For a while now, I’ve been having the nagging feeling that our family is not quite complete. This feeling is not about my “only” child; trust me, there’s no “only” about her. It’s not that I don’t feel like there’s enough to do to take care of the needs and wants of three humans, a cat, and a dog. I can imagine a future that is rich and satisfying if our family stays exactly like it is, but there’s this thought tugging at the back of my mind that says adding a second child to our family could only enrich our lives.
Sure, I have considered that maybe I’ve missed my window. I’m 36, a whole year past the magical number that doctors use to measure fertility. I’m overweight and struggle with chronic pain from fibromyalgia. Some days, taking care of myself feels like too much work. Then there’s the fact that our daughter, Karys just headed to first grade. Each day, she becomes more independent, and more capable of doing things for herself. I wonder if I really want to start over from scratch with the constant nursing and disrupted sleep.
The last time I had a newborn, I was surrounded by a large network of family and friends who were happy to watch Karys or bring by a meal, but this time, here in Portland, my network is much smaller. The last time I had a newborn, I was able to take maternity leave from my teaching job, but there’s no paid maternity leave for a self-employed writer and doula. Being on-call for births would have to go on hold indefinitely while caring for a new baby.
Being a new mom the first time around was complicated by my traumatic birth experience, struggles with breastfeeding, and lingering, pervasive postpartum depression. I wonder how I would deal with these issues if they came up again with a second child. I wonder if I really feel like going through all of that vulnerability and pain again.
But the thing is, my brothers are my oldest friends and my most enthusiastic cheerleaders. They have known me since the beginning, and they love me without condition or reservation. I want Karys to have that kind of relationship, the kind that only siblings have. In the words of Glennon Doyle Melton in her book, Carry On, Warrior, “Who else but a sibling travels with you from the start of life’s path to the bitter end?” I don’t know for sure how it will happen, through biology, adoption, or both, but I know for sure that Karys will have a brother or sister someday. Maybe it’ll be someday soon!
What was it that made you decide to have a second child?