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Thoughts on Number Two

Have you thought about having a second baby and decided to grow your family? Did you have a second or third (or fourth) baby in a more unplanned manner? Have you (and your partner) made an intentional decision to have only one child? An urbanMama has emailed us asking for your thoughts and experiences:

My "baby" is one and a half now. Although we're not ready for another one immediately, the thought is constantly on my mind. And so are the constant dilemmas/scenarios that enter my brain: Can a second one be as perfect as my first? Will my first resent her sibling? What about my responsibility to the world--adding to over-population, the thousands of children already out there in need of loving homes, and the state of the environment and global warming (will the Earth be livable when our baby is old?). Is it selfish to have another baby this day and age? Is it the right thing to do? I know there is no "right" answer, but others have certainly been through this. What have other urbanMamas done and thought?

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I just wanted to acknowledge that there is serious pressure from friends and family (and sometimes random strangers!) to have more than one child. If one is good, more must be better, right?!? Our daughter is now sixteen months old - apparently prime time for her to become a big sister - and we have to constantly avow that we're happy with "just" one child. We knew from the beginning that we only wanted one baby, and still feel that way. Unless fate intervenes, we'll happily stay in the minority on this one. Good luck with making your decision.

My "baby" is 1 1/2 also and I think about it all the time. I am a single mom and have the added concern of financial matters and support system, not to mention time constraints, but then I wonder, is it really fair to make the decision that my daughter will go through life as an only child (except for half-siblings she may never know)? While it is nice to have full siblings, I don't think that really matters. Being raised together as siblings makes them brothers and sisters, so adoption is always an option. However, not everyone can deal with the steps it takes to get there, and some just find it easier (and cheaper) to get pregnant again, if that is an option. It's tough. As the youngest of 3 siblings and the only girl, it's hard for me to imagine my daughter not having a brother to make her life miserable as a child, but to have as a good friend as an adult.

As far as global warming and other aspects of global safety, I think every generation has had these concerns. There was the Cuban Missle Crisis, there was the Cold War, when we all thought that the world would end in a nuclear disaster. I think it is human nature to prepare for the future and procreate, and we never know what is going to happen to the world tomorrow, let alone 50 or 100 years. So while it may be something we think about, there are no "for sures" so I think we should make our decisions based on how we feel in our hearts rather than what we know intellectually.

I got pregnant with our second when our first was one year old--unplanned. we'd wanted a sibling, but had not thought about having one so soon. I had trepidations too, not so much from an environmental/world standpoint but a microcosm standpoint: how would I manage with two? would #1 be upset? could I live through another newborn?

now that the baby is nine months old, here's what I can share with you. at the risk of sounding all cliche, our second baby completes our family. we didn't even know we were missing him until he was here! he is a delight, he ADORES his older brother and has from birth. older brother was indifferent at first, but moved from that to toleration to affection. their different temperments and personalities are a perfect balance.

I don't know what I am saying, exactly, except that it's normal to have questions, concerns and fears and that sometimes, it works out beyond your hopes and imaginations!

We had our 2nd recently (3.5 y.o. girl and 8 m.o. boy). My husband grew up an only child and disliked it so much that we knew if we were going to have one kid, we'd have at least one more. There's also a selfish part of it: my husband has lost both of his parents, and with no siblings, he has no family left. With having multiple children we're *trying* to ensure that the burden of caring for us when we're old and sick doesn't fall on one child only, that that single child won't feel as alone as my husband does, and that when we are sick and old, there will be more than one child to care for us.

For the overpopulation concern, I've though about that a lot too, but why not put a positive spin on it? You are providing the world with wonderful loving people who just might solve the world's problems rather than contributing to them.

Now, will someone please tell me if I should have a 3rd or not?

So many points to make in either direction. I always "knew" I wanted more than one child, but not for any rational reason.

I love the relationship I have with my siblings now, but we were spaced far enough apart that there wasn't much of one growing up (thus, though the thought that my kids will play together is appealing, I know there are no guarantees). It may be sick, but one part of my reasoning is that it will be easier on them when we get old and die if they still have each other. I've watched that dynamic with both my parents' families.

When we started trying for #2, though, it wasn't as easy as with #1, and we really did some soul searching about what the impact would be on our son. Naturally, as soon as we decided to try for one more month, and if not, probably stop trying, I got pregnant. My husband was immediately awash with guilt at what we were 'doing' to our son. That grief didn't hit me until the last days of my pregnancy, and the power of it shocked me. As much as we welcomed our daughter with incredible joy, at least for me, every positive life-change I've been through has been mixed with a little grieving for what was. I think parents should be prepared for that - it's so seldom acknowledged.

The future frightens me, but as Debby pointed out, there are always reasons to be frightened of the future, and reasons to be hopeful.

Two is our 'magic' number, and we're fine with that. It may sound un-mommy-like, but when going through moments of baby-care drudgery, I find myself using the thought that this is the last time I 'have to' do this comforting (and sad at other times - I'm sure I'll be a mess when it comes time to wean my little one).

We decided to wait until our first was at least 4 to start talking about it. I knew I wanted to give my daughter my full attention and time until she went to kindergarten. We did decide to have another and though he is the easiest little guy in the world, it has changed things for my daughter. She is 6 now and he is 18 months. I'm sure in the end it is probably best for her to know that she is not the center of the universe, but right now- since he was born really-she has become a lot more emotional and feels deeply like she isn't as loved as she was. We know we need to to be present with her and always listen to her feelings ans try to help her through this, and we do- but there is a lot less time for these kinds of talks with number two's needs just as pressing. I always thought having two kids would take twice as much time and attention as having one but it's more than that because you have one's needs, then the other, and then the element of them togther. Both of my kids are amazing, wonderful little creatures and I enjoy every day with them. Personally I enjoy having two, especially since my daughter is in school an I can give my son my full attention, but I'm not sure it was the right choice for my daughter.

