It sounds like your experience of being a parent has been different from your husband’s, and I think it will be important to step back and understand these differences so that you don’t get stuck in the binary position you’ve articulated—either convince your husband to have another child or live with resentment. Of course, your confusion and disappointment are understandable given that initially you both believed you wanted two kids. But remember, it was all theoretical back then. Now that there’s an actual baby in the house, let’s consider what the past year might have felt like to each of you.
First, there’s you: You’ve loved pregnancy, being a mother, the whole babyhood shebang. It’s been such a joyful first year that you want to add even more joy to your already happy lives. More cuddles and gummy smiles and Goodnight Moon? Yes, please!
And then there’s your husband (possibly): The baby arrived, and everything changed. Like many parents, he may have been blindsided by how much the mere existence of this tiny person has upended nearly every aspect of his life. Suddenly, he’s lost a significant amount of his freedom, sleep, time, social life, disposable income, energy, sex life, connection with you, and maybe even his very identity. He may feel overwhelmed, and while he loves your daughter and is a devoted father, the last thing he wants to do is go through a year like this again. In fact, if he could fast-forward a few years, maybe he would, just so that things would get easier and some normalcy would return to his life. More crying and diapers and demands placed on me? No, thanks!
It’s important to remember that his perspective may well change when you two aren’t so deep in the new-baby trenches, but it’s more likely to if there’s room in your relationship for his equally valid feelings. Right now, he probably wants to be seen and heard, not talked out of the way he feels.
Imagine for a minute that your situations were reversed: Your husband has had a glorious first year of parenthood—it’s been everything he dreamed it would be—but you’re completely overwhelmed. Let’s say that you suffered from postpartum depression and had trouble adjusting to the stress your daughter has put on your career and personal life. As she began sleeping through the night and communication and mobility were on the horizon, you could start to see the possibility of the family life you’d once envisioned. You’re so relieved by this thought that while you originally imagined having two children, now you’ve begun picturing a happy and manageable future with one. And just as you’re feeling that, your husband brings up his desire for you to get pregnant with No. 2.
“I don’t think I want to,” you say. “Pregnancy was hard on me. I often felt sick and I had to stop doing a bunch of things I love. I’m exhausted from the first pregnancy and this entire year, and while our daughter is delightful, she’s also a handful and I just can’t do this again.” You lay out another child’s potential impact on your career, lifestyle, stress levels, sanity, and well-being. And as you look in your husband’s eyes, anticipating the loving and empathic response he usually gives, instead he “reassures” you (that is, tries to “make his case”) that none of your worries will come to pass (after all, you’re financially comfortable, you don’t have debt, you live within your means).