Should I Have Another Baby? 6 Questions to Ask First
Maybe you’ve been considering having your first or fifth baby. Like me, you turn to your friend, Google for a little advice. My husband and I have asked ourselves this question three times now and all three times, the answer, despite a premature birth, a cross country relocation and starting a new business, has been a relatively easy yes.
Now that we’re three kids deep and somewhat more settled in life, the question of having another baby draws questions that are a little harder to answer. So I’ll share them with you and maybe we’ll get a little clarity.
ARE YOU TIRED? If you are considering having your first baby, I am apologetically incapable of describing how tired you will be in those first three to six to ten months. Some people get sleepers, most don’t. Even if your baby does sleep, the weight of being responsible for another human life is enough to keep a busy mind active in the wee hours.
I can tell you from experience, however, that this personality altering sleep deprivation does not last. It will take a few nights in a row of a full sleep cycle for you to realize that you are not a zombie and you actually have energy for the 14 hour work day that lies ahead of you that day and all the other days…7 days a week.
So being tired is a detriment, but it is not a permanent obstacle.
DOES YOUR PARTNER WANT THIS? If you are raising your children with someone or considering pro-creating or adoption, it really takes two to tango. If you are considering doing this on your own, that is a different blog post. I can tell you that it often takes more than two people to raise one person so the math is not in favor of striking out on a solo mission but God knows many people have done it and they’ve done it really well, I imagine it takes all you’ve got and more to be a single parent.
If your partner is into it, you will have to give them a big kiss bye bye for a while. You will cross paths. You can exchange stolen texts but you as the primary caregiver will disappear into survival mode for however long it takes you to bob back up to the surface. This might start with ‘morning’ or all day sickness or it might happen after bringing baby home but it will most likely happen.
If you have a strong marriage/relationship, you could grow stronger through this incredibly taxing experience. Personally, our marriage may have blown up many times in it’s short life if not for a shared faith. We are both stubborn and neither of us will be the first to call it quits. I am not saying your relationship won’t survive if you do not believe in God. What I am saying is that it really helps to be on the same page about a lot of things, the big things, when you both decide to bring another human into your family. This is why they say you should marry your best friend. Golden advice.
ARE YOU HAPPY ? This is important when deciding whether or not to bring another human into the world. Are you already a parent? Does this bring you happiness? Sure you might feel homicidal at times but, overall, do you enjoy the job? It is not selfish to want to be happy. If we are happy, we will be much better at raising happy people who can, in turn, shine their happiness on others.
If you’re already a parent and considering another baby, you already know the drill, another baby will inevitably require more sacrifice but if you have been generally ok with that the first, second, third, etc. time around, another baby is not too different, you will just be even more tired than you were last time and have less time to yourself in the early years of parenting.
If you are reading this, you most likely already know how much sacrifice is involved in being a parent. More children = more sacrifices. There is no doubt that my children and husband are the greatest source of joy in my life. I wanted those familial relationships before I even met my husband but I had to let go of the desire when I was single and ask God for purpose and happiness on my own. I think the same thing goes for additional babies. If your heart yearns for another baby and that desire springs from joy within your current situation, than it may be the right move.
CAN YOU AFFORD IT? The cost of bringing a healthy baby into the world at the time of writing this post is between $3K - $8K depending on your insurance. If you are considering another baby, you may be able to save on stuff with baby #2, 3 or 4… or 5 by re-using. You’ll also know more parents by the time you have another baby since your first baby is older now so you will find lots of baby stuff coming your way.
Parents with older children can comment on all the other costs as kids get older…sports, braces, car insurance, camps, bigger house, bigger car, smaller dog, college…gulp. For us, the decision to bring Baby #4 into the world is most strongly influenced by this question. Can we afford 4 babies, probably. Can we afford 4 teens? Don’t know. Can we afford 4 young adults? Eek!
Money is a big hurdle when deciding to have another child, but you and your partner are the only people who can answer whether or not you can afford another baby and whether or not there are some things you can let go of in order to grow your family. I have seen friends with big families move into smaller houses, give up one car and even give up one career either permanently or temporarily in order to grow their family. Each of them have felt a freedom in the letting go of things/possessions in order to make room for another person.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Having another baby takes an emotional and physical toll, as well. Most people are comfortable with a married couple bringing a baby into the world. Most people share your happiness about baby number two. Judgement starts to reveal itself with baby number three and by four or five, you will most certainly get comments and stares that test your ability to stay polite.
If the judgement comes from a little closer to home, that can be even harder to handle. Managing relationships with your adult support system may be too much when you’re already consumed by pregnancy and a newborn. Just some food for thought.
The important thing is to recognize the cost both financially and emotionally in having another baby and being secure, both you and your partner, that the benefits outweigh those costs.
WILL THE OTHER KIDS BENEFIT? This is a big one and a question that is pretty hard to answer without testing in real life. One of the negative emotions I notice most in a work day with these babies and toddlers is guilt or remorse. I am stretched pretty thin when I am holding an infant and the toddler needs to be held after falling off a stool and landing on his head. The 4 year old has tantrums and outbursts that I know are a direct result of a temporary lack of attention.
Also, each baby makes it a little harder to get around. We only have three and one is immobile (infant) and they have yet to give out handicap placards to new parents. Leaving the house is a big deal. We do it or we’d all go nuts but it’s no small feet. It is a sport…that is why I wear stretchy pants, it isn’t because I think there’s anything worth showing off.
The good news, if you are hoping for a push in the direction of having another baby, is that the kids love the baby more than anything. Our little one gets more kisses and squeezes than I could have imagined. We are both middle children and both came from three and do not remember not a lack of attention that can be directly linked to our younger sibling. Our hope is that our children will subconsciously forgive any bad hands that will be dealt and generally continue to be happy with the friends they are growing up with.
IS YOUR FAMILY READY FOR ANYTHING? As you know, when you have a baby, you have to be prepared for whatever comes your way. None of us can expect a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby. Nothing is a given. If you are of a mind that a life is a life is a life, you may bring home a baby with special needs, maybe really special needs. I am reminding you from the trenches that a healthy baby is beyond needy. They need so much that you feel like you don’t have enough to give 24/7.
A baby with health complications will need the entire family to make sacrifices. Maybe big ones. Our second was born six weeks early and we feel that we have not experienced anything so hard as his time spent in the NICU.
For our family, we know we have to look at the real possibility of complications, pain, loss and we have to pray that those things might be character-shaping for us and our kids and that we grow as individuals and as a family through them.
The point is, if you have faith that you and your partner and current children will be able to handle anything God or randomness brings, then you might be ready for another kiddo. This is the stuff of life and death, literally so…I think you get it. This isn’t for the faint of heart.
Should you have another baby? So far, for us, the rewards far outweigh the costs. For some people, that tipping point is one child, for others, it’s seventeen.
The number of children you have is not a reflection of how good you are at being a parent. It is not a competition between you and your peers. It is more of a competition within yourself, fighting the tired, frustrated, desperate for some personal time human you drag out of bed every morning (and throughout the night).
It is not about how many kids you can handle. It is about you and the person you are raising these babies with having a shared sense that it is time to move your family into a different phase or that you both feel a strong pull or calling to dive into it all again, together. I hope the above gives us both some food for thought, prayer, consideration and you and your partner can have an open dialogue about it.
If you are reading this, your heart probably wants it, and that’s an important start, because, as you know, this job takes a lot of heart. Most moms who are done say you just know, so...