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To Three Or Not To Three

To Three Or Not To Three

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

This may be too personal a question, but how did you decide to go from two kids to three kids? My husband and I are lucky enough to have two great kids, a boy and a girl ages 4 years and 2 years, respectively. We both work full time and have long commutes. I never sleep and feel like I don’t get to spend enough time with the kids I have now. So why do I kind of secretly want another baby? My husband is in the “maybe” camp.  But how do people make the decision to try again? Yes, yes, I know people say “it will just feel right!” and “you’ll just know!” but I don’t know and I feel all conflicted!  I want something more concrete, like a nice decision tree I could fill out.  Or for you to tell me how you decided.  Please and thank you!!!

I’m sorry to let you down here, because I have no handy-dandy decision tree PDF to upload or checklist to link to. There was nothing concrete about our decision to have another baby. It was simply a small, nagging feeling that we just weren’t “done.” We didn’t have that feeling of “completeness” you hear people talk about. But we also didn’t really have that feeling of “you’ll just know when it’s right!” either.

Because we were completely happy with our family as-is, with just two kids. And there were plenty of logical reasons why our family should remain that size: Our oldest has special needs that can be both emotionally and financially draining, my career was growing more time-consuming and demanding (in a good way!), our house only has three bedrooms, two of which are quite tiny and not great for sharing long-term. We’re already drowning in toys and bikes and gear and can’t open the front door without smacking it into a stroller/scooter/small child. We live in a stupid-expensive area and can’t afford a bigger house without switching counties, most likely. I already feel like we’re basically spending our children’s future college tuitions on childcare and preschool and groceries and etc., so having ANOTHER baby would be…well, probably kind of crazy.

But. Still. The topic kept coming up enough. I asked Jason about that vasectomy we’d always planned on and we both agreed — even though we were jointly ambivalent about baby #3 — that it didn’t feel right, and wasn’t something either of us wanted quite yet. Finally, I said that the fact that we were repeatedly discussing the vague, squishy idea of “maybe” having another baby was probably a sign that if we DIDN’T at least TRY for one more, we would regret it later on.

(And here I admit I’m colored by my mother’s experience — she had a tubal the day I was born and has always deeply, deeply regretted not having another baby. That’s not a regret I wanted to live with, if at all possible.)

But the thought of actively “trying” for a third baby would bring up all the Perfectly Logical Reasons why it was a silly, crazy idea, so then we…didn’t. We didn’t actively prevent anything, but because I have a history of annovulation and crazy irregular cycles, it felt (at least in my mind) like we still weren’t “really trying” and a third baby was unlikely to just “happen” without my usual routine of charting and monitoring for months on end. We were in a no man’s land of indecision, where every month my period was greeted with a weird mixture of “OH DARN” and “WHEW THAT’S KIND OF A RELIEF.”

You see where this is going, right? By the time Jason finally up and said the words, “Yes. I want another baby. Let’s have another baby.” to me…I was already two weeks pregnant with Ike. We didn’t know it, of course, but I was. When I missed my period I just laughed it off — it was SO LIKE my ovaries to decide to go AWOL the second we decided to try, you know? Plus my father had just been diagnosed with the leukemia that would eventually take him from us, so: I’m stressed. That’s why I’m run down and not sleeping and feeling kind of…off. When I started throwing up I blamed it on another bug brought home from preschool. When I finally took a test I stared at the two lines and started laughing hysterically. When I presented that same test to Jason to tell him the news, it took me 20 minutes to convince him that I wasn’t kidding.

So…that’s how we got here. Three kids. Two more than we ever thought we’d have, honestly. One more than I guess you can say we officially, on-the-record 100% decided to definitely have before conceiving him. But not really, because we really did want a third baby but were just skittish about…you know, going ahead and having that third baby, because of all the Why Nots and What Ifs and What Are You Thinkings?

