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I Want Another Baby But Don't Think I Can Handle It

Here's a confession: I would like another baby.

I would like another baby, but I'm crippled with fear and anxiety about my ability to care for another little person. I wonder if I can really do the sleepless night thing again. Those parenting moments, back when I was extremely tired and just wanted to take a nap but couldn't? I don't know if I can handle that again.

My son has a half-sister who is 8 years older than him. In theory, I would like him to have a sibling closer in age. I never had a sibling close in age, and I wonder if that would have made my childhood better. In reality, though, I don't know how we would adjust going back to the baby years.

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All this uncertainty makes me wonder if I'm somehow broken. People happily add more children to their family without this much inner conflict all the time. At least it seems that way.

I work full time and write on my off time. I also serve on committees. I try to stay in touch with friends. I like having deep and meaningful conversations with my partner, which I don't do often enough. I'm also a mother. Some weeks there's balance, some weeks I'm a wreck. I long for less complicated days, for days that are not over-scheduled. Those are also the days when I wonder what would I have to give up for another child.

I feel selfish for thinking this way.

Children bring so much to our lives. The love I feel for my son is deep and powerful. That love tugs at my heart strings every day. I took an evening for myself last week. When I returned home, I felt my heart sink when his dad told me that he was asking for me during bath time. He then woke up in the middle of the night asking for me. I immediately picked him up and placed him in bed with us. I missed him. I know my time with him is precious. He is beautiful, he is strong. My thoughts are often of him, of how I will raise him to be a good human, how his father and I are being the best examples for him. Then I wonder how I could possibly add another child to this. While I would like another child, could my life handle it?

Children are magical, but in this day and age they are also a huge emotional and financial investment. I cannot ignore this reality when I think about having a second. We can get more money, we can wake-up earlier, but we cannot get more hours in the day.

If we had another child, I sometimes think maybe one of us should stay home. But which one of us? We're both invested in our professions, in our side projects, and in parenting his daughter, who is with us on weekends, and our toddler.

I know the conventional wisdom dictates two to three years in between kids is the ideal age split. That's enough time to get past the newborn stage yet close enough that they can still grow up together. Frankly, I don't feel like I'm used to parenting yet. I feel like I'm still getting my feet wet, that I'm still learning to exist with all of these roles: mother, partner, writer, professional, friend. I worry that these other areas of my life will diminish, that my relationship with myself will suffer.

And I mostly worry that I won't be able to give another child my very best.

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I keep thinking we will wait and that, in a few years, we will be ready. I'm also OK if we are not. I'm OK with adopting when we are in our late thirties. I'm OK with keeping an open dialogue about this. We might feel ready and then decide it's too late for us.

On the other hand, we might never feel ready, and we might do it anyway.

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