Maybe Next Year

Since my son was only a few months old I’ve fielded the common question, “So when are you going to have another one?” My answer has stayed the same. “Maybe next year,” I say with a smile. He’s now almost four.

We thought about having children two years apart. It seems to be the norm these days. It seemed like a good idea. That way the baby stage is all done at once. That way they’ll be closer in age and be good friends. That way they’ll be at similar stages of life. I’m sure there’s a healthy dose of misconception in there somewhere.

My brother and I are four years apart, or three years and eleven months as I used to point out. I always felt that was too large of a gap. I was in 6th grade while he was entering high school. We were in totally different worlds. When I looked at it in those terms I could not imagine having my own children that far apart in age. My brother and I didn’t truly appreciate each other until we were both older. Was it how we were raised, our personalities, or the age gap?

Maybe Next Year3In a lot of ways, my husband and I were naively unaware of true parenthood when our son was born. I guess many of us are. There’s a saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Without family nearby, we don’t have a village. It’s our small family unit making a lot of sacrifices and doing the best we can. We navigated the toddler years and now he is entering preschool in the fall. He’s becoming more independent; he’s even learning to wipe his own butt! Things like that allow me a little more time and freedom for self-focus and work. But I can’t seem to escape the stream of, “Don’t you want another?”

I don’t talk about it much with others, because it’s no one’s business when or if we have another kid. Yet so many people use it as small talk. It’s not the weather or the latest TV show. It’s an intimate decision my husband and I make for our family. Ok, for some, the human body and the miracle of science make the surprise decision for them. Just like it’s not ok to rub every pregnant belly you see or say things like, “Oh, you look like you’re ready to pop,” there isn’t an open invitation to comment on family size. Unless it’s a dear friend, skip the chitchat about having another baby. You might have the best intentions, but it could be opening a mental can of worms for the mom you’re asking.

Think about it. What if the mom is secretly having difficulty conceiving? What if she doesn’t want another child? Or maybe she does, but her partner absolutely does not? Maybe she’s overcoming a traumatic birth with no real understanding or support from others. Maybe she doesn’t enjoy motherhood very much and can’t imagine doing it all over again. I struggled with postpartum depression the first couple years of his life, though maybe rage would be a more honest representation.Maybe Next Year2

When people ask me about having another baby, my anxiety can easily take over. I worry I should have had another by now, that it’s a mistake he doesn’t have a baby brother or sister yet. I worry I’ve made wrong choices, and he won’t be close with his sibling. But mostly, I’m growing more scared of being a mom to a new baby… again. What if I’ve forgotten how to take care of a baby, or we can’t handle two of them when just one has been so hard? What if I have severe morning sickness again and have to take care of my son, too? Sleep is incredibly important self-care for my mood, so I’m afraid of sleep deprivation. I have bad wrists and worry if I’ll be able to carry a baby around when they ache from just holding my phone. I don’t want to be doing construction on the house when I’m eight and nine months pregnant again. Seriously, that sucked and I don’t recommend it. As a doula now, I have many goals for my next pregnancy and birth. It might also be our last, which brings its own considerations. My list goes on and on. I do not expect perfection, well, maybe a little bit. But I do know I want to be more excited than scared when I take a pregnancy test again. Preparation is key–you’d know that by my to-do lists.

Here I am planning my son’s 4th birthday party and wondering about another child. Every time I see how big he’s getting I picture him as a newborn and think of a baby brother or sister. When I see photos of friends’ babies, I wonder. I really don’t need people asking and putting me on the spot. So when will we have another baby? Maybe next year. Maybe not. I’m reminded by my client’s birth stories that there is no perfect time to have a baby and what I’m feeling isn’t uncommon. Whenever another baby comes into our lives it will be the right thing for us and at the right time. My son will be an amazing big brother someday. But until then, I look forward to planning his amazing Jake and the Never Land Pirates birthday party!

Kellie Osler
Kellie received her BA in Psychology from the University of Iowa and stayed around after college instead of returning home to SW Iowa. She went to high school with Mike and they met again downtown after her college graduation. They’re now married and live in rural Riverside with their son Calvin, age 4. She owns Motherly TLC as a birth and postpartum doula, and is an active member of the IC Doulas. When she’s not building her business or chasing her son you can find her making vegan recipes, hunting for deals, volunteering at her bi-monthly eating disorder group, or putting in sweat equity on home remodeling projects. If she had spare time she’d love to write a book, do craft projects like hand decorated birdhouses, volunteer more and curl up to watch a favorite show with a hot cup of tea.


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