What The Heart Doesn’t Know

November 9, 2006

(Hey, guess what? More hand-wringing! More guilt! More angst! Huzzah! Never gets old!)

(Um, if these things bore you? Just scroll down through the pictures.)

Some months back, I had a pregnancy scare. Except that it wasn’t really a scare, because I was convinced that I was pregnant and discovered, in my conviction, a real desire to be pregnant. When the pregnancy turned out not to be, I was disappointed. Deeply disappointed. Sad. But I consoled myself with the fact that I had learned something through the experience: I had learned that I wanted to be pregnant. That I was ready for a second child. I rejoiced in this discovery. I was ready.

But that was then. This is now. And now, I’m ambivalent. Is it weird that I might have changed my mind?

I think about having a second child all the time. I feel the clock ticking, I see WonderBaby getting bigger, I feel the proximity of our future as a family and I think, what about Baby Number Two? Is it time to start to sorting out the details of B#2’s invitation into these world? Do I want to start sorting out those details?

Do I want a B#2?

My response to these hypothetical questions is, always, this: a big, fat, resounding I don’t know.

I can barely keep up with one WonderBaby. Or, rather – it’s a good day if I can keep up with WonderBaby at all. Most days, I’m laying trampled by the roadside, inhaling WonderBaby’s dust, before the day has even really started. As I’ve faithfully recounted in these virtual pages, I often feel like a bad mother, an inadequate mother, a mother who cannot keep up, simply because keeping charge of such a powerful, willful little being has proven and continues to prove to be such an overwhelming challenge for me. Much more challenging than I ever imagined it would be.

And here’s a further confession, one that causes me some shame: I feel this way, even though I have ample support in caring for WonderBaby. The Husband, as I have said before, is a powerfully supportive partner. And – and this is a huge and – I have the aid of an extraordinary child-caregiver. Ever since I went back to teaching part-time, we have employed a part-time nanny, who I have come to depend upon like oxygen. She cares for WonderBaby when I am at school, and when I am writing and preparing lectures and marking. She takes WonderBaby to playgroups and library programs and drop-in centres and the park and indulges all of WonderBaby’s energetic impulses. Three days a week, she does the hard work: the chasing, the wrestling, and the wrangling of the baby who never sleeps and never stops moving. She takes charge, and I am free to catch my breath and charge my batteries and take care of all of the other exigencies of our day-to-day lives. Why, then, with all of this support, do I continue to feel challenged? And what does this have to do with the decision to have another child?

I feel guilty about the fact that I hand WonderBaby off to another person a few times a week. I feel guilty that I feel liberated in doing so. I feel guilty that I so relish the time that I have to myself. I miss WonderBaby when she’s not with me, of course, but it’s the sort of ‘missing’ that is made keener by the guilt that I feel for needing the absence. The guilt that I feel for, sometimes, relishing the absence. (Oh, dear god, am terrible mother for even allowing the sliver of such a heresy into my heart!)

Such is the guilt I feel that I fall over all over her when we are reunited at the end of the day. Such is the guilt that I clutch at our hours together, insisting that they be filled with the closest togetherness, that every minute of those hours, every second of those hours, be filled with hugs and laughter and whispered stories and shrieks of joy. Such is the guilt that I cannot, in those moments, imagine dividing those hours, that I cannot imagine giving up even a second of those hours to another child.

My loyalties as a parent, as these pertain to time and attention, are already divided. How could I choose to divide them further? And they would become further divided. Every moment devoted to the care and nurture of a second child – in utero or out – would be a moment not devoted to WonderBaby. If I already feel guilty about the time and energy that are drained away from WonderBaby by other things, how much further will that guilt deepen if the well of time and energy becomes even shallower?

(I know, I KNOW. Enough already with the guilt.)

If I’m not happy with how I’m managing one child, what business do I have having a second?

The Husband says that I am being much too hard on myself. He tells me that I am a wonderful mother, a mother who gives her child more than any child could ever hope for. He tells me that there is plenty of love to go around, that WonderBaby would in no way be deprived by the addition of another being to love in our family. He’s right, of course. Love is not a zero-sum game.

Time, however, only comes in finite, and so zero-sum, quantities. As does energy. And attention. Whatever time and energy and attention I put in one direction is that much less time and energy and attention that I can put in another. Having another child will tax the available reserves. Having another child will deprive WonderBaby of some of the time and energy and attention that I might otherwise give her.

