To Birth or Not To Birth: Gender Roles, Birth Policies, and Family Planning

by Caroline (painting is “Giving Birth” by Dumitru Verdianu)

A fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine details certain population trends in developed countries.

Here are some of its main points:

As a whole, the population of Western Europe is falling drastically. In the 1960’s, Europe was 12.5% of the world’s population. By 2050, it will only be 5%.

Apparently, Europe, particularly Southern Europe, is in a bind. A country needs a birth rate of 2.1 to sustain population. However, Southern Europe has fallen below the 1.3 mark. Women in Italy, Spain and Greece are deciding to have only one or two children. This makes certain policy makers panic. What will happen to their cultural identity? What labor force will pay the pensions of a burgeoning aging population?

On the other hand, Scandinavian countries appear to be doing much better. Norway has a birth rate of 1.8. Excellent for Europe.

This downward birthing trend has made researchers question why the birth rate of Southern Europe is so low relative to Northern Europe. No doubt many factors contribute, but one the author emphasizes is traditional gender roles. While Southern Europe is modern and developed, there is a lot of social pressure for moms to stay home. Combine that with dads who are not very helpful with the kids and the house, and you get women who are saying basta to bambinis. Additionally, the government does not have strong pro-natalist policies which reward people financially for giving birth.

Contrast that with Norway, which has aggressive pro-birth policies. Norway guarantees a woman 54 weeks of maternity leave and pays her 80% of her salary during that time. Dads also get a month and a half of leave. Additionally, women get paid about $7000 for every child. And as for gender equity, both parents tend to work, but parents tend to share child care duties more equitably.

The U.S.A. stands apart from other modern, Western societies in its relatively vibrant birthrate of 2.1. Social scientists scratch their heads at this but have come up with a few reasons. a) Americans are more religious. b) While the American gov’t doesn’t have strong pro-birth policies, it does have a more flexible labor force. Women can often take a few years off and then jump back into their careers.

This article spurred a lot of questions in my mind about my own family planning decisions. Does gender equity play a part in my decisions about family size? Would I have more kids if the government subsidized day care and paid me chunks of money to do so? Hmmm….. I’m not sure, but I think they would play some sort of role in my decision. As it stands right now, I’m leaning towards having 2 or 3 kids, and here are some of the factors that are at play:

a) my desire to focus attention on each child. I worry that the more I have, the less individual attention I’ll be able to give them.
b) My mental and emotional health. Having The Beast is stressful. While he’s adorable, I might go bonkers if I had 2 or 3 more of him.
c) My desire to pursue things in life other than active mothering. (career, school, volunteering, etc.) This makes me lean toward 2.
d) Mike’s desire for that third child. (He’d actually like 4, but believes that I have more say in the joint decision, so he doesn’t pressure.)
e) The fact that Mike is VERY helpful with the house/childcare and has a flexible schedule. Makes me think I might be able to handle 3.
f) The fact that I would someday like to have a decent amount of kids and grandkids come over for Christmas.
g) Money. Don’t want to be enormously stressed financially. But luckily for us, that’s not a big concern since we’re living comfortably.
h) God. Not a huge factor for me, however, since I think God wants us to evaluate our individual situations and thoughtfully do what we think best.

What factors contribute to your decision on how many kids to have? What role does your religious faith have in the decision? Do you worry about overpopulation? Do you feel like you’ll be able to reenter (or stay) in the workforce after you have children (if you even want to)? Is your husband’s helpfulness a factor in deciding whether or not to have a big family?


Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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23 Responses

  1. amyb says:

    I read that whole article on Sunday with great interest. Along with flashbacks to scenes from “Saturday’s Warrior” it gave me a lot to think about.

    I found it fascinating that higher gender equity (in Europe) corresponded to greater birthrates.

    I don’t have any children, and am ambivalent about whether or not I want to. The role my religious faith has played in this has basically been giving me a burden of guilt. I’ve mostly dealt with that, but sometimes I still feel that my lack of mother-drive means there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. DH and I have both realized that should we ever have children, we’d both be much happier with him as the primary parent who spends more time at home and me being at work. That discussion– realizing that I won’t have to be trapped at home– made me feel like I just might be able to do it.

