To two or not to two…

My wife and I often have differing opinions. We don’t agree on art. We don’t agree on music. We don’t even agree on how to prepare Top Ramen. For that reason, I’m pretty surprised that we agree on the subject of whether or not we want another child. That is, if you can count a mutual, “I dunno” as agreement.

Every single day of my pregnancy, I told myself that I never wanted to do this again. From the progesterone injections that left excruciating welts on my back side to the desperate sadness of losing one of our babies to the constipation and the overwhelming discomfort, I hated pregnancy. Never mind GETTING pregnant. And I feel much the same about childbirth. I hated it all. It was miserable and uncomfortable and I was basically terrified for 40 weeks and 6 days.

But it brought me Charlotte. My amazing baby girl. And now all those weeks of misery just seem so absolutely secondary to the wonderment of being this little girl’s mother. For her, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

But that’s the thing. I already have her. Doing it all again would bring me another child. A different one. And in my head, there is this voice that wonders how I could ever possibly love another child as much as I love this one. I can’t even imagine it.

And even if I did love another child as much as I love my Charlotte, what would that mean for our precious firstborn? Less attention. Moms who are spread even more thin. How could I do that to her? Knowing that everything we have to give is barely enough for her right now, how could I even fathom doing something that would give her less?

But then I see pictures on Facebook. Siblings holding hands. An older sibling kissing the top of the newborn sibling’s head. “Share this if your sister is your best friend.” And I watch Catch with her sister–leaving silly messages and commiserating about their parents. Sharing in each others’ lives… and it makes me wonder if less in the short term is worth it for more in the long term.

That’s where I get stuck, though… because I have a half-brother and a half-sister and neither of them are speaking to me. I worshiped them from the day they were born. They were my baby brother and sister. But now… well, now they’re pain in the ass young adults who need to grow up and figure their shit out. That’s not exactly the kind of more that I want for Charlotte.

There’s a huge part of me that would LOVE the chance to have a newborn again just so I can have a do over. So I could go into it with the knowledge, comfort and experience that I have now. So maybe I can enjoy it more. But of course, that in itself is not enough of a reason to have a child… we all know how fleeting the newborn stage is.

I don’t really know what to make of it all. I don’t have all of the answers right now. What I have is 5 embryos still frozen in a lab 5 miles away and a biological clock that is ticking away. I hope that in time I will have the answers, but for now I am perfectly content to have one little pair of crawling hands and knees to chase after.

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29 thoughts on “To two or not to two…

  1. In time you will know 🙂 When Corrie had Judge she was so certain she didn’t want another because like you she hated every single part of pregnancy that we gave ALL of his newborn things away. Then once a year hit she started thinking maybe she could do this again. The whole sibling thing played a part. Sure Judge has Mason but he is also 10 years older and would be off to college just as Judge was really starting school. I was a tough sell. All I could think about was money and logistics. Then for some reason one day something just clicked and I thought we can totally do this. We might be broke and exhausted (which we are) for a few years but just imagine a house full of love and noise..HA! And now look at us…a broke, tired house full of love and noise and it is perfect. (disclaimer we are not really perfect…actually far from it!)

  2. Seconding Shannon’s opinion that you’ll find clarity when a little more time has passed. I felt like you, to a T: between hating pregnancy, and feeling spread too thin with just one baby, there was no way, no no no way, we could complicate our lives further by having another baby.

    Then my baby turned one and just the other day she was playing (happily!) in the yard with her water table and I started crying because I was projecting loneliness on to her. Which is absurd, of course, because a) plenty of only children do not grow up feeling lonely (that’s what cousins and friends are for!) but even more so because b) one year olds don’t even play together. Like even if she were a twin, they would likely be playing next to each other and ignoring the other. Because that’s what one year olds do. 🙂 And yet now there is this voice in my head that just knows we aren’t yet complete. That as hard as it is to fathom loving another child the way I love this one, it will be equally as unfathomable once he or she is here that I ever doubted it could be anything short of the overwhelming love I felt for my daughter the instant I knew she existed.

    I know we could decide otherwise and go on to live a happy, fulfilled, and simpler life with more time and energy and resources for our one girl… but now that I’ve really let myself imagine giving her the gift of a sibling, there’s no going back!

  3. I can’t tell you what’s right for your family. That’s a decision only you guys can make and only you know what is and isn’t going to work in the future.