I think about it all the time. My husband and I are not sure what we will do (for many of the reasons people have mentioned, and others) but I can't get the issue out of my mind. I wish we could decide and be over it, but for now it that unknown is just part of our lives.

I find that some parents' decision to have multiple children is driven by negative stereotypes about only children. That is, some parents are worried about the effect of the "only child" decision on their first-born child, and that is a major driver in their decision to have more children (rather than the drive coming from their own personal desire to simply have more children in their family). Numerous studies have discredited such stereotypes by demonstrating the positive outcomes of being an only child (see the work of Falbo, Polit, Poston, and others). However, such stereotypes continue in the public mind. I would encourage anyone who is specifically interested in the implications of the decision to have an only child on the first-born child to read "Challenging the Stereotypes About Only Children: A Review of the Literature and Implications for Practice", by Adriean Mancillas, Journal of Counseling & Development, Summer 2006, Volume 84. It is a good review article that summarizes much of the literature about only children.

My husband and I will probably stick with one child. I am comfortable with this decision in terms of the effect on our boy (15 months currently), having looked at the social science literature. We love our baby, AND feel we are pretty "full" in terms of our schedules, multi-tasking, etc. For us, I think having another would be too much. Maybe if we were younger ... we are 38 and 37.. but at this point, we will be happy with one. I tell people sometimes that my husband's mantra pre-pregnancy was "One or none" and that now it's "One and we are done". Ha ha.

My perspective may be a bit unique: I have a sixteen year old son that I raised to a large degree on my own (his dad visited and paid child support). I really enjoyed having one child and being able to concentrate all my energy on him.

Now, I am remarried and have my teen son as well as two new additions. My four year old son and one year old daughter present parenting challenges I could never have appreciated when I was raising my older son: Who to give what and how to break up tussles and stop tears all day. Still, most of the day is a joy. I will admit though, that while I wouldn't trade one of my children for the world, I was taken aback by how much more challenging two were than one, especially during the first year of my daughter's life. Now, I can see though, a time not too far off where my son and daughter will play without war--most of the time.

As for my sixteen-year-old, his four-year-old brother thinks he is sooo cool. He has adapted to all the changes as well.

Well, not much more I can add that hasn't already been said. Especially Blair hit it on the head for me. I was an only child and hate(d) it. I do have a half bro and sis that I only got to know when I was 28, but they are in Ohio and a bit flaky, so there's not alot of communication. Even with the great friends I have now, it's still not the same. Growing up, I was also responsible for all the chores and got blamed for everything that went wrong, because really, who else could have broke that bowl?! But, we had fabulous vacations because it was just mom and I. It wasn't all misery! I'm currently pregnant with our third boy! The other two are 3.5 and 2.5. Due to age, I'm 39, I wanted to be done by the time I was 40, I wanted to get rid of all the baby/toddler stuff at the same time because I knew if I waited till the first was out of diapers, out of a crib/exersaucer/playpen, etc.,I wouldn't want to start all over again, and I wanted them to "go through life together." I hope they are friends for life, but there are no guarantees. I also felt I wanted to split the burden of caring for us in our old age. My mom was so strong when I was growing up, but now she has so many physical and emotional needs that the burden falls on me, and having the toddlers around, it's a pain in the ass, no matter how much I love her. I also wish I had given her more time with her grandkids when she was healthier. One last selfish, sort of selfish note, I couldn't stand the thought, you know those thoughts that keep you up at night, that if I only had one child and something happened, I really know I couldn't handle it. And if I only had 2 kids, and something happened to one, the other would be left alone...So there you have it. Besides wanting a baseball team, but getting too late of a start, those are my reasons...I always wanted a big family, neither me nor my husband have one. I'ts tough right now and will be for the next couple years, but the first two are potty trained, can get themselves dressed and do things like climb into their carseats, so it's getting easier in some ways already.

We sort of always knew we wanted two. We now have two, they are three years apart, and this has been perfect spacing for our family. The oldest was out of diapers, able to get dressed on his own, and able to help me out a little by the time his brother came along.

I wasn't ready for another until I was ready, yk? And then when we were ready we knew because we just "felt ready." Of course, at that point it took a little bit longer to get pg than we expected but it all worked out for the best. And our sons are very close and love each other so much! It is amazing to see and it feels like such a gift.

That said, to my friends who are happy with one child or who aren't sure they want another, I always emphatically tell them that "one is a perfectly viable option!" I know there is a lot of pressure out there to have more than one child. I remember some woman telling me, when my first son was 1 1/2 and I wasn't sure when/if we'd have more, that I wasn't a "real mother" until I had two. RUDE!! I was absolutely floored that someone would give such a hurtful (and unsolicited) comment.

Lots of thoughtful comments here. I've also been torn about whether "one is enough" for us...

Having siblings is no guarantee that you will "always" have them. I was very close to my sister growing up (2 years apart) and I lost her when we were 23 and 21 - she died very suddenly: One of the stories you read in the newspaper about a college student who is felled by meningitis. So on the one hand, I think a lot about giving my child at least the opportunity for the kind of relationship my sister and I had, but I was so devastated by my sister's death for so long, I have a hard time with that part.

I also have a brother 4 years younger and, while we have committed to having "a" relationship (in no small part because of my sister's death), I can't say that he and I enjoy each other, or rely on each other. In fact, we've never gotten along well. We communicate frequently, but we're not close. And we mostly have major differences. So here is an example of having a sibling but it being a struggle, and not necessarily an asset.

