Ever since I’ve had Oz, even more so since he’s become a toddler, I have been asked on regular basis the ‘when are you going to have another one?‘ question, followed up closely by the ‘but why not now?’ question.
Sometimes, I feel like being nice, I just nod and say “all in good time”, sometimes, I don’t feel like being nice and point blank tell those nosy so and so to mind their own business.
Truth be told, having a child and/or having another child is not up to other people , peer pressure, what the society expect etc. It’s a choice that is as personal as it gets.
Some people want to have children. Some don’t. Some can’t because Mother Nature decided so. Some people want to have another child, but simply can’t afford to have another child. May it because they can’t afford to go through rounds of IVF like they may have done with the first one or because they can’t afford to move into a bigger house, because they know they can’t afford another child for any reasons. Because let’s face it, having a child is expensive, and personally, I think that my choice of having a child or more does not equate to society having to pay for this choice.
I should not have to feel any kind of pressure about having a second child just because “now would be the right time”, “the gap between the two would be just perfect”, “I already have all the big things for another child/it’d not cost more to have another one since I’ve got a pram, a mose’s basket, baby clothes”.
Nobody thinks about what it was like for me, in this instance, to be pregnant, or even to give birth, or the after birth when I was sick? or even the impact it had on my career?
See, pregnancy was fine, granted, work was stressful and not that enjoyable at the time, but it was a very uneventful pregnancy where all the milestones were ticked and no issue arose. Except for the “all day sickness”, the tiredness, the constant urge to go to the loo, the pelvis pain because it had shifted somehow making it an agony to go up and down the steps. You know, this aside, it was fine.
The birth, was, well, to put it mildly, not that great. Hypnobirthing did not work at all. It was very hard to focus on my ocean of calm, trying to row my little boat of happiness while a human being (who really was not happy to be induced) was attempting to split me in two. The birth was nearly 23 hours of some sort of labour (and pain) to end by a C-section because the poop did hit the fan. I do not look fondly on that time at all. I mean, I do think that holding Oz for the first time in my arms as the greatest moment in my life thus far, but everything around it? No. I felt like a failure, after all, i kept being repeatedly told that natural birth was the way to go, and that was something I couldn’t even manage. I think I kept saying how sorry I was as I was being rushed into the operating room. Then I struggled to breastfeed, and that pretty much cemented my feeling of being a failure at motherhood. I did try my best to breastfeed, but after the C-section, things went a bit wrong for me, so I ended up having IV for a few days (which made it hard to hold Oz for his feeds). In a nutshell I was a mess. a very hormonal mess too. I give kudos to my husband for going with the flow and stepping his game because for the first 10 days of Oz’s life, he was the main person looking after Ozbug.
And it was ok, because it was just us and baby.
What if, we go for baby number 2 and the same stuff happens? Where I have to have an emergency C-section and get sick again? The how would we manage with Oz? Would we have to rely on my husband’s mum to come from Ireland to baby sit, be on standby before baby arrives, and stay a few weeks afterwards? For as much as I know that she would be happy to help, that’s a BIG ask. And our house is very small, I would feel horrible having her sleep on the sofa bed. It just wouldn’t feel right.
True, the likelihood of lightning striking twice is low, but you never know. I worry about giving birth. I still have nightmares about it to be quite honest. I was lucky to bounce back from my feeling of utter failure pretty quickly. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my NCT mums gang, my friends and my family. And Oscar. Seeing him strive and be such a cute baby made me realise that surely I couldn’t be that cr@p at mother. The failing at “fully” breastfeeding him did sting for a while though.
So my first red flag about having another child is the birth bit. Maybe you think I’m being crazy, but that’s how I feel. I’m sure I will/would get on with it if/when we have another though.
My second red flag is about our current house. We are pretty lucky to have a house in London, and in Zone 3, close to all amenities and tube and buses and stuff. BUT, houses in London are small. and the closer you get to Central London, the smaller they are (or so it seems). Another child definitely means another house. A bigger house. A bigger house means moving further out of London. That means a longer (and more expensive) commute to work, that means extra childcare or going for a nanny instead of a nursery, that too means a more expensive childcare setting.
So a bigger house = further away from London = longer/more expensive commute = less time with Oz.
That’s not a fun thing to have.
My third red flag is about money. Husband and I are by no means poor, but our spending has taken a major hit after having Oz. Nursery cost is not to be dismissed, not to mention nappies, clothes, shoes, and such. Another child would mean more expensive childcare, true we have the clothes, but, that only really works if number 2 is born around the same time as Junior. Fat good will it do to me to have fantastic birth to 3 months old snowsuits if number 2 is born in spring time now will it?
