My son just turned 4 this year, and I’ll be turning 39. The window for having a second baby feels like it’s closing, and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to make a decision we both agree on before time’s up. See, my husband is happy being one and done, but I’m not so sure.
Even though my son is 4, I can distinctly remember everything about my pregnancy. The disbelief and joy I felt when I first saw my positive pregnancy test. The nausea I felt at work—discreetly trying to hide the saltines and ginger ale I was consuming. The wonder at the fluttery feelings in my stomach. Is that a kick? Is the baby hiccuping? The panic attacks I had on the subway (the first time I would ever encounter such a feeling) that would leave me literally sitting on the floor on a train car full of strangers. Some pretending they couldn’t see me. Some offering to help and ask what’s wrong. (I think of those kind people every day.)
I wouldn’t say I enjoyed being pregnant. In fact, at the time, all I could say was, “How do people do this?” and, “I’m definitely not doing this again.” And I meant it—back then.
But, of course, time has a way to soften the terrible and when my son was finally born, I knew the answer to why people do this, and why people do this again. Because of this. This tiny new life that suddenly shifts everything into a whole new perspective. I didn’t know what my heart was actually capable of. I didn’t know love could feel that pure and all-consuming and present. I didn’t know that one person could actually change everything you’ve ever known for the better.
So what do we do now?
I mourn thinking that my first pregnancy could have been my last. I pause and think, Did I enjoy it enough? Did I savor enough of the moments? But I know I didn’t. Because it was my first and it was new and it was hard. There were so many moments I spent wishing that time would move faster.
And even in my son’s first year, I did the same. I had severe postpartum anxiety and I spent much of that time just trying to get through the days. Oh, I did enjoy moments here and there, but when I look back on his babyhood, I feel sad that it was so hard. I feel sad that I spent the first four months wishing he was a year old so we could skip over all of this. I feel sad that I was struggling with my new identity and my loss of my career (what I thought at the time) and the fact that I felt so alone.
So part of me hopes that it would really be different the second time around. In softening the terrible, time has also given me a wider purview than four years ago me ever had.
This me knows what it feels like when the baby finally sleeps through the night (something I truly believed would never happen).
This me knows that it’s okay to reach out for support. To call or text your friend or neighbor and say, “Are you free to come over? I need you.”
This me knows that it doesn’t have to be that hard. I don’t have to go it alone and I can and should attend that Mommy and Me group and I can and should ask that woman in the playground with a similar age child if she wants to have a coffee with me.
This me goes to a therapist. And is on anti-anxiety meds. And meditates. And has coping skills that I never had before. These are all things I never thought I would do or need to do, but they make all the difference.
This me knows that we go from first food to pre-school like that. Yes, the days are long. So long. But those years, they just go by.
So are we going to have a second baby? I’m not sure.
But I really hope so.