And yet, and yet… having another child will give WonderBaby something that I certainly can never provide to her on my own: someone else to love, and be loved by. Someone, other than me, for her to play with, conspire with, imagine with, fight with. Someone to grow up with. Someone with whom to muddle through the wonder and weirdness of family.

Having another child might also accomplish something else: it might force me to recognize that love is the best thing that I have to offer my children, and that love is something that I hold in infinite reserve. It might force me to recognize that I will never have as much time and energy as I would like to have, to devote to those I love, but that that, perhaps, doesn’t matter so much as the love itself. It might force me to recognize that I am limited, but that I am not necessarily any less of a mother for it. It might, in other words, knock some emotional sense into me. Or knock the overfunctioning stuffing out of me. Either would be good, I imagine.

In any case, I am (we are) still undecided. What it will have to come down to is whether we want another child – not whether it would be good for WonderBaby or good for my psyche or whatever. It will come down to what we – what I - want.

And I still don’t know what that is.

(SINCERE QUESTION THAT ALSO SERVES AS SHAMELESS COMMENT SOLICITATION: Did you know? Did you plan Number Two – or Three or Four, for that matter? Did you fret over your ability to manage, to cope, to love? I know that parents with more than one child thrive and love and wouldn’t have things any different – but did you always know that it would be thus?)

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    { 98 comments }

    Kate November 10, 2006 at 11:16 am

    Oh, yeah… and my kids are 4 1/2 years apart. I want a third, I do, I do… but if I woke up tomorrow to a positive pregnancy test, I would weep.

    My son is 2 and a couple months. I can’t have babies one right after the other… I need a year or two of toddlerhood to start thinking a newborn is a good idea again.

    Veronica Mitchell November 10, 2006 at 11:17 am

    My first was a supercharged kid like WonderBaby. We tried for #2 immediately. My sister and I are best friends and we talk on the phone almost every day. I wanted to give my kids a chance at that kind of lifelong friendship.

    We conceived #2 when #1 was 9 months old. The pregnancy was exhausting, and the first few months after the birth were gruelling. #1 was too young to be left alone with the baby for even a second, with predictably exhausting results.

    But somewhere around the seventh month, when I moved them into the same room together, they discovered each other. During the morning and nighttime, when they were all alone together, #1 saw that #2 was the perfect audience for all her antics. Of course they bicker sometimes, but the real surprise is that #1 is less demanding of my attention now; she has someone else to entertain and be entertained by.

    So even though it’s none of my business, I say go for it. The relationships your kids can form can be great, and having babies close together means fewer interrupted years in your career and earning. Also, I don’t know how college planning works in Canada, but here in the US you get bigger discounts if your kids are in college at the same time.

    Jay November 10, 2006 at 11:18 am

    I am new to your blog, but it’s fabulous. I have not read the other 49 posts, but I imagine mine will be similar. I have 4, and no, I did not plan that. And yes, I did waffle back and forth about whether or not I could handle more children. The last two came together though, so I didn’t have much say in that. But I am now confident in saying that I am done. I am also confident in saying that when you are done, you will KNOW it!! Good luck with you decision.

    Kel November 10, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    I am an only child, so for me the choice was already made. Unless I had serious complications with my first pregnancy, there would be a 2nd child.

    When it came time for us to think about getting pregnant again, I don’t know if there was a “right” time, just knowing how many years we wanted the children apart played a factor.

    When Bean was born last Nov, I couldn’t believe how my oldest son bonded with him. They are closer than I ever thought possible…and as close as I had always wished them to be. Granted they fight and get on each other’s nerves, but seeing how Little Man interacts with Bean makes the exhaustion worth it.

    I understand you are tired, I’m in the same boat. I know I won’t always be this tired, it’s my mantra…and sometimes it’s what keeps me sane. I would rather be tired than filled with regret about what I didn’t do.

    I agree that it’s time to stop thinking and go with what your heart tells you.

    kittenpie November 10, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    You’re right that the love is the important thing. Whether for one or two, taking time to go to work does not diminish that. I think you’re also right that it would give WonderBaby soemone else to play with, so maybe the time becomes a little less important, and you can all share your love and joy together. I agree… and yet I totally hear you on the ambivalence. It’s all the what-ifs that are killing me. But it seems we are slowly srifting closer to a yes when we talk about the future now.