I won’t lie — a lot of those doubts and conflicted feelings hung around during my pregnancy. I would be over-the-moon thrilled one minute and then paralyzed with WHAT HAVE WE DONE?-type thoughts the next. I’d be neck-deep in the bedtime theatrics with the older two, while the last shreds of my patience oozed out of my skull, and be seized with UTTER TERROR at the thought of adding another small, defiant, thrashing body into this mix. And then I’d feel so GUILTY about thinking those things about my poor little fetus and lather, rinse, repeat.

And then Ike was born. And in those first few glorious moments when I listened to his cries for the first time, I burst into tears myself and started babbling a stream of gibberish about how oh my God, it’s HIM. It’s HIM. He’s IT. He’s EXACTLY IT.

He was all of five seconds old — I hadn’t even held him or seen his face yet — but I already couldn’t imagine my life, my family, without him.

 

Photo of baby Ike by Blue Lily Photography

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Hannah
Guest

I am 40 weeks pregnant with my third right now – as in, my due date is today and HURRY UP AND COME OUT BABY. My two boys are 6 and almost 4. We had the same circular round-and-round discussions about whether or not we wanted a third… and I was the one who was bound & determined I did not, thank you very much. Hence the longer gap between 2 and 3 than there was between 1 and 2. I don’t think there was ever a moment where my husband and I both said at the same time “we… Read more »

Wiley
Guest

I’m 9.5 weeks pregnant in my third pregnancy now and while it wasn’t purposeful (actually actively prevented with an IUD), I fell in love with these two from the first moment I saw them. That said, I wasn’t sure that we would have another. I wanted to and my husband was strongly in the let’s consider it camp, but my last pregnancy was stressful. I was pregnant with twins and one was stillborn. It also included six weeks of hospital bedrest and 53 days of NICU time, so I think we were rationally a bit hesitant. Assuming these two make… Read more »

Ally
Guest
Ally

We are in the SAME spot right now, except it’s baby number 4 we are considering. I love having three, but I don’t feel done. I don’t think I’ll ever feel done though. My husband and I constantly battle this. We feel stressed and overwhelmed with three, but yet we still kind of want one more. Is that responsible??? 

Liz
Guest
Liz

Ally, thats funny cause I too have 3 (ages 6,5 & 3) and at first, right after i had my last one, i thought i was done. here i am 3 yrs later wanting another. my house is super crazy with my 2 oldest boys constantly fighting and playing with loud toys while my daughter the youngest is super quiet playing with her dolls. not to mention, me and my husband work full time and never get time to our selves, so i see what your saying. i just always think of the future my kids growing up close in… Read more »

jL
Guest

Dear Amy,
Can you please write a column about how life is with three? What is it like to be outnumbered? Was it harder than the transition from 1 to 2? What are the best parts? Is it really that much more expensive? Tell me more. Tell me more.

XOXO, jL

Procrastamom
Guest
Procrastamom

Here’s to Moms and Dads of three!! (or more).  Here’s to parents who instinctively do a headcount everywhere they travel.  Here’s to having a mini heart attack every time you’re in a semi-crowded public space and you haven’t spied Child X in the last 30 seconds.

…and we didn’t make any decisions or fill out any decision trees or pro/con lists.  We just kept getting pregnant and couldn’t figure out how.  Turned out to be Sex, but before we got that diagnosis we were truly baffled.

Zoë
Guest
Zoë

Immediately after giving birth to #2, I thought to myself, “we have to do this again”, and it was just a matter of when. When I did get pregnant, the first time I saw that little bean on the u/s, I was in love. Of course, throughout the pregnancy (and even after she was born), I did have moments where I wondered what the hell we had done as we were just getting to where two kids were manageable (no diapers, actual conversations), but I always knew she was the missing piece of our family puzzle. And even though I… Read more »

Laura
Guest

That is it. I’m having more babies. That last paragraph did me in.Even though I love babies with all my heart, I was so convinced that my two very little ones were so challenging, I’m just not sure I can handle a third. And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stick a fork in us and call us done? But I’m not! We’re not! I don’t know how (or when) we’ll do it…but you just made my husband’s day, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

PinkieBling
Guest
PinkieBling

I always find it so weird to hear that people are given a hard time over having a third child. I live in Utah, where three is seen as totally normal, if not a bit underachieving. Five or six kids per family is common here, and people don’t really bat an eye until the kid count is in the double digits. Oh yes, that happens!! My friend married one of FOURTEEN.

