Since the kid turned 2 a couple of months ago I've noticed a steady increase in the degree of friendly interest regarding our plans for the next occupant of my uterus.
Mostly I find it flattering since the nature of the interest would seem to indicate that people must not think we've screwed the first one up too badly. So far.
But I don't have a really good answer to the questions. Well, other than: not yet.
I was reading the archives of this beautiful blog the other day and came across a post where she talks about second children being more of an actual decision than first. Her description really struck a cord with me. First children, even the most planned-for and desired are to some extent always an accident. A leap of faith. You can never really appreciate what it's like to be someone's parent until you suddenly are.
With the second child, you're making much more of an informed choice. Even if you don't necessarily "plan" to get pregnant again, there's no doubt that you know where babies come from and how easy (or hard) it is to make them. You now truly understand what pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood entail. You've survived the trial-by-fire hazing rituals of initiation. The sleep-deprived baptism in the various bodily fluids of another person. You're no longer bubble-wrapped in blissful ignorance. You're officially a member of the club. Welcome, here's a stiff cocktail.
Sure to some extent human evolution has ensured the survival of the species by repressing or dulling our memories of the less savory moments of infanthood. Adorable photos of drooly, fat-cheeked smiles showcasing those first little teeth do wonders to belie the seemingly-endless days and nights of mutual suffering that marked their emergence. Rather than dwell on the utter hideousness of first trimester hormones, the cringing pain of nursing with beaver-chewed nipples and those days where all either you or babe wanted to do was cry - we're inclined to find it easier to remember the sweet addictive smell of the tops of their heads, the softness of their perfect skin, the ovulation-triggering sight of naked chubby thigh rolls and elastic band-dented joints.
But, with child-the-second, you also need to factor in your own sibling experiences. Of shared jokes, games and secrets. Of pitched battles, merciless teasing and button-pushing. Of the security of knowing that there's always someone you can turn to for confirmation that your parents are indeed nuts. Or of feelings of deprivation thereof. Or of wishes that perhaps your childhood had been less crowded with competition for parental attention and other resources.
Other issues would seem to be relevant too. Should the first child be: weaned? potty-trained? in school? driving? Is it easier to get all the "baby stuff" over with sooner rather than later? Is there an ideal spacing which ensures that siblings will tend to be friends rather than foes? How will this being your second go-round effect the way you'll handle issues like infertility, miscarriage and abnormal ultrasounds? How well will your marriage withstand the inevitable impact of another baby-bomb? Have you had sufficient time to reclaim your body and it's various child-growing parts? More importantly: will we need to get a fucking minivan?
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.