I'm on the fence, like really truly on the fence, about adding a third child to our family. I could really use some been there done that stories, or general impressions, or whatever you can offer me!
A little background: I am married to a man who has no biological children (he is stepfather to my two dc) and he has always wanted to have a child of his own. When we first got together, almost 5 years ago, my ds was 3 and it felt OK to add one more, which was the plan. But...time has passed, and given our lives and relationship dynamic, I have become very reluctant to take the plunge. My reasons: dh can be pretty self-absorbed and oblivious around the house (I almost always need to ask for help with about anything -- he will rarely step in to help with the children), he needs lots of quiet time, down time, etc. and resents the normal kid noise and crazies, he gets very, very grumpy with sleep deprivation, he has a really hard time sharing me with my kids and we have had tons of disagreements about my attachment parenting style (he is very uncomfortable with co-sleeping, for example, though he says he will do it with a new baby since I am so adamant, but I'm guessing this will be a struggle for us). Also, since we never got to just be a twosome, when my dc are with their father, he talks about how this is the best part of the week for him and he gets really grumpy and angry if the schedule changes and he doesn't get this time alone with me. Really, both of us get pretty stressed and fried from the day-to-day of parenting: he and I work really, really well as partners when the dc are with their father, and we really struggle together as parents. I'm worried about how all of the stress will affect our marriage.
And then there's me...I am over 40, and frankly, tired as heck! I have attachment parented two high-needs children for over 10 years and they are finally school age and I have an idea for a home-based business that is making me really, really happy in a way I haven't been in a long time. I literally cannot wrap my head around being pregnant, giving birth, and extended breastfeeding again, while maintaining the very busy, full, and somewhat stressful life we have already. I guess my biggest fear is that having a child won't be what dh thinks it will be, and it will all fall to me: his life won't change as much as mine will (you mamas all know this one): he will still get up in the a.m., take a shower, get dressed, go to work, come home, have dinner, spend time with the family, and go to bed. Meanwhile, my daily life will change radically. Every day. For 18 years. If sleep deprivation becomes an issue, I can see him camping out in the guest room while I nighttime parent. I will also be the one on the ground with my other two (who can have a really feisty dynamic), dealing with the dynamics of three children, plus cooking, cleaning, organizing our social lives, playdates, etc. Oh and did I mention we're homeschooling?
On the other side, if we decide not to, will he resent it forever? Will he miss out on something that really is irreplacable (and it will be my fault?). Of course we have talked about all of this, but since I've done the baby stage before and he hasn't (he came into our lives when my son was almost 3 and my daughter was 6) -- he really doesn't get what those early years are like and how much our lives will change. I can feel, deep down, that he really doesn't get it, and knowing him as well as I do, I can feel that he is in the fantasy stage, and will be very ambivalent about the reality of having another child to care for and raise. Will any of this matter in 10 years when we have a beautiful child together? Or will we regret not just being satisfied with the life we have created together already? Will I resent having another one if, in a year, he looks at me, bleary and sleep deprived, realizes he's not going to get his "weekend" with me (for the next 18 years), is sharing me with a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attached child, and begins the slow withdrawal that I have seen happen again and again and again in marriages with this dynamic? I feel I am the only one who can save us from this, yet am I being selfish?
Give me your best, mamas!