Read an Excerpt
Your Changing Family
"Having a child has brought out a whole other side of me that I never really knew was there," says Esther. "I have always enjoyed helping and encouraging people, but the love and care that is bestowed upon a child is far more important and rewarding than anything else I've ever done. We absolutely adore our daughter and wanted to be able to share that love with another child."
It can happen at any time, when you least expect it. It can be part of some grand plan or it could come as a complete surprise. Your threesome is destined to become a moresome.
If this describes your current familial situation, that means you've either decided that you want to try to have another child or, depending on your state of denial, have declared that you are not trying not to. Perhaps you are beyond the trying stage and are expecting once again, already sorting old baby clothes and past the Ps in one of those baby-name books--.
The mere fact that you are even considering another baby in the house means that you are probably asking yourselves a lot of questions, from "How can I love a second child as much as I adore my first?" to "Will I ever get to see my spouse -- awake -- again?"
We'll get to those questions and more later in the book. But to start, Id like to try to answer the most basic question here, "Why have another one?"
When One Is Not Enough
There are a lot of reasons parents decide to fill their houses once again with the smells, sounds, and sweetness of a new baby, although generally, 4:00 A.M. feedings, endless diaper changes, and spit-up around everycomer don't top their lists. Rather, a combination of pressures, images, and ideals-and an occasional accident-brings families to the blessed expectant state again.
Many couples form an image of the perfect family size early in their relationships, even before the first one comes along. (Ironically, this is often discussed over coffee in a romantic bistro or while lying in bed talking, two activities that are rarely enjoyed by families with two or more children.) As a matter of fact, individuals may come into relationships with preconceived, so to speak, notions on the topic. What's more, these expectations-for instance, wanting a big, bustling family, or wanting no children whatsoever-may have an impact on the future of the twosome.
A couple's own family backgrounds play a big part in shaping this ideal, researchers report. A 1994 study by the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan found that a person's own family size (number of siblings), siblings' fertility (the number of nieces and nephews a person has), and parents' offhand remarks about the size of their families (for instance, complaining that they had too many children or that they wished they had more) have an important influence over his family-size preferences. Or, simply put, family size has a tendency to run in families.
"All of my children -- William, three; Frank, two; and John, due in October-were entirely planned," explains Pamela. "I am the youngest of six children, and my husband the youngest of four, so large families seem natural to us."
Obviously, not all couples imitate their own families in magnitude, particularly when they harbor particularly trying or harsh memories of their childhoods. For instance, someone who felt lost in a bustling household of siblings may opt for only one or two of their own children. Or an "only" may desire a very different family environment for his own children.
Often, couples report feeling the need to provide grandchildren when other siblings are unable or uninterested. "My sisters have no kids and, at the time, no plans to get married," says Amy, mother to Alice and Caroline, born three years apart. "My husband was an only child and both of his folks were only children. We decided Alice would need reinforcements."
This individual family ideal, however, is subject to modification once the kids start adding up. "Since I'm an only child and my husband's only sibling won't be having any children, we decided we wanted a large family," says Leah, an expectant mother of Jane, a toddler. But when plagued by health problems such as asthma, migraines, and depression during her second pregnancy, Leah and Bill revised their long-term plans. "This will be our last child," she says. "I do not want to be pregnant ever again."
Whatever the motivation behind it -- growing up in a big family, growing up an only, wanting something better or different for your child -- couples often articulate this numerical need as an intuitive sense of what's right for them. "Our second child, Dara, was totally planned, perhaps even overplanned!" says Susan L., referring to the years of fertility-drug treatments and medical procedures she underwent in hopes of conceiving a sibling for her son, Hal. "Our family would not have felt 'complete' without a second child."
It's not uncommon for one parent to feel strongly about increasing the pack when the other has had it with procreating. Says Kathi, "We have two beautiful children, a three-year-old boy and a girl, age one. My husband says we are finished, but I would really like a third. People keep saying, 'Oh, you're so lucky to have one of each, you can be done now,' but I just don't feel like our family is whole yet."Wendy's idea of the perfect family size doesn't correspond with her husband's, either. "I just don't feel that my 'baby days' are over. We have a seven-year-old boy and a two-and-a-half-year-old girl, but I'm ready for another. My husband thinks we're done, though. Sometimes I wish we had had two of the same sex just because I know he'd give in and try for the other... And Baby Makes Four. Copyright © by Hilory Wagner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.