You want another baby but your husband or partner doesn’t? You’re not alone. Kate, a Design Mom reader, emailed me a few days ago with this question: How did you and Ben Blair decide how many kids to have? I am particularly curious because my husband and I are currently in (thankfully not contentious) disagreement about whether or not to want another baby. — Kate
That’s a big question. And I could feel my heart pound as I read it, because it’s a tough situation, and so personal. Plus, I know it’s not uncommon.
Even when you’ve talked about this sort of thing before you have kids, it doesn’t always prevent a disconnect. Maybe you both said we want 2 or 3 kids before you got started. And then, a couple of babies later, one of you feels like the 2-3 should definitely be 3, and the other feels like it should definitely be 2.
Or maybe you were both in agreement and thought you wanted a huge family. Seven or eight kids! Or more! But then you had a baby, and realized it was different or harder or just not what you hoped parenting would be, and suddenly that picture of huge family doesn’t seem appealing to you after all. But your partner? They are still into the whole huge family thing.
Or maybe the two of you knew it was always going to be 2 kids. But then you got pregnant, and pregnancy was so miserable that you just can’t bear to go through it again. And now you’re wondering: Do you adopt? Stick with one? And will you feel guilty forevermore that you didn’t want to endure another pregnancy?
Or maybe as a couple you were picturing one wonderful baby. An only child that you could give all your attention to. And then, no baby came. Infertility became your nightmare. And one of you wants to move on into a childless life, while the other wants to keep trying to grow a family with IVF or adoption or any possible option.
No doubt there are an infinite number of other scenarios. It’s such a BIG decision, and can feel so weighty.
In our case, Ben Blair and I both came from big families. Eight siblings each. Four girls, four boys. And we knew from the beginning we wanted a big family. But what does a big family mean? Three kids? Five kids? Ten kids?
We didn’t have a particular number in mind, but I can tell you I didn’t really consider any number higher than 8 kids. Before I even got started that seemed to be my mental max. Then, we started having babies. Ralph was an easy baby so we had Maude right away — they’re 18 months apart. Maude was an easy baby too, but having two little ones so close together was challenging, so we waited a bit longer to have Olive. Between Olive and Maude was 2.5 years.
After Olive I had a big post-partum depression. I didn’t think I was done having babies, but I needed a longer break. So the next baby, Oscar, was born 3.5 years after Olive. But I didn’t totally love that big break; it was needed, but I found it hard to get back into the baby stage when my youngest was already 3 and 1/2 years old. So I got pregnant with Betty right away. Oscar and Betty are only 16 months apart.
But. I should note, that though he’s turned into my total sweetheart, Oscar was our most challenging baby. We had a lot of parenting experience by the time he came, and he didn’t stress us out, but we remember talking about how if Oscar had been our first baby, and we thought that’s how tough all babies are, then maybe we wouldn’t have so many of them. (I mention that because it totally could have changed our vision of a big family.)
So now we had 5 babies. And we wondered if we were complete. We weren’t ready to close the door on more babies, but we weren’t in a hurry to have any more. So for a few years, we just parented the 5 we had and didn’t really think about what was next. For reference, I started Design Mom two months after Betty was born.
And then, when Betty turned 3, and I realized she was out of the baby stage, and there were no more babies currently on the schedule, I had to do some soul searching. Were we done? Should we have more? Ben was feeling like we could be done. I was feeling like we could be done, but if we were, then I would be somewhat heartbroken, because I hadn’t known that Betty was our last and I hadn’t paid attention in the way I would have wanted to. In fact, Betty and Oscar were so close together, and our jobs were in such flux when they arrived, that much of that time in our life was a big blur.
So we talked and talked. I told Ben I could get over it, and be done with babies, but I would probably need to do some mourning. And Ben felt like he wasn’t totally closed to the idea of another baby, but that he’d wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about it. I knew I couldn’t bring another baby to our family unless Ben Blair was completely on board, because we are a team, and I don’t even pretend I can do this without him. There were more discussions and lots of prayers. And then we decided: one more baby.
Betty and Flora June are almost exactly 4 years apart. And knowing June was our last, I ate up every second of her babyhood.
So do I have advice to give? It’s so personal, that I don’t even dare. But I can say two things: 1) Our “baby” is coming up on her 7th birthday this year. So it seems like a long time ago, but I can tell you, if Ben Blair hadn’t decided he was 100% on board, we wouldn’t have had June. We would have stopped at 5 kids. And I would have mourned and been sad for some amount of time, and then moved on.
And 2) I can also tell you, that even though I knew we were done, the baby cravings didn’t go away (they still haven’t!). So that’s tricky too.
Well. That turned into a long post. Now I’d love your thoughts. How did you decide how many kids to have? And did you experience any kind of disconnect with your partner about what the number should be? Did one of you have stronger opinions about it than the other? How did or do you work things out when you want another baby? Do you feel like you had fewer kids than you wanted? What advice would you give Kate if she asked you the same question?
128 thoughts on “I Want Another Baby – What if Your Partner Wants Fewer Kids Than You?”
Loved her thoughts on this especially since it’s something that my husband and I go back and forth on often!
I was so interested to read this because I’m (newly) pregnant with my second right now, and having some pretty complicated feelings. I always thought I’d be a “one and done,” but our first daughter was born with congenital heart defects and though she is now thriving at 3.5 years old, we’ve spent much of that time in hospitals and grappling with uncertainties about her future. At some point last summer, my husband and I both realized, more or less simultaneously, that we needed to have another baby. But it’s not the same as that giddy wanting of the first one. The best way I can describe it is to quote a line from To Kill a Mockingbird, when Scout says, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” I know that once this baby arrives, I will fall in love with him/her just like I did with my first daughter. Until then, I’m a little bit mourning the freedom of “one and done” lifestyle we initially wanted and struggling to feel excited about a return to sleep deprivation and teething… all the while feeling profoundly relieved and grateful that I could get pregnant a second time, that our daughter will have a sibling, and that we will have another child to love.
Virginia, I totally hear what you’re saying, however, you’re not opening the door of having a huge family. You plan for this baby to be your last, so while interrupted sleep is hard, teething is hard, breastfeeding is hard, everything with a baby’s is hard, it is also relatively short lived. In the big picture, a few months is just a drop in the bucket. When I’ve had challenging phases with my babies, it has helped me to tell myself that each day that passes, brings me closer to the end of this phase. The baby phase passes in a few short years, and then your children will have each other and you’ll be able to live more carefree again. Best of luck to you.
I really appreciate this discussion. I think as a kid, it’s so easy to map out your future life. But then you get married, and you realize (for better or for worse) it’s not just your map anymore.
I’m from a family of 5 kids; my husband only has one sibling. When we started dating, it came up pretty quickly that I wanted 5 or 6 kids, and he wanted 2 or 3. When we married, we both compromised and said let’s take it one at a time, but hopefully try for 4.
We’ve just had our third, and we are both still 100% on board for that 4th. Although, if I’m being honest, I’m still holding out hope that he may come around for a fifth. :)
“it’s not just your map anymore.”
