I Want a Third Child, Except, I Don't
Something strange has been happening to me lately: I keep thinking I want to have another baby. Except, I don’t.
The thing is, there are babies all around me. My brother just had a baby. My cousin just had twins. My best friend just had her fourth. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around this many babies, and I won’t lie, the smell and the softness and the perfection and the overall yumminess is hard to resist. I keep thinking that it might be kind of nice to have one that I don’t have to hand back to somebody else. Except, it probably wouldn’t be.
I keep telling myself that this is normal. I’m forty years old, nearing the end of my childbearing years. Some urgent, crazy hormones inside of me are screaming at the top of their lungs that THIS IS MY LAST CHANCE! They’re taunting me, really, daring me to go ahead and see if I’ve still got it. They’re preying on my weaknesses, too. "You make pretty great kids," they tell me. "Too bad you didn’t have more." They also exploit my vanity: "You don’t look forty, and you don’t feel forty. What better way to stay young than to have a baby?"
These hormones, they remind me of that anti-drug PSA from the late ‘80s, with the girl who urges, go ahead and try it, it’ll make you feeeeeel gooooood. So I have to be strong, and not succumb to the peer pressure. Because having a baby now will not make me feel good. Having a baby now will only make me tired.
I will admit that I regret not having a third child when the time was right. My husband and I both come from families of two kids, so for us, two had always felt like enough. But we were sort of kicking around the idea of a third about five summers ago, just before my son turned four, just after my daughter had turned six. But that was 2008, and by September, the financial crisis had begun, my husband’s business was in shambles, and we weren’t even sure we were going to be able to keep our house. A baby was out of the question.
By the time the dust settled and things were back to normal for us, it was 2010. My son was six, my daughter was eight, and things were finally, mercifully, easy. No diapers, no strollers, no sleepless nights. They were both at the same school, all day, and I was back to writing almost full time. We could go out to dinners, we could take them on airplanes, and when we did, they could wheel their own luggage. The baby ship had sailed, we thought. We’d come too far to go back.