When we first married, my husband and I discussed the possibility of children. We both agreed that while we wanted to have them “someday,” it was much too soon. I was fairly young, we both had just started our careers, and we were newlyweds. “Maybe in five years,” was our agreement.
At least, it was. Then, just a few short months into our marriage, we found out that I was pregnant. That five-year plan went out the window, and many of our other carefully laid plans were also changed as a result.
In many ways, the surprise aspect of that first baby was a blessing in disguise. We didn’t have the luxury to worry and wonder about the perfect timing, the precise logistics, and our personal preparedness for having a child. He was coming, whether we felt prepared or not! So when I think about planning for our second, I know, logically, that we hadn’t planned for my first son and everything turned out all right. And yet, I can’t quiet all of the worries that planning for the second raises. We didn’t have the opportunity to overanalyze in the first round, so we’re making up for lost time. Are we financially prepared? Emotionally? Is there even room in our house?
Being prepared for a second pregnancy is a separate concern, too, from being prepared for a second child. I worry that the exhaustion and physical toll will make it more difficult to wrangle an active three-year-old. I worry that same active three-year-old will make it harder to have the healthful meals and adequate rest I took great pains to incorporate during the first pregnancy. Will I be able to stomach changing toddler diapers while struggling through bouts of nausea? Will I have time for constant doctor’s appointments?
Other concerns also center around our boy. We want our children (however many there may end up being) to grow up together and enjoy the benefit of companionship that siblinghood naturally brings. But of course we wonder if they’ll get along, or will they fight? Have we spent enough time with just him? Will he be ready for a new member of the family? I’m very lucky to have a pretty independent three-year-old, but there is still much he cannot do for himself. Will he suffer when my attention is divided by a very new, very needy family member?
Luckily, there are practical guides to timing, otherwise I’d spend all of my time in emotional introspection. We’re finding our financial footing as young newlyweds, becoming more stable and secure all the time. I’ve settled into a job situation that will make the “stay at home or daycare?” conundrum simpler. My small son is reaching an age of more and more self-reliance in entertaining himself, cleaning up his own toys, and dressing in the morning. And frankly, I’m more confident as a parent. I have three solid years of childrearing missteps and triumphs under my belt.
As we weigh the tangibles with the intangibles, I try to remind myself of our first experience. If there’s anything learned from having a baby, it’s that nothing is certain. Even if we do decide that now is the time, there’s no guarantee that a second baby will arrive according to our plans. We can set our minds to establishing a plan, preparing ourselves for the possibility, but babies often disregard our personal timetables. Surprises happen. Pregnancy doesn’t always happen when you expect it to. If a baby does arrive, we will adapt. Budgets stretch, days stretch, families stretch to make room for one more. We did fine with the curveballs of the first time. Maybe it’s time to try again.
Are you considering a second child? What are your biggest concerns?
About Liz Moorhead
Liz Moorhead is a high school teacher turned work-from-home mom. An illustrator and writer, she blogs for a top wedding site and shares her own personal experiences on her blog Happy Sighs in between walks to the park with her toddler son - all just outside of Philadelphia.