My husband and I never set a limit on the number of kids we planned to have; we always said we’d take things one kid at a time. We now have two girls, exactly 2 years and 4 days apart. Our first daughter was a very easy baby and toddler, but our second was (and is) a way more difficult baby (she’s 2 and a half now). I also had difficult pregnancies both times. I didn’t go into my second pregnancy knowing it was the last one, but mentally I know I’m done having kids. We’re just totally stretched to our max capacity, in terms of our time, financial resources, and physical space for another baby. But it still makes me sad! I practically melt at the sight of newborn babies around town, although the thought of actually having a newborn to take care of at home sends me into mini panic attacks. I think my husband would be on board if I really really wanted another baby, but he’s also very satisfied with the two we have now. We’ve both talked about it a lot, and even though we’d love to have another child in our home, we just don’t think we could handle expanding our family any time soon.
“I practically melt at the sight of newborn babies around town, although the thought of actually having a newborn to take care of at home sends me into mini panic attacks.”
Yes! I know that feeling so well.
I always imagined three kids, two years apart, but my daughter has been a challenge from day one. She is 18 months old now with no little sibling on the horizon. I still want three total, though my husband thinks 2 will be our sweet spot. We have agreed on one thing: we are throwing the timeline out the window. Instead of a baby this year we are getting a puppy!
Three cheers for throwing the timeline out the window. So smart to let that go.
ooh. Good question! And it’s lovely hearing your story, Gabby.
Way back, 10 years ago when my husband and I were engaged, we dreamily said, “three, of course.” We had names chosen. Of course.
BUT. having babies, it turns out, is not so easy for us. Our Certain Plan of Three, over the years became simply a prayer, a heavenly pleading for just one- SOMEONE. Anyone? Please? After lengthy conversation and study and self-reflection, we decided that the best option for us was to endeavor to adopt from the foster care system, if a case headed that direction (and oh, how we hoped it would).
We were matched with a pair, ages 3 and 4 at the time. They moved in, and the reality of two small children made us both stare at each other and agreed instantaneously that these two were PLENTY. As time has passed, we are realizing more and more that older kids are where it’s at, and we are so close to them being so deliciously independent: the dream for our family mostly had vignettes of us with “Big” kids, so perhaps it’s perfectly okay that we will never experience “baby” time at all.
I can’t wait to hear how others come to their decisions!
I hear you on big kids. I LOVE parenting older kids.
Thank you so much, Connie! Your story really touched me for some reason. I love how you adapated, were honest with yourself, and are enjoying where you’re at! Thank you for sharing how your family came to be :)
Connie, I appreciate your honesty, selflessness, adaptability, and openness to possibility. I love hearing how families fatefully find each other. Your story is inspiring!
I always thought I’d have two kids, and so did my husband. However, weI have been dealing with infertility for almost nine years. He was ready to be done “trying” after I got pregnant and miscarried four years ago, but I have struggled to let go. We’ve pursued infertility treatments, adoption and fostering, but none of those options seemed right for us. I spent a lot of time being mad at my husband because he was able to let go of the dream sooner and easier than I was, but now I recognize that it’s a gift to both of us. He’s able to visualize a life without, and start dreaming, so that I can see that I have something to look forward to. We’re not pursuing treatments or alternatives to biological children anymore, but I’m still technically of a child bearing age, so…the dream isn’t gone. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll have peace. A few years ago I didn’t have that confidence, so seeing peace as a possibility is a huge shift. Infertility is a mine field to navigate in a marriage, and I am grateful he and I have navigated it as well as we have.
Your comment is really wonderful, Kristen. I love that you recognize your husband’s point of view as a gift. And I love how you connect your state of confidence with the ability to see peace as a possibility. Beautiful.
The title should read “fewer” kids (because although they contain multitudes, they can be quantified). Thanks for the post!
Thanks! Sorry for the typo. All fixed now.
I was an only child raised by a single dad (a great one at that!) and for a while the thought of multiple children was so abstract. Now I’ve been married to a great man for almost 10 years and we have two boys. I knew the moment my first son was born that I wanted another. We’d talked about having three kids but I think two is best for us. After my second was born, I felt an almost internal seachange and knew we were done. Gabby is right about the baby cravings still being there….I feel it too!
My husband is the type of person that if I said I wanted another baby, I am almost certain he would get on board and be into it but for now we both feel good about where our family is at. Not much insight here I suppose…..I think taking it kid by kid is smart though.
I agree about taking it kid-by-kid.
Such a hard conversation to have! We both came from big families and leaned in that direction but found it hard to know how many we would want before we even got started. We decided to just take it one at a time. Turns out I *love* the baby phase, but my husband finds it much more challenging. I am 30 wks pregnant right now with what was planned to be our 4th and final baby, but will actually be 4th and 5th! My husband would have been happy to stop at 3, but came around when I explained (honestly trying not to guilt him) why I would have to go through some mourning to adjust to the idea of no more. I totally felt guilty when we found out it was twins, but luckily he has been really supportive (It helps that he is a twin himself.) Now I am getting what I wanted but wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I really want to savor this last babyhood, but have some anxiety about whether the intensity of twins on top of 3 others will add more stress than sweetness. Maybe that could be a good thing if it cures me of future baby cravings when these are older though. :) In the meantime I am just trying to prepare the best I can (turns out my nesting instincts have also turned up in double their usual amount!)
I kinda giggled at your post and the point of if having twins will cure you of wanting more, because it sure did for me. I just had one 3 yr old when my twins were born and it’s quite the ride. The hardest part is not getting to savor the babyness because there is just so much more work involved. We just have to try out best to enjoy the chaos. But I do miss just getting to love on one baby at a time. Good luck to you and your family.
I love the tact and candor you bring to discussions like this Gabby. We’re trying to decide if 2017 is the year we get pregnant with baby #6 or if it’s the year I start applying to PhD programs. I feel like there’s one more waiting for us, but I also have really rough pregnancies and my antepartum depression has gotten worse each time. It’s so not a straightforward choice, and it’ll mean the difference between me graduating at 40 or closer to 50. Thanks for acknowledging all the nuance to this very personal decision.
Such a good topic! A lot of my friends are talking about this, as the first or second kid approaches 2 years…another one? My kids are 6 and 2, and we are emphatically done – my husband has his vasectomy last year. He has always been quite sure about 2 being the right number, and I agree, but it didn’t stop me from being a bit wistful about making the permanent decision, or from feeling a bit wistful when my friends debate a third. I loved Gabby’s earlier post about baby cravings, and have come to peace with the fact that wistfulness and nostalgia for baby days does not mean that *I* should have another baby!
Here are my decision factors, in case they are interesting to someone else: secondary infertility (I eventually needed IVF to get pregnant a second time, and I don’t think I could do that again); our parenting bandwidth (now our lives feel full and happy, but with two full time outside-the-home jobs between us we do feel stretched sometimes, and I don’t want to exacerbate that); and finally the feeling that “we are all here.” I don’t know where that feeling comes from, but I do know that it was missing before my second, desperately hoped-for child was born. Good luck to those who are figuring this out or finding peace with their decision now!
