My husband and I had a plan: two kids and then done. We spaced them quite close together, figuring we’d embrace the infant/tiny toddler chaos for a year or two and then bye-bye breast pump, spit-up cloths, mountains of diapers, and human beings who can’t speak our language or move themselves independently.
We stuck to the plan for a while, quite happily. I gave away or sold every baby item we owned, and felt content that while things were still crazy—I’m guessing parenting is always a wild ride, at any age—we had found our groove as a family of four.
And then I went rogue. About a month before my youngest turned 2, I found myself thinking with longing of the feeling of carrying a baby around inside me. I wasn’t so delusional as to forget the many times I complained while pregnant, but I missed the times when I’d just silently marvel at what was happening inside me. I started to wonder, are we really done?
At first, I was almost scared to ask that question out loud. What was I thinking? If I told my husband about my nagging thoughts, would he run for the hills? Who was this suddenly indecisive woman who was completely unsure of her own mind and desires? And how on earth would I decide whether to give a third baby a go?
Over the next four months, without telling a soul, I asked myself some questions. I asked them constantly, in wildly different moods, on days when my two kids were angels and on days they seemed hell-bent on driving me to an early grave. The answers to those questions helped me come to terms with what I deeply wanted—the thing that terrified me but also electrified me with excitement—and (with my husband’s knowing consent, of course) I decided to take a huge breath and go for it. We are expecting baby #3 later this year.
To my fellow fence-dwelling moms, whether you’re thinking of a second, third, or 10th baby, I hope these questions might also help you find some clarity.
- When you think ahead to family holidays in 20 or 30 years, what do you picture? How big a table will you need to fit everyone you hope will be there?
- When a friend announces another pregnancy, what is your immediate, gut reaction? Are you both happy for her and a little envious? Are you happy for her and a little relieved you’re not in for nine months of morning sickness, swollen ankles and elastic-waist pants?
- Set up a checkup with your gynecologist, and see how you feel when you mention to him/her that you’re thinking of trying for another baby. How does it feel to say those words out loud? (Remember, you can say it and you still don’t have to ever do it!)
- Whether or not you’re on birth control, take a pregnancy test before your next anticipated period, just as an experiment (I mean, it’s possible, right?). As you wait for the little plus or minus sign to appear, do you feel excited butterflies, or a twinge of dread? When it comes up negative, are you ever-so-slightly sad? (If the test comes up positive, well, congratulations, fate has chosen for you!)
Lastly, I’ll end with two questions NOT to ask yourself:
- Is this the right time for another baby? Let’s be honest, the first time wasn’t the “right time” either, and there is probably no such thing. A baby is always going to temporarily turn life upside-down, but as you know if you’re a mom already, once it happens you wouldn’t want it any other way.
- What is my “magic number” when it comes to kids? Again, no such thing. A single child is enough to fill your heart to bursting for the rest of your life. If you have a dozen, your heart will just keep expanding to let each new one in. So be confident and content that however things end up, it will be magical in the long run.