Our friends Andrea and Harlan are sitting around the kitchen table with us. It's 9 p.m., and we've pulled out a bottle of Pinot Noir even though we're all bleary eyed. Their son is konked out in our living room and ours is asleep in his bedroom. The day began around 6 a.m. and neither boy has napped, which has made for a very long haul of playing, arguing, pushing, pulling and then, finally, in desperation, some animated Richard Scarry on the TV. Yet in this moment, this adult time, despite the bone-aching desire for bed, despite knowing that tomorrow will start early once again with the yanking of toys, we want to stay up and talk. And the conversation inevitably turns to this: Are you guys going to try have another child?
Dan and I are familiar with this theme. For the past six months, we've been covering this ground most nights of the week, circling around it like a dog trying to get comfortable with a bed he's not so sure is up to snuff. Here's what I know: There's the recession that leveled us when Dan lost his job; there's the fact that I'm 37 and the primary breadwinner; there's the pregnancy puking (which in my case lasted nine long months); there's my career (which I have even more desire to make work as the clock ticks); there's the exhaustion (we're aren't spring pups anymore); and then there's the guilt—the I-should-be-less-selfish-and-give-my-son-a-sibling-because-what's-five-more-years-of-my-life-anyway?
But I know, as I write this, that I'm not exactly sure what runs through Dan's brain when we're having "the talk." I know some of the things he says, and I know some of the things I say. But the next morning, when I try to remember what we decided for this cycle of ovulation, I realize I heard words but am not sure what they mean. This got me wondering if other people I know are having this conversation as often (and as fruitlessly) as we are. So, I made a few phone calls and asked a few questions to find out what our spouses are really talking about when they talk about having another baby.
What They Say: It'll be cheaper the second time around.
What They Actually Mean: That night with Andrea and Harlan, I actually said out loud (I blame the Pinot) that I wanted another baby so that I could reuse all those baby clothes I've got all washed and folded and packed away in Tupperwares in our pantry. Harlan looked at me with an expression that attempted sympathy but telegraphed: "She's crazy!" Dan put his head down. All I meant was this: Babyhood is so fleeting—your kid is in each cute onesie for about five seconds and then grows out of it while you're taking a shower. Before you know, it you're packing that baby's SunButter-and-jelly sandwich into a lunchbox with John Deere tractors all over it and then you blink and they're going off to college. To only do this magical journey once—and a trial run at that—makes me feel gypped.
Next: 4 more things your spouse is really thinking