This is such an interesting subject! My husband and I each have 1 brother. I grew up wanting a big family. My husband not so much ;) In fact, if I would have said none or just 1 he would have been okay with that. Luckily, he went along with 2 to start, and then we’d have to see . . . Our older 2 are 2 years, 9 months apart. My oldest was an easy baby, but ended up having some developmental issues, and didn’t walk unassisted until she was 2. I didn’t feel done with 2-but we waited a little more time, and our next son was born when number 2 was 3.5. My husband definitely could have been done at this point-in fact he went ahead and scheduled a vasectomy! I begged him to wait. I said to give it a year. I wouldn’t bug him about it, discuss it, or make any plans. I decided I would just pray (and I am not even very religious). But my prayer was either to feel “done” with 3, or to let my husband open to trying for one more. At a year, he agreed that we could “try” and see what happened. First month out, I was pregnant. So when #3 was 4.5, and right before I turned 42 I had our final child. My husband is great with all of our kids-but he’s not a big baby person, so I think that kind of played into it. That said, each time I got pregnant he was absolutely thrilled I feel so thankful and fortunate to have the “bigger” family I always wanted. There is a big age spread-which didn’t seem difficult at the beginning. But having a 2nd grader and a college freshman is kind of weird. Ideally, I think I would have had them closer together. But I had to kind of work on my husband each time around-so not sure I could have done it any other way.
We had three boys in a row. Sometimes I wonder if we had had a girl or two, things might have felt more manageable and we would have had more kids. The boys are close in age and, while not the wildest of wild kids, are still intensely physical and often overwhelming for my introvert husband and introvert me! We didn’t debate for long whether to have a third but once we did it felt like “mayday! mayday! in over our heads!” so there was no doubt that was where we would stay.
Maybe it’s not the boy vs. girl, but the personality type. We have a boy (biological – age 9) and a girl (adopted – age 4). My husband, myself, and my son are mostly introverts, but our daughter is definitely NOT.
While our son is definitely a boy’s boy, with lots of activity and physicality, it’s our daughter that made us decide to stop at 2 kids. She’s intense – larger than life, stronger than strong, sweet as can be but so, so powerful. She’s definitely the boss of the house and of everyone in it (and even the center of her own universe at preschool). She’s wonderful and amazing, and everyone loves her. But . . . we would not have the capacity to raise another child like her (or even a 3rd child). :)
A topic close to my heart (and so interesting and helpful to read what everyone has to say!). I come from a 2 kid family, my husband from 3. We always figured on 2 kids, and we have been very lucky and now have our 2 kids. BUT. Every now and then I wonder if I want a 3rd. I dream up names. I try to picture what they’d look like. I absolutely know my boys would be excellent brothers (and just yesterday on the way to school they were both telling me how very much they wanted a baby). So my heart is on the edge. My head, on the other hand, is very much done. Our house is perfect for our family, and might be tight with another kid. I don’t want to have to get a new car. We’re in a great place with college and retirement savings, and a lot of that would change with another. I love that I’m in a place where I can shower mostly whenever I want without worrying about my kids (the youngest is currently 4). My husband would get himself on board if I really wanted it, but I’m 99.9% sure we’re done, and I’ll settle for a little baby fever and daydreaming about fun baby names :)
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My husband and I always said “2 or 3” but after having my 2nd (both are boys), I don’t know that I could do this again. My husband and I work full time and it has been extremely stressful (and extremely expensive) to handle childcare for an infant. I’ve always envisioned a family with 3 older kids, but do not want to do the baby phase again. It has been reassuring to read the comments above and know that I’m not alone in mourning a little bit the fact that I will never mother a girl (though no guarantee if I had a dozen I’d have a girl!) or have 5 family members around the dinner table. I can be happy and content with our little family but still a tiny bit sad at the road not taken.
” I can be happy and content with our little family but still a tiny bit sad at the road not taken.”
I could have written this, almost word-for-word! We also have two (wonderful) boys (aged 6 and 4), but I didn’t take to motherhood with the ease I’d envisaged!
While they are healthy, both lads were high-maintenance babies, and I do get panicky if I think about going through pregnancy and the baby-stages again! My husband feels very much ‘done’, and so do I for the most part, but, as you say, a little mourning for the road untravelled.
I wanted always four kids – up until I didn’t. I’ve always known I eventually would stay home and be a mom. I honestly don’t remember how in depth a conversation my husband and I had, but we had definitely agreed that two was feasible. Then we had our daughter – and I was done. For so many reasons I was done. And I don’t think my husband felt strongly enough either way that he put up any argument. I think he also realised that as hands on as he was (is!) he was out of the home for work twelve hours a day, so really did not have a lot of pull towards having more. Anyway, we stopped at one, six years later we love our little family and could not imagine it any different.
That said my favourite part of babies is that new moms are often happy to have help – so as long as your friends/neighbors are having babies there are babies than need snuggles and play dates! I can not imagine parenting a second child, but oh I love being an “auntie”! It absolutely appeases any baby cravings I still have.
I was so glad to read this comment, Nicole. Typically I feel so alone as the mother of an only child. I always wondered what the certainty of wanting more kids feels like. I suppose it is the same kind of gut feeling I had/have that one was the right number for me (after I brought him home I was certain..I don’t remember formulating much of an opinion before.) Like Nicole, my husband did not have a strong opinion and I really appreciate that he let me trust my gut and didn’t gently try to convince nor heavily guilt me into more. I have plenty of my own guilt compounded by some pretty strange/intrusive/offensive comments about having an only child.
Always thought provoking posts, G, and comment discussion!
Yes to Annabelle and Nicole! My husband and I are both from large families but we knew we didn’t want more than two children. When our daughter was born, we enjoyed each phase and didn’t really think about when/if for a second child. Once our friends were all announcing second pregnancies, we realized we were done. My pregnancy was a dream, she wasn’t a hard baby, we just didn’t feel a need to have more. We are so content with our family and love being able to give her undivided attention (something we never remember getting as one of 5 kids growing up).
You get a LOT of intrusive/offensive comments when you have an only child – I would never try to tell someone they shouldn’t have more children, why would people feel it was their place to tell me I should?
I know this is old, but I came here after trying to search how to handle a spouse not wanting another. The grief I’m feeling is real (and he doesn’t dismiss that). I didn’t want kids, though I loved them, and I told him if he married me he had to be ok that I might never come around to it. He casually said while building a pair of stairs to our garage that he’d rather have me and no kids than kids with someone else. It was incredibly unexpected and sweet.
