A great number of factors influence the ultimate decision. They may include finances, career ambitions, and parenting choices. Another important thing to look at is how the number of kids you have impacts your relationship with your partner.
Babies and your relationship
There is no doubt that babies impact your relationship with your partner in a very real way. The quality of your marriage is at least as important a factor to take into account as anything else that may drive your family planning choices. Pregnancy can be stressful, and pregnancy along with several young children can be doubly so. After birth, most mothers are inevitably wrapped up in taking care of their little ones round the clock. Between diapers, nightly wakings, and constant nursing, most couples find that there is not much time left for them.
Caring for a baby let's say, up to two years old certainly takes an awful lot of energy for me. Having a baby is wonderful, and wonderfully fulfilling, but also rather tiring. I remember just wanting to lie down and read a book or go to sleep after my husband got home from work. "Oh, you're home. Your turn to take care of the baby". Though he is a great dad, my husband admitted to missing that pre-baby era in which we would talk the night away, watch a movie together at least a few times a week, spontaneously go out for dinner and... have sex sometimes :). The first few years of a child's life require a lot of care, and take the spontaneity out of a relationship.
Deciding not to get pregnant again real life stories
The good news is, babies grow up and your relationship will go back to normal. Are you ready to do it all over again? I asked a few friends who are definitely done having kids how they came to that decision, and what role the quality of their relationship with their partner played in the choice. Friend A made it very clear that she was done having kids because she wanted her marriage back:
When I was pregnant with baby number three, I told [husband] that I would be having a tubal ligation right after my planned cesarean section unless he felt very, very strong about having another baby. My babies came really close together, and I was fed up with never spending time alone with my soul mate. Sure, it gets better after a while but both of us tend to get stressed easily and it was impossible to enjoy each other anymore. I love being a mom but I also want to have the time to be a wife.
Friend A did get her tubes tied, and her kids are now old enough to grant her more freedom. Her decision to stop at number three was the right one, without a doubt. My other friend, friend B, has one child and decided to leave it at that. She said:
We are still young and I am not saying I will never have another baby. If we had one now, I am not sure if our relationship would survive. It's not the sex, which we still manage to squeeze in, but it's being there for each other.
The third, friend C, is a staunch feminist. Despite that, she shares:
Women seem to get much more out of those baby years than men do. My partner openly says that he loves parenting older kids, but is so ready to be done with breastfeeding and cosleeping. My babies fulfilled me completely but left my partner out in the cold.
Wow! Political correctness doesn't need to factor into anyone's family planning decisions, and her comments definitely illustrate that! Should you have another baby? Yes, if you and your partner both want to go for it. If you're still thinking about it, perhaps it's time to add the quality of your relationship and your long and short term wishes and needs within your relationship to the brainstorming list. We'd love to hear your views on this topic! Feel free to leave a comment.