One and Done. Probably.
When my husband and I first began talking about starting a family—both during the abstract musings of our first years of marriage and later on as the ifs morphed into whens—we always said we’d have two kids.
He’s an only child, and I’m the youngest of three, and we each were leaning towards replicating the situation in which we grew up, so two kids seemed like a good compromise. Added bonus: it meant we’d never be outnumbered.
Our son was born in 2008 and, expectedly, rocked our worlds. Not in a bad way—more like an undeniable way. He was healthy, happy, and a fantastic sleeper (and super adorable), but he was still a baby and, thus, made our heads spin. To add craziness to craziness, my husband and I were in the process of running a growing family business, which, in some ways, is not unlike caring for an infant: lots of worrying over small things, round-the-clock attention, very few breaks, etc.
So about six months into our new gig as parents, my husband and I agreed to table The Sibling Discussion until our son’s third birthday. We figured by then we’d have a better picture of where our life as a family was headed. For us it made sense to spend more time figuring out who we were as parents before bringing another kid into the fold.
When our “deadline” hit, we reassessed. At that point, I felt good about having another baby, and my husband didn’t. So we waited a few more months and checked in again. Same response from both of us. Again, more waiting and checking in, with me sitting squarely in Camp Yeah Let’s Do It! as my husband hung out in the Town of No Thanks, I’m Good. While I was feeling it, he just…wasn’t.
This time of back-and-forth was not without its challenges. Pregnancy announcements filled my inbox, text messages, and Facebook feed. I watched as friends whose first children were younger than our son welcomed more and more children into their families. At times, it felt like I was getting lapped. While I was always thrilled for my friends, holding their fresh-from-the-oven babies for the first time often came with twinges of envy—and sometimes big, fat tears when I got a moment to myself. Meanwhile, it’s unnerving when you and the person with whom you share your life are not on the same page about one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make for your family. It was a situation that presented plenty of opportunities for both of us to feel resentful, angry, discouraged, and not heard.
So my husband and I kept talking about it.* We kept praying that we’d get on the same page, whoever’s page that turned out to be. In the process, I think we both learned a lot about patience, humility, and the importance of giving one another space to feel the feelings we felt—because they were all valid and worthy of consideration.**
As our son has gotten older, and as we’ve gotten more and more removed from life with a baby, our feelings have neutralized considerably. I think I’d be accurate in saying that the idea of having another child no longer terrifies my husband. Meanwhile, those twinges of envy I felt when holding a friend’s baby have been replaced by simple and sweet memories of what it was like to hold my own newborn. But here’s the thing with memories: while you can look back fondly on a time in your life, even miss it desperately, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should go back. I don’t think it’s in the cards for us to go back.
Don’t get me wrong, should another child come into our lives, we’d be stoked—all three of us. But it’s not something we’re going to pursue at this point. The life I have right now with my husband and son feels like the perfect fit for me—for us. It’s full and loving and complicated and silly. It’s all I want. And wanting what you have? I can’t think of a bigger blessing than that.
*We even scheduled quarterly Baby Discussions on our shared Google calendar. I highly recommend this; it made the conversation feel more intentional and constructive and less like an undercurrent of tension that could overflow at any moment.
**It’s my experience than when one member of a couple wants a baby and the other doesn’t, regardless of the reason, most people automatically (and unfairly) side with the partner itching to procreate. My husband’s hesitancy to have more kids didn’t mean he isn’t completely devoted to and in love with me and our son. He is by nature a very measured and thoughtful person, so the decision to have another child is not one into which he’s going to just shrug and say “Yes, dear.”