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Baby Spacing Blues

Oct26

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Hi Amy,
I am such a fan of your writing–your blog and columns are always good for a pick-me-up. I am writing because I have a situation that I just don’t know how to resolve. I want to have a second baby, and my husband doesn’t. Our daughter is 18 months old, and I’ve started feeling the urge to get pregnant again. My husband has said he’d be willing to compromise and have another baby in, say, 4 years. But here’s the thing. I’m already 34, and conceiving our daughter took a year and a half. So waiting 4 years to start trying for #2 just seems crazy to me. I’m feeling stuck. Every time I try to have a conversation with him about it, I get this knee-jerk “I’m not ready” reaction. I feel so tempted to just quit taking my pills, but I know that would be a huge mistake. If I did get pregnant that way, I’d feel terrible for tricking him. But I really just don’t know how to bring him around to my point of view. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
Baby Crazy Mama

As someone who was ready for her first baby loooong before her husband was, I totally sympathize. It’s a rough spot to be in, particularly since we’re the ones with the CRAZY TICKING THUMPING BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS going off in our hormone-addled brains. And while I don’t know of any magic words that will make your husband change his mind, I do know of two things that may make things even worse. Do not do either of these two things:
1) Threats and/or ultimatums.
2) Deception.
I’m sorry, but that whole “I’ll just FORGET to take my Pill” thing grosses me out. I know you were mostly joking but other women…not so much. Totally not fair to anyone, hypothetical baby-to-be included. Family planning and building is a whole family activity, so…yeah. That’s all I have to say about THAT.
Honestly, it sounds like your husband just wants and needs a little time. He’s not saying never, he’s saying not now, and while I know you have very real, logical reasons for wanting it now, pushing/begging/haranguing him will probably not help. Not to make even more gross generalizations about baby-crazy women and their menfolk, but guys definitely like to be READY. Your husband doesn’t feel READY. There’s nothing you can do or say to force him to feel otherwise, for the time being. I’m sure he will come around — maybe it’ll be packing up the crib, her birthday, potty-training, a sudden realization that oh wow, he doesn’t have a baby anymore. I don’t know his specific reasons for wanting to wait so long, but there’s probably a mental lip he needs to nudge himself over. You can offer an occasional poke, but you can’t push.
You can (and should) talk to him about the importance of the over-35 thing for pregnant women, the increased risks for both you and baby, the possibility for more invasive genetic testing, all of that fun stuff. Don’t fixate on it and wig yourself out, but make sure he knows that it is indeed a Real Thing, not to be shrugged off as irrelevant to your child-spacing decisions. Fertility decreases, while the risks of birth defects (particularly Downs Syndrome) and miscarriage increase (from about 12% to 25%). If he continues to insist on waiting, please don’t be terrified or anything — just focus on your own health in the meantime. Maintaining good diet and weight and lifestyle will up your odds of an easy, complication-free conception and pregnancy.
You may also be interested in:
Does Two Under Two Shortchange the One?

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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15 Responses to “Baby Spacing Blues”

  1. Meredith Oct 26 at 3:29 pm Reply Reply

    Not that long ago, I was the person who didn’t want to have a 2nd child and my husband was raring to go after our daughter turned 6 months old. I really wasn’t sure I wanted a 2nd much less one so close in age to my daughter. I did change me mind about having another child, but it happened gradually and with little pressure from my husband. My daughter will be 2 1/2 when her sibling is born and that did make a difference to me–the fact that she is a little more independent at that age. (I am over 35 and we did do some additional testing with this pregnancy but it wasn’t overly invasive.)
    So…please don’t put any extra pressure on your husband during this time. As Amy stated, a little time might work in your favor on this topic.

  2. Bitts Oct 26 at 3:52 pm Reply Reply

    PLEASE DO NOT have a baby your husband doesn’t want! He knows his own mind and if he’s not ready then HE’S NOT READY.
    He knows you want another one. He will tell you when he’s ready. Wait! He already has. Respect him and the family you already have enough to wait until you’ll both be thrilled about it.
    Your second will come along eventually. Don’t make it at the expense of your marriage.

  3. Erin Oct 26 at 4:17 pm Reply Reply

    So here’s some advice that may or may not work…Try coming at it from a different angle. Instead of saying the words “I want another baby,” ask: “When do you picture us having two children?” or “What do you want to see us do before we add to our family?” Change the wording and the approach and maybe you’ll delve deeper into what making him NOT ready. Maybe he wants a savings account, to go on a vacation with just the three of you, or just to sleep through the night for a full year before another baby. Was your pregnancy a difficult one? Mine was- and you better believe that when we talk about the “next” baby we make plans for the SICK me. The DIFFICULT pregnancy. (For example, we talk about me not working full-time and going to school through the next one, and living near a good support system…) Talking about real-life stuff and preparation might help move you both forward, or at least open the conversation up so you can see where he’s coming from (instead of just where he is). But I hear ya. When the baby hankering starts…it’s ROUGH. Sigh. I’ve got the baby hunger, too!

