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The Second Baby War

Jan30

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Dear Amy,

My fiancé and I have been together for 7 years and have no intentions to actually tie the knot because things work for us like it is. We’ve talked about kids too. I would like to raise a basketball team and he was ambivalent. He wasn’t outright against having kids but wasn’t sure how many he wanted. RED FLAG? Our relationship was otherwise great.

Enter our 8 month old beautiful baby boy. He’s awesome. He was a surprise but aren’t they all surprises one way or the other? I went a month without the pill while I switched brands and used no secondary method. I wasn’t actively trying to get pregnant but I wasn’t preventing it either. He says I was trying to get pregnant and I outright deny it. It’s not like I was being irresponsible; we are twenty-something year old college graduates who work decent jobs for the economy sucking so badly and our life was great.

Pregnancy was a breeze. And my labor and delivery was AMAZING ( a hospital doula is worth her weight in gold and highly recommended especially when your partner needs room to breathe). Needless to say I came home from the hospital on a baby adrenaline high. I couldn’t wait to do it again. And the postpartum period went swimmingly for me. My partner on the other hand had some degree of PPD. He had a really difficult time bonding with the newborn and I allowed him to take a step back a lot of the time even though that meant more stress on me. RED FLAG? As the baby has gotten older he has come out of it and loves being a father and is all about our son. Our relationship is what it is. It did take a big hit after the baby in a good way and in the “I could ring your neck right now but I’m too tired so what do you want for dinner instead?” kind of way.

So after Christmas I introduced the idea of another baby. By introduced the idea I mean sort of demanded that we start trying for another. Immediately. That would put 18 months between the kids. PERFECT. Not so perfect. He declared he didn’t want to have any more children. Not as in right now, “any more” as in ever. Ok I should have not sprung it on him like that. It should have been a question more than command. It’s not like my plan is to be the next Michelle Duggar, I just want to raise a family. I don’t think it’s a no-go purely based on the financial aspect of it all, although I reduced my hours to 20 hours nights at the hospital so I could be home and not do the daycare thing which he didn’t dispute but feels the burden of being the breadwinner at times. You do what you have to do. And it’s not like he doesn’t want any more kids because he selfish and its all about him he said he just doesn’t want to and doesn’t want to have a conversation about it. Is this the demise of what seemed like a normal healthy relationship?

I feel as though I’m the one clearly in the wrong here. And stupid for wanting the fairytale ending and not the realistic one given the (possible) red flags. So how do I not dwell on my own selfish plans while respecting his decision? I don’t know if I’ll ever let go of wanting more children or if I wait and HOPE he changes his mind in a few months? Years? Decades?

Bring on the smackdown. I clearly need it.

Sincerely,

All for more babies

Aaaand behold! Another frequently-asked Smackdown topic that I NEVER address because it completely stumps the stuffing out of me.

Jason and I were not on the same page about children exactly once, and that was before we had any. He kind of wanted a baby, but not yet, not right then, while I was already in the throes of the NOW NOW NOW phase of baby fever. It was not a fun or easy time for our marriage, and in retrospect we probably should have gotten our disagreeing butts into couples’ therapy  — if only to have the (heated, emotional) conversations in front of a neutral third party.

Eventually, we muddled through it. I realized I needed to chill the hell out and stop pressuring him with thinly-veiled, bratty ultimatums. Jason realized he really DID want a baby, but was terrified of making the conscious choice to go ahead and have a baby (which is what we really had to do, given that I was almost completely annovulatory at the time and needed fertility assistance). We had Noah and the baby-number-two talk started barely six weeks later, and I’ve already shared that baby number three was also a joint decision.

So I can’t really speak to your specific situation, the “we have one child and I want more and he doesn’t” dilemma.

I CAN say that, as someone with a heapload of small children, even I’D be a little wigged out by an 18-month-on-purpose age difference. That’s two very young, demanding little babies, especially for someone who maybe discovered they aren’t actually a “baby person” and found the whole newborn phase to be upsetting and unpleasant. (And there’s nothing wrong or unusual with a parent NOT being a “baby person” and preferring the older ages. It happens to mothers, too!) It’s possible that as your son grows and reaches an age that your fiancé feels more naturally comfortable with and more confident in his parenting abilities, that he MIGHT decide that the newborn stage, while not his favorite, is worth dealing with in the short term because of the long-term payoff of a great, awesome child. Right now, babyhood is all he knows. Once he gets to really know his son as a person, he might change his mind.

BUT HE MIGHT NOT.

And there’s the rub. Is this really a complete dealbreaker for you — to the point where you can’t even fathom waiting him out and risking not ever having more babies and would rather break up the family you have now (and yes, one baby and a fiancé IS a family) in order to possibly maybe hopefully find a new partner more willing to give you the family you think you want? Is this something that will consume you whole and lead to feelings of resentment in the meantime?