I also have the age issue to consider. I was 38 when my daughter was born. My "advanced age" poses a problem because I probably won't be around, or be functional, for as much of my daughter's life as I would like, and I would hate for her to be left alone. On the other hand, one of the admitted drawbacks of being an "older mom" is that I just don't have as much energy as I did 10 years ago. Is it fair to bring a second child into the world and then I'd have two kids with a mom not up to snuff?

I wish you the best in your journey. There is no one size fits all answer. I know you will make the right decision for your family.

I, too, struggled with this decision -- for years. Our first daughter was unplanned. In fact, we weren't even sure we wanted any kids at all at the time. And although we love Emma dearly and she changed our lives for the better, she was, and still is, a very spirited child and was quite a shock to the system.

The first year with her was so incredibly hard on me. So I struggled almost daily with the question: Do we have another? I didn't think I could handle it since Emma was so difficult, plus I too worried about overpopulation, where the world was headed, and the adoption option.

But we didn't want to deprive her of having a sibling. My husband has two brothers he is very close to. They're his best friends. And I have an older brother (by 2 years) too. Even though we fought like cats and dogs, and are as different as night and day, we were good buddies. And still are. I love him and can't imagine how my life would have turned out without him. I have so many good memories of us as kids. Even the fighting I can look back on and laugh about. And I am so comforted knowing he's in the world with me (for all the reasons Blair stated).

So we wanted Emma to experience all the wonderful benefits of having a sibling. Especially considering she has proven herself to be an extremely social little girl who would be happiest in a large family. But my mom cautioned that we can't have a baby for just for her. After all, the baby could turn out to have any number of problems.

Then around Emma's 2nd birthday things started to click. I finally felt like I could handle another child -- and I really wanted one. At age 2 Emma was becoming such a fun little person, and I wanted to see what other wonderful kind of person we could create.

Our second daughter (Audrey) was born four months ago and as mamaloo says, she completes our family. I'm surprised to find that I'm loving having a baby. It's SO much easier this time around, partly because she has a more mellow disposition. I find myself savoring her babyness like I never could with Emma. And I'm glad we waited until we were really ready. I'm in a good frame of mind, and the age difference between the two girls (about 3 1/2 years) is working out well. Emma can do many things herself (get dressed, go potty, get in the carseat, etc.) and she loves to help out. They'll be at very different developmental stages for a while, which will make playing together kind of tricky, but in a few years things will mesh.

But here's the kicker: Emma is very attention seeking. She hates to be alone (always has) and loves being the center of attention. I thought for sure she was going to have a hard time sharing the spotlight. And she started a new school about a week before the baby was born, so I was doubly sure we were in for a wild ride. However, she LOVES her baby sister. She had no problem adjusting at all. And Audrey's face lights up for Emma like no one else. The bond between them is the most beautiful thing.

Now I know when Audrey gets more mobile we'll have the usual issues with sharing, sibling rivalry, etc. But that's normal and it doesn't last forever. And when they become adults they can laugh about all the ways they tortured each other -- and their parents.

I have to say in the first couple weeks post-partum, I struggled with my feelings for both of them and it really took me by surprise. I missed the one-on-one time with Emma. I remember sitting in the hospital, holding Audrey, and aching for Emma. And then feeling like a traitor -- to Audrey for missing Emma while I was with her, and to Emma for being with Audrey and not her. But as the hormonal craziness subsided, so did those feelings. And now being the mother of two feels incredibly natural. You really can love each of your children equally no matter how different they are.

i just wanted to add that even as adults some siblings don't feel connected and are not close. its not a sure bet that it will make you feel less alone in this world!

also, i believe when and if you are ready to have another child the population growth aspect will not be an issue.

i agree with the previous post that there is an acceptable notion of the number of children you are supposed to have - and that number is two. you get backlash if you decide to "only" have one and you get it if you decide to have three of four.

This wasn't so tough for us. I am an only child and didn't like it either. My Mom alwasy tried to compensate, which I appreciated, but it's not the same. It sort of just wasn't as much fun. Matt's close to his sister, so we thought two would be the magic number. For us, having bebe #2 (Jack) has completed our family (... so Jerry McGuire). He's the yin to Miss crazzy girl's yang.
At 3 years old and 17 months old, the kids are 21 months apart. This spread along with their young age has proven quite challenging at times. I just think if we would have waited a bit longer, it may (or may not) have been a touch easier.
As far as global warming and security, I think the concerns are real. With that said, I agree with whomever talked about looking at it from a positive perspective... You are bringing a child and giving him or her a loved life experience that will hopefully add pleasure and happiness in our world. Maybe this child will be an agent of change for the better?

This topic is really timely for me. On New Years Eve, my husband and I were talking about what the next year might hold for us and I casually threw out "we could be pregnant again by the end of '07", causing him to nearly spit out his champagne. I hadn't even quite realized how much it had been on my mind (apparently, not his), but when I started thinking about it I realized that this decision was definitely starting to take on real weight for me. I found myself cueing in on noticably pregnant women with toddlers in tow, or families with double strollers and wondering...can we do this too? Our daughter is 16 months old (interesting that many of you have kiddos around this same age) and while I have always been committed to the idea of two children in theory, the realities of the situation are definitely lending themselves to more consideration than I had expected. One of my main concerns is being pregnant again with a toddler in the house. My pregnancy was, shall we say, 'challenging'. Pretty much everything short of bed-rest (non-life threatening), you name it, I had it. Most days were a struggle. I have a very hard time imagining feeling as horribly as I did while still being a good mom to my daughter. I also have a bit of the 'why not quit while we're ahead?' feeling. Since she was an infant, our girl has been an easy keeper, as they say. Happy, mellow and with a terrific personality. We are very lucky. People notice this and are quite complimentary, but their praise is almost always followed by the warning 'watch out, the next one is going to be a hellcat'. I guess part of me says, so what if he or she is? Parenting a different personality should not be something I'm afraid of...but, I still always cringe when I hear these 'words of wisdom'...
The way I see it, we'll know when we are ready for numero duo in the same way we knew we were ready to jump into babymaking the first time around. Something just clicked for us and we've never regretted that choice for a second.
Great to hear other people's thoughts and experiences...thanks!

