“Ask Angela” is a bimonthly relationship advice column for parents. Submit your question here with the subject “Ask Angela.”
Dear Angela –
My husband and I are so back and forth on the idea of having a third child. We have a great family and life is good, but we always thought we’d have more kids. Should I just tell him I want to pull my IUD and convince him we should go for it?
On the picket fence
In preparation for writing this post, I did or did not conduct the following Google searches:
1) “how to make a decision”
2) “world problems due to overpopulation”
3) “should I have another baby?”
I did. I totally, totally did. Because who am I to answer this question for you? This is such an intensely personal, situation-specific question! But I’m doing it because you asked and I care about you.
Here’s the full disclosure: I’ve never really contemplated this big question for myself. My husband inquired about getting a vasectomy before our second-born and I were even discharged from the hospital, and I was okay with that. Two kids feels right – has always felt right – for us. In that way, I consider myself very lucky because this is one of those questions that can plague you for years, and with the added stressor of having a perceived expiration date.
So I thought we could walk through and around this multi-acre dilemma to look for a few tell-tale signs. We can start right here, with a few reasons that should kick you off this path before you take another step.
If you can relate to even one of the following, you should definitely NOT have another child:
1) You already have a couple kids of the same gender and you really want one of the other gender. I know, I know, there are ways to increase your odds of conceiving an XY or an XX, but really? Really? What if you don’t?
2) You’re bored. You like a challenge. If this is the case, take snowboarding lessons or teach yourself Mandarin. Do not, for the love of God, bring another human into this world because you need a new hobby.
3) Your relationship is in a rut. Know what, almost everyone’s relationship is in a rut. Having another child when it’s your partnership that requires your attention is relationship suicide.
Alright, if you’ve made it this far, it’s time for us to start taking things seriously. You want another child. Maybe. You know, something you said stands out as a red flag to me. It’s the notion of doing something because you “always thought” you would. I “always thought” I wanted to be a lawyer, until I went to law school and learned that nothing had ever felt so wrong. I left after one semester.
Obviously, you don’t have the option to quit once you’ve had another child because you “always thought” you’d want more kids. Basing any decision on a line of thinking that came about before you knew exactly what was involved is a terrible idea. Particularly when, as I said and I’ll say it again, you have no real way to back out once you’ve moved forward. You need to make this decision by taking into account everything you now know to be true.
Remember the sleep deprivation that comes with an infant? Even before that, do you remember feeling like a parasite was taking over your body (or was that just me)? Be very honest with yourself when recalling the process of having a child. They don’t show up smiling and self-sufficient, that’s for sure. Are you ready, at this point in your life and the life of your family, to go through all of that again?
Maybe you are. If so, then we’re getting somewhere. I know how intoxicating I found the scent of my babies heads and the feeling of their downy soft wisps of hair on my chin as I held them (I’m even crying a little bit right now), but I do not want to do it all over again. So if you aren’t dissuaded by the realities of those early days and weeks and months, let’s press on.
You mentioned that your husband and you are both on the fence. Have you had a seriously open, no-judgements-allowed conversation about why? It is imperative that you both have a clear understanding of the other person’s misgivings. And if you reach a stalemate, then you have your answer.
It’s tempting to believe that, as the woman – the carrier of the child, the one with actual biological yearnings – your vote matters more. This is not the case. Don’t enter into RomCom territory by secretly ditching your IUD with the belief that he’ll come around once you’re pregnant. Don’t play the “you don’t understand what it’s like” card and try to guilt him into agreement. This huge, life-changing decision has to be mutual. Period.
If we’ve arrived all the way here, at the almost-end of my thoughts on the matter, and you aren’t just trying to shake things up in your marriage, you aren’t scared away at the prospect of returning to mommy-zombie land, and both partners are game – then I have one final consideration. It’s cold. It’s hard. And it’s a fact.
This planet is disgustingly overpopulated. Will the addition of your next child cause substantial harm? Not likely. But it is symbolic of the root of the problem – that we all just assume we get to create as many humans as we’d like with no consequence. That the Earth can sustain our desire for a big family, that it will continue to provide as it has since the beginning of time, and that we’ll all be just fine.
Listen, I have two children myself so I won’t even disagree if you say I have no right to make this argument. But it bears mentioning. So I mentioned it.
And on that colossal bummer of a note, I leave you. If you still feel like you want another child, you know what to do next…