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Those Times I Think We're Not 'One and Done'

Photograph by Twenty20

A bottle of inky blue oil sits on my bathroom countertop. It's a retinol skincare product lauded by beauty editors for its ability to give you a youthful glow. I desperately need it because, post-motherhood, my skin has seemingly given up.

Hoping to coax it back to life, I pay the ridiculous sum: $105 for a 1-ounce bottle. The package contains a warning: "Not for use during pregnancy."

While walking back to my car, I mull over the words.

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The truth is, I'm not pregnant and, on most days, I'm fairly sure we're one of those "one and done" couples. But sometimes ... sometimes.

It's 8 p.m., and I can hear my husband reading to our daughter. She has all her favorite books memorized and, on this night, for the span of a few pages, it's her voice I hear. That sleepy, dreamy moment makes me think, "Let's have another baby." I wrestle with my reaction, though. Is it what I really want or just a temporary lapse in judgment?

Time whizzed by and my baby isn't a baby anymore.

Time whizzed by and my baby isn't a baby anymore. She's a little girl now. I pack away old clothes and memories of her infancy resurface. Should I give these onesies away? Hmm, maybe not just yet.

I'll see large families out and about—three, four kids. Those moms almost always look more frazzled than me. But it also looks like abundance, as though the heart expands with each new child.

"I could drive a minivan," I think. Look at all that storage space.

A mom brings her newborn to library story time, and I marvel at how tiny he is. I don't dare hold him when his second-time-mama offers, because I've heard it's the new baby smell that gets you. Other moms are braver and inhale deeply.

While my heart is ever the romantic, my brain refuses to be anything but a pragmatist.

How will another baby change our lives in practical terms? For me, the biggest consideration is taking time off from work. My career matters to me, and I'm beyond the point where that statement is supposed to give me major mom-guilt. Beyond giving me a sense of personal fulfillment, it's how I help support my family. Moms who've tried to come back to their careers after extended time off know it's much harder to start up again. The alternative is to lean in, work harder but end up spending less time with family while also paying more for childcare.

But these are still only hypothetical worries—for this mom-of-one, at least. Some days I'm certain we're "one and done." Kid meltdowns. Colds that span two weeks. Dinner plates upended. Pre-school tuition. Night wakings. The little time I have to myself. Days that feel out of balance. Each of these makes me feel one child is more than enough.

Pregnancy, labor, the first sleepless year (and then some)—blah!

And yet, I have a sister. A wonderful one. No one makes me laugh like my sister. She's the first person I call when I have good news. She was there for me during the newborn phase more than anyone else besides my husband. She's my best friend. I'd like my daughter to have that.

I imagine that if my parents had carefully calculated the pros and cons of having another baby, my sister might never have existed, and I'd have missed out. This I contemplate over and over.

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I ask my 3-year-old if she'd like a sister. "A sister and a brother," she says.

Pregnancy, labor, the first sleepless year (and then some)—blah!

But if you told me today that I was pregnant, I don't think I'd be able to hide my happiness. And I'd promptly discontinue using my fancy skincare.

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