Fast forward, I had to do some real soul searching when feelings hit I didn’t expect after being told at the doctors that I likely had endo and might have trouble. My husband came home to me crying outside and I couldn’t understand why I was. I said “if I’m certain I don’t want kids, why does this hurt so much”. He said “because you want to be a mom”. It took nearly two more years, and no more words from him, for me to accept I wanted a child deeply. I always said “If I have one, I have two, and if I have three, I have four, but two is good”. My husband had made comments about other friends who had two that it was the perfect number.
Then I got pregnant. I was ecstatic and immediately knew I had made the best decision. Then I miscarried. Follow number two and three miscarriages. I prayed, and cried, and was destroyed. We said no to treatments, or adoption for personal reasons. I had to reconcile over the nearly two years that I had to be okay and live a beautiful and fulfilling life either way.
Then we did a Hail Mary pass and I once again got easily pregnant with number four. I had many ultrasounds and always expected nothing but deeply prayed and hoped for a heartbeat each time. The day we were dismissed from the specialist was relieving. The day we passed viability was relieving. When I met him and he cried and he nursed, I knew I had just made the most incredible decision of my life. I knew I could do it again in a heartbeat.
My husband is wildly in love with our boy. He is taken by everything about him. I always assumed we’d have another, getting pregnant just about now. At around 12m a casual convo led that DS was done. He struggled a lot with infancy (though he was a fantastic support for us both), and he’s very independent. I’m extroverted and so is our son. He is more introverted, so he needs quiet and alone to recharge. I fully respect this. He’s more practical, and his reasons for not wanting another aren’t fully known besides finances and baby period…and that he simply feels truly done.
I would never drag him into another kid. Ever. I have deep guilt though. I’m not even sure myself if it’s that I want another child, truly, or it’s more that I want my tiny baby back because he’s growing too fast. Because I want another chance at properly breastfeeding (though like a badass mom, I breastfed my little and procured donated milk from oversuppliers I trusted for an entire year, and still help place milk with other babies now as a token of gratitude). Because we made a choice for our son that I thought was beneficial based on everything I was told/read in peer-reviewed-studies and I was fearful already as a first time mom, only to squash my deep feelings it wasn’t right for him and it wasn’t our choice (nothing went wrong, and he was totally himself after, but I have deep regret and try to help mom’s make a different decision). Because my DS has agreed we would never do it again because I still get pangs if deep guilt over it. Because my siblings live far away and have no kids. Because his siblings live close by but have no kids. Because his cousins have no kids yet, and my cousins kids live a few hours away. Because we both have siblings and come from large families and family is EVERYthing to me. Because I’m extroverted and so is he and I can’t imagine not having a houseful. Because I always pictured two.
I’m still not 100% I want another. Not for the right reasons. I’m not sure we can comfortably afford it. I’m not sure I actually want to raise two kids. I’m not sure I want to rush dodging a huge health bullet I had 25% chance of getting worst, yet it miraculously got significantly better…but it might not the second time. It could be devastating (but not fatal). I’m not sure my stress wouldn’t make me a terrible mom with two, when I LOVE being with one but still definitely need decompression time. I’m not sure I wouldn’t always wonder if DS came around (if he ever did) if he was resentful. I’m certain I would feel a lot of guilt and let self-care suffer more at the idea of asking him to handle two so I could get alone time. I hate the idea of even negotiating for children. I have friends who have. They seem so in love with the kids but perpetually overwhelmed.
Yet, despite all this, there’s something in me that says “two”.
But not two.
One. The one I prayed so deeply for. The one I begged God for. The one I cried for. The one I was given and knew deeply his name, abut didn’t know why. The one, when I looked two weeks later at the meaning after it nagging me so much (even though I’m neutral one the name) I found out meant “God had heard”. We agreed in the hospital room it would be his middle name.
Yet now I’m asking for another, if it’s his will – or the strength to stay loving, kind, thankful, and understand my intact three is better than a broken four.
My heart aches. This is so confusing.
I want to add that I’m certain we would remain an intact four as far as a family. I’m simply not sure its even fair to ask DS to give up the time/energy that is so crucial to a well-rounded being. He is not a pushover, a much beloved trait, and he would only ever agree if he was 100%, so I can be sure of that. It would be my own anxiety giving me guilt, making me wonder about resentment.
If a second happens, I imagine I’d be shocked, scared, and we’d both fall deeply in love.
But, still, I truly believe in deep respect between spouses, especially on this. The coming and going of grief is very real though, and I’m thankful it’s not being negated as real.
Such an interesting topic! First, as it’s International Women’s Day, I should say how grateful I am that I have been privileged to have access to birth control and decide when the time is right with my life and my career to try for a baby. That’s not something many of our sisters around the world have.
I was one of 2 kids, my husband one of 4. I always wanted more siblings, and my husband and his 3 siblings are super close and have an amazing bond as adults. So we originally thought 4 was our number. But after 2 miscarriages, then 2 fairly miserable pregnancies (that thankfully went to term), a terrible case of postpartum anxiety after baby #1, we are 1000% sure that we are stopping with our 2 boys. They are delightful, bright, high energy children with intense personalities and extreme extroversion–and truly all we (as type A introverts) can handle. The pregnancy/baby/toddler stage is just not my jam. Now that they are school-aged children with ideas and we can have rational conversations it’s SO much better but I’m thankful to be done with the childbearing phase!
Yes! For sure! Each of my six pregnancies were chosen and deliberate, and I’m so grateful for the access to birth control I had (and have).
Share your gratitude about reproductive care, Anne!
Wow this is timely!
We have two boys, a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old and we on the road to getting pregnant with Bebe number 3. It’s definitely the right choice for our family, but hasn’t been an easy decision to come to (I’m a working artist trying to build a career and my husband is in medical school)…
Any of the LDS ladies out their feel like the pressure is high to have lots of babies as fast as possible?? Sometimes I feel like more emphasis is put out by church leaders about “quantity” then “quality”, you know what I mean?
I’ve never heard or felt that personally, Jamey, but that’s my experience (as an LDS woman who has always lived in New England). We have biological 3 kids and I never wanted to be pregnant again. It wasn’t that bad, I just really didn’t like it. We foster now, but I chose to do so more out of a desire to help than a strong maternal instinct or desire to have more children.
We have six, quite close together, and number 6 took the most thought, prayer, talking and planning. We do not take bringing children into the world lightly and it was a hard descision. He, consequently, has been the most difficult:). On hard parentling days I am grateful for the assurance we felt that he is ours and we felt so strongly he should come. I am also really grateful we made the descision together and BOTH felt right and ready each time we decided to have a baby.
Our first (and only) was such a challenge. He didn’t sleep through the night for more than 3 years! Now we know it’s due to a disability, but then all I knew was that between the first year of nursing and the next two years of running to his room and comforting him I didn’t sleep, I didn’t relax, I didn’t even know what day it was most of the time. Full time jobs for both of us meant no rest. We might have been up for two babies, but the thought of not sleeping again for so long and the exorbitant cost of childcare in our town has really made us happy with one. Also, our son is a great traveler! He’s so funny and unique. He’s great fun to spend time with, and I don’t miss having another little person.
