January 14, 2010

One or Two?

It seems that everyone around me is pregnant with their second child, and most of them have children that are around PK's age. Today, I found out on Facebook that a highschool friend is pregnant with her second, due mid-year, and her first is only 11 months old. This sounds completely irrational and dumb, but I feel left out of this pregnant-with-the-second-baby thing. Families of 4 seem to be a lot more complete than families of 3. There's so much stigma around having only one child. As if having one is as bad as or worse than having no children whatsoever.

Whenever people ask me when #2 is coming along, I tell them that we're not sure if there will ever be a #2. And then they look at me funny. "But surely PK needs a little brother or sister!" they say. Does she? Why can't we just be happy with one? Why will two make us happier? Or make PK happier, for that matter? Why should I obsess over whether or not my family is complete with one child or two children? Shouldn't I just be happy with what I've got, and whatever happens, happens?

And yet, it's hard to do. When people around me are having their second, I can't help but wonder if my family IS complete just the way it is, or if I need another baby to make it complete. That makes me mad, because it's just some stupid societal expectation. And it takes my attention away from the one, precious little child that I do have. Having PK in our lives has been wonderful, and I resent myself when I start wondering if I should be longing for a #2, because here she is, alive, happy, and energetic, and yearning for my attention. And here I am wondering if she's enough to make me feel complete. Despicable.

And then the rational part of me takes over. Let's face it. Having one kid is hard work. I barely have time to myself right now as it is. Most days I come home exhausted. Work is tiring enough, and having to then feed and entertain a toddler, clean up after said todder, get ready for the next day, and try to get in a teeny bit of R&R before it starts all over again can be overwhelming on the best of days. And yet, there still seems to be time for daily workouts, weekly violin classes, and the occasional night off to go out with my sis because the hubby can cover for me. That of course all goes out the window with two.

I wouldn't be able to walk home from work with two kids in tow. It would take twice as long to get two kids ready for daycare. I don't even want to think about bedtime routines and how much less sleep we'd end up with. PK is such a good sleeper. Would a potential #2 be as good a sleeper? Would he or she be a colicky baby? Would he or she breastfeed better or worse than PK did (not that I'd do it for more than 3 months if I had a second)?

Some days I think that it would be awesome to have a second. PK is growing up so fast, and I sometimes miss those days of her being a tiny little baby. I wish that I had cherished those days more. Unfortunately, I was too busy worrying. I guess most parents go through that. At the same time, I was miserable during mat-leave. I was depressed, lonely, and just didn't feel like myself because I wasn't working. Could I go through that again?

The thought of having a sibling for PK somedays seems like a great idea. My sis and I are pretty close. Wouldn't it be great if PK were close to her sibling should she have one? But just because you're siblings doesn't mean that you would get along. Here are two people with two potentially different personalities who are put together for no other reason than the fact that they're related by blood. They may or may not get along. And let's also not forget all of the potential birth defects, autism, chronic ailments, and god-knows-what other conditions out there that can affect a child. PK was born a healthy baby. Would Fate be as kind to me a second time around?

And yet, many families seem to manage with two. Hell, some even have three or more (a little too insane, in my opinion). My father is one of 8. My paternal grandmother is one of 15. Clearly it IS manageable. Somehow. So I'm probably over-thinking it.

If you have two children or are planning for a second, then you're probably appalled upon reading this post. It's your right. But I won't make any apologies for this post. It is, after all, how I feel, and that's the point of this blog. I don't know if we'll ever have a second. If we do, he or she will be born into a loving and nurturing home. What I do know is that in the here and now, we have PK, and that's all that matters.

1 comment:

Mr. Shiny and New said...

As you know, we are expecting a second baby soon. But I am not appalled at this post: I am sympathetic. Don't kid yourself: lots of people have these same exact thoughts. Having a kid is hard and having two kids is harder (at least, at first).

My view is that each kid gets easier to take care of as they get older. When my daughter was born she required an adult at her side pretty much every instant she was awake and many instants when she was asleep. During those days even taking a shower was tricky. Now? She goes to sleep at a good time each night, fairly early, and sleeps a long time. She can play independently. She feeds herself. Etc. So the level of direct care she needs has gone down, even if she does need supervision, and she still needs some interaction.

Having a second baby will definitely take a lot of time, at least for the first few years. And it will take a lot of energy. And money. Only you and your husband can decide if the price is worth it to you. But I think you will find the strength if you decide to have a second one.

As for the advantages, I'm not sure it will make you more complete. One thing, though, is that it will provide PK with some competition and contrast and a potential playmate. Even if two siblings aren't super-close, they usually play together to some extent. And being one of many gives them some life perspective, because many single children are, shall we say, spoiled. Once there are two children, resources are necessarily split and the children are half as spoiled as they would otherwise be. Granted, some parents still overdo it. And it's possible to raise a socially well-adjusted single child. But with siblings you get a bit of perspective that you otherwise don't have.

There are other potential advantages to having a sibling, especially later on, such as being able to split the responsibility for caring for aging parents, etc. But these considerations are perhaps not as important.

When it comes down to it, it's up to you to decide. You can see that I am an advocate of two-or-more, and I do feel that it is worth having two, but I am not raising your second child and neither is anyone else who offers their opinion. So pay attention to your feelings and your desires and your capabilities and do what you think is right.

But for crying out loud, get on with it if you are going to do it! (Just joking)