  2. FoxyJ says:

    We have two children and will probably have one more; right now we’re deciding when to have the third. It will either be next summer, but that’s at the end of my first year of PhD, or not for some time in the future. We’re actually leaning a bit toward next summer since we don’t want our kids that far apart and we’d rather just get the child bearing out of the way (right now they just turned 5 and 2). Plus dh is just working part-time for the next year or so, so he’d just add another year or two of part-time work before getting into the full-time career mode. We’ve been married about six-and-a-half years, have two kids, and we’ve both been in school the whole time, more or less. I’ve taken a year-long break after having each child and been the primary caregiver, more or les, during that time. We’ve really enjoyed the flexible schedule with being and school and being part-time employed. I think our kids have really benefited too. I will be honest and say that the money part stinks. We have no savings, we’re constantly on a tight budget and scrounging for work every few months, and we’ve been using public assistance for health insurance for a number of years now (I know that’s controversial for a lot of people). So if we had more state subsidies we would probably still have had kids when we did and that wouldn’t have affected our decision either way. After my PhD in four years I’m not sure if I’ll seek a full-time position or if I’ll wait a few years and just keep on teaching part-time. It will depend on if my dh has gotten a great full-time job, how my kids are doing, etc. I feel good about our path in life, but I do also worry a bit that we won’t be more “settled” until we’re nearly forty and have school-aged kids! I’m envious of my friends that own homes and have stable employment, but I love having my husband home as often as he is (and he’s happy too).

    From the beginning of our marriage we both felt like we wanted to have 3 or 4 kids. We come from moderately sized families (him 7 kids, me 5), but I don’t think there were any specific reasons. A smaller family sounded good to both of us. We’ve prayed about the timing of both kids and felt good about the size of our family, so I really don’t worry about much else. Also, we discovered with my first that I have some problems that cause complications. I’ve had c-sections with both, and my second delivery was very scary with a placental abruption and massive bleeding. So between the peace we’ve felt in praying about our family size and my medical issues, I don’t feel bad about our decision to have three kids and don’t really worry about it. I’ll probably have my tubes tied after the third kid.

  3. Jessawhy says:

    Caroline: Great post. It’s always nice to see how other people look at family planning.
    I got married very young (20) and had my first baby at 22 so I don’t really remember life before motherhood 🙂
    Honestly, I wasn’t very rational about the family planning. I didn’t understand birth control very well (yes, that does sound lame, I was stupid) and we got pregnant with our first by accident. I had been praying about going to grad school, getting a job, or having a baby, and I turned up pregnant, so I thought that was my answer.
    The first was difficult, so we waited 3.5 years for #2. The second was so easy and wonderful I wanted a third baby right away (crazy, I know) and they are 21 months apart.
    Now that my 3rd son is 8 months old, I don’t want anymore children (although that might change, DH and I came from families of 4 children each, plus I really want a daughter). But for now, this is waaay more than I can handle.
    As far as work, I do want to find a career that suits me, and I wish I had started one before I had a family. But, I’m hoping to go to grad school in a few years when the kids are in school.
    Policies for long maternity leave would be a great improvement for our society, but since our birthrate isn’t that low, it doesn’t seem like the incentive is there.

  4. Jessawhy says:

    Oh, I forgot to add, my husband is very helpful with the kids (not so helpful with household chores or cooking).
    He loves babies and toddlers. Once he told me that if we could keep them at age 18 months, he’d have a dozen!

  5. mraynes says:

    My husband and I decided 6 months into our marriage to start having our children. Our rational was the sooner we get done with my child bearing years, the sooner I can get on with my goals of schooling and career. We have one 17 month old and another due in September; ultimately we want four. (Although I have to admit that I am reproductively tired out.) My decision to have two babies so close together and to keep adding to our family has everything to do with the fact that my husband is so helpful. He is currently the primary care giver and does most of the housework while I work full time. When dh finishes his doctorate he will be doing most of his work at night b/c he is a musician which means I am free to pursue my own goals. I realize that my situation is very unique, it works for us.

    I would love to see pro-birth policies instituted in the U.S. Longer maternity leave would be so wonderful; I would feel less guilty about leaving my babies if I could afford to be at home longer than 6 weeks. I do think that the U.S. will have to start providing incentives to keep their birthrate at 2.1 because the cost of living has gone up so dramatically. It’s an interesting issue to think about, thanks for the post Caroline.

