I pretty much only read one kind of blog, and that’s the personal blog- I don’t read aspirational blogs and I don’t read design blogs and while I did, for a time, read Apartment Therapy, I don’t live in a tiny apartment in New York, and frankly, I LIKE having stuff, so after a while, its minimalist aesthetic stopped being interesting (I haven’t even TOLD YOU the topic of this post, and yet I AM SO FAR OFF IT).
Anyways, I read personal blogs, and lately a lot of them are the personal blogs of young mothers, and the question of whether or not to have a second (or third) child has been making the rounds, and it’s gotten me to thinking, so I thought I’d toss in my two cents, because that’s what I do. Toss in two pennies.
When J and I were totally clueless about this whole baby thing (a mere YEAR ago), we were both pretty convinced that we’d have two. We both have a sibling, and while neither one of us was super best friends with our sibling growing up, we both have good relationships with our siblings NOW, and that seemed like the important thing. We also thought we’d start trying for our second child when our first was one, which, OMFG, what were we SMOKING? We are about three months away from Olivia’s first birthday, and the very IDEA of trying to get pregnant in three months makes me want to up and DIE.
I sometimes wish I were younger- at just shy of 36, there are some time constraints on when we can have this theoretical second child, and not only because there’s a statistical strike against my fertility. We’d like to retire. Early, if possible- and while having a teenager at home while being retired isn’t the worst thing I can envision, it’s also not what we have in mind when we play that “in 20 years” game. We’d also like to travel and spend money on fancy dinners and I know you can do it with kids, I really do, but doesn’t the idea of doing it without them sound nice too? If I were younger, I’d be more willing to shelve this second child business for several years; but there is NO WAY IN HELL I’m going to attempt a pregnancy any later than 40. I’m sure that there are millions of women for whom a pregnancy at that age is easy and breezy, but it’s just not for me.
I also wish that it was in some way possible for us to “accidentally” get pregnant. I am almost 100% sure that if I were to accidentally get pregnant, I would have the child, and that would allow me to abdicate my adult responsibilities and say “ooops, guess we’re having two!” But that’s not gonna happen- we’ll have to make appointments and have ultrasounds and make sure sperm gets here in good shape, and all that before I even GET PREGNANT. There is no avoiding the fact that we have to DECIDE. I… kinda hate DECIDING.
But I don’t have more time and I can’t accidentally get pregnant, so there’s no use wishing for either of those possibilities. I’m stuck with actually deciding like an adult what our family should look like. Here are some things I’m thinking:
While my pregnancy was pretty easy, I was super tired, and I’m not sure how “super tired” meshes with “child in need of stimulation, interaction, and entertainment.” And if we do get started sooner than later, and I do get pregnant as easily as I did the first time, how does that work with a toddler who still needs to be carried a lot (speaking of which, WHY IN GOD’S NAME DO I ALWAYS FORGET TO BRING THE FUCKING STROLLER??!!??), and isn’t verbal enough to tell me what she wants or needs?
The aftermath of pregnancy… well, that’s a different story. I was a MESS after Olivia was born. I had panic attacks and cried in the shower (when I took a shower, which was not so often, and then only when someone made me, because I was THE ONLY ONE who could POSSIBLY keep the baby alive, while at the same time resenting the fact that I was DOING THIS ALL ALONE), and I screamed at J for just about everything. I’m terrified that I’ll react the same way after delivery, but instead of only having to apologize profusely to J, I’ll also have to figure out how to make my poor toddler understand that Mama’s having a hard time right now, sweetie, but everything will be ok eventually, when Mama’s not so sure everything WILL be all right.
I’m afraid I’ll miss some really awesome parts of Olivia’s toddlerhood, because I’m too tired or too busy or too something. I keep hearing how AWESOME age two is, and I really really want to enjoy it, not spend it resembling a beached whale, or being an insufferable asshole to… uhhh, everyone.
I have NO IDEA how to wrangle two children. Nine months in, I still forget some super important item every time I leave the house with my ONE child- with two, someone’s gonna leave the house without pants, most likely me. Two children just sounds so… HARD. And of course, there’s my biggest fear, which is that somehow I’ll end up carrying twins. TWINS. That means three kids total, which sounds super awesome in theory, it really does, but HOLY SHIT NO WAY IN HELL OH MY GOD I JUST CANNOT.
Well. That just reads like a laundry list of reasons why I should just stop at one. But then why do I feel guilty about that? Why is there a crystal clear image in my mind of myself standing with my two daughters I cannot get out of my head (this image has been in my brain since before Olivia arrived- I can’t downgrade it to one child, no matter how hard I try. I’m also a lot thinner in my mind’s eye, and can pull off the maxi dress, so maybe my mind’s eye is just fucking with me)? I just cannot close the door on the second child option, even if I can write a thousand words worth of good reasons I should.
I think it comes down to this: do I actually want a second child, or do I just want to be the kind of person who wants a second child? Is my mental image of me with two children a premonition, or a fantasy? Is there some sort of algorithm I can use to figure this out? Time machine? ANYTHING?