  4. Lisa Oct 26 at 6:27 pm Reply Reply

    I am also in this situation… wanting a second, but having a hubby that’s not there yet, and who has admitted he just can’t deal with the crying thing. Being 41, I know that there isn’t much time at all. We lost the first(who would be Ezra’s age now) early, and have a lovely 5 month old daughter now (after a difficult pregnancy), who is usually a dream. That clock can POUND at times. I’m hoping that once she’s a LITTLE bit older, and out of crying, that he changes his mind.

  5. Emma B Oct 26 at 7:05 pm Reply Reply

    If I were you, I’d table the discussion completely for a few months, maybe until your daughter turns two. I think 18 months is kind of the low point of toddlerhood — old enough to get into all sorts of trouble, not yet wise enough to stay out out of it, and not far removed from the stresses of infancy. I’d suspect your husband is subconsciously equating the decision to have another baby with the immediate appearance of said baby, and that he’s looking at your daughter and thinking there’s no way he can handle a baby RIGHT NOW. He’s not really considering how different she will be by the time the baby actually arrives, which would be close to a year even if you got pregnant right now.
    You don’t mention if you had a difficult pregnancy/birth, or if your daughter was high-needs, or if your marriage is still recovering from the addition of the baby. If any of those things are problem areas, I would work on them before resuming the discussion.
    At that time, I agree with Erin that you should start with family goals, then work backward to estimated conception dates. However, I would also be frank with how you’ll feel if you wait 4 years, and then have miscarriages/have twins/are unable to have another child/need IVF. If he’s asking you to increase your chances of all those things, and he is, he needs to know what kind of impact that will have on your marriage. No, you shouldn’t con someone into having a baby when they’re not ready — but you also shouldn’t be forced to accept a measurable increase of a bad outcome.
    Let it sit for a bit and get your marriage in good shape, then find out what he really means by “I’m not ready”, and address that.

  6. Lori Oct 26 at 8:43 pm Reply Reply

    My advice….LEAVE IT ALONE. Don’t talk to him about it. Back off. He needs space and it will come to him if it is meant to be.
    Not that long ago I was in the same spot as you. I laid off him about it for a month or two. Then I had my annual GYN appt so I gingerly brought it up w/the guise of the appt in mind, knowing the GYN would ask when/if we were going to have more. My husband said, “at the end of the year I may be ready to try”. I was happy with that statement.
    Two weeks later he tells me he’s ready to try. End of the year my foot! So now I’m pregnant with my second child at 35. Age/waiting too long was also a concern of mine, but I don’t think it’s that big a deal for me to be 35 and pg now.
    My son will be 3 when the baby is born…and I agree w/a previous commenter that 18 mos is an icky time too…I think waiting a few months will change wonders.
    It’s still hard…I’m not glossing over that. But I think with tactical planning and a little patience, you’ll be where you want to be. :)
    Good luck!

  7. themouthyhousewives Oct 26 at 8:53 pm Reply Reply

    I think this is excellent advice. We didn’t quite hit the mark on this one but I believe we elicited a laugh. Here is the “otherside’ of your smart advice. http://www.mouthyhousewives.com/kids/2017/

  8. Pinkie Bling Oct 27 at 11:52 am Reply Reply

    Amalah, you are the best!!

  9. kakaty Oct 27 at 12:32 pm Reply Reply

    All the previous advice is spot-on. Wait a little bit, but don’t let him discount the risks of waiting. We are prego with #2 and our girl will be 3 1/2 when it’s born. I was more on the side of “not ready” until our girl was about 2 1/2, mostly because I didn’t want 2 in diapers and wanted the older one to be a bit more independent. So we waited and miscarried (at age 31 – 1st pregnancy was a breeze) and then it took another 8 months to get pregnant again.
    I think I also had some of the sterotypical “guy” fears about having a second: how could we possibly love another child as much? how in the world will we handle 2 when 1 takes so much time/energy? can we afford it? Will our girl be hurt by not being the center of our attention? Can our marriage survive another infant and toddlerhood? Talking with other familys that have similar spacing helped, as did time. I’m still terrified about all of this, but know it will all work out in the end.
    And also – on a lighter note – don’t wait until your 1st is 3 because I don’t think I would procreate at this stage. I’m very happy that I got knocked up 3 months before her birthday because holy hell is age 3 awful! :)

  10. heels Oct 27 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    My husband was not ready to have another, either. After a few months of quiet frustration on my part, I laid it out for him. First, I addressed my concerns (such as my age, child spacing) and my desires. Then I asked him what his concerns were and tried to address/talk about those as much as possible (so many things are unpredictable, though!). Basically, I presented my case as logically and unemotionally as I could. Then I backed off completely. Now I have my son, who just turned 4, and my daughter, who is 3 months. (BTW- I LOVE the spacing of my kids. My son is a wonderful big brother.)