This is a great conversation, and so timely for me. My husband and I were just talking about this last night. Our son just turned one year and already we are struggling with whether or not to have another. I am an only child and I really did not have a problem growing up that way, nor do I feel like I am not complete because I don't have a sibling. (At least I don't think I do!)

Yet, for some reason I feel compelled to want to give my son a sibling. But when I think about actually going through the process of being pregnant again and that first year of caring for a young baby, I just can't bring myself to actually want to do it again right now. And I too think about the overpopulation issue and how I'll be giving up any of the free time I have left to myself with a second!

So this has been so helpful because one of the main things I'm taking away is that we shouldn't push it right now or feel pressured to have a second. If it's right, there will be a point where we feel it is right and it will happen. Or, it won't. I'm feeling better already!

I also want to say kudos to all the parents on this site who offer constructive and nonjudgemental feedback. We just relocated to Portland a couple months ago from living several years in the Wash, DC area and it's been interesting for me to see the difference in tone between the conversations on Urban Mamas and my "old" parenting site - DC Urban Moms. In fact, I still look at DCUM and this very topic came up recently and it mostly turned into people criticizing one another for their decisions (blatantly saying it's selfish to only have one child, etc.). So, I really appreciate Urban Mamas! And BTW, that pretty much sums up why actively made the decision to leave DC and start a new life in a place like Portland.

I'm giving birth to my second in about a month, at around the same time my daughter turns two. My fantasy family has always been two, but after my first child was born I found that she truly felt like "enough" for me. The desire for a second was nearly gone - and also, I really struggled with my energy for more than a year after her birth. Then I got pregnant again, 90% unplanned, and it took me quite a while to really feel happy about it.

I have a younger brother by two years, and I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on him! I also have no recollection of being traumatized or neglected by his birth, so that's a comfort to me. The only thing I worry about is having the physical/mental energy for two - but as my husband says "Moms rise to the occasion as necessary." We got through it the first time, and it will be okay again.

We have two - 26 months apart. The youngest is now 1.5 yrs old.

I always knew I wanted more than one child, so it was a given that we would. We didn't even put much thought into whether we would have another - it was more a matter of "when."

But I did worry once I got pregnant whether I could possibly love another child as much I loved my first. Everyone told me I would and I did. Your heart just grows.

I do appreciate what Betsy said about grieving a bit for what was with just the 3 of you. I found I did that a lot while pg and in the weeks after my daughter was born. I "missed" my alone time with my son.

I haven't found that my son resents his younger sibling. He gets annoyed with her, especially when she grabs one of his toys, but he's adapted. The first few weeks were hard - lots of whining going on!

Blair - I'm with you about a 3rd! We're on the fence!

we felt the same way - i even asked my mom how i could possibly love another as much as the first. she said just what meena mentioned - your heart grows.

my two girls are VERY different people... they've turned out to be very close in spite of their different personalities. there's mostly love, but of course some arguments as well. i feel like being able to negotiate a sibling relationship enables them to deal with other types of social relationships throughout their lives.

...and we did add #3 to the mix last year. i have to say it was my husband who really pulled for that one - i was very hesitant as our middle daughter is very willful and difficult at times. we had our hands full... but our little guy has added so much to our family. it's amazing to see how the three have different relationships -oldest/youngest, middle/oldest, middle/youngest. it really has been perfect with three... more expensive, less sleep, but perfect.

My thoughts resonate with Shannon's and I too want 3. I had a brother who died two years ago and now I am an only child. I dread the time when I will have to make decisions on my own about my parent's care. Until his death, I thought i wanted two, but that event changed my mind. It's a very personal decision and one is right for some, more for others.

I have two sons, three years apart. Having the second was a very difficult decision. Ultimately it came down to "baby lust" on my part, and my husband not wanting an only child to have the burden of caring for aging parents alone (a situation he had seen in his extended family). I really think there is no "right" reason to have another one. You do what you do.

My 3yo resented the newborn for months and months. It was a hellish period of time, and my relationship with my first child has never been the same. (It's natural, but I still regret it). For me, it wasn't a question of being able to love my second child, but of wondering if I would ever again love my first child. (What with the throwing train tracks at me while I was nursing the baby, the screaming, the whining, the un-relenting horrible behavior).

I love my children, and our second son is an absolute joy. But my husband and I frequently acknowledge how much easier our lives would be in so many ways had we just stuck with the child we had. The logistics, the finances...and as adults who really need time alone for creative endeavors, two has made that even more difficult to achieve.

If I had to do it over again, knowing what I know, I might not have a second.

My husband and I each have four siblings, and when we started talking about kids (milliseconds after we decided we were meant for one another), it was never a question that we wanted a big family. We got pregnant almost immediately, and then it was just a matter of, "how far apart do we space them?"

A friend's pediatrician recommended 2.5 to 3.5 years' difference, and I have to say, it was perfect for us. Everett and Truman are about two years and 9 months apart (a miscarriage right before Truman kept it from the minimum 2.5 years) and they're great together -- boys, it's sure, and always fighting over toys or wrestling around, but they love each other like crazy. Although I was worried about all the usual things (and found Everett JUMPING on his baby brother at about 2 months old), now he takes such great care of him, often cuddling him down for his nap and giving him sweet little pats on the head while they sit on the couch. It brings tears to my eyes!

