Your baby’s first year can be the best and worst one of your life.
Adjusting to diapers, sleep schedules (or lack thereof), financial surprises and strains, feeding challenges, and postpartum and emotional highs and lows is all-consuming. So when you finally eke your way out of that first year or two, it can be easy to forget how tough it is in the beginning, which is when you might start thinking about having another baby.
Here are 10 issues you should think about — and discuss honestly and openly with your spouse — before diving headfirst into getting pregnant for a second time:
Time 1 of 10Chances are you felt as if you had little time before your first baby was ever born. Whatever time you had, however, got sucked into some kind of parenting vortex after becoming your first baby was born, never to be seen again.
Can you imagine searching for and actually finding even more time to physically and emotionally care for yet another baby, while still giving your older child the time needed — and wanted?
Start looking closely at your daily and weekly schedule and imagine how time could potentially be carved out for each child, always taking into consideration that the unexpected will likely suck up untold minutes, hours, days and weeks.
Space 2 of 10Are you and your spouse still sharing a room with your baby not because you can't bear to sleep alone, but because you don't have any more space? If so, is a fourth person in your bed going to make you feel like the old woman who lived in a shoe? Sure, families like the Duggars manage to make it work with a few dozen of people in their home, but don't discount the very real stress that pretty much everyone else in small spaces feels.
If you or your older child will need to share a room with a new baby, think about how that will impact bedtime, playtime, downtime, and just about every other piece of time — and everyone's sanity, because that's no small consideration.
Love 3 of 10Most every parent will tell you that the second they held their baby in their arms they knew it was love at first sight, and totally meant to me.
There are some parents, however, who, while they might love their babies, resent the impact they have on their lives.
You can have all the time, space and money in the world, but if you suspect the love isn't fully in your heart, having another baby is something you must think long and hard about. Chances are you'll find it, but if you honestly can't find it, or enough of it, everyone will be better off if you decide to not to grow your family any more.
Patience 4 of 10Your heart will likely double when you have a second child, but your patience might be sliced in half. Dealing with a new baby and that baby's older sibling means needing two of you when there's often only one.
Are you someone who can handle lots of chaos with lots of aplomb? Or will double the crying, double the diapers, double the puke, double the mealtime preparation and double the general mess drive you to the edge in double time?
Marriage 5 of 10There's no question babies change everything. They change everything. You could have a rock-solid marriage but the second you introduce a baby, things will never be the same. It's not all doom and gloom, of course, as babies often make marriages stronger and bond them in unforeseen ways. But the stress of caring for a baby can also weigh heavily on relationships.
Before you consider about having another baby, think first about the impact it could have on your marriage. Will it be the straw that breaks your marital vows, or is the foundation strong enough to withstand the extra pressure?
It's critical to keep in mind that while babies can make a strong marriage even better, it's rare to hear how a baby makes an already-shaky marriage more stable.
Transportation 6 of 10Since there's not generally such thing as a three-seat-only car, you can probably fit a fourth person in your vehicle. But do you carpool to daycare? If so, can a fifth person fit in the backseat, especially if that fifth person also needs to be in a car seat or booster? If not, can you afford a bigger car, which will probably eat up more gas?
If you think your current car won't support an addition to your family, now's the time to research what else is out there that will make traveling with another baby a reality — spatially and financially.
Lifestyle 7 of 10The first year or two of a baby's life is often a blur of naptime, diaper changing time and feeding time. Once you get through all of that, is it something you're willing to go back to again? How will it affect your older child if the whole family has to slow down or stop entirely to adjust to a new baby's nap schedule? Will you need extra babysitting help to take your older child to school and activities? Can you afford that extra help? Were you just able to start traveling with your older child, and will some future plans now have to be put on hold — again?
Think about how life revolves around a baby's fragile needs and decide if that will work, or you want it to work in your lifestyle with an older child.
Daycare 8 of 10If both parents work full time, then you either have a regular nanny or babysitter, or your older child is in some kind of daycare program. Either way, it's probably not inexpensive. What will a second child in daycare mean in terms of your finances? Can you afford tuition for two kids? Will your babysitter or nanny require a higher salary to watch both of them? How will your older child's daytime activities be affected if the babysitter needs to stay home and watch the baby but your older child has places to go and things to do? Are there people who can carpool with you, or are your options limited?
Clothes 9 of 10Your daughter might have a wardrobe fit for a princess, but what if you next baby is a boy? Think about how much money you've spent on clothes already, and realize that while some of it may be gender neutral, chances are you won't dress your little boy in dresses.
Can you afford to clothe a second child for all four seasons? Do you have a friend or relative who can pass down some gently used, gender appropriate clothes in case what you have already won't work a second time around?
Health insurance 10 of 10Adequate health insurance is essential for all family members, no matter if they rarely fall ill, since, as we all know, you just never know. How will adding a new baby to the plan affect your bottom line? Will the increase in monthly premiums break the bank?
Talk to your human resources department at work or your health insurance broker about the different plan options for larger families. And be sure to specifically research the change in premiums, deductibles, coverage and lifetime maximums according to the number of people in your household.
Photo credits: iStock
More from Meredith on Baby’s First Year: