tripping the life unbalanced

Monday, November 13, 2006

watching time fly

Matt and I have always intended for Alice to have a sibling. Intended being the operative word here. As in, part of a very general conversation when we first thought about kids. As in: siblings? Of course! Of course we want more than one child. Of course we want our kid(s) to have a partner to joke with, conspire with, join forces with against us as we grow old. Of course.

Then we had one child. And the conversation drastically changed. Suddenly the thought of another child makes me break out in a sweat, stomach turning with anxiety.

It seems many across the blogosphere are also talking about the possibility of a second child. It's tricky, this contemplation of the second child. With the first you have the gift of ignorance, the unknowing of sleep deprivation and loss of freedom. You are not yet aware of how deep your rage and resentment can go. And how much your relationships can change.

It's all this that holds me back.

I get asked all the time whether I am thinking about a second child. The short answer: yes. Yes we are thinking about it. Yes we would like Alice to have a sibling. Yes, oh yes. But it's so much more complicated than a simple answer. It's a loaded answer, because it's full of doubt and fear and the unwillingness to jump headfirst into the unknown again. Because I have seen this unknown, and I feel like I am still coming out of it.

And so I bide my time, shrugging my shoulders at the passing time. Always aware that Alice turns four in March and my body gets older.

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to see a new family of four. Our friends R. and I. held a welcoming party for their new baby. It was a lovely afternoon, full of giggling preschoolers and tired but laughing parents. Our friends' first child is much like Alice in temperament and energy, and I was curious to know what it was REALLY like - having two kids instead of one. I asked the new-again mom straight-up: how is it? And she said "you know, in all honesty, it's not as bad as I thought it would be". We talked about the challenges of experiencing sleep deprivation all over again, this time with a 3 year old running around, and something she said very much resonated with me. "The hard time, though, it passes. Eventually, it gets better." And she's right. The first months do end, and the newborn gets older. It is not a finite experience. They get older, sleep gets easier, and then suddenly they are chatting with you at the dinner table about why cats don't have ankles.

We can do this. We can do this.

So what am I so afraid of?


  • I came across your blog today, and just about cried when I read it. I am the mother of one, turning 4 in April. I get that same question of 'so when's the next one' all the time, and want to just scream. It is more complicated to explain in a yes or no- much more than I ever could have imagined. All of the things you have said about the sleepless nights, doing the 'baby stage' again is overwhelming. You are afraid, and I am as well, because we have knowledge. So many times I have thought 'we should never have waited this long- should have had another within a year of our fist(only?) child, and I would never have known the difference' I thought time was on my side. But in a way it wasn't, and still isn't.

    I have no answers for you, just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, all the way in Colorado I am feeling this dilema with you! - Sophie

    By Blogger Sophie, at 4:00 p.m.  

  • We had two accidents. The second was more of an accident than the first.

    i would have never willingly done the second time. For me, it was hellish. Quite honestly. And that's likely what you're afraid of.

    But there are moments where my girls are actually being nice to eachother, and it's like they have this secret world, and it's only theirs, and my heart just plain fills up. Because if it was up to me, Vivian wouldn't have her sister, wouldn't have had this relationship.

    I think it might be one of those decisions where you just decide to go with it-yeah, you aren't scared and stupid-you're full of knowledge and prepared.

    I can't imagine having to actually decide to have another one. Although, the adoption argument in our house is fun.

    By Anonymous thordora, at 5:49 p.m.  

  • Good luck with the decision. And your friend is right, the second time around was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. But it was a scary, scary decision to make, and we came very close to only having one.

    By Blogger chichimama, at 6:56 p.m.  

  • another thing you might bear in mind is that the hypervigilance you experienced with the "first" is much muted. You KNOW what you need to be alert for, and what you can let pass. It does make for a different life the second time.

    By Anonymous Jadie, at 9:28 p.m.  

  • Stomach turning with anxiety - that's exactly it. The nagging feeling that you won't be able to cope.

    Everybody said, it'll be fine, don't worry. Which helps. But I'm still worried.

    By Blogger Her Bad Mother, at 10:52 p.m.  

  • I went from never wanting kids to agreeing to have one to wanting a second one right after we had the first one.

    Now the first one is 17 months old and I'm 7 weeks pregnant and I'm scared shitless. But I figure we've done it once and survived, so we'll be able to do it again.


    By Blogger smashedpea, at 10:35 a.m.  

  • Your fears are legitimate and I can't tell you that life stays the same or you'll never wonder what the HELL you were thinking, but it's not as bad as we build up in our minds when we're debating another child.

    As long as you accept that your parenting experience with Child #2 will probably be nothing like Child #1 and have a sense of humor, you'll be fine. (and if the experience IS the same, consider yourself blessed!)

