While motherhood and parenting is different than I imagined, I have always known I wanted to be a mother. How did I know? Well, it was probably from watching my mom with me and my three sisters. To me, she made it seem quite effortless.
She would get up before everyone else each morning and enjoy her cup of coffee while watching the local news. She made sure we all ate breakfast and helped us make our lunches for school. When we all got home, she cooked dinner for all of us and made sure we all sat at the table to enjoy it together. To this very day, I still look back and wonder how she did it all with four kids when I sometimes still struggle with just one child. Of course, now that I’m a mother myself I know it takes quite a lot of effort to raise kids; my mom just did a good job of keeping the struggles out of sight for me and my siblings.
My mom just did a good job of keeping the struggles out of sight for me and my siblings.
Lately, I’ve been wondering what the rest of motherhood will look like for me and my family. Growing up, I always thought I wanted to have a Brady Bunch-sized family, but on some of my more challenging days, I struggle to keep up with everything involved in raising just one child. But the question as to whether I want to have more children continues to pop into my head. In theory, I do, but now being on the other side of motherhood I know the highs and lows of raising kids.
To be completely clear, I wouldn’t change having my son for the world. I love him more than I ever knew I could love someone and have so much fun watching him grow into himself. Unfortunately, the first year of motherhood was also probably the most difficult year I’ve ever had. In so many different ways, being a new mom looked vastly different than I imagined and hoped it would. So as I continue to consider if having another child is the right decision for me and my family, it naturally comes with some fears. Here are a few of them:
1. Will I lose the close bond I have with my son?
I have an incredible bond with my son and am grateful it’s been there since he was born—almost to a fault. There are very few things I want to do more than be with him. Yes, I need alone time. And, yes, sometimes I get frustrated when he throws food on the floor or won’t put on his shoes for daycare. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to miss even one second of spending time with him. I know the days are long but the years are short. There will come a time when spending time with mom is “lame” and so I try to soak up all the time with him I can.
But, I also know if I have another child I’ll no longer be able to devote that much time to one child. Sure, I can carve out individual time with him eventually, but every parent knows those first few months with a new baby are all hands on deck. And if I choose to exclusively breastfeed again like I did the first time around, that will also play a factor in how much time I have for each child.
The thought of my son ever feeling like I don’t have the time or I can’t be present for something breaks my heart. Knowing he may feel jealous because I’m spending time with his sibling when I used to have all eyes on him is difficult to wrap my mind around. Seeing other moms have multiple children, and even my mother, tells me that all you can do is your best and hope the siblings get along and have a close bond with one another.
2. Can my marriage handle another baby?
When I had my son, I had only been married for two months so I was navigating being a new mom and a new wife simultaneously. While I love both my husband and son dearly, I would not recommend going through these experiences at the same time. The drastic shift to sharing your life and personal space with two individuals is a huge adjustment to go through.
For the last two years, I’ve been trying to find the sweet spot of how to be physically, mentally, and emotionally available for my child and husband while also having alone time too. Without any family or friends nearby and a global pandemic with stay-at-home orders in place, this has made the first few years of this new life quite difficult in my marriage.
People don’t like to talk about the struggles of marriage, and I even have reservations about doing so myself. But it’s a part of motherhood and adulthood that is far more common than people realize and it needs to be normalized. A baby dramatically changes the dynamic in a marriage—can we create a strong enough bond and rhythm to handle two kids running around?
We’ve been putting in the work to simplify our life and expectations of one another and I’m hopeful it’ll be worth it if we decide to have another child.
3. Will I get postpartum depression and anxiety again with baby #2?
Having postpartum depression was the thing that knocked me off my feet the most as a new mom. At first, I didn’t know what I was feeling or why. When I looked at other moms on social media, I started to feel like something was wrong with me. I’d ask myself: why am I struggling? Why am I so irritable? I love my baby, so why am I not loving motherhood like I thought I would?
It was a long road of therapy and figuring out the right level of medication before I started to feel a little better, but I’m afraid I’ll have to go through it again. When I brought this fear up to my therapist, she gave me some perspective. She said while it’s common for women who had PPD with their first child to have it again with subsequent children, now I have more tools in my toolbox than I did before.
She said while it’s common for women who had PPD with their first child to have it again with subsequent children, now I have more tools in my toolbox than I did before.
The feeling of not wanting to get out of bed and greet the day, counting the minutes until nap time or bed time, or just not knowing if you’re cut out for the motherhood role is sad, lonely, and confusing. I truly don’t wish the experience on anyone and I hope my therapist is right. I hope if I choose to have a second child I’ll notice the PPD signs earlier and can lean on the tools and practices I’ve gained over the last two years.
4. Will my body be okay in the end?
I’ve never really cared about getting my pre-baby body back or losing the baby weight. When it came to my relationship with my post-baby body, it wasn’t about my weight, it was about my vagina. No one talks about the changes that happen to your vagina after having a baby. Even if you don’t tear much or at all, oftentimes things are just different. Maybe tampons fit differently, you leak a little when you laugh, or maybe, like me, you experience a cervical prolapse. For women, your vagina is one of the things that make you feel like a woman, and when it changes you can feel a little self-conscious about it.
I’ve yet to ask the question to my OBGYN, but I’m not even sure if I had another child if I’d be able to deliver it vaginally. And while I know there are alternate safe options for delivering a healthy, happy baby, this is still a shift in mindset about future pregnancies and my motherhood journey I wasn’t expecting to have to consider.
I don’t know what we’ll end up deciding regarding whether to expand our family or not. But I do know these fears are real and they’re something I need to consider. Sometimes having children isn’t such a black and white decision. It takes some thoughtful consideration and reflection on your feelings and your options. No matter where you are in trying to grow your family or not, find someone with who you can share your fears and get some clarity. There is no right decision, only decisions that are right for you.