As many of you know I have a regular column here on Good Enough Mother called Ask Rene, where people write in with a question looking for a bit of common sense advice. About 4 years ago, a woman wrote in with something that was heavy on her heart; she was the mother of two great kids but had a yearning for a 3rd. Her husband was definitely NOT on board and it was causing a bit of tension in their lives. You can read the entire piece here and you should as it garnered quite a few (VERY) passionate comments over the size of one’s family.
Among the things I mentioned in my advice to her was to examine the WHY; why did she want another baby? Why was she feeling incomplete? Was she being fair to her husband?
Well the other day, (four years later) I got a message from that same woman, asking if I would be interested in an update to her question.
Of course I was! So here now is the rest of the story.. with some very important takeaway.
Four years ago, I wrote into Ask Rene about itching for another baby and husband saying no. Well, it was interesting to say the least, partly because of the wording of my feelings on the subject, and the responses that came after.
Reflecting back on it now, my language was probably a clear indicator of where I was emotionally, with statements such as “I feel robbed”; “someone else is deciding how many kids I have”, I’M not done having kids etc. Hmmm yah… Looking back at all the comments, my own included, four years later wasn’t easy, but I did it and this is what I’ve come up with…
After some soul searching and communication with my husband it was clear that I was unhappy with my career and it was easier to focus on what gave me fulfilment at the time-so having another baby would validate what I felt at the time was my main purpose-motherhood. NOT the best reason to have a baby ladies and gents-however in my defence that was genuinely not the only reason.
From that I decided to focus on my inner sense of self, which does not come from external factors such as babies, money etc. I wanted a career change, and had been unhappy with work for a while. Alongside this, I actually had some unresolved mother issues myself, which were compounding the issue, and making me baby obsessed, and I needed to work through that.
I took a career break, did further study, trying to find my way through all my unresolved stuff at the same time, and this wasn’t easy but I had my husband’s support, and about two years later I had completed the course enabling me to shift career.
Throughout all this, I was going through a period of “disenfranchised grief” of the baby I would not get to have, but I worked through it and being able to do something for myself definitely helped. A further two years later, I had well and truly moved on from the baby itch. I had a job I enjoyed, and after a while I started to work for myself and I was fulfilled. I began to focus on things I enjoyed again, such as travelling abroad, which was easier as the kids got older, and were of school age.
So the time came around again to renew/update contraception and we had discussed before that next time its his turn, (my female body has been through enough thanks), and since we are done having kids- let’s get to snipping. So he went to see the doctor, was all booked to go in a few weeks later, and he comes back home and says he’s not sure he feels were are completely done having kids…. WHAT?
It is true-its amazing what happens if you see the other persons perspective, and put their needs before yours and keep communicating openly which I believe is what we both did, as well as take the pressure off and keep it moving; because my little bundle of joy will be downloading in February 2016. It may be four years later but I’m in a much better headspace, and because I am self employed (and happy) I can take time off and not worry about the pressure or anxiety about returning to the workforce before things change too much or I get replaced, plus my two kids are older and more independent which (I hope) reduces the level of crazy that comes with having more kids than hands.
As with any situation, it is really worth looking further within yourself and ask yourself what your strong feelings are really about, because in many cases you’ll find there’s always something deeper lying beneath, and sometimes it is a completely subconscious process. In my case, yes I knew I wanted more children, but I was either unaware of the main reason why at that time; or admitting to it would mean admitting my own shortcomings and albeit selfish reasons for wanting another baby- self validation (even in the ask Rene column I found it difficult to answer the question as to why I wanted another child). The search within isn’t easy as you may have to face some uncomfortable truths about yourself (or other). In any relationship, never let your own personal feelings about your own issues or inadequacies put pressure on your partner or relationship ESPECIALLY when it involves something as major as bringing another human into the world. Sort that mess out first! I cannot stress how important it is to continue to be honest in communicating and working on your own issues even in a steady and committed relationship because you never know when they are going to turn up and in what form. Ideally you should clearly agree on how many kids you are going to have before entering into a marriage however should minds get changed along the way, Really really dig deep into the reasons as to why.
That’s the update.. What do you think of her situation? Have you ever been in a place like this? How did you determine the size of your family?