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One and TBD: Second Thoughts on a Second Child

Photograph by Twenty20

I remember it was morning. I think it was morning. Was it morning? Time is a very fluid and abstract concept those early days of motherhood. Nights and days sort of spill unto each other.

I was waiting in the lobby at my son’s pediatrician’s office. Beside my feet was my son, not even two weeks old. He was sleeping soundly, of course—the very sight of which made me salivate with envy. Sleep was becoming a foreign concept to me, or one doled out in sporadic morsels.

Another mother walked in. In one hand, she gripped the car seat nestling her newborn child, and in the other she held onto her little girl. With my tired, burning eyes, I studied her in anthropological amazement. She appeared tired, yes, but not distraught or disheveled. She even managed to smile and read a book to her daughter.

How does she do it? I wondered. How does she take care of a newborn AND her older child? I concluded she’s either a superwoman or insane. (I would later learn that most mothers are both.)

After watching her, I felt stupid. There I was, ready to wave my white flag at any moment. I had nursing pads in my bra, an enormous maxi pad in my equally enormous panties and a big box of tissues in case I burst into tears at any moment.

I was leaking from every orifice. Sometimes I wondered if my brain was leaking, too—my sanity slowly unspooling from my head. That fierce, undeniable love that I now have for my son was still taking form. My feelings toward him vacillated from mild vexation to modest affection.

Maybe it’s defensive amnesia—sort of an evolutionary protective device of early motherhood to preserve our species.

At the time, I felt completely certain that my son would be an only child. I knew I could probably grow to love him and keep him alive for the next 18 years. But another child? No way. Yet, here I sit, wondering if I should have a second child.

Maybe it’s defensive amnesia—sort of an evolutionary protective device of early motherhood to preserve our species. Or maybe it’s simply the salve of time and experience, and how they both seem to soften the sting of broken hearts, bones—and, apparently, new moms.

Am I ready? I don’t know. Yes? Maybe?

I don’t have an answer, but I do know this: I am stronger and more alive than I ever thought I could be. Motherhood turns women into warriors. The battle scars are many but so are the rewards.

You get screamed at, pooped on, puked on and pinched. But, man, those big brown eyes. That dimpled smile. The sound of his laugh and the scent of his hair. The way his limbs fold into mine when he’s tired or sick and needs snuggles from Mommy.

Every day is a roller coaster of emotions, but that view from the top? Breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.

And who knows? It may be a ride I want to take again.

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