    Everyday Superhero November 10, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    I wish that I could write the way you do. We are also trying to decide about another child… the terms are different, seeing as it will be #4 instead of #2…. but the question is the same.

    We have only planned one of our children (which turned out to be two (twins) and the third was a surprise)… and I loathe making the choice. I know exactly what I am giving up this time around. And I also know what I am getting into. Sort of.

    Is anyone ever really ready?

    chelle November 10, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    I wanted number two, so badly I almost went crazy when we lost the baby, then trying for another was as nerve racking. I can’t say what it will be like since we are still growing, but I am looking forward to sharing this experience with my first child.

    Dana November 10, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    “Some months back, I had a pregnancy scare. Except that it wasn’t really a scare, because I was convinced that I was pregnant and discovered, in my conviction, a real desire to be pregnant. When the pregnancy turned out not to be, I was disappointed. Deeply disappointed. Sad. But I consoled myself with the fact that I had learned something through the experience: I had learned that I wanted to be pregnant. That I was ready for a second child. I rejoiced in this discovery. I was ready.”

    This was ME in August….and I blogged it. And then pretended I didn’t really want another baby, because my husband isn’t ready. But secretly, I really do want another and I really am ready and I didn’t realize it until my test in August came back negative.

    You’ve tapped into my feelings and I thank you for that, Catherine.

    Gabriella November 10, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Your post echoes my thoughts exactly. I am terrified of having a second baby. I honestly think it just has to happen because if I think about it it never will.
    You’re a good mom, trust your heart and you will get through anything life throws at you. Believe!

    Crankmama November 10, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Darlin’,
    My twins were unplanned… I had two right at the beginning…

    But adding a third.. that was a difficult decision.

    It’s a tough one. You do never truly know how you rise to the occasion.. but the thing is? You somehow find the strength.

    Love,
    RAchael

    mamatulip November 10, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    Julia was a surprise, but we knew we wanted kids so it was a good surprise (although I walked around in a state of shock for a good two weeks). I have a very, very small family and after my mom died I realized how important family is. I really wanted a bigger family, so Oliver was planned. We just didn’t think his conception would happen so quickly after deciding to go ahead.

    We are going to try for a third, but not for a while. Oliver is much too high-needs for us to think of that right now. Later.

    It’s a tough, personal decision. Good luck making it.

    something blue November 10, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Two weeks after our first was born, I mapped out the month that we would start trying for #2. She came to be the second we gave it a go. We are lucky that way.

    It’s like a new room in your heart, that you never knew was there, opens up. Who doesn’t love having a bigger house? I wish my house of love was a mansion but husband likes our two room dwelling. He’s afraid we won’t be able to cope financially and emotionally with three rooms. I have to stop talking in tongues.

    Jen November 10, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Ever since I could remember, I have always wanted 3 children. I came from a one boy, one girl household and always wished there was SOMEONE else for me to play with.
    The first was easy and the second a little harder. When I delivered and the nurse handed me my second son, I cried. Everyone else in the room assumed I was crying with joy for this new baby, but no one knew I was crying for my first son. It was at that moment I realized he wasn’t my baby anymore. He was going to have to share my time with his new brother. I was going to have to share my love that I had soley given to my first, to my second now. I cried for that. It was hard. BUT, I DO love them both so immensly. I have realized that NO ONE has to share my love. I have become aware of the fact that my heart has more love to give then I could have EVER imagined.
    Now, like you, I am struggling with the thought of doing it all over again. I have made a list of pros and cons. The con list is HUGE……time, money, love, surgery, birth defects, late nights, spit up, worry, resentment, stress, a bigger car. The pro side is short. A new baby, a new life to love, a wonderful future. I have to say that the cons seem so trivial now compared to the pros. My heart says “99.9% Yes.”
    The answer will come to you. It probably won’t ever be 100%, but I think if it crosses your mind THIS much and you worry and stress over it THIS much, then it means you are ready. If you didn’t WANT…… that you would know 100%.
    Hugs to you and best of luck.

    Anonymous November 10, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Where is your confidence? Guilt, inadequacy, overwhelming, deprive, missing – these are your words??? What about the joy you will share with another child? What about the joy you share with YOUR sister? What will you say to your daughter when she asks you why she doesn’t have a brother or sister (and she will). Most people’s fondest childhood memories center around their siblings – not Mommy and Daddy.

