Millennium Mom

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The debate on number of children to have

Two people entering a marriage often come from different backgrounds and family situations. This typically means they come in with different thoughts on things like finances, how many children to have, how to discipline them, etc. This was certainly true for my husband and I. We came in with a lot of similarities; two stable homes with marriages of our parents at 38 and 34 years each when we married (now 46 and 42!), a lack of divorce in our families, a strong work ethic and commitment to each others careers and more. But we also came in with some differences. My mom worked while Arnie's did not, we came from very different financial situations and very different "extended" family situations -- mine a very large Italian family that got together for every birthday, anniversary, communion, graduation, etc and his from an extremely small family (only one sibling, parents were only child and the other one sibling).

The financial and size of family differences brought us into our marriage with different thoughts on how many children to have. I wanted five. I came from a family of three and always wanted more than that. I knew we could afford more and really desired a large clan. Arnie came in wanting two, the size he grew up in. Of course we talked this often and even before we were married and Arnie quickly came up to three and I went down to four. But then we were stuck. We agreed we would have the children and see what God brought us.

As you all know we had Ben in 2002. Then much quicker than we expected we had Claire, 18 months later. Given how close in age they were we decided to have our third about the same age difference as the first two. Thankfully God went along with our desires and Sarah was born 18 months later. When I was pregnant with Sarah I secretly would pray she would be a boy, because I knew Arnie was very nervous with little girls. He only had a brother and in general is a guys guy. I still dreamed of a fourth and knew it would be easier to get if I had a boy. In the delivery room the doctor quickly said you have a beautiful little girl and I think I saw my dream of a fourth go out the hospital window.

I didn't give up thought. Sarah was an extremely good baby, some say a typical third. She was easy going, happy with anyone, slept through the night early, etc. We could not have asked for more, but Arnie still wasn't there. He wanted to get back to our "active" lifestyle and vacations and knew the sooner we were out of diapers and without and infant the better. I tried every negotiation tactic I knew, but he just wasn't budging. At some point I quickly realized this was important to him, and my marriage and love for him were more important than another baby. I would still "ask" but he never wavered. He would beg me to let him go "take care of things."

So finally yesterday "we took care of things" and had V-day. I am still not totally comfortable with this so we did freeze some sperm, just in case. My advice to you all is to talk about this subject early and often, really before you marry. We really differed on the number for many reasons. For me having children is about love and caring for them. For Arnie it also means saving enough to pay for 100% of their college education, because that is how his family did it. Mine did not, I had plenty of student loans and that was just fine with me. I still got a terrific education and did just fine. So talk about what having children means and how many you will have.

I would be crazy if I didn't say you also go child by child. If you were to have a child with health problems or have difficulty getting pregnant, of course that can change things. So take them one at a time, love them, admire them and figure out what is next. I loved having mine so close to together and in hindsight wouldn't' have it any other way...except maybe if there was a fourth :)


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