A couple of people I know who had babies around the same time as me have recently announced that they are expecting again. I have to say, when I found out, both times I was incredibly shocked. The idea of having another baby so soon (or what feels like so soon) after Daphne is terrifying. But as well as feeling shocked, I felt a little jealous. Perhaps it’s something about being pregnant, that kind of special status you get, and the amazing load of feel-good hormones that come with newborns.
When Daphne was first born, within weeks I was thinking about having another baby. I actually said I definitely wanted another one – I loved her so much, and it was such an addictive feeling. I remember telling friends that I’d be happy to do it all again soon. Fast forward a year, and I have changed my mind so completely and utterly that it’s kind of scary. Obviously I still love her so much – in fact, a lot more – but I am no longer under the influence of those new mother hormones and am instead ravaged and slightly beaten by a whole year of sleep deprivation.
There is nothing like sleep deprivation on that kind of scale really. Before Daphne was born I knew I was in for a few months of being pretty tired, but I had absolutely no idea what the reality would be like. And how unbelievably difficult it would be – definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my entire life. It affects everything – your relationship with your partner, your self-esteem, your health, your happiness… your weight! That’s not to say that it isn’t worth it, because of course it is, but it’s still so awful that I can’t imagine putting myself through it willingly again.
Of course, maybe I’d have a better sleeper the next time around. Maybe my next baby would be those so-called ‘easy’ babies that sleep through at nine weeks, breastfeed like a dream and have laid-back, sunny personalities. But what if they don’t? What if they’re even more difficult? What if my pregnancy is just as complicated or even more complicated than last time? I don’t think I have the mental strength.
I’ve never been the kind of maternal person who planned on having 2.4 children etc etc. Children were always a bit vague in my mind – a hazy idea that I hoped would happen at some point. So I don’t have that over-riding feeling that our family isn’t complete unless there’s four of us. But by the same token, it’s hard to say definitively that I don’t want any more kids. The truth is, I really don’t know.
None of this matters really – if you don’t know the answer, live with the question etc. Both Oli and I are slightly old for first-time parents, but this isn’t enough of a worry to make me think I have to get on with it, or make a decision right now. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about, following my friends’ news, and also because we’ve started packing up some of Daphne’s baby bits – not just her clothes, but bigger things like the Perfect Prep machine, her nursing chair, the Jumperoo, her bouncy chair etc. And I’m not sure what to do with them. Sell them, or keep them just in case? They’re in the garage at the moment.
I always thought having two children seemed like a sensible idea because then your little one always has someone else to play with, and I can’t imagine life without my sister, but then someone reminded me that siblings don’t always get on, and sometimes they fight just as much as they entertain each other. And of course, from a parenting point of view, two kids means twice as much attention, twice as little sleep, twice as much money… Is it perhaps better to focus all our efforts and energies on one, especially now that having an only child is becoming increasingly more ‘normal’? Will it be better for Daphne to have our undivided attention? I love our little band of three, and I don’t know if I can face being pregnant and having a newborn again. But then will it be sad for Daph in the future not to have a little companion, and what about when we’ve shuffled off our mortal coils? Who will love her as much as we do?
I’d love to hear what other mums think about this issue and how you’ve decided (or not) how many children is right for you… it’s such a fascinating decision. If you fancy sharing your thoughts, please leave me a comment here or over on Facebook.