“Do you think you will try for another?”
When it comes to motherhood, this question is a tale as old as time. I have seen it asked in various ways in parenting Facebook groups. I have seen Instagram influencers discuss the idea of having more babies in their stories. There are podcast episodes about this topic. Despite my best research efforts, I have come back to the realization that I (deep down) already knew – no one can answer this question or make this decision for you.
I want to preface this by addressing how fortunate I feel to have two wonderful, healthy children. I recognize the privilege that my family has with the ability to decide whether we would like to have more. Many families do not have these options, and I hold these families and their strength in my heart.
Like many others, I am a mom of two, straddling the line of adding one more. For the last year, my mind and heart have been like a ping pong ball, flying backward and forward with the yearning for another baby, followed by a quick proclamation that “NO, nope, nope – we are good with two!”
On one hand, I can very clearly see the benefits of being a family of four. While still small, my kids are getting older- we are all sleeping through the night, and they are becoming better at entertaining themselves independently. Traveling seems more doable as we offload huge strollers and pack-n-plays. My house seems lighter with no baby swing, bouncy chair, high chair, or a counter cluttered with drying bottles. My wallet feels better without the expense of formula. My husband and I have the opportunity to easily drop two off for an overnight with grandparents and get time to ourselves. And yet, I sometimes still think about the idea of adding one more.
When I allow myself to understand where my waffling feelings are coming from, I recognize that I am in a place of both fear and sadness. Fear from the unknown of adding another and what that would do to our current routines. Fear of not being able to give all my kids the attention they need. Fear of missing the freedom that comes as our children get older. And, of course, the age-old fear of being truly outnumbered.
And on the other hand? I feel sad. Sadness of thinking that the pregnancy and baby phase of my life would be done. With children entering school comes a whole new set of worries. Now, in hindsight, I have come to realize that the baby phase (while very hard for different reasons) is also a beautifully ‘simple’ and cozy period of time. I would be lying if I said it did not pull at my heartstrings to think I may not ever experience that again.
Do I just wish I could experience my two children being babies again? Is this merely a normal emotion I am feeling because they are getting older? Or do I truly want to parent another child? We have all heard the prompt, “How many people do you want around your dinner table one day?” While this can be helpful, I have love/hate feelings for the question – whether your family is big or small doesn’t make it any less fun or full or loving.
So, here we are, with my continuing ping pong ball feelings. My family is emotionally and financially settled and stable, and we have support nearby. If we were fortunate enough to have another baby, we could do it. But do I want to? That is the question I will continue to work through and hopefully one day understand/come to a resolution.