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Should We Have Another Baby?

How to decide how many children to have. A mother of 4 shares her journey.

Should We Have Another Baby?

Before I had been discharged from the hospital, probably before I had delivered one of the twins’ placentas, Aunt Sue said to me, “you’re done now, right?” I gazed at her, uncomprehending. A few weeks later she mentioned that opting to get her tubes tied after her second child was the best decision she had ever made. “You have a boy and a girl,” she went on, “you’re done now, right?”

“No! We’ve always wanted four kids.” (In a 1 bedroom NYC apartment, up 4 flights of stairs, with 2 cents between us, so, no plan is perfect.) A few years on found us in NYC nirvana, a ground floor apartment with a back garden, weighing the pros and cons of trying for our next baby. The cons list was several pages long while the pros featured four words: but they’re so cute!

We struggled with the decision for a year. We consulting family and friends, in vain -- no one can tell another if, when, or how many when it comes to children. The biological imperative wasn’t overly helpful either. It doesn't make a strong argument that the world needs more people, but neither is it specific about how many it needs me to produce. Studies show that number of siblings does not make a child more content, smarter or better socialized. Only a happy family can. In the end, with no other real excuse, we have children for fun.

How many? Assuming our bodies have not already made the decision, instincts tell us what will work at a given point in life. The hard part is silencing the narrative of shoulds, shouldn'ts, guilt and expectation long enough to hear what our instincts have to say. What makes you and your household happy? Will a new baby enhance that? There is no right and wrong. If you are privileged enough to put practicalities aside, your gut will tell you, and you will always be right. So we closed our eyes, shut out public opinion, and said, one more.

Soon enough we found ourselves with almost-four-year-old twins and a baby on the way. Our first OBGYN appointment confirmed that only one was involved, and the three month wait to tell the world was on. We suffered through an interminable hour before the need to break the news to big sister and brother became overwhelming. As it happened, the only two people we had not consulted about whether to have a baby had been happily preparing for her arrival for some time – complete with name and estimated time of arrival – and were brooking no argument with their plans.

Fine. Now, what to explain and how? We told them that the baby would grow in my uterus, from a seed mommy and daddy planted there, and showed them where that would take place on my belly. Ever practical, all they wanted to know was how she would get out. “Through the birth canal,” I replied, examining them closely for signs of curiosity regarding means of egress. No, they were pleased, secure in the knowledge that she would be rowing out in a boat. I fretted for seven months about whether they would ask further questions of someone who would tell them something either inaccurate or terrifying. I went so far as to make sure that my best friend would rush over the moment I felt my first Braxton Hicks contraction, just in case this new development sparked keener interest.

All my worries went by the wayside when the kids picked their little sister up from the hospital and the question of whose baby she was took precedence. The twins were shocked to find that I wasn't giving her to them LITERALLY. We came to an uneasy understanding, and our youngest grew up with four attentive parents instead of two.

They've done a superb job raising each other. Through the usual thick and thin – terrible twos, ferocious fours, tortured tweens, the sweetness of a best friend added to the family, and the truly deranged, four-at-the-same-time teen years – all four have gone on to fulfill our wildest dreams by continuing to enjoy and depend on one and other.

I will tell you this, though, while our decision was based on instinct, I am absolutely sure that my instincts had surveyed our surroundings. If we had stayed in our old apartment, if we did not lived next door to a blended family with six older kids, if we did not have dear friends within walking distance, if I did not have a wise best friend with grown children to consult, if we had not already happened upon a magical daycare center, and if my employer did not allow job-sharing, my gut might have said something very different. The mind may put aside practicalities, but the gut senses all. So, in the case of if, when and how many, it really is always right.

Photography by Lindsey Belle.

 

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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