I completely understand you on sleep issues affecting that choice. My three year old still does not consistently sleep thru the night (and only a year ago would wake up 20+ times a night). We don’t know why, even after doing a sleep study, talking to lots of consultants, doctors, etc. We chose to have a second during the very brief time that he DID sleep thru the night (for a week after I weaned him). I won’t say that I regret that choice, of course, but it has been really hard! Thankfully our second (at 11 months) already does sleep thru. I tell my husband that I’m not willing to even discuss a third until I have about 6 months of good sleep. On days I get good sleep I feel like I’m ready to get pregnant tomorrow. On days I don’t, I feel like I’m already in WAY over my head. I’m just beginning to acknowledge how much sleep has affected my mental and physical health these last three years. Sleep deprivation is no joke!
As an LDS woman I have never felt this pressure to have a certain number of kids just what we want. That said I always wanted 5 (I am one of 5). But 3 was a really great number and I thought I could be done. But I am pregnant with 4. My pregnancies are hard and I am quite sick so I just keep telling myself I never have to do this again!
We stopped after 2, (I had imagined I would have 3) and they are 2.5 years apart in age. My husband never planned to have children and I told him that it was too important for me to give up. Once we had one child he definitely wanted a second; but not more. There were several reasons and some have been mentioned by the others in this thread. One factor that went into our decision making was, “What if one or both of us ends up a single parent?” I have one sibling and my parents divorced and my dad was completely out of the picture. My husband is one of 4 kids, all close in age, and when he was 12 his father died. It was extremely difficult for his mother to support and manage 4 kids. If something happened to both of us, would our chosen guardians for our kids be able to take on all our children together? I know this makes me sound like a Debbie Downer! I went through being sad we were done (and it was a done deal – vasectomy) to being really grateful we are done! I still love babies but am content to enjoy the ones that aren’t mine.
Love this discussion. My husband and I each grew up in big families. My husband wanted at least five children and I wanted three, maybe four. We had a son first and a daughter followed 2 1/2 years later. Pregnancy was much tougher the second time around and while my son was a difficult baby, my daughter was incredibly difficult. She cried a lot, didn’t eat well and almost never slept the first year of her life. In fact, she didn’t sleep consistently through the night until she was five years old. We were worn out and couldn’t wrap our heads around having another. I feared a third difficult baby would make me a grumpy and impatient mother to the two I already had. I felt I owed it to them to be the best (and well-rested) mother I could be. Our families were disappointed in our choice to only have two and we heard a lot about it in the years our children were young. I used to feel guilty, like I was less of a mother for only having two. Now, my kids are 15 and 13 and we are a very happy family. I love having a small family. It suits my personality and the personalities of our kids.
I always loved babies and wanted a big family, and my husband wanted two kids. I just assumed we’d figure it out. Then the day I had my firstborn I looked at my husband and said, “Yup, I can only do that one more time.” And as I was giving birth to my second, the mantra, “Last time, last time, last time” got me through labor. So, this wasn’t a hard decision for us! And I have never had baby fever since.
Your mantra made me laugh!
In our case, our budget decided for us: we are done with two. If it were up to me, and if we had more financial security, I would have preferred having more–though I am not sure what that number would be… I love babies. That newborn bliss! Not any more for us, I guess.
Before we started having children, both my husband and I wanted six. We’re halfway there and my husband is still set on six (sometimes he even suggests more!) but my feelings have changed a little. Mentally I’m in a really, really great place, but physically i’m exhausted. My immune system is shot and my body feels like it’s falling apart in places, like a well used blanket that keeps losing threads. It always takes about a year to get back to optimum health again, and then I fall pregnant and the cycle starts over.
We’ve just had our third baby, and she is an absolute angel! She sleeps amazing, feeds really well (she’s so chubby!), smiles at everyone and is just so happy and healthy and content all time. I can hardly believe our luck! I am daily grateful for her happy and healthy self.
But this has left us in a bit of a conundrum. Half of me thinks, maybe one more. Our third is so wonderful and easy, maybe I could do a fourth, and then be done? But then the other half of me thinks, what if number four is really really hard. If we stop now, we end on SUCH a positive note. But if number 4 were to be totally different, would my memories of the beautiful newborn/baby stage of life be tinged with a few negative feelings. Like “I’m so glad to be done with that stage” instead of, “that stage of life was so wonderful”.
I dunno. Obviously whatever we do, we both have to be on board. And I can’t just fob off my husbands longing for a large family because “I’m the one that has to do all the work bringing them here.” This is his family too.
It’s a lot to think about. And really, the vision of our family of 8 gathered for dinner around the table brings me so much joy. So it’s a conundrum. (But such a beautiful, wonderful conundrum to have.)
“And I can’t just fob off my husbands longing for a large family because “I’m the one that has to do all the work bringing them here.”
I actually think you can. This is your body and your health! I can’t imagine any husband wanting to risk his wife’s health for another baby.
Fascinating discussion! And I join in in saying how grateful I am for access to safe and effective birth control.
I’m currently in this mode- happy with three, contented, grateful, but also wondering if there’s one more baby/child meant for our family. My husband is less excited about the idea of a 4th and we are both respecting each other and waiting while we decide one way or the other. My youngest is 2.5 and I’m 34 with no infertility issues thus far, and I feel grateful and able to take a pause to decide.
This is frank and personal but I share in the hope of helping. My oldest has high functioning autism and my baby niece was born last year with an undiagnosable genetic syndrome, and these potential factors weigh on my mind more that I’m older and have the family that I have. Facing potential difficulties is always an unknown, but coming to terms with the unknown vs the known, is definitely a factor.
My feelings and situation are SO similar! We have three boys age 9, 7, and 2.5 and every once in awhile I get a tinge for a 4th. My niece was also born with a very rare genetic disorder and although she is a beautiful blessing to our family, I am nervous about the unknown as well. I am 35 and my issue is also a matter of time. I personally feel that it should be now or never, as I do not want to have kids in my late 30’s and my husband is 40 so he is not super keen on “starting over” again. I keep asking myself “do I want another child, or do I just want another baby?” I sure do love a sweet little bundle of unconditional love, but then they grow up, start to talk back, and can never find their shoes ;) I think that we are done, and I think that my real issue is just the finality of this chapter of my life. It is really hard to say that I am never having anymore children.
I don’t often comment on blogs, but this post is really close to home. I’d like to share a little bit about my story, in the hopes someone else may be encouraged.
I have three children all of them happy accidents, their ages are 7, 6 and 6 months. I don’t think the baby scenario can be divorced from the marriage scenario and I have had a very tough marriage, almost from the very beginning. We have been married 9 years and have fought for every day, we even split up for three months, right before conceiving our 6 month old.
I think sometimes life laughs at us! Ok: next challenge, you guys!
We are both from big families, both Christian. He has torn free (sort-of), with many wounds, from his almost abusive, conservative Christian upbringing, I have held on to the elemental truths, but am not church-going these days. Raising my kids in a bit of a faith limbo is hard, though we do not shy from having honest discussions.
