I came to the conclusion that it's kind of like the first baby--you can never be totally ready. But you can be ready enough. I received some great advice from a friend with whom I shared my reluctance. She simply said: "Wait until you're excited about the idea of another baby." Block out pressure from family, friends, society--even your own preconceived notions--and determine if your reasons for feeling like its time to try for another baby ring true to you. (Oh, and the other person in the it-takes-two-to-tango equation...should probably take them into account.)
Obviously family planning decisions are super personal and there are numerous factors, but here's a bit about my experience. This quote largely sums up my feelings about deciding to have another baby:
"There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same."
My daughter had reached a point of relative self-sufficiency. I didn't have to change diapers or spoon-feed her, she could clearly communicate her needs (and demands :), we were both sleeping through the night...things were breezy! The idea of starting over at zero was daunting (and the postpartum depression trauma didn't help.) It's hard to willingly leave our comfort zones, to veer from our well-worn ruts. But like Mr. Mailer warns, we pay the price if we don't. Growth can come in a million forms, so maybe a second child isn't the answer to your own growth needs, but I felt like it was for mine at that time. (And I'm grateful that I was able to get pregnant and sympathize with those who would love another baby but have been unable to.)
Now jump to after baby. Thankfully many of the things that I found so challenging and tear-worthy with Em have been much easier with Haven. This is the quote that sums up my feelings about mothering a second child:
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
It's been incredibly gratifying to meet motherhood (mothering-a-baby-motherhood) again and see the many ways in which I've altered. Maybe the biggest thing is how much more relaxed I am (oh, and not being depressed.) I can roll with things that would've reduced me to tears when Em was a baby. The other big thing is confidence. I've done this before. I'm a survivor :) Confidence brings with it the gift of easing anxiety, which has allowed me to be present. To sink in and relish little moments--kissing impossibly soft cheeks, feeling the weight of a head on my shoulder (and the subsequent sliminess of spit-up...joke), watching Haven study her own hands with an enviable awe.
I had hopes (foolish, foolish hopes) of getting an easy baby and hence having a less stressful experience......no such luck :) I got an adorable, colicky, crappy napper. (Though she does smile generously and has gotten happier as she's grown.) But if I had gotten an easy baby, I wouldn't have been able to see the ways in which I'd grown and transformed. I simply would've chalked it up to the new babe's temperament. And that is my silver lining.