When You Want Another Baby (But He Doesn’t)

Three couples talk about their decision to have - or not have - more children
Jason Ierace

A desire to have one more baby led 33-year-old Aimee Dodd to fight to convince her reluctant husband, Adam, 38, that it was the right thing for their family. She won the battle, and gave birth to identical boy triplets in 2011.

AIMEE: I knew I wanted another baby the minute I had my daughter, Amelia (now 8). The night she was born, I sat watching over her until the sun came up, and I felt deep in my heart that I wanted to replicate this experience as soon as I could. With Harry (now 12), it wasn’t as easy – I was 20 when I had him and he was a complete surprise, but this? I felt like I could go on forever.

Adam had always made it clear he was done, but deep down I hoped I could change his mind. I waged my campaign, but in the end it was nature’s call and I discovered I was pregnant anyway. Although Adam came around to the idea that there would be another baby, it wasn’t until I miscarried that he saw how important it was to me to become a mother again. After we went through that, he became much more enthusiastic about trying for another.

I got pregnant quickly. The day before we found out there was more than one baby on the way, we visited a friend who had just given birth to twins. The thought of having two newborns shook Adam – he joked there better only be one baby in my tummy! We were both shocked when we discovered I was carrying triplets.

It’s funny to say I wanted to replicate the bond that I shared – and still share – with Amelia, because when you have three babies (Spencer, Fletcher and Hudson) to look after, there’s not a lot of wondrous gazing going on. You’re just going through the motions trying to get everyone looked after, fed, changed and out the door. Being parents of five has changed our relationship; we often have to split the kids up, so I might do the sport run with some, while he takes the others on the birthday party circuit. But we’re a good match, we’ve managed to find our way and still have fun together.

Adam had the snip after the triplets were born so I know we’re done, but I still go gaga when I see a newborn. If I could be guaranteed another girl, I think I could actually go again.

(Credit: Jason Ierace)

ADAM: I remember the exact moment Aimee called me at work to say they’d found three babies during the scan. I said, ‘Give me a minute’ and hung up. After minutes of being unable to think, eventually I snapped to and realised Aimee needed me, so I called her back. Despite my rising panic, I asked, ‘OK, what do we do from here?’

It took me a long time to come to the party on trying for baby number three, because with a boy and a girl we already had the perfect pigeon pair and I thought it seemed crazy to tamper with something that already felt so right. Aimee wasn’t happy with that kind of logic and our conversations went round and round.

It was only after she got pregnant accidentally and suffered a devastating miscarriage that I saw what having another baby meant to her. She was so sad that, truthfully, I would have done anything to make her smile again, so I agreed that we should give it a go.

As the pregnancy progressed, the joke with our family goes that I refused to send her to anymore scans. At the first one, they found two heartbeats and at the second, they found three – I was concerned that every time she went, they would find another and another! When the boys finally arrived, we were thrilled to discover that they were all healthy, but while they were in hospital, I must admit I raced out and got a vasectomy.

Our home today is chaos, but it’s joyous chaos. Yes, we’ve had to get a big people mover and restrict our social activities, but I love having a large family, and now I can’t imagine life any other way.

(Credit: Jason Ierace)

Sara*, 36, yearns for a sibling for their daughter, Poppy*, but her husband, Tom*, 39, insists they remain a family of three.

SARA: When Tom first told me he never wanted to get married or have kids, I knew he would eventually change his mind. We were both so young when we first started dating, so initially I put his comments down to his age, but I also knew, deep down, he loved me enough to eventually give me what I wanted.

Sure enough, as soon as his friends all started getting married and starting families of their own, we got married as well. And although I at first had to push him gently, we soon started making plans to try to have a baby.

Watching Tom with Poppy, you’d never know he was someone who didn’t ever want kids; he’s such a natural with her and they share the kind of bond that makes you think he’d love three more just like her. But that’s just it – he doesn’t.

When I first approached him with the idea of having baby number two, when Poppy was 18 months old, he made it clear that it was never going to happen. He cited financial reasons, logistics, wanting to travel and still have a life as some of the reasons for his decision. While I understand all these reasons from a logical perspective, I still struggle with what my heart really wants – a sibling for our daughter.

One year on, I still bring up the subject of having another baby regularly, hoping that he might eventually change his mind like he did the first time around – even though he says it will never happen. Sure, I know I should be happy we have one daughter and leave it at that, but I still find it difficult to accept at times that this might be it for our family. What helps is knowing what I don’t want, and that’s forcing the man I love into something he doesn’t want to do, where we end up trapped in an unhappy marriage, filled with resentment. Regardless of his decision, Tom is still the love of my life and if he agrees to have another child with me, he has to do it wholeheartedly or not at all. I’ve made peace with that.

TOM: Just before Poppy’s arrival, I remember feeling really excited – but also surprised that I was so excited, since having a child was not something I ever felt interested in. I knew (motherhood) was important for my wife, and I guess more than anything I was prepared to have a baby for her, rather than anything I may have – or have not – been feeling. That said, when we first decided to try for a baby, things just felt right.

I know Sara is disappointed with where I stand on baby number two, but it’s just not something I feel is right for our family. I love my daughter and being a dad is fantastic, but financially, having just the one child has been tough. I’ve had to double down on my efforts at work to ensure we keep our heads above water, and for this reason I feel I don’t get to spend as much time with Poppy as it is. Giving Poppy every opportunity seems possible right now, but if we add another child, compromises will have to be made in terms of finances and time, and I don’t know if we’ll be any happier as a family for it.

Expanding, or more to the point, my reasons for not wanting to expand our family, is something Sara and I talk about regularly and I think she understands my reasons for the way I feel. Going from no kids to having a kid was a big leap for me, so I think Sara understands that making a compromise on her desires is fair.

Ultimately, my big dream for us as a family is to be able to have the time, money and freedom to go on adventures together as a tight-knit group of three, and give our daughter everything she could ever want. I can’t imagine Sara would argue with that.

Caleb*, 43, left his wife, Paula*, 40, 18 months after the birth of their second son. They are now divorced.

CALEB: I always thought the whole ‘watching your life flash before your eyes’ moment was a myth, but when Paula sat me down to tell me that she was pregnant again, that’s exactly what I experienced. She was talking, but all I could see were flashes from a life I wouldn’t get to live.

Although she’d been pleading with me to have another baby, she had the nerve to call the pregnancy an ‘accident’. I lived out the pregnancy feeling betrayed – and trapped. I’ve always been quite a selfish person and I entered into fatherhood not knowing if I’d make a decent father. My job involved a lot of travel and I enjoyed my freedom, so I was surprised when they placed our first-born, Max*, in my arms and I fell head over heels in love.

Soon after, I started seeing a fundamental shift in my relationship with Paula. We stopped talking and having sex, and instead began arguing whenever we weren’t talking about Max. When she brought up the possibility of baby number two, I knew our relationship was too fragile to agree. In the end, we managed to limp along until our second son, Jack*, was 18 months old, and then I moved out. I was torn with my decision, because although I fell in love with Jack the minute I held him, I was consumed with my resentment for Paula.

We were so far past the whole baby stage with Max that I had long put it past me, and here we were going through all the dirty nappies and late-night chemist runs again. Paula couldn’t get past her anger that I wasn’t as involved as she wanted me to be, but I do believe I did the best I could given the circumstances.

Today, we’re both married to new partners and Paula and I only speak during the weekend handover. We’re happy now, but I wonder if she thinks it was all worth it? We’ve got two gorgeous boys, but we no longer have that ideal family unit we dreamt of.

Paula declined to be interviewed for this story.

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