About two years ago, he said he was ready to have a baby. I was too, so I was delighted. We agreed that we would only have one. We discussed it and thought that would best fit our lifestyle, allowing us to enjoy being parents, while also allowing us to continue traveling and doing the things we like to do together.
Luckily, I got pregnant pretty quickly, had an uneventful pregnancy, and, a little over a year ago, our baby was born. This last year has been amazing. It hasn’t been all puppies and rainbows, but, overall, we’ve had a fantastic time being parents. We’re both totally in love with our little one, and my husband is head over heels, doting, fun, etc.
Here’s where I need the advice. I thought I’d be fine with one, but after having our first and getting through the first year relatively unscathed, I feel so passionately about having a second, for so many reasons. I love being a parent. I stay home with him full-time right now, which has worked out so well for us. I feel like I’m doing something I was meant to do. I was meant to be a parent. I’m better at this than I was at any job I’ve had before. I love him so much that I want him to have a sibling. I want to see him be a big brother. I’m afraid of something happening to him and my no longer ever being a parent. I’m worried that someday, when we’re both gone, he won’t have anyone in his immediate family left. Or that, when we’re older, all the burden will fall on him alone.
I know these are not all rational reasons but are more emotional. It really came clear to me when we had family pictures taken on his first birthday. Looking at three of us, I had this flash that someone was missing. That there should be four. After that, I’ve been obsessing over it in my head, going round and round. I’m older and, if I want this to happen, we should be having a second in the next year to two years, I think.
My husband knows that I would now like to have a second. He is convinced that he only wants one. As happy as he is with our son, he just doesn’t feel like there’s any reason to have a second. And that we’d be gambling to try and get a healthy baby a second time around (I’m 34 and he’s 39). That kids cost a lot of money and why spread our resources thinner (by any average measure, we can certainly afford it). That he wouldn’t be as interested the second time around, because it’s all new and different the first time, but he would be jaded with a second and wouldn’t care as much. That it would be too much mess and chaos.
On a side note, he works about 55ish hours a week, so the bulk of everything house- and kid-related falls on me. And, for the most part, I’ve been totally fine with this. Even with having a newborn, my husband never got up in the middle of the night with our baby, etc., since I was breastfeeding and there was really no point. So I expect it would be similar with a second. There wouldn’t be a whole lot of sleepless nights for him at all.
He said he’s thought a lot about it and he really, really just wants one. He’s been pressuring me to get rid of all the baby stuff, but so far I’ve been resisting. It seems silly to get rid of it this soon. I just feel as though, if he changed his mind once about even having kids, maybe he’ll change his mind again.
We haven’t had a full-on serious discussion, more like off-handed chats, usually interrupted by other things. But he’s been pretty clear. He keeps asking if this is going to be an issue between us further down the road. Like, will I resent him for years and bury it, then bring it up. I’ve been reluctant to have a sit-down, serious discussion yet because I wanted to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again anyway and I don’t want to full-on pressure him about it. He doesn’t react well to that kind of thing. I was ready for our first for about a year before he came around to it, and he said later that he really appreciated that I let him come to it in his own time and feel ready and that I didn’t start laying down ultimatums or bringing it up all the time. I was relaxed about it. Just about the opposite of how I feel now! I feel kind of desperate, a little obsessed, and like time is ticking away.
So I guess my question is: How do you think I should approach convincing him to have a second (if we get lucky again and can have one)? And failing that, how can I move on, not feel resentful, and just find happiness with only three of us? — Wants a Second
I absolutely do not think you should try to convince your husband to agree to having a second baby. I say this as someone who, for about 18 months, wasn’t sure she wanted a second child even though her husband very much did. Fortunately for me, Drew never pressured me or tried to convince me. Instead, he respected my decision and remained grateful we had one healthy and happy child. He focused on that and on how he was able to enjoy parenthood, something that many people who might wish otherwise aren’t lucky enough to have the chance to enjoy. He told me how fulfilled he already felt and that, even though he imagined a second child would enrich his and our lives, he felt more than fortunate to have everything he already had. And his being so understanding about it gave me a chance to also focus on everything we had — our healthy child, our parenting experience, our marriage and home and life together. And even though I never was able to fully let go of this decision hanging over my head — because, unlike your husband, I never felt certain I was done at one — I was able to relax enough to just let the decision eventually come to me.
I decided I wanted to try for another baby. I decided because it was what *I* wanted, and not because I felt pressured into it by my husband. I was able to arrive at the decision because I had the freedom to reflect and really weigh my options and deeply consider potential scenarios. I don’t know that I would have felt as relaxed in doing that if I had had a spouse breathing down my neck, trying to convince me to do something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do.
And I’m not saying your husband will arrive at the same decision I have if you back off. I’m not saying that at all. In all likelihood, he probably won’t. But what I can say for certain is that you won’t have as high a chance of fucking up your marriage if you back off. You won’t be as likely to make your husband feel like shit if you back off. You won’t put strain on your family unit just as your baby enters the incredibly challenging and trying toddler years if you back off.
Oh, and that’s another thing: you said you thought you’d be fine with one, but after “getting through the first year relatively unscathed,” you suddenly felt “so passionately about having a second.” Here’s a secret not many people will tell newish parents like you for fear of scaring the hell out of them: the first year is a cakewalk compared to the second and third years (and, I suspect, subsequent years, but I wouldn’t know from experience yet). It’s when your child becomes mobile, verbal, and very opinionated that things start getting . . . well, really interesting. This isn’t to say you’ll change your mind at all down the road and decide one is plenty, but only to lend some perspective that might be lacking: parenthood is a long journey. It is much more than a year of exciting firsts.
If your husband is feeling certain that one is enough, that is as valid a choice as your desire to have a second. And unfortunately for you, the one who doesn’t want more kids has the upper hand, because it is better — for a family, for a marriage, for everyone involved — to only have one child and wish for more than it is to have two children and wish you’d stopped at one. And even if you did manage to convince your husband to try for a second, there’s no guarantee he will feel as happy with that choice as he has with the decision to have your first one. You are banking on that with zero indication that that’s a realistic scenario, and there is too much at stake to make a gamble like that. If your husband were giving ANY wiggle room at all — if he were saying he wasn’t certain or that he needed more time or that there are some aspects about having a second baby that appeal to him — that would be something; but he’s not saying those things. He is telling you with certainty that he is done. Yes, he came around to the idea of having your first baby a year after you were ready, but he’d been saying all along he was open to the idea of having a child. He has never told you he is open to the idea of having a second baby. He has given zero indication that this is a scenario he will ever embrace, and yet you are “desperate” and “obsessed” over it.
You need to let it go. I know it’s hard. But this obsession isn’t healthy. And it’s taking away from the focus you could and should be giving to the family you already have. Most of the reasons you give for wanting a second baby — enjoying parenthood, being good at it, doing something you were meant to do — are things you are already fulfilling and can continue enjoying with having just one child. You ask how you can “move on, not feel resentful, and just find happiness with only three of you,” and my advice is to enjoy the moment that you’re in. Enjoy your child’s life and your role in it. Relish being a mother, and realize that even having just one doesn’t mean you are any less a mother than a woman with 10 babies; it just means you have more time and attention to give to the child you do have, not to mention to your hobbies and interests outside parenthood. (Remember who you were before you became a mom? She’s still in there). Focus on all of those things. Focus on what you DO have rather than on what you think you’re missing. And if you simply can’t stop the resentment from creeping in, I’d suggest seeing a counselor to help you process your disappointment so you can enjoy these precious early years of your child’s life without a cloud of resentment hanging over you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.