Second Child: Who Decides?

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As soon as a couple gets married, they are bombarded with the annoying question, “when will we get to hear the good news?” More than your in-laws and close friends, it’s usually the nosy relatives and neighbors who take more interest in your life and family plans.

My husband and I had our first child within a year of our marriage. The pregnancy wasn’t a planned one. But nevertheless, we were ecstatic when we got to hear the good news. After nine months of pregnancy, I was ready to be a parent. But within a week, I realized that parenting was more tough than what I gave other moms credit for. The sleep deprivation and exhaustion hit us like a tornado. We felt lost and unprepared. But then again, nothing prepares you for the responsibilities of a new parent. Soon after, when my son turned two, people started inquiring about our plans for a second child.
“Now that Nitin has turned two, it’s time to plan for your second child.”
“Your son will feel lonely.”
“He will have a playmate for life.”
“Now that you have already gone through it, it’ll be much easier.”
“This is the best time to have a second child. They’ll grow up together.”

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Every time we attended a family function, the pressure kept on mounting. Though I had never thought about having a second child until then, I began giving it some thought. I was confused. “Is my son going to grow up lonely?” “Am I being a bit selfish by depriving him of the joy of having a sibling?”

One day, I asked my husband if we should plan for a second child. He was taken aback as I had never expressed any desire to have another baby up until then. On the contrary, I had kind of hinted that it’s best to keep our family small. So when I asked him about having another baby, his immediate response was, “Do you really want another kid?” I didn’t have a clear answer for this question, so I simply said, “I‘m not sure, but since everyone else seems to be keen on us having a second child, I thought maybe it’s time we discuss it.” He told me to forget about everyone else. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Tell me, do you really want another child?” “Do you feel excited when you think about it?” My face drew a blank.

I had never thought of having another child. Maybe sometime in the future, if we’re ever physically and emotionally ready. But right now, with no family support, I don’t think I have enough time in my hands to look after another baby. My husband agreed with me. He said he’s on board with the idea of another baby if I want another child. But more importantly, he wanted me to consider all aspects of it. How bringing another child into our family would add on to my responsibilities as a mom and would put a halt on my career. With a two-year-old to take care of, I get very little time to myself. He takes up all my time and attention. And with my husband’s hectic work schedule and long work hours, he wouldn’t be able to pitch in as much, unlike the first time. Plus, the endless cycle of dirty diapers and sleepless nights is not something either of us looks forward to.

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So after contemplating for a while, I realized that I wasn’t ready for a second baby. Bringing a baby would not only affect our long-term plans, but our finances would take a major hit as well. Our mortgage payments would be delayed by a couple of years, I would have to take another job or work part-time to save enough money, and I would have to put my body through the entire process of pregnancy and childbirth—something that I hadn’t enjoyed the first time around. I know there is a lot of judgment when women are reluctant to have a second child. We are almost always expected to embrace the idea without a second thought. The truth is that nobody but you have the right to decide about having another child. So, before you give in to the societal pressure, think for a second—“Is this what I really want?” It’s as simple as that.

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