It’s happening again! A wave I’ve been expecting to slowly come towards me one day has knocked me off my feet. What’s more, it’s happened just as I thought I could enjoy being on the shore for a moment, having my feet tickled by little ripples of water.
I’m talking about the wave of second pregnancy announcements. Recently three of my friends have revealed they’re expecting their second baby. I’m obviously delighted for them and I admire their desire and readiness to expand their families - and I know I shouldn’t be doing this introspection within the context of their recent announcements - but in my head I keep seeing myself as the one who’s just started getting used to the water. I still have to worry about learning to swim. So yes, this big wave coming towards me looks pretty scary to say the least. A lot more so than the first time around.
I’m one of those people who gets tangled up in these kinds of metaphors as I try to make sense of what’s happening in my head. The prospect of having a second child doesn’t look good to me right now. It feels as if it’s become less a question mark on whether I want to have a second child and more a question of why up until now I’ve decided not to. Why is it that every time someone says “We’re pregnant again!” I feel the need to either reevaluate or justify my decision?
I feel like I’ve just learned how to be a mum (it has taken me two years and it’s still a learning process). I love where I am right now, I love where my family is right now, my heart is full and my space (mental and physical) is well balanced. There’s equilibrium (positively said - on most days) and there are also challenges albeit connected to my ability to handle said challenges (on some days better than on others).
The bubble of my life has now become a triangle with my husband, my daughter and I sitting in each of its corners and currently we’re good, we’re happy, we’re enough. I feel whole and at the full capacity of giving and dividing myself. So far it’s been a bumpy road into motherhood in the sense that everything is so complex, there’s so much learning and discovery to do, so much change and so much fullness in every emotion I experience. I want to truly live it and understand it, I want to feast on the joyful moments, then process and learn from the failed ones. I don’t want to rush it or exchange it for chaos (or rather, more chaos, as you cannot escape it no matter how zen you are and how well behaved your little person is!) and I don’t want to operate on autopilot mode either. I don’t want to have more than I can cope with and become someone who is more overwhelmed than fulfilled.
Obviously that’s not the picture for everyone, but it’s how I see it.
Deciding to become a mum for the first time was also ‘a big thing’. But it was more a question of “Are we ready to embark on this road?”. Getting on it seemed somehow inevitable and we only had to decide when we felt ready. It was easier to go with the flow. We didn’t know anything about this whole new world of parenting, the unexpectedness and wonder, and I think when you don’t know what lies ahead of you it’s easier to make that step towards it. It’s exciting more than daunting.
You may argue that it’s the same the second time around: you still don’t know what lies ahead but you go for it anyway and you’ll enjoy it just as much, if not even more.
It’s probably true, at least that’s what everyone who’s been through it tells me.
The thing is, that while I don’t yet know what it’s like to embark on this second journey, I have seen myself doing the first leg of the trip. I’ve seen myself going through settling into a new life as a mum and right now I am happy to stay at destination Child no.1 for long enough – maybe for good. I put it in these terms because nothing in life is guaranteed or unchangeable.
It’s not because I had a traumatic pregnancy, birth or suffered from post-natal depression, nor do I suggest these should be reasons to keep you from considering a second child, it is because I know what makes me happy and I know my own limits. Perhaps selfishly I still feel I need to be me in order to be a good mum to my daughter. My two-year-old daughter also seems to be the personality type who doesn’t like sharing parents (although she’s more than happy to share her toys).
The other thing I question when it comes to deciding on having a second baby is how much of this decision actually belongs to you. From my limited research among mums I know, a very small fraction have responded with “We’ve always wanted two children and we decided it was the right time to try for a second one”, which in my view is the answer I’d mark with an A plus. But it’s not personally what I can answer.
I don’t feel it’s right to do it for my daughter just because I think it’ll be cute to give her a real life doll to play with; I don’t think it’s right to do it for my husband because he thinks two would be nicer than one, even if we both come from families with two children; I don’t think it’s right to do it so that I don’t feel selfish, judged or left out of groups of mums with two.
I’d be failing miserably if I chose these answers.
For now I will carry on watching things from ashore, talking myself out of making decisions - jumping into deep waters - every time a big wave comes towards me.
As a mother to a spirited two-year old girl, Alina loves to write about the funny side of motherhood - even if there aren’t enough funny moments in her day - on her blog Her Babyness.
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