notreadyforlastbaby_sized

My whole life, I’ve dreamed of a large family. I grew up sandwiched between two brothers, and we had two stepsisters who lived with us part-time. When the girls stayed with us in the summers, I was happiest. Between the five kids in my house, the few next door, and the four across the street, we had a pack to split into teams for kickball, put on plays and puppet shows, and of course, help our moms out in the kitchen in a big way. The backyard campouts were epic, and most importantly to this shy kid, I had always built-in best friends. My siblings had my back. I knew that one day when I had a family of my own, I’d want four or five kids, too.

Then I met my husband. He was born and raised in New York City as the only child of a single mom, and he had a different set of adventures to look back on. His singleton status afforded him luxuries we didn’t have with all those kids under one roof: private school, trips to Europe and Asia, and so on. He never wore hand-me-downs or competed for his mom’s attention. He was — and is — extremely outgoing and made friends easily, friends who to this day I think of more like his brothers. They’re “uncles” to our daughter, a part of the family.

Whether with a big pack of siblings or solo, it turns out, childhood can be amazing. I want to create awesome memories for our own little girl, and for her to grow up surrounded by the same love and sense of adventure that her mom and dad both did. And now that, at almost 2-years-old, she’s become obsessed with babies, and my husband and I have found a solid rhythm in our parenting, Baby Number Two is a topic. But as he looks forward to having one more and closing the new-baby chapter forever, my heart is in a different place, and I’m just not sure I’m ready. Not ready to give up my dream of a big family, not ready to know the baby I’m holding in my arms is the last one of my own I’ll over hold.

It’s a conondrum that tugs at my heartstrings: I would love nothing more than to give my little girl a sibling, but I’m afraid that if we go for it now, I won’t enjoy my second pregnancy as much because I’ll spend the whole time worrying that I’ll never get to experience pregnancy again. My last time to feel those flutters from deep within, last chance to nest and get the home ready for the arrival of a new little one. Of course, we can’t just keep on having babies until the end of time, but I just want my last pregnancy to be something we can agree on, something we can savor together as the end of an era. Not a source of disagreement between us. Im worried that if I jump the gun now, I‘ll be sorry later that I didn’t want a little longer to truly “savor” the pregnancy, and my now-toddler’s babyhood.

I know that my husband’s reservations about compromising on three (instead of his vote of two, or mine of four or five), are strictly financial. It’s not that we won’t have enough love to give an eventual third. But he wants to make sure that we can still afford to do the things for all our children that we’re doing for the first. Like paying for college, taking vacations, and enrolling them in dance or athletics programs. Since I don’t have a full-time income, I can’t construct a feasible argument. But, but… the number three looms large.

I just can’t get past the fear that knowing my next pregnancy is my last, I‘ll be sad. I’ll be sad to think this will be my last newborn. When I pack up the clothes as the baby outgrows them, I’ll be putting them away for good when I know in my heart I want to do it all just one more time. 

If I’m honest, this obsession is silly. I was lucky to even get pregnant with my first, after years of medical complications and hospital stays that left doctors scratching their heads and telling me my chances were slim. It was a miracle of modern medicine that, just three weeks after the painful endometriosis surgery my insurance declined several times before approving, I got pregnant. There’s a decent chance we’ll struggle to conceive another if we wait much longer, too, since each month I get a period adds more congestion to my insides. I know, deep inside, I should bite the bullet, go for the second, and just be grateful when and if we conceive.

I just don’t want to do it and then wonder, is this it? It might not be. My husband is not impenetrable. He’s devised a challenge for me wherein, if I can figure out a way to rework our finances so that we can have that third I want, he’ll go for it. Maybe I should be spending more of the energy I’m wasting mourning the option of a third, on figuring out how to fit one into our budget and plan. At the end of the day, I know I’m lucky to have one healthy child already, and having even one more would be an incredibly fulfilling joy.

Even though my goal number remains three, I’m hoping I’ll spend my next pregnancy focusing on that baby and letting the rest unfold as it will. I don’t want to be greedy, or forget how truly blessed we already are. But I do hope, no matter how many kids we have on our own, my daughter grows up with a pack like I had. Kickball, campouts, and at least one little sibling whom she counts as her best friend. After all, that’s the stuff childhood is made of. 

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