- The pandemic stalled our decision on and timeline for whether to have another baby.
- I fantasize about parenting a child who wouldn’t have to live through a pandemic.
- It’s hard to appreciate what’s in front of you when it’s not how you expected life to be.
As friends announce the upcoming arrival of their little ones, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous. A year ago, I might have taken a step back from such news to ensure the baby fever wasn’t contagious. Now I wonder if I’ve caught it.
I can’t help but question whether stopping at two kids or adding another is the natural progression of our family, pandemic or not.
My husband and I thought maybe we’d have three or four kids in rapid succession. After our second child was born, we realized our family and my body needed a break. I stashed outgrown baby things in a closet, vowing that we’d figure it out later.
When the pandemic hit, the idea of getting pregnant seemed unthinkable as I scrambled to survive each day while cooped up inside with two little ones. Now that our kids are 5 and 3 years old, it feels like now or never.
We would have to do it all over again. Another mouth to feed; another hand to hold. Another baby to soothe; another child to guide.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m thinking about the future because I can’t quite see my way through the present. With stresses and unknowns of the pandemic still looming, I fear we’re missing out on the childhoods that my kids — all kids — deserve.
I fantasize about what it’d be like to have one more baby
In my imagination, this next child would get my full attention when needed. I wouldn’t be quite so exhausted by the news or overwhelmed by the mountains of laundry. Somehow my kids would be back in school, or we’d have extended family miraculously move close by. That child would have the best of me, plus a loving big brother and big sister to boot.
I’d soak up the little baby feet and each milestone we’d cross. I’d feel equipped as a mother to make the right decisions. Theoretically, I could raise the next one with the support of countless family-friendly resources, none of which would be shut down or in flux.
Something about pregnancy is so incandescently remarkable. There’s a life of opportunity and beauty slowly beating and unfolding inside another human being. I feel as if I should hold my breath around a pregnant person so as not to disturb the magic inside. Sometimes I almost question if I ever really did that.
Even though I have two blond children and a few remaining stretch marks as proof, pregnancy gets glossed over in my mind. I scroll through past pictures of myself pregnant, searching for a connection to what life felt like then.
Perhaps pregnancy is only truly admired from a distance. The same can be said about babyhood and toddlerhood.
When I long to hold and cuddle another being whom I love and protect, I’m forgetting the sleepless nights and the struggle in those early days to accomplish anything that made me feel like myself. For months (years?) I lost a part of my sense of self and what inspired me. I was simply trying to make it through each day.
Baby days are not the only days we get with our children. I have two loud, inquisitive, and brilliant reminders of that. Their childhood feels limited by this pandemic in ways I cannot mentally resolve, but they still wake up fresh every morning, ready to learn and do something new. I can’t offer them all I want to, but I can give it what I’ve got.
Whatever happens, I hope I don’t pine for future hypotheticals when I’ve got the present looking up at me. There’s plenty of life worth appreciating right here, even if it’s not exactly how I imagined. Whatever the answer is — be it two kids or three for this family — I don’t want the pandemic to make that decision for me.