Deciding about Another Baby
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 5, September-October 2000, pp 178-180
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
"Toddler Tips" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help parents of toddlers. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.
My husband and I always planned to have three children. With children ages six, four, and two, our family feels complete—most of the time. While my head knows that this is the perfect size family for us, sometimes my heart whispers that it's not quite ready to leave this part of my life behind for good. I loved everything about caring for an infant. When I see my two-year-old gleefully chasing his older siblings around the playground, I long for the days when he still fit in my lap and we would spend long afternoons nursing and napping. Yet I can also see that I will soon be freer to do things on my own. How have others worked through this transition?
My husband and I also planned to have at least three children, and as the youngest approached weaning, I knew intellectually that our family seemed complete. Emotionally, however, I wanted one more child, but before long I had an "ah-ha" experience that shed a new light on my own understanding of my needs and goals. That revelation was the acceptance that I would always want another child.
Once I gained this insight it became much easier to make the decision (my husband was very comfortable with three children and not pushing for a fourth). I reached outside my own immediate family for my "always-one-more" needs. For me this meant taking one or two classes each semester until I had a degree as a registered nurse, then began working with mothers and newborns as well as doing shifts in the pediatrics department. It meant staying active in my local La Leche League Group and even commuting to another rural town to attend meetings there as well in order to maintain contact with a steady stream of new babies. It meant becoming involved in activities revolving around nurturing children such as scouting, day camp, school picture lady (art appreciation volunteer), sports and music boosters, exchange student activities, and being an escort on my children's field trips for school. Also, since I worked only part-time outside the home, friends approached me about babysitting while they worked or went to school. Perfection!
We have had lots of babies and toddlers in our home for my children and me to interact with, even to love, as one or two became almost members of the family over time. We truly had our cake and ate it too. And if summer breaks from school left us feeling melancholy about not having a baby around, we borrowed toddler and preschool-aged cousins for outings to parks or other fun with toddlers.
The Freudian psychologists' word for such new outlets is sublimation, but I prefer the developmental psychologists' term—fulfillment.
Enid OK USA
I had the same feeling with my third child, but I went ahead and had another and another until no more came along. Even then I didn't plan or know that no more would be coming, so I didn't feel ambivalent as I watched number ten toddle away from my lap, since I didn't truly know if he would be my last. I decided that another son or daughter would always be more valuable to me than any job, hobby, or other activities.
Life never got any harder than it did after having a third child. After the third baby, my husband and I were outnumbered! So we finally learned to let go a little, and after that, succeeding children were not burdens. Besides, by then the older ones were becoming very helpful to me and to their siblings which was good for everyone involved. If you can manage with three, you can manage with thirteen!
And of course, nursing kept their arrivals far enough apart that we never felt overwhelmed. I don't regret our decision for a minute!
Ann Arbor MI USA
My husband and I have three children (ages 11, 6, and 1). It took us a long time to decide to finally try for number three. Our lives were getting pretty predictable with the two wonderful children we had, and we were beginning to find time for volunteering, church ministry, and our marriage. We were going on regular dates for the first time in eleven years and enjoying one another immensely. But like you, I had this voice inside me that said I wanted one more child. I was grateful for the two children we were blessed to have but didn't quite feel finished.
Sophia Christine came into the world one year ago with a bang! She hasn't stopped since! She has been by far the "toughest" of our children. I have had very little sleep this past year and my home is a disaster! But, on the other side of that is the complete joy she has brought to our family. My son and daughter are learning first hand what taking care of a baby is like and loving every minute of it. The interaction between siblings is worth any sacrifice. I am learning even more what it means to make the most of every day and what is truly important in life—time with family and friends. We all feel so blessed to have Sophia in our lives. She has enriched us all. We have all grown because of this little firecracker that turned our world upside down last year.
My advice is to listen to that voice inside. It is not a voice to be ignored! Perhaps prayer or meditation will help you hear the voice more clearly and make it easier for you to decide. Good luck with your family, whatever you decide.
Hudson NH USA
As the mother of five children ages 14 months through 10 years, I too am struggling with the same decision. I ask myself all the time if I will ever not feel as if I want another child. I know that I have to stop sometime, but I still have that maternal need for closeness and wanting someone to be totally dependent on me again. I am not ready to close that chapter of my life either.
The best advice I can give you is to pray about it and communicate often with your husband about your feelings. Ultimately, it will be your and your husband's decision to have another child or not. Don't worry about what other people say or think. People's negative comments used to bother me and hurt my feelings—but not anymore.
I have been blessed with five beautiful, healthy children, and I am very proud to have a large family. I don't want to be one of those people who says, "I regret not having another child," or "I wish I had had one more." Make sure you and your husband are healthy and eating right. If it's meant to be, it will happen. Good luck!
Shannon O. Gober
Davisboro GA USA
My husband and I had also reached the same turning point in our lives. Originally we wanted a lot of children. However, after having two children who are now ages two and five, we now think perhaps it would be best for all concerned if we do not expand our family any more. When we set out to have children, our goal was to raise the most loving, caring, intelligent children we could possibly raise. We see now after two children, our time is very limited for each child as well as for nurturing our marriage and ourselves.
So we have decided that as hard as it is to say goodbye to the infant stage of our family, we want to focus on all the exciting stages we can took forward to for our children, our marriage, and ourselves as individuals. By not overextending our energies and time, we can appreciate the children we have now and not have a child who would possibly need more than we can give. We decided it would be awful if we were too exhausted after having a third child to enjoy our first two children. Then we would be unable to meet anyone's needs.
In order to meet my maternal needs, I am volunteering with La Leche League and in hospital nurseries to be around infants. If my outside work strains my family life, I can cut back on my hours without much harm to anyone.