8 ways to help you deal when the time isn't right to have a baby

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Vivi
Baby Madison Marie
Baaaaaaaaby. By: Crystal Marie LopezCC BY 2.0

It was never going to happen to me like it did with those parents who hit the one-year mark, watch their little baby toddle around and say, "Oh… I want another one!" After a terrible pregnancy that ended in an emergency C-section, I decided I was done for good. Or at the very least a good looooong time. I wrote myself letters throughout the pregnancy to remind myself that YES it was that bad, the same way I kept track of the (still ongoing) night wakings, issues with breastfeeding. Finances have been kept under strict supervision, and baby expenditures can be easily totalled.

I know logically, what with a toddler running around and my partner and I still feeling like overwhelmed new parents, this is not the time for another baby.

But for the past few weeks, every time I see chubby cheeks or a gurgly smile: BAM. I WANT ONE! I want another baby so bad I can feel my fingers itching to hold it, cuddle it, coo at it… what the hell now?!? It's like my brain takes a break from remembering that all that cuddle cooing comes with a lot of laundry, exhaustion, lack of sleep/sex/time, and financial stress.

So if you are in my situation and feeling those pangs but know damn well it's not time for another one, here is my list of how to fight the baby crazies:

If you are in a relationship where getting knocked up is "easy" (meaning does not need outside help), make sure you are on some serious birth control.
No seriously. MAKE SURE. Because sexy times can betray logical thinking in a quick minute. "Condoms are such a pain, maybe we'll just skip it this time?" That is baby crazy-you talking, and they are not to be trusted. Talk to your partner about your pangs and remind them that they need to be on team "Let's not have a baby right now." That way they can help defend themselves against sexy time-you if it comes down to it!

Write a list of "things we want for a another child."
Having a first child, we were focused on getting all the "things" you need for a baby. What we would want for a second child is very different. For example, we want to live in a place with outdoor space attached to it. A washer and dryer in our living space that is not coin operated. A dishwasher. A third bedroom. These are not "needs" but a list of things that you can see making a second child doable. Making that list reminds me of how stressful it would be to bring another child into our lives at this moment.

Focus on the child(ren) you have now.
Focus on the precious moments you have together as just a small family with one little child to focus on. As my husband put it, "I can't imagine not having time to look at something she is excited to show me, because I am in the other room with a dirty diaper." Take the time to watch them closely as they move farther and farther away from being a little grub in your arms to being the brave flying butterfly they will be.

Offer to take care of babies for your friends and families.
This gives you adorable little baby time while also reminding you of the energy it takes to juggle two or more children. After enjoying another little bundle for a few hours, I am reminded that my little lady still wants ALL of her mom's attention and love, and that she is still just a baby too!

Plan a "before we have another one" trip.
A vacation somewhere that before you have another one, you will do. Maybe a weekend away with your little one(s) at the grandparents'/aunt's/friend's (because they are finally ready for a night away from you!). Making that a goal will give you some other awesome thing in the future to plan for before another little one makes it difficult to do so.

Have a frank discussion about finances.
Can you REALLY afford another child? Keep track of all your spending for two months and see where your family sits financially now. Then look at those same numbers and see how they would change if you were on maternity/parental leave, if only one of you was working, if you had to pay for fertility treatments, if you have to pay for legal fees for adoption. Could you still afford it? Figure out how much you would need to save for another child and how long it would take to get there. These sometimes sobering numbers can have a strong effect on your desire to add to your family.

If you still have a young child at home, start flexing your freedom muscle.
It may have been a long time since you went out for a drink and dessert with friends or gone to see a movie on your own. If you haven't already, try enjoying your child's growing independence by carving out more time on your own or with your partner.

Let yourself indulge a little.
Keep a list of possible future baby names. Look at adorable baby photos. Think about decorating another room. Just keep it to no more than 15-20 minutes a day. Then move on to something more immediately awesome — like planning that trip or taking pictures to document the little one you have right now!

  1. Whooaaa. Are you me? Hated pregnancy? Check. Traumatic birth that ended in emergency C-section? Check. 99% sure I was 'one and done'? YEP.

    But OH WAIT, says my ovaries. Just look at those nom-able little cheeks. Swoon at the way her widdle hands wave about and her smile?! Forget it.

    And as of last night, I want another baby. Sigh. But, like you, author, we have no space or moola for another baby at this time (or for the next few years, in reality). I like this list of ways I can cure my fever, because I'm pretty sure more cowbell won't cut it. I've decided (in the 12 hours since I decided I want #2) that our 5th anniversary trip to wherever (2.5 years from now) will be a good time to revisit it.

    In the meantime…my ovaries are just gonna have to shove it.

