I had a professor in college who once confessed that she loved her first child so much that she had a second one in case something happened to the first. And then she loved the second one so much she had a third in case something happened to the first two. I remember thinking she was crazy, until I became a mom myself.
Bethenny Frankel, bottled margarita mogul, former Real Housewife, and mom to daughter Bryn, 14 months, recently revealed she’s thinking about having another baby. And the thinking is causing her anxiety.
“There’s anxiety because of my age to be honest, but I don’t want to make choices based on fear . . . [But] [y]ou will never regret having another one, [although] you may regret not having another one,” she said.
Again, I can relate.
I mean, I’m 32 weeks into my second pregnancy, so the anxiety phase of whether to get pregnant has long since passed (and has since been replaced by the general anxiety of having a baby in seven weeks), but the journey to deciding whether to have baby No. 2 was fraught with bumps along the way. And I have a feeling Bethenny, my old professor and I aren’t alone.
My daughter turns 3 next month and has proven to be the light of my life (except, you know, when she’s not). Before even getting married I had always assumed I’d have two kids, but the reality of having one little one at home sunk in rather quickly — emotionally, physically, spatially and financially. But the love of my daughter is so sacred and precious that I kind of knew right away that I was going to be greedy and want to do it all over again.
Still, just because I felt it was inevitable that I was going to have another baby didn’t mean the decision process wasn’t agonizing anyway.
On the one hand, I really wanted my daughter to have a sibling near her age. I think about me and my sister, and my mom and one of her sisters, and what a difference it makes in life to have that kind of tie. Family gives me a sense of place in the world, and even though most of my family is 2,000 miles away, they still help ground me and make me feel at home no matter where I am.
I also want grandkids, and often wondered during the decision process what would happen if my daughter never married and/or had kids. I thought about becoming friends with my daughter as we both get older — what if she ends up hating me (as daughters sometimes do)? — and what would happen if I ended up alone. Having another baby, I rationalized, would give me better odds of both grandkids and family companionship (in addition to my husband, of course) in my later years.
But on the other hand, there’s part of me that knows that many of my reasons for wanting another child are beyond selfish, that my family could be better provided for with fewer members. It’s not like anyone’s living the high life now as it is or that we have too many wants or needs beyond what we already have, but in the process of trying to give the next generation a good life, more of them means less to go around.
I also worry that bringing another baby into the house will mean there will be less of me to go around. With working at home and caring for my daughter full time (except now for the couple of days a week that she’s in preschool — hallelujah), time is already a major challenge and I don’t always handle the juggling as gracefully as I’d like. I can’t imagine bringing another baby into the house will miraculously make it any easier.
But part of my decision process was my age. While I’m not 40 just yet, it’s an age that’s out there somewhere, and with a clotting disorder that made having my first daughter an Ordeal (yes, with a capital O), time wasn’t exactly on my side. Like Bethenny, I don’t know too many people who waffled about an additional child and ultimately regretted having one, but I can name several people who wanted children (at all or more of them) and regretted their inaction.
A friend once said to me that you know you’re done having kids when you look around your kitchen table and you know that everyone is there. I’ve spent much of the past three years looking at my table and noticing an empty chair. For so many reasons I feel exponentially blessed that it will soon be filled.
Did you or do you struggle with the decision to have another baby?
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