The Hesitations of Another Child

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it’s insane that immediately after having our daughter, people started asking, “so…when is baby #2?”

my initial thought is usually, “um, i’m barely surviving baby #1 and getting back to my old self. you go have baby #2!”

we do want to add another kid to our family. both my husband and i grew up with a sibling and we are thankful for our sisters; even more now that we are older and have a teammate as our parents grow older (and continue to ask hilarious questions about their phones).

however, the thought of going through the newborn stage brings up some post-traumatic stress for me. it was hard. like so hard. in talking with other moms about their second child experience, many of expressed an easier time because at least you somewhat know what to expect.

even though i know what to ‘expect’, it’s almost like you know what to expect when turbulence happens or you slice your finger with a knife…you’d prefer if it didn’t happen at all.

i know that i’m at a higher risk to have postpartum depression again because i’ve had it before. i know that i can survive it and get help earlier too but honestly, those were some of the darkest days of my life. i don’t really care to experience them again.

yes, yes, i realize i may not experience anything like that either – each pregnancy and postpartum experience is different. i theoretically know that but it still terrifies me that i might. side note: i started this post in march so #hesitationsgalore.

it also feels like we finally figured out our “system” with atlas and it’s hard to think about throwing everything out of whack by adding another demanding, tiny human! ravery is amazing at listening to my concerns and then coming up with suggestions of how our new normal might look.

plus, that first trimester kicked my ass hardcore. i don’t love being pregnant (though i am extremely grateful that i could/can). pregnancy. birth. oh, that 19 back labor. whew. oh yeah, and that whole breastfeeding thing. so. hard.

cassie rosch photography

cassie rosch photography

i am grateful to have a spouse that not only listens but validates my thoughts and concerns. he doesn’t pressure me (even though i know he would totally want a baby right this minute) and i am grateful for that. i am also grateful that ravery can’t get pregnant because we’d have like 9 kids if he was in charge.

while i realize a lot of families can’t wait to add another kids to their family (or hope and wish it was simply that easy in the first place), there are some of us who don’t want it instantly or it seems way too overwhelming still. that’s okay. in talking with lots of parents, i now realize i’m not alone in these feelings.

my plan is to go talk with a counselor, talk to my midwives and get a plan of action that makes me feel empowered and as prepared as i can be. after all, my word of the year is embrace and this is part of what i’m needing help to embrace. i’m also going to keep reminding myself how much more fun my own kid is as an almost 2 year compared to those turbulent newborn days.

so…if you aren’t ready to add another kid, that’s okay. if you’re happy being child-free, that’s okay. if you are solid on having one kid, that’s okay. if you want to have lots of babies soon, that’s okay. if you have no idea what you want right now, that’s okay too.

the unique thing about being human is our ability to feel multiple, contrasting emotions at the exact same time, sometimes in the exact same breath. we shall all be okay.

20 Comments

  1. Pebby Garner

    July 11, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Chelsea, I had both of my children within 18 months of each other. Although in hindsight, I can see the wisdom of having both children so close together, I did not want that to happen. You see, I planned on waiting for at least 3 years, preferably 5 before having another baby. But if I had waited, not only would I have been dealing with a newborn but also taking care of an elderly grandparent. I don’t think I would have been able to do both at the same time. I personally did not experience the postpartum depression but I have since experienced in my life. It is not a fun experience and can be difficult to walk through it. I commend you for seeking out help. As far as having another child, that is totally up to you and Ryan. You seek out what is best for your family. If that is having another baby now, great. If it is in a few years, maybe when Atlas starts school, that’s great too. Everyone is different and that is what makes this life interesting.

    • chelsea

      July 11, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      thank you for your words of wisdom, pebby! i am glad you found the silver lining and it worked out so you could help with taking care of an elderly grandparent too. thank you for the reassurance!