Also, right now, we can afford to go away on a “spur of the moment” for a weekend, or even go to France and Ireland on (fairly regular basis), we can still treat ourselves to fun stuff. Add another passenger and suddenly it’s not as easy. And I won’t even go down the path of thinking about the logistics of travelling with 2 kids.
My fourth flag is also the worry of being able to provide for Oz. Right now, we could afford sending him to some fancy shmancy kindergarten/ primary school / secondary school. Because, and you can tell me I’m an a-hole here, but England still has that very archaic thing about class and where you send you kid to school will open or closes doors to them. Sending my child to the best (and often most expensive schools) seems to me the only way to make sure that he will be in a good stead to go to a good university and get a good job later on (providing he’s academically inclined) or get to a good school/college where he can learn a specific trade (if that’s what he wants to do). Basically, right now, I can bleed myself dry to make sure he gets the greatest opportunities that would guarantee him a great job. I doubt I could bleed myself as much for 2 kids.
but say those 4 flags are waved. A Fairy Godmother comes to visit me and promises me that childbirth will be a breeze, that money won’t be an issue, that no matter what both children will want for nothing. There’s still the fifth flag.
The fifth flag is what if mother nature says no? what if I can’t get pregnant again? what if I get pregnant but miscarry? what if things go wrong? Because getting pregnant is not easy. Having a full term pregnancy is not a guaranteed. It’s heart breaking to see friends going through the heartbreak of not being able to have children. If anything, I have found that everything that led up to Oscar being born a healthy bouncy baby and staying that way is as close to a miracle as can be. Whatever results in another human being is pure randomness. You have no idea what genes will “win”, I mean you can take guesses such as the eye colour (brown is a dominant gene) but again, it’s all a matter of probability.
Then there is also so “how about my career”. Granted, I’m hardly working toward finding a cure for cancer or anything really worthy, but I like to work. I like the independence it gives me. I like that I can contribute to household bills, bring home the bacon and such. Having another child means, once gain, putting my professional life on hold for a long while. Let’s face it, do you know many women who get promoted after announcing they were pregnant? Do you know many women who get promoted once they have been back from maternity leave? And I’m sure many know how hard it can be to work full time 5 days a week (and sometimes evening/weekends etc) while trying to be a good mother? The feeling of helplessness when your child needs you because they are sick, yet you have to get to work because you have that meeting conference to attend that can’t be moved? Trying to get through the day in the office after your 3rd nights of no-sleep because Junior had nightmares/is under the weather and he only wants his mum (not his daddy, unless daddy brings along maman, in which case daddy is ok to be there). It is a juggling act. And I genuinely tip my hat to all the mums who manage to tackle both and not go crazy. There’s been times when I felt so tired, so overwhelmed by everything that all I wanted to do is just lock myself in the bathroom and have a nap. Actually, there has been instances when I did fall asleep in the bathroom, at home, out of sheer exhaustion.
Having another kid might mean that it’s not actually worthy it for me to go back to work. In the sense that my salary would just about cover childcare for both and cost of travelling to and from work. I’d not get a penny to spare to put toward house bills and such. While I do love working, if it comes to the point where I don’t actually have any leftover money because I had to hire someone to basically raise my children, you can bet that I will quit my job in a New York minute to stay at home and raise my children. BUT, would doing that hinder my chances of getting back to work once both kids are going to school full time? How likely would I be able to compete with (let’s face it) younger people, with up-to-speed knowledge of all software, likely to accept a lower salary than I would? Would taking a roughly 5 years break from the corporate world makes it impossible for me to go back to it? then what do I do?
If I had all the answers and guarantees, would we have another child? It is safe to say that yes we would have another child. Do we feel ready for another child? No, not quite. Granted, and I quote my dad “there is never a perfect time to have children, you just reorganise your lives to make it work”, I do think that we need to have a few more things settled before we have another child. Sorting out our accommodation would be a good start. Making sure that where we end up had good schools. Maybe thinking of an alternative work plan for me would be the way forward. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that asking someone about their plans with regards to having children/more children, is not on. It’s nunya. None of your business.
And for all the parents, I bow and tip my fanciest hat to you all. I have no doubt that you’re doing great.
And also, one of the wackiest reasons why I’m on the fence about another child is that Oscar has (so far) been a dream. Great sleeping pattern, smiling all the time, friendly with everybody, a real social butterfly, over all a happy and bright child. I can’t see why we would be lucky to have the exact same kind of child twice. What if we have the complete opposite? like a real life Damien? (I did warn you it was a wacky reason).