I always wanted to have two or three children. I grew up with siblings and valued having someone around to play with. But my 4 year-old son, G, is an only child and the idea of bringing another little human into the world sends my emotions into a tailspin.
Every time I see a baby, walk by the newborn section in Gap, or watch a Pampers ad, my hormones scream, “I want another baby!”
That newborn smell, and the way they cuddle up under your neck and grab ahold of your finger with their little hand can be a strong temptation to almost any women.
But then I remember when my son was an infant. G wouldn’t sleep for longer than an hour and a half at a time until he was four months old, constantly ate, and refused to be put down. I was sleep deprived for a solid year. Even as a toddler, my son, being on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), requires more hands-on parenting than most children his age. However, G is now in preschool full time and each day he becomes more and more independent. For the first time in four years, I have some time for myself. I have found new hobbies, I am able to spend more time with friends, and I am even able to go away for the weekend. Our family has developed a comfortable routine. It is easy to run errands and travel, or go out for dinner without hauling around diaper bags, car seats, and strollers.
Lately, my son has been talking about babies, and drawing pictures of his imaginary baby brother and/or baby sister. These little hints are difficult to ignore and to be honest, it makes me want another baby even more. To add even more pressure to the situation, my husband has put a deadline on conceiving another child: within the next year. He doesn’t want to be raising children forever and wants them to be close enough in age so we don’t have one in college and one in elementary school. I understand and respect his feelings, but right now I have so many personal goals and dreams which leave no room for an infant in my life. I love my job, training to run marathons, focusing on new hobbies, traveling, and spending solo time with my son. I am also so fearful that I am going to regret not having a second child sooner and not giving my son a sibling to grow up with.
I hate these conflicting feelings, this pressure, those hormones telling me to reproduce, my husband giving me deadlines, my son’s pleas, and the overall societal expectation to reproduce.
One of my best friends has been married for almost 7 years and she has yet to have a child. For as long as she has been married, family, friends, and acquaintances have asked her when she and her husband are going to have a child. Her husband has desperately wanted a child for years but until recently, she hasn’t felt ready. This friend of mine is a planner, she likes to be prepared, she likes predictability and she knows that children are the opposite of all those requirements. Words cannot describe how much I respect this friend of mine.
When everyone around you, including your husband, is invested in having children or wanting you to have children, it is easy to fall into the pressure and desire. This friend of mine remained true and followed her heart.
When you become a mother, your life becomes about your children, and everything about you goes on the back burner… at least for a period of time. I am not ready to put myself on the back burner, and I want to be selfish along with maintaining our family’s current routine. So, I am going to ignore those deadlines, the hormones, those pleas, and maybe in my own time… I will change my mind, but until then I am perfectly happy raising one child.