Shortly after P was born, I declared that Chad and I were “one and done.” The hours of crying each night, the anxiety, the feelings of utter helplessness, surely, we were not doing it again. And then, 11 months later, I attended a beautiful baby shower for a good friend of mine. There, I spoke to her sister-in-law, who has three young children. “How do you do it?” I asked, adding “I can barely handle the one I have.”
She smiled warmly, “Believe it or not, it’s easier when you have more than one. They entertain each other.”
“Hmmm.” The wheels began to turn in my fatigued, fickle brain.
She added, “Truthfully, you forget what it’s like to have just one, just like you can’t remember now what you did before you had a kid.”
“True,” I responded.
As covertly as I could, I observed the woman and her children during the shower. The two older children, who looked to be maybe five and three, sat politely in their chairs, ate their scones, and giggled at each other. The mother smiled on, holding her newborn son in a baby carrier. I won’t pretend to know what goes on in their home, but there, at that baby shower, they looked genuinely happy.
When I arrived home that afternoon, I found Chad sitting on the couch. I stood directly in front of him, blocking the television, and, as authoritatively as I could, demanded that he give me another baby.
“Right now?” he asked, his face contorted into a confused, but eager expression.
“Well, maybe not right now, but I think we should consider it.” I explained, “If we’re going to do it, I’d rather have it happen sooner than later. I mean, don’t you want P to have a sibling close enough in age that they can play together?”
Throughout the next week, we discussed the possibility of having a second child. Some days, we were both on board, and other days, especially long, busy days, we were more hesitant about the idea. I wondered, “Would we be selfish to have another?” I feel like a decent mother most of the time, but with two, could I hack it? A second child would also mean making some pretty significant lifestyle changes; with well over six figures in private, student loan debt, the cost of living in the DC metro area (where we can both find jobs), child care costs, etc. we would have to make cuts somewhere. It has been about three months since the conversation began, and we’re still debating our ability to finance potential cherub number two.
In the time since my friend’s baby shower, my Facebook feed has exploded with more baby news; two of my friends gave birth to their children, and two of my friends from high school announced their second pregnancies. I stared at their baby belly pictures with the tiniest bit of envy; “What is wrong with me?” I wondered. “I didn’t even enjoy (most of) my pregnancy.” For about the millionth time since becoming a parent, I questioned my sanity. I mean, who says, “Oooooh, Oooooh, meeeee (raising hand in the air)! I need fewer hours of sleep!”, “I love going to the bathroom with a screaming toddler clinging to my leg. I just need another one for the other leg!” or, “Less time to myself? Abso-freakin-lutely!”?
It’s not that I don’t remember how soul-wrenching P’s first few months were. I remember them vividly (see previous post- Great (Parental) Expectations, Part II). The good memories just hold a more powerful presence in my mind- P’s look of absolute delight when she builds a four-block tower, the way she wraps her arms around my neck when I pick her up from daycare (like, “I missed you all day, Ma!”), the way she moves her arms up and down when she’s excited (P has some super sweet dance moves), and the wondrous look in her eyes when she sees something for the first time. I also think about what our lives will look like with a second child: P “cheesing” for the camera while holding her newborn sibling, chaotic mornings, with spilled coffee and poopy diapers, and short, weeknight dates with Chad, sharing a cheap bottle of wine and arguing (lovingly, of course) about whether to watch “The Real Housewives of Orange County” or “Secret War” (only to be cut short by crying child one or two). I suppose that could sound awful to some, but to me, it doesn’t sound too bad. I have always found that the most beautiful things in life are a little flawed.
When and if we do have another child, I know there are still going to be those soul-wrenching days; I won’t pretend it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows. As challenging as it is, though, Chad and I believe it will be worth it. I guess all that’s left to say is, “Stay tuned.”