Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is everyone here? No, not yet.

(Note: I'm not pregnant. Remember that whole grad school thing? So settle down; for the moment this is a purely theoretical discussion.)

Torsten and I have always sort of vaguely planned to have two kids, knowing that we wanted somewhere from one to three kids total. We definitely knew we wanted kids in general, so deciding to have Callum wasn't a big deal for us--it was just a question of when, and not if.

But a second kid. Oh man. It's so much harder. Specifically because Torsten doesn't really want a second kid, and I really, really do.

What's funny is that I totally, TOTALLY get where Torsten is coming from. I see all of his points. I AGREE with all of his points, even. But I want another baby ANYWAY. My emotion is overriding my logic (to a point--I actually think there are a lot of logical reasons to have another baby, too). I walk through the exact same thought process as Torsten about the downsides--but then at the end I take the extra step of dismissing them all as not nearly as important. Torsten doesn't take that step.

He does, however, acknowledge that he's not rabidly opposed to having another kid. He agrees that it would probably be better for our family in a lot of ways. He understands that once said second child is actually here, he will be GLAD, he will love it as much as he loves Callum, he will not be able to imagine life without it. He acknowledges that my desire for a second child is much, much stronger than his preference not to have a second child, and as a result he agrees that we should have a second child at some point.

But he doesn't WANT a second child, and if it were up to him and him alone, we wouldn't have one. We would be done.

And I so, SO see why. Another newborn stage. Another tiny helpless baby who wakes up a lot and is very needy. Another few years of diapers. Another car seat in the car. While neither of us minded those things and in fact even enjoyed having a newborn, parenthood is just getting better as Callum gets older--and he doesn't see a reason to revert, to go back to that stage that wasn't nearly as fun. Plus, Torsten is a worrier. He worries about Callum, a lot, and I don't think he's too excited about the prospect of another kid to worry about.

Then there's the cost--not the little things but the childcare. The college savings. The possible private school tuition. The dent those costs will make in our retirement fund. The things we could do with that money.

And then there's the fact that he just feels like our life is perfect, exactly as it is. Callum is wonderful. Having one baby, and in particular such a laid back baby, is pretty easy and convenient. We can travel. We can go out to eat. One of us can handle the kid while the other one takes a break. Basically it boils down to: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Things are great. Why rock the boat? Why put ourselves through all this again when things are so lovely just as they are?

The problem is that I agree with these things. When Torsten says he wouldn't choose to have another kid and I try to envision our lives without one, in a lot of ways it feels like my world is opening up. The simplicity. The savings. The freedom. The choices. The stuff about the newborn stage not being as fun doesn't bother me, because that's temporary and I enjoyed it the first time anyway. But all the other points? I concur on every single one.

But... I want a second kid. I don't care about saving money to retire early if we only have one kid when we retire. And all these sacrifices? We made them for Callum and we both immediately, readily agree that they were completely worth it. And I know we'll feel the same way about the next kid too.

I want to be a family of four. I don't believe the BS a lot of people spout about only children being selfish brats with no social skills, but I do think there's nothing quite like growing up with a sibling, someone who knows you and knows your parents and just GETS it without you having to explain. Torsten is an only child, so he doesn't fully grasp that. He's started to understand it, as I've explained and as he's observed my relationship with my sister, but he doesn't know it naturally, instinctively the way I do.

I also think it would be good for all of us to have another child. I see Torsten's family dynamic with his parents, the way they focus only on him, the way their rigid expectations were never challenged because they never saw that two kids, with the same parents and the same upbringing, can be very different. They had the opportunity to worry about everything, to focus and dwell on all the little details of their child's life, because there wasn't another child to think about. I want to have two kids, two distinct little people with personalities all their own, children that require different parenting, children that don't allow us to focus so singularly on just one of them or the other.

I want to watch our kids interacting. I want them to play and learn from each other and yes, even fight (though hopefully not too often). I want them to grow up together, to know each other, to understand each other's lives and backgrounds, even if they don't turn out to be best friends.