If the answer is “yes” or even a strong “maybe,” I would definitely suggest couples’ counseling sooner rather than later. It sounds like he had a really not-great experience this time around and probably doesn’t feel especially good/proud/competent about any of it. I doubt he “stepped back” just because he’s a thoughtless jerk, right, given his current enthusiasm for fatherhood? It was probably just as stressful on him to realize he wasn’t “good” with his son as it was for you to take center stage on the babycare front. Why would either of you want to repeat that scenario, only with a young toddler thrown into the mix? Counseling could help him work through those feelings (and help you understand why he has them), and would be a much better place for the topic of a second baby to be brought up than in a “HEY GUESS WHAT YOU NEED TO GET ME PREGNANT AGAIN RIGHT NOW” and “UM NO I DON’T END OF DISCUSSION” format of futility.

(Not mention you guys PROBABLY need to work out the whole “you were TRYING to get pregnant!” accusation, because yikes. That’s a fundamental trust issue AND soap opera plot right there, and probably the biggest RED FLAG I see in your letter.)

Of course, you cannot go into couples’ counseling with the expectation that it will help you “win” anything. It won’t be your therapist’s job to convince your fiancé that you’re right and to change his mind about more children. Instead, try to go into it with the goal of repairing and strengthening the bonds of the family you have now, and recognizing the value in it, even in it’s small current form.

I don’t want to sound like I’m coming down hard in favor of either side here: I know it’s so difficult to not to dwell on dreams of pregnancy and babies and the crushing disappointment that it might not be in the cards! I do, believe me. And that’s not a path to a happy, healthy relationship, but one where you’re resentful and he’s pulling the silent treatment and refusing to budge and getting angry whenever you try to bring the topic up again. Your son needs happy parents more than he needs siblings, so try to give him that first and foremost. I hope everything works out…for all three of you.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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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43 Responses to “The Second Baby War”

  1. Cheryl S. Jan 30 at 11:50 am Reply Reply

    I’m with Amy. COUNSELING. First order of business. Were you TRYING to get pregnant. I notice you say “I” wasn’t trying to get pregnant, but “I” wasn’t preventing either. DId you TELL him that you would be off BCP for a month? If not, you didn’t give him the chance to choose to use a condom or pull and pray or whatever. So you BOTH need to deal with that one. Second, damanding someone get you pregnant is the surest way to stop that from happening. You both need to get a handle on what’s going on. Get counseling before you even think about another pregnancy.

  2. christina Jan 30 at 12:09 pm Reply Reply

    Second the counseling. I’m sorry, but I see several red flags here — on BOTH of your behavior. Wow.

  3. Tracy Jan 30 at 12:21 pm Reply Reply

    Agreeing with Christina. SO many red flags on both sides. You were “not trying” even though you were having sex and not using birth control? That’s a good example of “magical thinking” at best, and outright deception at worst. You say you weren’t being irresponsible, but if you’re not trying to have a baby, and you’re having sex without birth control, what else would you call it? So you already started on a bad foot. Nothing to be done, but to admit that he has a DAMN GOOD reason to suspect you were, in fact, trying to conceive. Second, 18 months between kids is perfect? According to whom? For a lot of parents, that would be a perfect hell. But most importantly, he had a really rough time with the birth of this child, and your response is that we need to have another one RIGHT NOW? How do you think people would respond if YOU were the one who had PPD, and YOU were the one who had trouble bonding, and HE insisted that you have another one immediately? Oh, and also, fiance is what you call the person you plan to marry. If you have no plans to ever get married, you need to find a different label.

  4. Jenn Jan 30 at 12:21 pm Reply Reply

    Yup, I’m with Amy and the other commenters… you need to deal with this (HUGE) trust issue over getting pregnant with your son. It really sounds to me like you knew you were off BC and he didn’t. That’s really shady. Maybe if you work on your relationship more he’ll feel more like he has the secure and loving home he needs to bring another child into the situation. Maybe he just needs more time to recover from that not so fun newborn/very young baby phase. I personally didn’t really connect with my son as a person until around 10 months. It takes time for some people.

    I also think it’s a little weird that you even brought up not planning to marry… I’m just not sure why it’s entirely relevant unless you’re thinking of cutting anchor. Seven years is a long time… there has got to be some major love there to last that long already. Please do everything you can so you don’t regret it later.

  5. AW Jan 30 at 12:24 pm Reply Reply

    Wow is right, and I compltely agree with both previous commenters. There are so many red flags I don’t know where to start If you aren’t preventing pregnancy, then you are trying…end of story. It sounds like there is a severe lack of communication. I would never fathom entering a relationship with someone that wasn’t 100% on having children if I definitely wanted them. And I certainly wouldn’t try to get pregnant without the support of my husband. To “demand” getting pregnant sounds incredibly selfish to me and I think you need to consider your partner’s feelings here. Counseling is seems like a MUST if you want to save this relationship.

