I saw a friend recently who’s pregnant with her second child.
“How is it the second time?” I asked hopefully. She smiled grimly and replied, “Exactly the same but without any of the wonder.” In that reply, she summed up the problem we’re having even thinking about trying for a second. This time, there’ll be no mystery. We’re nearly two years into parenthood and reality is biting.
The right time for our bank account
Babies are expensive – toddlers even more so. I used to think having another mouth to feed wouldn’t impact the weekly shopping bill very much… reality check, it does! Toddlers eat a lot. And even on the days they throw it on the floor, you’ve still got to pay for it. Plus, nappies, clothes and new car seats all add up. And when you combine that with the cost of childcare, well, let’s just say the right time for our bank account will probably be once the toddler’s grown up and moved out. Current statistics suggest that’ll be in about 35 years.
The right time for our careers
The best way to fix our financial woes would be to concentrate on our careers. But a new tiny human will mean a six-month break for me and probably a pause for my husband, too. We’re both freelance, so we’ll be living on statutory maternity pay (ie not very much). I’m reliant on making contacts, and six-months of not working could mean I have to start from scratch. Aside from the financial gain, I like working. I’m starting to get new writing opportunities that are exciting. In short, the right time for our careers is probably retirement.
The right time for my body
But then – tick tock – I can hear the biological clock ticking. I’m almost 38 and though in my head I’m still a party-loving teen, in reproductive terms I’m old. The likelihood of things going wrong increases sharply each year after 35. Plus, the older I am, the harder it’ll be to bounce back after childbirth. I know first-hand what a battering the body can take. Of course, lots of people have babies in their 40s and it’s fine. But there’s a niggle that’s telling us not to be complacent. There’s no guarantee it’ll be easy (or even possible) to conceive a second time. The best time for my body was probably about 15 years ago.
The right time for the toddler
And then we start to think of the reasons for having a second. In the words of my husband, “We want to give G a little friend.” And that is so important to us. My sisters are my best mates. They live 200 miles away but we’re as close today as when we were running around in Mickey Mouse pyjamas playing Rock Star Barbie. The toddler’s nearly two so the right time for her is right now.
Even as I’m typing this, I can feel myself getting excited. If we’d known what we know now before we decided to plunge into parenthood, maybe we’d have waited. But if we had, there’d be no toddler – and that is inconceivable. Being a parent turns your world upside down, but it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Becoming a family of 4 can only make it better. I guess the question we need to ask now is, “How do we make time to try for baby number 2?”