Holly
Guest
Holly

I was so sure I’d be done after two, but now that our beautiful second daughter is here, I find myself dreaming of a third. It might not be practical, but the desire is there. We’ll have to see what happens!

ps Amalah, I think you need to update your “About the Author” paragraph because it only mentions your first two boys!

Babs
Guest
Babs

We did this with the current pregnancy, but it’s #5. We were so happy as a family of 6, and our 4 are so freaking perfect it never crossed our minds another little one would add anything to the mix. Still, starting last spring there was a sense of wanting to share all this with someone else. It was like there was someone missing in our lives, and we just couldn’t really look at the awesome kids we have and say, “Gee, we don’t want any more of these guys around.” #3 was the scariest leap though. #3 was the… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

I’m currently expecting my third child, I have two girls 3 1/2 and 14 months. This pregnancy was a complete surprise, I always knew I wanted a third but three kids under four was not in my plan. I’m 15 weeks now and gradually getting used to the idea of the joys and challenges that lie ahead. My youngest child has been very high needs and parenting her has been emotionally and physically exhausting, leaving me doubting if I can go through this all over again. Amy, your last two paragraphs had me sobbing because I know that’s what I’ll… Read more »

Heidi T
Guest
Heidi T

I love this post! I am 30 weeks pregnant with #3. My older two are 8 and 6, so you can see it took a while for us to make this decision. We always said 3 was our magic number. We had #1 and she was an angel – great baby, great kid. It was an easy decision when she was 18 months to try for #2. #2 was a handful. He was a great baby, but 18 months  to 3 were a tough ride. He was the kid who wanted to scratch your kid’s eye out. He wanted to… Read more »

Jeannie
Guest
Jeannie

Thanks Amy for this post, and to everyone for your replies. I’m 38, have two kids, and decided after the second that we were DONE, but my husband and I both have this little niggling feeling that something is missing … having a third for us where we live is insane. With two I can work part time and we live in a small but reasonably located home. With a third we’d need to move, I might need to either quit or work full time (neither is appealing!) — not to mention there are days when we feel like we’re… Read more »

Crabby Apple Seed
Guest

I said from day one that I wanted three kids. I went after my first and second daughters without so much as a second thought. I had the same feeling about chasing #3…until the last few months, as my younger daughter creeps up on a year, and the time to start trying comes closer. it’s a scary jump. there is definitely the sense out there that going from two to three takes you from Normal Family to the Duggars. And yes, two different people, upon hearing I wanted a third, without a request for their advice, informed me that all… Read more »

Lesley
Guest
Lesley

My favorite is when people decide to not have a third because they would not fit in a restaurant booth or someone would have to ride on the roller coaster alone. Important stuff here, people.

On a sidenote, I cannot think about this right now, as I am days away from giving birth to my second child and feeling overwhelmed enough from the jump from one child to two…though I am pretty sure already that I want a third. 🙂

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

We’re currently also pregnant with #5. Our three came as a blended family and #4 was totally planned after a long stretch of thinking we were done…but yeah, that feeling of NOT REALLY DONE is what we really had. We logically thought we were done, after all the older ones are already teenagers and wtf, four kids? Crazy! But like Amy said it just felt like someone wasn’t here. Like we were missing him but didn’t quite understand what that nagging feeling was. Then we went for it after both our sisters decided to have babies and when our #4… Read more »

Jill
Guest
Jill

Ok, another column request: can you (if you’re there yet?) discuss how you know you’re done?  We have an almost-3-year-old and a 5 month old, and I already can’t wait until my husband gets home from deployment to get started on #3.  I have to remind myself to stop and spend as much time as possible taking in this one’s babyhood, because I know how quickly it passes.  But honestly, I have asked some other friends how they knew when they were “done,” because after so many years of trying to get pregnant I honestly can’t imagine trying to avoid… Read more »

Kimberly
Guest
Kimberly

How timely. My husband and I were just talking about this. All of my friends have said they want two kids and only two kids. But my husband and I won’t make that determination just yet. I am pregnant with #2. There’s no saying we will stop at two kids; we’ll just have to see how things go. All I know is two seems too few for me.