  11. Nancy Oct 27 at 10:07 pm Reply Reply

    I have no advice on the spacing… but I’m a nearly-40 success story. I didn’t meet my DH until I was 35, we got married when I was 37, and started trying for a baby when I was 38. Don’t forget that another possible “effect” of advanced maternal age is the possibility of multiples! After one very early miscarriage @ 4 weeks, we conceived twins 4 months later. I had a perfect, complication-free twin pregnancy and we got our dream family all in one shot.
    On the flip side, you could use that as part of your case to start trying sooner than later… you might end up with 3 kids instead of the two you planned on :-)
    It’ll be ok — but as other posters have said, don’t push him. You wouldn’t like to be pushed into doing something you didn’t want to do, even with outcomes that are inconsequential compared to having kids.

  12. Jennifer B Oct 28 at 10:48 am Reply Reply

    Everyone has had really good advice. Also know that just because it took you a long time to conceive your first child, that is not necessarily an indication that it will take you that long to conceive your second. It took us 2 years to conceive my son and about three months for my daughter. We were shocked that it happened so fast. I realize the flip side is that it could also take as long/longer, but you just never know.

  13. Nancy Oct 28 at 8:13 pm Reply Reply

    I have no advice on the spacing… but I’m a nearly-40 success story. I didn’t meet my DH until I was 35, we got married when I was 37, and started trying for a baby when I was 38. Don’t forget that another possible “effect” of advanced maternal age is the possibility of multiples! After one very early miscarriage @ 4 weeks, we conceived twins 4 months later. I had a perfect, complication-free twin pregnancy and we got our dream family all in one shot.
    On the flip side, you could use that as part of your case to start trying sooner than later… you might end up with 3 kids instead of the two you planned on :-)
    It’ll be ok — but as other posters have said, don’t push him. You wouldn’t like to be pushed into doing something you didn’t want to do, even with outcomes that are inconsequential compared to having kids.

  14. Katherine Oct 30 at 2:39 pm Reply Reply

    I feel for you! I myself am 39, pregnant with our second…..our second “unplanned” baby. My husband would NEVER say he was ready – no matter what situation we were in – something always needed to be more “right” in order for him to want a baby.
    I think every guy is different, and it depends a LOT on their perspective and I agree with trying to find out WHY he’s not ready. I also think it’s fine to get just “get pregnant” (obviously) because it’s what YOU want, and it’s your body, and your age definitely matters.
    Every relationship is different, I’m sure some can take this and some can’t. Personally, my husband thanks me all the time for having his kid(s) and personally and maybe selfishly FOR ME I wouldn’t ever sacrifice having these kids b/c he wasn’t “ready” and then it was too late.

  15. Janel Oct 30 at 5:30 pm Reply Reply

    I am in the same boat. I’m 31, and my husband is 35. Together we have a son who will soon be turning 11 years old. I have been “hinting” about having baby #2 since our son was about 3 or 4 to no avail. Now, for the past two years my bilogical clock has not only been ticking away but it’s ALARM is going off and the “snooze” button is broken. This past June, he FIANLLY agreed…I was over the moon thrilled…SOOOO HAPPY!! Then..he progressively stopped being intimate, and ultimately changed his mind (after already trying unsuccessfully for 4months). He said he wants to “be more established” this time around. Our finances are fine, I know because I handle them. He’s a police officer and I’m a nurse, our incomes are great. Too make matters worse, I am genetically predisposed to “premature menopause”. The odds are not in my favor that I WON’T get it. I called my gyno for advice. She told me that if I continue to wait to have however many more children I had planned…it’ll be my own fault, and that I’ll just have to come to terms with the fact that I have only one child. I am sooo depressed over this whole situation and am honestly beginning to resent my husband. I am so angry at him for denying me of my dreams and desires. What if when he gives me “his permission” (as he calls it) to have another baby…what if it’s too late by then?? I can’t take this anymore. I feel so cheated. And, believe me, I’ve actually BEGGED him and told him that I want this more than my next breath of air. His exact words to me in rsponse? “Then go f*****g find someone to f*****g do it for you!!!” I am seriously considering leaving him and ending our 13 year relationship. I just can’t STAND him anymore because of this. It’s like he’s denying me of my God-given right to bear children and I’m starting to actually hate him for it. I can honestly say that I have NEVER wanted anything as much as I want THIS…except for my firstborn. Speaking of our firstborn…..hubby wants to be “established”??? When he agreed to have our first..I was 19 and he was 23. We had NOTHING…we rented a house, I worked while he was in the police academy, and our finances were basically non-existant. But he readily agreed then…why not now? I truly feel cheated…this is NOT the life I had envisioned for myself at this age. He keeps telling me about his best friend and his wife who are expecting their own #2 any day. I don’t want to hear ANY of it because it hurts me so much and honestly I’m jealous. Why can’t I have my baby, and hold my dream in my arms??
    I totally understand where you’re coming from OP. I feel so bad for you because I really do know the pain and emptiness that you’re feeling inside. I am too. I hope your husband changes his mind soon, so you can be happy again. You are in my prayers and thoughts!!
    Good luck!

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