Motherhood has made me a much more flexible person, simply because there was so much about my pregnancy and my birth plan that were impossible to control. I planned not to have a c-section, but I ended up having one anyway. I planned to breastfeed for 18 months, but my daughter weaned herself at 15 months. And I always planned on having multiple children, because I only had one brother growing up and the idea of having a big family appealed to me.
But despite my husband being on board with this plan, the thought of having a second child still gives me butterflies in my stomach. And If I’m being honest, they are the scary, nervous butterflies, not the feel-good, I’m-so-excited kind.
I started to feel emotionally ready to take on the responsibility of having another child just before my daughter's first birthday. I suspect this desire was fueled by nostalgia for those first few months of my daughter's babyhood, which went by crazy fast. The thrill of meeting a new baby I'd spent 9 months making was truly one of the most euphoric experiences I’ve ever had, and I'd love to relive it with a second child. Yet the thought of the grind of going through labor and delivery and then living the newborn life again with a completely different kid has me thinking twice about trying to get pregnant.
If I choose to have another kid, I'll have a lot of support in my decision. My partner has said that he's ready to have another kid when I am, and he's excited for the prospect of another little one running around the house. And when I've talked to my friends and family about it, they're usually quite encouraging, especially because I waited until my 30s to have my first child.
Yet when I consider the uncertainty of what it would be like to raise another kid, it gives me pause. I've heard it said that every baby is different, and while that advice is supposedly intended to be comforting, it honestly kinda freaks me out. I like being able to say “been there, done that” and knowing what to expect from another child.
Obviously, there’ll be wisdom I can take from my first pregnancy and new mother experience that I can use the second time around. Unlike my first pregnancy, for instance, I know how to plan for the hospital, what to expect when it comes to breastfeeding, and how to swaddle a newborn. This knowledge would only serve to make my life easier with a second pregnancy.
But what if I don’t have a relatively care-free pregnancy, like I did before? What if I’m not able to try for a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC)? What if my second baby isn’t as good of a sleeper as my daughter? What if the next baby doesn’t latch? What if?
Parenting just one kid is hard enough as it is. I can't even imagine how hard it will be with two children in the house.
I didn't ask these kinds of questions on the first go-around, because I knew nothing about being a mom: I'd read only one baby book, because I didn't want to fill my head with expectations about what pregnancy and childbirth would be like. In thinking about a second pregnancy, though, it's hard to avoid those expectations, because now I want things I didn't get with the first one, like a vaginal birth.
Then there’s the inevitable change in our lives that’ll take place once another child is in the picture. The unknowns — like how a second baby will affect my relationship with my husband, or how I’ll handle my postpartum emotions with a toddler who’ll no doubt be testing my every nerve — are overwhelming. Parenting just one kid is hard enough as it is. I can't even imagine how hard it will be with two children in the house.
When it comes to my ability to take care of two (or more) children, I must tell myself what I did the first time: countless women have done it before, and there are lots of them doing it right now. I know I can do it, and I know I'll be great at it, and I know I'll wonder why I was even worried about it in the end.
I know that it’s perfectly normal to have doubts about what having another baby will be like. But my hope is that I can turn this fear of the unknown into something positive. I hope to use my resourcefulness and reasoning skills to conquer my feelings of inadequacy. I know it's not going to be a piece of cake, but I also know that I'm a pretty great mom as is — and with two kids, I can only get better.