    I CAN tell you (in a million words because I am never brief) that you absolutely would love a second (third, fourth, tenth) child just as much. It seems impossible but it happens. It truly, truly does. Without taking away any love from Charlotte. And now, you have this third thing you love just as much, this sibling bond. It’s a whole “new” relationship to love and tend to.

    It’s also a whole new thing to steal your time away. It’s true. Thatcher does not have 100% of our attention. Sometimes, he has 50%. Sometimes, it’s 25%. Some days? Even lower.

    But you know what? He has three siblings who make up for that. Scarlett gives 95% of her attention to Thatcher and he wants to be with her way more most days than he wants to be with me. It’s just how it is when they are little. There is 600% attention to go around in this house that it’s almost impossible to NOT have attention paid to you, no matter how much Scarlett wishes it true.

    And it makes me breathe easier knowing they have one another. They are the only four people in this world who knows what it’s like to be the children of me and my wife and that’s a bond that’s incredibly difficult to replicate even if they don’t find themselves liking one another as they age. It will always be common ground. It will always be a shared childhood and that means something in the scheme of things, I think. I hope, anyway, because I have wasted a TON of sanity otherwise!

    (Also, and I may be in the minority here, but our first child was WORLDS harder than any subsequent child as a baby because you just know more and you feel more comfortable. It makes it a more pleasant experience. It makes it…really easy to end up with four.) 🙂

  4. We were fairly firmly in the one-and-done camp, but have been thinking a lot about having a second, lately. It’s such a hard decision, for many of the reasons you outline. I was hoping that we’d come to some sort of reasonable answer by making a pro/con list – somehow, a second child seems more strategic, whereas a first seemed more fateful or something – but now I think that maybe it’s got to be more like our decision to have a first: we have to be sure we want it, and then everything else will (hopefully) fall into place. We’re still working out whether we do actually want it; with every month that passes, it seems more possible, more desirable. And my wife, who was ambivalent about getting pregnant in the first place, is oddly nostalgic about it now. Weird.

    (And seriously, the timeliness of your posts in relation to my life is eerie sometimes! We’ve spent a lot of time talking about this this week.)

  5. For what it’s worth, I’m not at all close to my siblings (in fact I’ve had to cut one out of my life for the sake of my own mental health) but our three children are very close and care about each other a great deal. It is harder to have to share your time with more than one child, but seeing our three be such a complete unit together has meant the world to me. Whatever you decide, here’s hoping it brings you joy. 🙂

  6. This is such a thoughtful and eloquent exploration of this issue. If you DO choose to have another, I promise you will love him/her just as much. You just do. (Is what I hear I mean.) My mom is an only child. She was just asking me if we were going to have another one and I was explaining to her that no we have not changed our minds, and she said she was very happy growing up as an only child. I remembered to, that my older sister traumatized me and pretty much still does. There’s nothing wrong with having an only child! Of course if you choose to have another one, it will be totally amazing, a struggle at first but I know you will love it.

    • I always sort of considered myself an only child since I didn’t really grow up with my half-siblings, and I really feel that there are a TON of benefits to being an only child! We’ll see what happens. Only time will tell!

      • For starters, my mom was able to put me through 12 years of private school. Since she was a single mom, that never would have happened if I’d had a sibling. I also learned how to interact with adults and hold more adult conversations from a younger age because when I was with my mom’s friends, I didn’t have a sibling to run off with. I didn’t have to share my mom, which was huge for me since she worked full time and was the only parent. It also forced me to make friends so I’d have play mates, which was probably really good for me since I was so shy. I just really enjoyed being an only child. When I was little, I would tell my mom I didn’t want a sibling.

    • I know I’ll have the answer with time one way or another. I always considered myself an only child because I didn’t grow up with my half siblings and our childhoods didn’t really intersect (10+ year age difference). I remember being little and BEGGING my mom not to have any more kids. I did not want a sibling. There’s something special about being an only child. I can’t deny that!

  7. I struggle with this a lot, but I think I want another. So much of my struggle is about my career. I’m not necessarily ready to get back to it right now, but you know, in another two years when she can start private pre-k I would like to get back to my job, and that would mean having another on the soon side of things, which indicates that I have some form of control over the situation that I of course do not.

  8. I can understand and relate and agree with others that time will bring clarity. But one thing I can tell you with absolute confidence is that you will love another child as fiercely as you do Charlotte should you choose to pursue and are able to have more. I had that fear tenfold yet now know I couldn’t love living baby #2 any more and no less than #1. Feeling spread thin on every front with more than 1 is real too – can’t lie to you there.

