Deciding how many children to have--or whether to have children at all--is such a personal decision (and it's important to acknowledge that deciding whether to have children is entirely separate from actually being able to have them).
Initially Matt and I were going to stop after one child. For me it was about freeing up space in my life to give birth to other things, like a network of public Montessori schools in diverse communities nationwide. I added books to my wishlist about raising an only child.
But after Henry was born, I felt drawn to add another child to our family. I wanted to bring another independent being into the world. I felt like having another child would better allow me to parent according to Khalil Gibran's advice. I could let my children grow into who they wanted to be rather than put all of my hopes and expectations onto one child.
We knew it would push us to the very edge of our capacity, but we moved forward anyway and welcomed Sweet Tate into our lives.
And it did push us to the far reaches of our capacity. I can't even imagine what it would have been like for us if Tate had been born with medical issues or special needs.
Our midwife explained that she worked with many clients who came back to her with an accidental third pregnancy. Matt and I didn't want that to happen to us, and we were confident that two would be all we could handle. We opted for a vasectomy soon after Tate's birth.
A year and a half into life with our expanded family, things are finally starting to get easier. And, honestly, the things that called me to have a second child have started calling me to have a third. The thought of adding another independent being into our family dynamic sounds amazing. Fast forwarding into the future is even more appealing. I love the idea of three grown children coming home for the holidays.
But we aren't going to have a third child for all of these reasons that make sense for us as a family:
- It would be really hard for me to go through pregnancy a third time the way I would want to and move forward with my career, while being the kind of mother I would want to be for Tate and Henry. For example, with both pregnancies, I was able to nap every day (with Henry I napped after I got home from my full-time job; with Tate I napped after my part-time job before picking up Henry from school). I have so little time right now as it is. I definitely couldn't nap, and I don't think I could muster the patience that would be required to tolerate fatigue, potential nausea, a toddler, and a four year-old. I already feel like I'm balancing everything so precariously. I can't imagine adding another major demand on my time into the equation. I feel like I would need to sacrifice my career goals and the kind of mother I want to be for Henry and Tate. Again, this feeling is very personal. I can completely understand why other people wouldn't feel the same way on this issue.
- We are eager for parenting to get easier and easier. The infant stage is really hard for Matt and me. The sleepless nights, my postpartum gallbladder issues, needing to be home for multiple naps a day. Of course these difficulties last a relatively short time, and it feels really short-sighted to focus on them (that's the argument I make to myself in favor of having a third child!). But we would be adding almost three more years of difficulty onto our life, and that would mean that we would be experiencing that kind of difficulty until Henry was seven years-old.
- Adding another child would force us to change our financial goals. Matt and I aspire to pay for our children's college educations so that they don't have to bear the stress of student loan debt (while building responsibility by requiring them to have jobs and to pay for their own cars, if they live in an area without good mass transit). Taking on this challenge for three children would be immense. It would mean that we would have to change our financial priorities, which include traveling a lot with our children.
- Stopping at two children means that we are replacing ourselves and not contributing to population growth over time.
Writing out these reasons has been good to help squelch my baby fever!