more kids.

People give you about sixty-four hours post-birth before they bring up the subject. They wait politely until the epidural has completely worn off and the rush of adrenaline has ebbed enough for you to fully appreciate how exhausted and sore you are. They give you a teeny-tiny little grace period so that you can examine your stretched-out belly and still-swollen ankles and deal with all of the glorious stuff that you need to deal with after the grand eviction of your body's very small ex-tenant.

Then they ask you, because it seems like a very relevant and obvious thing to ask, or maybe they think they're funny:

"Are you going to have more kids? How many? When?"

If you're anything like me, you smile to keep from bursting into tears at the thought of it and roll your eyes all the way into the back of your head and say, "I'm never doing that again, thanks."

But they keep bringing it up, and if it started out as a joke, it isn't anymore. Asking and speculating and hinting and kidding. Your kid is six months old! Any plans in the works for a little brother or sister? It's been a year! How long do we have to wait for another announcement? You make such cute kids! Make more!

You look tired. Sleep deprivation or...? You look nauseous. The flu, or...?

This is the way that people are programmed to socialize, I guess. If a person is single, you bug them about dating. If a person is dating, you bug them about getting married. If a person is married, you bug them about having a baby. And if a person has a baby, you bug them about having another baby. Then I suppose you keep bugging them about having more babies until they're very obviously done and you can just feel free to talk about politics or whatever.

I know these questions aren't meant to be judgemental or nosy. But I can't help but feel a modicum of guilt for my reaction, whatever my reaction happens to be that day and depending on the asker. Am I supposed to want lots of kids spaced close together? Lots far apart? Few far apart? Few close together? I feel like I need to apologize if my ideal family isn't the same size and spacing as theirs. I worry that they will think I'm judging them if I say I only want two, knowing full-well that they have six and triplets on the way. It's all very ridiculous and needless, but since getting pregnant I feel like I live on the corner of Ridiculous and Needless, so...

It's been fifteen months now since I had my first baby. It would appear that this is the ideal time for me to, you know, get pregnant again according to pretty much everybody because my getting pregnant is becoming a fairly common topic of conversation (the golden two-year spacing, you know?). My reaction now is outwardly much less dramatic than it was the week after giving birth, and I'm not mad at anyone for bringing it up because, as we've established, that's just what people do, but in my head I'm screeching, "More kids?! You want me to have more kids?"

My first just started (sort of) sleeping through the night (he gets up once, a far cry from the every 45 minutes thing he was doing a few months ago). He has recently learned how to throw a good old-fashioned temper tantrum, complete with back-arching and wraith-like screams. He likes to feed himself, and half of whatever he's eating ends up on the walls and on his clothes and on my clothes and on the house across the street. He has a nap at 11 am every day, and you don't even understand how long it took to get him to the point where he would nap without me holding him. He's learning some manners and he's really funny and snuggly and can make me laugh like no one else can.

We have bedtime and nap time and snack time and reading time and play dates. I know what food he likes and he is learning what I mean when I say 'no'. We're learning to communicate! It's a huge breakthrough. We can finally make it out of the house in less than ten minutes, and sometimes we even get to where we're going at the time that we said we'd get there. I feel like it took me way longer than it took any of my friends, but we are finally 'here' ('here' meaning I actually feel like a competent-but-not-perfect mother) and it is amazing.

It's really good and really hard, and I absolutely cannot imagine starting all over again right now. What if I get pregnant and have twins? Or triplets? I need a preemptive three year nap before I can even think about that.

The friends of mine who had kids around the same time as me are slowly starting on round two (or three or four, in some cases), and they're pumped about it. This confuses me: am I just that much worse at this mom gig than everyone around me? That much more selfish and lazy? I have a friend whose kids will be eleven months apart. She is excited. I am experiencing vicarious anxiety about it.

But how does this work? Will I wake up one morning, overcome with mothery hormones which fill me right to the top with the urgent and immediate need to have another baby? Or will I one day just quietly realize that it's time, even if I don't feel equipped or ready or well-rested enough? Some unexplainable combination of the two? Or will I someday wake up and realize that I'm the mother of one child? Forever? And if that happens, is that so bad?

For now, in any case, I am the mother of one child and I feel like that is not a thing to feel guilty about. We are getting to know each other, learn each other, figure each other out. I'm teaching him new things every day and learning lots myself. We're building a (tentative, shifting) routine that works for us, and I'm loving it.

Today, I'm just really enjoying my life as it is right now. Tomorrow, we'll see.


Written by Elena Krause. Photo by Kate De La Rosa