    Mocha November 10, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    Of course there’s guilt. There has to be. Right?

    None of mine were planned. NONE. Yet here is my current state of guilt coupled with the do-I-or-don’t-I dilemma: now that I’m financially able and more grown up than ever I want another one. The guilt comes from the fact that it may come from a very selfish place. But it’s all fairly selfish to me anyway.

    Man. Too meta for a Friday. Maybe after an afternoon martini I’ll come back…

    Damselfly November 10, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    That’s funny — just yesterday I blogged about baby #2. #1 is only two months old, so I don’t even know what I’m in for.

    But I hear ya about the guilt. I think naptime, when I have time for myself, is the only thing that keeps me sane.

    txhorns November 10, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    I was almost exactly where you are a year ago and now I have two wonderful girls (2.5 and 4 months). It’s hard, exhausting, and the guilt is crippling. But, they’re worth it. The fact that you are brave enough to wonder about it supports the statements said throughout these comments that you are in fact, a very good mother. Good luck, whatever you decide.

    BTW, Where did you get that shirt WB is wearing? it is so cute!

    sunshine scribe November 10, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Seems there is something in the air … er keyboard … in the blogosphere these days.

    To answer your question: I knew.

    ewe are here November 10, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    My first thought: please stop feeling so guilty about it all. You’re trying really hard to do what’s right for you and your family which is a good thing, a great thing, something I wish more people would do sometimes! You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about!

    As for the question. Yes, we knew we wanted at least one; I was also abnormally afraid it wouldn’t happen for various reasons and discussed what we would do if that was the case. Instead, we got pregant our first week of trying! So it was thrilling and scary all at the same time. MF is the light of my life, (even though I want to throttle him sometimes). As for Number Two, we also knew we wanted another one relatively close in age to MF. So we bit the bullet and went for it right after MF’s first birthday… his little brother is due in March. They will be 22 months apart. I’m sure it will be crazy, full of ups and downs, but hopefully, it will all work out in the end. Stay tuned.

    cbeck38 November 10, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    Having a second child was a difficult decision for me. I say me because I knew that it would be me to primarily take care of the child while having to work and take care of our first born. It is challenging with two or more children but so worthwhile. The capacity to love grows with each child. Being tired never goes away though.

    whymommy November 10, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    We planned, and we begged, and we prayed, and finally we’re going to have our second. I can’t wait until he gets here, even though all of the things you say are true — I will have to spread my time thinner, and it will be harder — but also, my boys will be close in age and we will make mischief and messes together, and it will be wonderful.

    Good luck as you think about your decision. It has to be the decision that’s right for you and your family — no one else.

    Gillian November 10, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    I think there are two elements being stirred together in this subject. The first is do I want another baby, the second is can I manage the logistics of a second baby. You seem to come down pretty squarely on Yes, I want another baby when the logistics are right for it. You can’t win the argument of good mother bad mother because we are after perfection. I wanted to be an excellent Programmer — but I wanted to be a perfect mother. My goal was not a goal, because it was not achievable, it was an archetype I was struggling to emulate. Motherhood is a ball of joy, terror, guilt, resentment and serenity I think. You are clearly in one emotion for a space and then the whole thing shifts like a kaleidoscope. I don’t think that you need to have another child while you are stretched so far. I think you want to have another child and the time will come when the dazzler you have is able to understand and make choices. She is all impulse and developmental triggers right now. A day will come when for the most part you can get through a day with consistant, reliable behaviours from each of you. That is the time to have number 2.

    Her Bad Mother November 10, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    I say this all the time, in comments, that you all are so supportive and it’s so great, yada yada – but seriously, you guys have had me alternately weeping and laughing today with your stories and support. I know that i go overboard with the guilt and the angst, but these are the things that I always need to work out in my own head and heart. hearing about how it JUST DOES get worked out has been huge for me . HUGE.

    Oh, and the t-shirt? From a store called Propoganda in Toronto. White silkscreen print on black (onesie). They have a series of goth baby tees and onesies. Very cool. Went well with the sparkly leg-warmers.

    Christina November 10, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    Well, as you know, I’m pregnant with #2, who was planned just like Cordy, and I still don’t quite know how I feel. I mean, we wanted a second child, we figured this was the right time, but I still have days where I fall into a panic attack wondering what in the hell I’m doing.

