Friday, September 16, 2011

To have, or not to have a baby?

How can a compromise be reached if one party in a relationship desires to have another child, while the other party is equally opposed to doing so?

This question is entirely hypothetical. It does not pertain to my own long-distance relationship in any way for a myriad of reasons. For one, I'm not yet fertile. For another, I'm not yet sexually active. For another, the distances involved in my relationship are such that conception would involve special delivery of test tubes packed in dry ice. Even if I wanted to rock the parents' world just a bit, I don't think I could involve anything so technical in doing so.

In most cases, this quandary is faced by married couples. Perhaps they had agreed never to have kids, but one party changed his or her mind. Perhaps they've already had a child (or two, or three, or four, or five, or six -- I'm thinking of some of my LDS relatives and acquaintances here) but one half of the couple can't quite give up on the idea of just one more baby. Perhaps there was never a firm decision between one or two kids; the couple just assumed they'd have a meeting of the minds when the time came.

First of all, the couple is in a better position to be debating the proposition before the all-important conception has taken place. It would indeed be sad to hash it all out once the baby is already on its way. Depending upon ow strongly either party might feel, abortion or adoption might be a consideration. While there are plenty of things worse than the latter of the two options, nine months is a long time to carry around anything or anyone a person doesn't plan to keep, so if the decision is being made before the fact, congratulations to all those involved for their self-control and foresightedness.

Can a compromise be reached? Of course! A compromise is ALWAYS an option! You have half a baby instead of a full one. This could be accomplished by giving birth to a baby that exists only from the waist up. The upside to this solution is that the pesky matter of diapers is eliminated. If crying is an issue for you, have a baby that exists only from the waist down. Or perhaps have a really timy baby, like I was at two pounds, two ounces. (The problems with this version are that A) maybe the baby won't survive; B) perhaps it will survive, but with physical or cognitive problems; or C) perhaps the baby will grow up into a regular person -- maybe even a real pai in the butt like me -- in which case you get more than the half-baby for which you bargained.

Some people might consider a pet a compromise to having an additional child. I consider such people very silly. That beautiful tropical fish may look scintillating in the aquarium, but it's no substitute for a living, breathing teenager keeping you awake because he's missed curfew by three hours, and you forgot to have a GPS installed on the car that you allow him to drive.

In a more open society, the party who wished to have an additional child might just go out and find another partner with whom to produce the other child. It wouldn't necessari;y even signify and end to the original marriage. It would be merely an addendum of sorts. That, however, is not how we do things in most civilized populations. Decisions as to whether or not to reproduce have been known to strain or even to break unions, but one does not usually produce an extracurricular child as a solution to the original disagreement.

A person I know who shall remain nameless solved the "you can't have half a baby" crisis in her own unique way. She wanted a third child. Her husband did not. She secretly went off contraceptives for two months. If she conceived in those two contraceptive-free months, she would've had a third child. She said she would have explained it by saying that birth control isn't always effective. (That's especially true if you don't even use it.) If she didn't, she wouldn't. She didn't conceive; she went back on contraceptives and considered it to be perfectly fair. She said that it would have bothered her not to have had a third child without those two months of reproductive roulette, but because she had them and pregnancy didn't happen, it never bothered her to have stopped at two children.

Every couple, or even every individual, must face this decision. In the cases of stable adults who can provide for another child, there's no right or wrong answer. All things considered, it's possibly best not to have the additional child if both parties do not agree to it. If it is the woman who does not want the additional child,such is all the more the case; until medical science has advanced to the point that men can sustain pregnancies, she has to have veto power. Still, there are no easy answers. One one hand, the Earth has too many bodies inhabiting it already, yet on the other hand, our society has too few functional families producing children, and far too many dysfunctional families picking up that slack. This means that when we're all in old folks' homes, if we live that long, there will be some truly scary people handing out our Milk o Magnesia and emptying our bedpans. Anyone ready for a round or two of reproductive roulette?


  1. We went through this at my house just a few weeks ago. That's how we got Radar. My mom wanted a 4th baby... probably because we know quite a few people who are having little ones and the nostalgia from when Benny was a newborn was too much to handle. StepDad on the other hand is pretty done with babies. Not to say he's a grouch. He wasn't interested in either baby or dog but after my mom talked about it and talked about it and one day showed up with Radar, he kind of didn't have very much of a say in the option.

    Personally, looking at it as a 3rd party (a 3rd party who gets to stand in the rain while the dog who's supposed to be peeing eats grass, or a 3rd party who changed baby diapers and fed said baby at least 1/3 of the time either parent fed him) I mentally sided with StepDad. No baby. No dog. But now we have a puppy.

    Of course, no matter how much I loathed the idea of Radar, I love him immensely. And I'm sure that happens with a lot of couples who "accidentally" conceive a 3rd or 4th, or 5th or 6th child. A friend's daughter got pregnant and didn't tell her mother for 6 or 7 months. Leah lives in Ireland so it was easy to hide it from her mom. The pregnancy wasn't wanted at all by Leah who is very career minded. But now after Lucas was born Leah adores him. There are obviously people who still don't like their babies even after they're born.

  2. Becca,
    I know you're absolutely right, but I so strongly do not get the idea of people who don't warm up to a baby after it's born. If my brother went out and knocked a girl up (I'll use him as the example because it's at least a physical possibility for him) my parents would be beyond angry, but once the baby arrived, everything would be all about the baby and they wouldn't be able to get enough of the child.

    my mom siad she would have liked to have another child, but she knew with their lifestyle 9both working, dad out of town a lot) and even the financial realities of having to financially help out a lot of nieces and nephews, it wouldn't be the smartest thing to do. Plus, it took a lot out of her when she lost the twins that she had before we were born. if that happened again, I'm not sure she could have bounced back.

    Your new dog sounds lovable. we have a golden retriver who's something like seven. My parents had aanpther before we were born, and when he died, they replaced her with this one. When this one goes, they'll probably get another Golden Retriever. I don't really know why. They're nioe dogs when well-trained, but so are a lot of other breeds. My mom said she's always liked the idea of a large dog when my dad is gone at night, but Golden Retrievers look docile, so you don't have the appearance of a junkyard dog in your living room. still, a Golden Retriever is quite protective of its family. i think I nebtioned this before, but when the Scott and Kacii Peterson story first broke, my dad said instantly that Scott Peterson was not telling the truth because there's no way a Golden Retriever would allow anyone to abduct its pregnant owner on a wlk without putting up a major struggle that probably would have attractedmajor attention, and would have been very agitated when it was eventually found. (Nicole Borwn Simpson's dog was not a Golden Retriever, but remember how agitated it was after the murder and how it led the people who found it back to the crime scene?) No way would Laci's dog have come back happy and going about its usual business.

    Your stepdad was probably being the more realistic of the two parents 9men ar generally less hormonal) but he knew when to give in on the lesser of the two evils.

    I have aunts and uncles on both side with very large broods, and they have their large families for a variety of reasons, but in least oase I think it's because the mother misses the idea of an infant around. In that case, she has twelve. Unless she plans to imitate Michelle Duggar, at some point she will have to accept the idea of a baby being her last, and even Michelle will have to face up to that eventually.

    Enjoy Radar!

  3. There's always the giant rabbits to consider, instead!