As soon as I hit the ripe old age of 22, there seemed to be only one thing that anyone could talk about. “So, do you have a boyfriend?” “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” “When are you going to settle down and get a boyfriend?” “Your dad thinks you’re a lesbian.”
By the time I turned 25, I was so annoyed with all the questions that I finally did get a boyfriend. Then, after about a year or so, the annoying questions started again. “Have you thought about marriage?” “Are you guys going to get married?” “When are you going to get married?” “You are a sinner, living in sin, you unholy slut!!” (ok, that one’s not actually real, but I felt like people were thinking it so it totally counts.)
So, after 4 years, my boyfriend and I were annoyed enough that we did, in fact, get married. But then – surprise, surprise – after 5 whole seconds of being married, the questions started again. “Have you started thinking about a family?” “When are you going to get knocked up?” “Have you started trying?” “You aren’t young anymore, I wouldn’t wait too long.” At 30 years old, me and my dried up old ovaries were doing just fine, thank you.
But finally, to shut up everyone (including my ticking biological clock and my shriveled raisin ovaries) we had a baby. Phew… safe from annoying questions, right? Wrong. After finally slogging through the first amazing, exhausting, awesome, terrible first year, the questions started again. “Have you started thinking about the second one?” “Ready for baby #2?!” “You do want to have more than one, right?” “Put down the wine, coffee and sushi because it’s time to get knocked up again.”
Ok, so here’s the thing. I DO want to have another baby if we can. I have a brother who is 2 and a half years younger than me, and he is amazing. He is my best friend, and even though we spent a LOT of time fighting when we were younger, he has always been my best friend. All of my greatest childhood memories are somehow tied to him. He was my constant playmate, plaything, teammate, opponent, doll, and confidant. Yes, there were times that it was me against him, but most of the time it was me and him against the world. Or at least our parents. I can’t imagine not having him in my life. And so I can’t imagine my daughter not having a sibling in her life.
But… I am scared. I know that I was scared before having my first baby, and that all worked out ok. And I know that there are fears that I had then that I probably won’t have again, like: What if I am not a good mother? What if I don’t like being a mom? What if she doesn’t love me? What if I drop her? What if her swaddle blanket comes unwrapped and chokes her to death? What if I never sleep again? What if she has red hair?! (ps. that fear was actually realized and her red hair is absolutely beautiful!)
But there are some fears that I don’t think will ever go away: What if I never lose all the baby weight? What if I get postpartum depression? How are we going to afford this? What if my baby gets SIDS? What if my baby dies?!
And then there are a brand new set of fears that come with adding a new baby into the mix. First off, there’s the whole pregnancy thing. Been there. Done that. Didn’t like it. Call me an asshole, but the thought of voluntarily being nauseous, uncomfortable, fat, tired, swollen, acne-prone, and emotionally unstable just doesn’t appeal to me. And don’t get me started on the whole no-alcohol, no-caffene thing. As I mom, those two things (plus a
bit ton of chocolate) are sometimes the only things that get me through the day.
And then, after surviving the joys of pregnancy, I actually have the new baby to contend with. Or course, I worry about how tired I am going to be. The never-ending carousel of newborn baby exhaustion is tough enough, but how can I possibly manage doing that while waking up at 6 am every morning to take care of an energetic toddler. An energetic toddler who doesn’t understand that mommy was up all night with the new baby and doesn’t have a single brain cell left in her head to remember all the words to “Itsy-Bitsy-Spider”. (Why oh why do they make these children’s songs so hard!?)
Ok, I know that being tired or being afraid of not losing the baby weight is no reason not to have a baby. If it was, no one would ever have a baby. EVER. I can get over being tired. I can get over stretch marks and saggy boobs and cellulite. What I am most afraid of has more to do with the inconcrete questions about bringing a second child into my household. I am worried about what this will do to my daughter. Will she understand? Will she feel resentful or even angry? Will she feel that we don’t love her as much? How will we have enough time for both of them?
I know that many, many people – including my own parents – have faced these questions and fears, and many, many people have two-plus happy healthy children in their happy healthy families. I know that having more than one child is normal, if not the norm. BUT I haven’t yet revealed my biggest fear. It is not only my biggest fear but my deepest, darkest secret. A secret that I haven’t confessed to anyone yet… not even to myself really. The true reason that I am afraid to have another baby. Deep breath, here goes…
I love my daughter, Lyla, so much. So much that it physically hurts. I love her in a way that I cannot possibly describe (although if you have children you likely know.) I love her, not simply because she is my daughter, but because she is Lyla. I love her in a way that I cannot imagine loving anyone else. Not even another baby. I feel pretty positive that there is no way I could ever love anyone as much as I love her. You see, I was never really a kid person. But then I had Lyla, and she is so wonderful that she can turn even an angry, drunk, homeless man into a kid person (true story.) I worry that if she wasn’t so sweet, funny, charming and relatively easy, that I wouldn’t love her as much. And I am terrified that if the second baby is a crier or doesn’t sleep or doesn’t eat or is sick or even if he or she just isn’t Lyla, that I won’t love him or her as much. And it makes me feel like a horrible person. And it makes me feel really scared.
I suspect that it is the same as the way that no one can tell you how truly amazing it is to have a child until you have one of your own. I assume that no one can tell me how I much I will unconditionally love another child, until I find out for myself. Odds are good that I will love a second baby as much as the first. But it seems a pretty big gamble, and I have never been a gambling woman. Hell, I only play the penny slots in Vegas… and there’s a lot more than 100 pennies at stake here.
To spawn or not to spawn… that is the question.
That is question that keeps me awake at night sometimes.
But I guess, it might be time to roll the dice.
photo credit: Nick Harris1 via photopin cc