I have two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. They are the peanut butter to my jelly, and I love being their mom. Even with the moments of toddler tantrums, milk puddles, and vomit in the backseat of my car, I still wouldn’t trade them for anything, including Channing Tatum and a stack of money (although it would be close).
When my husband and I discussed starting a family, we decided we wanted two kids—just two. This predetermined number was based on several common ideas. Our kids wouldn’t be able to gang up on each other. They would either play together or play by themselves. Two is an even number. Two parents and two kids allows for one-to-one coverage. If there were more than two, they may rise up against us in mutiny. My husband and I were both from two-children families. And possibly the most compelling argument, two kids fit nicely in a regular vehicle—I would never need a minivan. No minivan means I can continue to cling desperately to what little coolness I have left.
First came my daughter, and two short years later, my son. Shortly after my son’s birth, I started to realize I wasn’t completely invested in my original plan of “just two.” A big part of me wanted another one. I mentioned this to my husband one night, prepared for him to argue against the idea, and use my “just two” words against me. But he didn’t. Even more surprisingly, he felt the same way.
I thought when our family was complete we would “just know.” Other parents always seemed so certain: “Oh no! We are done after this one,” they would say with wild, exhausted expressions.
I don’t feel any kind of certainty one way or the other. What if we stop at two? I may, one day, regret not having a another kid, but I would never regret having another kid. I don’t know a mother out there who would say, “Yeah, I sure wish we didn’t have little Billy. He’s a real shithead.”
So, we talk about another one on days when the kids are behaving, and we laugh at the idea on the days when they almost burn the house down. Maybe we have gone so far as to select baby names on a tipsy date night. But, as each day passes and the window of opportunity narrows, this topic weighs heavily on my mind. The pros of having another kid are endless, but what has surprised me and is currently disturbing my sleep are the reasons that give me pause.
Here are the top five reasons I’m not currently pregnant:
1. Zika Virus
In case you missed it, there is a horrifying new reason to worry about your unborn child. Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted disease that causes a severe birth defect known as microcephaly. Of course there are several precautions pregnant women can take to limit their risk, but I would likely spend my entire pregnancy in a human hamster ball, surrounded by citronella-filled tiki torches because of who I am as a person—a complete basket case.
2. Everyone Currently Running for President
I don’t care what side of the aisle you sit on, I think we can all agree the current political race is terrifying for a multitude of reasons. It will be harder to flee to a new country with a newborn, which is what I plan to do depending on the elected candidate.
3. First-Year Anxiety
That first year stresses me the eff out. There is constantly something new to
obsess worry about. Are they back to their birth weight? Two-month shots. Is his eye supposed to look like that? Oh, good, it’s normal. Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? Four-month shots. What is this spot? Was that there before? Is this kid ever going to sleep through the night? Day care. Are they OK? Are they missing me? Teething. Put this lotion on at noon. Diaper cream at every changing. Milestone after milestone after stressful milestone—I worry about my kids all the time, but that first year is hands-down the worst. Ask my husband, I’m a lunatic.
4. Maternity Leave
I’m a working mom, which means if I want to have another kid I have to save leave-time like I belong on an episode of Hoarders. And odds are, I still won’t have enough to make it through prenatal appointments and 12 weeks of maternity leave. Who doesn’t want a newborn and financial stress? Sign me up for that!
5. Child Care
I am fortunate to have a wonderful child care provider, which affords me some peace of mind, but no one can care for my baby like I can. I just spent 12 weeks of basic training learning everything about this kid—how he likes to bounce, not sway; the exact temperature he likes his bottle; how you swirl, not shake, his milk. I know what it means if he sneezes twice, coughs once, and then farts. I’m a Jedi. I know him better than anyone else. Transitioning from maternity leave to work and child care is rough for even the most seasoned mothers. I hate it. I cry. The kid cries. It’s basically the worst.
So there you have it. Those are my reasons, irrational as they may be. I could probably work through most of them with medication and the right amount of therapy. Except Zika—eff that racket. (Are there mosquitoes in Alaska? I could move there, maybe.)
I don’t know if my family is complete. Maybe. Maybe not. Not to be all “what’s meant to be,” but I figure this whole having another kid thing will work itself out. In the meantime, I will be over here watching Paw Patrol and playing dress-up, because living in the moment is the best part of this gig.