Perhaps it was putting the cart before the horse to discuss baby spacing before we discussed whether to have more babies at all. Certainly this is what Paul says whenever I bring up the topic of spacing.
Paul and I have, as I briefly mentioned in the Baby Spacing post, a "take it one baby at a time" philosophy: that is, we didn't decide ahead of time how many babies to have, we just considered after each one whether or not to have another. Looking back at our results, it is a comical philosophy. First, that we would call it "one baby at a time" and then have twins; and second, that this last baby was a complete surprise following a decision to stop having babies. Go, us!
After Rob was born, we did in fact discuss stopping right there. I nodded, and I mentioned many reasons why stopping with one was a good idea, and I agreed with all Paul's reasons why stopping with one was a good idea, but I never seriously considered it. There are many advantages to stopping with one, it's true. And it would have taken a forcible hysterectomy before I would have done so.
I think it is both lucky and unlucky to have a drive to keep having more babies. On one hand, it takes a lot of the worry out of it: I may or may not have freaked out repeatedly during this pregnancy about a FIFTH CHILD HOLY CRAP, but my natural inclination is to have more-more-more-'til-they-take-my-uterus-away, so for the most part I've been thrilled, and I've been thrilled about every pregnancy. And I haven't spent much time agonizing about whether we should have more children or not--so far I'm always on the side of yes. Which is good! And makes my life simpler!
But on the other hand, when is this going to stop? Will I have more children than I can handle, more children than is right for our family, just because of this presumably hormonal drive to keep having one (or two) after another? Am I going to be eighty years old and still pining for more babies? It is beginning to look that way.
It's more common, and probably better, to do a little more agonizing. Should there be another? If so, how old would we be when the nest was finally empty? Do we want to struggle to afford another daycare cost, a bigger car, all those braces and glasses, another break in my career? Do we want to split our attention like this? Has it been too long since the youngest was born? Am I getting too old for this? Do we really want to start all over again with night feedings and potty training? Don't we want to do something with our twenties/thirties/forties other than rear children?
Or so I've heard. As I said, I don't do a whole lot of this kind of agonizing, except late at night when I ought to be sleeping. Except for periodic freak-outs, I mostly think that everything will work out, that things like expenses and potty training seem bigger when viewed from a distance, that probably in the long-term view of things it doesn't really matter if we have one more or two more or three more, that in any event I want more children and will be sorry if I don't get them, and that I, personally, am more likely to regret not having children than to regret having them. This is not true for everyone.
Let's see, where were we? Oh, yes! I was saying that after Rob was born, I faked like I was willing to consider having only one child, and used the time Paul was talking about it to think about when we should stop using birth control and what we should name the second baby. And, as I wrote in the Baby Spacing post, we had William 2 years and 2 months after Rob.
When I was pregnant with William, I made lists of pros and cons for having a boy or having a girl. One thing on my list of boy pros was that it was more likely that Paul would lean toward having a third child. Another thing on my list of boy pros was that we'd face less criticism if we did have a third: people seem more understanding if you have two boys and they assume you're "trying for a girl" than if you have a boy and a girl and you're "pushing your luck" / "contributing to the population problem."
As I expected, Paul was willing to have a third. Since the 2 year 2 month spacing worked for us before, our goal was to space the next one in that same range. Then Paul's employer went out of business and Paul couldn't find a new job, and I got a job. Periodically we would think about getting pregnant on schedule anyway, but that seemed like a bad idea even to me. I was upset, though, at the delay, and increasingly tense about it. When Paul found a new job, we had to wait three months for his health insurance to start, and then it took three more months before I was pregnant.
I conceived right around the time we would have been conceiving our fourth baby, if we'd kept to the same spacing schedule. When we found out we were having twins, it seemed funny--like it was that fourth baby plus the third baby we'd had to delay. As if the babies were backed up in the pipes because we'd had to wait.
When I was pregnant with the twins, it became apparent to me from a series of discussions on the topic that all along Paul had been thinking we could "take it one baby at a time" up to a maximum of four babies. This was not a limit I had understood. I spent that pregnancy half-elated to be having twins, half-upset that this meant everything was my "last" so much sooner than expected: last pregnancy test, last positive pregnancy test daze, last baby-naming, last delivery, last newborn, last nursing, last tiny baby clothes, last all of it. And since it was twins, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be doing much quiet, melancholy, live-in-the-moment basking, either. I was sadder than I'd have expected, and I also felt like I shouldn't go around being sad. When you have four children, you don't get much sympathy if you go around whining about how you'll never get to have any more.
Plus, in many ways I agreed with Paul. Four seemed like a good place to stop. Four is a nice-sounding number. You can have four children without people thinking you belong to a weirdo cult. Four car seats fit comfortably in a standard minivan. Two older and two younger is a nice arrangement. There were many reasons why four was the right place to stop. One reason it wasn't: I didn't want to. But as I've mentioned, I may never want to stop. It seemed that I would need to resign myself to that.
After I weaned the twins, I got a prescription for the Pill. We've used other, less reliable methods in the past, because it didn't really matter if there was a whoops, but now I wanted something that wouldn't let me have that flicker of hope every month. I didn't want to go as far as a permanent procedure for either of us, but I was willing to take the Pill. I was supposed to take it on the first Sunday following the first day of my next period. I put it in my sock drawer and waited for my period. Which was due any day. Any day now. ANY. DAY. NOW. ...Where the hell is it? And here we are. I still have an unused pack of pills in my sock drawer.
A couple of you have asked if this is it, if this is my last pregnancy. As I replied in the comments section, the pregnancy before this one was my last pregnancy. So it's difficult to say for sure. Paul has threatened to get The Snip, but he doesn't even make his own dentist appointments: if I don't set it up, I don't think he'll do it.
Personally, I'd like to go for an even half-dozen. We're already in it for five, might as well have six. Paul says really, truly, this is it, we are done--but he loves babies, and he may find that when we're not quite so inundated by them he starts to feel a hankering for a fresh one. Stay tuned, that's all I can say.
In the meantime, tell us all how you've been making decisions about whether to have more children, or when to stop. I'm hoping we can do this without making each other feel icky. There are tons of really good, positive reasons for having zero kids, one kid, two kids, however many kids, and Mr. Rogers and I think we can say those reasons in ways that don't make other people feel icky for having different reasons or making different choices, or having different circumstances that allow for different reasons and different choices. (Or selling anything bought or processed, or buying anything sold or processed, or repairing anything sold, bought, or processed.) (You didn't catch the reference?)
Also, can we have an understanding that it is okay to stop having children because you don't WANT any more? I think people feel like they're not supposed to say that, but I think it's a totally legitimate reason, don't you? It's sensible.
As before, write as much as you want in the comments section (it's bottomless, I believe), or if you'd prefer, write your own blog post about it and put a link in the comments section. Readyyyyyyyy....GO!
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