I Want Another Baby – What if Your Partner Wants Fewer Kids Than You?

I Want Another Baby - What if Your Partner Wants Fewer Kids Than You? featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Want another baby but husband doesn't? Here's advice. I Want Another Baby - What if Your Partner Wants Fewer Kids Than You? featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

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?”

  1. i’ve envisioned us with 4 kids for the longest time. i’m currently at 2 and i still see us with a larger family in the long term and don’t feel like our family is complete, yet at the same time i feel a bit exhausted, my baby hunger is at an all time low, and i still feel haunted by pregnancy and #2 waking 2 hourly through the night until he was 18 months old… hopefully i’ll be ready to face #3 by the time i hit 50 haha.

  2. Oh wow. I’ve loved reading all the comments here but maybe I can offer a little bit of a different perspective. I must admit, I’m just a tiny bit jealous of all of you with your “big” families.

    I’m guessing maybe I’m one of your “older” readers, Gabby. I’m 46. Yikes. How that happened, I have no idea. I met my husband when I was 38 and we married at 40. I really really longed for babies in my 30’s; so much so, that I ended a pretty happy 2 year relationship at 35 because my then boyfriend just wasn’t ready (he’s still not married and has no children). I think I kind of gave up on the idea around 37; I started saying to myself (and others) that maybe it just wasn’t going to happen for me and that I was okay with that. And then I met my husband and realized I was a big liar. :)

    He was newly divorced and in my eyes, completely unavailable, so we became friends at first. I told him all about me wanting to have a baby and that I’d only date men who were on the same page; I was internet dating at the time and very upfront with suitors about my immediate baby desires/needs. Ha. It went over really well on first dates. :)

    Well, obviously, our friendship blossomed and we were married in 2011. I have 2 step kids who are turning 16 (boy) & 18 (girl) this year. Sadly, they live in another state so we only see them about 4 times a year; the distance and a not-so-great relationship between the exes, has really made it hard to bond as much as I’d hoped we would.

    I’m sorry this is the longest response ever. But there’s still more…

    We started trying to get pregnant immediately. We spent everything we had on IVF and 3 miscarriages later, we opened our hearts to adopting through foster care. We loved 2 babies that were ultimately reunited with their families and then our daughter Vivienne was born. We picked her up from the hospital on 1/30/14 and her adoption was finalized on 1/15/15! Of course, right now, she’s an insane sassy toddler, but even at her worst she is the sweetest gift and we are so so blessed by her. I really wish you all could meet her; that little one’s light shines so bright.

    Even still, I’ve continued to long for a bigger family. Our “big” kids love their little sister and are super sweet with her when they visit but it’s just not the same. When they’re out of sight, we are ALL out of mind. And really, they’re teens, so it’s to be expected but we are older parents and I worry about Viv later in life. I really want her to have a sibling or siblings closer in age. I don’t want her to be alone.

    We’ve been talking about fostering/adopting again but in our situation, there are really no guarantees. It’s a lot to open yourself up to and now that we’ve done it, we know how hard the process can be. Our experience was actually pretty pleasant and somewhat “easy” overall compared to some other parents fostering, hoping to adopt. But it is still very invasive. Social workers, doctors, lawyers, potentially bio family members…all in your life for an unspecified period of time. And the biggest concern is not for us and our attachment, but for Viv and hers.

    I think, if we go for it, we’ll actually try fostering a little bit of an older child (maybe another toddler and not necessarily a newborn). One positive (and of course, there are many) is that fostering and/or adopting again would help open up the conversation with our daughter, and maybe help her understand how we became a family. But we also understand how confusing and heartbreaking it will be, if the child we foster and love, then goes back to their bio family. OR maybe it would help her learn about love and having an open heart? Which seems super relevant now more than ever.

    Ugh. I don’t know though. It was off the table for awhile but now it’s back on and my husband is open to it again. And I’m back and forth all the time myself. So many factors: We live in Los Angeles…our house is small…we don’t have a ton of money… My husband works sometimes 70 or more hours a week so I’m pretty much on my own. Blah…blah…blah… And then I realize that people do so much MORE with so much LESS and are completely happy.