    As for worrying about time, I think it is perfectly OK to want time away from your kids, and kids need time away from mom, too. My grandmother told me that as a baby, she was laid on the bed for most of the day while her mother did other things, and the older kids watched over her. She still loved her mother. As a mother herself, my grandmother forced her three girls to play outside to give her some time alone. My mom is thankful she always sent her outside to explore her world.

    My own mom (single mom) had a reliable babysitter who I was so close with I called her “Grandma Babysitter”. She was a third grandmother to me, a family member to me, and when she died I came back from college to attend her funeral and mourned her loss. Loving her didn’t make me love my mother any less.

    I still feel guilty sometimes when I want alone time, but then I realize that Cordy needs time away from me, too. And I think having a sibling will give her a chance to have another person to love, and someone to play with or at least divert some of her attention to. There will still never be enough time, but as long as the time spent with my kids is quality time, at least I’ll feel like I’m doing OK.

    Beck November 10, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    I have three kids and they were all planned, in that I just desperately wanted each of them. In each case, it was a blind leap of faith that I would be able to do it – and I was. More or less. Imperfectly.
    When I was pregnant with my second child, I was terrified – how could I possibly love anyone as much, how could I split my time and my heart in two? And again, however imperfectly, it just happens.
    Not that you need more than one, but you’ll know if you do, if you know what I mean.

    Mama_to_Briar&Avery November 10, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    I told my husband we were pregnant with our second a week shy of our daughter’s first birthday. We knew we wanted another, but were at the mercy of my cycle returning since I was still nursing our daughter- all the platitudes about having a greater capacity for love than you knew are true…I was hammered with guilt when I started to show that I was shafting my first daughter by giving her just a year of being the center of our universe. It was for not. I can tell you for us, after a tense 2 weeks at home with daughter number two, it was a love affair. These girls are devoted to each other and I am able to look at them and know that they will always have one another. I am in constant wonder that they are so different and that I love them both so passionately. Not that it’s any of my business, but I say go for it mama.

    mo-wo November 11, 2006 at 12:55 am

    #2 was a surprise for me… we experienced what is called ‘natural childspacing’… I had some of your concerns — mostly that we would ‘not be up to it’. We aren’t but I don’t care.

    I often think about what Mary P said when I expressed my concerns like these. The children are very much for each other and not something of/for us. With the birth of our son I think our daughter come to know love in a way she would not if she was stuck with ‘just us’ in our family. I tell her — that is your brother and he will love you for your whole life. She get that.

    So there you go one more thing! — Disclose on this and similar in my post today

    mrsmogul November 11, 2006 at 9:35 am

    Sometimes my husband and I think were crazy for wanting another child as this one is a lot of work! Other times its like oh it would be nice for him to have a sister and my clock is ticking too…

    I think to get pregant you plan it…but you also have to have sex. ARE YOU HAVING SEX? I’m jealous if you are! LOL

    C. November 11, 2006 at 11:27 am

    My two oldest are 2 1/2 yrs apart (a little too close for me…but the second baby was a surprise!) and now that they are older, it really is great. I thank God that they have each other, no matter what…even though they might fight constantly, I know they love each other like crazy.

    As for the whole idea of how the hell will my heart ever stretch enough to love another baby? I remember thinking that when I found out i was preg. with number two. The only way I could rest was by just allowing myself to know that that might actually happen (that’s how strongly I felt it). I don’t have to tell you, the second baby number two popped out, he was my LOVE! My baby! My heart physically ached because I loved him so much! So much for all my worries.

    Now here’s the weird part…in Aug. ’05, I had baby number three and we (especially husband) are going to try for a fourth in the near future, but I am going through the same thoughts! I know they are crazy! I know for a fact it won’t be a problem, but it’s one of the main reasons that I can’t even bear the thought of getting preg. for a long time (and we’re not getting any younger!). I don’t know how I could possibly love another baby. So stupid, since I’ve proven to myself it’s not an issue as soon as they pop out. Ugh.

    This has got to be some sort of biological trick that served some purpose a million years ago, but still sticks around for whatever reason, or why would almost every mom (old or new) feel it?

    As for the actual day to day work, you can do it, but I’m not going to lie, it was not all happy happy joy joy, like some of my friends made it out to be. It was absolutely nuts for the first year or so (esp. since I nursed #2 for over a year). But, like every challenge, you just take it day by day and before you know it, everyone is peeing on the potty themselves, and the physical work starts easing up…only for the mental challenges (that older kids provide) to get worse!

