Deciding to Have a Second Baby

I wanted to be a mother because I felt like a child would make me the best possible version of myself.

The decision to have a second seemed much more academic, and we couldn’t get off the fence for a long time. Then, as often is true, emotional events swept all logic off the table. I found myself facing down a devastating family event without the support of a sibling. Damon was an absolute hero, but he could only walk up to the periphery. He couldn’t be fully in it with me. It wasn’t his family.

We couldn’t tolerate the thought of Alden in that position, and so the decision was made.

When Alden was an only child everything about our relationship felt unique, special, amazing. It wasn’t being close to A baby, it was being close to THIS baby. I knew how fast he breathed, how much he blinked. I could count the flecks of yellow in his iris. I didn’t want anyone to come between us.

I don’t know what I’m missing, but I do know what I got. Everything that is writ large about motherhood for me is the same with both boys; but the intricate, tiny details are specific to each kid. I can have eloquent, silent conversations with each of them, and that shows me that exquisite connection can be had with more than one child.

I now see that having a brother can help the boys be the best possible versions of themselves, too. I will never know who I would be as a sister, but they at least have the opportunity to be awesome brothers.

Which is not to say they always take advantage of that opportunity. We just returned from a vacation that left me wondering if anyone would notice two more children added to It’s a Small World. Which brings me to the part of having two that I did not adequately anticipate. Having two is so much harder than having one. It’s going from having one small, charming sidekick to having fifteen rabid monkeys living in your house. Or so it often feels. The competition. The fighting. Think two little kids can’t find a difference between two identical Bone Shaker monster truck toys? Think again. “He’s got it” is enough of a reason to prefer the other one.

I would guess that a one-child household has a lot less headbutting.

Still. When I ask Alden whether he wants Elliot in his preschool class he always insists that his brother stay with him. “He’s my friend.” They may slap fight until I want to go into the Witness Protection Program, but heaven help the person who threatens Elli in front of Alden, and that goes for the nurse who is trying to get a vaccine into Elliot’s fat thigh. Bet she didn’t see that waist-level attack coming. Any time Elliot gets loved on, his first questions is “Alden’s turn?” and he never had two mini marshmallows he wasn’t willing to split.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Well, heck. Howler monkeys or no howler monkeys. That first photo is powerful stuff. As is the entry that surrounds it. We’re still working on the decision, but you have managed to capture quite a lot of what we’re thinking around.

    Thank you. For being so thoughtful, and for sharing it so well.

    Reply

  2. This is really beautiful. We are so happy with our one, but I will never forget holding up my best friend when her mother died unexpectedly and her looking me in the eye and saying that I couldn’t have an only child. I want a sibling for her even more than I want a second kid.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Sarah on October 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I have no desire to make you envious, as a signleton. Only to affirm your decision: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes

    For all of my sister and my angst, which was more during teen years than younger ones, I am so absofrickinamazingly grateful that my parents decided to give me a sibling, and that she turned out to be precisely who she is. Which, if you believe in theories of family ecology, might have a little to do with who I am too. Fortunately, I’m not a *total* narcissist; I am who I am in part because of her too.

    Beautifully said, jaysaint, and you know you have strong agreement from Camp Kraskin.

    Reply

  4. SO AWESOME. This is all I want for my baby. Heaven help my sanity.

    Reply

  5. Posted by tara on October 26, 2011 at 10:25 am

    There is no doubt in my mind that a sibling is the greatest gift you can give your child. My boys are close in age and it is like living in a vibrating funhouse, or not so fun at times, but at the end of the day, they are best friends. These two have a relationship that is beautiful and strong.

    Reply

  6. How wonderful. Congrats to you, Damon and your loving/fighting little boys!

    Reply

  7. I really like both of my sisters. A LOT. In fact, my younger sister and I kinda-sorta have never even had an argument; we’ve always gotten along swimmingly. My brother is a pain in the a$$. He is VERY organized. But I digress: I definitely think there is something to be said about siblings having an unspoken appreciation for one another. There is an inexplicable “gotcher back” kinda of situation that is just understood. I like marshmallows.

    Reply

  8. You present a strong argument for two vs. one. 🙂 I’ll see what I think about that in another couple of years …

    Reply

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