I figured out how to beat baby fever

Apr 28, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images/Sascha Traub / EyeEm/Royalty Free /

After I gave birth to my twins, I never wanted to be pregnant again. I had a difficult pregnancy that kicked off with all-day nausea, and finished with pre-term labor contractions and 11 weeks of bedrest. When my twins were born at 36 weeks, I abruptly moved from a nightmare pregnancy to the nightmare of being a new mom with two tiny infants to care for.

It was a tough call between what was worse — my pregnancy or my first six months as a twin mom. Those early months passed slowly in a blur of days that were filled with a great deal of crying from all three of us. The good news is that things became easier as the months went by, and being a mother of twins started looking pretty good — fun even, but it was still a shitload of work.

When my twins were almost a year old, a woman I knew with similarly aged twins became pregnant again. I'm embarrassed to admit that I immediately assumed it was a mistake. "What? Oh no!" was my reaction when she told me. The thought of getting pregnant again while having these two need-machines all over me was something I would never do intentionally. But my friend was excited that she was having a baby (just one this time!), because she and her husband wanted a big family. I was able to get it together and act like I had been joking, but secretly I was baffled.

I realized that my pregnancy was the exception rather than the rule, but I still couldn’t imagine wanting to go through that again. Unlike my friends who were saving clothes and putting cribs in the attic for future babies, I sold or gave away everything once the kids outgrew it. I had two babies and my husband and I felt that was enough.

So although it took four years, I was really surprised when I felt my first baby pang. I was at my twins’ preschool graduation, with a group of parents who were talking about their youngest ones starting preschool in the fall, and I was jealous. I wanted to repeat this stage again too, these adorable preschool days. I wanted to go on the little field trips, help them learn new songs, hang up all the holiday crafts their tiny hands had made. All these parents were going to do this again, but my twins were off to kindergarten, and that was that for our preschool days.

I felt slightly cheated — just because my children were the same age, I only got to see and do everything in their childhood once. Having children of different ages and the ability to enjoy the sweet stages twice with two children is a luxury most parents don’t realize.

But having more children wasn’t really an option for me or my family for various reasons, so I tried to console myself with friends’ babies, or little siblings of my kids’ Kindergarten buddies, but following someone else’s kid around a playground just isn’t the same. (Is it me, or are other people’s kids assholes about half the time?) Anyway, they were poor consolation.

Then, when my twins had just finished first grade (and were so independent they seemed ready to head off to college) the best solution possible arrived: my niece was born. A niece—my own flesh and blood, who I was free to visit for days on end, who I could follow around a playground without looking like a creep. I was overjoyed.

When my niece was about three months old I was giving her a bottle before her bedtime, and she fell asleep in my arms. She was making the cutest little baby sounds, little purrs of contentment when she breathed out, so I didn’t want to put her into her crib right away. We sat rocking in her nursery for about an hour. I’d never held one of my own infants for that long, because there was another one to feed, or bottles to make, or an hour of sleep to be attempted. This hour I had with my niece, looking at her tiny perfect fingers, admiring her chubby pink cheeks and fuzzy blond hair, listening to her breathe so sweetly in my arms, was one of the best hours of my life.

I now have two little nieces, so as an aunt I get my fill of infant sighs, chubby thighs and toddler talk. Those baby pangs of mine are history, and it feels like the best of both worlds when my nieces are overtired or crying, and I can hand them back to their parents and drive away with my 8-year-olds, and talk about what a great time we just had.

More on having kids

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I'm done having more kids, but I'm sad about it
In defense of having kids less than two years apart

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