It could be because I'm so weak, both physically and emotionally. That's why I tell myself I'm afraid of having a second baby. I found the first year of motherhood so unfathomably difficult, I fill to the brim with self-doubt when I imagine adding a second child to the equation.
These are just 10 of the undermining excuses my my anxiety comes up with when I think about a second pregnancy:
- School is expensive. Tuition for two kids costs twice as much. Like, If kids are crops and school is soil and money is fertilizer... I'm confused by my own analogy.
- I’m old. I thought I was old when I first got pregnant at 37, but now I'm 40. Being pregnant was fun and easy back then, three whole years ago, but now? Who knows what might fall apart. If a pregnancy is officially "geriatric" at 35, am I seriously playing with fate at 40? And I keep getting older; I might be 41 before this theoretical baby is born!
- I only have two arms. Logic could console me with a reminder that's one hand for each kid, but I'm skeptical. It currently takes both my arms and superhuman strength to carry the groceries, the toddler, and all her accompanying props. Supposedly she will one day reliably walk on her own -- and maybe even help with carrying things -- but I'm still waiting. And you never know when she will stop in her tracks to scream "Hand! Hand! Hand!" regardless of how full my Hands! are.
- I will be paralyzed by postpartum depression. Or postpartum anxiety, again. I will be too overwhelmed to remember how to ask for help. I will be too ashamed to admit I need help.
- I just started to get the hang of this. Yeah, my kid is two, and we get stuff done. We have fun, the house is semi-clean, I exercise every day, and I have time to write sometimes. How long will it take to get back to this sweet spot?
- The next one will not be as sweet/well-behaved/smart/perfect as the first one. How could any poor second child live up to the standard set by my totally perfect first child? Am I a good enough person to not constantly compare them, looking for a winner? Am I smart or nurturing enough to recognize and encourage their individual gifts?
- Diabetes. Being diabetic wasn't that hard in my first pregnancy, but what if I'm broken this time around? What if all the hysterical warnings about diabetes in pregnancy are realized this time? Like a giant baby with insulin regulation problems at birth. What if my best effort to control my blood sugar for the baby isn't good enough?
- Pregnancy will make me too tired to properly care for my first kid. I was very lucky to have no morning sickness the first time I was pregnant. I worked until a few weeks before she was born and only got very uncomfortable the last few days. But who knows if that will be flipped upside down the second time! Could I handle my active toddler throughout a rough pregnancy?
- Goodbye, sleep. Our family has a pretty sweet situation here. My daughter sleeps 12 or 13 hours every night and has done since she was a few months old. Remembering those first few months without sleep makes me want to hide under the bed.
- Fertility treatments are hard. Injections, tests, appointments, disappointments... weeks of worry. Months of worry if you don't get lucky the first time. I don't know how I did it and kept my job the first time. I was an aching, crying mess, and I couldn't even tell anyone why.
I guess No. 10 is deep in the dark heart of my excuses. It might not work, and then what?
This is my process for accomplishing anything major:
First, freak out.
Second, seek repeated reassurance.
Third, do it.