And I want this parenting experience again. Callum is SO amazing. It's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that another baby will be equally amazing, that we'll love it equally much, but I know that's the case. TWO babies, two distinct people to love and be amazed by, two people to play together and love and learn from each other. I want that. I just do, even if logically there are a million other things we could do with our time and money that would be way easier and more relaxing. I don't care. I just want it.

And Torsten gets that, he really does. And that's why he's willing to have a second kid despite his doubts. But I feel bad about it. I want him to want another kid as much as I do. I hate that there's no compromising when you and your partner disagree about how many kids you want--that one of us has to "win" and the other has to "lose" this battle. Even though it's not a battle, not really. It's weird because I feel like we're on the same side, with the same opinions, but the same thought process leads us to different conclusions.

And I worry about that too. I worry that I'm just following some weird biological or societal impulse to have another kid, that it's not really the best thing for our family. I feel like I'm making some sort of unilateral decision even though Torsten isn't setting it up like that. Even though he agrees that we're really discussing together what would be best for our family and reaching the conclusion that makes the most sense for all involved parties. It's still me swaying him to make a different decision than he would on his own. And I know that's part of being a family. But we're usually so in tune, so very much on the same page, that it's weird and a little scary to disagree on something so fundamental.

I'm not worried that we won't be able to love another baby as much as we love this one. I'm not worried that we'll ever regret having a second baby, or that Torsten will resent me for making it happen. I know that once the next baby is here, someday down the line, we will wonder how we ever could have thought that maybe it wasn't the right thing.

But the next baby isn't here yet. We don't know when it will be here, or even if we will encounter problems trying to conceive it, when we get to that point. It's all still theoretical, a vague and blurry concept, where these concerns are still valid, where they still merit attention and discussion. That's where we are right now. And it's kind of a scary, open-ended place to be.


  1. I LOVE this kind of discussion, as you know.

  2. I've been reading your blog since around the time you got pregnant, but I've never commented on it, so sorry for being a lurker! BUT! I had to comment on this post because THIS IS EXACTLY MY SITUATION. It was eerie the way you captured the circumstances and your feelings because it is exactly how my husband I feel. So, I just wanted to say thanks for making me feel not so alone. The world works in mysterious ways, and I hope (for both of us) that this will just work itself out.

  3. I think I get what you mean. I think that once you actually have the second kid and Torsten loves it, you won't have to feel like you forced Torsten's hand. Well, that's what I hope.

  4. This is interesting! I am still trying to decide if I want my first one, but it's interesting to hear your thoughts on your second. One question--weren't you thinking of adopting your second baby? Why did you decide against that (if you did?)

  5. So, I hear you. My husband has a child from his first marriage, and while we've always said "yes, this marriage (OUR marriage) will include more children", it's ...harder. My stepdaughter is fully functional. She's so easy, these days. When she was 6 and 7, this was actually an easier conversation because we were ALREADY doing the 'kid' thing, but now that she is 15, and so great, and God life is SO EASY (she can stay home alone! or come with us and be an active participant! She packs for herself! Makes her own lunch AND THEN CLEANS UP! Etc!) I feel so much GUILT when I think of having another. I don't want my husband to be resentful of "starting over" (and I don't, either.) It's hard when one person can take it or leave it and the other can't, because all the suck that coems with it is now firmly in the fault of the one who can't. If that makes sense.

    (I should point out: six months ago I was more concerned about this than I am now. My husband's attitude and behavior over the past year or so has shifted from "take it or leave it" to "let's take it!" and it's been joyful to feel like we're partnershipping this, which I can say I didn't always feel. But things being good NOW don't mean I don't remembe how they were THEN, and man, that was the suck)

  6. At least Torsten isn't like my coworker who has two kids - his wife wants a third and he adamantly does not, to the extent that he told her if they have a third and there is something wrong with it, he will blame her forever!

  7. I know we were just talking about this on Twitter, but YES. I think part of my issue is that right after I have a baby, when to have the next one is very much on my mind. I'm immersed in the newborn stage so I spend a lot of time thinking about how many and spacing and so on. My husband, on the other hand, spends the first 6 months or so of our children's lives thinking, "WHY did we DO this?" So any time I mention anything about more he just thinks I'm crazy.