  6. vicki says:

    I was 31 when I had my first child and now I am 39 with my third just turning 2 years old. I did all the education/ adventure/career stuff in my twenties and now I wish I had gotten married and started having kids sooner because I find myself longing for 2 more children but, alas, I am too old and fear I am not physically fit enough for 2 more pregnancies and C-sections. It makes me very sad.

  7. gladtobeamom says:

    I think the government should stay out of all family planning. I don’t worry about overpopulation. I worry about more government interference in the family. They sure make it hard. In my view the more we subsidize anything the more difficult it becomes. We have some who willy nillly go about having kids because someone pays for them. On the other hand we have people who have less because they cant afford to have them because cost of living, high taxes etc. Though for women who want or have to work I think more maternity leave would be good only I wish more companies would do it on their own without the government getting involved.

    That said, it is a very personal decision. We have five and were going to have six only I recently miscarried. We had each for different reasons. My faith drove much of it. I started young (21) and had 4 by the time I was 28. I thought I was done but 4 years later we decided to have 2 more. I always wanted to be a mother. I come from a family with 8 and it is a riot. I always wanted a big family. It is hard some days but there is so many good times they always out way the difficult times. Being in a religion that is all about families we want to bring as many as we could into our family. We at first didnt consider money etc. but it has worked out ok. We have had to make sacrifices but we live comfortable and I have been a SAHM for most of the time. I don’t know that I could work and have this many. If I had to work I would have stopped at 2 or 3.

    The hard thing is I am judged all of the time for overpopulating. People asume or have hinted that somehow we are on welfare etc. They think they are somehow supporting my decision. We work really hard and thank heaven have not resorted to any government assistance. Sometimes I want a shirt that say’s “yes these are all mine and no your taxes didn’t pay for them” Sorry I know I am ranting.

    My husband has always been very helpful. Sometimes I have to ask but he always jump in and do something if I need it.

    I always wanted to be a mom so I slacked on finishing my degree etc. We focused on my husband. I do think someday I will focus on me getting some kind of education and a possible job someday. My mom got married at 16 so she didnt even get a HS diploma until I was in HS. She is a great example though because she went on to get her BS and has been teaching school. I know I can do that also when my focus is not on little ones.

    Family planning is an iteresting subject and a very personal one. We are often damned if we do and damned if we dont. There is so many forces working on way or the other. I am comfortable with my decisions it is what works for us.

  8. Bree says:

    This is constantly on my mind right now. I got married two years ago, at age 29, one year into my doc program. My perfect plan at the time was to magically finish my dissertation by 2008, and then take a few years off for kids and then jump back into a tenure track position. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much magic in the dissertation process and at age 31, I’ve still got a long way to go until the defense. I’ve always compartmentalized my life (I’m horrible at balance), but am starting to realize I can’t do that anymore. I want kids (I’m thinking 3, DH wants 4), but am really unsure about my ability to balance babies and dissertation completion. Luckily, DH is amazingly helpful–he bakes, he cleans, and he calms me down. Household duties are pretty equal and I know that 5-10 years down the road DH is open to being a SAHD and volleyball coach, but in the near term will have to sell his soul to corporate for a few years to pay off his MBA. It’s the next few years I’m really worried about–babies, dissertation and a husband who will likely be gone more than he is now. I wonder if I can do it.

  9. Bree says:

    I didn’t read the NYT article, but I would argue with the statement that America has a more flexible labor force when it comes to maternity leave. While women who are in careers historically filled by women (teaching, nursing) CAN typically take a few years off and jump back in, women who are in fields that have historically been filled by men (law, medicine, academia) have a much harder time taking extended leave and then jumping back in.

    If comparative social family policy interests anyone, OECD has a new family policy database and a great series called “Babies and Bosses” that addresses much being discussed here. If you are more interested in the situation in less developed countries, Save the Children has an annual series called “The State of the World’s Mothers”. Each year has a different focus within the broad theme of motherhood and each one makes me count my blessings.

  10. If I ever have children, I feel that it will be through adoption. The way I look at it, the world can’t take care of the children it has, so why bring more into the world? I know, I know, all those conservative Mormons out there are gasping that I’m so negative or that I would want to deny spirits a mortal body, but I question whether God really cares that we have our own biological children — maybe even a pile of them — when there are loads of kids, abroad or sometimes even very close to home, who don’t have any real roots or a family to call their own.

