People always say that mothers forget about the birth otherwise they would never have another child. This is a lie. Every single detail of both of my births are seared on my brain and now yours too if you have read my blog about it. The truth is that despite the pain, the stitches and the years of inadequate sleep, children are still somehow worth it.
When you have your first baby – quite often at around the time that the lochia is still drying up and you are only just getting used to the fact that you have made an entirely new human being (and let’s face it this is the kind of stuff that drove Victor Frankenstein mad) – it will seem incomprehensible that people can already be asking you when you are going have another one. For a long time the correct response to this query is to give a hollow laugh and stare at them with manic eyes as you say ‘Another one – I don’t really know what I’m doing with this one is to be honest, plus having another baby surely indicates that some form of sexual intercourse might actually be happening.’
But eventually you will probably start to wonder if you should have another and then you will find yourself sidling up to other mums in the playground who have multiple children and asking them ‘how many do you have?’ and ‘how long is there between them?’ and then always ‘how did you find it?’. I did it and now people do it to me.
I had a second baby because I was going through a weak patch – my first child had just turned one and was at that stage where he had just started walking and was very pleased with himself and yet hadn’t quite started throwing himself from the mantelpiece and enforcing his personality upon us all in that unique way that older toddlers tend to do. Basically I smugly thought I had this parenting stuff nailed. I was obviously wrong and I have now come to terms with the fact that will never, ever happen.
So, there are 21 months between my two children and it was ok. We bought the oldest a present from the Smudge, as yes! it is possible and completely appropriate in this instance to buy your child’s love. We also bought a book that talked about babies and how nice they were. All of this helped, but obviously It wasn’t perfect – there was the odd eye gouge – but you know, nothing to call a child psychiatrist about.
So do I tell people that 21 months is the perfect gap to have between children? No because to do so would break my one life rule – try not to be a twat. Everyone is different and so is every single one of their babies and the situation they are born into. Frankly having children is never a sensible decision. It is fucking hard and expensive and will in all probability shaft your career and is apparently ecologically unsustainable (‘just look at our fish stocks’ as someone once wailed at me when I was already pregnant and it was patently already too late) and actually still pretty risky in the context of our fairly safe modern lives. Whether and when to have another child just has to come down to whether you need to or not and you know that in your (possibly slightly larger now you’ve already had a baby) gut, not in your brain.
If you decide not to have another then that’s fine – it’s brilliant that you have the family you want. But if you do go on to have a second or third or even if you are properly mental brave, a fourth or more – then you’ll make it work because you have to. And let’s face it – it will always be less of a shock than the first because at least you already have no life to lose.