I knew I wanted at least three, and when I found out I was pregnant in November -- Truman and the little one will be 2 years, 3 months apart -- I was a little worried about it being too close, but I never for a second feared being "outnumbered" or sent to the poorhouse. It'll be a struggle, I'm sure, but we'll make it work and I just feel right about having lots of children. Even if they're all boys!

It's interesting that most of my friends with three -- even those who are pregnant now with #3 -- are sure THAT is enough, and have made sure of it surgically. I don't think I'll ever KNOW that I'm done. Anyone out there not sure when they'll stop?

We flipped and flopped on the 2nd baby issue for awhile. Then, a little over a year before Gael was born, Mila went through a period where she began actively playing with her brothers Connie and Harry.

Although these boys were imaginary, you would never know it. Mila played very active games of tag, had sword fights, and more with her pretend brothers.

One time she was having such a hard time getting "Connie to stop tickling her" that Jen came up from the laundry room to get ME to stop tickling her - all I was doing was reading!

We figured if we were looking for a sign to answer our "one or two" question, there it was. Now that Gael is here. Mila adores her little brother and has been a great helper around the house in general.

HOWEVER...Mila has let us know that she is still hoping for a BIG brother.

This is such an interesting thread ... I always, always wanted two children. I have a very close relationship with my brother, and I am extremely grateful that I have him now that we are in the beginnings of caretaker roles with our mother. Pondering this thread this morning, I tried to imagine life without my brother - and felt horribly lonely. Our family is small, and without him I would not have my sister in law, or nieces/nephews. That being said ... now that I have my first child, and I see the financial realities of providing her with certain opportunities, and knowing the extra challenges my husband and I have had establishing our adult lives because our parents couldn't afford to give us those opportunities ... we're really wondering if two is right. I never thought I would question it. So now we're just putting it on the back burner, and waiting to see if we'll feel "right" about one choice or the other. Good luck in your search for your answers ...

Wow, this thread really hits home!

I don't really have any advice to give, just my own current personal experience and questions for other moms

We have a beautiful, happy little girl, 9 months old, took two years for us to conceive (we were on the verge of getting fertility treatments) and when we were finally pregnant and really ecstatic. I loved being pregnant, loved my body, loved maternity clothes, waited for ob appointments, spent tons of time in babies r us looking at strollers and nursery furniture etc etc.

Previously thought I wanted 3 kids, after my daughter was born perfectly content with just her. Don't really care about societal pressure just what makes us happy as a family, and I could not imagine having another child and loving him/her as dearly.

Of course, since we assumed that we were "fertility challenged" threw caution to the wind, skipped the condom (never got around to getting back to ob for birth control pills) and BOOM! I am now 10 weeks pregnant and just have the exact opposite feelings. I don't have time to even recognize that I am pregnant (except to take prenatal vitamins, and drink water). I am so overwhelmed by feelings of irresponsibility, and guilt. Guilt for having another when I still have a baby to raise, and just not being excited at all about the second (which makes me feel like a really horrible person and future mom to number two). Also, I seriously come close to hyperventilating when thinking about having a 1 1/2 year old and a newborn to take care of, plus both my husband and I work full time, with family in other states.

I am trying to be positive, thinking about this second baby as a "best friend" for our daughter, and also hoping that with her being so young she will grow up never realizing that there was a time when it was just her. Thankfully my husband is just as excited about this one as our first, so at least he/she has a daddy thats in the right mood!

I wanted to hear more from other moms about your experiences with having two this close. I mean did you have 4 carseats (we have two cars), how did u do bath time, did they sleep in separate rooms, did you ever sleep, how did they interact, how were you emotionally, how did work go, relationship with your husband..my questions are endless, all experiences positive and negative would be informative. Thanks!

Thank you Amy for bringing up the financial factor. I intended to re-post with that today. Every family is different and every family deals with fiscal stressors differently - but finances seem to be the main reason couples split, too, so I don't think it's something to be minimized. I'm sure there are moms and dads who make the "one is enough" decision based in no small part on what they determine they can and absolutely could not afford. Everyone's situation is different.

When I got pregnant we talked about how we would only have one. I was pretty adamant about the fact. Of course, now I have a 5 1/2 month old baby girl that makes my heart ache when I even think about her. And already I know I will miss babyhood when she is a toddler. So, in a selfish capacity, I am already thinking about another. I had a sister 4 years older than me. We didn't much like each other growing up but are close now. I don't think I could handle my parents without her! :-) My mom was an only child and made sure to have 2 because she missed having a sibling. And the care of aging parents - I never thought about that!

All these are great reasons to have another. Not sure about how my husband feels though. He is pushing 40 and doesn't have the energy he used to. In fact, we fought more in the first 2 months of our little girls life than we have in 8 years together, primarily due to lack of sleep.

My husband has 2 boys from a previous relationship and they are ages 18 and 11. The 18 year old is already in college so my little girl will likely not know him well. However, she adores the 11 year old. Her face lights up when he walks by and as someone mentioned she has a smile reserved for him like no other. And he adores her. She is less than 6 months old and already they are close. She will be only 7 and devastated when he goes to college. So I would feel terrible denying her a sibling close in age.

The financial side is also a big issue and I am glad to hear all sides from folks here. My husband stays home with our little one and tried to work but doesn't get much done so we are living off my income, which barely gets all of us by. Adding another would be a huge stress but my husband has always been of the mindset that you make it work.

And then the environmental side . . . something I think about all the time. The world is already in a big mess, why are we leaving this to our children? But I also agree with whomever mentioned that we are bringing children into the world that will be educated and may be able to make a difference.

I think if our finances can pick up and we can share the time of raising babies (instead of me working, him being at home all day) then I might be able to talk him into another - either our own or an adoption. :-)

Good luck and let us know what you decide!

