My partner and I weren't planning to have a baby when we found out we were pregnant with our now 2-year-old son. He was a complete surprise; one that continues to surprise us each and every day and in the best way possible. So, it's kind of odd to sit down and actually "plan" another potential pregnancy. In fact, it's freakin' strange. It's also scary. There are more than a few reasons why I'm afraid to have another baby; reasons that I'm forced to face, discuss, and sort through as my partner and I weigh the pros and cons of expanding our family.
I guess we skipped this whole "planning part" the first time around, so it's like we're going back and experiencing all the fears that (I assume) other couples — who actually plan to procreate — probably experience. Sure, we were afraid when we found out we were pregnant the first time around, and we still had discussions as to whether or not we wanted and/or could be parents. However, it was just, you know, different. We knew we were ready because I was already pregnant. That knowledge came all at once; like this obvious, undeniable force. In one moment, I wasn't pregnant. In the next, I was, and that change made it really easy for me to know that I wanted to be pregnant and wanted to be a mom. It was instantaneous. I can't necessarily say the same thing, now. Sometimes, I really want to be pregnant again and have another baby, and when I think about my big belly and my son kissing that belly and being all excited about a sibling, I melt. Other moments, the thought is paralyzing and being pregnant and having another baby just sounds like a horrible, terrible idea.
So, for the moment, my partner and I are kind of stuck. We're a little confused, a little overwhelmed, and a little unsure as to what's best for ourselves, our son, and our family in general. I continue to think about the reasons why I'm afraid to have another baby, and continue to work through them because, well, there's really nothing else I can do. In the end, I know that when I'm truly ready to have another baby, the following fears just won't matter anymore.
I Know How Expensive Another Baby Would Be
One kid is expensive enough. Two? Yikes. My bank account hurts just thinking about it. I'm not entirely sure how we would be able to afford another baby, and still afford to travel and see family and do all of the fun things we've been able to do as "just us three." My son has seen so much of this country, gone to professional sporting events, explored museums and national parks and landmarks. I would hate to stop doing all of those fun things because another few years of diapers and baby food adds up.
I Just Started Sleeping Again
I love my sleep. Like, I love it so much, you guys. Our son is sleeping through the night and we're back to getting our recommended eight (OK, usually six, but whatever) hours and I don't want to go back to sleeping in two hour increments.
I'm Afraid I Wouldn't Be Able To Continue To Work As Often As I Do
I make no apologies about loving my job. Yes, I love my son and my family, but my career is very, very important to me. It was there before I met my partner. It was my baby before I had my baby. It's part of who I am, and I don't want to sacrifice it in the name of motherhood. Working when you have one baby can be difficult. Two? I'm just not sure I could find the balance between two children and my full-time job. I'm terrified that my work and my career would suffer, and I'm just not sure if that is something I'm willing to sacrifice.
I Don't Know If I Could Love Another Baby As Much As I Love My Son
How is that possible? Obviously I know plenty of people who have numerous children and they love them all equally but just, like, how? How do you all do it? I look at my son and my chest hurts, I love him so much. I can't imagine bringing another human being into this world and loving that human as much as I love the human I've already made. Does my heart really and truly have enough room in it for another baby? I just don't know.
I Don't Know How To Handle Pregnancy And A Toddler
I had a tough pregnancy. I remember those first few months of being horribly sick and exhausted. Of course, without a baby to care for I could take mid-day naps and focus on myself, and just myself. If I were to get pregnant again, I wouldn't have that luxury. Instead, I would have to chase around a toddler and go to work and I'm just not sure I would be able to physically handle pregnancy and motherhood, simultaneously.
I Had A Difficult First Pregnancy...
My pregnancy was physically and emotionally taxing. Initially, I was pregnant with twins. I had a blood infection that left me in the hospital for a week, putting my life and the life of my unborn twins in danger. I lost one of my twins at 19 weeks, when his heart just inexplicably stopped beating. I was sick for more than seven months. I was put through invasive procedures thanks to a misdiagnoses, including a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) and multiple meetings with a neonatal and fetal cardiologist. I was hospitalized twice for pre-term labor, and was going to the hospital every week for over three months. I just don't know if I could handle another difficult pregnancy, so why risk it?
...And A Traumatic Birth...
My labor and delivery was also especially traumatic. As a sexual assault survivor, I experience triggers I was in no way prepared to experience. I was also forced to give birth to a baby that would cry, and a baby that wouldn't. Welcoming my son to the world while simultaneously saying goodbye to the other was a cruel mix of joy and pain, and that juxtaposition has stuck with me (and probably will, for the rest of my life).
While I know the odds of going through a birth exactly like the one I have experienced are slim to none, I just don't know for certain that I won't endure something similar again. Will my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rear it's ugly head in the middle of pushing? Will I have another emotionally painful labor? Will another, unforeseen complication require surgery, or worse? The unknown coupled with what I only know, makes the simple thought of childbirth overwhelming.
...And I Don't Want To Experience Either, Again
I consider another pregnancy another roll of the dice. While my pregnancy and childbirth were difficult, I did get lucky. I have my healthy, happy, thriving son. What if I don't get that lucky again? I'm not sure if that's a risk I'm willing to take.
I'm Afraid I'll Experience Postpartum Depression Again
I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my son, and that's not a suffering I want to endure again. That disconnect; that overwhelming heaviness that consumed me; that feeling of being within and without, as if I was on the outside looking in on my new life; it wasn't what I envisioned new motherhood to be like. I don't want that again.
I Don't Want To Lose Anymore Time With My Partner
I have no problem admitting that, when it comes to time with my partner, I'm a little greedy. I love my son and he truly has given me the family I have always wanted, but I like solo time with my partner, too. We consider the moments when we can be alone, have grown up conversations, and connect on levels that don't involve parenthood, to be special. I cherish those moments. I'm also acutely aware that those moments would become infinitely more difficult to secure with another baby in the mix. What if our relationship suffers? What if we become distant? My romantic relationship matters, and I know another baby would make that romantic relationship a little harder to sustain.
However, for as many reasons that make even the thought of another baby terrifying, there are even more reasons why having another baby just seems, well, perfect. In a way, my family doesn't necessarily feel complete. Not yet, anyway. I don't know who this little person will be, or what he or she will look like, but I know they're out there and I know we're missing them. So maybe, just maybe, it's time to complete our family. Maybe.