We have a very challenging first (a girl) and he said “no more” after that. But I soo desperately wanted a large family, we really started fighting after that. He has taken very little regard for my desires if they conflict with his own over the years (I would have done five if I could). Happily we accidentally became pregnant with our son who was as different to our eldest as possible, mellow, gentle, observant, careful. He was such a blessing through those years. As I basically single-parented (as my husband was just not up to it, he was struggling with his own problems and just did not have the maturity) I realised that I would not have the energy for more kids, particularly as my eldest girl is such a handful (age is slowly mellowing her, thank God!) and it just didn’t happen anyway. We loosely tried NOT having kids and it worked for five odd years!
Like I said, we split. He was smoking pot and was thinking about the meaning of life wayyy too much, he was in a vortex. He was a very absent partner over those years. After three months off marriage(I left – it was the most refreshing time of my life!) he had some profound epiphanies and I would say was restored to me, since then we’ve been building back up, not without difficulties. We fell pregnant straight after getting back together, having moved towns to my home town, and, though it was a big shock, I feel like this little girl is our blessing baby. She is just exquisite and brings such joy to our lives. My husband, recognising he was a bit of a dunce in those early years, is parenting like he never has before. It is probably a healing time for our family.
All of my plans for a big, happy, Christian family are totally out the window, instead life has thrown kids at me in a way I would not have chosen. The way I see it: we live in an imperfect and broken world. My marriage has not been ideal but through a love which is not told about in the fairy stories, I’ve somehow dug my feet in through no other motivation than “what else can I do?” and tried to love, not just my children but my fairly broken husband. Children come from the marriage and I see this in each of my children, who’ve all come for different purposes.
I don’t have my ideal 5 kids, but I’m very happy with my 3. Pregnancy is a real drain on my body and I could not do another one. It’s good to know that deep within I don’t want another (before baby number 3 there was still an empty little spot…I think I knew there was another one waiting to be born to us). I’d trust intuition in all this. I have a strong intuition and though I can’t always pick the timing I know each of our children were a part of me before they came and I wish I’d trusted that more throughout all this.
Thank you for your beautiful and honest post. My husband and I love each other very much but we have also had a challenging marriage. Adding infertility to the mix and ten years later we know that this is our last year of trying for a second. He would’ve been fine without children but doesn’t want me to have regrets or blame, though I do blame him for the delays from those first few years of trying and wish we had gone straight to ivf when I was still in my thirties. And now, I wish to either get pregnant or be at peace with letting it go.
I appreciate your honesty and candor.
This is something very much on my mind. We always said we would have two, with three being an outside possibility. Then we had twins when going for our second. I honestly could have been done with one but I was happy to give our son a sibling. Now we have three wonderful boys but I feel like someone is missing and we are talking about a fourth. It seems like we are in an alternate reality as this was something we never thought we would be considering.
The more time goes on, the more I think we might be done but I am still not sure. I was never a ‘baby person’ and I didn’t have the strong baby crazy feeling after our first like I had before having babies. However after our twins were born I almost immediately wanted another and I have those longings still although they are getting weaker. The thing that keeps me holding on now though is this feeling of someone missing.
It was very interesting to hear about what happened with you guys.
What an interesting conversation! This is a topic I usually feel like an outsider on. My husband and I both grew up in large LDS families. I grew up knowing I wanted to have a large family and be a stay-at-home mother. I finished college, but it honestly never occurred to me to consider any career options that would take me outside the home. It wasn’t until after we were married that my husband I discovered we had very different ideas about how soon and how many children we wanted for our family. I wanted at least 6 and he wanted about 2 or 3. It seems silly now, but it was a touchy subject for many years. We had our first baby right before my husband started medical school, and what a surprise experience it was for me. I had looked forward to being a stay-at-home mother my whole life, but it was so much harder than I anticipated. I was bored and lonely stressed and felt totally identity-less. We had one more baby, and of course I love them dearly, but I never grew into motherhood the way I thought I would. Now it seems obvious that my husband would have been a much more natural stay-at-home parent, and I would have been a much more natural and happy working parent. Given our cultural upbringing, there really isn’t any way we would have guessed that before we were up to our eyeballs in med-school debt. Well, yay for new phases and double medical school debt. When our youngest went off to elementary school I went back to school too. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that it’s unproductive to spend too much time fretting about the specifics of my future. So much is likely to change before I get there.
This helped me Katelyn, thank you! We don’t know how things will be until they are… thanks for the understanding not to fret about the future and to experience the present, especially if it is different than you thought it would be.
Such a struggle for every couple–sometimes it’s hard feeling like you’re playing God, choosing timing and numbers in a way that wasn’t/isn’t possible for much of history/the world. I too am grateful for that control of birth offered by modern medicine, but wary of how I’m choosing to use that power. My experience having three miscarriages (and two of my four children coming despite birth control measures) was good for me: to learn that I’m not really in control of these decision all the time and to trust in a higher power. We’re both the oldest of six and thought we’d have more kids than four; we had the opposite problem of some, I knew we were done (beyond the miscarriages I also have difficult pregnancies; he’s a cancer survivor with health challenges), but my husband is the baby-hungry one. I’m still haunted by his sad eyes when I went in to have my tubes tied, even though I knew it was the right choice for us. Fortunately he’s come to see that too and enjoy our dozens of nieces and nephews for his baby fix.
Well, my name is Kate and we’ve had the 2-3 kids in mind, but I swear, I did not send this email to Gabby. When first reading Gabby’s post, I wondered whether my husband send her this email in my name.
For the past year, I have wanted another, and he has not. We have two kids and both have been easily conceived and have had smooth pregnancies, as smooth as pregnancies CAN be. As the very last bargaining chip, I let him pick when we concieve and when he wants this next/last child to be born.
We have a date at the end of this week, and I think I’ll gently probe the topic again. Hopefully, we’re both still on the same page.
My hesitation to have more kids is less about how many I want (four; two girls, two boys) and how many I can handle (my current two boys have me barely treading water!) I have other considerations that make me question having more:
-Starting a degree program; will I be able to have a baby partway through a school year and still graduate?
-I have a great relationship with my mother and sisters and can’t imagine not having that relationship with my own daughter…and then her not having a relationship with wonderful sisters; clearly, I really want a girl (or two) but do I really want another baby if it’s going to be a boy? And if I’m not willing to compromise on gender, can I endure the trials and cost of adoption?
I have no idea!
I’m not a big fan of Dr. Laura, but I remember her saying years ago that if your spouse says no to more babies, the answer is no.
I agree that it’s impossible to give advice on this–and maybe to take it! I’m one of two, my husband is one of five, and we liked the idea of a big family. We probably would have stopped at two but I accidentally got pregnant with number three (on an IUD–it can happen!) We had been open to three so this was a surprise, but not an unpleasant one. However, we now have three pretty close in age, and demanding jobs, and it’s been tough. At the same time, I’m sad that he may be our last. I think I also have a tendency to romanticize pregnancy and birth and newborns in retrospect, when the reality for me is that it can be uncomfortable, and exhausting, and an emotional roller coaster, so while there’s a desire to return to it, I’m also glad to potentially be done with it. So we haven’t really made a decision on another one. Also, on “tougher” kids: I to frequently say that if we had waited till our oldest turned three, he would be an only child–he was (and is) a very challenging toddler!
