Thursday, June 7, 2012

adventures in motherhood: how do you know if you're ready for a second child?

A scary little scenario, using Lorelei's age as a guidepost: if I were my mother-in-law, I'd be pregnant right now with my second baby. If I were my own mother, I'd be two months away from conceiving #2.

meeting my baby brother at the hospital (I'm just under 2 years old; my Dad is not yet 29)

Yikes.

How do you know if you're ready to have another baby? Or if you even want another baby? I've been feeling the weight of this question a lot lately, and not only because Lorelei just turned one. It suddenly seems like everyone I know is pregnant, both in the blogosphere and in the real world, and I've been seeing lots of posts about having two from people like Kristin, Nicole via Taza, and Teresa. There are a million opinions out there about how to time your pregnancies so your children are spaced apart perfectly -- whether that's 2.5 years or 5 -- but it seems like the primary suggestion from everyone is this: you'll know you're ready when you start having baby fever again.

But what if you never had baby fever in the first place?

My pregnancy with Lorelei was largely the result of methodical, logical family planning on our part. Jason and I wanted to be married for five years and with grad school completely behind us before we started thinking about having children. Once that milestone was reached, we had several months of conversations about timing based on his tenure clock, some health issues I have, and our ages. We also weighed the pros and cons of a childless life versus one with kids and tried to imagine our futures with both outcomes.

We finally decided that, even though neither of us felt totally ready to have a baby right now, we always imagined ourselves as a family rather than just a couple, and it'd be better to start sooner rather than later so that, if we had fertility issues, we'd have plenty of time to sort them out. I spent three months charting my cycles, taking prenatals, cutting out caffeine and alcohol, exercising religiously, and meeting with my doctor before we decided to take the plunge. One month later, I was pregnant. And we were completely terrified.

I love Lorelei to pieces and I'm so glad that we had her. But I never had that feeling of "I desperately want a baby," so I have no idea if I'll ever feel that way. I never pictured myself having just one child -- but after the turmoil and agony of Lorelei's newborn days (not to mention childbirth!), I just don't know how I feel about going through that again. Plus, our life is so wonderful now -- would I ruin that if we added another baby into the mix? How will my heart be able to fit in love for another child, when this one takes up so much of the room?

What are your thoughts on having baby #2...or 3 (or more!)? What makes you so sure you do or don't want another one? And if you've already had that second child, what made you feel ready?

21 comments:

  1. We aren't sure about having more kids. If we were going by my parents' timeline, I'd get pregnant this month with a second. Oh good lord, that's effing scary. If we're on my mother in law's timeline, I'd have 4 boys by now. Even scarier.

    Honestly, the more we talk and think about it, the more we think one may be our only. We're not so sure that we're talking any permanent solutions for birth control just yet, but as of today, Jonas is enough. A lot of it is selfish reasons on us (he has a laid back demeanor, and no health problems that we know of), and we aren't sure that we're willing to gamble... Yep, completely selfish, but it's what resonates with us.

    Also, we might possibly be able to swing private schooling for him, but we certainly couldn't swing it for two kids.

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    1. The health thing is DEFINITELY a factor -- if you're so lucky as to have a physically perfect little baby right off the bat, why would you roll the dice again, especially since risks go up as you get older? I get nervous thinking about it!

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  2. Great post Courtney, I have found myself thinking this exact same thing lately too since it feels like everyone is pregnant. When we found out we were pregnant with Chloe it came as a complete surprise to us, we were beyond thrilled but also terrified because we didn't plan on having kids for a few more years. Its amazing though how you just make it all work out and we couldn't be more happy to have Chloe in our lives.

    We would love to have one or maybe even 2 more children. Our plan is start trying for baby #2 around the time Chloe is 2. I have def had baby fever from time to time during Chloe's first year of life but I know we are not ready to start trying for another one. I should also add we don't want to have our kids to far apart in age.

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    1. I feel the same way, Jennifer -- having a brother almost exactly two years younger than I am really shaped who I am as a person, and so I would hope to have kids close together in age for that very reason (that is, if we decide to have another one!)