    I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. Thanks so much for opening up this topic though; I hope that any other moms out there that are a little older and fighting through infertility and the pain of loss, read this and feel hopeful. Big families are possible in so many different ways! XO

  3. I always wanted 3 or 4 children. My husband, a bit trepid, was easily swayed by my enthusiasm. Then we had our first, a lovely baby boy who cried constantly and never slept, but whose smile and piercing blue eyes melted our hearts. That baby boy went on to become an extremely challenging toddler, who threw the most difficult tantrums, and then a pre-schooler who was diagnosed with ADHD. He continues to challenge us as parents with his persistence, emotional lability, refusal to sleep on his own, and impulsive defiance. He is also wonderfully sweet, insightful, caring and lovely boy who we love to the end of the earth. But he is a lot. When he was 2.5yrs, we had our daughter who is hilarious, sweet and so so easy going by comparison. She’s now 6 and my son is almost 9. We didn’t have any more kids in large part because parenting our son dominates our lives and our parental attention. We struggle with the feeling that our daughter already gets the short end of the stick, and feared adding another child to the mix (and if I’m being truthful, we feared adding another parenting challenge to the mix). But now, I’m barely still child bearing age, and seeing the window for another baby disappearing is causing me to experience the heartbreak you describe. We have a full wonderful life with our two children, who are turning into such interesting little humans. But my current conundrum is finding a way to not “blame” my son for this bit of heartbreak that I fear I will always carry.

  4. Tamara K Lang

    My husband had a child from a previous relationship when I met him, so when we married, we already had a child. We knew we wanted one together, and we got pregnant pretty quick. After we had her, it was good at 2…we had his daughter a lot of the time, but I had some one on one with the baby too. Our lives were in a difficult place with jobs and finances and all, so we agreed to wait. When the baby was 3, our lives had settled to an even place, and we revisited another baby. We both agreed that we were 95% sure we were done with the 2 we had, and that we would revisit the topic in 6 months to decide if we wanted to make it a permanent decision. In the 3 years since the baby was born, I had been diagnosed with endometriosis and had been on a host of medications. My doctor told me that if we wanted another, it would probably be difficult, if not impossible, for me to conceive naturally.

    3 months later, I realized I had a lot of the symptoms of being pregnant. Come to find out, I was 11 weeks pregnant and didn’t even know it. I was kind of unhappy about the whole idea of being pregnant again…not that I didn’t want the baby, but just the whole overwhelming thought of all the work. My husband and I agreed this would be the last and both had the procedure done to ensure he was.

    Fast forward to now…that surprise baby is a 14 year old boy. He is everyone’s favorite person. None of us can imagine our lives without him, and he is probably more spoiled by his sisters than me.

    All this to say, remember, you may think you’ve made a choice or plan, but sometimes a surprise comes along, and you find out it was just what you needed all along.

    Funny enough, I never had baby fever again.

  5. I think about this issue constantly! I have a 5 year old girl and 3 year old boy, so everyone around us assumes we are done and that it would be crazy to have a third (as if the ONLY factor that differentiates siblings is gender). It’s always been my vision to have 3 (and to be honest, if I had piles of money and didn’t have to work, I would want 5).

    The first two are less than two years apart, and that was exhausting, so we decided to do a bigger pause the next time. But now it’s so big that the 3rd would be at least 4 years younger than the 2nd. It’s hard to weigh if that matters and why. I always had this vision of them all going off to school together as my 2 siblings and I did at our K-8 grade school. But where we live now, kids go to up to 5 different campuses (K-2, then 3-5, then 6th alone, then 7-8, then 9-12). So even the two we have will be in separate schools more often than not.

    My husband would be totally fine having no more, but I can’t let it go. It’s so hard to weigh the reasons to stop (Save money! More time for the 2 we have! Less logistically complicated! The environment! Will there be jobs in 2050?) against the vague but very real urge to have a third.

    1. Wow, I could have written this comment two years ago. My kids (and boy and girl) turned 5 & 3, and we kept discussing the third baby we’d always planned on (3-4, each two years apart, we’d always thought), but couldn’t face starting over or having a bigger gap. I kept saying, “if we have a third we will have to have a fourth so it’s not alone!” Well, we kept obsessing over it and another year went by and by last July we’d aalllllmost decided to stick to 2 (no diapers or strollers! Booster seats on trips! Both in school 9-3!) when… surprise! I’m due in 2.5 weeks with another girl.