  2. Audrey

    July 11, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Isn’t it a little strange how we feel like we have to apologize or rationalize or even just explain WHY we don’t want things… especially when it comes to the societal pressures surrounding marriage/parenting/etc. We’ve been married 5 years and at almost every family function our childlessness is STILL brought up and questioned. “When are you guys starting a family?” Well, we already have one thanks. “We’re not getting any younger- when are you going to have a kid?” “Look at your mom/dad with that baby! Why don’t you give them one?”
    Do things in your own time 😉 I’m giggling so hard about Mr. WS having 9 babies if possible. I think it’s wonderful that you’re so proactive about your mental and emotional health on the eve of a new baby. Good game plan. When the time comes I know you’ll be as ready as one can be 🙂

    • chelsea

      July 11, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      yes. you are SO right about feeling like we need to explain everything, especially when we don’t want things. how come no one ever asks “what made you want to have kids” instead of “why don’t you have kids?!” you are so right.

      i was super conscious that before we had kids and people asked us when we would start a family, i would say “we already are a family” because kids don’t make a family. ugh.

      mr. WS keeps casting “triplets” spells over my womb and i keep having to deflect them hahah he wants ALL the babies.

      i’m glad you’re doing what’s right for you and your family too, audrey! thank goodness we don’t succumb to that outside pressure!

  3. Sarah

    July 11, 2018 at 7:15 am

    I so recognize ALL of this. At the moment we’re in a one bedroom so the easy answer is “but where would we put a second one?!” The real answer is more nuanced and I do wish people wouldn’t insinuate my daughter will have a sad and lonely childhood without a sibling.

    There are lots of truths we have to weigh when deciding on growing our family, including how difficult the newborn period was on me and how we, as parents, still struggle to balance everything. Thanks for bringing this up and letting people know it’s not such an easy choice for some parents!

    • chelsea

      July 11, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      totally get what you’re saying, sarah! i agree that kids that don’t have a sibling do not have a sad and lonely childhood, people need to cut that out! i’m with you on still struggling to manage/balance everything as it is now! it’s hard. i’m at least happy to hear i’m not alone with these feelings either – thanks for weighing in sarah 🙂

  4. Claire

    July 11, 2018 at 7:55 am

    So well said Chelsea. Thank you 🙂

    • chelsea

      July 11, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      appreciate you reading, claire!

  5. Bridget

    July 11, 2018 at 8:12 am

    My daughter is now 4 years old. Wow how fast time flew by. I remember when my daughter turned one and everyone was like “oh when are you having another?” I run a home daycare/preschool, so taking care of children is my job and I love it and I love children and have always imagined a larger family. When my daughter was 1, I was totally not ready for another, she was still breastfeeding around the clock she still wasn’t a great sleeper. We had just started figuring things out and getting into a more normal routine. Then she turned 2 and I wanted another so we tried for a couple months (with my husband and I’s schedule we have a small window in which having a kid would work with unpaid maternity leave and the fact I run a business out of my house; a summer baby is key). It didn’t happen but I was ok with it we decided to try again next year. Then she turned 3, we really wanted another. We tried really hard in our window of time. It didn’t happen. It was frustrating this time around, the age gap is getting larger. My brothers and I are close in age. His sister is close in age. With our first we got pregnant right away. Then halfway through the year, surprise we were pregnant. It wasn’t the planned pregnancy I had imagined. I was stressed about the timing. Then I got used to the idea and was excited to have a sibling for my daughter and imagined all the fun they would have together. Then I had a miscarriage at almost 11 weeks. It was devastating and everyone just kinda brushed by like “oh you can try again”.
    But we did try! We have been trying. People don’t know the struggles we have had trying. You think once you got pregnant once, you can just do it again. I never realized how much I would hate the terms “when are you going to have another?” “Are you going to have more.” I think about this all the time and I don’t need you to remind me of the struggle.

    • Jennifer Haston

      July 11, 2018 at 11:51 am

      I am so sorry you experienced that, and am grateful you shared
      your story with us.

    • chelsea

      July 11, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      thank you bridget for sharing your heart. i am sorry it seemed like everyone was like “oh try again” despite the very real and very painful loss of your miscarriage. sending hugs your way. i know what you mean about that narrow window – we are booking speeches at the end of next year and it’s like ahhhhh but what if i’m pregnant!

      also, thank you for loving on other children through your in-home daycare. it takes SUCH a special person to be able to enrich (and tolerate) so many kids. you are amazing!

      i’m sorry it’s been such a struggle and hard time. i will keep you all in my thoughts and send positive baby making vibes your way!

