Am I Selfish to Want More?
To Maternity… and Beyond! Chelsea Day already has two boys, but has always wanted four kids. She struggles with the hard question of whether having more is the right thing.
How long we’ve been trying: 316 days
Number of pregnancy tests to date: 29
How many times we’ve had sex: 98
The strategy: Ask the hard questions
My attempts to conceive a third child have been filled with minor hurdles along the way: keeping my expectations in check, saying “no” to certain work obligations in order to keep my stress level under control, and prioritizing time with my husband so we could actually squeeze in sex somewhere along the way. I’ve dealt with restraining my desire to throw a punch every time an invasive family member makes a rude comment or gives me wholly-unwanted advice. Making peace with mommy guilt.
I’m still working on that last one. I have two bright, beautiful boys. And yet, I don’t feel like I’m done. I’ve always planned to have four, but I do waver. Why exactly do I want more children, anyway? Perhaps it’s partly driven by my own desire to have more siblings. With a sister 6 years younger than me and step-brothers who came along in my teens, I always felt a little bit alone. I envied the closeness of my aunts and uncles and sibling friends who were born back-to-back. I wanted those built-in friendships for my own family.
However, I know that sibling relationships aren’t always so copacetic. I got lucky that my two boys were instant buddies, so maybe it’s time to stop. Maybe I should just be happy with what I have. These are people and personalities that we’re dealing with, and every time I have a baby I feel like I’m taking something of a gamble with the dynamic of my family.
There are also financial concerns. I’m not rich. If I have less, I may be able to afford better experiences for each child. Better education and more time to devote to each person in my home. I want more kids because I think it will be a positive experience for our family, and also because deep down that’s what I’ve always wanted for myself. With the concerns of everyone else in my home, I make very few decisions based on what I want anymore. I have a really hard time granting myself the luxury of giving in to my own desires.
How does one balance these competing concerns and decide when their family is “done”?
I’ve read studies and statistics, sought out advice from psychological magazines and expert advisers. There doesn’t seem to be a “magic number” when it comes to family size. There are so many moving parts, and the ideal size varies from group to group. Growing up, my best friend was an only child, and she’s a perfectly successful member of society. A family member of mine has six kids, all of whom are well-adjusted.
When I asked one of my most trusted mentors how she knew that her family was complete, the response was simple and sweet. “As with most things, Chelsea, trust your gut. You know when you know.”
I don’t feel like I’m done, and I feel the baby-having window closing in tighter and tighter with each passing month.
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