    Anyways, I hope this made some sense…and I wish you peace with whatever you decide. : )

    radioactive girl November 11, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I have ALWAYS known I wanted a lot of kids. It was the only thing about my life I have ever been absolutely sure about. I wasn’t sure on the actual number, and when we had three, I thought we were done, but when we had our surprise of number 4, I was totally happy. I could never say I was absolutely done (except now because of my hysterectomy) because I always knew I would never be sad about another baby.

    BUT, some people don’t know and have more, and some people don’t know and don’t have more. It is a very personal decision. Whatever you decide will be wonderful and perfect.

    Imagine how much fun it would be to only have one and be able to help in the classroom, do anything your child needs or wants to do without having to juggle other kids. Now imagine having a sibling for your baby to love and grow up with. Another baby to love and learn with. A baby for Wonderbaby to teach and make them both feel super special. See? Both ways are good and whichever one you choose will be a perfect fit for you and your family.

    Just because you are a great mom (and you are!) doesn’t mean you have to have or not have another baby. Good luck deciding!

    Mommygoth November 11, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Hoo, boy. Sometimes when I read your blog I wonder if I am in fact a somnabublogger, and actually typing Her Bad Mother in my sleep. And then I remember how much more articulately you convey this stuff than I do, and think, rats, that would have been kind of cool.

    I too am struggling with the whole idea of a second child. I recently blogged about the decision that I do in fact want one, and I do. It’s the whole actually doing it part that still seems to be in flux. So many factors, all the ones you mentioned plus finances, sanity, and ever getting a single decent night’s sleep again. Weighing in against the idea that I will never feel little feet on my ribcage again, or smell baby hair, or know the great flooding rush of wonder that comes the first time your child says “Momma”. I think all my reasons for wanting another child are selfish, as are all my reasons for NOT wanting one. I don’t think anyone knows how it will work until they do it.

    Scattered Mom November 11, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    I noticed that there are very few, if any, parents of onlies here. I too wrestled with the same questions that you are, an ultimately ended up staying with one child.

    My response is over on my blog at http://www.cookienotes.blogspot.com

    Karen November 11, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    I’ve landed myself three. My first is a sensitive thinker. After 5 years (which included one pregnancy loss) we gave him a gift of a younger brother. It settled and soothed him in amazing ways. He grew up in those first months from preschooler to older brother and drank it up like cool water on a hot day. It was a planned event, though it had taken longer than I had hoped it would, so there was some relief. The brother we gave him is just a little Puppy at heart who now follows him around making attempts to imitate, play, wrestle, and even helps himself to a juice box while grabbing one for his big brother in the same moment. It’s beautiful. At age 22 months our litte puppy became a big brother (bringing the boy total to 3 in 7 years!). This was a surprise, a big one, as my middle child is well, spirited, sweet, but very spirited and hugely energetic, as well as also having health complaints (GERD, chronic ear infections,etc) Having to do toddlerhood with an energetic, strong-willed puppy dog of a boy while pregnant was well, a source of great misery to me. My whole body ached. The nursery he goes to for two days a week is an oasis in the dessert for the two of us. He had friends, toys, no frustrations because it was completely child-proofed, unlike home, which is well, a home with computers and dvds and potties which are “no-no touches.” Everything at the nursery is centered around toddlers, whereas at home, I work here, I have to clean, there are competing agendas. I say no to the guilt, it is a gift to any toddler to have other people to care for them and make life happy and carefree even if just for the afternoon. And now my newest is the youngest and is delight to both boys. My 2 year old longs for the baby to be able to run and play and it really will be in just a few short months (we have to make it through winter). He is learning to give of himself, even offering up the beloved passy to the crying baby, trying to pick him up to play with him (saying I carry you, I carry you) and soothe him during diaper changes (“I know, I know”.) I never thought my high-demand, always sick toddler would learn so young to give, to cherish, to nurture. It is having a profound effect on how I view him. He takes (and takes and takes) but he gives as well to all of us and it is beautiful. My big kid gets to escape baby world at school every day and my toddler gets to escape sharing mommy at the nursery. It’s lovely for me and them and everyday I say no to the guilt! Have fun with your one and when you are ready number two (or three) will give you and even fuller experience of your older child – it’s great to get to know other parts of our own kids that weren’t visible to us before! And as always, thanks for your post!

    nonlineargirl November 11, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Every day I redecide. Sometimes more than once a day.

