My brain says we’re done, but my ovaries are going, “You sure about that?”
My husband and I always knew we wanted two kids—no more, no less, just two kids. Two kids that would always have each other; two kids that we could afford to feed and clothe and educate and take to gym class; two kids that would comfortably fit in the back of a family sedan.
When we found out that we were having identical twins, we were, um, excited, but really more like, “Holy crap, we’re screwed! How will we ever survive?” Once the sleep deprivation and mind-numbing craziness of the newborn stage was over though, we fist-pumped and chest-bumped and went, “Phew, thank God that’s over. We never have to go through that again.” We had our two kids and, to quote one of their favorite cartoon characters, that’s all, folks.
Of course, as any parent will tell you, the further away you get from those first few months with a newborn, the foggier the memories get. I forgot about the eight-times-a-day double feedings—both breast and bottle—or the way they used to wake up every half hour starting at 2am. I forgot about how hard it was just to get them to burp or to give their slippery little bodies a bath.
On one hand, I assumed it must be some sort of coping mechanism, a mental block so I could move forward without resenting those little suckers. Really though, I knew in my heart that it had to be some kind of evolutionary response for child-bearing types. Biology somehow helps us forget the difficulties of labor and the newborn stage to ensure that we have more kids. So as time went on, I actually started to believe that caring for newborn twins hadn’t been all that tough. In fact, I even told couples expecting twins that it was easy. Easy! I said that. Oh, those poor, poor unsuspecting families-to-be.
Still, even though those newborn days got fuzzy, I still didn’t want another child. I love our little family of four (plus doggy) and thought I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I would see pregnant women with their gorgeous glows and big, round bellies, I felt so happy and hopeful for them, nostalgic for my own pregnancy. Did I want to do it again though? Nah, that’s alright. When I would see tiny babies, I’d think, “Ah, sweet, how wonderful.” Did I want to take those precious peanuts home with me? No, not really. I’d always steal a little cuddle and get my fix of that sweet smell. Then, I’d give him or her back, wipe some spit-up off of my shirt and grab myself a soda.
Since my babies have turned 2 though, something strange has happened. When I hear that someone is pregnant with second or third babies, I get these little pangs of jealousy. It’s that specific. Sure, I’m happy for their growing families, but I have this weird sense of loss for myself. Maybe it’s wistful feelings about that third child I’ll never have. Maybe it’s sadness because my own sons’ baby days are over. Or could it be that on some deep, subconscious, pure-heart level, I want another child?
I mean, I’ll admit that I do get weepy thinking about how these sweet toddler times are just flying by. And I have started to wonder what another child of ours might look like or be like and even, well, if that baby would be a girl. I’m even a little more, ahem, amorous than usual. So, feeling a little confused, I came clean to a friend who always allows me to come clean (PS, I highly recommend getting yourself one of these friends.) Her kids are the same age and, like me, she has firmly committed to just two kids. So imagine my surprise when she said the same exact thing is happening to her! Which means that there’s either something in the water around here or, really, very simply, it’s just biology. That’s what my friend theorized at least.
It makes sense. How many siblings do you know that are about three years apart? It’s just good logic—your toddler is becoming more independent, you’re getting more sleep, and you’re starting to get a solid handle on this parenting thing. Seems like a good time for #2. I’m thinking though that something else must be working on a hormonal level, some switch that gets flipped right around the time your child turns 2 that gets you thinking, “How’s about another?” Even though I really know otherwise, it’s like my body hasn’t gotten the memo. My brain says we’re done, but my ovaries are going, “You sure about that?”
The irony is that it was a bitch trying to get pregnant the first time. Maybe just like I forgot the newborn struggles, my body forgot that I’m not so good at getting knocked up. Of course, there’s a part of me that wonders if this is my body’s way of telling me that even though I feel like an achy, creaky 36-year-old, my reproductive organs still feel young and healthy and down to procreate. I find something comforting in the primal instinct of it all, that fertile, maternal biological drive to have more children. It’s almost this feeling of pride, like, hey, I still got it.
Still, I’m not going to listen to all of the hormonal chatter because I really am happy with just two kids. (I said that already, didn’t I?) As much as I love this adorable age, I wouldn’t have another baby just so I could do it all over again. That’s not a good reason. (I’m not saying that it’s most people’s reason for having a third, but it would probably be mine.) Babies are only little for so long. Ultimately, they go to school, learn new things, spend weekends with friends, more than family. They say things like, “Mom, stop,” and “God, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” They leave the nest, they explore the world, and they start families of their own. Of course, they’ll always be our babies, whether they realize it or not.
As for the “what if’s,” I’m going to be alright with that too. Would the next one be a girl or another boy? Would the next baby have my dark features or be fair like his brothers? What would it be like to care for just one baby at a time, rather than double duty? Sure, I have all of those questions, but so what? I’m sure I’d still keep wondering about the next, whether I had three kids or 20. I guess you can’t help thinking about all of the amazing people you could make or mold.
Still, I’m going to tell my ovaries to simmer down, ask my uterus to hush up. I’m so glad they have such faith in us and I’m sure we’d be able to create someone great, but this body is closed for business…right?
Jennifer Benjamin is an LA-based freelance writer and editor with over thirteen years of experience writing for national magazines and websites like Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, SELF, Parents Magazine, The Stir and Daily Glow. More important, she’s a Mommy to identical twin boys, as well as an avid cook, a terrible housewife, and a loungewear enthusiast. Find her on Twitter @JennyBenjamin or Facebook.