The Second Child Debate

As a recently married happy couple with one gorgeous four year old son who we love more than anything, we are constantly asked, “When’s the next one coming then?”

I hate that question.

In this oh-so familiar scenario, I normally shrug uncomfortably and say I’m not sure we’ll bother. Then once I’m alone with my husband and wine-soaked, I yell, “I WANT ANOTHER BABY!” But in truth, I don’t know if I do.

I loved being pregnant. And I love the idea of another baby. I reeeally love the thought of a year off work. But in reality? I’m not so sure.

In honesty, I think we have probably waited too long now. We’re over the dirty nappies and the sleepless nights. We even have ornaments in the house again. The thought of going back to being an exhausted grumpy mess with greasy hair makes me want to immediately run upstairs for an uninterrupted shower, which I can now enjoy every day thanks to Thomas and Friends on Series Link.

And what about our careers? Both of us have big things coming up work-wise and, while I’m aware that it is ever so slightly illegal to discriminate against a pregnant lady, I do believe it still happens, although certainly without poor intention. I have only within the last year reverted to full time work and although I have mostly hated myself every day for it, my career has flourished in that time. Would another baby have a negative impact on that? Also, we’re more financially stable than we’ve ever been (which is still not very), but we don’t earn enough to save anything by the end of the month. Do we really want to go back to scrimping and saving every day and having frozen pizza for our evening meal?

We have also been incredibly lucky when it comes to childcare. I feel it would be unreasonable and unfair of us to assume that we would get the same help again, allowing us to still earn a decent amount at zero expense to us. As everyone knows, looking after children, especially someone else’s, is not easy at the best of times, and several friends have told us that although you can’t get rid of people when your first-born arrives, no one really gives a crap with the second.

As well as the practicalities, I also worry about my emotional capacity. I love my son an absolutely indescribable amount- but would I feel so strongly again? Would every single kick, gurgle and tooth be so special the second time around? I always recall my mother-in-law telling me about her three sons. The eldest had a detailed baby book, completed in its entirety including photos, essays documenting every second from conception to school, lost teeth and locks of hair stuck down with sellotape, bloody everything. The second child’s baby book was, by her own admission, a bit half-arsed. The main bits like significant dates were filled in, but there were far fewer photos and no lost body parts. The youngest son had no baby book. I obviously understand that a mother’s love isn’t measured in completed pages of baby book, but it seems kind of unfair and is the exact kind of thing I worry about.

And how would Baby no. 2 affect Baby no. 1? Sure, at times I think he’d benefit from a younger sibling. It could help with the tantrums when he loses a game or is, heaven forbid, asked to actually share something. But what if he didn’t bond with the baby, what if he wanted a boy and it was a girl, what if he got jealous of me spending time with the baby while he was at school? I don’t want to do anything to make him feel anything other than cherished.

The reason I hate the ‘next baby’ question is the assumption that there’s something missing from our family, that we’re somehow incomplete. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of our friends and family have said that the second child is the best thing they ever did- and that’s great for them. But if it never happens for us, that’s OK. That’s OK because we are already so happy- we are already complete. I’m sure another child would be amazing, but so would our perfect family staying just as it is.

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