Originally published in 'Australian Mother & Baby' Last Word, back when my teenagers were actually babies! (We survived...)Hopefully, the subject matter continues to empathise with mums of small babies today. Let me know in the comments section below.
After experiencing uncomfortable pregnancies, gory births, fractious newborns and tantrum-throwing toddlers, why would any mum suddenly crave another child?
Last week my mothers' group met in the park with our respective 20-month-old toddlers. Over Styrofoam cup coffee and a packet of biscuits, the conversation turned to whether any more of us were thinking of having another baby.
Our group has spent the last year and a half listening to each others' birth stories (in intimate detail I might add). We all nod sympathetically to tales of sleep deprivation, mastitis, reflux, colic, the colour of baby poo and more recently, toddler trantrums. Incredibly, it seems none of these challenges have put any of uss off wanting to have a second child. I have already gone ahead and given birth to another baby. Now, after two months of broken sleep, I felt compelled to ask my fellow mums a question. 'Why do we decide, armed wit the knowledge of hindsight, to go through all of those things again?'
The other mums pondered this question while we sat on the grass watching our toddlers screaming 'mine' at each other and having a pushing match over the swing. These almost two-year-olds bore little resemblance to the babies they once were. This alone could be enough of a reason to have another baby. While it is wonderful to watch our toddlers develop their own personalities, the special moments of rubbing a round belly, talking to a cooing face, and snuggling up at feeding time seem so far away now. Our tiny babies grew big so suddenly.
However, when the group gave my question deeper thought, their answer was unanimous. the interest of future family dynamics was at the front of their minds. Everyone wanted a playmate for their firstborn, another person for their toddler to rely on, share and grow up with.
Their answers confused me. Was I the only person who could remember what childhood was like? My own parents kindly provided a little brother whose sole mission in life was to annoy me. He put an enormous plastic spider in my bed, forever creating a terror of eight-legged creatures. He endlessly followed me around wanting his Alf stuffed toy to be the monster in my Barbie doll games. He crashed my 10th birthday party sleepover and left bite marks in my arm. I'll confess I wasn't entirely to blame. I did hit him over the head with my cabbage patch doll.
Needless to say, fantasising about two children playing harmoniously together wasn't too much of a factor when I fell pregnant. Truthfully, I just woke up one morning wanting another baby. I tried to talk myself out of it as my daughter was only 11 months old. but, she had started to walk. Overnight she was no longer my little baby girl. She was now a tiny toddler.
My husband tried to rationalise. Being the more sensible one, he recalled every detail of the previous twelve months with great clarity. Even though he reminded me of the endlessness of pregnancy followed by the timelessness of broken nights of sleep, I could not be dissuaded.
These days I am surrounded by washing mountains and as I feed my baby boy I watch helplessly as my daughter tears up an entire roll of toilet paper.
So, did I offer my mothers' group any advice? As I watched, my daughter wrapped her arms around her baby brother. She gave him a big kiss on his head while he smiled all his gums at her. I realised no advice was really needed.