  2. A lot of this works for folks who don't have any kids yet, too! If I didn't have a form of birth control that requires medical intervention to remove from my life, I'm sure I'd have sabotaged it somehow by now. =P

    The "indulging" has actually helped a lot for me. We have names picked out for both boy and girl, send each other adorable babies-with-puppies videos or fun nursery design ideas, and even bought a humorous book about pregnancy/babies. It's a big relief not stopping ourselves from every mention of "babies" ever.

    I like the idea of putting the finances discussion more into real numbers, rather than "well obviously we're WAY too poor right now!" That might help next time I get REALLY overwhelmed with babyfeelings.

    • I was thinking the same thing! We don't have kids yet, but the baby fever has been slowly taking me over. We probably won't wait *too* much longer (another 6 months to a year, ideally), but even that seems like an eternity at the moment. We recently switched to condoms from the pill (and I'm doing FAM to keep track of my fertility), but my brain is too obsessive to "accidentally" forget the birth control at the wrong time of the month, so I seriously doubt that will happen. Haha.

      Indulging has been super helpful for me too. I think because it makes me feel like we're moving towards it rather than sitting at a standstill. I have a (private) Pinterest board of baby-related stuff, we have some names picked out, I'm trying to focus on getting my body ready (dropped the bc pills, vitamins, nutrition, exercise, etc.), and we do a LOT of talking about "when we have kids…"

      • My enthusiastic foray into FAM led to the person who is now sleeping in the next room (15 years ago). I was trying to NOT get pregnant, but my thermometer kept rolling off the nightstand and shattering. This happened three times…yet I had been so oddly regular (like, set a clock or something) that I sabotaged myself into believing "I know when I ovulate, I can relax some of these strict methodologies ". WRONG! Well, maybe right…because that March of 2001, I knew exactly that I had ovulated… the day after having unprotected sex and incorrectly assuming my cycle was predictable.
        Anyway, that little guy is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Another thought about FAM: several of my friends had found themselves unable to conceive after miscarriage. I told them FAM was great as bc (if you FOLLOW DIRECTIONS) but even better at helping women conceive. All 3…each one came to me within a month or two saying that it worked for them!

    • I THIS!d this already, but SO MUCH THIS. This was essentially my primary reason for getting a Mirena. Un-sabotageable contraception! The older I get, the less I trusted my subconscious not to just 'forget' a pill. Plus, built-in five-year timeline. Win.

    • Haha, yeah, I feel ya on the birth control thing. My partner and I do not have any kids, yet (and we're realistically a couple years away from it being the right time to try), but we only use condoms, and every now and then, in the moment, we're like, "Hmmmm what if…..?" Luckily, we haven't followed through with that whim, but it's definitely come up for both of us, before.

  3. I definitely needed to read this. When my son was an infant, I told everyone I know to remind me about how tired I was so that I wouldn't forget and be taken over by baby crack. For a long time, I was definitely in the not-anytime-soon camp, but now that my kid's just a tiny bit older (though still barely 18 months), I can feel it coming back. I know that I could not be the parent I want to be with two young kids and that I should wait until he's at least 2.5 or 3 to even think about trying to get pregnant, but I've got several friends with new squishes and it's hard not to think about. In my head, an infant that falls asleep easily and doesn't really need to be entertained is way easier than an on-the-go toddler. I think I might be fooling myself just a little bit.

    • Maybe it would also help to remind yourself that that infant may or may not fall asleep easily, and will also turn into a toddler on the go sooner than you think. How much harder would it be to have two toddler/little kids running in different directions at the same time?

      • This is what helps me. I can imagine having my current toddler and a tiny infant, but imagining my current toddler being 3 AND having a walking, independence-asserting, tantrum-throwing 1 year old is terrifying.

  4. lol @ more cowbell…

    i loved this! having baby fever the second time around is wayyyy different than the first time! this time, all illusions have been stripped of me. it makes the whole experience a strange exercise in cognitive dissonance. loved the suggestions, and i think i'll start working on my pre-#2 bucket list.

  5. "I like this list of ways I can cure my fever, because I'm pretty sure more cowbell won't cut it"
    Holy crum- I am still laughing at this.

    I am glad its helping more than just me! I think part of wanting another is a little bit wanting something new and shiny to look forward to, sometimes when the reality of right now is a little more scheduled and old hat. Hence the planning for other things and reminding yourself why not.

  6. My husband and I have been married nearly a year, and we're 28 and 34 – prime baby-making age. We have professional jobs, are about to get on government health insurance, we've got money in savings, a three bedroom house in a good school district… In a lot of ways, we're ready, and in fact I just stopped my birth control. We were ready!

