Being pregnant, giving birth, and dealing with those first few newborn months can be nothing short of torturous. If you had an idyllic pregnancy, maybe your delivery was a nightmare. No problems with delivery? You might have been blessed with the world’s most colicky child. While welcoming your firstborn into the world is a life-changing, beautiful and heart-warming experience, many of those early days can be downright hairy.
So why do so many people opt to have a second (or third) kid? I was certainly someone who swore off having more children after my breech baby was born via C-section and I experienced awful side effects from the drugs they gave me during the surgery. My son then chose not to sleep for more than an hour at a time for the next four and a half months solid. Four and a half months. My husband and I started showing early signs of psychosis from sleep deprivation. We pleaded with our pediatrician for solutions as our screaming child chipped away at our ability to function.
But here I am, pregnant for a second time. And I am willing to go through it all over again – the good, the bad, and the torture. Friends who’ve been through it all say that the reason you choose to even think about having more children is that you forget: The birth is fleeting and you forget how much pain you endured. And they say that the sleepless nights during that fourth trimester don’t imprint on the brain because you were so tired and have so few memories of what you went through.
While a lot of that is true (there is a lot about those first couple of months that I can’t for the life of me remember), I have a different theory. Here it is: Once you’ve become a parent, you get it. You develop this all-encompassing, scrumptious love for a little person that can bring you to tears. Sure, no one enjoys those toddlers years, per se, but they’re a time of incredible growth and development. You watch this tiny human of yours figure out the world around him. You live for the moments he comes to you for answers. You kiss the booboos and soak in his beautiful scent every night before bed. All of a sudden, the backache and fatigue during pregnancy, the contractions and side effects of labor, and the nearly unbearable sleep deprivation and confusion after birth all become worth it. Every minute. I wouldn’t trade one iota of the hard times we’ve had with my son, because they were all part of his story. And part of our story as a family.
What’s more, since you’ve already been through those rough patches with Baby #1, you know full well that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You know that at some point, your kid is going to sleep, and get over the colic, and smile and eat solid foods. You know that each rough patch is just that: a patch. And that you have the strength to make it to the next one.
Do I wish my kid would eat something other than bread and cheese? Absolutely. Could I do without the long, drawn-out, fall-on-the-floor tantrums every time I try to change his diaper? That would be nice. But he’s my little guy. And he is charming, sweet, and cunning as can be. He’s also the cutest thing I’ve ever seen (yes, I’m biased).
And so I’ll roll the dice and take my chances with another awful delivery and tough first year (and second…) Not because I’ve forgotten. (Ok I’ve forgotten some tiny details, but the insanity that defined my son’s first few months is indelibly ingrained on my bones.) I’ll go for it this second time around because I know the reward that awaits me. Nursing, snuggling, and loving my second child (and hearing him or her giggle for the first time) will undoubtedly be just as worth it as it was for my first.