I always planned on having a large family. I just knew that at some point in my life I would give birth to lots of kids and raise a rowdy brood. I grew up with three sisters, and our house was always loud, busy, never a dull moment. I loved that even if I was mad at one sister, there was always someone else to talk to. We had a large enough crew to perform any show or play any card game. It was a great way to grow up, and I fully expected to replicate it.
So now fast-forward about 20 years, when I have two adorable children, a wonderful husband, and a lot to be thankful for. I am rapidly approaching “advanced maternal age,” so about a year after our daughter was born we started planning for round 3. But funnily enough, I just never seem to find the “perfect time” to be pregnant again. I keep pushing it off- which makes me pause. My husband and I have had several intense conversations lately about whether to have another child. We have outlined many, many, many logical reasons why having a third child might be less than ideal for us, and we keep coming back to the idea of, “Why change something that is so great?”
And the longer I contemplate this, the more comfortable I feel with the idea. I will never have to endure months of sleepless nights again, our youngest is almost out of diapers, and a family of four travels much easier than a family of five or six (and boy, do we travel a lot!)
But then I have doubts. Strong, lingering fears that sometimes keeps me up at night. Will I really never feel a baby kicking again? Never again get to breast feed a darling little one? Will two kids be enough for me, as a mom? Who will they talk to when they are mad at each other? Will our holidays feel as full, chaotic and loving as mine did? Will I regret this decision 10 years from now, when it will be too late? Having a big family has always been a part of my “Life Plan”, and questioning that plan has left me very confused.
I’ve consulted a ton of family and friends. I read blog articles online. I look at college tuition, airfare, costs of a larger car. I see how happy my friends with three or more children seem- but also how content those with one or two appear to be. And I just don’t know what to do.
I fully realize how lucky I am that I have the luxury of weighing these considerations when so many others I know have endured fertility struggles or health issues that have made the decision for them. And sometimes I know with a calm certainty that we are done. We have a happy, healthy family, and this is enough. Not just enough: Perfect for us. So why mess with something that works?
And then I hold my newborn nephew, staring into his eyes as he coos so sweetly. My heart swells, and I’m pretty sure I ovulate, and I’m back to square one again.
I think the most unsettling part of this whole process is that I’m not sure if I will ever really know if we’ve made the right decision. I don’t know anyone who regrets having more kids, but is that a good enough reason to have another one? Will I be sad when our two kids have gone off to college and left us alone, so quickly within just two years of each other? Or will my husband and I be excited that we have more time for a new phase in our lives?
A good friend once told me that the most difficult decisions a parent can make are the ones where you never know for sure if it was the “right” thing to do or not. You just have to go with your gut and hope for the best. It’s the uncertainty of how it will turn out that makes the decision so painstaking. I still don’t quite know what my husband and I will decide to do. (I was hoping that writing this would help make up my mind!) For now, I am going to count my blessings, enjoy my family, and hope for the best!