    And then… things with my job got really bad. I need to find a new job NOW, but the economy is tight. I'm the primary breadwinner and have massive student loans so I have to be employed, and I can't search for a new job when pregnant (I'll need to have been with a company for a year so I can take FMLA maternity leave – we cannot afford even 6 weeks without my salary). So… now things are on hold, until I find a new job and establish myself there. The clock is being rewound, and it sucks.

  7. I am like you. Pregnancy, for me, blew. Birth sucked. The crisis that came after was basically hell. All of it left me basically sure that I will never have another. But of course, the longing is still there. One thing that helped me was the ability to talk frankly about it. The internal longing is bad enough, but other people did me no favors either. My daughter was barely a month old (and crises subsiding) when friends started to ask when we wanted another one. I felt like sitting them down and re-hashing the whole nightmare affair for them, but I usually did not. I relied very heavily on my husband and family (who were familar with the situation) to constantly tell me "You do not want any more for a very long time." They were the people who were actually there and saw all the negative and know the risks of having another one. The best thing for me was to surround myself with people who were privy to the reasons about why having another kid isn't right for us and will reinforce that.

    I also am lucky that we documented the pregnancy and birth – which we initially thought would turn out to be beautiful images, but many show how unhappy I was with the whole affair. It can help to look at some of those candid pictures of when I was not so healthy or happy, or watch the short little birth video. It brings it all back. If I only looked at the professonal, happier images, I'd be getting a skewed picture. So that is what is working for me right now.

  8. This is also a helpful list for people experiencing secondary infertility and are not giving it a go. I have two wonderful kids, but we had always planned on having more. Unfortunately, my husband got cancer and the radiation made it a biological impossibility. I'm still young enough that we could go alternate routes, but it seems incredibly unlikely. I do try to focus on the children that I have now, and enjoy the fact that we can do things now that we couldn't do when they were babies (my husband and I took a nap this weekend while both kids were home and awake! AMAZING!).

    The only thing that I would add is that it's ok to feel sad about it sometimes too. My sister just had a baby and I am overwhelmed with joy for her, but it did bring up a lot of feelings for me. But feelings are just feelings and they pass. I find it helpful to acknowledge being sad/angry/disappointed that when you so badly and can't have it is just part of the human condition. It's what we do with that longing that can help shape the trajectory of our lives.

  9. oh man i needed this! thank you!
    My "little ones" are 13 and 15 years, WWWHHHYYYYY would i want to start ALL OVER!? but i do ; ;
    but i cant!
    haha i'm so happy to hear that its not just me!

  10. I find myself in the precarious position of wanting another baby, always expecting I would have a third, but not sure it's going to happen and having to accept that. I am turning 37 in a few months, and have been for the last couple of years working to recover from mental health issues. I just tapered off my medication a month and a bit ago, thinking it didn't do much for me and with CBT and meditation I got this, right? Well, I just got slammed pretty badly a couple of weeks ago (coming out now) and I'm wondering again if it's fair for me to stretch myself that much thinner when I'm still delicate.

    Some of this stuff is really helpful for that, too.

  11. I've been dealing with baby fever on and off for a few years, but in the last three months it has really sky-rocketed because I got married. I just keep telling myself that we have to wait until we have a proper house and not the dump we're renting now. Hopefully in the next three years we can do this. What's helping me is that my sister-in-law is having a baby soon and I get to browse shops now for books and toys and geeky onesies and be the cool auntie that sends gifts.

  12. I don't want another baby at all. Two kids is enough for me, but its still difficult when nearly all the women I know are pregnant. My body/mind are screaming baby!

  13. I'm nursing a severe case of baby rabies (we're planning to start adoption procedures next year, so almost there!), and sometimes my inner soundtrack is like this: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/edc8cceadd/maybe-its-time-for-a-baby-from-sensiblesnack

    The video helps me realize that my wants are not always reasonable and that soon we will be in the right place to make our family bigger, which is grownup and sensible and all but OH THE WIDDLE FEET!!

  14. This. Is. Amazing. My hubby and I had a baby 7 months ago. I also have a 6 year old from a previous marriage. This baby has been SO HARD on our new marriage (total honeymoon baby) So next week…. he's getting a vasectomy.

    My mom is completely on board. She always taught me to never have more kids than I can afford braces for. His parents are heartbroken and want us to have a brood. I'm so paranoid about pregnancy we have way less sexytimes. I want to feel SAFE.

    This is, by far, the best decision we've made for our family since we decided to have a family. <3

  15. This is SUCH a timely article. I decided this week to go on an IUD rather than keep playing "russian baby roulette" as my friends have dubbed it. It's hard reconciling the fact that we are not in the right emotional or career place we want to be to add another child into the mix. But making that choice also means that I may never be there, even though the soft fuzz on a newborn's head is calling to me (which is strange since I've never been a 'baby' person before).

