Are YOU Going To Have More Kids?

It is a question both Ian and I are asked on a regular basis.  Today, I’m answering it in a piece for The New York Times Motherlode.  Because I’m efficient like that.

The intimate inquiry somehow feels like fair game for anyone from casual acquaintances, work colleagues, and school administrators to close family and friends.  Since we already have two kids – a boy and a girl – people assume it’s not an offensive thing to ask because it’s not fraught with initial fertility struggles or gender issues.  Yet in my house, it’s a loaded topic.  I want more, Ian does not.

So what do you do in a situation where there is absolutely no shot for compromise?  How do you resolve something as significant as the size of your family when the two people responsible for them disagree so strongly?  Well, if you are me, you experience your “go-to” impulse.  Flight.  After peeling back layer after layer of what it means to have a big family, and how far apart we were on so many of those issues, I didn’t know what else to do besides call for the parachute and eject.

So, I decided to talk about it.  With everyone.

“Do you want more?” is a question asked casually between friends and family, but very few share their stories about how they ultimately decided they were done having babies.   Some have the decision made for them – by infertility or illness.  Some refuse to make any decision and end up with massive families.  Others regret letting their child-bearing years expire without really talking about it.  Still others rejoice in the freedom of knowing those years are behind them.  Just because there are a range of answers and experiences, doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it.  I wish we would.

This is a short story about a deep and complicated issue.  It’s not a happy story.  It’s meant to make you think.  It’s meant to make you share.  It reveals some of my personal struggles behind that deceptively simple question, “are you going to have more children?”  After you read the piece, I hope you will comment and let me know if there is something specific you relate to in my perspective.  If not, I’d love to hear this from you:  how did you know you were done?  Or if you aren’t done yet, do you and your partner agree when “enough is enough?”  Was there ever a point when this discussion was contentious in your house?

Read my story here on the Motherlode.

19 thoughts on “Are YOU Going To Have More Kids?

  1. It is contentious THIS SECOND. I want another; he does not. His reasons are clear and I understand them. Yet, I do not want to accept them. We always said 4 and this is the post that is stuck in my head and heart but won’t come out (which is also why everything I’ve written lately has sucked. It wants out, but, I’m not ready.) And funnily enough, we’re asked “you’re not having more, right?” rather than “are you having more.”

  2. Hi! I read your piece on the Motherlode and could relate to so very much of it. Two years and nine months ago I was in the exact same position you are now. There was conversation, there was crying and, ultimately, there was capitulation. My husband agreed to have another child – one more, which was all I wanted too – and then we found out we were expecting twins. They have just hit their second birthday and, on balance, I am glad to have ‘too many’ children rather than ‘too few’. I’m not sure, though, that my husband agrees…You might be interested in reading my story here:

      • Thank you. Your piece brought back so many emotions: it is such a difficult impasse, especially because the number of children is an unexpectedly different kind of ‘big stuff’ than the fact of children. And, of course, I am intrigued that you want four – twins might not be a bad result for you ;). I really, really hope that you and your husband come to a decision you can both live with. I’ll look forward to reading more on your site!

  3. Just read your article on Motherlode – very provocative and interesting! This is going to sound maybe crazy, maybe a bunch of other things but it’s the most practical thing that comes to mind: have you thought about couples counseling? You could discuss this issue and make sure there aren’t underlying things that one of you (or both) isn’t saying. I haven’t been to couples counseling but now that my husband and I have kids, I have considered that I would go in a heartbeat if it meant resolving a difficult issue like this one. (Then again, maybe it wouldn’t help one bit and it would just cost you a bunch of money you could have spent on a nice dinner. ha.) :)

    • I think you have the exact right idea – and what gets us over the hump every time is the continued communication. We have been able to do that so far without a 3rd party, but we are lucky. I had 750 words to reveal a lot about a complicated subject, but I love to hear even that tiny part resonated with you. “Provocative and interesting” – I love it!

      • Oh yes, I know that there’s always more to the story than the writer has space to reveal in a short essay. It definitely resonated, for sure. I think what’s especially interesting about this whole debate is that a lot of people would say, “why didn’t you discuss this before having kids?” but the fact is, who is really thinking about kid #3 or 4 when you haven’t had ANY yet? That’s like thinking about your retirement home when you’re 40! I think it’s a rare couple that’s ironed this out pre-kids. Good luck and keep us posted on what happens next. Either way, you’ve got what sounds like a kick-ass fam. xox

  4. Wow NYT, so awesome! But I went over there and loved your article but had to leave when I started reading the comments. People are so judgmental! Ignore them please.I only had two but was lucky to have the second since I had cancer in between. I’m sure it’s hard when you disagree. So hard. So many people where I live have 4 but I don’t think I could handle that. I hope you guys in the end agree!

  5. Thank you for your story, this is me now. It helps so much to hear someone else’s experience.
    We have 2 kids and before we married we agreed on 3. At 2 kids he has dug in and doesn’t want more. After 5 years the arguing is no less fraught with emotions and a lack of movement from both sides. It is such a difficult thing to attempt to discuss, there is no way to compromise.
    Hope that you can find a way through this, look forward to hearing how it goes.

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