  6. MR Jan 30 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    You both have so many communication issues going on here that clearly need to be resolved BEFORE even discussing having another child. Yes, the getting pregnant part sounds like he didn’t know you were off birth control and has trust issues around that. That is definitely something to resolve. But, you also don’t seem to be hearing him at all about how difficult of a time he has had postpartum. By your own admission, he had (has?) ppd, and your baby is only 8 months old but you want to have another. So, if his ppd is in the past, he has been “over it” for what, a month or two?? Let me tell you (from experience) you don’t get over ppd that fast. He is still recovering, and you hit him with a demand that you have another baby NOW. I’m sorry, but you have some major apologizing to do here.
    It seems like you have a very happy go lucky, “everything is dandy” view of the world and are glossing over exactly how hard everything was for your boyfriend. Pregnancy was a BREEZE, labor and delivery was AMAZING, and postpartum went SWIMMINGLY. For YOU. In contrast, your boyfriend on the other hand was upset about the pregnancy and feeling tricked/betrayed. He needed some “room to breathe” during labor and delivery so much so you hired a doula to help (I’m not against doulas AT ALL, but you point out here she was needed because your boyfriend wasn’t up for the task), and postpartum for him has been awful. You aren’t hearing him at all.
    Having a baby changes things. Having a second baby changes things more. You need to make sure you are on solid ground before tackling the discussion of whether to have another. I highly recommend the book “We can work it out: how to solve conflicts, save your marriage, and strengthen your love for each other” by Clifford notarius and Howard markman. It will really help resolve The communication problems you are having. Good luck.

  7. heather Jan 30 at 1:29 pm Reply Reply

    It sounds like there’s something bigger going on here than just disagreeing on the number of children.  The OP’s boyfriend a) has been with her for 7 years, but does not want to get married, b) did not want to have children, and c) does not like being the breadwinner now that they have a child.  That sounds like a man who is not fully committed to the concept of “raising a family” that the OP wants.  OP got pregnant in what sounds like a somewhat sketchy way (he thinks she did it on purpose without his approval).  The BF did not immediately respond in the way it seems the OP hoped for, but now that he has gotten used to the role of father (a role it sounds like he didn’t want or wasn’t ready for), she demands they have another child.  Maybe I’m reading too much in between the lines here, but it sounds to me like this is the OP’s way of ensuring the BF’s commitment to her since getting married is apparently off the table for him.   But the problem is that the child is not going to stop him from leaving if he wants to, and the OP’s child (or children, if they do have more) deserve stability and a father that is there because he is committed, not because he was forced into it.  Other commenters who recommended counseling are right–they both need to get on the same page here about what they want, and not just about how many kids they have.

  8. Eden Jan 30 at 1:38 pm Reply Reply

    Ahh, you got the smack down you wanted! I understand what you are going through, as far as baby fever goes. It can consume you, and in your defense I think that hormonally, women get taken OVER by the baby bug and it can become all you think about. BUT, I have to second everyone’s comments. You think your busy now? You mentioned not having the time to talk about your feelings and just going right to “what do you want for dinner?!”. Can you IMAGINE the time crunch when you have an infant AND a toddler? It’s going to be even more condensed than THAT…as far as you and your husbands conversations go!. I have an 8 month old little boy, and my husband and I are doing AWESOME now….but it wasn’t always like this. For a couple months we got swept away in not giving each other/our relationship the time of day and it will eventually come out!!! You guys need get on the same page before you add another wonderful baby!!!

  9. Olivia Jan 30 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    What everyone else said. I have such a hard time not rolling my eyes whenever the “We/I wasn’t trying, but I also wasn’t preventing it,” pregnancy comes up. If you aren’t using BC, and you don’t have any reason to think you are infertile, I call bullshit. Eighteen months apart is really close to have children, especially when that’s really all the time your boyfriend has had to even get used to the idea of being a father. 

    I have a friend who went off BC without telling her husband. She was approaching 40, and he was still in the “we must wait for the ‘right’ time” frame of mind. She knew time was running out and took a chance. It was a hell of a chance. She got pregnant and her husband felt really betrayed all throughout the pregnancy. He forgave her after their son was born, and is a wonderful father. But, they only have the one child (age might have something do do with that), and my friend says she does not recommend springing a “surprise” pregnancy on your significant other. Her marriage was really rocky for a while.

  10. Hannah Jan 30 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    Counseling. For both of you. Now. It may not resolve anything, it may not “fix” the relationship, but a good counselor, will, as other commenters noted, force you to LISTEN to each other. And, unfortunately, I think you have a lot more listening to do than he does. He’s mistrustful because you got pregnant to begin with, he’s had a horrible post-partum experience (probably tied to the fact that he didn’t want a baby in the first place) and now you’re pressuring him for a second. If you are truly serious about killing the relationship, by all means, go on like you are now. Otherwise, start listening to what your boyfriend is saying. And no “oh, I was breastfeeding so I couldn’t get pregnant, OOPS” crap, either.

