The ultimate grudge match…
From the moment I brought Arty home from the hospital (in fact, whilst expressing in a private room on the post-labour ward) people have been asking whether and when I will be having more kids. I’ve written before about my discomfort with this question. I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business whether my husband and I want more kids. Maybe we desperately do and haven’t been able to conceive. Maybe my first pregnancy was horrific and dangerous and I don’t want to repeat it. Or maybe, as another mum once said to me, I’m done with the ‘baby stage’ and just want to enjoy my child growing up.
I have friends with no kids, I don’t envy or pity them, and I have friends with many children. Again, no judgement, no yearning to be just like them. What I do feel is a sense of confusion. Is it selfish to just have one child? Is it practical? It certainly makes economic sense! But then maybe I am a slave to my biology and when I think I’m OK with one child in reality I want more. It seems to be expected of me that now I have Arthur I am always going to be in someway incomplete without a sibling for him.
So what I have decided to do is a pros and cons list of baby vs toddler. Just to see in writing what I am missing from the ‘baby stage’ and whether I think I really should go back there.
What is easier/harder? What everyone tells you: You don’t sleep. You need to KEEP THEM ALIVE. You’re told to breast feed and sleep when they sleep and put them to bed on their backs and NEVER co-sleep on a sofa or when you’ve had a drink or taken any medication. And you have to get all the right equipment. Sterilise everything. Feed them constantly. Don’t feel pressured to go anywhere or do anything but don’t hide at home as that could be symptomatic of PND. Make mummy friends. Get chicken pox. Lose the baby weight. Don’t give them dairy. Aaaaargggghh. So many instructions.
What no one tells you: Babies are terrifying. You love them unconditionally but you can really hate them and yourself and your partner. You want to go back to work because it makes monetary sense but maybe you don’t get any help with childcare so you can’t afford to. You truly believe that your partner has it easier, regardless of your roles. Sometimes you smash it as a mum and sometimes you just cry like your heart’s breaking and have to hand the bawling, puking, shitting bundle of joy to someone else before you think you will die. It’s probably one of the hardest things you will do, keeping a baby alive until it’s a toddler. But it is worth it because BABIES!
They sleep all the time. They constantly entertain you and learn and adapt and grow. Babies are fascinating and you love them so much with a love that is overwhelming and indescribable, a feeling that you are told to expect but can never understand until it wallops you fully in the heart and cervix. And because you are awash with this new love, babies give you energy. The energy you need to make it through another day.
However, the truth is that babies are that way for the tiniest amount of time. They grow up, and develop and change every single day. And then suddenly they are toddlers. Terrible Twos, Threenagers, little monsters. And I can only just about handle one of those, let alone any more!
Obviously you still love your child and want only the best for them, you don’t resent that they are growing up but it is a constant upheaval in lifestyle raising a toddler compared to ‘having a baby’. The naps stop, the hitting and pushing starts. Potty training, answering back, tantrums, nursery, birthday parties, paying for things again because they’re grown people instead of baby lumps.
Could I really do all that again? Would all the lovely, quiet baby stuff be lost amidst trying to wrangle the threenager and keep newbie safe? I’m also only just feeling like I’ve got my body back to myself and maybe I can’t put it through the disruption of another pregnancy. I had SPD so badly that I could barely move passed about 35 weeks. And I feel most days like a climbing frame and obstacle course (as well nurse maid, cook and cleaner) for a rampaging toddler, how could I possibly grow a baby and still put my body through the daily onslaught of Arthur!?
So you see wherein my confusion arises. I would never say never, especially as someone who didn’t want any kids and have been rather blessed with a nice one, so who knows what is in the future. But as it stands, the one I have is enough for me.