My Husband Wants Another Baby, But I Don’t. So Who Wins?
My husband and I love to talk about our courtship, mainly to see the jaws drop when we mention how short it was: nine months from meeting to married. And that was back when we were living on different continents.
For the most part weâ€™ve managed to avoid all those pitfalls people associate with a rush to the altar â€“ namely divorce. Two children later weâ€™re as happy as any couple out there. Or rather it seemed that way before he started bringing up The Third Child.
I suppose I should have seen it coming. Heâ€™s from a family with three children; Iâ€™m one of two. Itâ€™s common for parents to feel most comfortable replicating their own experience â€“Â unless they were miserable children. Alas our pre-marriage procreation talk never went farther than an heir and a spare. Not that the issue would have been a deal-breaker. Heâ€™s just not as convinced as I am that weâ€™re living the dream.
Our second-born had barely been cleaned off before my husband started putting â€œitâ€ out there. He was so full of love he didnâ€™t want us to stop. I canâ€™t say I hadnâ€™t considered another one myself, but my instincts ultimately said no. As most mothers can attest, the desire to brood fails to manifest itself when youâ€™re wrestling a toddler into bed at the same time the infant is gagging for a feed. And if I remember correctly, wrestling was what I was doing pretty much constantly the year after Number 2 was born.[tagbox tag=”family planning”]
His comments were lighthearted, but they started to hit me hard. Clearly weâ€™ve never regretted having our first two, and weâ€™d never love a third any less. I thought about all my friends who were third children; what if their parents had decided to stop at two.
Then our peers started churning them out. For a while it seemed like everywhere I went someone would announce they were knocked up a third time. And they all looked ecstatic.
â€œSeeâ€¦â€ my husband would exclaim faux-accusingly, as if to say: If they can do it, why canâ€™t we? At times Iâ€™ve felt like a lightweight. Indeed, why canâ€™t I?
Iâ€™ll admit, though, I havenâ€™t been on my best form since my first pregnancy. Iâ€™ve given up full-time work and suffered â€“ financially and professionally â€“Â as a result. I feel like Iâ€™m on the cusp of rebuilding my career and Iâ€™m reluctant to let it crumble again.
Iâ€™ve been tired. Okay, thatâ€™s no great revelation, but exhaustion in my house leads to short-temperedness, impatience, loss of motivation and even more insomnia. Iâ€™m not sure anyone in our family would benefit from mom getting even less sleep.
I love to travel. Weâ€™ve traveled the world with our two girls, with bottles and diapers, carseats and coloring books. Could we cope with a third? I mean, I know we could, but would it be worth it?
And finally, Iâ€™m 40. We all know women are having babies into their 50s and loving every minute. I just donâ€™t think Iâ€™m one of them. Iâ€™m not sure my body would take it on the chin. My husband is like a Jack Russell terrier, with boundless energy and drive. Iâ€™m more of a basset hound.
My husband was born to be a dad. Yet he was also born to be a breadwinner. To my good fortune, heâ€™s been quite good at it. But that means he leaves the house every morning around 8 a.m. and we donâ€™t see him again until after 7 p.m. â€“ on a good night. He travels a fair bit, he entertains in the evenings and he works the odd weekend. So a third child, for him, means one more delighted face to kiss those nights he comes home before bedtime.
Of course Iâ€™m oversimplifying matters. A child is more than a face to kiss and five years from now the sleepless nights might â€“Â might! â€“Â exist only in our memory. Our car can hold an extra carseat and our house an extra bed. I just plain donâ€™t see myself as a mother of three.
My husband knows Iâ€™ve got the advantage. And I suppose if it were possible to declare a winner, it would be me taking the victory lap. Iâ€™m just not ready to pass the finish line yet.