    I know that most feel a strong desire to have their own biological children. I wouldn’t want to deny them that right or criticize them for it. But at the same time, I don’t share that driving desire that they have and maybe I never will. I’m already in my 30’s. A lot of Mormons are critical of women like me, but I haven’t seen too many choose adoption not as just Plan B when they can’t get pregnant, but rather as an alternative (and some would even say selfless act since adoption can be costly and an emotional roller-coaster) to traditional childbearing.

  11. Amyb, ditto on the guilt. I’ve felt guilty about my utter lack of maternal feelings since I was a child. Even when I was little, I hated baby dolls. I wanted Jem and She-Ras because they were a lot more fun. I think I’ve always known that I didn’t want biological children (I do however feel differently about adoption) and I remember when I was about 15 asking my bishop whether adopting instead of giving birth was acceptable. He said that if you were physically able, you should be giving spirit children a mortal body. So I felt guilty about that for years and years.

  12. rpmmom says:

    Thanks for the post! It’s interesting to see how this shakes out throughout the world. As for me personally, I got married at 21 and had DD at 23. I would be done except I would feel bad about her being an only child. It has worked out well for us. I got my BS, but am back in school to be a nurse-midwife. We’re planning for #2 soon… DD just turned 3 and it seems like sooner rather than later.

    I think we’ll be done at 2. I don’t worry about overpopulation too much, just the overpopulation of my home. I want to have a career, and since DH’s career will also be demanding, we want to make sure we can give each of our children all the attention they deserve.

    Since I won’t be entering the workforce until after I’m done with kids, I’m not worried about that. School is an interesting time to be having kids, but it works well for scheduling (not so much for $$). I do, however, think Scandinavian countries have the right idea. US companies just don’t give women or men enough maternity/paternity leave. (They also are smart about using midwives for healthy births, but that’s my own soapbox for another day.)

    My hubby is a champ. He is a huge help and we probably wouldn’t have any kids otherwise. We’ve had a few paradigm shifts over the last few years, but he’s catching on quick to my policy that being The Mom is the same as being The Dad as far as finding babysitters, doctor’s appointments, shopping, etc.

    Again, great post Caroline. I look forward to others’ input and comments.

  13. madhousewife says:

    I have 4 children because 4 seemed like a good number. I started out thinking 4 was a good number, then after I’d had two, I thought long and hard about the third one. Then I had the third one, and I thought long and hard about the fourth one. Finally I got so tired of thinking about whether or not to have the fourth one, I decided to just go for it, even if it was wrong, because at least then I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. I’m very glad I had #4, but I knew as soon as I got pregnant with her that she was the last. I knew it with every fiber of my being. It’s accurate to say that I did all my family planning by instinct.

    I think large families are wonderful, but my personality type is not suited for mothering six or eight or 12 kids. Frankly, I am maxed out emotionally. Maybe it would be different if my children were more low-maintenance, but two of them are VERY high-maintenance, and it’s hard enough giving them the attention they need while not shortchanging the “easier” ones.

    I don’t think religion factored that much into my decision. I didn’t even pray about having any of my kids. I was afraid I wouldn’t want to know the answer. So I just did what seemethed me best at the time. I admit I was thinking more about the future, knowing that I would like to have a goodly number of kids and grandkids hanging out later on.

  14. madhousewife says:

    I am not remotely worried about overpopulation.

  15. cadams says:

    I think one big reason for the disparate rate between north and south Europe is the tradition of the companionate marriage in Protestant countries. As the south remained moored in traditional practices (marriage for monetary, dynastic purposes), when Romanticism (the modern period)came in it ushered in adulterous outlets primarily for men, instead of changing the whole marriage dynamic.

    However, in the Protestant north, when Romanticism entered in it brought not only more culturally accepted adultery (as in the south), but it also brought the concept of marrying by free will and for love.

    This belief system has carried to the present day. Thus we have in this country the time honored tradition of sowing your wild oats while young, but then marrying the love of your life later. In places like Japan, where companionate marriage has never had a strong cultural foundation, as the post-modern cultures of porn (for men) and “Sex and the City” (for women) take hold – this necessarily leads to no children and demographic disaster.

