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The Simple Way to Decide if You Should Have Another Baby

Two days ago, my husband and I were driving off into the sunset, the wind whipping our hair (well, my hair anyway) as we headed off on our first romantic overnight getaway in literally years that didn't involve me being pregnant and miserable.

(I'm still breastfeeding, so I did have to drag along the breast pump, but still. No kids!)

As we drove, I slipped my hand in my husband's and looked lovingly into his eyes. "Just think, honey," I said. "In a month's time, we are going to have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. Our babies aren't going to be babies anymore."

He nodded his acknowledgement, but his eyes widened in horror with my next sentence.

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"Maybe in two years ... " I started hesitantly. "Maybe then we could have just one more?"

The truth is, my husband and I have our hands plenty full right now with our brood of four kids, ranging in age from 7 to 11 months, and last night, when we came home, refreshed and plenty stocked with sparkling wine from the last winery we visited, we were immediately greeted by those children, who, of course, missed us beyond all words.

And who, of course, were all running raging fevers and up all night last night barfing their brains out.

So, yes, husband, you win and I retract that "just one more baby" thing, OK? I can't even see straight right now I'm so tired. But in our constant, nonstop, back-and-forth debating of "should we or shouldn't we," with me being on the just-one-more-baby side of the fence and my husband on the let's-just-be-grateful-for-the-children-we-have side, I can't help but wonder who is right. Or what our future will hold.

I admit that it's much too easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the pregnancy and new baby part, when having another child is about so much more than that.

Because I am so undecided, I am fascinated by how other parents seem to make their family-planning decisions. I know, obviously, that not all of us get a "choice" and I fully recognize the good fortune of being able to even have a say in the matter, but for those of us who do choose, how do you decide? How on earth do you know what the right decision is when it comes to having another baby?

I recently listened to a fabulous podcast, The Mom Hour, which broached this very topic. As I attempted to run off my current baby No. 4 weight, I listened in as the host, Meagan Francis, who has five children herself, described two things that really struck me about how she made the decision.

1. Pregnancy is the ultimate project

Francis pointed out that for her, pregnancy was always the ultimate "project," and I swear I gasped out loud right there in the middle of my run, because I realized that I am the exact same way. I love a good project, and I live for things like planning, fresh starts and the excitement of a new business venture. So, of course, it would make sense that pregnancy would feel like a challenge to tackle—and because it happens to lead to one cute and dimply reward, it's no wonder that it's something that a "project" person like me would never get sick of.

2. It's not about the baby

For me, this point is what really made the have-another-baby-or-not question a lot more clear. Ask yourself the following question:

When you picture getting pregnant again, do you just imagine the baby stage? Or do you clearly visualize the next stages as well? The toddler phase, the potty-training, the teen years, the driver's training, the whole newborn-for-life scenario? Be honest and ask yourself if you are imagining a new baby or a new family member?

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Sometimes, I admit that it's much too easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the pregnancy and new baby part, when having another child is about so much more than that. As fabulous and intoxicating as the newborn and cuddly baby months can be, they are literally just that: months.

I'm still solidly in the camp that the decision to have another child (not just baby!) is such a personal decision and that there is no "right" answer, but it helped me to think about the situation just a little differently. And sometimes, life literally happens and we realize that planning is overrated anyway.

And no—that's not a pregnancy announcement.

Although there was a lot of wine that night ...

What do you think? Are you on the fence about adding another member to your family?

Image via Twenty20/Danny Reed

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