I too have so enjoyed reading these comments. My daughter is about to turn eighteen months and although I think we will have another child, I told my husband that we would need to wait until she was at least 2 before we started trying for another. He was so reluctant to try for a first baby but now that she's here, he's totally into it. I LOVE the experience but it is totally crazy and overwhelming and I definitely worry about trying to handle two at a time. I am not worried about finding enough love for the second, but am totally worried about diverting my attention away from the first whom I never want to hurt. I can already imagine her and her daddy off doing their own thing and bonding while I am dealing with our newborn and it makes me sad. I have already started grieving and I'm not even pregnant yet! The part about never having time to yourself scares me too. I already feel that I have so little time to myself and thinking of having to survive on even less is scary. Can you tell I'm not ready yet??? But, even though motherhood has been SO challenging and crazy, I really believe that these years are going to be some of the best of my life and I don't want to rush them and I don't want to end them, so 2 it will probably be with hopefully about 3 years between the 2 so that they are close enough to have a strong sibling relationship but not so close that I lose my mind and have the whole experience over in the blink of an eye.

P.S. My sister has three right now and handles the craziness beautifully I think and she and her husband think they'll go for a fourth. It seems to me that there is a big trend (in Portland or everywhere?) to either stick to one or go for it with three or four.

This is obviously a topic we all have strong feelings about since there are so many posts.

I am 37 and have one and am not planning on having another. Don't get me wrong, I would if I felt I could. It just seems every reasonable and rational thing says no. My husband doesn't want another, and that is the ultimate reason I don't just go for it. Aside from that, it is largely, I hate to say it, a money issue; and therefore a quality of life issue for my family of 3. My husband works 6 days a week. I work 30 hours a week. We don't use daycare, we are the caregivers of our 3 1/2 year old. Yes, we opted to buy a house, maybe if we hadn't we'd have more, but we are trying to make a better life for ourselves. When my husband had to have his rear tooth pulled instead of repaired due to the high price of dental, well, it's just a reminder how we need to take care of the existing family members. I think about it alot... at 37 I feel with each passing cycle time is running out and I feel a sadness. Sometimes I wish I'd planned my life better, but then remind myself to be grateful for all we have. I worry about my daughter being an only, even though I have several only friends who assure me it's fine. I will check some of the literature mentioned in this post regarding that. To the poster, I'd say it is a very personal choice. We each have our own perspective and life situation. I hope you are able to feel at peace with the choice that seems right for you.

This is such a fascinating thread. I have an 8-month-old and am so conflicted about having another. On the one hand, I'm already nostalgic for the itty-bitty baby days and imagine how much fun it would be to enjoy it and not be terrified like I was with my first. But I'm also 37 and I also love my sleep and I also had trouble when we tried to adopt a second dog... The first reason my husband cites for sticking with one is that we haven't saved enough for retirement, which seems like a lousy reason to me but as The Boss points out, the money issue can be a divisive one and I don't want to discount his point of view. I have two sisters and while we're not exactly close I can't imagine not having them -- would I be cheating my boy by not giving him a sibling? But is it just me or are only children more common now than they were when we were kids? So, so hard to know what to do...

I have one child, and expect to have another eventually, but find myself really annoyed by the way other mothers talk about this decision. I guess it's just like practically every other parenting issue, in that everyone wants everybody else to validate their own choices by making the same ones. Everyone I know who has two kids talks incessantly about how very difficult it is having two versus one, like I'm kind of getting away with something. At the same time, they imply that people with only one child aren't really parents - only people with two or more kids really count as official parents. (I swear this isn't my paranoid take on it, either - some of my dearest friends say offhandedly insulting things like "we weren't REALLY a family until we had two kids." or "of course, it's easy for YOU being home with just one kid.")

Really, the only rational reason I can think of to have more than one kid is so that the second kid can help the first support you and your partner when you get old and have no Social Security. But it's a LOT more work and cost and stress, and reduced quality of life for all, as far as I can see from my friends' experiences. And when more demands are being placed on a family, it's almost always the mother who has to accommodate the most, who gives up the most of herself. I suspect that this is what lies underneath many of the unpleasant conversations I've had on this topic - by having another kid, women tend to further tip the balance away from our own needs, toward that of our families. And women who choose to be childless, or have only one child, can be a little threatening, because they get to be more selfish than people with more kids. (And I mean selfish in a good way, here. Like being able to read a book, or play a sport, or volunteer, or have a fun day with your spouse whenever you want, because you have the time and emotional energy.)

I'm not articulating this as clearly as I'd like - I honestly think that there are plenty of pros and cons either way, and I know that my primal DNA-driven desire to have another kid is not going to go away, so I'm going to have another. And I will always be jealous of the women with four kids, and the women with one kid, and the women with no kids. I just think we need to be honest with ourselves about where these opinions are coming from, and more respectful and appreciative of eachother's choices.

And, whoops, this isn't really an answer to the original post. I think that whatever you choose will work out fine! Whether the decision is made impetuously or carefully, or made by default, every family model can be a good one.

I have one child, and expect to have another eventually, but find myself really annoyed by the way other mothers talk about this decision. I guess it's just like practically every other parenting issue, in that everyone wants everybody else to validate their own choices by making the same ones. Everyone I know who has two kids talks incessantly about how very difficult it is having two versus one, like I'm kind of getting away with something. At the same time, they imply that people with only one child aren't really parents - only people with two or more kids really count as official parents. (I swear this isn't my paranoid take on it, either - some of my dearest friends say offhandedly insulting things like "we weren't REALLY a family until we had two kids." or "of course, it's easy for YOU being home with just one kid.")

