“Four kids.” Ten years ago, when my husband and I sat side by side in premarital counseling and the counselor asked each of us how many kids we desired to have, I said four.
When our first daughter was placed on my chest three years later, I immediately knew that I wanted another. Two years after that, when our son was born, I had such an adrenaline rush that I think I actually said aloud in the delivery room, “I want to do this again!” We never truly know how many kids we can have, but I didn’t feel “done” yet.
Two years after that, when I was pregnant with my third, I didn’t feel like it was my last pregnancy. I wasn’t ready to donate the maternity clothes or get rid of all the boy clothes when we found out we were expecting another girl. My husband didn’t feel like she was our last either. I thought we’d probably try for a fourth in a couple of years.
Then, two months before my May 2020 due date, the pandemic hit. We started wearing masks, my husband and kids were no longer allowed to come with me to appointments and based on what was happening in New York, I began to question if my husband would be allowed in the delivery room with me. Thankfully, my delivery was surprisingly the most peaceful and “normal” moment I had in all of 2020. When our youngest was placed on my chest, I didn’t have an “I think our family is complete now” moment, but I do remember telling my husband, “I never want to have a pandemic pregnancy again.”
Little did I know we’d still be in a pandemic two years later. My pandemic baby is nearing her second birthday, and with high positivity rates and an even more contagious variant, it feels like we’re right back in the spring of 2020. In my pre-pandemic dreams, I would’ve wished to be pregnant with my fourth baby by now, but spoiler alert — I’m not. I sometimes wonder, if not for the pandemic, would we’ve continued growing our family?
Besides the fact that I don’t care to have another pandemic pregnancy — the constant anxiety of a possible positive covid test changing the trajectory of my pregnancy or delivery is too much for me to mentally handle right now — there are other logistics that impact the decision also. With four kids, we’d need a bigger house and a bigger car, two things that are hard to come by right now in this market. I also have to take into consideration my mental health, which is not in the best place after two years of parenting young kids in a pandemic. Burnt out moms should probably not try for one more baby, I tell myself. I also dread the thought of having another postpartum experience with little outside help. I did it once, but I don’t know if I can do it again.
If I let myself get too into my feelings, I feel sad. I mourn what is probably the end of my childbearing years, and I wish that my husband and I could make a level-headed decision without the pandemic looming over us. I wonder how many other families will also make family planning decisions based on the seemingly never-ending pandemic.
Is the pandemic changing our decision to have more kids? Only time will tell.