  16. We're planning to start trying for our second in January, but the main thing that's getting me through my continuing baby fever is the fact that I do not want to give birth in the summer, nor do I think it's a good idea to have a baby before the harvest is in.

    While there are always nagging thoughts of "is this actually a good idea?", not enough of this posts reason's to wait apply! So I guess we're going through with it. Though to add to the contraception one… there's also being so busy that you hardly ever have sex so the likelihood of surprises happening is incredibly low! I wouldn't necessarily recommend that one though unless you like all of the things that keep you busy as much as we do!

  17. Oh! And avoid hanging out with siblings that are really close! I was at a friend's house yesterday and she and her two sisters all still live at home despite being in their mid- to late-20s. Sure they argue sometimes, and my friend is at least planning to move out again soon, but seeing how well they get along in such close quarters was making my uterus pang.

  18. Everyone keeps telling me that "If you wait for the right time, it'll never happen." My husband and I just bought a house that needs a lot of work. We'd like to have the majority of it done before having kids (especially the part about finishing the daylight basement with bedrooms).
    So…..we know roughly WHEN the "most right" time will be, but I have the opposite problem as the author: I'm not a baby person. I want kids in theory…but I don't get gooshy over babies. I know I'll love my own when the time comes, and will be totally in love with them, etc etc…..But how do you get yourself psyched up to have babies when the time IS right, if you're not a baby person?

  19. Ah – thank you! Writing my pre-#2 bucket list NOW! I keep a list of baby names (and have picked out THE baby boy name that fits perfectly with my daughters) but I'm not really on the crack at the moment, certainly not as I was when I messed up counting my cycles and had sex on THE most fertile day of my cycle and got pregnant *cough*.

    My daughters birth was like yours, hideous, traumatic and ended in an emergency caesar. Not nice. To ice the cake my husband wound up with PTSD from the whole thing and we're still dealing with the repercussions of that too. My LO is 15 months and still breast-feeding and bed-sharing etc, so for now my driving force is devoting a bit more time to her and getting my relationship back on track. Also, we have piles of debt. So getting that down by several thousand is on that list too. Great ideas!

  20. Ladies-
    Another thing that I can suggest to curb the baby want is volunteering your time at a local hospital. I am a nurse in an inner city Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and we have volunteers thats sole duties are to come in a spend some snuggle time with the littles that are able to handle it and desperately need it. They are appropriately titled the "Cuddlers" and we love them. Some of our babies have very sad stories and need a little extra loving that their parents either aren't able or will not give them. I would consider it a win-win. You get to spread some of the love you have, and they get to receive that love that they really need 🙂

  21. I am sooooooooooo feeling this post! I was a teen mom, and now my two children are 19 and 17, and I'm still young enough to have another! And boy do I want one! So does my partner. But I'm unemployed and one kid is in college, and the other is on the way and AHHHHHHH! Thanks for this post!

  22. I really have to limit my indulging because we are not going to have kids for at least another 2-5 years. We just got married this summer and our finances/life situation is just not where it should be to be able to support ourselves & a baby! I just got an IUD so I am feeling incredibly relieved about foolproof* birth control. Plus, I don't have to worry about it AT ALL until we're ready. Then it's out and we can try for a babe!

    It's very relieving to read that it's pretty common or even "normal" to kind of…crave a baby? when it's not practical in the least. I have had baby craze all year.

    *nothing is foolproof, but if it doesn't work, it won't be my fault!

  23. I'm not experiencing baby-crack right now, so much as sadness regarding the fact that I feel our family isn't complete yet. My partner does not share these feelings, which is difficult. So, my heart aches, and my uterus does too. Our daughter turns five after Christmas, and I'm not keen on the age gap getting bigger. How do you handle being in a different place than your partner about wanting a second child?

  24. This is just what I needed!! my little guy just turned two and I'm missing his cute baby phase. I want another but my husband says we're too poor and hes right .. .
    I feel we should have another but its not right timing , I'm 27 though and don't want to be having a baby after 30 , but I also want an education . So many choices ! maybe not 2017 the year after but I'm definitely thinking I'll be a 2 and through. going to be using this to get me through until then .

  25. I have a daughter at will be 7years old soon. I have always wanted another child. My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years. We are moving in together soon. He is 11years my senior. I am in my mid 20’s. Keep struggling with if it’s too late to have another. Yes, we could have a baby. Though I worry about the relationship our daughter would have with her half sibling. I have 2 siblings that are 7 and 10 years older than me. I worry they (our daughter and baby) may no feel like they share a connect/bond.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.