Really, the only rational reason I can think of to have more than one kid is so that the second kid can help the first support you and your partner when you get old and have no Social Security. But it's a LOT more work and cost and stress, and reduced quality of life for all, as far as I can see from my friends' experiences. And when more demands are being placed on a family, it's almost always the mother who has to accommodate the most, who gives up the most of herself. I suspect that this is what lies underneath many of the unpleasant conversations I've had on this topic - by having another kid, women tend to further tip the balance away from our own needs, toward that of our families. And women who choose to be childless, or have only one child, can be a little threatening, because they get to be more selfish than people with more kids. (And I mean selfish in a good way, here. Like being able to read a book, or play a sport, or volunteer, or have a fun day with your spouse whenever you want, because you have the time and emotional energy.)

I'm not articulating this as clearly as I'd like - I honestly think that there are plenty of pros and cons either way, and I know that my primal DNA-driven desire to have another kid is not going to go away, so I'm going to have another. And I will always be jealous of the women with four kids, and the women with one kid, and the women with no kids. I just think we need to be honest with ourselves about where these opinions are coming from, and more respectful and appreciative of eachother's choices.

And whoops, this isn't really an answer to the original post, but is actually all about me. So my addendum is that whatever you choose will work out. Any option you choose will involve some tough times and some fantastic ones, and soon you won't be able to imagine making any other choice. (And since the human species is probably going to run up against some serious fertility problems pretty soon, I wouldn't worry about overpopulation!)

Boy Sara, I don't think I've ever had an "unpleasant" conversation with my friends regarding this issue let alone "many." And really, EVERYONE you know with two kids "talks incessantly about how very difficult it is having two versus one?" I'm pretty sure I don't do that. And "reduced quality of life" having more than one child. Are you serious? I'm really not trying to be rude, but I have to admit that your comments can easily put someone on the defensive. Have you ever thought that maybe the comment,"we weren't REALLY a family until we had two kids." wasn't about you at all, but your friend's feeling that her family felt more complete after having the second child. Also, have you ever thought that maybe it's the negativity that causes so many of these "unpleasant" conversations? I have two kids, 18 months apart. Am I tired? yes. Do I wish that I could go out more often alone? yes. Would I change it at all? Not in a million years. Obviously, this is just my perspective...

Yes, a very personal choice...live and let live mamas! My husband and I always knew we wanted children, but didn't know how many. Then we had one, and thought "maybe this is it?" then came to realize we really wanted another. Now that our second child is a year old, it has become quite clear that we are done. Two feels right (for us.) Someone told me once that people unconsciously define what family is by what their family of origin looked like, and often tend towards reproducing that model. I found that really interesting because my husband grew up in a home with two children (he and his sister,) and I grew up in a home with two children (me and my brother,) and once we had two children in our home, (which happened to also be a boy and a girl,) we both had that golden feeling of: "Ahhh. This is our family." That golden number is different for everybody, ya know? Good luck in your journey...just look at this discussion you started!

Sara, I agree with so much of what you said. There has always been something about the "how many" conversation that nagged at me but, like you, I found it complicated and challenging to articulate. The issues of seeking validation, selfishness, identity, and, for me, conspicuous consumption, are key factors that are not often addressed in this conversation.

Bill McKibben wrote a really thoughtful book on the environmental aspect of whether to have a family at all, and if so what size family - called "Maybe One." I highly recommend it. NinaNina, I think he talks a LOT about consumption, and not just of the conspicuous (makes me think of Hummers) variety. Americans are the biggest consumers on the planet, even those of us (like me) who like to think we're treading lightly.

Anyway, just food for thought. I've just posted for a record 3rd time on this thread! Yikes.

I totally disagree that there will be a reduced quality of life if you have more than one child! Your quality of life is what you make it - its all about your outlook, your sense of wonder and gratitude and joy.

My experience w/two is that once we made it through the first (yes, sleepless) 3 or 4 months, it hasn't been much harder than having one. You already know what you're getting into, you've done it before, you have all the baby stuff, etc, you just do more of what you're already doing.

For me, the transition from non-mother to mother was infinitely more challenging than the transition of going from having one child to having two. The former was a whole identity shift, whereas having more children is mostly a matter of logistics.

And now that our "baby" is 18 months, its easier than ever because he and his brother play together and we can sit back and watch. It takes some of the pressure off of me!

We know we won't have more primarily because of age (we're both 40), we're very content with things the way they are, and we need to be realistic financially.

I don't think people who have big families should be viewed as selfish any more than people who have one child or no children. We should respect each other's choices - they are all valid. Our differences make this world interesting!

As for time to myself, well, it is harder. But they're both in bed by 8, so at least we have a little time each night. Hiring a babysitter is going to be more difficult, but then, it's hard to imagine hiring one for a three-month-old, anyway.

My husband has been so great about being a father/partner that I don't hesitate to go meet friends to knit, or have a book club meeting - a couple of times per month.

I wish I could say I had universally more patience this time around - but sleep deprivation means that some days I do, some days I don't. And while an infant can't really react to my frustration venting, my toddler son sees it and it freaks him out a little. Oh, how I wish I were better at that!

I think there are more families with 'only' one child these days, which explains somewhat how the demographers predict doom and gloom when it comes to declining school enrollment (though I think a larger part is that they're not counting families moving here precisely because they have children who just don't happen to be in school yet). On our block there are 6 families with children school-age and younger. Only two have more than one kid (and we both have two).

I don't think there's any question that it's easier to provide materially for one child than it is for two - but aside from the enormous expense of college (if you choose to see that as your responsibility to provide it for your kids), it's incremental and really, I hope that beyond food clothing and shelter, we will encourage our kids to live with 'less' as it were. Put another way, since I don't plan to buy every toy/activity/hobby under the sun for one kid, I'm not worried about the cost of doing it for two. Their existence won't be spartan, but we won't be having birthday parties at build-a-bear.

