A Two Child Limit?

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When it comes to why we love being early mamas, one of the most popular tweets, emails and comments I've received is this: "We can have more babies!"

And this is absolutely a perk for those who want a Van Trapp-like brood, with more child-rearing years to make that happen. Older parents often feel pressured to squeeze in siblings as fast as possible, considering pregnancies can be more difficult as you get older. But us younger parents? We have a solid decade (or more) to expand our families. We have time to hem and haw over possible future additions.

But that's not something that initially came to my mind. In fact, I kind of feel pressure to have two kids (and only two kids) closer together, just to enjoy the perks of an early empty nest. While some parents are chauffeuring elementary-age kids around at 45 years old, I'll have a college graduate at that age (hopefully). And I like that. It's one of my favorites perks.

Besides that, I already feel so invested in my son's life — so worrisome about the what ifs — that I'm not sure I'd survive opening myself up to that much vulnerability. To have three, four, five little children wandering around the big scary world is, honestly, overwhelming. I'm sure I'll eventually be able to shut off that part of my brain — the part that thinks about wars, political cultures, economic climates — but I often think, How many children do I want to bring into this world? And on top of it all, Justin and I weren't raised privileged by any means, so we'd like to be able to give our children as much as we can.

However...

When I started thinking about the gender of our next child, something frightening happened: I realized that no matter what we have — a boy or a girl — I'll be slightly disappointed. Of course I'll mostly be elated, but there will be a twinge of sadness as well. If we have a girl next, I'll be bummed to never have another little boy. Perhaps because I just love Noah so darn much, I can't image not having another little man around. And the boy names that we've picked feel so right for our family (much more than the girl names), and I've become so attached to them. It'll be sad to know those little boys will never be a part of our family.

Yet if we have another boy, it'll be difficult to accept never having a little girl. Never knowing that tumultuous, exhausting, infinitely rewarding mother-daughter relationship. The first time around I was relieved to be having a boy, only because I feel like raising a strong, confident daughter (in our society) is a more challenging assignment. And at 22 years old, barely a woman myself, I wasn't sure I was up for it. But now? Now I think I'm ready. I have so much to teach a girl, to tell my girl — so much that I'll never be able to share with little boys — that the thought of her not existing is a bit sad.

So while the logic of two children still seems right, the possibility of only two children is starting to feel unimaginable.

But like you all said, at least I have more time to make a final decision.

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