    Joker The Lurcher November 11, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    i decided i couldn’t go through the difficulties again (i had a miscarriage before my son and then huge problems with his birth and him being prem and all sorts of other stuff) so we decided not to have more.

    as he turned out to be autistic and have adhd it became a bit of a relief as a second one would either be another whirlwind like him or be a victim of his rages. so having only the one was ok for us.

    you need to work out what is right for you. it is not compulsory to have more than one if you think it would be tough.

    tracey November 11, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    I got the courage up to have another child only after my first born turned four. Once I got pregnant again, I freaked. Then I miscarried and freaked harder. It was then I really felt I wanted to have another but also knew that whatever was meant to be was OK with me. I was undecided in my own way and I understand what you are saying here. I wrote the story of my experience and had an editor for a big magazine read through it and he (yes, a man) said I was too wishy washy in the end of the story and that people hate wishy washy in articles. Um HELLO I thought, of course I’m wishy wahsy and undecided…my god HAVE YOU EVER HAD A BABY MR EDITOR?? OR BETTER YET, A MISCARRIAGE?
    Duh. Anyway, all that to say, I hear you loud and clear and not knowing is OK my friend. It’s OK.

    Anonymous November 11, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    I too am struggling with the decision of having a second child. While most of my worries are similar to yours-my biggest fear is somewhat different. Our first pregnancy ended with the birth of a beautiful boy, my near death and a hysterectomy. I am now debating having a second child via surrogacy. Your words echo in my ears and fill my eyes with tears…”having another child will give WonderBaby something that I certainly can never provide to her on my own: someone else to love, and be loved by. Someone, other than me, for her to play with, conspire with, imagine with, fight with. Someone to grow up with.” Good luck in your decision, and remember the love for a child is so pure-I don’t believe that you could look in the eyes of a second child and regret the decision to have him/her.

    Ruth Dynamite November 13, 2006 at 8:29 am

    Planned #2 – born almost exactly two years after the first.

    Looking back, it was nothing short of a miracle.

    You’ll know when you know. Don’t fret.

    Mom101 November 13, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Since I am NINETIETH here, I doubt I’ll have anything to add that hasn’t been said more eloquently. But I will anyway:

    1. Your husband is right
    2. There’s no right answer. There’s also no right time.
    3. I am freaking out about child #2 as we speak, which puts me in an interesting predicament, as it is already growing in my uterus.
    4. You are loved, you are loving, you are worthy.

    I cannot tell you what to do or what not to do. But I will so look at #2 hard.

    Gillian November 13, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Totally off topic, isn’t that refreshing? Just an aberrant, no place to land comment. I read your list of blogs-to-be and noticed the one about weaning. I was asked about how I weaned my daughter years ago because most people didn’t breast feed and there wasn’t much in the way of resources out there. I felt stupid because I didn’t do anything. My daughter just started eating more solid food and was eating less and less when nursing. I stopped offering until she indicated an interest and she never showed any interest on her own. Since that was such a brainless answer, I called up my daughter and asked her the same question. I had to laugh because she had the same answer. The only difference was that the grandson would put away enormous amounts of food. They had to start finger foods rapidly because anytime the spoon was not full of food and actually in his mouth he was yelling very loudly. He only has loud and off volume settings. His cup only held water until about the time he stopped nursing. They had sometimes offered him milk but he refused it. About the time he gave up nursing he accepted milk when offered and began to ask for it in his cup. He was then on dairy exclusively.

    TB November 13, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    Here’s a secret about me: I am a little bit relieved that this probably won’t ever be an issue for me. I’m 35 now and with the amount of time it took us to get pregnant the first time around, we are fairly sure that we won’t have a second.
    I’ve thought about how we might try in another few years, but I don’t think we’ll try that hard and I’m okay with that. It makes me feel like I’m off the hook from having to agonize over the decision.

    scarbie doll November 15, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    My homeopath recommended having baby #2 so I don’t put all my effed up shit onto just one child. Plus, I’ll be so tired after two that I won’t be able to think about how shite I am at motehring. How’s that for perspective?

    tallulah November 18, 2006 at 10:42 am

    As a mother of four adopted, one biological and adopting another child in the Spring, I would echo your comment on having an infinite amount of love to give. Even if I don’t have enough time in the day for everything, I know that I love my children and they know, feel and experience the love that I have to give.
    It’s a unique experience for everyone. Wonderbaby will grow up fine as an only child and Wonderbaby will grow up great with a sibling. Either way, know that you are blessed.