  11. Emily Jan 30 at 1:50 pm Reply Reply

    As someone who does have children 18 months apart, I want to offer another side of the story. II have two boys–one who’s 25 months, and one who’s six months. I love my children very, very much. But this has been the absolute hardest thing I have ever done, and my husband and I are actually starting to see a marriage counsellor to help us deal. And that’s with BOTH of us being very much on the same page in terms of wanting a second, having been together 12 years, and having what I consider to be a strong, solid marriage. I don’t care how easy the first one was; adding a second is far, far more than twice the work. Particularly when the first one is a toddler, which is a challenge in and of itself. I really, really, really recommend you not get pregnant before you and your partner work this stuff out, because the stress of a toddler and a newborn is off the charts. 

  12. Susan Jan 30 at 2:23 pm Reply Reply

    I had a similar experience as Emily – my boys are 21 months apart and DH and I went to counseling last summer when they were 2 1/2 yo and 9 months – the stress of two small children is SO intense (we’ve been married 9 years and generally have a solid, stable relationship too). Everybody says it and it’s so true – having 2 is not twice as hard, it’s 10x as hard, particularly when they are so close together.

    Now that they’re 16 months and 3 years it’s getting easier, but there are still days when I throw up my hands and pour a glass of wine at 3 pm.

    Now imagine that your BF is still unhappy about having kids at all and doesn’t want anything to do with either of them? Now not only are YOU not happy, but you’ve added another person to the unhappy soup. NOT FAIR to anyone involved.

  13. rkmama Jan 30 at 2:32 pm Reply Reply

    Please. Get counseling and work on the trust issues and your husband’s PPD symptoms before making any big family decisions.
    The first year of parenthood is so INTENSE, whether it’s a dream or really rough- emotions and hormones run so high. Though my pregnancies were awful, my delivery of my daughter and the first year of her life was seriously amazing {don’t worry, I will pay for this later}. So amazing that by the time she reached two months I was ready to have 10 more babies regardless of the fact I was SURE one would be plenty before having her. My husband wasn’t ready and was really honest with his feelings of wanting to wait at least a year. I saw this was important to him so I of course agreed {thank jebus}. Then we had fertility/miscarriage issues so by the time my son was born we had a 27 month difference {and trust me, in hindsight even THAT was too close}. My son had an incredibly difficult first year of life, so much so that my husband and I BOTH had PTSD for two years afterward. In that two years if he would have approached me and said “We need to have a baby NOW” I just…well, I’m not sure… but some sort of criminal jail time might have been involved. Because I would have killed him dead. Now, four years later we are currently trying for number three and so very excited about adding to our family. My very long point being…things change. From the sound of your letter you’re in your mid-twenties and have plenty of time for babies. What’s important NOW is to create/sustain a healthy relationship with your partner and once that is established you’ll be able to hash out your family plans in a way that can honor both your wishes and give your partner the distance he might need away from a clearly troubling time before and after your son’s birth.

  14. Anonymous Jan 30 at 2:34 pm Reply Reply

    OK, I have to weigh in here. I have a very similar situation. Our first child was unplanned, a birth control pill accident (although unlike the OP, I was on them, I just was really bad at remembering, and eventually it caught up to me.) My partner was pretty shocked and probably mad, but he did his best to reconcile himself to the fact that it was an accident, and I was really really sorry. 

    BUT: here’s the thing. It took him YEARS to stop feeling a bit like a sperm donor. I too wanted another child soon after the first — he said NO WAY. We did therapy, and through the course of it he came out and said he just wanted to feel like I actually wanted HIM, not just his sperm. 

    We had a second child. But there is a FOUR YEAR GAP between them. Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, it’s more than I wanted. But we *had* to heal that rift first.

    So, to the OP: whether or not you do counselling or whatever, you have to acknowledge and repair the damage done between you. I’m not weighing in on accident or not — it’s not even about that any more, it’s about your fiancé and his feeling of betrayal. If you pay attention to what he wants / needs right now, he may well come around to what you want in future. But for now, I think you need to back off the baby thing. 

  15. J Jan 30 at 3:54 pm Reply Reply

    As a tangential question to what this woman is asking, (which…whoa…I do not even know where to start, so keeping my hands off it)  

    What IS a reasonable, good distance between two children that will not drive my husband and I to couples’ therapy?  Does anyone know or willing to opine?

  16. SarahB Jan 30 at 3:56 pm Reply Reply

    Going without birth control for a month when you do not want to be pregnant is in fact irresponsible.  If you did not tell your fiance ahead of time, it is doubly so.  He probably feels like you entrapped him, and, if you hadn’t given him a heads up about the gap in birth control, he is basically right.

    That alone should send you two to couples counseling, let alone the rest.  

    Best of luck.

  17. Babs Jan 30 at 4:13 pm Reply Reply

    What is missing is the realization that y’all are on the same team. He is looking at what he wants and you are guilty of the same. Counseling can help with that, but you gotta be willing to “lose” some stupid in order to gain that team ethic. Good luck.