  16. Ana says:

    I originally wanted 6 kids. My husband and I both come from 6-child families, so it seemed like a normal number to both of us.

    We learned we were infertile almost 3 years into our marriage and adopted our first child about 3 years after that. We now have four children, ages 9, 7, 4 and 18mos. And I’m pretty sure we’re done.

    To me it is all about a “heart” decision and what you feel is right and best. The biggest factor is that I just feel done. I totally believe in trusting that although I don’t really know whether it’s a spiritual thing, an emotional thing, an intuitive thing, or some combination of those. I just know I don’t feel that “gotta add a kid” thing like I used to.

    But there are thinking reasons, too. As soon as we finished adopting our first I pretty much knew we would not get to six kids. Adoption can be really hard, and it is always scary and insecure. Our third and fourth kids were placed with us as foster children and we have been on a killer roller coaster (many, I think, know this already). And I am at my limit, maybe beyond it, with four kids and a FT job and a husband finishing a dissertation.

    I figure if God wants me to have more it is going to have to be a miracle pregnancy or a foundling on the doorstep type situation, or at least a bio sibling of one of my other kids. In other words, it’s going to have to be a real no-brainer. Because that’s the only way I really know how to decide these things!

  17. cchrissyy says:

    My husband’s “helpfulness” is an enormous factor, it’s unfair even calling it “help”. I’m not sure we’d all still be here if the care of 3-kids-close-together fell all to me.

    As far as the decision, I had the first two based on religious/philosophical belief I no longer hold- that married couples should never prevent babies, but trust God to send the money, the patience, the health, the housing, whatever is needed, and if he sends the child then with faith, he will send all the means necessary to care for the child.

    Well, I still believe in providence but not the push to have children over all other possible good uses of our time and energy.

    So, in our case, it became clear that we had really big demands on us, special circumstances, and if we were going to make it as a family and take care of our boy’s special needs without sacrificing the rest of us, we couldn’t rely on just hope to prevent the complications and needs another baby would bring.
    Then I was unexpectedly pregnant. Found that out at the OB’s office at my pivotal asking-for-birth-control appointment. oops.

    Things are good now. We really pulled the family through, everybody got what they needed. But I feel very sure as far as babies go that we are DONE. My mind is turned to keeping these 3 kids thriving and developing my physical health and career and a strong marriage.

    On the other hand, I’m young enough I can see this as possibly just a long break and maybe deciding to go for it again later. Perspectives change.

  18. Maren says:

    We always felt that there would be plenty of time to have kids, and once they came, life would never be the same. We decided early in our marriage to spend our 20s getting our education and working on our career. At age 30 and after 7 years of marriage, we had our first children (twin girls). They were born during the first semester of my PhD program. I feel fortunate that my need to have children was well-supported by my female dominated profession. I was able to finish my PhD in 5 years and graduate with my cohort.

    We had our third child 2 years ago when I was 35. I work full time at a university where I was given an extra year on my tenure clock and 5 months of paid leave. I am most grateful for the women (and men) who came before me. The paid FMLA leave policy at my institution was put into place 10 years ago partly because child-bearing women who were unable to meet tenure requirements in the 6 year window were accusing universities of gender discrimination.

    Though I question my reproductive energy, we (my husband especially) would like to have a fourth child. I feel okay about this, mostly because my university teaching/research position is so flexible, and my husband is a great help both around the house and with the kids. Our third child is easy going and is so much fun after having twins, I look forward to having another (gulp!).

    I do not worry about overpopulation and the church does not influence my reproductive choices. I stay in the workforce because I love my job, am well supported in my role as mother, and feel I am a better parent when I am not with my kids all the time. Because it is essential to remain current, I think it would be difficult to obtain a tenure track position at a research institution if I left for any extended period.

  19. gladtobeamom says:

    I just wanted to say to faithfuldissident that I am shocked that you come across women who think that way. I think that the choice you are thinking about making is amazing. there are so many children who dont have a family. My sister has a friend who adopted a brother and sister from Russia later in life. They are a great addition to their family.

