Having a second child is as much a priority for me as experimenting with chili-coated tampons. I like babies. They can’t walk or talk and they look good in peter pan collars, all qualities I find immensely appealing. MH’s new daughter makes my ovaries undulate painfully, in what I interpret as a plaintive cry from below to use my loins for good instead of evil. I ignore those rumblings in a similar manner to a cat who’s registered that the chirping bird is way too high up in the tree to be a realistic catch.
I’m not completely averse to the idea of a second child, though. Mostly because I’m not clever enough to have figured out how to override my body’s reproductive fervor, and partially because I love maternity hospitals. If I were really serious about never having another child, I would take a less cavalier approach to birth control on the infrequent occasions where ejaculate is in my near vicinity. Interestingly, men are just as careless in this area as they were in the old pre-baby days, when it was safe to assume that I was simply a barren dilettante . I’m always puzzled by this. ‘Don’t you see’, I want to say ‘that my body knows what to do with sperm?’ So far there haven’t been any real mishaps, so I’ve not had to examine the reasons why I have unprotected sex despite my strong desire to never hear my doctor say the words ‘you have chlamydia/HIV/warts/twin fetuses ‘ I also recognise that my views on having more children are skewed, both through having had a child in an unhappy relationship, and the difficulties that accompany raising a kid on your own.
Still, it’s my belief that one is a very nice quantity of children to have. It allows you to cling to some vestige of normality, however compromised. Taking one small kid out for pizza is a pain in the arse. Taking two small kids out for pizza is the stuff of Edgar Allan Poe poems. You don’t take up too much footpath with one kid by your side. You still get invited to bbq’s and afternoon gatherings because nobody’s too fussed by one small addition to the party (this is working on the assumption that your friends are childless and have parties where the star of the show is an overflowing ashtray). And if you teach them how to pour milk and operate a remote control, you can go back to bed in the morning. Trips to the supermarket aren’t fraught with the requests of multiple children. People who don’t know anything about kids will happily agree to babysit one child- they think it’s fun.
On the other hand…I would dearly love to experience it all a second time round for the same reason many people do: I want to know how it feels to know what I’m doing. I would take the baby out in public without fear of it doing something new and weird that would show me up as an amateur ( I spent most of Clem’s infancy feeling like a child pushing a dolly in it’s pram) I would not buy a single book (because everything I need to know is in Shit On My Hands: A down and dirty companion to early parenthood, natch) I would not wash their hair, ever. I would take them to dinner parties. I would dig a hole from here to Darwin using only my nose before I’d shell out for any of the following: a breast feeding pillow, a miracle wrap, a wall-mounted turtle light with star projections, 20 buck colic remedies, a nightlight that goes red when the room is too warm, ergonomically designed plastic baby baths, an 800 dollar cot, wicker baskets for storing baby balms, and a pram the size of an asteroid. I would simply feed it, kiss it’s head a lot, dress it in peter pan collars and do controlled crying once it was six months old. Oh yes. Yes I would. Because after going down the co-sleeping, demand feeding, whatever’s good for you, baby, route with Clementine, I can report that for one year I was approximately three seconds away from a psychotic episode at any given moment of any given day.
I’m not sure how the baby war being waged between my logical brain, the one that says ‘you can’t cook a fucking egg, much less raise two children’, and my pastel brain, the one that says ‘Ohh, I know just how I’d decorate her nursery!’, will end. Genuine terror and something very close to repulsion accompanies most thoughts of more children. There’s the minor detail of my being un-partnered, too, but I’m assuming that before I hit menopause a friendly axe-murderer will sweep me off my feet. Given that I freely use the word ‘repulsion’ in relation to my ideas about more kids, it seems wise to accept one child as my lot for the foreseeable future. I may not be clever enough to override my biological urges, but I’m not stupid enough to act on them.