Heart: Hey wow, this two-year-old we have is so cute and smooch-able! And how funny and clever is he? LET’S MAKE ANOTHER ONE!
Head: OK look, two years ago we were swearing—swearing—to everyone we knew (and some we didn’t) that we’d never have a second. Have you forgotten all those months of crying that could only be soothed by hours of bouncing on a yoga ball while blasting the Wiggles? And let’s not forget those postpartum blues that made you wonder if you’d ruined your life for good.
Heart: OK yeah, that sucked, but this time we’d know! We’d know that the constant crying ends, and that we will sleep again, and that it’s important to sign up for baby yoga (even if that’s not really how we roll). And look at this video of our little man dancing in his Paw Patrol undies!
Head: Undeniably cute. And yes, the ovaries agree. But: we’re tired. We’re 43, for crying out loud! That blood test might’ve suggested we have a good supply of eggs left, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen…
Heart: We could try IVF!
Head: We’re not doing that. It can end up costing way too much, and it would be too hard on our body. We’re not so young anymore, you know. Our knees and feet hurt all the time. And those diaper tabs are already tricky enough with these arthritic hands.
Heart: But we could start going to the gym more often and get really strong, and then try to get pregnant?
Head: We both know that’s not going to happen (and put down those Timbits).
Heart: But don’t you want to snuggle a brand-new baby again? To feel this heart-bursting love times two, and raise another person who might turn out to be just as amazing as our sweet boo-boo?
Head: He is pretty special.
Heart: And you know how we feel when he pushes his Cabbage Patch doll around in the little pink stroller he insisted we buy him… Wouldn’t he make the best big brother? He’s so kindhearted. Is it fair for him to grow up without any siblings?
Head: It is pretty nice to have a brother or sister. And I hate to think about him being solely responsible for Mommy and Daddy when he’s older.
Heart: Right!? Not fair.
Head: But wait, here’s the thing. If we stick with one, we’ll be able to save more money for retirement, and he’ll get a head start in life if we can help with his education. Then maybe he’ll be able to make mortgage payments when he’s 40 (instead of paying off his student loans, like we’re still doing). And daycare fees for two would be insane!
Heart: Money, schmoney. So many people make it work with way less.
Head: That’s true.
Heart: And he’ll be so lonely with no one to play with.
Head: But he’ll be surrounded by other kids every day at school. And we live in a friendly neighbourhood with lots of young children. And what about our needs?
Heart: We’re not supposed to have needs! It’s all about him! We should just quit our job and stay at home and make homemade granola.
Head: Oh that does sound nice… But wait, no. We’d go bonkers with boredom. If we stick with one, we get the best of both worlds: A child to teach us as he grows up, but also time for our own dreams. Not to mention time for our relationship with Daddy.
Heart: Oh yeah, our dreams! Let’s start a business! Let’s write a novel! Let’s take a year off and travel the world! Wait—are we being selfish?
Head: I don’t think we are. A sibling won’t make up for parents who snap at each other all the time, or a Mommy who feels like she had to give up too much of herself to have another baby. And how fair would it be to this potential new baby to have a mom who’s sixty-something years old when he or she is still in high school?
Heart: Hey, lots of people have older parents. And remember that quote someone posted on Facebook? Something about always following your heart…
Head: Yeah, but have you seen this article about moms who are coming right out and saying they regret having kids? That might not be how we feel, but if those women can be that honest, we can confidently tell the world we’re happy with one, and that doesn’t make us a bad Mommy. In fact, it probably makes us a better one.
Heart: Sigh. I hate to say it, but you might be right. I’m going to be a little bit sad about it, though. And I might still bring it up every few weeks, just in case.
Head: That’s OK. You be sad. I’ll be a bit sad, too. Just turn up the Wiggles and I’ll keep driving.
This piece was originally published online in November 2016. Update from 2021: The author is still a mother of one, and intends to stay that way. She is working on her first novel.