Around the time Maggie turned 2 (back in March), I started getting this question from time to time. It didn’t surprise me, and I know it comes from a good place, but it still stung a little, and made me feel like I was behind in some ambiguous-yet-very-present race.
I have lots of thoughts on this topic (from Kevin’s and my perspective specifically), and thought I’d put them together in this post to share our angle. It feels like a personal thing to share (it IS personal), but I also think there’s merit to reminding each other that families can look a whole lot of different ways and still be very much complete. So let’s jump in, shall we? Here are my thoughts on the whole second baby thing:
-First, I grew up as one of two siblings, spaced three years apart, and so in my mind that’s how things would be done with my own kids. When I pictured myself with kids, it was always TWO kids (or more). Certainly never just one. Early in our marriage, when we were discussing whether kids would be in the cards for us, in my mind it was always zero children or two or more of them.
-Kevin’s siblings are spaced much farther apart than my sister and I are. His half sister is 10 years older than he is, and his brother is five years younger. He’s always loved the large gap between them, and talks about how they didn’t really fight or have an element of competition with so much space there.
-After Maggie was born, I remember feeling so excited at the thought of having a second child. I had loved being pregnant, Maggie’s birth was an amazing experience, and she was a delightful baby (and one who slept well early on!). I wanted to do it again, no question. But the farther away I got from Maggie’s birth, the more that feeling began to shift. Instead of being exclusively excited about having a second child, I started to feel like another pregnancy would feel a bit like tempting fate. After all, things had gone so well the first time, but who’s to say it would be similar with a second baby? I don’t feel fearful or anxious about being pregnant again, but I certainly wouldn’t use the word “excited” right now.
-And then there’s this part: I assumed when Maggie reached a certain age (2ish), I’d start feeling like our family was missing a person — that it was time to add someone else to the mix. But so far…I haven’t felt that way. In contrast, our family feels very complete right now. The reasons I’d love Maggie to have a sibling (and sooner rather than later) are rational versus emotional at the moment.
-As I mentioned, we started getting the “When’s baby #2 happening?” question around the time Maggie turned 2. And that’s also when lots of people whose kids are Maggie’s age announced their second pregnancies. AND, full disclosure: We haven’t been preventing pregnancy (I use that term versus “trying” intentionally, because it’s better for my mental health for me to keep things low pressure) since last fall. So as you can imagine there’s lots that left me to work through. Why wasn’t I getting pregnant again? Was something wrong? Was my body failing me in some way? And I should feel ready for a second child, right? And what’s with these feelings of comparison I was experiencing when I heard others announce their second pregnancies? Where was that coming from? Once I let myself really sit with these feelings and think about how I felt, separate from expectations, I was in a much better place.
All that to say, here’s the answer to the second baby question:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that you can only plan for so much. And, thankfully, often things tend to work out even better than I could have planned to begin with — far more right for me than I knew to hope for.
This whole building a family situation is an example of that.
Our family feels complete, and Kevin and I are so happy with our Maggie-girl. If another child joins our family at some point, that would be amazing (and I’m sure then we won’t be able to imagine our lives without him or her in it), but regardless our lives are full and will continue to be. I feel very at peace with where we are, and grateful that Kevin and I are on the same page (which, thankfully, happens most of the time). No, I never pictured myself as mama to an only child, but I’m more than okay with that reality if it ends up being this way long term. In fact, I can see lots of benefits to this family structure now that I’ve taken time to envision it for us. (Related side note: Check out this article on the rise of the only child.)
Funny where you can land when you let yourself pull away from the expectations that surround you and really dig into how you feel, isn’t it? I feel so grateful for our little family of three, and I also feel grateful to not feel a longing for something more right now. As a result, I can be more fully present and joyful today, which is such a gift.