Not long ago, I got an email from a friend who had her son right around the same time Nora was born saying "Hey, guess what? We're expecting another!"
And while I'd never admit it to her, while she'd never be able to guess it from my gushy, congratulatory reply, my gut reaction was: "God, really?"
I'm a little troubled that I reacted that way, and I can't exactly explain it.
Maybe -- probably -- my reaction stemmed from a just complete inability to imagine my life as it is right now (a constantly busy, constantly thiiiiiiis close to a breakdown work-from-home mom of a 2-year-old) PLUS the heavy load of mothering a newborn who requires constant attention. It was hard enough to deal with a newborn when she was all I had to worry about. I don't know -- I literally do not comprehend -- how I could manage to do that again AND deal with everything Nora needs from me right now. People do it all the time, I realize. It just somehow kind of works out. My brain understands that. But my gut reacts with "God, really?" all the same.
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Or maybe, since I'm an only child, two just seems like kind of a lot. My husband, who comes from a family of five kids, thinks my childhood of playing board games by myself (only on rare occasions when one of the neighborhood kids wasn't around to play with!) or having a whole-family Thanksgiving dinner with just three people at the table is incredibly sad. But to me, it was just normal. I always wanted a brother or sister -- most only children will tell you they wished for the same, at least sometimes -- but I suspect the picture would have turned less rosy had my wish actually come true.
And then, of course, if I'm being honest, there's the possibility that an announcement of a second child makes me feel a little left out. We'd always thought in terms of two kids, but after Nora's terrifying entrance and the toll her two weeks of question marks in the NICU took on us, it wasn't terribly hard to decide to change plans. And we're at peace with that decision. But it definitely knocks us out of the multiple-kids club, which suddenly is becoming the hottest new thing, it feels like.
That email from my friend announcing her second pregnancy? It was followed in just a day or two by an email from another friend with the same news from her family. Then there was a Facebook announcement from a high-school buddy announcing a second pregnancy. Then the neighbors down the street told me their second is on the way. A friend I made in my labor class told me their family is expanding. And another friend from that same labor class just delivered her second.
It's a baby boom, all right, but I'm sitting it out. And I think in about five or six months, when all of these second babies arrive into the world and into the already harried hands of their mamas and daddies, I'll be perfectly content to smile (and mean it), congratulate (and mostly mean it), offer to babysit (and totally NOT mean it) -- and then go home to enjoy a decent night's sleep and the relative peace of one and only.