  9. Is it the pressure, knowing they are there? I feel that. Knowing there are 6 other potential Jude or Judettes… oh man. I mean, LOOK HOW CUTE OUR BABIES ARE!!! And there are more where they came from!? Octomom me up in here lol *soooo joking*
    We have bought a bit of time by having them frozen, in that they stay the age they were when harvested…
    We decided not to decide until Jude heads to kindy. Then we’ll decide. In the mean time he gets all our attention and love without our minds constantly wondering “will we/won’t we?”

    • There actually is some pressure knowing that they’re there! In my head there’s this chorus of, “Do you know how many women would KILL to have 5 embryos? And you’re just going to let them sit in a FREEZER?” LOL

  10. I feel you! We’ve had the sperm for number 2 purchased and stored at the cryobank since B. was in utero. The past month or so up until a week ago the toddler stage was getting really rough, and I’ve been thinking “could I really handle two? Could I do this when I’m pregnant?” And you’ll understand this part, last night my spouse found my breast pump parts as we were preparing for our yard sale this weekend and asked what I wanted to do with them. All of the uncertainty, doubt, and just not wanting to deal with trying to make my body produce milk flooded back and ugh- do I want to deal with that again too? I never thought we’d space this far apart; we have not started trying again and our original timeline was to start in January. Take it one day at a time. You may not ever be 100% certain, but your hearts will guide you the right direction when the time comes.

  11. Gosh I know these feelings so, so well. For me it is a matter of logistics (how in the world can I manage two small kids on my own let alone afford two kids on one income in this freaking city!) and it PAINS me to have to be “one and done”. I am so, so sad that I cannot give Evelyn the gift of a sibling.

    But then – I see lots of people who have strained relationships with their siblings. I suppose nothing is a guarantee.

    Anyway, I understand what you’re going through and I hope you and Catch can land on a decision that feels right to both of you.

    • You’re right–nothing is a guarantee! I think at the end of the day, we have to make sure we’re doing this because WE want it and not because we THINK C *might* want/like a sibling someday.

  12. I always imagined having more than one child and definitely imagined birthing said children. Things didn’t go as I imagined and I am grateful for that. I would love another child but alas that is not in the cards and I am absolutely 100% ok with that now. I love my little girl so much and feel incredibly content.

  13. You’ll figure it out. I can tell you that having more kids does take away individual time with each but they have more in terms of family. They have different people they count on for different stuff. We currently have 3 kids and are adopting our 4th. I carried 2 and we adopted 1. They are all so different and it is so wonderful to see how they each blossom and who they are becoming as they get older (currently 9, 7 and 5.)

    Yes you do have less. Sometimes I daydream about having more money, more time, more me time…but I know I wouldn’t trade our crazy family for anything. We have agreed that a bigger home is what we envisioned because even with less resources or time for ourselves, we have more laughter, more noise and more love. 🙂

  14. You guys will figure it out. There’s not a second that I regret having our second, despite a pretty awful pregnancy/birth/sleep for the past three years… but I would have considered three. 😉

  15. Hi! May i say, I’m so happy you said that you hated being pregnant! ‘Cause whenever I say that, I just feel like people are gonna judge me SO MUCH. I hated it. Hated it. And I was so thankful I had twins because I know there would be pressure for the second one coming from pretty much everyone I know – specially my husband – had I not had twins in the first place.
    Still, a mom’s heart works in a very mysterious way. I know I love both my girls as if I had a whole heart to give each of them… you shouldn’t worry about that.

    The thought of doing this again has never crossed my mind realistically. But, if I didn’t actually have to GET pregnant… I’d love to have 4 more babies running around and making me crazy! You should totally go for it! – haha, kidding, you’re decision!

  16. You will ABSOLUTELY love a second child as much as your first. I don’t know how it happens, but it freaking happens, and it’s the most amazing thing because, how is it possible?! And then with every child that follows, you don’t know how you do it, but you do. I love Mary as much as Austin, and when I look at Levi, I see this beautiful boy who steals my heart every time, and then I look at Noah and realize that my heart is still in my chest somehow, but someone else has his little grubby hands all over it. It’s overwhelming sometimes. Only you know what is right for your family, and your marriage, and your relationship with your children, but I will never discourage someone from really thinking about more babies because a)why the hell not! b)if one kid makes your life amazing, then imagine what 2, 3, 4 or more kids can do, and c) siblings are THE . BEST. GIFT my parents EVER gave me…

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