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One and Done?

Wrestling with the decision to have a second child.

One and Done?

When I reached for the pregnancy test on the Myrtle Avenue Walgreen’s shelf, there was the feeling of a little someone already there with me. I had a hunch that I was already pregnant, that I would definitely be seeing two lines in that proverbial answer window that we women have all looked at so many times before, hearts skipping a beat. The test was a formality, a proving mechanism for what I already, somewhere in my subconsciousness, knew.

For me, deciding to have a second child was not a no-brainer. It was a weighted decision based primarily on my mothering instincts toward my daughter; my hope to give her a sibling was hugely outweighing the formidable discomfort I felt about going through pregnancy, birth, and baby rearing yet again for myself.

I had just gotten out of the brambles, and had a functioning, awesome, self-actualized 3-year-old girl who could pour her own milk, go to the bathroom by herself, and understand when it was bedtime. I was only just beginning to get into that sweet parenting groove with my daughter. And now, not only would that be compromised, but I would become the parent to someone new at the same time. Hazy memories of eating salty cheddar bunnies while sipping cheap red wine for dinner then slumbering in my workout clothes (10 pounds overweight) after sweaty, aggressive zumba classes and sleepy bedtime stories slipped in and out of my mind. Why would anyone want to delve back into that deep dark thicket? That place was left like a land mine in the past desert of my biography.

Many parents of second children ask themselves these same questions many times over and wrestle with their answers. “One and done,” I had to keep hearing other parents tell me when I asked if their child had any brothers or sisters. How are you totally sure your child won’t want or need a sibling later in life? Did it matter?

I’ve never had a sibling, so my romanticism of large families can be a tad over the top. I picture siblings in their 40s chatting over the phone about weekend plans, great books they’ve read, and funny work tribulations. I thought about my daughter totally alone in the world in her 20s without anyone to lean on in times of dramatic dating duress, or even in patches of happiness to share them with.

These “one and done” parents really knew themselves well! Congratulations to them. Their fortitude and investments toward their careers, hobbies, and savings plans were all intimidatingly impressive. The idea of their adorable family of three seemed like a shiny silver rocketship blasting full-throttle toward planets of more success than I would apparently never know.

Of course, I questioned how on earth I could dare compromise these qualities of self-preservation within myself even more than I already had to begin with by having my daughter. Who did I think I was? This isn’t Little House on the Prairie; I have no covered wagon and acreage, nor am I an heiress on any level. Rent in New York City is astronomical. Childcare is over the top. We all know these things.

However, perhaps years of travel and living in other places taught me that, in other lands (and states), people do have siblings and love them. Mothers even treasure having two and more. I fostered a faith in the notion of my daughter having a larger family against all odds in my life at that time in Brooklyn. I do have to say, officially, that I think only children are great (I am one), and especially when they are surrounded by happy, loving and awesome parents they can feel extreme strength in their family.

Fast forward: my son is now six months old, and he brings my daughter happiness that I never dreamed possible from her. She is proud, protective, and in love with him. Since his arrival, though, I have witnessed tantrums and crying fits from her that never happened before. Her mom is not just hers alone now, and I cannot bail her out of every emotional or physical quagmire she sails into, thus, they often are deeper. I, also, have gotten more upset with her than ever when she gets into them--our boundaries and thresholds are shifting and making room for the new addition. We are both learning everyday to rescue ourselves, somehow.

When people ask me how it’s going with two, I want to say, “Ask me in three years when he’s gotten into Pre-K.” But I usually smile and say, “It’s hard. But great.” It’s all the same. Since the beginning of humanity, procreation has probably been a pressure upon all of childbearing age in every culture. I know the expectation to have more than one is out there. Whether it’s from your grandmother, the Kardashians , or just from yourself. Yet, by being an only child, I know only that as a way of growing up.

Making room in our lives for another child has been joyful and mysterious. But I won’t lie: it is hard. Like, hard on every level you could conjure up. Physically, mentally, financially, spiritually, etc. My fears about it were founded. But here I am, I am still here, writing this piece. It’s not like it’s been so hard that I am catatonic. You make it, you do it, and I think I’ll be stronger. But ask me in three years, when he’s gotten into Pre-K.

Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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