  6. Hannah Olsen

    July 11, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Love this. It took me 5 years to even think about having another baby. Pregnancy and childbirth and infancy is HARD.

    I did not breastfeed my second one at all and that combined with going back to work really early (not by choice, 4 weeks, post C-section) made it easier the second time for me.

    • chelsea

      July 11, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      thank you for sharing your experience, hannah! my husband and i have talked about how i’m going to attempt breastfeeding for 2 weeks max and then make peace with it. i think that will really help my mental state too. i’m glad it felt easier the second time. and holy smokes – back to work SO quick and post c-section – you are strong!

  7. Kate

    July 11, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I definitely understand these emotions!! We both want to have one more child, but I think about how challenging it’s been (and continues to be) with just one. I have so much fear and anxiety over the changes and challenges that would happen with one more.

  8. Elyse Murray

    July 11, 2018 at 8:38 am

    I’m glad that you’re actually thinking this through, Chelsea. I think some people just go ahead and do things because “that’s the way it’s supposed to be” without really thinking about the possible outcomes. I’m glad you’ve got support in ravery and that you are gathering a team to help you through the craziness that is pregnancy, childbirth and newbornhood.

    I used to get lots of questions on when(not if!) we were going to have a second even when I was pregnant with my first. It’s crazy and none of anyone’s business. I am hoping they were just trying to make small talk but man, that question pierces my heart because I would be like ravery and have 9 kids but with my medical issues there are tons of things I have to think about.

    I hope that a second baby happens when you’re ready for one!

  9. Stazi

    July 11, 2018 at 8:58 am

    I honestly feel that going from 1 to 2 was easier than going from none to one. You do kind of know what to expect and your anxiety about doing it right isn’t as prevalent. You’ve dealt with poop galore at this point so you aren’t as squeamish, and you know how you want to parent. But it IS hard.Going from sleeping to not at all, a child you can have a conversation with to just crying…it is hard. Some days suck. And if it isn’t in the cards, that’s okay. But seeing just how much my spawn love each other is amazing. I just hope they continue to do so.

    As a side note, you have mom friends now, and they help SO MUCH with the second one, because they have been there and are aware of how hard it is. We didn’t have to cook for like three weeks after mister man because people brought us food. It was amazing. If you do have a second, I’m good for at least two dinners and a coffee 🙂

  10. Amanda

    July 11, 2018 at 10:06 am

    I have a few friends who intentionally waited many years after their first baby to try for a second because they so much enjoyed the time they had with one. They wanted to keep focusing on their first baby and not take more time away from them during those first few formative years. It means they have a five-year gap between kids, but that’s still not too big that they can’t have a normal sibling relationship. It also means the older child is more able to help feed and play with their new baby!

  11. Jennifer Haston

    July 11, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Brava! This is an excellent post honoring all points of view of this
    very charged topic. Thank you
    for such an authentic and
    vulnerable point of view.

  12. Ali

    July 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    What I actually think of the most is how much I had PLANNED for my first. I planned what to so, what not to do, when to do things etc. I wanted a strict feeding/sleeping/playing schedule. It caused me stress within the first 12 hours of our son being born ( i really didn’t want him o have a pacifier). All I can think of now with #2 is …. I’m just rolling with it lol. I learned (as all parents do) FAST those plans were just me trying to be in controll. I cannot wait for this second baby and to not feel so much like I was failing (i know I’ll have moments) at “the plan”. I hope you guys figure out whatever is best for your family. It is a tough decision and really is not simple at all.

  13. Hannah

    July 12, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a human post. Part of my hesitation to try for No. 2 comes from knowing how exhausting pregnancy/parenting No. 1 was/is. With No. 1 we had blissful ignorance 🙂 With No. 2 we know more of the parenting challenges. It’s hard. My spouse is game also for No. 2 at any time to which I’m like, “It’s easy for you to say!” 🙂 You’re not alone. Hugs and good luck deciding what’s best for your family.

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