When Is The Best Time To Have A Second Child?

Three weeks after my daughter’s birth is the first time someone asked me when I would have a second child. I snorted tea through my nose. Are you kidding?
spacing
Photo: Sara Heidinger Photography

This story is brought to you by Bupa.

Three weeks after my daughter’s birth is the first time someone asked me when I would have a second child. I snorted tea through my nose. Are you kidding? I could barely sit, had mastitis, felt utterly exhausted and that was only the physical pain.

Postnatal depression seeps into everyday life like an oil spill. Sometimes a new wave brings fresh blackness, coating every crevice. The clean-up feels immense and impossible. Once my physical parts healed I was left with a slippery head and a drenched heart.

I dragged myself to counselling. Entitled to several sessions with my Bupa membership I continued with Medicare and still go for ‘top-ups’ when I need to talk.

Learning to deal with new and unhealthy thought patterns proved difficult but worthwhile. Life started settling into a new normal and when my daughter turned 14 months old I finally started to feel emotionally well again. And of course the question kept swirling, with more frequency. “When are you having another baby?” Ex-squeeze me? I have barely survived the first one!

Second babies popped out all around me and rather than inspiring cluckiness I cringed watching friends juggle two babies. Contemplating the logistics alone sent me into a panic. I get it, my generation typically waits longer to have children so there is this pressure to crank them out in close succession.

Photo: Sivonne Binks
So cute but so scary! (photo Sivonne Binks)

I’m not sure there is an ‘ideal’ time to space children and everyone has an opinion. Personally I couldn’t imagine a worse idea than having babies close together. Double the nappies, different sleep schedules, heavy-handed toddlers….Abandon ship!

Before arguing with me, let’s go deeper. More than my lets-call-them ‘environmental’ excuses for waiting, fear is the true culprit lurking beneath the surface. Simply writing about my experience with PND is painful enough but to risk going through it again is unnerving.

Of course I could have just one child however I always wanted two. I will not let PND decide that for us. My brother is such an important person in my life. We are four years apart and clashed growing up but we adore each other now. I desperately want my daughter to have that. And look, she might need a kidney someday right?

My little girl just turned three and I am FINALLY ready for another baby and I’ll tell you why:

  1. I know where to seek help if I need it again.
  2. I have built a strong, safe, support network.
  3. I am no longer afraid of asking for help.
  4. I feel more confidence in myself.
  5. I embrace my flaws and imperfections as a parent.

Knowing it’s important to keep an eye on my mental health, I was seriously pumped to find out Bupa have developed a mobile tool called mummatters, which helps to support mothers through their pregnancy and beyond. If I had a tool like this three years ago, I KNOW I would not have waited as long as I did to seek help. Hindsight is a benefit now, but if more Mums use these helpful resources, our families will be the main benefactors of our emotional wellbeing.

Statistically I know I am prone to having PND again but now that I’m on the other side, even if I need to retrace those painstaking steps I took before, I will make it back here.

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2 comments on “When Is The Best Time To Have A Second Child?”

  1. It is so individual but I am with you on not being able to mentally jump back in there straight away. My son was 3 when my daughter was born. Now they are 4 and 1 the fighting has begun but so has the snuggled up conversations between the two of them that I pretend I'm not listening to. 😉

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