Samantha Dooey-Miles on the gradual realisation that two would be quite nice, actually...
When planning my family I thought I knew what I wanted. One lovely baby and then very, very quickly another baby. Bish, bash, bosh, family complete within two years. My plan faltered when I realised the last thing I wanted while I had a tiny baby was another even tinier baby to care for. It’s taken until now, eighteen months later, for me to think both 'yes, I can do this again' and also 'I no longer think the reality of having two small children would drive me to faking my own death and moving continents within a matter of weeks'. How did I reach this decision? Well, for me, there were a few signs which told me I was ready.
1. Being pregnant again does not seem like the worst thing in the world
I wouldn't go so far as to say I hated being pregnant but I came as close to hating it as you can without using the word. Imagining meeting my daughter became an obsession throughout my pregnancy because meeting her meant I would no longer be breathless and slow with a brain that was fogged over like an atmospheric Victorian cobbled street in a period drama.
Due to loathing (I think that’s the closest thing to hate) pregnancy, going through it all again has been far from my favourite daydream. For reference my favourite daydream is lounging in my beautiful, minimalist Grand Designs style home while I chat with my gal pal Emma Stone over a bottle of wine. When visualising myself with a bump and swollen ankles no longer made me wish I had a non-imaginary glass of wine in my hand, I suspected I could go through it all again.
2. Your body is as ready as it’ll ever be
Pregnancy books I read first time around were filled with pages and pages on how I had to be physically fit for labour. Not one mentioned being prepared for the stresses which followed childbirth. The twinges as various body parts drifted back to the general location they were in before. The weirdly sore hands from constantly holding my baby. The fatigue that invaded every cell in my body as sleep deprivation kicked in making every bit of me more tender than it used to be. Thanks a lot books.
I can’t do any push-ups and I will never run for the bus because I know I’ll never catch it if I do, but my body is in as good a shape as it’s ever going to be.
3. Friends with more kids than you don’t scare you
I have two friends who have ventured past having one child. Both of them expressed mild terror that having another baby was going to destroy the state of equilibrium they had achieved in their family of three. When I realised I shared their worries for myself, I was too frightened to ask probing questions about their newly expanded family incase they told me uncomfortable truths. I’m not rude, I didn’t cut them out of my life, but I did make sure when we chatted my questions were carefully constructed. For instance, I’d ask how their children were individually making sure never to ask how they got on together incase they’d already made a start on a lifelong feud.
Recently, I’ve felt able to ask whatever pops into my head. Even if they were to confess another kid was tougher than they thought it’s ok, it won’t stop me from wanting another. Full disclosure, I can say that because I’ve just checked and everyone is very happy and not regretting their life choices - phew.
4. Acceptance that another baby will be different
When my daughter is asleep, looking like the most perfect human that has ever existed, my husband and I will say to one another “What if the next one isn’t as good?” This question doesn’t only stem from her angelic resting face but from the fact even when she is awake she is extremely chilled. Well, as chilled as a person whose primary means of communicating at the moment is yelps and screams can be.
The next one, goodness knows what they might be into. What if they scream every night, all night? What if they cluster feed and I have a baby attached to my breasts for days at a time? Then it hit me, when you love someone you forgive them their quirks even if they leave you sleep deprived and with chafed nipples. If I can get used to my daughter slapping my boobs when she wants to be fed or my husband’s inability to shut a wardrobe door I can accept whatever baby two has to fling at me.
5. Broodiness is not fleeting
All of a sudden my daughter seems very grown up. She can walk, say “Mummy” when I walk in a room and refuses assistance when she’s eating. When I see a newborn, my toddler seems so adult with her knowing the word ‘potato’ and being able to stand without falling over. Since she’s advanced, very small children have started to make me instantly broody in a way they never did before I was a mother. When I see one my ovaries prod at me, demanding I get on at making another - a sentiment I agree with for all of ten minutes until the urge fades. Lately the broodiness no longer ceases when the baby is out of sight, this is surely a sign.
6. The time is right(ish)
I'm not convinced there's ever a right time to take months and months out of life to try and conceive, be pregnant and then raise a newborn into toddlerhood. In an ideal world I’d wait until I made six figures, had access to Mary Poppins standard childcare whenever I required it and figured out how to maintain the energy levels of the sort of person who gets up at 5am every day to go a ten mile jog before breakfast. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this isn’t an ideal world so I’ll have make the most of what I do have; a job I like, a local nursery where the staff are kind to my daughter, and enough energy to get me through the day and not an ounce more. While the timing may never be perfect, this seems as good a time as there’ll ever be.