Random person: “Oh my goodness, are they twins?”
Me: “Yes, yes they are.”
RP: “A boy and a girl?”
RP: “Are these your first?”
Me: “Yep.” (wait for it…)
RP: “Oh, how great! Then you’re all done!”
Me: (half-smile, non-committal mumble, keep walking…)
We all get the question: are you going to have any more? The random strangers on the street who simply must talk to us… if you have two boys, you’re asked if you’ll try for a girl. Two girls, if you’ll try for a boy. And boy/girl, apparently that satisfies the universe and it’s assumed you’re all done.
And don’t even get us started on the dads… as much as it annoys me when people make the assumption that I’m all done after my first-time-out boy/girl twins, my husband goes and volunteers the idea to random passers-by. “Yep, and we’re done! Done, done, done!” Nice, honey. One of the HDYDI husbands (Hi, S.M.!) even responded to the idea of this post in haiku form:
Children after twins:
Maybe when they’re older, then
We’ll have time for sex.
In all seriousness, I think everyone has confronted the idea of whether or not to have more kids after multiples. There’s a million different factors to that decision. For one, I think we all have in our heads the “ideal” number of children we always wanted to have. Some people want big families, the more the merrier. Some could barely be talked into having one. And then, the reality of being a parent sets in, and sometimes that “ideal” number changes. Maybe you discover being a mom is the greatest thing, ever, and you just want more. Or maybe you come to the crashing realization of how hard it is, and maybe just these two will be plenty.
Having a set of multiples adds several new dimensions to the discussion, and not just in the “more than you bargained for” sense. First, there’s the issue of pregnancy. Many of us do not have fond memories of our swollen feet, ankles and legs, of bedrest and high blood pressure, of the aches and pains and stress that go along with a multiple pregnancy. For those who had “spontaneous” twins, there’s the fear: what if it’s twins again? (Um, hi Laura N.) Even the ones with identical twins, who have no higher likelihood of having a second set… still, we wonder. Will lightning strike twice? For those who had to deal with infertility, there’s the question: do I want to go through all of that again? The hormones, the shots, the stress… Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be one of those couples who has a surprise pregnancy post-IVF. Wouldn’t that be nice? And finally, many of us feel as though, if there are any more kids on the horizon, maybe we’ll wait longer than we might have if our first were a singleton.
Many of us, for whom our twins are our first kids, have dreams of experiencing a different kind of parenthood. We’d like to see life through they eyes of a singleton parent. Wouldn’t it be so much easier? Oh, the cute single strollers we’d have! (Sadly, I think we’d be disappointed to learn that even singleton newborns are challenging, but whatever…) There’s also the idea of being a more experienced mom, and the things we imagine we’d do better/differently if we “knew then what we know now.” Again, it probably wouldn’t all go so well as we imagine, but it’s a nice dream.
There’s a million reasons people have for wanting more kids, or for being d-o-n-e DONE. But as with many things, it’s important for you and your husband/partner to be on the same page about whatever decision you make. Certainly, we don’t always agree! Remember that moms can have some crazy, instinctual, hormonal stuff that causes you to block out how much you hated being pregnant, and eventually make you want to do it again. Evolution is smart, that way. Your husband does not necessarily have the same selective memory, and remembers quite clearly how much you swore at him when he was trying to help you roll your enormous ass off the couch. One way or another, if there’s disagreement on how many kids to have, you need to sit down and talk about it. You need to figure out not only why your husband, for example, does not want any more kids, but also why you do. Self-examination is a good thing. Forcing or tricking a spouse into something is not. After all, you’re going to need him around to help with all of those extra kids…
And hey, sometimes surprises happen. Sometimes the passage of time softens the edges of your memory, and you think having more kids wouldn’t be so bad. Sometimes, even dads change their minds. As M and I were discussing this issue (for the record, his vote is usually NO NO NO, and mine is “ask me when they’re older”), and talking about the fact that there’s a halfway decent (I’ve heard 8-12%) chance we’d have another set of twins, we shuddered a little. And then he said, only mostly joking…
But, having them one at a time… doesn’t that seem a little… inefficient?