“Should I have another baby?” is a question that spins through a lot of parent’s minds, but when your first is a horrible sleeper, it gives it a whole other meaning. Can you go through this again or, worse, what if the next child is an even worse sleeper? For some of you, that might not even seem possible. This article will be part 1 in a sibling series that will explore how you might make the decision to have another child or not and sleep tips for handling more than one child, multiples, or otherwise.
Beyond practical matters such as the cost of having a baby, there are a lot of emotional triggers in your decision to grow your family with another baby (or babies). I look around at some of these larger families and wonder how they can have 3, 4, even 5 children! My two boys run me fairly ragged. 🙂 But, as my eldest gets older and even more independent, I can definitely see that things are easier in many ways, and still hard in others.
Although I don’t know what drives your decision making, I will share tools that I used to decide to go ahead and have a second child (and I’m glad I did!) and why we stopped at two. Ha! Obviously, I can’t tell you the best decision for your family, but I will try to help you consider different aspects of it. 🙂
Weighing the Pros and Cons
As with any good decision, I weighed the pros and cons of having another baby. First, it’s never about quantity. The love you have for a baby, even if that is the only thing on the pro side (which it’s not) could outweigh a million cons.
In my case, it was not the sleep-deprivation that was my biggest con, but more so it was the experience surrounding sleep that made me pause about having a second child. Could I go through the first two years all over again? Could I take months to teach a new baby to sleep if it came to that, again? Could I go through all the frustrations, again? After all, it inspired a whole website about it! I could handle the temporary sleep loss of breastfeeding once or twice a night, but could I get up every two hours AGAIN and start all over? Not to mention, it probably could have been more bearable if my son was at least happy when he didn’t sleep enough, but he wasn’t! He was such a crabby pants without sleep that it made everything so much more stressful. Add in his intensity and persistence and he is a high-demanding little boy, even at 5 years old.
In the end, my pros: the light of my life, the smiles he did have, the laughing and giggling, the hugging, the breastfeeding bond, the nurturing, teaching him sign language, watching him grow, seeing him learn to read, etc., and cherishing all of the time we did have together NOT surrounding sleep was worth every minute of frustration I had trying to get this little boy to sleep!
Looking at the best-case scenario
As I was pondering the pros and cons of having another baby, I envisioned the best-case scenario:
My son was finally sleeping all night, most nights (still wasn’t perfect at this point, especially when the nightmares started) and I envisioned him only getting better. I envisioned having another baby who was a dream sleeper from the beginning and was one of the “easy” babies I’ve heard about. Ahhh… daydreaming can be fun, even if you know it will probably be a pipe dream. 🙂
Looking at the worst-case scenario
After seeing the best-case scenario in my head, I said to myself “But, what if…the new baby is a worse sleeper and my toddler’s sleep starts getting worse with a new baby here?” After all, I’ve helped plenty of people whose third child is the difficult one, for example, not the first. The worst-case scenario looked something like this:
Toddler goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m.
Baby wakes at 9 p.m.
Baby wakes at 11:30 p.m.
Toddler wakes at 12:30 a.m. with a nightmare
Baby wakes at 1 a.m. before you even make it back to bed
Baby wakes at 3:30 a.m. but doesn’t go back down until 4:30 a.m.
Toddler wakes at 5:30 a.m. for the day and then goes to wake up the baby
Now, repeat it every day for months. Yes, it can happen. What’s worse than getting up frequently with a baby? Getting up with two AT DIFFERENT TIMES! Exhausting. So, this brings me to an important piece that helped me get past the worst-case scenario:
Hey, what was the chance that would happen to me after I’ve worked so hard on my son’s sleep? 😀 I’ve learned so much, I wouldn’t live the worst-case scenario, right? And, how could the baby’s sleep be much worse than my first’s and I made it through that…eventually, right? (Actually, it could get a lot worse as I’ve now learned!) What is another two years? They are only this young once and, how sad, one day they won’t even need me as much and be off with their friends. I can make it through this!
And, so it was decided and I…
Once we decided that another baby would be a great addition for our family, we hurried up to start trying. Sadly, we got pregnant very quickly, but lost the baby 🙁 but, thankfully, got pregnant fairly quickly again a couple months later. Boy, was I soooo glad that I was already pregnant when my toddler hit the peak of his Terrible Two’s. Wow! That’s all I can say as there are no words to describe the sometimes frustration of having a 2 1/2 year old (at least mine). Finally, things started getting soooo much easier around 3 1/2. Yep, a year later and after his baby brother was born.
So, how was #2 as a sleeper?
Well, you can read my sleep training story, but all in all, my second was a MUCH better sleeper than my first. Their temperaments are soooo different! They are both easy and hard in their different ways. My first is challenging in many ways, but he was never mischievous, potty trained easily, and his attention span is solid. My second is easier in many ways, but he’s a “tornado” (i.e. you walk through the house and he’s taken everything out and moved on in about 30 seconds), fairly mischievous though it’s unintentional, and potty training ended up being more challenging. My second was NOT a dream sleeper, but he was also not my worst-case scenario, either, and we never had to do much “sleep training.” He ended up being in the middle. Since he was not “as bad” as my first, I was probably not as rigid, either, ironically. He likely could have been a much better sleeper, if I pushed it more, interestingly enough. Having had his older brother first definitely made me a bit more “forgiving” in terms of what was a “problem” or not for us to work on.
How we knew to stop at two
All in all, I am very happy we went on to have another baby. I can’t imagine my life without either of my boys. I love being a mom, even if it’s sometimes frustrating and draining. But, we did end up stopping at two. I believe that all families know when they are “done” and we saw that time come and go. My husband is a wonderfully involved Dad and one of the best I’ve EVER seen, but he is not a “baby” person (does not like deciphering why they’re crying mostly) and we couldn’t see going through the baby years, again.
Frankly, we also thought very little on the financial impact of a baby, even though kids costs a LOT to raise, but, there were certain factors we did think about money such as traveling/vacations and we knew the bigger our family, the less we could take the family on trips to see the world, which is important to us. We also saw less we could give the kids (less time, less attention, less sports, less whatever), the more kids we had, too. Our family of four felt perfect…for us.
All families will, of course, have different things that are important to them and all families have different patience levels for kids. Until you have kids, it’s hard to envision just how MUCH time and attention they need and, depending on a lot of factors, this may make or break you as a family. Family pressures, work pressures, and marital issues all play into the whole of the family and your family’s happiness level, and should be considered when you make as an important decision as this one. I will say, having your first sleeping well is a must before you tackle the next!
Other parts in the series:
Sibling Series, Part 2: Juggling Different Baby and Toddler Sleep Schedules
So, over to you…
How do/did you know you should or shouldn’t have another child?
For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan® you can feel good about!