I was never one of those girls that dreamed of marriage and children. I figured if it happened, it happened, but if it didn’t, I would still be happy. Well, it happened!
My husband and I got married just after grad school. Looking back, I really don’t think we ever talked about whether or not we wanted to have children before we got married. That seems like an important conversation we should have had! But we tend to go with the flow of life and can usually see the silver lining in any roads that we take.
After being married about a year, we went back and forth about whether or not we were ready for a child. One month he was ready but I wasn’t. The next month I was ready and he wasn’t. Then, one month, we finally matched up on readiness.
The love for our first child hit us hard. What a wonderful love!
Like all new parents, when we had our first son, we didn’t know what to expect. It was not easy learning how to care for a new little human, but we were certain we wanted another child. And no, it didn’t have to be a girl this time, just another healthy, sweet child.
Having our second son was quite a transition.
He was sweet, adorable and laid back, but taking care of two little humans who were only two years apart in age is a ton of mental and physical work. I remember being awake for the umpteenth time in the middle of the night with my second son as a newborn and telling my husband, “I love this child but remind me of this moment, because I will NEVER want to have another child again! Never!”
When my second son was a baby (and even in the hospital the night that I delivered him!), people would ask, “So, are you going to try for that girl next?” Absolutely not, I thought. “I’m sure you really wanted a girl.” Nope, I did not want a girl. I wanted another child. We never thought “trying for a girl” was a good reason to have another child. Like my mother-in-law says, “Your chance is about 50/50 on gender no matter how many children you have!” She has three boys.
Once my second son was out of the baby phase, my eyes were becoming clearer with more sleep, and then I began to wonder if we needed one more child to complete our family.
My husband and I said we would seriously talk about having a third child when our second child was 2 years old. It was a slow moving, third child discussion. My husband was resistant. I was resistant. But I also didn’t want to stop discussing it. Over several months, we weighed the pros and cons.
Let’s start with the cons of having a third child:
- Our boys were 4 and 2. They were finally becoming a tiny bit more independent. And then we would add on a needy little baby again? That doesn’t make sense.
- We had just started focusing on ourselves and getting healthier again. Having a third child would definitely make it harder to have time for ourselves and our health.
- We have two healthy children. Why should we risk having a third child that may not be healthy, because you just never know, right?
- We are not super young anymore. I had just turned 33 and my husband was 36. Although many people have children later on in life, we wanted to stop before I hit my mid-thirties.
- We will be outnumbered. There will no longer be man-to-man parenting action. We can barely keep our two children safe!
- Children are expensive. My husband liked to bring this one up a lot.
- We would have to deal with sleep deprivation again. We are not getting any younger. Can our bodies even handle anymore sleep deprivation?
- I would have to be pregnant…again. I didn’t mind being pregnant but I never loved it either. My pregnancies had been fairly uneventful besides some morning sickness and stretch marks.
- I am an only child. I am learning about sibling dynamics from my two boys. How in the world could I handle a third sibling making noise and being crazy?
- A third child would put a strain or extra stress on our marriage and our family dynamics. We had already transitioned from one to two children, which is difficult enough on a family. This shift may be too much for our family.
- We put 100% into our children now. We have no more than 100%. How would it be possible to give more love and parenting effort?
The con list could go on and on…
And then came the pros:
- We want a larger family. My husband’s family is fairly large, but mine is not. My family is like a micro family, and it had shrunk by one important person fairly close to the time of the third child discussion. So, adding one more person would help our family feel larger and grow.
- We want to make another little person…another little personality to teach us about the world and see the world from a new and fresh perspective. We want another little person to add to this world and leave an imprint on it forever.
Even though our list of cons was longer, it didn’t matter. One pro about having a third child could out weigh every con when you are making life altering decisions like this.
We went for the third child.
The third pregnancy was not a cake walk like the first two had been. We had a scare that the baby would not be born healthy. I had painful varicose veins which made it uncomfortable to stand for more than a few minutes. But, in the end, that pregnancy was worth every scare, extra spider vein, and extra stretch mark. This third child, this sweet baby, has completed our family.
Although the decision was difficult to have a third child, the transition has been much easier than expected.
We had the knowledge and the tools to care for a child after having done it twice before. We knew what to expect. We knew she would be a different baby and a different person, but, in general, we were mentally prepped. What a blessing she has been. We adore her, our boys adore her, our family is over the moon, and the world has gained another beautiful being.
Thank goodness I didn’t listen to my sleep-deprived self in the middle of the night caring for our second newborn. It’s more than just the moments that are tough, exhausting and frustrating.
It’s about the bigger picture. It’s about love. It’s about family. It’s about what matters the most.
It’s interesting looking back at the cons about having a third child that we had discussed.
My perspective has changed:
- Our boys are now 6 and 4. Their independence continues to grow, which works out wonderfully when we need to care for the third child. Plus, she’s easy going and just goes wherever and whenever we need her to go.
- It is not as easy to focus on exercise for ourselves with three children, but we still make some time for it and have decided to eat quite a bit healthier to make up for the dip in exercise time. It evens itself out for now.
- We now have 3 healthy children. We had the scare during the pregnancy that our third would not be healthy, but thankfully, she actually is healthy!
- My personal goal was to have all my children before I turn 35. We just made that goal, because my third child was born when I was 34.
- Yes, we are outnumbered, but we just manage it. Every outing will not be smooth, but we are figuring it out as we go. There are days I don’t feel like getting all these little people ready to get out the door. You choose the outings that are most worth it and dump the rest.
- Children ARE expensive. That is the truth.
- Our bodies are managing the sleep deprivation as best they can. But we knew it was coming and we know that it eventually ends. Our “this too shall pass” parenting mentality makes it easier to get through.
- I dealt with the third pregnancy as well as I could. When I started feeling sorry for myself with the painful varicose veins or soon-to-be saggy belly, I reminded myself that many women have much more complicated pregnancies. I also reminded myself that many women would love to be pregnant, but are never able to experience it.
- I am an only child and my quiet upbringing was quite pleasant. But I must say, I often enjoy the chaos and noise. I don’t enjoy it every day or every moment, but I feel a sense of comfort in the (somewhat) controlled chaos of these three children. Plus, I get to see their relationships grow and become deeper and richer each day.
- Yes, another child can add more stress to the family and to a marriage but it all levels out. We are figuring out better ways to communicate as a family and continue to learn from one another. A third child can also add a new perspective and a fresh personality to the mix. They shift the family dynamics but everyone quickly adapts and settles into their new role.
- We put 100% into our children now. It is no different than when we put 100% into two children or into one child. As my very wise mother-in-law has said, “You put 100% into your children, no matter how many you have.”
I realize that many people choose not to have a third child for very valid reasons. Often times, they just don’t want another child. Plain and simple. However, if you are on the fence, consider the big picture.
Think of the future. Think of holidays and family gatherings. Think of love. Think of what you ultimately leave on this earth when you’re gone – your beautiful and unique children.