And mainly, I wanted to give birth to other things in my life, like a school and a community. I figured I didn't have it in me to mother Hoss, Henry, a school, a community, and another child. When I told one of my close friends that I only wanted to have one child, she said something like, "That makes sense for you. You'll be able to do more good for the world."
But somewhere along the way, my mind started shifting. I started to see growing a family as one of the most significant ways to tap into our humanity. I started brainstorming ways to work around the drawbacks. I figured we could wait five years before having the next one, so I would have time to start the community and school, and Henry would have time to grow more independent (and out of diapers). I started looking at families who had waited several years in between children for inspiration.
Then I started realizing what my friend Sarah has been saying all along. If you have children closer together, you get the hard parts over with faster. My rebuttal was always, "Sure, but you make it so much harder for yourself in the meantime!"
I started thinking about this idea more. In a way, having young children around is very constricting. To meet their needs properly, you have to shift your life to reflect theirs in a lot of ways. If we waited five years to have another child, we would then enlarge that period of intense constriction from three years to six years (or five years to ten years). And then there's adolescence. Instead of going through 5-7 years of tumult, we'd be looking at 10+.
Even more than that, I'm getting my head out of the day-to-day struggle of meeting someone else's every need and understanding the bigger picture of motherhood. It's not about changing diapers and engorged breasts; it's about nurturing and nourishing another being and helping them uncover their unique place in the universe.
Plus, I just turned 34. Of course I could wait five years to have another child (my mother had her second baby when she was 38), but I'd likely be pushing up against the limitations of my fertility, and the risk of genetic issues grows exponentially after 35.
In terms of my career, now might actually be the best time for us to have another baby. If all goes well, my school will open in the fall of 2014. The application is due February 2013 and I wouldn't interview until August. If I got pregnant sooner rather than later, I could work on the application while pregnant (Henry would be going to a half day of Montessori childcare), finish the application by December, have the baby, and not have to interview until the baby was six or seven months-old. Then I would have to start working to get the school started when the baby was around eleven months-old and could start part-time in Montessori childcare. The second baby would basically have the same solid foundation that I've been able to give Henry.
As I type all of this, I am fully admitting to myself (and reminding myself rather vociferously) that you can't plan when or if you have a baby. I know that. I really do. I can only focus my energy on the things I can control, such as tracking my cycle, getting my body ready for conception, and deciding to try.
I also realize that Matt's perspective has been absent from this discussion. I promise you it's not! It's something that Matt and I talk about a lot. He comes from a family of three, but he knew I might only want one child when he married me. When Henry came (and was hard/hard/hard), he agreed that one was fine. And then we started talking about maybe having two--later on down the line. We've just started the conversation about whether we really want to try for two and when the best time would be.
In a very short span of time, I've gone from, "Definitely only one child" to "Perhaps we could have a second." Suddenly, I'm getting to the point where I think I do want two, and I'd like to start trying for the second one soon. Craziness. I would want to provide the second baby with the same solid foundation that I provided for Henry. Just in case we start trying soon, I've recommitted to taking my prenatal vitamins religiously, strengthening my body with this 20-minute DVD (you can download a single level for $1.99), drinking at least two water bottles of water every day, taking a hard look at my life to see how I could make more space for pregnancy, and de-stressing every night before bed.
We'll see what happens. Matt and I might decide that now doesn't make sense. I just wanted to keep you updated in case we do decide to start trying.
Have any of you read anything about different approaches to spacing out children? If so, please share! I enjoyed reading this article about the pros and cons of various spacings.
Today on 2000 Dollar Wedding: Plans for the Gourmet Grilled Cheese Bar at Henry's birthday party on Saturday.