The idea of having lots of kids sounds incredibly romantic when you don’t have any kids yet.
I laughed when I read actress Blake Lively’s comment that she wishes she could “spit out a litter of kids” with her husband Ryan Reynolds. How cute. Of course, she thinks that now. She has no idea what having kids really means.
First of all, announcing that you want to get pregnant can really put the pressure on you to do it quickly — and the watch for a baby bump begins. It’s a risk not worth taking. Other than a few close friends, I didn’t tell anyone I was trying to get pregnant with either of my kids. Even though it happened quickly both times, I can’t imagine how annoying my family would have been if they’d known and it took longer than expected. Or, if I had to go through any fertility treatments or medical procedures, I may have wanted to keep some of it private. That’s a pressure that celebrities aren’t immune to — look at Kim Kardashian, whose recent comments that she wants to have another baby soon led to a flurry of press announcing she’s already pregnant.
But even apart from the pressure of trying to conceive on a timetable, people who aren’t parents yet can’t possibly know what they want in a family. Sure they can dream, but the reality of having a child can change your plans drastically.
Before I had kids, I thought I wanted a lot of kids. I used to tell people I wanted a dozen, most of them adopted. Being pregnant ten times never sounded appealing to me, but raising a litter of kids? I love the idea. I’d been a camp counselor, so I knew I could handle a big group of kids. Raising my own kids couldn’t be that different, right? The fact that they’d be different ages would actually make it easier — the big kids would help with the younger ones! I read Cheaper by the Dozen and daydreamed about living a similar life.
It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t get married till I was over 30, because by then, spitting out a litter of a dozen kids sounded less appealing. But I still wanted a lot of kids, and after a year of marriage, I got pregnant. We were on our way to a Baker’s dozen.
Then I had my daughter.
Every baby shoots into your life like a rocket, making you rethink everything you ever believed or thought you knew. But some babies do that more than others. My daughter was one of those. She nursed constantly, cried whenever she wasn’t being held, and wouldn’t sleep all night till she was 3. She was the light of my life, the most precious thing I’d ever seen, the most glorious thing that ever happened to me, and wow, was she a lot of work.
The idea of other kids didn’t even cross my mind when she was little. I forgot the possibility existed. But by the time she was a year old, I came up for air enough to insist that I didn’t want any more kids ever. She took up all my time and attention, and I couldn’t imagine splitting that with another child. One was all I could handle.
As she got older, I started to reconsider. She finally learned to play independently and sleep through the night. In the end, she was the one who convinced me: She loved babies, and when she begged me for a baby sister or brother, I couldn’t say no.
So when she was almost four, I had my son. But even though he was a lot less needy than his sister — much more easily entertained, and much more willing to be set down for brief periods so I could cook dinner — I knew even before he was born that he was my last. Two kids is enough. My family is complete now, and I have no intention of trying for another.
But now that I’ve announced that, I’ll probably regret it. Who’s to say my son won’t convince me he needs a baby sibling, too? Life happens, and plans change, and it’s really no concern of anyone outside my family how many kids I have.
So let’s just pretend I never said that, ok? And I’ll keep my future plans for my family to myself.