    Heather March 14, 2007 at 12:29 am

    I think most moms struggle with this. Even after they become pregnant with another child. I worried that I’d be cheating my daughter out of time with me. I worried that I’d be chancing the happy fact that I had one healthy kid. I worried that I couldn’t handle 2 kids.

    The truth is, you’re not cheating your child by having another. They gain so much by having a sibling and learn so much about social interaction. Time? Well, they get time with a sibling. Just as valuable as parent time. The health thing, well, just blind faith on that I guess.

    I tend to think of the future and when I’m gone. I want my kids to have family even when I’m gone.

    We’ve been trying for #3 for more than a year (shhh, don’t tell anyone!) I told my hubby when we were discussing adding another child “If I have to choose between a bigger house and another family member to love, I choose the family member.”

    unfortunately it is looking like I’ll have to settle for the bigger house.

    “You’ll never regret the kids you have, just the ones you don’t.”

    Heather March 14, 2007 at 12:31 am

    I think most moms struggle with this. Even after they become pregnant with another child. I worried that I’d be cheating my daughter out of time with me. I worried that I’d be chancing the happy fact that I had one healthy kid. I worried that I couldn’t handle 2 kids.

    The truth is, you’re not cheating your child by having another. They gain so much by having a sibling and learn so much about social interaction. Time? Well, they get time with a sibling. Just as valuable as parent time. The health thing, well, just blind faith on that I guess.

    I tend to think of the future and when I’m gone. I want my kids to have family even when I’m gone.

    We’ve been trying for #3 for more than a year (shhh, don’t tell anyone!) I told my hubby when we were discussing adding another child “If I have to choose between a bigger house and another family member to love, I choose the family member.”

    unfortunately it is looking like I’ll have to settle for the bigger house.

    “You’ll never regret the kids you have, just the ones you don’t.”

    Heather March 14, 2007 at 12:32 am

    I think most moms struggle with this. Even after they become pregnant with another child. I worried that I’d be cheating my daughter out of time with me. I worried that I’d be chancing the happy fact that I had one healthy kid. I worried that I couldn’t handle 2 kids.

    The truth is, you’re not cheating your child by having another. They gain so much by having a sibling and learn so much about social interaction. Time? Well, they get time with a sibling. Just as valuable as parent time. The health thing, well, just blind faith on that I guess.

    I tend to think of the future and when I’m gone. I want my kids to have family even when I’m gone.

    We’ve been trying for #3 for more than a year (shhh, don’t tell anyone!) I told my hubby when we were discussing adding another child “If I have to choose between a bigger house and another family member to love, I choose the family member.”

    unfortunately it is looking like I’ll have to settle for the bigger house.

    “You’ll never regret the kids you have, just the ones you don’t.”

    Tere March 21, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Wow, Lady, you totally mirror my own feelings on this topic.

    I hear ya, I feel ya. I’ve angsted all over my blog on this topic, too.

    I feel very ambivalent about baby #2, and very pressured to decide something soon (by whom, I’ve yet to figure out; basically, it’s all in my head).

    Our first months with our son were SO traumatizing (and he was a GOOD baby – the change and adjustment and lack of sleep were just too shocking for us), and based on that, we’re REALLY hesitant to go through another pregnancy.

    And like you, I have an incredible support system – which makes me feel like a piece of shit that I feel like I couldn’t handle another baby.

    Seriously, it’s like you read my mind.

    sara - The Estrogen Files March 23, 2007 at 12:12 am

    So since you’re ALMOST at 100 comments, I’ll share my story.

    Baby #1, no plan, I thought I had the flu
    Baby #2, planned, 3 rounds of Clomid
    Baby #3, Surprise! Super PPD after
    Baby #4, Uhhh…

    I also had a couple miscarriages in there, but am so glad we had all four kids. You really don’t know that you are missing someone in the family until they come along.

    I hope that you will feel the same thing and not worry too much about adding another child. Babyluv is magic and all inclusive. As much as you LOVE WonderBaby with everything that you are, baby2 (or more) will be just as loved as she. Count on it.

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