The Second Baby: Should You be Having Another Child?
You already have one child and now you're considering having another one. Is that the right move? Do you or your wife feel strongly that your brother needs a little sister or your daughter needs a little brother? Remember, you have no choice in the situation, so you may end up with two children of the same sex. Is it important to you that you have two children? Do you have a prejudice against your son or daughter being an only child?
If you're in the position of having to choose whether or not to have a second kid, read on and I'll provide a few observations having gone through the exact same experience. Deciding to have a second child is a tough decision.
Parenting observations and tips
My wife and I are expecting our second child in a little over a month. To say we are nervous and scared is a mild understatement. At different moments of the day, one of us clearly resembles that proverbial squirrel caught in the headlights. I use the squirrel instead of the deer for a very clear reason. For one, a deer caught in headlights doesn't really look all that concerned to me. It just looks at you and gets out of the way because he knows that if you hit him, your car is going to need a lot of work. Nobody wants to hit a deer. A squirrel, on the other hand, has that fear of God look in its eyes and on its face. It seems to realize that if it doesn't do something - and do it fast - its life is about to be altered in an entirely unpleasant way because when you and your car hit him, neither you nor the car are going to give it that much thought.
Having emerged from the hell that is the first two years of child-rearing, I'm not anxious to go back. Oh sure, those first two years are filled with much joy and much laughter, but what is so often left off the Hallmark card of public perception when it comes to raising a kid is the eye-melting misery of certain aspects of keeping that little thing alive that often balance out the positive parts in a way that leaves parents wondering what trick put them there in the first place.
For every cute smile and developmental moment that leaves me feeling like the proudest papa in the world, there's the moment at the top of the stairs at 4am where I've already been up three times, have slept less than three hours total, and am holding this defenseless infant in my arms thinking that a quick pitch down the stairs could somehow end all the misery. It can't, of course. But as you stand there, half-conscious, in a sort of delirium that only parents really understand, you are overwhelmed by the epiphany that you can actually visualize the mental break that gets some parents - those sad ones on television who drowned their children or suffocated them or whatever. They're usually sitting in a courtroom looking completely demoralized (as they should). They broke. They snapped.
We are a true, two-income household. Most of the people I know who have kids have the luxury of one parent being able to stay at home. This is a luxury only in the sense that one parent does not stay at home because the one who does will be forever changed, turned into a babbling idiot who's only source of conversation starters are their children or Sesame Street or Dr. Seuss books and who will transform into some kind of insane individual over the next few years with very little connection to the adult world. Oh, they'll get over it, most likely, but by the time they do, they'll know more about coping mechanisms than anyone on the planet.
I really have no idea how most people afford daycare. My wife and I are fortunate that we do quite well, but even so, the fiscal conservative in me is panicking over our impending lack of cash flow. Who knew that daycare would be the real college education? And right out of the gate, too? Five days of daycare for our first child runs $1500/month. Once we start sending the second one, we'll be on the hook for $3000/month for about four years. Now, anybody who can even afford $3000/month in daycare is not likely to get much sympathy from most people, so I'm not asking for it. I'm just saying that, for us, there's no other choice. One of us cannot stay home. Neither of us would want to.
Advice from 2-child Parents
Should you have a second child?
Aside from watching our money disappear, I'm starting to realize the whole host of other issues about the rear their ugly faces. We're taking a refresher course on childbirth right now. Given that labor lasted 21 hours the last time, I'm not looking forward to going through that again. I'm also not looking forward to caring for that blob of a human being that will emerge. Don't get me wrong. I will care for it, but it's going to be torture for awhile. To make matters worse, I'll have to care for the other one at the same time, so it seems like to opportunity for mishap have risen exponentially. I like my sleep too. That's all about to go away.
With the first child, everything was new, so part of me worries that loving a second child will be harder somehow. Everything the first child did was novel. Everything the second child will do will be redundant. While I'm sure that the second child will be different, I worry it might not be in a good way. The first one was an average sleeper. While we hope the second will be a great sleeper, the possibility of him being a terrible sleeper also crops up in my nightmares. But it's just kind of this been there, done that attitude I find a little disturbing.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of parts I'm looking forward to, but when you're a parent, there seems to be so much occurring at any given time that nobody ever told you about and the media never covers. All we ever see are pictures of celebrities and their beautiful babies. All we ever hear are quotes from mothers talking about the joy of motherhood. There's very little on the downside of parenthood. Let's face it, parenthood sucks a lot and it's hard looking forward knowing how much it's going to suck and how often it's going to suck. If there was a time machine that could propel me a couple of years into the future, I might seriously consider getting in right now.
- Berkeley Parents Network: Having a Second Child
- Are You Ready For a Second Baby - Things to Consider Before Getting Pregnant Again - Parents.com
Find answers to questions about your growing family, and whether you are ready for a second child. Find out everything you need to know about parenting. Parents.com
Looking Back on My Decision
Now that my kids are three-years-old and five-years-old, I certainly don't regret having a second child. Would things have been easier with one? Probably. It certainly would have been less expensive. Can I imagine my life without my second little boy? Absolutely not.
Who knows whether or not you're going to like your second child better than your first. I can tell you that depending on the age spacing, one child will be going through something the other child will not and you'll be glad you have one child who isn't throwing a tantrum or questioning your parenting skills every few minutes.
Those early years are tough ones for any parent, but once you get past them, it all seems increasingly worthwhile. At least be confident in this: you won't really remember your decision that much in a few years.