    Of course, Daniel changes the situation some, and I've definitely moved from "when" we have another child to "if" we have another child, but I'm still not ready to say we're done. Yet.

  8. I can see both sides too, and neither are wrong or right really. Which, of course, is precisely why this sort of thing can be so hard.

    I do have to say that watching my kids together is one of my greatest joys as a parent.

  9. I come from an enormous family (I have six brothers and three sisters) so I am naturally inclined to say 'one baby-no way!'

    Sure I loved having lots of brothers and sisters and got taught to share etc...but the point where they became most important to me was when we lost our parents. Both times we had each other to lean on and help make hard decisions (and heal from our loss). Your second child will be a gift for Callum not only in childhood but when he faces tough times as an adult.

    And dont worry about that husband of yours...almost every parent has this magical moment when the oldest is between 2-3 years old where they go 'he isnt such a baby anymore, maybe we should have another.' And by then timing will be perfect for you in regards to school!

  10. Anon--You have a good memory/have been reading for awhile! We haven't totally decided against it, but after doing some research we are pretty strongly leaning toward not adopting. There just doesn't seem to be an adoption path that fits what we are looking for at the moment. We are, however, very interested in possibly fostering an older kid once our babies are older, maybe middle or high school age? But we'll do some more research and maybe meet with someone from the Colorado foster system (the only adoption avenue that we would really even consider) before we try to get pregnant again, just to be sure that we are both comfortable with the decision.

  11. ooof, how tough. i can understand torsten's position, seeing as i'm ALREADY there WITHOUT having had a kid (should i even have one?? i have a great life! and i love having money and sleep!) but like you say, BOTH sides are completely understandable. hopefully one of you will eventually find yourself closer to the other's opinion as time goes by.

  12. I'm an only child, and I really, really hated it, I had to play games alone, I was lonely. I wished and wished for a sibling my whole life. Apparently Torsten didn't experience this, but I did. And as Callum gets older, I really think he'll wish for someone to play with too, and that you'd be grateful for the break with having a built-in playmate.

  13. Oddly enough, CP and I had a similar conversation this week about only having one child. I asked if he would ever want only one kid and he said no. I'm sure that parenting only one kid is easier, but I do think that if we are able to have two, then we will have two because it is nice to have a sibling. Both of us grew up with a sibling and while my sister and I had a very competitive relationship for a while, we are in a much better place.

  14. I think every family has to decide for themselves whether to have children and if so, how many. I don't think it's selfish to stop at one. I don't think it's weird to have 10. I think so long as parents are able to provide shelter, clothing, food and lots of love for their children, then who are we to say what the right number is. I always thought we'd be one and done. And, from a biological sense, I'm almost positive we are. But, we may still try to expand our family at some point through other means. And I know that's a conversation that I will have to start and might have to do some convincing. But, so long as I'm open to what Sweets has to say and am willing to consider his stance if it differs from mine (if his reasoning is really valid), then I think it's ok to come to a conversation/discussion/debate from two different places and wind up with only one answer.

  15. I have been reading you since you were early in your pregnancy because our due dates were just 2 weeks apart! I had mine 5 weeks early, though, and he's had some medical and developmental issues. It has been really interesting reading about Callum and his milestones since they should kind of be on the same page but they so aren't.

    Anyhow,I will try to keep this brief but my husband and I were in the same positions as you and Torsten. (I should start out saying we have a 6 yr old boy too.) We were both ok with having just one--he is an only child also. Then I started feeling like maybe we should have another, and he balked. For the same reasons you mentioned above. But also, we are both older- I will be 40 this year and he will be 42.

    Anyway, like you, I have a sister who lives in another state. She announced her pregnancy, and I realized my son's only first cousin will be living 1000 miles away and they probably would only see eachother twice a year if we are lucky. That made me super sad. (There are no small children on my husband's side that we see often.)

