As a mom of one, I think about what it’ll be like the day our family expands. Along with those thoughts, come plenty of positives, like my son will have a sibling and hopefully his first friend. But, it isn’t all heart emojis and rainbows. Sometimes those thoughts are fears about whether or not my family is capable of adjusting to the demands of having two children.
I began asking those around me how they felt when their family was considering expanding. I was comforted knowing that my fears were not only shared by other parents, but also very normal. Mothers and fathers everywhere wonder what it’s going to be like becoming a parent of more than one and a lot of times those wonders can be scary.
Here are a few of the most common thoughts and fears attached to adding to the family:
1. Do I have enough love?
I love the hell out of my son. But I’m not a naturally affectionate person. When my son was born, I was worried I wouldn’t ever connect with him emotionally. Now that my life literally revolves around him, I can’t imagine having room to love another.
I’ve been told that love multiplies instead of divides with each child but that doesn’t stop me from being nervous.
2. Can I manage it?
Being a mom of one is already exhausting. That can make it challenging to image life with two or more.
“Two biggest fears about having another, honestly, were safety and whether or not we were gonna screw up the second one because the first had such problems. My oldest son’s issues are so extreme and so were his behaviors that I was worried if we could keep everyone, including a new baby, safe. And then add the worry that his issues were so big and overwhelming that we feared we wouldn’t be able to meet the needs of our second,” says Noelle, mom of two.
3. Does this mean the end of my dreams?
When Alex found out her second pregnancy resulted in twins, there was a lot to consider. She went from being the mother of a seven-year-old who was mostly self-sufficient to caring for two newborns. Naturally, she wondered what ways such a huge change to her family would impact her education and career goals.
“What would happen to my education and career because both are on pause at the moment,” she said. “How would I be able to go to school and manage multiples? I’m still trying to figure out the formula to this day.”
4. Can we afford it?
Money is probably the number one concern parents report at the possibility of starting a family. Does that concern stay around or intensify with each child? I have no idea. But it sure wouldn’t surprise me. Money isn’t the only thing parents wonder if they have enough of. The smallest thought of a new baby makes me wonder how I could budget my time well enough for two children.
“My biggest concern was: would we be able to afford it/manage it? Especially because we had already decided that I wouldn’t work for the first year,” said Alex.
5. Will my first child miss out?
Stacy found out she was pregnant with her second child before her son was a year old. Like many parents of kids very close in age, it can be challenging to figure out the best way to deal with two toddlers. You might find yourself wondering if you did your first child a disservice by having another child so soon.
“I was pretty worried about whether or not I was not giving my eldest the attention he needed,” said the mom of two. “Truthfully, even now there are times I still feel like he missed out on getting to be babied since I had to focus on my daughter as a newborn. It didn’t make it any easier that my husband was deployed and wouldn’t return until our daughter was two months old. I really didn’t know if I could handle two babies alone for that long.”
6. Will they get along?
It’s also really common for a new baby to make you question compatibility. With so much discussion around sibling rivalry, it’s not surprising that many folks wonder if the children will get along.
Sure, nine times out of ten, my son is not the one picking fights on the playground. But being around older kids, he says the phrase “mine” from time to time. Would those behaviors come out in his relationship with a sibling? I don’t know.
7. What will everyone else think?
There is a ton of scrutiny around women’s reproductive choices. It’s also normal to wonder if your community will judge you for getting pregnant again — particularly if you are a young parent or were pregnant not that long ago. But ultimately, it’s not about them, it’s about you and your family.
A new baby brings new dynamics no matter how many children you’ve had. And when you find yourself up at night worrying about adding another child to the chaos that is parenting, just remind yourself that things may not be easy, but they will usually work themselves out in the end.