On The Subject of More Children

When I was pregnant, people were already asking me if I wanted more children. I cringed then, and I cringe now when people ask me about it. Even though I know it's normal. Even though I have, at times, been guilty of asking other couples or women the very same child question. I suppose it's human nature...but I can't get comfortable with it. But at least now I have figured out why, and I'm trying to get more comfortable with it.

Every time I hear people say that they know they want children, or that they want more than one child, I feel a twinge of envy. Not because I want more children, but because they know. They know that they want more, or how many they want, or that they want them at all...and I've never known any of those things.

As bonded to my own child as I am, I didn't know until literally the moment I decided to become pregnant if I wanted any children at all. (Even then, I am not sure I really knew.) So it should come as no surprise to anyone that now that I have a child, I'm not sure that I want any more. Still, people ask. They started asking right away, in fact, if I wanted more.

My first inclination is generally to go into defense mode. I would say "no." Well, I didn't actually just say no...I said, "NO! NO! NOOOOOO!" Because to have a sense of certainty seemed somehow superior to being ambiguous about the subject. But it didn't satisfy anyone. It didn't satisfy others, (who were somehow determined to change my mind and convince me I do want more children) and it didn't satisfy me because the exchange was just so uncomfortable, not to mention inauthentic.

So, I switched gears and began saying I didn't know. Which is when I realized that if you say you don't know, people take it to mean "yes." Or that you are considering it and want to discuss it--which I didn't. That is, I'm not considering it. But I can't tell the future. In my tirelessness of trying to answer this question in a way that would be less confusing, I found the real problem was that I didn't even know how to begin to answer the question. What I didn't realize at the time, but realize now, is that in order for me to be authentic with my answer, I had to be comfortable with not having an answer. Then I learned: society doesn't really do uncertainty.

I literally have no clue if I want more children...there, I said it.

It's that simple...and that complicated. It's not that I don't want to my child to have siblings. I just don't have an answer. I am the Sweden of having more kids. Neither for nor against, just standing in a place of neutral ground. It is this kind of neutrality that really bugs people, which is not what I am trying to accomplish at all. I wish that I could pick a side, but my guess would be that I won't until the moment I do...and who knows when or how or where that will (if ever) happen in my life.

My suspicion is there are a lot of people like me out there. We are undecided, with no real notion of where we may fall on the "more kids" issue. It can be a frustrating place to be. I look at those of my friends who are having big families--who always knew they wanted big families--and I wish I could function with that sort of assuredness. I talk with my husband, who knows he would love to have another child, and I think "what must that feel like, to know in that way what you want?"

There are some perks, though. One such is that not knowing helps me to stay more present for my daughter's milestones, as I think "this may be the only time I see another person say their first word, or crawl or marvel at our pets." It gives me great determination to follow through with breastfeeding (despite my panic attacks) because who knows if I'll ever  do it again. It makes the time precious. It makes the hard days more manageable.

But it still doesn't give me a good answer for those who come with questions. It doesn't erase the fact that no matter what I say, even if I say I am undecided, that other people will try to color the conversation with their particular feelings and philosophies. However, the farther down the road of parenthood I get, the more I realize that it is my journey in life to become comfortable with uncertainty and impermanence.

So, that's where I am; I am trying to become comfortable with the fact that I don't know what life holds, on this question of children, or really on anything else. It's a scary thought on some levels, but I guess I better cozy up. The only constant is change, and life is an uncertain place...

How has this subject been for you? Did you always know how many (if any) children you wanted, or are you a bit like me? Share and discuss (judgment free) in the comment section below! 


  1. I gave a lot of thought as to whether or not to comment, but here goes:

    Back in what feels like a few lifetimes ago, my husband and I both agreed we wanted at least two but preferably more (he was thinking 3, I was thinking 4) children. We have both seen how as they age, our parents have relied on their siblings and being able to share the burden of caring for their aging parents (our grandparents) has made life easier for all of them.

    But now we're stuck in the wonderful land of infertility, where whether or not we have any children is up to a lot of medication, money, and medical science. There's a slight possibility we could eventually conceive without assistance, but as things stand my insurance will only cover 1-2 rounds of IVF for my lifetime (even though I am so lucky to have insurance that covers anything, this basically means that if the first round fails we're never having kids).

    I feel like every time someone talks about infertility, people default to "just adopt!" as if adoption isn't twice the cost of IVF with much lower odds of successfully getting a child. Additionally, the majority of adoption agencies are religiously affiliated, and as atheists we can't meet their criteria of being in "good moral standing" to be suitable adoptive parents. I would love for adoption to be a realistic, affordable option for my situation. If it were, I would be seriously rethinking this mess of artificial hormones, giving myself shots, and generally feeling like crap because it's my broken body that is preventing me from having a family.

    I just feel like, as a culture, family planning should only be discussed between the adults planning for their own family. It's no one else's business what choice you make, or what choices have been made for you by biology. Conversely, I wish we had a society that could be more supportive of people experiencing infertility, and respecting the fact that it is a medical condition that deserves treatment and coverage like other medical conditions. I feel like any time I mention anything relating to infertility, people look at me like I have three heads. 10% of couples experience some form of infertility/sub-fertility. It's not uncommon, it's just that people don't talk about it. I wish we could change that.

    1. I'm so glad you decided to share your comment on here. First off, let me say that I am sorry you dealing with infertility issues. In our culture (where people never stop asking about children), I am sure that it's difficult fielding constant questions about it, especially when people aren't sensitive to the unique circumstances you are in.

      I hope that your comment helps shed some light for others, as it certainly has for me! I truly hope you can achieve the family you are desiring!

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