  18. Jimmy Jan 30 at 4:27 pm Reply Reply

    I have to join the chorus of “Wows” from above, and add my agreement that there is obviously something deeper going on here that clearly stems from trust and communication issues between the OP and her partner.  I would really hope she and her partner address those issues and reach a mutual agreement about whether to have more kids before getting pregnant again.  Doing otherwise seems unfair to both the partner as well as the kids being dragged into this situation.  

    As a husband and now a father, finally deciding “yes, lets start trying” was a really difficult decision to make for me.  And I really really wanted to have kids (meaning my wife and I were on the same page), and I was “ready” for them.  Still, pulling the trigger (so to speak), meant seriously committing to parenthood in ways that are far more permanent and real than simply accepting the *idea* of parenting.  I could not imagine becoming a father without being a valued part of that decision making process.  

    The first year of parenthood was incredibly trying – not just on our relationship, but on us as individuals as well.  Every sleepless night was opportunity for resentment to creep into our lives.  And again, my wife and I were on the same page in wanting children.  I can only imagine how much worse things would have been if we didn’t both really want kids. 

    My wife is currently pregnant with our second child.  The two kids are expected to be about 23 months apart assuming all goes on time.  If I wasn’t on board with the decision to have a second child while I was still coming to grips with being a dad to the first kid, I don’t know how I would react.  

    Last, as a father of a kid that was born very prematurely I feel inclined to remind the OP that there is no guarantee that she’ll get a perfectly healthy baby, or even that she’ll only get one baby out of this (twins happen).  I couldn’t imagine parenting in either of those circumstances with a partner who wasn’t fully on board.  

  19. Kim Jan 30 at 6:03 pm Reply Reply

    Whoa, OP, control much? Those Red Flags you’re tossing around are really more reflections on you and your determination to arrange things to your liking, BF be damned. The biggest clue of all is that PERFECT, because it clearly isn’t, not for the rest of your family.
    I suffered PPD with both my children, and basically gritted my teeth and held on for the first six months. I loved them, I was bonded, but I have an extreme reaction to sleep deprivation and I went into survival mode. With both of them, things started getting a little better at 15months, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel at 18 mos, but my youngest turned 2 at the new year and I finally feel fully functional again. 2 YEARS for me, and who knows how long for your guy. My girls are three years apart, and you know what? PERFECT. You need a gut check, girl – no one gets to DEMAND a pregnancy in this day and age. You better pay attention to all those flags, because you have evferything to lose.

  20. Rkmama Jan 30 at 6:50 pm Reply Reply

    @J- it really comes down to individual preference (although I’ve yet to meet anyone who thought anything under 20 or so months was a perfect timeframe). The 27 month difference btwn my daughter and son was awful because my son was so difficult and it’s really hard to explain a screaming baby to a young two year old and on top of that, two year olds are fairly demanding of your time as well, making it hard to balance ( or juggle!) between the two. With this as my past experience I am all about a 3.5 to 4.5 year difference, and know several parents who are really happy with this as well. All this being said, I LOVE the age difference now at 4 and 6. They are so close and truly have a built-in friend, (which admittedly may have just as much to do with luck as their age spread). 
    Also I might be lying but I think Amy did a post on baby spacing so you might want to search the archives :). 

  21. Erin Jan 30 at 6:52 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amy on everything, and also…

    I say this with love, SLOW DOWN LADY. Your baby  is only 8 months old. In another 8 months you will realize how easy babies are in comparison to toddlers and you are probably still on a postpartum baby high. My kids are going to be 27 months apart and let me tell you, having a toddler and being pregnant is NO PICNIC… and I haven’t even gotten to the baby + toddler part. Yikes. Honestly if I were 20something I would have waited a bit. It sounds like you are having a serious attack of the instant gratification itch. I am not a patient person either so from one to another, try to slow your roll. 

  22. Ash Jan 30 at 8:18 pm Reply Reply

    My partner is much happier as a parent now and our son has just hit 2. He can do more, and is a little person now, rather then a dependant newborn. Maybe wait a while and let your partner find his feet as a parent before demanding to get knocked up. It really does need to be a couples decision. You can’t just spring it on him and expect him to be onboard.

    Give him time to process your request, and maybe get used to the idea of another, but don’t rush him. 18m is a very small age gap when you really think about it!

  23. Anon Jan 30 at 8:25 pm Reply Reply

    So… our first baby was a surprise, getting pregnant after less than a year of dating.
    I also had a wonderful pregnancy and delivery.
    BUT, when our first was 8 months old we fell pregnant again. (The mini pill did not jive with me, or the baby’s constant nursing).
    We aborted.
    Say what you will, it was the only decision for us at the time. As well as things were going with our new little family, we both realized it was causing enormous strain on us, and a second baby then would have destroyed us.
    So we spent the next few years getting to know each other and learning this parenting gig. And NOW we’re ready to get baby #2 on board.
    All this to say, these are decisions you have to make TOGETHER, and you each need to respect each other.
    Good luck! And congrats on your healthy baby boy.