I know I’m late to the conversation, but I thought this might help someone. We had two kids 1 boy, 1 girl. We felt whole and complete, and my husband and I didn’t know, if we would have any more kids. Time went on and on. I had complications with my IUD and had to have it removed. Changing my birth control situation, it hit me that I was excited about the possibility of having another baby. So we decided not to go back on birth control and I got pregnant within two months! Boom! It felt like it was meant to be! Now our baby is 5.5 years younger than our middle. He has been a delight for the whole family! Our kids have LOVED the opportunity to watch him grow and learn, and we are all so connected. I would highly recommend this scenario to anyone, although I know, every family is different! But I sure love mine!
Thank you for sharing this. I have two children and would like to have a third but am struggling to get pregnant this time. One of my biggest worries is that if I do finally get pregnant the gap between my middle and youngest will be so big that the youngest will never connect with the older two. Stories like yours help me feel better!
Love hearing your thoughts and all the comments. I have 2 boys ( they each turned 6 and 3) and a month away from having my 3rd baby- a girl! I still can’t believe we went for the 3rd and that it’s a girl. We knew we’d have 2 and I always knew that we’d have a second boy as I purposely saved all my oldest boy clothes and wanted him to have a brother but I still wanted that girl. I remember crying though when I did actually find out my second was a boy because I thought “shit I have to do this all over again!” But I was feeling pretty done when my 2nd was 2 but my husband really pushed for the 3rd and I deep down always knew that we’d end up doing it. I’m glad he pushed and was on board because if he hadn’t I probably would have been ok stopping with the 2 as I didn’t think my luck would bring a girl the third time BUT it did! Praise God!
So timely, we’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.
I always wanted a larger family, 3-5. My partner always pictured 2-3. We decided to get to 2 and then figure it out from there. I definitely feel I would really want another, but as you said there’s no way I could do this without him (on many levels ha), so ultimately the person who wants fewer will get veto power, unless we end up in agreement.
Our first is 8 months old now, and we’re starting to think about the next one on the horizon. I feel like that’s a whole other possible post: timing between children, and which transition was the hardest (0 to 1 child? 1 to 2? 2 to 3? etc)
Your part about not fully enjoying Betty’s baby-hood because you didn’t realize she might be your last baby really hit home for me. My husband and I always said we wanted three children. But we have been trying to conceive our third child for over a year now, and I haven’t gotten pregnant yet.
Now we really don’t know what to do. Sometimes I feel desperate to have that third baby, but I’m not sure if I’m truly desperate enough to go down the path of fertility treatment with all of that money and stress (and increased chance of multiple birth!). If this had happened when I was trying for my first child or my second, I would have jumped through any hoop and gone to great lengths to get pregnant. But to have a third baby, I’m just not sure.
We have a 5 year-old and a 2 year-old, one boy and one girl. They have a wonderful dynamic. I can definitely see the appeal of stopping at two and having more resources for each of them. We’re almost out of the baby stage now and I can see all the possibilities beginning to open up now that nobody needs a stroller or wears diapers and we can skip naps without it ruining the day. I started a business last year and I worry that with that demand on my time I wouldn’t have as much energy for a third baby as I did for my first two.
I don’t feel done. We have an empty bedroom and empty dining room chair and an empty seat in the SUV, all waiting for that third child to fill them. And, most importantly, I didn’t realize my daughter might be our last baby. I thought she was my second child, not my last child. I definitely feel like I didn’t savor her babyhood enough. I’m trying to savor everything with her more now, in case she is my last, but I kick myself for not slowing down even more during her baby years.
I’d love to hear more about the spacing between siblings in your family. One of the things that makes me stress about this secondary (tertiary?) infertility is that I worry that if I do finally get pregnant someday the gap between my kids (especially between my first and third) will be so big they will never really be friends. I’m sure that’s silly, but I’d like to know more about how it has worked in your family, especially the 4-year gap between your youngest two.
I can relate to so many of these worries! My daughters are 4.5 years apart, because of secondary infertility. I also spent a lot of time worrying about the increasing age gap as we tried to get pregnant and pursued fertility treatment, but it turns out this spacing is really good for our family. I felt like I got a “do-over” for enjoying the newborn stage – I was a basketcase when my oldest was tiny, and this time she was off enjoying kindergarten during the day, and I was hanging out with the baby and putting a lot less pressure on myself. Now that the girls are 6 and 2 they are such good buddies! They read together, build together, play elaborate games with their stuffed animals. They fight, too, of course, but they are definitely friends.
I only have one child (two weeks old), but I am the 3rd of 4 children with some large age gaps in between them! I don’t think it’s so much the age gap that determines if the children will be close or not. The 1st of our 4 siblings is 18 years older than me and we are just now (as I am an adult now) reconnecting. However, the same is said for the 4th of our 4 siblings and I. We are close now as adults, but never were as children and we are only 1.5 years apart. The 2nd of our 4 siblings and I were always very close and he is 15 years older than me. So, I think, personally, that age isn’t really want connects or disconnects us!
I turned 39 a week before having my third child, a lovely boy joining two perfect sisters all about 2.25 years apart. If you’d asked me when I was pregnant I’d have said this was *definitely* my last but now that he’s here, he’s so lovely and sweet I’d love to give him a brother or at least a younger sibling but my husband doesn’t seem up for it. I always wanted 4 (told him so on our first date!). I’m pretty sure I could convince him to try for a 4th once I’m back at work, but it almost seems greedy. I’m so blessed with 3 lovely, healthy, beautiful children maybe I should quit while I’m ahead. Genetic issues increase dramatically in your forties. Plus the usual money/time/sleep issues.
How old is too old to try for another child when you already have 3?
I had my 4th a few weeks before I turned 42. So you’ve got some time ;)
I married later in life, and had my first child at 37. I always wanted a big family. I had my next child at 38, and many thought, with a boy and a girl, we were done. I had very strong feelings about having a large family (4-6). I was 40 when I was pregnant with our third, and last, child. My husband felt our family was complete at 2, but was willing to try (and receive!) for 3. I was very emotional about the decision to get my tubes tied. I did get my tubes tied but I still wish for 4, or 6, children to this day (but realize I really am older and tired!).
So lovely to hear so many women’s stories. It’s such a personal topic so I find it refreshing to read it on a forum such as this one. I come from a fairly big family (5 kids) and my husband is one of three. We’d always envisioned 3 but as many stories written here have shown, life just gets in the way sometimes. Our first two pregnancies ended in miscarriage and I was heartbroken thinking that my dream of having children might not come true.