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  3. We're planning on having a second (and I'm pulling for a third). The plan (for now) is to start trying for a second around the time that Noah turns two. I'd consider having them closer together, but honestly, breastfeeding for a year has left me wanting a break from being a 24 hour buffet for awhile!

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    1. I'm feeling the same way -- it'd be nice to have a few months (or more!) of having my body to myself again. ;)

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  4. My thoughts are (and I've been saying this a lot lately) is that people need to stop asking me to have the next one! Before I was pregnant, while my husband was deployed, before we were even married, everyone asked all the time when would we have some babies?! Then I had one, and the questions start up again right away! I love our little life with Darwin, just like you said. Our small family is so fun and D is at an age where we can really venture out and do things now. I want him to have a sibling but I don't really have a 5 or 10 year plan. But when we do decide (if we do decide) it will be between my husband and I and all of the pressure isn't going to push us one way or the other (do people really not get that?). Too much pressure to push kids out close together in my opinion.

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    1. Margaux, that sounds horrible! People definitely need to butt out of your bedroom :) It should obviously be your decision alone. But I guess it's sweet that people want more little Darwins running around...?

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  5. i ve been wondering about this lately myself. obviously with rosie only a month and a half old, we're far from being ready, but i know we'll want more (hubby is already talking about rosie's 'little brother')! My love for her is so all consuming, and my fears and insecurities are so potent that I can't imagine ever being 'ready' for a second child, so i imagine it's conception will be much like hers... a not explicitly planned but certainly desired 'accident'. I just can't imagine it happening any other way!

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    1. Love this, Tara -- you seem very zen about it. :) It's so cute your husband is already talking about #2 (but tell him he'd better not get too many big ideas as you're still in recovery!)

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  6. I caught the fever. It was the day my "baby" wanted to sit NEXT to me while we read books, brush his own teeth before bed and tell ME that he was ready for his crib. He put his hands up to my cheeks, gave me a kiss, then waved good night.

    I don't miss the newborn days (AH!), but sometimes I sure miss all of the slobbery, squishy, snuggly days in between.

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  7. Jacob and I had essentially the same experience and we are going through the same issues. Thanks for letting me know we are not alone. The way I get through it is by telling myself, "I'll know when it's time" probably based on our life situation. We are still getting used to having Eleanor and sorting out our relationship now that there is a third person in the mix. Goodness knows if we'd be able to handle a forth in the near future. I have a feeling there will be close to 5 years between Eleanor and any other kid we have.

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    1. You know I'd be happy to talk about this in person sometime too, Melissa -- maybe at our next playdate (hint hint)? :)

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  8. I'm so glad you posted this. I had been thinking about writing something similar. I feel like I've gotten so many questions about when we're having our next one. It must be a first birthday thing. I'm feeling more and more compelled to have another baby. There are three sets of brothers on our street and it's always so cute to see them outside playing together ( I would be happy with a little sister tagging along, too.) I feel like I'm finally recovering from the first one, though. I'm not ready for another one just yet.

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    1. Seeing happy families tugs at your heartstrings, doesn't it? Sigh...

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  9. Wow, I am RIGHT there with you hon! We kind of always assumed we would have 2, but I am so happy with just Ellie, and it's kind of scary to admit, but I would be TOTALLY okay if we didn't have baby #2. But everytime we talk about it, we want to do it for Ellie's sake at least...to give her a sibling. But we do keep putting it off longer and longer...at this point, they will be AT LEAST 4 years apart...and you know what, I'm okay with that! I want to just enjoy Ellie right now!
    ♥ Kyna

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    1. Seems like your family of three is perfect for right now!

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  10. I had baby fever for years, (even before I had a suitable partner). When Mathew and I got married, we got pregnant 2 months later. He also felt ready to "start a family." Then about a year after having Nzinzi, as soon as I started getting my periods again, my body was like, "Okay, let's do it again!" But this time, we actually know how much time, money, blood, sweat and tears go into having and raising a child. That said, I still want to have another one, soon, if possible, but there will be a lot more planning involved. (Love the picture of you guys with your dad!)

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    1. Here's hoping your planning works out, Holly!

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  11. I know I just had my little guy a month ago but I've already thought about this. I wonder when I will feel ready to start trying for another. I have a feeling it won't be for quite sometime.

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