    By Blogger Mom Underground, at 1:35 p.m.  

  • I was going to put something very rude, and then I thought -- well, her mother reads this. But then I remebered that your mom was a sex educator, so I started to type. But then I remembered that your mother in law reads this -- so I deleted again. I'll tell you in person. It was just a childish giggle anyway.

    By Blogger scarbie doll, at 2:19 p.m.  

  • We waited until our first was 3 before trying for our second. So there is a four year spread between them. Go with your heart. It knows.

    By Blogger crazymumma, at 6:06 p.m.  

  • I am in the midst of babydom with my second...he's not quite 6 weeks old. I know what you are afraid of...

    the tiredness...the sleepless nights...the crying...the painful breastfeeding, if you choose to do so...the pure neediness of the baby...

    I'm with you. It's harder then the first in some ways, and much easier in others.

    But then...just as you are really hating that baby...when his cries are overwhelming, and you need a minute without him on your chest or sleeping on you, he smiles. He gives a little back. It helps. And you love him just a bit more then you did before.

    It's a hard decision. Good luck!

    By Anonymous Urban Mummy, at 9:40 p.m.  

  • Honestly, the first six months (or whenever it is until they sleep through the night) is hard. Really hard. We had full time help for the first 8 months with our second and it was still hard. Part of that was because we had the kids close together (our daughter only 21 months when our son was born).

    But now. It is easier. Soooo much easier. They are starting to entertain each other. And so, yes during the dinner hour, I do have to keep an eye out for the intense physical battles that sometimes break out but mainly I just get to do my thing while they try to make each other laugh or have yelling contests.

    It's a tough decision but one that cannot be made using logic. Because, really, when you get right down to it, the whole parenting thing (as opposed to the whole, let's use our two fat, no-need-to-save-for someone's-orthodontia salaries to buy a house in Provence) is kind of crazy, no? (Survival of the species notwithstanding)

    Besides, the universe only gives you what you can handle, I believe, so while my first was a funny, dazzling, spitfire, my second is the very definition of mellow.

    By Blogger tomama, at 10:37 p.m.  

  • Personally I am done with one. My son is 2 1/2 and barely "sleeps through the night."

    Everywhere we go, there are moms with kids his age and a newborn. They seem content and happy. I just cannot see myself willingly having another--I'm pretty sure I would lose my mind.

    By Anonymous karrie, at 8:05 a.m.  

  • I have two. I lose my mind everyday. But then, you know- I find it again.

    Nothing beats the feeling I get when I see my two boys hugging. Or fighting. Or doing anything together. Hy heart expands like a balloon being blasted with air. It's amazing.

    By Anonymous krista, at 11:20 p.m.  

  • I'm SOOO with Krista; I too lose my mind every single day, sometimes a couple of times per day. The other night I lay next to the wailing baby, scrubbing my face (in a rough manner) pulling at my hair, exhaling like a rhino, and I'd mumble 'this too shall pass'...meanwhile the toddler and dad were watching the boobtube and snacking on goldfish. Grrr!!!

    If you see me in the park (yes, I'm a park slut, hit a couple of parks each day -- cheaper than therapy or a meth addiction) I may be the picture of happiness wearing one kid, while pushing the other in the swing, but if you get real close you can see my 'crazy eyes' and smell my over caffeinated breath.

    But, we wanted more than one child, so we do feel very lucky.

    It is a HUGE decision. I appreciate your candid fears.

    By Blogger Village Mama, at 5:00 p.m.  

  • It scares the fuck out of me. But I think we'll eventually do it. I'm putting it off until at least next fall though.

    By Blogger metro mama, at 6:15 p.m.  

  • I see very much of myself in this post- our son is 3 1/2 and we have been on the one kid only bandwagon after the reality of how hard it really is set in. However, there is a voice in the back of my head that has been growing louder over the last couple months.... are we really done?

    It's scary as hell to figure out what is right for you, your marriage, your family, your career, etc. Everything for us is finally manageable again and I'm terrified to throw that all off balance again. But I also struggle with the thought of regret down the road.

    There is one thing I definitely know. It's an intensely personal decision that is no one elses business. I'm always amazed by the demanding- "so when are you going to have your second?"

    I'm proud of myself for not having a second one just because it's what people expect you to do. I've matured enough with myself to know, my husband and I are the ones that have to raise the kid- not the strangers, coworkers, meddling family, etc. who insist you have to have at least 2. I know my limits, we know our struggles and we know how hard it can be on a marriage. I absolutely love our life with our son but it has come through hard work and giving up a lot of selfish qualities. I'm just not quite sure I have much more to give.

    Thanks for the post-

    By Blogger Anne, at 11:16 p.m.  

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