Fear creeps in when I think of a second child 

A father cuddling his son.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation

What you need to know:

  • Children are like aquariums; they are amazing when viewed from the outside, but a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into making them look inviting.
  • You can sell off an aquarium if its maintenance becomes untenable, whereas a baby is a lifetime commitment.
  • Then there are internal fears that cloud my mind as well. Fears of the unpredictable times we live in and whether or not another baby is sustainable.

‘Hillary, it is time to give Milan a sister.’

I get that from so many people. They love how I seem to enjoy raising my son. This is occasioned by the interesting father-son moments I share on my social media handles from day to day, and the things people have been watching me do over the years since he was young.

For instance, I remember one day, a woman saw me parked by the roadside changing diapers, and she was so amazed at how meticulous I was. She stood there the whole time and watched in awe as I wiped the boy’s buttocks until I was done.

The narrative out there is that I have gained valuable experience which should be put to practice on another baby, yet friends and relatives think I have been hesitant for far too long.

But the thing is; I have made this fatherhood thing look effortless like I am acing it. However, whatever lies beneath the beautiful outlook, is a barrage of questions, fears, and mistakes that, sometimes, make it difficult to think of having a second baby.

Lifetime commitment

You see, children are like aquariums; they are amazing when viewed from the outside, but a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into making them look inviting. You can sell off an aquarium if its maintenance becomes untenable, whereas a baby is a lifetime commitment.

Coincidentally, today, October 14, 2020, marks exactly six years since I stood in a delivery room and watched Brenda agonise to bring forth a new life. Time surely flies.

It was not a comfortable night; I can tell you that for sure. To begin with, there was this little thing medics called dilation, where the mother-to-be had to expand the birth canal to a certain number of centimetres before she could be taken in for delivery. 

It was scary to note that the length is not measured by a ruler; it is normally done with fingers. Two fingers!

Watching those measurements being taken time after time was so traumatising that it made me afraid there would be no turning back physically at the end of it all. I have never recovered from those five hours.

Do you remember my article on my son’s experience with a nanny from hell? A newborn will inevitably mean getting another nanny experience in my house. The thought drains me. I shudder to think that after saving the first one from the jaws of mistreatment, I will be forced to open my house and life to yet another stranger. 

Unpredictable times

Then there are internal fears that cloud my mind as well. Fears of the unpredictable times we live in and whether or not another baby is sustainable.

I know someone will remind me about the adage of every child coming with his or her own ‘plate’, and an analogy for unlimited blessings. I grew up in a village where poverty called folks by their surnames, so I know sometimes the ‘plates’ do not accompany babies.

I was even the only student who had shoes in the whole school; the rest walked barefoot-like ducks. Using my firstborn as a yardstick (and he has been a lot of work), I am conflicted on just how able I am to throw another one into the mix. 

On the other hand, I often wonder if I am robbing him of the valuable moments I enjoyed when growing up with three siblings. I always had people to compete, play and fight with. I was also told that children who grow alone never learn to share, reach out, or build relationships and that they tend to be loners. 

That aside, today is Milan’s sixth Birthday, and a sibling is sadly not on the gift list, but maybe, just maybe, one day I will get over these fears I have.

Brenda has also been blowing hot and cold on the issue of a second born.

One day she gets baby fever and even reminds me of the pre-chosen names, whereas on other days she tells me not to remind her about her birthing experience. 

There’s no good news yet. 

Hillary has raised his son alone since he was six months. hillarylisimba@gmail.com