Am I ready for another baby?
Had you asked me this question two months ago, my answer would have been a resounding “No.”
Now it’s a question I ask myself almost every day.
Raising our first baby was really hard. Why would I put myself through that again?
Am I ready for the sleepless nights, the blackened nipples, the mind-numbing pumping sessions?
Am I ready for 10+ months of abstaining from alcohol? Most days, after chasing my toddler all day, this mama needs a drink.
Am I ready to be out of commission for several weeks with debilitating morning sickness?
Am I ready for the price tag of adding another child to our family?
Am I ready for the probability of PPD rearing its ugly head again?
And most importantly, am I ready for the feeling of being tied down by another vulnerable human being who is dependent on you for everything?
Having another baby is a big deal. How will you know when you’re ready? Is it all worth it? But on the other hand…
Am I ready to hear the first catches of laughter in his or her voice?
Am I ready for the feel and scent of smooth baby skin?
Am I ready to see the amazing juxtaposition of my big spouse holding a tiny newborn body?
Am I ready for the possibility of a different gender, a different relationship or a different dynamic within your family?
Am I ready to see an entirely different expression of your genetic makeup, one that will alter your other child’s disposition forever?
I don’t know about you, but I know very little about what I should be feeling right now. Clearly my heart, my gut and my mind are in very different places. I’m a hard core planner who likes to have a vision of what her future looks like. Not having one is really hard!
Perhaps, if you’ve been in this situation you can relate to this never-ending internal debate.
Here’s what I mean by state of readiness…
There’s a little voice in your head saying “Hells no, you idiot! Don’t you remember what happened last time?”
The little nagging voice is onto something.
And yet, something tells you to ignore the over-practical tendencies. To stop being a chicken and just do it.
Having two kids feels right. My son loves playing with his 7-month old cousin and is so sweet with his baby doll. I want him to experience what I had with my sister, who’s only 15 months behind me in age. A sibling is a priceless gift.
It has to be for the right reasons, though. You shouldn’t just wham-bam it up to give your first kid a sibling.
And then there’s the feeling you get when you see other moms having their second child so soon…
My heart tugs a little when I see their older child bonding with the new baby.
It never used to bother me, because I was so thick into my fog of depression that I couldn’t focus on giving anything to anyone else.
Now I’m taking some good meds and I’m feeling whole lot better. It’s as if a window of fresh air has opened and I love my son more than ever. While the toddler stage is a real ball buster, I appreciate our time together. Everything should be better this time around, right?
The internal debate continues.
Partner Readiness and Relationship Health
Partner readiness is another consideration factor. Is my hubby/spouse ready?
Like most new dads, it took my husband a while to establish a bond with our son. To be completely honest, this came as a disappointment to me.
Breastfeeding our son for seven months and dealing with painful latch issues generated a lot of resentment when it came to night time feeds and pumping.
Typical 3 am scenario: Ken would get up, change Evan’s diaper for 5 minutes, hand him back to me and crash.
Looking back, I should be grateful we were able to make the breastfeeding work, and just leave it at that. It was nice of him to at least do the diaper change. I’m lucky to have a partner in this parenting gig.
Ken turned out to be an excellent dad. He even wrote a Father’s Day post about all the ways fatherhood has changed him, which blew me away.
Our relationship survived mental illness, moving closer to my family, and the stressors of having a baby. It’s made me appreciate my husband even more.
Ken says he’s ready to expand our family at some point in the near future as well. So that’s good news.
Physical Health and Resilience
Can you physically handle the stress of having another baby? This one is super important.
Pregnancy did a number on me: terrible morning sickness in the beginning, painful leg veins which required extensive (only partially successful) procedures, and a third degree tear which took two months to heal.
The only residual part of the pregnancy is living in full-length compression socks that I’ll probably have to wear for the rest of my life.
I didn’t even entertain the possibility of sustaining permanent bodily damage when I got pregnant the first time. I was dumb and naive. I thought I would be one of those super moms who’d be hiking with their baby three days after giving birth. Wrong-O!
No one is invincible. Worsening the existing bodily damage is something to consider.
I’m almost 33 years old. Still younger than the 35-year cut off for “Advanced Maternal Age,” but I’m not 23 years old either. If I’m going to have another child, I better do it soon.
It’s not just your health during pregnancy to consider, but also your general energy level after you have the baby that’s important. Chasing after a 3 or 4-year-old while pregnant or taking care of a newborn is a big job.
Will adding a child to our family break the bank?
I feel especially conflicted in this area. While large families like the Duggars thrive by operating under strict budgets, that’s probably the exception more than the rule.
The average cost of raising a child today is a staggering $233,610, and that doesn’t include college.
We are big eaters in our family. We also try to eat mostly organic when it comes to the dirty dozen, which doesn’t come cheap.
Another aspect to consider is health care. It cost us $10,000 out of pocket to have our last child, and that was with good insurance. My husband has cobra insurance while he works in a contract position, so this weighs heavily on my mind.
What about work schedule? This factors into the decision, too.
This factor is less crucial, but also something over which you have less control.
Would you like to have a summer baby in order to avoid the flu and RSV risk during winter? Do you need to factor the timing of the birth around a family reunion or upcoming trip?
We planned my first pregnancy around my sister’s wedding in the Caribbean, only to find out we couldn’t attend due to the Zika virus. We also planned for my maternity leave to coincide with the fall and winter holidays so that we could spend quality time with both sides of the family.
Whether it’s Mother Nature, diseases, genetics, or your own biological processes, there are certain things you can’t plan for.
Parenting is a good lesson in adaptation and dealing with situations beyond your control.
Deciding whether or not to have a second baby is a really hard process. Weighing the pros and cons is important, as is weighing the health of your physical health, mental health and relationships.
In the end, only my husband and I will know when the timing is right for us.
If you’re reading this and have multiple children, I would love to hear your advice. What was the final straw that helped you decide to have more than one child?
Was it that you just “knew,” or was it more of a labored decision-making process? If it was an accidental pregnancy are you glad it happened that way so you didn’t have the option to overthink the situation?
Please share below!
In the meantime, I’m going to pour myself a drink.