I will confess that though I come from a family of three kids, I'm somewhat surprised when I hear of families going for more than two kids, though I can't give a rational reason for why. Two kids is slightly less than twice as much work than one, in my experience so far - but for some reason pondering 3 seems an ENORMOUS difference.

Sara, I appreciated what you had to say.

Great thread and I wasn't going to chime in until I read Sara Gilbert's note... I don't know if I will ever feel like I have "enough" kids:) I come at it from a much different perspective, as I have a 4 month old daughter now and a 6 year old son. I was very happy with my son as an only, not that I never felt a twinge occasionally, but where my life was at that time, I was happy with one. Now I have two and constantly wonder how many I can have without feeling like the lady in the shoe nursery rhyme relates to me :) I think that we will have at least one more maybe two. We went to a minivan with this baby as we are pretty active and the carseat laws meant our passat was too small if we ever wanted to bring along a friend...

Do I ever feel like I am missing out? I don't think so. My husband and I travel a ton, we just take the kids, the baby fits in a sling for a restaurant or drinks. We have friends over and go out to others homes, I volunteer extensively at our sons school and in neighborhood activities. I can't imagine what I would or could be missing out on. In fact, moving here with a child made it tons easier to meet people. Now I meet people with children my daughters age... I feel kind of like once you are doing the kid thing, it is easy to continue it.

Since I have a 6 year break I saw what it would have been like with one (it would have been fine and we would have been happy, as it would have been our reality) now really looking forward to having a house full of both of their friends and one day their spouses..., my son is so thrilled to "finally have a sister" and I can't imagine him not having at least someone to complain about mom or dad to :) I come from a family of 4 children so maybe it's true that you mold your family into what you had. I can't imagine my life without my sister in laws and my brother in laws as well as my siblings.

The good thing about this subject though is that there is absolutely no right or wrong answer. Just what is good for you and your partner.

Or no partner! ;)

I've heard recently that 3 is the new 2...and that big families are suddenly "in" again...In some ways I think that with the tension and uncertainty in our world today that many people are turning focus back to family. I like it...I like to see that so many families are really trying to strike the right balance between work and family, and are being very creative about how they do that.

We got pregnant with #1 literally the first time in nearly 10 years that we'd EVER had unprotected sex...We were shocked and excited and assumed we must be very fertile. The second time around, after months of a "not trying, but not trying not to get pregnant" strategy, we actually had to try for 2 months to get pregnant. It worked, but it reminded us that we can have every strategy in the book, but that for many people, it is actually hard to get pregnant and you have to leave a lot of it up to timing and mother nature.

My feelings about being pregnant with #2 are vastly different than the first time around... Anders turned 2 when we got pregnant with this baby (he'll be 2.75 when this baby comes, which I think will be a good age difference). In many ways, I was just starting to feel like I was ahead in the game again--I'd just gone back to work on a very part time basis, Anders was doing well with the transition to having another caretaker and other children around, I was physically feeling more like my "pre-baby" self, and mentally, I wasnt so obsessed with my status as "new mom".

So now that I'm pregnant again, although we are thrilled and excited and know that we want more than one baby, I do admit that in some ways I feel that I'm taking a step backwards with all of the progress we've made in the last two years! It's a little scary for us this time around, because we know what we're in for with having another baby around...I just pray this one will be an easier baby than Anders was. And although I'm only 12 weeks along, my body is already shot! I look like I did when I was 16-18 weeks along with Anders, and I pray that I'm not going to look like a beached whale when I'm 9 months pregnant in July!

On the other hand, we are in many ways much more excited this time around because we know how amazing it is to bring a baby into the world, and we are really excited to have a baby in the house again (even though we know we'll be exhausted!)

We've always known that we want more than one baby and for us, figuring out the timing was the hard part. It took us a long time before we could even think about adding another baby to our family, yet we also knew that we didnt want to wait too long either. Now that we're on our way, we're looking forward to it and feel lucky that things seem to be falling into place in a way that we are comfortable with.

I remember reading an article in either the Washington Post or NY Times about how 3 [children in a family] was the new 2. Can't find it online, though. Here's an article that was on MSN in October:

"Bucking the norm, some families think big
Could 4, 5, even 6 kids become suburbia's new status symbol?"

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15187040/

jc,
I just wanted to respond to some of your "concerns." I have a 3 year old boy and 18 mo. old girl. They are exactly 18 months and 1 week apart. We also thought it would take a little longer to get pregnant with our second, but it happened the first "try!" I was so scared to have them so close together; the logistical part freaked me out. I thought, "how do i even get two out to the car?" Admittedly, that first year was tough. I don't think it matters the age span, but I found that with my first child/pregnancy everyone (including me) doted on me. If I was tired after work I could just lie down. People would carry things for me, etc. But when you have an 18 month old around, he doesn't care that you're as big as a house or that you were up every two hours nursing. Life continues on and you really just have to buck up. I wasn't going to not carry my son or stay holed up in the house all the time because I was too tired or it was too difficult to get them both dressed and out the door by myself. You definitely just learn to do what you need to do. Now that my kids are this age, it's amazing (and we're on the fence about a third!) They play with each other and really love each other. When they were smaller, we'd just take turns bathing them. My older child would play while we bathed the baby. Now they bathe together! The car seat issue is a little tougher. When we both worked we found it necessary to have four carseats, but now that I stay home we just have the carseats in one car. We do have to switch them out at times, but it's no big deal.

You will be great! I sometimes have guilt that the little one gets a little less of me than my son did, but I'm positive they don't feel cheated. They are happy healthy kids that are lucky to have each other! And remember, I know everyone says this, but it's so true. The time does go by so quickly. Before you know it you'll be a pro at having these little people and you can't imagine having it any other way.

Good luck,
Melanie

THANK YOU for the honest conversation and diverse opinions. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in struggling to decide whether to grow the family.

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