It’s not hard to spot a woman with a bad case of baby fever. Put her within a fifty-foot radius of a curly newborn and suddenly, her voice softens and heightens in pitch. Her arms stretch out, a smile erupts, and then, the magical inhale. You know the one – where the nostrils are entertained by the sweetest scents of baby powder, shampoo, and something that can only be described as “new baby” smell. A woman stricken with newborn-itis never smells the poop inside the Pampers. It’s a phenomenon that can wash over even an unsuspecting woman, sounding off an alarm instead of just a tick off the old maternal clock.
I was NOT this person – at least not before my first. I always knew I wanted children, but I was never goo-goo-gaa-gaa over anyone else’s child. A decade later, when I gave birth to my dear son, I had a revelation. Motherhood is the best gig ever, so how could I not look forward to expanding our family? Ever since, I’ve been treading through a non-stop cycle of baby fever vs. sticking to the “plan.”
The “plan” is not rigid, just a simple philosophy of when we think it’s most logical to have another child, based on our employment situation and when it would be ideal for our lifestyle. According to the schedule, we need to wait at least half a year, perhaps a little more, before trying to conceive. Even though I know our plan is the smartest route, I can’t help but want to be pregnant again, to hold a newborn again.
The first round of fever, albeit mild, started when my baby was only about four months old. We had slowly gotten into a routine, and the sweet boy loved to sleep. I wasn’t in that perpetually exhausted zombie mode anymore, and my son was happy to go anywhere we needed to be. On a normal fever scale, I’d say it was just a 99.5. Then mobility began, and after chasing my son through every park/museum/play date locale in the Birmingham area, I slowed down my thinking. Baby fever hit me in spurts when I would visit a new mommy friend in the hospital, but it was usually remedied by lots of cuddles from my own baby boy.
Most moms would probably agree that the worst form of baby fever follows the realization that your last baby isn’t truly a “baby” anymore. Each milestone is a bittersweet reminder. There isn’t a day that goes by now that my husband and I don’t look at our son with astonishment, sounding like a broken record as we say, “He’s so … big!” My fuzzy-headed cooing infant has been replaced by an active little dude with preferences, attitude, and a voice that expresses both. While I adore this age, it seems like yesterday we brought him home, all tiny and swaddled. A little ache occurs, as I know we can’t freeze time or go back. Hey, we could have another! Then I think about the plan, but the yearning remains.
As if this isn’t enough, the fever starts going viral. Most of my closest friends are about my age, and coincidently, they had their own first children about the same time as I did. First birthday bashes have come and gone, and thus begins the second-child baby boom. It seems everyone I know is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or talking about getting pregnant. Right now, my childhood best friend is preggo. My college BFF won’t be far behind. Some of my local friends joined the bun-in-the-oven club recently too. It seems like the baby influx has swept through my mommy group and my favorite parenting message boards. I want to drink the water, and yes, I do want to jump off the bridge with them. I wouldn’t call it peer pressure in the least – more like peer appeal. I’m not jealous per se. I am delighted for every one of them. It is possible to be thrilled for them and also want to be in their shoes. Contradictory feelings make perfect sense. Apparently it’s a side effect of baby fever.
All of this leads me to wonder, how do others deal with the temptation to give in to baby fever despite their immediate future plans? Is there a good way to shake off the symptoms until the timing is right? Is there really a “right” time anyhow? There will always be a list of reasons to wait, but those baby-centric emotions happen for a reason. It reminds me of the love we want to give another child, the life we want to share with him or her. Although having another child is never too far from my mind, we’re sticking with our original plan for now. I’ve got the fever, but when I’m able to trade it in for some good ole morning sickness, I’ll be ready to begin a new set of plans (color-coded ones, of course). Good luck, fellow fever fighters!