We celebrated my son’s second birthday a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t help noticing a new development among the party guests. Of the ten or so mothers who attended the party, only three of us were not pregnant. And one of us non-preggos had already had #2. So that makes only two of us singleton moms. Though I, myself, have resisted the urge thus far, baby fever is definitely contagious and spreading.
Here is how I know I have baby fever:
- All I can think about is babies.
- I love seeing all the new little babies my friends have made, and it makes me melt seeing the older siblings interact with them.
- My Pinterest boards are full of cute onesies and sibling portraits.
- I email potential baby names to my husband.
This very moment, my ovaries are on the floor throwing a toddler-esque temper tantrum. But the logical part of my brain recognizes that we can’t have another quite yet, and here is why:
- I want to be a little more settled at my job before going on maternity leave.
- My husband’s job requires him to be gone nearly every week. Life as a single mom with a toddler is rough enough. With a toddler and a newborn? No, thank you. I would at least want #1 to be the age where he doesn’t think it’s hilarious to run into the street while I’m juggling groceries, a diaper bag, a purse and keys.
- We’re trying to save money for a house.
- There is no biological rush to have a second. We’re still in our twenties, so we have plenty of time to space things out.
Birthday party microcosm notwithstanding, I am not alone in putting off expanding my family. According to the Pew Research Center, there has been “a sharp decline in fertility rates in the United States that started in 2008 and is closely linked to the souring of the economy.”
The article goes on to say that “much of the fertility decline that occurs during an economic decline is postponement of childbearing and does not represent a decision to have fewer children.” For some of the same reasons I highlighted above, many women are looking at their financial state of affairs and choosing to wait it out.
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, author Malcolm Gladwell calls this period of fertility decline a “demographic trough.” The biggest demographic troughs have occurred in the 1930s during the Great Depression, during the Oil Shocks of the 1970s, and in the last few years, with the recession that began in 2007.
But if women like me are postponing having the kids they want until the economy recovers, what do we do in the meantime to stave off baby fever? I feel like I need some sort of vaccination to inoculate myself against the baby rabies.
I’ve tried reminding myself that we’ll be doing better financially if we spend this time saving our money. I’ve told myself that I’ll have more paid leave saved up if I wait. That hasn’t worked.
The only thing that has worked? It’s terrible, but here it is: I remind myself that being pregnant, recovering after childbirth, and having a newborn are awful. Just completely awful. In my son’s short life, the gestation and newborn stages were my least favorite. Even though I know we are entering the terrible twos, I still enjoy this age far more than any other age that came before it.
I don’t have to throw up constantly or breastfeed. I get eight delicious hours of sleep a night. I actually have time to look nice once in a while. I can wear earrings and necklaces and silk shirts because they won’t get pulled on, swallowed, or spit-up on. I can bake bread and cook dinner and even stay on top of household chores. We can have conversations and sing songs together. He might push, bite, or hit me, but then he turns right around and gives me kisses and hugs.
I know at some point we will start thinking about having a second (and maybe a third?) child. Until then, I’m going to print up and laminate the preceding two paragraphs into a little card so I can carry it with me when I visit my friends’ precious new babies and smell their sweet baby heads and coo over their little newborn outfits.
Have you ever had to rein in your baby fever? How did you do it?
Hadyn Kihm lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband and two-year-old son. She studied Public Policy and Latin American Studies and currently works in the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. She loves baking, baby sign language, and blogging at The Bread Maiden.