It was a funny realisation in the years following my youngest’s birth. I didn’t know if I wanted another baby. I had never thought about this decision much before. I truly thought I would either have an insatiable desire for another child, a feeling I wasn’t complete, or, the exact opposite. I finite feeling of completion, a resolute understanding that we’d made our family and weren’t going back for more.
What I didn’t expect was the uncertainty. Of all the feelings, that was the worst. How could I not know? Should I read into that that if I wasn’t sure, then the answer surely should be ‘no’? I mean, having a child is a huge decision and if you’re unsure, well that’s enough to say you shouldn’t, yeah?
But then, if you’re not sure that you’re done, well, that clearly means, you will regret not having had another child? A wise woman once said to me…”You’ll never regret having the child once they’re here, but you may regret not having them in years to come”.
But then I had two kids….and I felt many times over that I may regret the choice of going once again through that sleeplessness, those tantrums and looking squarely down the barrel of possible divorce a few times in the process.
My youngest has just turned 6, and when she turned 2, then 3, then 4, the conversation came up. Birthdays tend to focus this point for us. After long frank chats together, several weeks of independent contemplation, and lots of looking at other people’s babies and re-thinking the good and the bad. Each time, we came to a ‘no’. Then when she turned 5, then 6. We stopped bringing it up.
We occasionally drew up a list of pro’s and con’s. A ridiculous thing to do when making this decision, I would not recommend it. The list of con’s was stacked with immediate practicalities, financial decisions, holiday options. Then a few more touchy topics like ‘would we survive another dose of PND’, or what if our third has a disability and changes our lives as we know them much more completely then we are expecting? On the pro’s, it was one line:
‘I want one’.
How much weight do you give that statement? Well, I guess it depends.
And right there, in that awkward place of unknowing, risking, dreaming, dreading, is where we are left. In many ways, choosing to stop having babies is often a bigger decision then having them at all. Sure, there’s an argument that once you’ve got one, how many more you have doesn’t change your life as dramatically as the first. Which is probably true. But when do you stop? 1? 2? 3? More?
Some women describe certainty, and I envy them. But many other’s, I found, are like me. We talk a lot about this place we’ve found ourselves in. Refreshingly, everyone’s ‘it depends’ actually depend on the same few topics.
The decision is very black or white. Obviously. There’s no half in this decision whatsoever. So even if you don’t know, you have to sit on one side of the fence. I’ve chosen my side, and I’ve made a happy peace with it. But in many ways, it has been the biggest decision of my life. And I was so surprised I didn’t know. Because I thought I would.
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