This morning, I watched in fascination-disbelief-bewilderment as Annegret Raunigk — the 65-year-old German mom of 13 kids who is currently pregnant with quadruplets — was interviewed on The Today Show. She gave birth to her oldest child, daughter Lelia, 10 years ago; now, Lelia wants a sibling closer to her own age. (Lelia’s 12 older sibs range in age from 22 to 44.) So, Raunigk sought out fertility treatments to grant her youngest child’s wish.
It’s not up to me to judge this woman for her choices, but her interview did get me thinking about all the reasons why I could never handle quadruplets now while I’m in my thirties…or at my mother’s age.
1. Pregnancy is damn hard, even with one baby. I suffered from severe morning sickness while pregnant with my son Mason, now 4, and that wasn’t even the worst of it. There was also debilitating anxiety and postpartum depression. And the discomfort of hauling a big bump around Manhattan in August. All that while housing four babies? No way.
2. My baby is kicking my 30-something a#s. I am so thankful for my darling little 8-month-old daughter Poppy, but being her food source, entertainer, sleep charmer, defender, apologist, protector, and biggest fan on top of being a mom to a preschooler, as well as an editor, wife, friend, and human being drains every bit of my energy. And that’s on the good days. I can’t imagine tackling that challenge times four.
3. Spring break with two kids nearly killed me. My husband and I just took both kids to Florida for five days, and it was the most exhausting “vacation” of our lives. We needed the weekend to recover. I dream of the day when both kids are older and we can travel without ending up with a joint case of PTSD. And I’m pretty sure that’s more likely to happen with fewer kids than with more.
4. I could never be outnumbered by kids. It was on that trip that I realized another baby probably isn’t in the cards for me. Two kids fully occupy our attention; there’s no room for more, unless we wish to enlist more help. We don’t.
5. Mornings are crazy with two kids. My day starts about two hours before I need to leave the house and it involves getting myself showered and dressed, breastfeeding the baby, feeding her oatmeal, dressing her, waking my preschooler up, getting him dressed, feeding him breakfast, and packing his lunch — all before getting him to school by 8:20 (it’s an eight-block walk) and myself to work by 9. Totally not interested in taking on that challenge with four more.
6. I love to sleep. True, right now I’m sh*t out of luck most times (see #1) — but I have to believe that when my kids are older I will get more sleep at least once in a while (if only because I’ll be able to ship them to their grandparents’ houses for occasional overnights). And while the grandparents would welcome two kiddos, I’m certain they couldn’t handle six.
7. Our dinner table only has four chairs. Family dinners — you know, the kind where everyone eats a meal together and talks about their day — are a big deal in my house. We make a point to have them on most nights. Arranging our schedules so that we can pull this off with two little kids is tough enough; I can’t imagine adding four more schedules to the mix, or making a bigger table work in our
minuscule cozy Brooklyn apartment.
8. I refuse to drive a van…or a bus. Here’s the thing: I can barely drive a compact car. It’s one of the reasons why I love living in NYC (hello, walking, subway, and car service). If I had that many kids I’d have to move to the ‘burbs and drive a giant car. No thanks.
9. I live in NYC. Space issues aside (see #7), it’s damn expensive to live in the city (and no, Brooklyn isn’t cheap). But I love it. And I can’t have so many kids that I have to stop living in the place I love.
10. I love to work. I love, love my job. I love my kids, too. It’s a tough juggling act, even when everything falls smoothly into place (and, really, when does that ever happen?). Still, I feel good about how I’m managing it all right now — but I also know that I couldn’t pull it off as well with more children (especially not four more babies). And then there are the childcare costs to consider…
11. I need “me” time, and so does my husband. We can each handle two kids reasonably well (as long as we’re not on “vacation”), which means that the other parent can take a Pilates class, sit in a coffee shop for a 30-minute break, or take a nap. But all bets would be off with more babies in the mix.
Could you handle quadruplets?