Luckily, on the third round our beautiful baby girl was born. She is truly such a joy and especially given how my first two pregnancy experiences ended, I am grateful for every second with her. I unexpectedly fell pregnant when she was about 8 months old and though shocked we were excited about the idea of another baby. Unfortunately, that pregnancy too ended in miscarriage.
I truly believe it simply wasn’t meant to be at this time, but the fear of future pregnancies ending as 3 of my 4 already have makes me so anxious about the future. I think for me multiple miscarriages has taken away the illusion that I can simply decide how many children I’d like and then have them, it just doesn’t work that way. My husband and I now have decided to take it day-by-day, month-by-month, maybe even year-by-year. When/if we’re blessed with another baby (or babies) we will be absolutely thrilled.
I don’t have kids yet, but my parents have talked about how difficult this can be. My mom always wanted 4, my dad always wanted 2, and they compromised with 3. Although both are happy with the 3 they had, I know my mom still wishes she had another (even though she wasn’t even sure she could safely be pregnant again). She’s mentioned that although she isn’t pushing any of us to have kids yet, she thinks those baby cravings will go away a bit when/if she has grandkids (we’re all in our early 20s).
Grandmother-hood feels so far away to me, but who knows when it will actually happen.
I totally agree that both partners have to give a 100% YES to every big decision, and of course to every new baby..!
We both knew, that three would be a great number. Although I always dreamed of four… (We were 5 at home) Our third one came with special needs and big heart problems. We love her dearly every minute she’s with us. She’s also truly special in all the good things and very strong. But she needs more attention, more strength and patience than our two others. She’s seven now and it’s not getting much easier. We already past our forties and it’s clear to both of us, that our “family balance” would suffer a lot if a fourth one would come… So our fourth family member is now a poodle. ;-))
I think every family is a cosmos in itself and you have to consider the strength, health and financial situation of both parents to find the right number of children.
“I think every family is a cosmos in itself and you have to consider the strength, health and financial situation of both parents to find the right number of children.”
What an intersting topic! I’m fascinated at how many people have set ideas on this. My husband and I never really discussed numbers. We married young (23 & 24) and waited until our 30s to try for children.
Pregnancy, birth and baby with our first was easy. I was 31 and life was peachy… then we found out I was pregnant again, almost instantly. Our second was born 11 months after the first.
This was a game changer. Our second was not an easy sleeper and really didn’t settle well at night until she was 4 years old. I could not fathom another baby in that time and by the time we could, we were sort of past the baby phase. Plus, everything else with them being so close in age was levelling out and working so nicely that I felt a third child would be left out and then I’d want a fourth and that was too many for me.
I can relate to the mourning. I loved pregnancy, I loved giving birth but I needed sleep! I have considered offering myself to surrogacy but I’m unsure of the attachment I would have and can’t bring myself to take that risk.
I love reading your perspective! Sometimes I forget there are women who love being pregnant (because it was no fun for me). The idea of getting to experience additional pregnancies through surrogacy has me thinking.
We have two and we are done but sometimes I dreamily think of having a third and even a fourth. I think our family is right with four and I can’t imagine having 1-2 more kids.
Four was my dream number but I wanted to also be done with kids before I was 35. I’m going to be 34 this year and I have a 1 year old. He just barely started sleeping through the night and I’m savouring it.
I was the same. I wanted to be done having babies at 35.
It has been so great to read these comments! I have two boys that are 6 and 8. My husband and I both come from families of 3, and while we thought we would probably just have 2, part of us also felt like 3 kids was more of a tribe and a family. Something about having only 2 kids just felt so cookie cutter to us, especially to me. But my husband is definitely done after 2 kids. When I was pregnant with my 2nd and for a few years after, I felt so strongly I wanted to have another, and we had a couple of months when we didn’t actively try to get pregnant, but didn’t prevent it either. Now, we both feel we are done. Part of me still sometimes longs for that 3rd, but honestly, it would be hard. We both work full time and I just don’t think I can go through pregnancy and that first year working so much again. It is exhausting. I’m still tired a majority of the time. Plus, I do sometimes feel guilty about time with my children and I work really hard to spend one on one time with them or help out with their school or activities at times. I think with three I would find that much more difficult with work, and would just feel really guilty. Our house is a perfect fit for the four of us – five would be tight. And financially, it would have a huge impact. We have the ability to pay for our kids to do some extracurriculars and go on family vacations every summer (nothing extravagant) and these things are very important to us. Our long term financial situation would be very, very different with three. Plus, my husband has struggled with anxiety and depression, and while he is very proactive about seeking help, I’m also conscious of not pushing for something so far out of his comfort zone that could lead to real problems. Everyone we know with three children has one parent home full time or just working part time, so I think just the time management piece would be too much for us. We already feel like we are at our max of what we can handle. It doesn’t mean that longing is never there, but I am happy with where we are and know it is the best thing for everyone in the family. I would never want to push it just because I have this longing when it could really end up negatively impacting the entire dynamic for a long time.
Laura – I could have written your words! That first year after birth – I hear you! I am half way thru with my second (he is 6 months) and I can’t imagine ever doing this again. We both work full time and while all the parenting advice focuses on your kid’s exposure to BPA or screen time etc, I was completely blindsided by how extremely difficult finding (and affording) quality childcare is and the amount of stress involved in making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be and balancing spending quality time with my kids and getting enough work hours in. I feel like I am always rushing and like you, exhausted! And the guilt! Thinking about it, I guess most everyone I know closely has one parent who stays home at least part time, so I never thought about the time management piece ahead of time. My husband also struggles with depression and anxiety and I would never want to put us in a situation that was too difficult for our family to handle. I greatly appreciate your comments and I feel comforted to know someone farther along in our situation (we have two boys, 2 years apart too!) feels that stopping at two is OK, even if there is still a little longing there. Thank you!
I also recently found out I’m going to be aunt for the first time and I’m hoping that will relieve some of the “big family” yearnings without the added stress of a third child!
My husband and I always talked about our “number” abstractly before we had kids. Maybe 2, or 3 – we’d just wait and see how it went. Pregnancy wasn’t the easiest experience for me, which I was surprised by. We had our first little girl and I knew we weren’t done. Four years later, we had our second daughter and as I was lying in the hospital bed holding her in my arms I felt this wave of emotion roll over me. It was happiness, but more importantly – it was contentment. I knew in an instant that I was done and that our family was complete. My husband was surprised by my instant decision (I’m definitely a thinker…) but he was on board when he realized it really wasn’t the hormones!
Such a relief when you know for certain that you are done. And so tricky for those who never get that feeling.
This is one of those conversations that seems so foreign to me. We wavered between wanting one and two kids, but infertility changed that conversation forever. After 4+ years of different procedures and treatments, we have a beloved baby girl. We have another embryo on ice that we will transfer at some point, but sadly not every embryo that is transferred becomes a baby. So as much as we’d love to have 2, we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.
I have to admit. I’ll always be jealous of couples who decide to have a baby, have sex, and poof, it just happens. Seems like magic to me.