Melonie
Guest

This is a constant thought for me too. We have 2 year old twins, and a 6 month old, and I already catch myself thinking about another baby. Great post, thank you!

Heidi
Guest
Heidi

Oh wow! I had my 2nd child three weeks ago and up to the day of his birth, I adamantly proclaimed I would be done with two. Cause hell no would I go through pregnancy and childbirth and sleepless newborn nights again. But then the whole birth and first-weeks-newborn experience have been so vastly different to No. 1 and so utterly pleasant, that my husband and I both are all of a sudden not so sure about that vasectomy. We haven’t decided yet but we’ll keep the option open. Made me smile to read your post just now when I… Read more »

Kimm
Guest
Kimm

Wow, we just had the talk and made the decision to try to go from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 seems like a really big thing! Good luck to all of you!

Angie
Guest
Angie

Oh, Amy, I wish you lived next door so you could hold my hand and speak in the same comforting way you write.  We are embarking on the fertility journey again (our son is four) and I am paralyzed with fear.  Waking up in the middle of the night.  Terrified.  Because it COULD WORK and I feel like I’m just getting my sanity back after the hormones and pregnancy and in law drama and PPD.  This is so very important to my husband.  It would be nice for our son to have a sibling.  So why am I on the… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

@Jill — THAT. EXACTLY. I have an almost 3 year old and an 4 month old and these last four months have been…well.. really really hard. But still, I often find myself day dreaming about #3. The minute #2 was born I was thinking, “That was awesome, let’s do it again!” It was a struggle to get my husband to committ to a third (at some point in the future) but I know I’ll have no hope of convincing him of a fourth, so I just really hope that I feel “done” after 3. I just can’t imagine it, though.… Read more »

Kim
Guest
Kim

I just posted on FB yesterday that I’ve really no desire for another baby, but my just-turned-two kid is so fantastic, I could totally see having another one of those. Personally, as part of the 2 and done crowd, I can tell you there was no waffling for me. I went through the pregnancy knowing it was the last time, and the babyhood, and we took forever to wean because I didn’t really want to stop. I gleefully shed baby gear as we go. Even if I wasn’t so old, and we had more money, three would never be more… Read more »

Jen
Guest
Jen

Aaah! An Ike picture for the column! ::drools:: It’s weird this column speaks to me, because I’m pregnant with my 2nd, not my 3rd. And we’ve always known we will want 3 or 4 kids, although we do want to adopt also so this might be my last pregnancy (but I don’t think so. Even just pregnant with the 2nd I have a nagging feeling I’ll want to be pregnant again). So my freakout moment was more having #2 SO QUICKLY. (Got pregnant when my daughter was 5 months old) I’m in love with my daughter, she’s perfect, in some… Read more »

A
Guest
A

We now have 3 kids and it’s perfect. Going from 2 to 3 was really scary because #2 was a preemie and spent 79 days in the NICU. DH and I debated for a long time about #3 but we had always wanted 3 and in the end we didn’t want our family size to be dictated by fear of what might happen. The pregnancy was really difficult but Baby #3 is so amazing. And because of all the complications I had a tubal and we are definitely DONE. It’s very interesting to see how many people here are considering… Read more »

C
Guest
C

This book is about science-y reasons for having more kids, if you’re looking data to back an emotional decision: http://www.amazon.com/Selfish-Reasons-Have-More-Kids/dp/046501867X. I’m not sure I buy all his points, but it is an interesting read.

