Before women are married, many of us have an idea of how many children we want to have. I had always said I wanted to have four kids. (in retrospect, I feel that was a crazy thought!) Then I had my son; my beautiful son who didn’t sleep through the night until he was 10 months old. With a full-time job and grad school happening, that meant I was pretty much a walking and cranky zombie for a while. So when people would ask “When’s number two coming along?” I’d laugh and say, “Maybe never!”
Until Enzo was about 16 months old, I swore that he’d be an only child. It took awhile for me to get in the groove of motherhood. Twenty-two months into this adventure, I can say that I am just now starting to feel confident about doing this “working mom” thing. My husband and I finally have our groove and have figured out our routine. Even though Enzo still has sleeping issues, and I think it’s really hard to juggle it all, I’m feeling confident that I’m doing the best I can—we both are. So when I think about starting all over again, being pregnant, this time with a toddler underfoot, it seems pretty overwhelming!
Making the decision to have another baby can come easily, or it can be a long process. For some women, it’s a no-brainer: they want more than one child. Maybe they had a great pregnancy, they enjoyed their children as infants (maybe their kids slept through the night!), maybe they want a big family. For other women, myself included, it’s more complicated…I can barely figure it out with one, so thinking about two scares the heck out of me.
Read related: A Single Regret: Having an Only Child
I discovered that many women have the same anxiety I do, especially if they are working moms. Like myself, fellow blogger, Tamar worries that another baby will impact her own life and how she will be able to serve her own needs when she struggles to do so with one child. She explains that her family of three has a good balance, and she wonders how another baby would impact the undivided attention she is able to give her son, Matty. These are feelings echoed by other mommies; Yudith wonders how she will be able to divide her attention between two children and be fair. “As a working mom I see the challenges of juggling work and motherhood and only having 24 hours a day to dedicate to both.”
BABY #2 CONSIDERATIONS A huge factor to consider is money. Raising a child is expensive. According to a 2011 government report, it costs approximately $235,000 to raise a child. In addition, if working parents do not have access to paid parental leave, there is the financial burden of taking time off to have another baby. A mom I interviewed exclaimed, “I did the math. I would have to save around $12,000 in order to make payments on my mortgage and car… Having a baby is just not financially in the cards for us right now.” Childcare is also expensive. When a second baby comes into the picture, many parents decide it makes more sense for one parent to stay home with the children, and that’s usually the mother. This may also affect a woman’s career and professional opportunities when she looks to return to the workforce. (Side note…mothering and taking care of a home should be allowed on your resume! It’s a full time job!)
Another factor parents consider is a bit more emotional. If parents have siblings, they want to give their child what they had: a friend, an accomplice, a buddy. Some parents cannot imagine not giving their children the opportunity to experience that special relationship. If parents are only children, and they wish they had had siblings, they want to give their child what they feel they missed out on.
Finally, another factor is biological. As women, our reproductive days are numbered. Sometimes women feel they need to have another baby because they see that window of reproductive opportunity narrowing in on them.
SOMETIMES ONE IS ENOUGH Rachel Figueroa-Levin, the mastermind behind El Bloombito and mommy to beautiful toddler Adi, has chosen to have one child. “Society pretty much teaches that every mom has to have more than one kid. If you decide to stop at one you’re a bad mom.” Rachel doesn’t accept this. She explains that she is a young mom, and when her daughter goes to kindergarten, she will be young enough to start a career (she will be 29). She enjoys her life, traveling, her big apartment…she recognizes how expensive children are to raise. She has made a decision that works for her and her husband, but that society often judges. Sometimes, the judgment comes from within one’s own family—especially in Latino cultures—where family is so important. “What do you mean you’re only having one?” “You’re not going to give Pepito someone to play with? But he will be so lonely!” “But the Bible says to go forth and procreate.” Yes, I have actually heard this!
Where do I stand? Well, there are days when I am open to the idea, and there are days when Enzo’s driving me up the wall and I think “Two? No way José.” Elisa says she felt the same way, but as time passed and her firstborn got older, she felt she could do it again. That might be me too, eventually… Ultimately, deciding whether to have more children is an extremely personal matter. Every couple must decide what is best for them. Whatever your decision is, to have one precious child, or to add another bundle of joy to the mix, your family will be perfect, and you will be the best mom ever. If you decide to embark on the whirlwind experience once again, word on the street is that the second time around, we’re not as neurotic as we were before, and second babies sleep (okay…that last part might be an urban mommy myth.)