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Baby No. 2 on the Brain

I'm a perpetual procrastinator, which is a huge challenge for me especially since I'm a writer -- my career hinges on my ability to meet deadlines. But I've always felt I do my best work under intense deadline pressure -- a lot of creative types say that. It's like I purposely wait till the last minute to start something, knowing I'm going to make myself completely nuts trying to finish it on time.

I think my proclivity for procrastination is what caused me to wait to marry and have kids till I was older. If you consider the fact that I went out with my now-husband four or so years before we actually started dating, it makes perfect sense. And then I subsequently jammed just about every major life-altering decision into one-and-a-half year's time: serious relationship, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, promotion, house, car, puppy, baby, etc. Like I said, I work well under pressure.

Speaking of, even though Preston is only six months old, I've been thinking lately about when is the "right time" to start trying for baby no. 2. You should've seen the look on Jay's face yesterday when I mentioned it in passing after brunch.

Me: "So, babe, when do you think we should start trying?"

Him: Silence. A look of surprise, but no actual response.

Me: "I'm being totally serious..."

Him: "I...think...we should wait."

Me: "How long though?"

Him: "Till we're ready."

Well, I'm sure glad we cleared that up.

There's a big part of me that wants to wait till Preston's a couple years old before trying for baby no. 2, but there's another part of me that wonders if my age should be a consideration for speeding things up a little -- I'll be 36 this April (Jay is 34).

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Preston, last January. I had stayed home from work that day because I wasn't feeling well -- I was tired and nauseated, but I thought it was just symptomatic of my annual winter flu. To rule out the Big P, I decided to take a pregnancy test (or, um, five), and -- lo and behold -- they all came back positive. It was one of the best days of my life, when I found out, behind getting engaged, married, and the day Preston was born. As freaked out and clueless as we both were, it was the coolest feeling ever -- finding out I was pregnant was every bit as special as I had dreamed it would be.

And now this is where I offer you a little TMI: Jay and I stopped using protection on our honeymoon, deciding to throw caution to the wind -- we conceived Preston exactly three months after our wedding, after three months of only casually trying. Since I was on the cusp of turning 35 at the time, I didn't know how long it would take me to get pregnant, so our attitude was, It'll happen when it's meant to happen. And if it would take us some time to conceive, then we'd be getting a head start on the process.

So, now, I find myself wanting to jumpstart the process again: Preston's only six months old, but what if getting pregnant the second time isn't quite as easy as it was the first? What if I am faced with infertility issues like some of my peers? What if it takes a year or two for us to conceive? If we wait a couple of years to start trying, I could be 40 by the time baby no. 2 is on its way. Had I not procrastinated on this whole marriage and kids thing, ideally I'd want to space my kids out by 2-3 years. But, let's be honest, waiting any extended period of time at this point in my life would pretty much rule out the possibility of us having a third child (we've both always thought we wanted three, but now I think I'd be okay with two, maybe I'd even prefer it). However, I certainly don't want to take away the option.

I don't need to tell you about the increased risk of chromosomal problems that come with age, among other things...I'm usually a hopeless optimist, a glass-half-full gal, so I'm not really one to focus on the negatives -- but I'm keenly aware of them, especially since I was 35 when Preston was born.

The other half of my brain says, But what if I am lucky again and I get pregnant right away? Are we even ready to handle a second baby? I'm still figuring out the first!

One of my best friends found out she was pregnant with her second when her first was only five months old. She was shocked to learn she was pregnant, because with her first son it didn't happen as easily. Her boys are 15 months apart, and she has live-in help, yet she's perpetually tired and overwhelmed, and she's a full-time SAHM. Every time we talk I hang up the phone thinking, I'm not ready for this yet.

Then my biological clock starts ticking, and I'm catapulted back into reality.

I'd love to think that growing our family is something we can do organically, but when you're my age that's not very realistic. We need to plan things out; we need to consider the risks; and we need to be honest with ourselves about the challenges.

Now we're saying we'd wait to start trying till Preston's at least a year old (and by then I'll also have my pre-baby body back, natch) -- that's probably what we'll end up doing. So in the grand scheme of things, waiting another six months or so is not too far off -- but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, for either outcome.

How did you know when you were ready to start trying for baby no. 2? Did age play a part in your decision to start trying again? I know I want more kids, but time is not on my side. As much as I don't want to rush this -- of all things to rush! -- I'm feeling like I don't really have a choice. This is one thing I'm not willing to procrastinate on any longer.

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