  24. roo Jan 30 at 10:54 pm Reply Reply

    When I was almost 35, I told my husband that I was going to stop taking birth control. He was still in the “We need to get our lives perfect first” mindset, while I was afraid I was going to run out of eggs before he ever got ready.

    So I went off birth control. But I told him. I even told him why– that I resented paying for and taking a medication that did things to my body I didn’t want. I told him, “If you want to avoid pregnancy, contraception is your responsibility now.”

    And we had unprotected sex a few times. It turns out my husband needed that mental ninja move of “It might happen but it might not,” to make the decision by not deciding. Fortunately, we didn’t need any fertility intervention, or something that would force him to directly confront the choice he made.

    But it was a choice he made. Our baby was a surprise, but he was no accident.

    It makes a big difference.

  25. EH Jan 30 at 11:49 pm Reply Reply

    Not to pile on, but this: “I reduced my hours to 20 hours nights at the hospital so I could be home and not do the daycare thing which he didn’t dispute but feels the burden of being the breadwinner at times” makes it sound like the LW just decided to drop hours and he “didn’t dispute” it, not that they decided together what would be a good arrangement for childcare. Just another piece of evidence that communication and joint decision-making are way off the rails in this relationship. You’ve got to start letting him have more a say in his life! It really seems as if you are just pushing forward to get what you want however you can get it, and turning a blind eye to what he wants/needs. Not fair, not cool, not going to make anyone happy.

  26. Jen Jan 31 at 8:26 am Reply Reply

    So…on a side note…we’re going to have ones 14 months apart. Shall I go ahead and book couples counseling?

  27. Susan Y Jan 31 at 11:36 am Reply Reply

    Oh yikes. Okay, I thought I had fertility issues but then I got pregnant with my son. It was surprising but we were both happy and excited and prepared for the baby. Then newborn stage came and my husband had a difficult time with it (did I mention he was in grad school while working full time?). It was just so much more exhausting and difficult than he was expecting (me too but it was easier for me to roll with it). It took a while before we could broach the subject of having another one. Now that my son is 25 months and verbal and more independent we’re trying. We probably would have waited longer but I’ll be 34 next month and I’d like to be done before 36. He needed the time to get into the groove with our first one and then could consider a second. All babies deserve to be wanted by both their parents. Get to that place first, together.

  28. Jess Jan 31 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, I really think people are being too harsh and judgmental without knowing all of the facts. At no point did she say that her fiance didn’t know she wasn’t on birth control for a month (maybe he did, maybe he didn’t…). I never went back on birth control after my son (who was a surprise birth control pill baby himself…) was born. My fiance was well aware of this, but we were both still surprised when I got pregnant a month after weaning my son. (Yes, I know, duh. Unprotected sex tends to equal babies.) We’re now thrilled and can’t wait for our second to be born, but there were a couple of rough weeks there first. Sometimes it seems like guys just don’t think about birth control and consequences and it’s easy to blame the woman when something does happen.

    Also, a.) my delivery was also a breeze, it does happen. b.) Our kids will be 21 months apart; as Jen said, “Shall I go ahead and book couples counseling?” And c.) there IS no good term for a couple who isn’t married but is together for the long haul. My fiance and I are completely committed but have no set in stone plans for marrying in the near future. And whether we choose to marry or not is our business; it has no impact on the permanence of our relationship. If she chooses to call him her fiance, that’s her business.

    That being said, I do think they should look into couples counseling, for many reasons. But I don’t think she’s quite the villain people are making her out to be.

  29. professormama Jan 31 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    If he doesn’t want another child, you shouldn’t want another child with him. If he changes his mind, good for you, but he might not and you have to decide if that’s ok. You might change your mind too. 
    I got pregnant with my first by accident- in grad school, and my boyfriend and I had only been together a few months.
    We weren’t even living together.  
    He panicked, we went through the possibilities.
    I made a decision to have the baby and told him he could stay or not. We moved in together and I did all the pregnancy stuff alone, physically pregnancy and birth was “a breeze” at 26, but I cried in the shower about what a mess it all was, or I thought it would be.
    My boyfriend came around after the baby was born, and although it took some time for him to adjust, and to get over becoming a father by accident, he did, but it was slow, and not easy.  He is an AMAZING father.  
    We got married when our son was 18 months old. When he turned 2, I weirdly, suddenly wanted another child.
    My husband did not, he was still feeling financially unstable even though I had a good job, his was not so good.  
    Well, time passes and things change, a year later in a different city with different jobs, and more money my husband announced he wanted to have another baby.  Well, MY mind had changed. I was terrified of what that would mean for my career, I didn’t want to be pregnant again, to do all of it again. I enjoyed my life as it was. We talked it over and over and over, and eventually because we are idiots about birth control, I got pregnant. I panicked and thought it was a disaster, I was scared and felt guilty. I had a chance to think about how he felt the first time around. Then I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks. It sucked, no D&C, it was natural, but painful, and I felt weirdly disappointed about something I thought I didn’t want. So then I changed my mind again.  I decided we could “see what happens” and I got pregnant again. We have a daughter now. Our boy is 7 and our girl will be 3 this summer. The age difference is great, they get along, they play together- things I thought we would miss if I didn’t have a baby when our boy turned 2.  
    Our marriage is great in every way. People who didn’t know us when I got knocked up the first time can’t believe it started out like it did. But we were each wiling to be patient and HONEST when it mattered.  We couldn’t have afforded therapy when we needed it, but you can get through this if your relationship is important enough to both of you.  Children grow up, they get their own lives (even at 7 & 3!) and you’re home with your partner to kick it with, it’s best you get that shit together before bringing anyone else into the mix. Try to remember the way things are now isn’t how it’s always going to be.

