I grew up as one of two sisters, just under two years apart in age, and I think having a sibling close in age had a huge impact on my childhood. Having someone there to play with, to chat to, to share all those little experiences, that was a huge part of my childhood and I’m so grateful for that. Sure, there were lots of arguments, but ultimately we’re really close, both then and now.
We’re very different in so many ways – we don’t look alike, my sister is far more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person, more outgoing than me, more of a risk taker – and yet there is something about us that’s also very similar. We had our children just three weeks apart and I think that’s brought us even closer together – it’s such a huge, life changing event and to have my sister there going through it at the same time was a huge help and reassurance.
I want that relationship for Max. I want him to have a companion, someone to experience that bond with, someone to always have his back. I always imagined I would have two children – I think most people who have a sibling do; we want to replicate our own childhood, or at least the best bits of it!
But I remember when Max was born, and we commented to each other in the sleepless nights – ‘you’d have to be crazy to do this with more than one’. And those first 7 months were really hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, so hard that I’m not sure I can imagine doing it again with Max running around.
And that’s to say nothing of enduring pregnancy with a toddler to look after. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that I hated pregnancy. I was sick a lot – around 12 times a day at it’s peak, and at least once a day throughout the pregnancy. I didn’t sleep well throughout the second and third trimester, so all of those helpful comments about ‘get your sleep now while you can’ went down really well, as you can imagine. I really struggle to picture myself going through that again while having to look after Max at the same time.
And even though Max has got easier as a toddler, I’m hesitant as to how he would take to sharing me with a sibling – particularly a newborn, with the demands for constant feeding, constant holding. He still wants lots of cuddles throughout the day, wants to be carried, wants me to play with him.
But like most toddlers, Max is fascinated by babies – he gets excited by photos, and babies on tv. He is affectionate and loving, and I think he’d make a wonderful older brother. And long term, I can see the benefit for him in having a sibling to share things with, I want him to have that same sibling bond that I have with my sister.
But I still have the Fear of Two. The fear that I won’t be able to cope with a second child. The fear of heading back into those days of sickness, of sleeplessness, of frustration. We’ve discussed it recently and came to the conclusion that the timing wasn’t right. But I wonder if the timing will ever seem right – is it just something that you need to take the plunge in, and worry about how you’ll manage afterwards? We’ve already happily missed the boat on replicating the age gap between my sister and I (lots of respect to my Mum!), is it something to just bite the bullet, and accept that it’ll be hard for a while?
Sorry for not coming to a conclusion on this one – it’s a tough one to work out! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences – did you struggle with the decision?