It took me four years to decide whether or not I wanted another child. My firstborn was a difficult, high-maintenance, and ultimate example of first-time parent hazing baby. After my complicated pregnancy, the strenuous delivery, and the hellish fourth trimester, I didn’t know if I’d ever want another child. As I mulled it over in my head, I asked myself the questions every mom needs to ask herself before deciding to have another child. While my partner and I have always had an unspoken agreement about kids (we always sort of knew we'd have two) I knew it was important to ask myself some necessary questions first.
I was never that person who was eager to have kids. I never pretended to be pregnant, as many young girls do and I never "cared" for baby dolls. Still, I knew some day I'd have kids and, when I was ready, I’d have two. We tend to do what our parents did and make decisions based on what we know and how we grew up. Both my husband and I have younger siblings and, besides a few years when I was a teenager, I’ve always loved having someone to grow up with. I knew I wanted to have two kids so they could support each other when I was no longer around, confide in each other when their parents annoyed them, and have each other as best friends for life.
Still, and while I knew I wanted a second kid, I also knew having another baby would be a huge life change, again. Knowing what I knew then, and knowing that I couldn't possibly prepare myself for the unknown in a way that would make everything effortless, I asked myself some very important and necessary questions, including the following:
"Do I Really Want To Do This?"
Even though I knew I wanted to have two kids, this "want" was prior to having any kids. Once I had one and realized just how all-consuming children are, I was no longer so sure. In my mind, and for a couple of years, I went back and forth and waited until I felt ready.
One day my husband and I decided we will probably never be truly ready and that we weren’t getting any younger. I didn’t want to wait too long and risk having another high-risk pregnancy, so we decided it was time. We really did want to have another baby.
"Will I Have Enough Help To Juggle More Kids?"
Because I could distinctly remember how much work a newborn was, I was worried about not being able to handle another kid. With my firstborn, my mom was around to help, but shortly after she went back to work. We were going to be doing this on our own, without much help, and we needed to be sure we’d be able to maintain all of our daughter's needs and activities and tend to a newborn at the same time.
"How Do I Make Sure I Don't Neglect My Firstborn?"
I bet all parents are concerned about the wellbeing of their firstborn prior to having a second child. Bringing another baby into the house is a major change for everyone involved. However, adults can handle change much better than a child, and our main concern was how the new baby would affect our daughter.
"Can I Afford Another Child?"
You guys, kids are ridiculously expensive. When my partner and I were mulling over the decision of having another kid, we considered our finances. We were already spending a ludicrous amount of money on childcare. My career was still unstable and I had no idea if I’d have a job when this child would be born. But after playing around with the numbers and knowing that our daughter would soon be heading to a public school, we realized we could do it.
"Can My Relationship Survive Another Kid?"
This is a legitimate concern. Kids are tough on a marriage, or any relationship for that matter. During the first several months of becoming parents, couples often fight incessantly. Most of it is due to sleep deprivation, added stress and anxiety, and the big hit to the finances. Regardless of the reasons why, however, the fighting doesn't stop for many couples. Lucky for us, and after my husband and I weathered the initial storm, our marriage flourished and we knew it will get even better with another kid in the mix.
"Who Am I Doing This For?"
Why do I really want to have another kid? Where did this idea of a “perfect family with 2.5 kids” come from? Am I brainwashed by society to procreate, and to do so more than once? It’s completely plausible.
At the same time, however, I didn’t really care. I knew I wanted two kids, and whether or not that want has been manifested by our society didn’t really matter. I knew I wasn’t doing it for my husband, or for my parents, or for the world. I was doing it for me and my daughter, and that was good enough for me.
"Can My Body Handle Another Pregnancy?"
I've often talked about how difficult pregnancy was on my body. I was considered high-risk due to supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), I experienced all of the worst symptoms pregnancy had to offer, and my delivery broke me. What I haven't yet discussed was the herniated disc that pregnancy and delivery bestowed upon me. After an emergency back surgery, I had to make sure my body could physically carry another child. I was warned that a lot of pressure (added weight) on my back may cause another herniation. It was a risk I decided I was willing to take.
"Will I Regret Not Having Another Baby?"
Finally, if my partner and I were iffy about all of our answers, which we mostly were, our biggest concern was if we’d regret not having another child. The answer to that was a solid “yes.”
So, I guess, ultimately it didn’t matter how we answered all of these questions, because we knew we wanted a sibling for our daughter, and another kid to love as our own. We knew if we waited any longer we risked not being able to have another child, and we knew we definitely would regret that decision. So, it was clear to us: baby number two was in our future.