Sunday, March 01, 2009

having a second child... or not?

To have N° 2 or not to have N° 2... that is the question which is hovering in our household and on my mind these days.

I am going to be 36 in 3 months. My husband is 2 years younger. Emma is 19 months old. We love her to bits.
Hopefully we will be staying in Vienna long enough not to have to move with a new-born again unless we wait too long.... but I can't say we are currently in a great big hurry to do anything about having N° 2.

Before I got pregnant with Emma, and looking at friends' kids, I thought 2 or 3 years difference was not small. Now I'm thinking more along the lines of "as long as it's under 4" (um.. or under 40). In my defense, should I need one, the Viennese winter with a toddler is about the most "I don't want to do this with two" inducing environment there is.

There is also the fact, that I can't help feeling that I am only just now enjoying some "me-time". Well, since she started kindergarden last autumn, really. Although, I realize I have said this a few times since she was 6 months old. With each milestone (full night's sleep, sitting, crawling, eating on her own, walking...) come some challenges but also more independence and more interesting occupations and activities for both of us.
Emma is now walking and talking a bit. She goes to kindergarden in the mornings and we do stuff together in the afternoons (playing, reading, park-going, but also the occasional food shopping at the market, cooking dinner, stuffing the wet laundry into the dryer...).

I like my own time. I like doing Pilates twice a week, having time to walk the streets of Vienna lost in my thoughts and observations, being able to go to a trendy café even if it's a bit smoky for a chat and a panino. I like taking some time to read my emails and visit other blogs, or read the paper on-line with a home made latte sprinkled with grated chocolate.
I also like the fact that when I am with Emma I can spend quality time with her because I have had my own time in the morning (reading, walking, writing, painting, shopping, talking, seeing friends, doing sports, whatever...).

It took me a while to realize that it was a lot less frustrating for me (and no doubt for her) if I did one thing at a time properly. One hours' play then one hours' cooking while Emma places stones in moulds with me in the kitchen. Then 30 minutes "reading" together while the meal simmers, and 20 minutes "Neighborhood animals" for Emma while her Dad and I have a chat. Then her dinner time, bath time, bed-time... We've got a routine going. Most of the time, it runs pretty smoothly.

I now find it much harder to function with the lack of sleep if she has a couple of bad nights due to a blocked nose or teething and find it absolutely exhausting having her home all day (when she is sick). In fact, I cannot imagine that I did it for nearly 15 months. I have grown accustomed to my comfort once again.

Admittedly, when babes are babies you can walk them around the shops, take them to lunch with your friends or with you practically everywhere and they will sleep/feed pretty easily. But what when you have a babe and a toddler? You can no longer nap when your babe naps to compensate for your night breastfeeding. You can no longer sip latte's on sunny terraces while your babe snoozes in the shade and enjoy a chat with a friend... You need to plan for two totally different ages/needs and try not to forget yourself... Yikes!

It's hard 'cause I feel the pressure of age (mine), and time passing by. I feel the pressure of the
"if you wait too long you might not want to have a second" or another truism: "you might not get pregnant again right away...". I worry that the second will take away from Emma and our quality of life. I absolutely hated feeling torn in between my dog's needs and Emma's as a tiny babe. Constantly trying to satisfy both and failing miserably yet feeling constantly stressed and tired. I know I will hate feeling torn in between two of my children. Right now, I cannot see the benefits. Interestingly, hubs and I are rather aligned on this, although our alternate ups and downs aren't necessarily simultaneous.

Most importantly, I really wanted Emma. I loved discovering we were pregnant. Loved being pregnant with her (except for the last month where I was totally fed up and impatient to meet her) and loved having her. I don't feel that way yet about a second child. Maybe I will, if we wait a while longer. Maybe I won't and then we'll see.
I think you need to want a child. And as long as that's not the case we can discuss and think it over endlessly but it won't make me feel I want it.
So... like a friend of mine said in other circumstances entirely, "ask me after the summer!" and let's enjoy the spring and another birthday as a threesome.

For more reading on the subject: having a second child


Anonymous said...

I would say, really think twice/thrice before you think of bringing another life! From my own experience, I would say, if you are not desperate, do not even think of going for one more child. I'm 37, have an 7 yr and 4 months old kids. I haven't recovered from the PPD. I now think, second one was not necessary at all. I'm grieving the loss of my one on one quality time with the first one. It's a very big change at this age. For the first one i was ready to do anything and enjoyed every stage. In this world people need good friends and not siblings.. I feel siblings can become a burden in your life.. I waited for so long.. had this dilemma and we just have one life and if you decide to bring a life, there is no looking back.. There are no return or exchnage policies... people may say that once you see the baby, you will fall in love.. that's not true... it can be overwelming.. Right now I'm burning with guilt for not feeling the same way as I did for the first one :(... Please please think deeper... I can't believe myself that even after thinking so much, I made an impulsive decision..:(

Sandra said...

It must be really hard feeling the way you do and I hope the guilt and feeling of being overwhelmed alleviate soon. I sympathize with the "In this world people need good friends and not siblings.. " but sometimes at some stages in life siblings can be friends. I'll do my best to really think and feel hard before we decide whether or not to make our family a foursome. Thanks for sharing your experience on having a second child and really wish you better days.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sandra, I am glad I don't worry too much about having a 2nd child. We started hormone treatment yesterday, so hopefully I have some good news in a few weeks. I understand your worries though, but you know, I am sure Arthur and I will manage fine. There will be difficulties for sure, but actually I don't think about them at all. If I get pregnant Femke will be 2,5 yrs when the baby is born. If I look at the toddlers in the baby-mother groups here in Izmir, they can at this age dress and eat themselves. They are quiet independent.
Anyway, one thing I know for sure: I will not go to KIPA with 2 children !!! Good luck with the decision making...

Sandra said...

Hey Meryem,
I really hope your hormone treatment works out and that your second child is as healthy and happy as Femke. ;-) I think 2,5 yrs difference or 3 years sounds good even if Emma is already eating on her own, (dressing is another matter!) she still needs a lot of attention especially as she has not been walking for very long and so the world is still a new and wondrous place. Mainly though, we just want to enjoy a little freedom and space and get to know Vienna.

Hey, maybe you'll be pregnant when I see you in April?

J. said...

Wow. Yes. I have been struggling with this same issue. My husband is 15 years older and already has 2kids--Ol makes three. We need to decide fairly quickly whether to have another. I also like "me" time. I like working. And I'm not the most patient momma is the world. I'm not desperate to have another, but i think I should for him. I have to say, I'm glad I have a sibling. Next to my parents, I know he loves me the most unconditionally. That may not be all sibling relationships, but it's my experience. I wouldn't want to deprive Ol of that feeling. Anyway. Am curious what you decide.

Btw, loved Istanbul. There was this yummy chicken casserole thing topped with filo and cheese (I think). Know the recipe?

Sandra said...

Hi J.
Glad you like Istanbul. I can't wait to go again in April. Not sure what the chicken casserole thing is... but maybe Meryem does - I'll ask her.
Decisions, decisions... What can I say? I hope we all decide what's best.
Interesting the sibling thing seems to determine a lot for people - whether they had one or more, whether they get along or not, what age difference there was/is, seems to influence what they decide as parents for their kids.

Anonymous said...

When I had my second child, my pediatrician explained to me that when my baby came home, my 1st child would feel the same way I would feel if my husband came home with a second wife. Can you imagine how you would feel? It's really hard for them and for YOU, the mother, cause you've got to spread the love. I think it's easier if the older one has a good routine to himself already and you can have help so that you continue to spend special private time with your 1st child. The second one will not be jealous 'cause he has and will always share you.