Since my son turned one almost two years ago, the most common question I’ve been asked is when I plan to “give him a sibling”. I assume that everyone asking me means well. But I’ve been surprised at how people I barely know so eagerly get up in my business. And how, apparently, popping out kids is no big deal! As if I don’t have a right to be that tired because I only have one child! First of all, have you met my kid? Second of all, having a human being depend on you for every aspect of life is, well… a serious responsibility and very tiring. But I digress.
Unlike many of my peers, for whom having several children back-to-back seems like an effortless no-brainer, I have not been remotely ready to have another child. Yes, my husband and I decided a while ago that we would like to have two children. And yes, I’m technically of “advanced maternal age”. But for the last couple years, I haven’t seriously entertained the idea of having another baby. I felt like I was in survival mode. Until now, I guess. And for those wondering, no, this isn’t a pregnancy announcement!
I firmly believe that people shouldn’t be pressured into having more kids. You should wait until you’re recovered and ready. And maybe you’ll never be ready. That’s just fine. But here’s what it has taken for me to finally be open to the reality of having another child:
- My body feels normal again. I pretty much look the way I used to look before I had my son, and I feel strong. I’ve been free of health issues for long enough to exercise regularly. Nursing is a distant memory. I no longer have postpartum medical mysteries popping up, and I have more or less forgotten (thank God) the oppression of morning sickness.
- I’m getting decent sleep. It took a long time, but I’m back in the land of the living. Since committing to getting more sleep, I feel like a human woman instead of an angry mommy zombie.
- I’ve gone on some kid-free vacations. Between a girls’ trip, a college reunion, and a recent romantic getaway with my husband, my batteries are recharged. I remember what it’s like to have fun without a little person needing something from me, and how sweet it is to come back home.
- I’ve been productive outside the home. After leaving my job in corporate law a few years ago, I’ve had the luxury of staying home with my son. But I realized that taking care of a child full-time, while certainly a privilege, isn’t enough to keep my mind sharp and connected to the outside world. So in the last couple years, I’ve taken on a few volunteer positions and have prioritized writing. Investing in these projects has helped make me feel like a whole person again.
- I’ve seen my friends grow their families with great joy. While comparing yourself to others is never a good idea, I have gained a lot of comfort from seeing my closest friends grow their families with happiness and love. While having more kids requires sacrifice and a certain level of logistical gymnastics, all my friends seem to figure it out and handle it well. I know it can be done.
I feel grateful that I can now focus on all the love and excitement of having another child, rather than the demands it’ll place on me. I’m thankful that I’ve had a chance to normalize before going for it again and starting all over. But at least I’ll know that the intense period of pregnancy and caring for a newborn (and toddler!) was preceded by a time of self-care and rest. And, having been through it once before, I know what boundless love awaits me on the other side!