  30. Erika Jan 31 at 3:15 pm Reply Reply

    My SIL (who is a SAHM) had her 2nd child 2 months after her 1st child turned 2. They didn’t know how long it would take to get pregnant again since round 1 was difficult, but weren’t expecting it so fast. All is well and baby #2 is here. When I ask her husband how it’s going now that he has 2 kids, he responded, “i don’t have 2 kids, i have 3 dependents.” It took my breath away to hear it and really brought home to me the very different approach that men have to children. He loves his wife and children, but he feels the burden of their well-being in a way that I think most women can’t grasp. Just a thought as you struggle through it…that men care so much but do it from a very different angle than we do…

  31. Trish Jan 31 at 3:53 pm Reply Reply

    @ Erika. As a working mom to a 27 and 3 month old who are cared for during the day by my husband, I’m not sure I get the “I have 3 dependents” thing. Maybe its because my job is secure and my salary is stable (if not likely to increase much anytime soon) and I actually worry more about pumping enough milk on a day to day basis. 

    But I can see where a guy who isn’t married to his child’s mother might not feel very secure about his role. I am the primary breadwinner and yet I don’t feel like its going to be my sole responsibility forever to provide to the family. If something happened to my job, WE would find a way to provide for OUR family because we are a TEAM. 

    My husband works very hard at caring for and raising our kids and he works part time. I don’t think of him as a dependent at all. 

  32. Anonymous this time Jan 31 at 4:51 pm Reply Reply

    So, you have that second kid you want so much. Maybe it’s because there’s another birth control accident. Or maybe he actually agrees to it this time, because it’s easier to think short-term rather than long-term, and reluctant agreement seems like the only way to keep the relationship and family intact.This is what it’s going to feel like.
    When you get the positive pee stick, you’ll keep it to yourself for awhile. There’s not going to be much shared celebration, so might as well have a few days of private enjoyment.
    Pregnancy will be a long road of shared anger and resentment. The only time you will truly relish the pregnancy is when you’re alone or with friends. There won’t be much sympathy for morning sickness. There probably won’t be many backrubs, or much time sitting on the couch together and watching your belly undulate as the baby kicks.
    When you see how he’s reacting to the pregnancy and imagine what it’s going to feel like after the baby’s actually there, you seriously wonder if it would be better to give the baby up for adoption.
    You won’t prepare for the baby to come until the last minute, because long discussions about nurseries, equipment, and logistics—let alone help in bringing plans to fruition—seem like gloating.
    When the baby ends up in the NICU for three weeks, and your partner’s going insane because he has to do all the childcare for your older child while you’re at the hospital trying to bond and establish breastfeeding, it will feel like one big fat “I told you so,” even if he doesn’t say it.
    And even if you both love this second child more than you even imagined, and even if you both go ahead with all the will in the world to make it work, it is going to take a very, very long time—if not a lifetime—to heal. You will be surprised at how often you feel guilty for difficulties associated with a two-child, rather than one-child, family. You will take on extra child care, and not insist on equal “time off,” because the situation is one you insisted upon.
    Is it worth it? I’m living it, and I can’t really answer.

  33. BA Feb 01 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    In the Quebec guide for new families, they say that after a new child comes into a family it takes up to 2 years for a new equilibrium to be reached. I’ve found this to be true: when our child was born, we first went through a high where everything was exciting and peachy and great. We then eventually went through a tougher period where we were both frustrated by the new constraints that this child brought about and where there was much discussion about who was doing and sacrificing what and then eventually, when our son was about 18 months….. it sort of fell into place. 
    All this to say you may BOTH want to wait a bit for your situation to “stabilise” somewhat before you make any “final and definitive” decisions about the future.
    Good luck.

  34. Jill Feb 01 at 8:42 pm Reply Reply

    @Erika- Wow, your SIL’s husband sounds like a real gem (or maybe she is and he’s just being honest?).  I am a SAHM to 2, and I guarantee you if anyone asked my husband what it was like to have 2 kids, he would never in a million years respond that he “has 3 dependents.”  That’s just…wow.  Point being, I don’t think you should use that one take on things give you an idea of what men in general think of having 2 children.  Talk about needing marriage counseling….