    The rest of us just take the easy route. We are surrounded by biological this and that. I know many adopted people who would never consider anyone else but those who loved and raised them their parents. My husbands father is abviosly not his biological father and when people ask him about it his say it is his father. Who cares about genetics his biological (i hate to call him a father)father never did anything but get someone pregnant. It takes more then genetics to have a loving family or be a father or mother. Shame on anyone who would look down on you for wanting to give that to a child who didn’t have a choice and was born into a situation where they would end up alone. I say go for it and best of luck!!! You will be blessed for making such a unselfish choice.

  20. Caroline says:

    Thanks for all the great comments,
    Amyb and Faithful Dissident, don’t feel bad about the lack of desire for kids. I always felt the same way. I had very little desire to hold another person’s baby and very little interest in young kids. But that old saying -it’s different when it’s yours – was true for me. That would go for biological or adopted kids.

    Foxyj, like you mentioned, I think money is an issue for a lot of people in their family planning. In Italy, where people often live with their parents until they are 40 because of money, the birth rate is plummeting. I know for me, I’m the cautious sort, and I would probably not have as many kids if I was worried about money. But I have a lot of respect for people like you, cchrissy, who have plunged ahead and figured it will all work out.

    Jessawhy, I think it will all work out great for you. I know people like Jana who had their kids young and then by the time they are in they mid or late 30’s they are well into their careers. It’s definitely a viable way to go.

    mraynes, way to think ahead. I sometimes wonder if I should have just had the kids sooner and gotten it over with. As it stands now, I was able to get a couple masters and work for 3 years before the baby, but now I’m deciding to transition, so I’ll have to start all over again anyway. Oh well. And I’m with you about better birth policies. It would be fantastic to have the option of that year off after a baby.

    Vicki, I feel somewhat similar. I’m still not very old – 31 – but I have a very hard time getting pregnant. I kind of wish I had started sooner. And I’m sure I’ll be very sad if I can’t have any more.

  21. Caroline says:

    Thanks for your comment. You bring a little bit of a different perspective to this issue, which is neat.

    I’m sure you are not alone in wanting to see less government involvement in things like this. I admit, though, that that guaranteed year off and free child care sure does sound attractive to me.

    Bree, taking on a dissertation and a baby does sound like a lot of work, but I think it is doable. It actually might be a good time to have one, since you might have some flexibility to take a semester off or something. At least I’m hoping that will be the case for me. I’m planning to reenter grad school and plan to have one or two babies during the process.

    Faithful D, I think adoption is a great way to go! Totally noble.

    rpmmom, a nurse-midwife. Cool! What a great profession. Sounds like it’s all working out beautifully for you.

    madhousewife, thanks for your story. It’s so interesting to hear how people make those difficult decisions of when to stop having kids.

    cadams, great point about companionate marriage. Very interesting.

    maren, that’s a great success story. I love knowing that it’s possible to have babies while in grad school in a supportive environment.

    cchrissy thanks for your story. I enjoy hearing how people’s perspectives on family planning have changed over time.

  22. LCM says:

    I started out wanting four because in my vast wisdom as an unmarried, and checking out my own family, I thought, you can’t just have one, two are a cliche, three means two are always ganging up on another , so four it is. Then I get so sick, I literally stop eating for months at a time. So, I had the first on almost two years out of college, figured the nasty pregnancy might’ve been a fluke considering it was my first, and then I had another, worse pregnancy, so from a medical standpoint my family has to be done. I am grateful for that because when Fiona got sick I can’t imagine having to take care of a smal child or baby and deal with all of the aspects of her cancer. Hubby and I have discussed adoption, but I don’t think it’s for us. I will probably be a ‘young’ grandma because my mom is getting less inclined to deal with grandchildren and my brothers and sisters are just getting started having them. I can’t wait to enjoy their new babies.

  23. G says:

    we have one and he is 4 yrs old.
    while we are leaving our options open (I am 34) I don’t know that we will have another child.
    financially it would be tight, but that is not the issue. Emotionally or mentally, I don’t have a desire to have another child. I was never one to be baby hungry, and as my child moves toward school age I feel an enormous relief. Once I got over/rejected the idea that I was supposed to have at least 3, it was a real relief to say… well then, I’m done!

    on a theoretical level, I wonder if he would be better off with siblings, or worry about what the declining birth-rate will do to the shrinking tax base of our nation, etc…
    but until emotionally and mentally I WANT another child (not just a baby, but the whole 18+ yr deal) I’m not letting up on the birth control.

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