Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stopping at Two Children

I know I might not sound like a reliable source when I say that Matt and I are done after two children, since we used to think we only wanted one child and then switched our minds. But, really, I think we mean it this time.

There are many reasons why two--not three--children make sense for us. First, I think we're going to be at capacity with two children. With each passing day as Henry becomes more verbal, more interactive, and more independent, Matt and I find that our joy is increasing exponentially. We anticipate that welcoming another infant into our lives (although we are over-the moon with gratitude) will re-introduce a lot of challenge back into our lives. Of course we will accept that challenge as part and parcel of expanding one's family, but we're not eager to repeat it a third time. We're excited to have another little walking, talking human being who expresses his personality through jokes, questions, preferences, and comments. We're eager to play board games and do science experiments and undertake sewing projects together. It's already scary enough thinking about shifting the ratio of adults to children from 2:1 to 2:2 or--frequently--1:2.

There are also financial considerations for us. Matt and I both work in the non-profit world, but we want to have plenty of money for traveling, turning our home into a sanctuary, eating out, and sending our children through college without the burden of debt.

There are philosophical and environmental considerations like not contributing to population growth and not wanting to need a bigger car or a bigger house to comfortably fit everyone.

There are physical considerations, like the fact that I'm already 35 (although my mother had my brother when she was 38), and I'm eager to have my own body back. I was pregnant with Henry for 9 months + breastfed him for 14 months + got pregnant right away for another two or so months + suffered a miscarriage + had three months to myself + got pregnant again. I've got another 1.5 months of pregnancy to go, an impending labor, and at least a year of breastfeeding. Of course all of this is worth it to bring life into the world (and I constantly count my lucky stars that I've been able to get pregnant three times), but I'm eager to reclaim my body. I want to run again, fit into regular clothes, be able to eat fried foods occasionally (when I'm pregnant, I suffer from choleostasis and have to be super-gentle on my liver), and sleep on my back (or stomach!).

Again, I don't mean to sound like these minor inconveniences aren't worth the privilege and opportunity to bring a person into the world and provide the kind of nurturing environment and love that helps them unfold into their enormous potential. It's just that going through it twice (three times, if you count the miscarriage) feels right for me. 

I also have other things that I want to give birth to in this world, like a network of public Montessori schools and more books. 

I was shocked when my midwife said that many of her clients end up back in her office, accidentally pregnant with their third children. Matt and I definitely don't want that to happen to us. Right now we're exploring vasectomy as a non-hormonal, permanent form of birth control. We wouldn't be able to afford it until after my maternity leave is over and I'm back at work, but it's definitely something we're considering. 

I want to reiterate that all of our reasons for stopping at two are not judgments against families who stop at one or continue to five or opt not to have children in the first place. I also want to acknowledge how difficult it must be to read posts like this if you're struggling with fertility or miscarriage or are working really hard to adopt.

There are times (like when I'm reading Soule Mama) when I idealize a larger family. But at the end of the day, we have to be honest with ourselves about what we want and what makes sense for us.

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Kelly Rae said...

lovely post. We currently have one child and are in debate mode about having a second. Excited for your new little one on the way :)

Carrie said...

Sara, you pretty much summed up my personal reasons for wanting to stop at two (we already have the two--ages 4 and 2). The just "not wanting to do it again" part gets stronger and stronger for me as various "baby" things drop away, such as turning our younger son forward-facing in his car seat, ditching sippy cups, giving him adult sized silverware, selling off the large baby gear, etc.

Plus, I'm back in great shape with as flat of a stomach as I'll ever have after having two children. I admit that I really, really like it. I feel great about my body, and I think, "Damn, I look good for having had two kids!" :)

Time logistics also play a large part in stopping at two for us. We both work (he, more than full-time, and I, nearly full-time), so I hear you on the "capacity" issue.

I love reading people's reasons for deciding on family size. The "right" answer is so personal. Thinking of you in these last 6 weeks or so before #2 arrives! :)

Bio Major said...

i love that you wrote this post it explains so much more than when i tell people "i just don't want more, no reason really but one is enough." i am constantly told that having children is the reason for living and that's great and all but its not how i feel.

katejstross said...

amen, sister.

I appreciate how sensitive and genuine you are when discussing your opinions and your path. I am thinking of and praying for you here in the home stretch!

Lady Bizonion said...

I love all your thoughts! I just wanted to throw in my two cents for birth control options. Have you ever considered an IUD? I think it is an amazing option for moms (post partum insertion is usually easy, some places will even do it right after you deliver which is a breeze) because it's a one time thing rather than something you have to keep up with (like the pill). It's more effective than getting your tubes tied (although by a fraction of a %) and completely reversible if you manage to change your mind at some point! The Mirena has a low amount of hormones and is good for up to 5 years in the U.S. (and then you can just get a new one) and the Paraguard has zero hormones and I believe now in the U.S. is good for up to 10 years! I think a vasectomy is a great option too, although of course not completely 100% either and difficult to reverse if anyone has a change of heart. Just food for thought!

sharmi said...

Hey sarah, we are stopping at two as well, citing all your reasons plus i have horrible morning sickness ing the pregnancy. With m daughter ( who is now 8 months old), i was bedridden,w/ nausea & hospitalised for dehydration. I say this not to get sympathy but to support you in yours. Thanks also for this intellegent, fantatic blog. I read it almost daily.

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