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

This is so timely. We have 2 children (4 1/2 and 18 months) and although we are adamant that we don’t want more kids, neither have either of us really pushed for the vasectomy that we say is totally going to happen. It makes absolutely no sense to have another child. Our 18 month has been so challenging, so hard to bond with for me, I really don’t want to take away more time from her and make her the middle child. And TC is such a great big brother, does he deserve the responsibility of being oldest for another… Read more »

Erin
Guest
Erin

My husband and I before we started having kids had a conversation on how many we saw us with, we wanted to find out what the other saw as our future family. My husband wants a baseball team of kids and I’m fine with up to four. Two kids in we both feel we would like to have another one, I LOVE our family the way it is now but do feel I’m missing someone. However, it will be quite a few more years before we can have that third child and then possibly the fourth due to size restraints… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

We had twin girls first, and just always felt like we wanted another…but I was petrified about another set of twins. Once I was pregnant (with only ONE) I definitely had days of thinking “What have we done???” But now he’s here (8 months old) of course three kids is absolutely wonderful. That said – I absolutely positively knew he is THE LAST, basically from the second that we knew the pregnancy was viable. I used to be skeptical about “just knowing” but that’s exactly how it was.

HeatherJ
Guest
HeatherJ

I have a 9-year-old son, almost 7-year-old daughter, and a 7-month-old son. When my daughter was about 1 and a half, I saw her cuddling one evening with my husband and it just hit me: I want to do this again. Well, life was a whirlwind with 2 kids under the age of 4 and then my husband was deployed for a year and a half. When he came back, we had a a hard time re-connecting as a family. Another child was out of the question. But… I unexpectedly got pregnant. The timing was terrible, however, I really believe… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

I would like to second the mention of the book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Great, interesting, entertaining read.

Krista
Guest
Krista

So … I just found out that I am pregnant with my child #3. I have 2 girls, 7 1/2 and 1 1/2. We recently finished a 1000 square foot addition to our tiny house and still only have 3 bedrooms, of which 1 is currently occupied by my mother-in-law, who is retired and caring for child #2 while I’m at work, so I am quite baffled by how we are going to do this … but we will have to, some way, some how, right??. During hurricane Sandy the roof got blown off of our house, so we are… Read more »

Isabel Kallman
Admin

Thanks Krista! Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I wish you well and lots of strength (which you seem to already have!).

Krista
Guest
Krista

Thank you Isabel!! I am going to need all the strength I can get!! ;o)

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[…] you’re struggling with this decision, you’re not alone in your conflicted feelings. I’d venture to say that most women and couples explore the idea to have another baby at some […]

Leah DeCesare
Guest

Amy – Love this post! I linked to you as a resource in my post How to Decide Whether to Have Another Baby. http://motherscircle.net/have-another-baby/
I, too, am a mom of three and I have a friend who wasn’t sure whether to have a 4th – they went back and forth, he would say they’re done and she would want another, then she would be done and he’s want another. Finally, they got onto the same page and he went for a vasectomy. After the procedure, they found out they were expecting #4! 🙂 Decision made.

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

This is exactly what I needed to see at the perfect time.  I’m pretty sure we have the same brain.
Thank you.

LaurenAshley
Guest
LaurenAshley

As a Mother or 4 I can assure you that once you have 2 children, 3 & 4 is a piece of cake! Now, I’m not sure about taking the leap to #5, however I do have this feeling that I am not done. My kids are great! Their ages are 12, 9, 7, and 3. Some may call me crazy for wanting more but I feel extremely blessed to be a Mommy! My dream since I was a little girl was to have a big family. When I think of the future I feel 4 kids to carry my… Read more »

Rose
Guest
Rose

Love this post !! So weird .. For the past month me and my husband has been around in circles deciding wether or not we should have one more or not . I have 4 kids right now .. 11 (son) 7 (daughter) 5 (son) 6months (son) . We weighed out the pros & cons and there were quite a heap of cons lol but that only typical things like bills, weight loss & more bills .. Which can easily be worked on during the 9months of carrying . I’m just over taking a break .. Like why wait ?… Read more »

Traci
Guest
Traci

To all the commenters: did any of you have difficult pregnancies? If so, how did you decide to go for another? We’ve decided to stop at one and I know it is best for so many reasons, but there’s just something… I guess I just worry my little guy is missing out. For the record, hyperemesis and cholestasis…I was down to 10 minutes sleep a night and oh my god the itching.