    Then I saw my then 4 yr old at daycare running around, but he stopped by a little toddling girl, patted her head so gently, and took off. He didnt know I was watching. That kind of sealed it for me--he needed a sibling. That night I mentioned both of these incidents to my husband and told him we really need to try for another. He was shocked because he thought I was really ok with just having one child.

    We gave ourselves just 6 months to conceive and it took 2 months. :)

    What's interesting about having 2 kids is the division of labor changes-its much more equal now.

    Also, our big boy has always been super healthy; we just knew we wouldn't be so lucky the second time, and we just deal with the issues the baby has. Shrug.

    I wonder how Torsten will feel when Callum gets bigger. I couldn't imagine starting over when the baby is just 15 mos, but having a potty trained, kind of self-sufficient kid made it much easier, and you almost forget how hard it is to have a newborn.

    SOrry for such a long post!

  16. I come from a large family, in that my mother has six brothers so I was always surrounded by cousins. I only had one sibling, a brother, until I was 13 and he was 10. Then, my mom had a bit of a surprise baby...that surprise baby just turned 13 himself, how time flies! I love my two siblings so much, and my big extended family, I couldn't imagine only having one child myself.

    Now, I've yet to even have one child (or get married or any of those things), but in my head I always have the plan to have 2 or 3 children. I think it is so nice to add siblings, to make holidays special and to have each other as parents get older.

    It is of course a personal decision, but my personal opinion is that I want one more than child for sure... fortunately my current boyfriend is not an only child, and also agrees that having at least two children is a must.

    We do happen to have a best friend who is an only child, and unfortunately (though of course we adore her) she has lots of "Stereotyped Bratty Only Child" behaviours... and those attitudes of hers drive us batty... so we are a bit skewed by knowing her, and seeing how we do not want just one child.

  17. This is the exact discussion Justin and I would have had to have if, you know, I hadn't gotten pregnant with Lucy right around when Adriana was Callum's age. Justin REALLY hates the new baby stage, but now that Lucy is getting older he has admitted he is very glad we had a second kid and that he couldn't picture our family without her. Oddly, I am the one who still pines a bit for the family of three days. Don't get me wrong, I ADORE Lucy, but I am so exhausted all of the time. I miss the simplicity, freedom, cash flow of only having one kid. I am 100% certain that once I get a few weeks of uninterrupted sleep I will feel like this is the perfect sized family for us (it's hard right now, but worth it). I am excited to see how this all plays out for you, and what ends up being your perfect family size.

  18. People are always saying "You never regret the child decide to have," and I agree. But I also don't regret having the money, time, and patience stopping at three gave me.

    Not that it was my choice, but I'm just perky and sunny-side-up all the livelong day. So yay! for whatever you do.

  19. Someone, somewhere, said this better than I will, but I follow the "the one who really cares, wins" philosophy. As in, if one person wants/needs, and the other just prefers, then the wants/needs gets picked. However, if you are both wants/needs, then those big marital compromises come in to play.
    And now I'll get morbid. In addition to siblings having each other when parents die, etc, I also cannot help thinking of what if something happens to my one kid, and I only have one. Then I would have none. I figure that if I have two, or three to be safe, then I would still have children to hold. Which isn't of course the only reason to have greater than one child, but is my tipping point.
    Morbid: over. My girl is about to turn two, and I'd like to get pregnant soon (actually I would've preferred to have been pregnant last fall, but that didn't work out.) and I see it as both getting harder and easier to think about a second. She can already go get her own clothes! She can help with things. She adores adores babies. But, we are out of the newborn stage, and can do so much stuff! So, both sides have pluses.

  20. I've read some of the comments above,and thought I'd chime in on the other side. I am an only (39yrs old) and my daughter (18 yrs old) is also an only. My husband and I decided to have just one at first, we were young!, and then we decided that we loved just one and decided our family was complete. I think being an only, and now having an only, is WONDERFUL. We have been able to give our daughter so many experiences, and be 100% in her life, in a way that would not be possible had we more children. I do not regret my choice AT ALL. Some parents want a large family - and thats great. For them. But having a smaller family is JUST AS GREAT, and the child misses nothing. They don't have the experience of siblings, but they have so many other fabulous experiences that a larger family will never have.