  35. Susan:) Feb 02 at 3:13 am Reply Reply

    I live with and care for my nieces who are 21 months apart. I felt it was too soon when the younger was born. The second baby was a LOT more difficult in terms of sleeping and had spit up and screaming issues that the older one did not have. Plus, the older one was very needy at 21 mos. The first six months were extremely difficult and then it improved slightly. It improved again when the baby hit one year but it was still way more work and tiredness with two kids than with one. Since the younger one turned two and is almost potty trained, it’s much better. But I do not recommend trying for a second baby until the first one is 2 or so.

  36. VG Feb 02 at 10:19 am Reply Reply

    In response to the whole wasn’t trying to get pregnant, but wasn’t preventing it either situation. There are OTHER things you can do to get your jollies, if you know what I mean…
    My hubby & I want to have more children (one more or 3 has been thrown around), but we live in a 2 bdrm townhouse with NO MORE ROOM for another living being. Until we find a bigger home. So, I am on BC but we also will do “Other things” for intimacy than straight out intercourse. Sometimes you need to think outside the box..
    Sorry if I grossed anyone out…

  37. Florrie Feb 02 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, I’m sorry to see all the harsh comments. As someone who has been in a very similar situation, I can totally relate to what you’re feeling and the decisions you’ve made. I too badly wanted a second baby and my husband didn’t. For a long time I thought that I was just going to have to accept that we weren’t having any more kids, but then about a year ago I just started to feel, more strongly than ever, that I wanted another child. And the short of it is: I’m now pregnant with #2. But … my daughter is 4. It took a long time and a LOT of convincing to bring my husband around. And he wasn’t exactly gung-ho about trying for #2, more like resigned to it. But now that our little boy is on the way he is really excited. It may not be your ideal scenario, but I think if you can be patient, you will eventually get what you want.

  38. Lisa Feb 02 at 4:53 pm Reply Reply

    @Jen–My older two are 364 days apart and no counseling required! The important thing was that it was what we BOTH wanted and that, for the most part, we are in sync as far as all the child-raising decisions, even the little ones. We even had our third when the second was 19 months. I know that’s INSANE to a lot of people, but we were already in our 30’s and wanted three and we’re very happy with how it all has gone for us! Every family is different!

  39. Stevie Feb 02 at 6:28 pm Reply Reply

    Ok, so agreed with the aboves about counseling. And just wanted to throw in my 2 cents; my kids are 10 months apart. Yes, 10 months. Don’t freakin’ do it. Even 18 months is not. long. enough.

  40. A Feb 03 at 9:03 am Reply Reply

    I think the main reason that the commenters are so harsh is because the OP doesn’t see the (very obvious) problems. I read the post to my husband and he was horrified at the OP’s behavior. So since the smackdown portion of the Advice Smackdown is taken care of I’ll skip to the advice:

    1. Honey, after 7 years you aren’t getting married. He didn’t want to have the first baby (although I think it’s great that he’s so happy to have him now). He feels tricked into the first baby and DEFINITELY does not want another one. These are not red flags, these are flashing neon signs saying HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU!!!
    Counseling is a good suggestion, but you might also just want to let the poor man go find happiness.
    2. You are running this relationship with absolutely no regard for what he needs or wants. I understand the inclination, but the way you talk about him he could be any random guy. You could leave him, get some random guy who will be happy to let you run his life, and be happy and let your boyfriend be free. My guess is he feels trapped and that is no way to feel in a relationship.

    3. As for spacing, it’s best for your body to have 18 months off before having another baby if possible. Although babies closer together can certainly come out fine the next baby (and you) can have a better chance if you are 100% recovered from the last one. I had my 3 babies about 2.5 years apart and I feel that is was pretty good spacing. I didn’t want less than 2 years because YIKES! and over 4 years I felt that they would not be playmates for each other. It worked out perfectly for us although having a 6, 4, and 1 year old is hard. In a couple of years I’m sure things will even out but it’s pretty difficult right now. So please, give the baby thing a year or so and then revisit if things are back to good with your relationship.

  41. Jennifer Feb 05 at 3:31 pm Reply Reply

    I wanted a second, but my husband did not.  I can 100% guarantee that if I had approached the issue with the ultimatum “All for more babies” used, I would have never had a second child (barring an accident).  Instead of ultimatums and time lines, might I suggest calmly broaching the subject and giving your reasons, and then asking your partner to simply think about it.  Insist that he NOT give an immediate answer, but that he think about it.  Then you must wait.  Patiently.  I cannot guarantee that it will work, but I can say it worked for me.  

  42. Tracy Feb 07 at 2:22 pm Reply Reply

    “He was a surprise but aren’t they all surprises one way or the other?”
    What does this even mean?

  43. Mary Feb 07 at 5:25 pm Reply Reply

    So I’m not really going to touch most of the topics here…..I just wanted to say this one thing :

    It seems odd to me that anyone would want to have to CONVINCE someone to have a child with them. Whether it’s your first or fifth. My fiance and I BOTH wanted the little girl we are expecting in June. No convincing necessary.

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