I've only been pregnant once. Having premature ovarian failure meant that IVF was my best path to pregnancy, and my first round was a double success, leaving my partner and I with healthy twin boys and 10 remaining frozen embryos. We had always said we wanted two children, so we were thrilled with the idea of having both our kids at the same time. Even though our family felt complete once our sons were born, we took the fertility clinic up on their offer to freeze the embryos for a year, just in case we changed our minds and decided we'd want to try and have more kids.
The first year of our boys' lives was a blur, but my partner and I managed to look up from the whirlwind of diapers, bottles, and childproofing long enough to decide we would not pay the fee to have the embryos frozen for another year. We donated the leftover embryos to science, used the money we would have spent on the embryo storage fee to set up college accounts for the boys, and declared ourselves officially done with having kids.
I was eager for the baby days to be behind us so we could start planning a grand family tour of Europe. But then I blinked, and suddenly my babies weren't babies anymore.
Only it turns out that when I said I didn't want any more babies, I was lying.
In my defense, I really did think my baby-making days were behind me. I had the two children I always dreamed of and was happy to focus on watching them grow up and getting back to my regularly scheduled running and training schedule. My partner and I have never been homebodies, so the idea that we could take vacations or do day trips as a family without having to worry about anticipating the needs of a baby and a older child was great; the kids were already the same age so we could tailor our outings around what was age appropriate for them. I was eager for the baby days to be behind us so we could start planning a grand family tour of Europe.
But then I blinked, and suddenly my babies weren't babies anymore. They're getting too big to be carried, and they want to do everything for themselves. They use strange, foreign phrases like, "No," and, "I don't want a hug." The other day Lolo called me "Mom" instead of "Mommy," and I almost passed out from pure shock.
Where I see having another baby as a way to bring more love into the world, he sees it as the the ushering in of the apocalypse.
Because I deeply miss having a tiny adorable baby around, I found the cutest photo of a baby I could find and broached the subject with my partner, certain that he too would confess a secret longing for another bundle of joy. We're usually on the same page (dessert is superior to alcohol, Michael Scott would make an excellent boss in real life, and people who don't drink Diet Coke are not to be trusted), but having another baby is the one issue where we just don't see eye to eye. Where I see having another baby as a way to bring more love into the world, he sees it as the the ushering in of the apocalypse.
His reasons for not wanting another baby aren't without merit. Part of his hesitation is financial. Having a third child would necessitate getting a bigger car, a bigger house. It would mean a third college fund, an even bigger grocery bill, and having less money to do all the fun things we do with the boys now, like vacationing and going out for meals.
It would be devastating to pay the money and go through all the procedures and medications just to find out the IVF didn't work.
He's also worried about the toll another pregnancy would have on me. As much as my brain and soul wanted to be pregnant the first time around, my body treated the boys like unwelcome house guests and gave not so subtle clues that it wanted them gone. Bed rest, premature labor, and cholestasis of pregnancy were just a few of the ways my body showed its displeasure at being pregnant. Sitting next to my hospital bed for weeks on end and wondering if I'd make it out of the pregnancy with my health intact took a toll on him, and I can respect that he's scarred by the prospect of something happening to me if I were to get pregnant again.
Part of it his hesitation is also just sheer logistics. Because I have infertility issues, that means getting pregnant involves way more people than just to two of us in a bedroom, a pile of cash, and a whole lot of luck. It would be devastating to pay the money and go through all the procedures and medications just to find out the IVF didn't work.
I think his reasons for not wanting another baby are selfish, but then again so are mine.
To his credit, he fully admits that part of the reason why he doesn't want a third child is because another baby is laziness. A new baby would take us back to square one just as our existing children are finally gaining some measure of independence. They sleep through the night, they can tell us what they want when they're crying, they can feed themselves and play together, and are ever so slowly moving out of diapers. A new baby would take us back to 24/7 childrearing, and the only thing that got him through the first time around was believing he just had to do it once.
He makes some excellent points, but I have a counter argument for all of them. We could find room in the budget for a third baby and infertility treatments if we really wanted to; a pregnancy with a single child would likely be less strenuous on my health than a twin pregnancy; even a pregnancy attempt without infertility treatments can end in badly; and I will volunteer to wake up every single time the baby starts crying in the middle of the night. (Yes, I'm lying, but he doesn't have to know that right now.)
I think his reasons for not wanting another baby are selfish, but then again so are mine. Part of the reason I want another baby is because it's a chance for a do-over. The last few months of my pregnancy were scary and full of complications, and since my kids were born seven weeks early, I missed out on nearly two months worth of people giving up their seats for me and the freedom to eat whatever I want without judgment. I want them back. After giving birth, I spent so much of my first year as a mom worrying about everything — from whether I was holding the babies the right way in their carriers to how much time I should spend reading to them each day. I was so stressed out over parenting that it feels like the time was gone before I knew it. I'd love the chance to try again, to have the opportunity to savor those early months with my baby because I know now how quickly they pass.
However, the fact is that even though it would be happening to my body, trying for another baby is not a decision I can make on my own. Even if we could get pregnant naturally, I wouldn't poke a hole in the condom or go off the pill without telling him, because as my co-parent and partner he should have a say in the size of our family. I'm happy with my two kids, but my heart still twists every time I see a tiny sleeping infant being pushed in a stroller. I can only hope that either he'll change his mind, or I'll change mine.