parent year" is like seven regular human years, so it feels like a whole lot longer. I mean, I just started sleeping again a few months ago. I'm going to spoil that? And will I even remember what to do with a newborn? Like, they can't talk or walk or do anything except scream and poo. Will I be able to go back to that sort of communication? What if I've forgotten how to breastfeed? Uuuuuuugh! I'm going to have to start traveling with 467 pounds of stuff again everywhere I go! What was I thinking?
Should I have been afraid? Yes and no. The infant stage is tough, but barring particular circumstances, it's usually easier the second time around because you know WTF you're doing this time. A lot of it is like riding a bicycle — once you know how you just hop on and get moving.
My Cat Was Actually Going To Murder Us All
Like, we barely made it through my first child coming home. Our cat (whose name was Pigeon, because that's a hilarious name for a feline) was, quite frankly, kind of a dick even under the best circumstances, and having a new baby in the house was not the best circumstance. Pigeon hissed at our son every time he saw him. We didn't see him for days at a time, in a one bedroom apartment. Eventually he got over it, but I was convinced that the birth of our daughter would send him over the edge and that he would either run away or hatch a plot to destroy us all.
Should I have been afraid? Nah. Pigeon was a trooper. He has since gone to Kitty Heaven, but while he was still alive he was always extremely patient with everyone, including the kids.
Having a second child is, in many ways, a leap of faith. There's a lot about the whole endeavor that should give you pause. But, at least from my experience, anyway, it's a leap worth taking.
I mean, come on. Look at those little faces! At this point my biggest fear is that they are so cute that I will just go crazy and eat them.