How many kids should we have? This is something I think about a lot. Specially in the past 2-3 months. There have also been lots of posts on the blogosphere about this recently, which got me thinking even more.
Before I had Anna, I always wanted to have 2 kids. As I have mentioned before, I was totally clueless about exactly how much effort having a kid involves. I had very romantic notions of giggling and cuddling and snuggling and you get the picture. All those things are ofcourse there, but there is so much more. The sleepless nights, breast-feeding, a baby who might cry for hours, a completely screwed up back, no time to do anything at all, the constant guilt of not putting in enough into both my baby and my work, the constant tug-of-war within me – to quit or not to quit, the overall tiredness, the feeling of being stretched too thin all the time. All this doesn’t mean I regret having Anna. I’m just a lot more realistic about what having a baby means.
The pros of having two kids are very clear in my mind.
1) A sibling is one of the most important and precious people in one’s life. Someone who can totally ‘get’ you. Who knows exactly where you are coming from. Once the parents are gone, it is the sibling who can become ‘your’ family.
2) If you don’t have siblings, your kids won’t have cousins, and I don’t think anyone can be more fun to have around than cousins.
3) R wants to have one more baby. It’s a role reversal actually. Previously I was the one who was dying to have a baby and he always wanted to wait. Now he wants another one and the very thought traumatizes me.
4) I think I secretly want one more but am just too scared. I know once the second one is also around 2-3 years old, life will not be as difficult as before. I just need to get through the difficult first year.
5) I will not be so inexperienced the next time and will hopefully not be so overwhelmed.
The cons are equally obvious, even if they may seem selfish and short-term to most people.
1) I don’t think I have it in me to go through the whole thing again. I truly am totally and completely scared of having to repeat the whole process. I might change my mind in a couple of years but for now this is my stance.
2) This might seem petty but I am worried about finances. Babies are very very expensive. And I know our parents managed just fine, but today we live in a very different world. I don’t want to give out the message that it’s all about the money, but money is a very important factor. Specially so if I quit my job.
3) I might not feel comfortable taking this kind of a break from my job again. I feel guilty all the time because I take a full person’s salary, but don’t put in as much as before. I know that I am doing my work as sincerely as I can. And maybe lots of people do much less. But still, the nagging feeling of guilt doesn’t go away. I feel scared all the time that someday, someone will pull me up at work and say that I am not doing enough. It’s a silly kind of fear, but that doesn’t make it less real. Digression – The problem in part is the kind of team I am in now. We sometimes go for months without work. And then when a project starts, we are expected to work 24 hours a day and finish the project in a schedule which no other teams accepts. It was kind of ok before, because the work was good. But not now. I can’t put my life on hold for any project. Guys in my team actually sent their wives and kids to their parents’ home for the duration of the last project. But it just won’t work for me. So I have decided to put in reasonable number of hours everyday, no more – if there is a problem I will have to switch jobs. Digression (rant rather) over. If I have a second kid, I would most probably just have to quit. Which further enhances point number 2.
4) My mother has been with Anna for 12 months out of the past 15. R’s mom also stayed with us for a total of around 3 months. I don’t want to make them do this again. I know that they have more than happily stayed with us. But it only adds to my feeling of guilt. On the other hand, I couldn’t leave a new baby with a maid, which again means I would have to quit.
5) I would have to look after both Anna and the new baby. When I struggled so much with just Anna, how would I ever manage with two?
6) By the time we would plan to have another baby, Anna would be around 3. She would hopefully be potty trained and sleeping through the night. And then to do it all again?
One interesting point is that all the points in favour of having one more kid are to do with what is good for Anna, and the all the ones against are related to what I think is good for me. I think that puts even more pressure on me to do what is good for Anna but I have decided that I just won’t fall into that trap. What is good for Anna is to have a happy, healthy mom who is comfortable with the decisions which she has made. So whatever we decide, we will have to be 100% sure about it. If we stop at one and are happy with it, Anna will be happy too. That is something I am sure about. So we should go for the second only if we truly want to. Not as a favour to Anna – that would be a disaster.
I think that’s about it. It’s a bit premature to be thinking so much about this, but I just can’t help it. R and I even talked about it last night. The outcome was that R wants another one (easy for him since I will have to do all the hard work), and I am extremely confused, though veering towards only one for the time being. We decided that we would wait till Anna is 3 and then decide.