I have written about this before, so it should come as no surprise to all of you - we have been thinking about having another baby. We have always wanted two children, so this is really nothing new or unusual for us. It's just that, now that I know what it's actually like to have a child, it's not such a simple decision anymore.
I think it is probably part of the grand design that we do not really know what it's like to be a parent until we have children. In a way, it's like marriage - if there were a way to really know what it would feel like after 5 years when your husband neglects, for the 5 millionth time, to refill the water jug in the fridge - how many of us would actually get married? In many ways, I am happy I didn't know more about what it would be like to be a mom, because I may not have given it a try.
When I was pregnant, my chiropractor said to me that she would love to give birth again, but wasn't too sure about raising the second child. During my pregnancy I was very focused on and apprehensive about labor, so I was pretty puzzled by what she said. But I understand it now. Labor and delivery were quite spectacular for me, and, in my opinion, raising Dora has been much harder than bringing her into the world was.
After Dora was born, one of the priests from the Episcopal church I attend came to visit us. Dora was tiny - maybe 4 weeks old at most. He asked us what was most surprising about becoming parents. I said that I had not had any idea how much I would love her. He smiled in understanding. He has two children, and admitted that when his wife was pregnant with their second baby, he was afraid that he would not - perhaps could not - love the second child as much as the first. When she was born, though, he found that his capacity for love was limitless.
I admit that I share this fear. Not only have I been surprised by the depth of my love for Dora, I've been surprised by the fact that it continues to grow and grow. I've said this before, but it's true - every day, I think I cannot possibly love her more than I already do, and the next day comes, and I find that I love her even more. We are in a stage now where she can readily show us love in return - with hugs, kisses, smiles, and "I luh lou, mommy". I think this has brought an even greater intensity to my love for Dora. We're taking our relationship to a whole new level, so to speak.
I know that a second baby is going to bring with it so many new challenges - back to sleepless nights, crying that can't be eased, teething. On our walk tonight, I saw two kids fighting over what appeared to be a set of wrenches - screaming at each other about something they shouldn't have been playing with anyway. There will be jealousy, arguments, hair pulling, and other tribulations. We will no longer be playing zone defense - now it will be man to man. When I am alone with the kids, I will be outnumbered. A second baby will undoubtedly put a new strain on our marriage, which even 2 years after Dora's birth still feels at times like an injured animal licking its wounds, not yet ready for another confrontation.
All of these are very valid, practical reasons to fear a second baby. But, deeper inside of me, there is another set of fears and apprehensions. Do I want to let go of the luxury of focusing all of my parental love and energy on Isadora? Do I really want to have to divide myself like that? How will it feel to no longer just be Isadora's mom? Can I ever love another child as much as I love her? Can my heart bear the burden of that intense love twice as much as it does now? Loving like that - it is beautiful, but it is painful and frightening, too. Letting yourself go to that is such a colossal act of faith. I didn't know how colossal it was the first time around - I jumped off the cliff without even realizing I had been at the ledge. This time, my eyes are wide open and I've seen the canyon floor, I've felt the wind rushing past my face as I've fallen. It's just not so easy to step off into the darkness when you've seen it once before.
When I picked Dora up from school today, she was standing by the window into one of the infant rooms, watching the babies. She ran over to me, excitedly telling me about the babies, then ran back to look again. One of the teachers said, "she's been watching those babies and talking about them SO much. She just loves them!" Dora has a little baby doll she carries around, sleeps with, nurses. When I ask her, "do you want a little brother or sister?" or "do you want mommy to have a baby?", she smiles and says yes.
I can say all I want to about my fears, but in my heart I know there is room for this. I have always wanted two children - Brian and I agree we want to experience this again. I want Dora to have a sibling, to feel like she is part of something bigger than just Brian and I, to have family even when we are gone. I don't know when - none of us do, of course - but someday, there will be two kids in this house - crying, singing, dancing, tantruming, loving - and there will be plenty of room in my heart for both of them.