Business News/ Opinion / Online-views/  Why would anyone want to have a second child?

I am at my Mom’s home now and two weeks away from the due date. Arav is upset because he is here with me and missing his school and friends. He keeps telling me, ‘Once the baby is out, you can hug me hard and you can pick me up and you can bend down to tie my laces and you can stop drinking Digene.’

“His world is disturbed by a baby he didn’t plan. Yesterday I took him to the park and I couldn’t catch up with him. He got so angry he told me he would take a knife and cut me in two pieces. Later he cried. It completely broke my heart.

“Why do we have more than one child? Why do we go ahead and disturb the balance that we took so long to find?"

My friend, Shweta, wrote these words to me after the last column was published here. The headline was: “Why would anyone want to have children?" (16 February)

I don’t think very many of us think it through in a question and answer format. I sure hope not. We have a lifetime in front of us to notice the clues and collect the evidence that might explain why we are here in the first place anyway. Why do we choose the spouse we do? Why is love not enough? Why do some friends come back? How do we learn to trust ourselves again?

Why do we disturb the balance we took so long to find, Shweta asked in her mail. Because balance is not a static, I wrote back to her. It is fragile. My fingers seemed to be typing automatically.

We cannot find balance and keep it forever. Seasons will change, disasters will strike, spring will come again. Everything is moving, evolving, growing, decaying around us all the time.

When I was pregnant with our second child, I used to google for pregnancy+depression a lot. Thankfully, I was not satisfied with anything that I read. It was a question that baffled me. Why was I so low? I searched for a simple answer that would knock me out of it.

Nothing did. I had just recovered my pre-pregnancy body, my new role at work had begun to grow in stature and responsibility and I had begun to look forward to having some of me to myself again.

I was pregnant again. I remember thinking that all the nausea, the discomfort and fatigue of pregnancy were all just a clever design to make us slow down and let the body create a new baby. An effective way to stop those of us who will not pause on our own.

Our firstborn and I seemed to have a private cocoon around us. We were one. We could be anywhere, in any setting, yet we were a self-contained island. It seemed perfect.

By the time I came to the last trimester, the new baby had become real for me. She kicked and played and reminded me to eat. I started wearing red for the first time in my life. I was large and red and waddling. And pleased with myself. The big round glowing face helped.

Aliza was born. The world started reminding us again how obsessed everyone was with gender. Without a second thought, I turned my back to the comments and disappointment of others. In the delivery room, nurses had refused to answer me when I asked whether the baby was a girl or a boy.

I didn’t need their answer. I recognized Aliza as soon as she was born. She cried in an odd, heavy voice. She was red-faced like a tomato. She was new, she was different, she had chosen us.

Three days later, my husband and I were sitting in a paediatrician's waiting room with our two daughters. I was holding our yet unnamed infant in my arms. Sahar, our two-year-old, walked off towards the play area in the clinic. She climbed on to a slide.

Suddenly it happened. We were two separate people. We were no longer perfect. We weren’t supposed to be perfect. We were free. We stretched ourselves in a new light. It was a moment of liberation.

She will heal us, my husband had said when I first told him that I thought we might be pregnant a second time. She has liberated me, I thought, the first time I stepped out into the world with her.

And that was only the beginning.

The new baby will be the greatest gift your family will ever receive, I wrote to Shweta. I know what I am talking about here. I am a second child myself. My father is nodding in agreement as he reads this right now.

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three.

Also Read | Natasha’s previous Lounge columns

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Updated: 02 Mar 2013, 12:23 AM IST
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