      I’ve realized I really wasn’t done, and while my husband probably could have been, he was getting schmoopier around babies than I was. (I honestly really prefer older kids.) But I thought about it constantly. I loaned vs giving away my gear and baby clothes. I’m pretty sure in a couple years I’d have panicked about pushing 40 & we’d have gone for it after all! I’m 36 and got pregnant easily each time, for what it’s worth. I will say each pregnancy was harder in terms of nausea, discomfort, etc., though I started weight lifting 2 years ago and am still going 2x/week at 37 weeks pregnant, and I’ve avoided much of the back/pelvis stuff that plagues those 3rd (4th, etc.) pregnancies!

      I’ve watched a few friends have 3rd babies with the 2-year gap and with 3-4 year gaps now, and I have to say I’m excited for the 4.5 year gap! One friend said her third (3.5 years after 2nd) was the first baby she truly reveled in: First she was panicky; 2nd she was in the weeds with a newborn and toddler; 3rd she was relaxed AND had older kids.

      We probably would have moved faster and with more confidence if our second wasn’t an intense and challenging child. She’s remarkable but not easy, and for a while we truly couldn’t imagine adding anything more to the mix.

      One thing I’ve noticed with my friends is that staying home seems to often be the critical factor in going for a third. I and many of my friends with 3+ stay home, and the complication of another baby is nothing compared to my work-outside-the-home friends, who juggle so much in terms of daycare/after school/coping w sickness or snow days/etc. One friend recently said she’d have had at least three if she didn’t work, but just couldn’t imagine it in their life.

      Finally, for years third babies were THE conversation so often w our friends. Suddenly starting a few months ago everyone’s been talking about The Snip, and the guys are all trading doctor recs. I haven’t had this baby yet but I already feel so much more Done. I gave away all my boy clothes when I learned it was a girl, and I can’t even imagine being pregnant again!

  6. My kids are almost 5 and 2. We always thought we’d go for 3 (on my side of the family, we have a lot of sets of 3). But I don’t think I can go through another first year again. I was lucky in that pregnancy was very easy for me both times, and my labors were quick and uncomplicated. But the first year! Breastfeeding was a struggle, sleeplessness nearly killed my marriage, and I already have my hands full with 2 kids, a full-time job, volunteer commitments, etc. I don’t feel that I would adequately provide the attention they need if we had a third baby. But we’ve started talking about doing some foster parenting or potentially adopting a third down the road, once the youngest if over 5.

  7. I feel like the largest thing that I have learned about how many kids you and your spouse want is that you just can’t know – babies have an amazing way of being unplannable. My husband and I both came from families of five kids. We always knew that we wanted to have a larger family, but never put a number on it. Our first three were planned, and were all two years apart. Then, our fourth was conceived when I had an IUD. He was also exactly the same distance as our other girls were (26 months apart), which was an odd coincidence.

    After having four it was hard. I had post partum depression (caused by post partum thyroiditis) after my third and fourth kids. Parenting was hard, but good, and we thought that maybe we should be done. After a year we started coming back around, and realizing that we did want more after all. There was some potential that I had cardiomyopathy after my last two kids, and when my son was 18 months old my cardiologist told me that they couldn’t tell whether I had it for sure or not unless I had serious difficulties after a pregnancy (ie, if I needed a heart transplant or would die), and that any more pregnancies had a 1/3 chance of serious problems. After we had that conversation, I drove home crying. I knew by that point that we wanted more kids, and I didn’t want to be done.

    But I gave away all our baby clothes. We started talking about all the good things of having four kids. And then two weeks later I took a pregnancy test because I was late. And we had our fifth, unplanned. And none of the health problems materialized, that same cardiologist was more certain that I didn’t have cardiomyopathy but instead just had heart symptoms caused by my thyroiditis, and didn’t make any more dire predictions (I specifically asked if it would be a problem to have more kids, and he was okay).

    And now we have six, and although I still have post partum thyroiditis, I didn’t have post partum depression this time, and I also haven’t had any more heart problems. And I actually like parenting six kids more than I liked having three. It’s nice having older children to help, and I am so much more confident as a mother and what I am doing (or not doing! Letting certain expectations of life go has been freeing).

    Having three planned kids, and three unplanned (when we weren’t trying to get pregnant) has made me realize that you can’t plan everything. If you are going to have sex, you could always, possibly, have a child. That has made me and my husband more accepting of the fact that our family size isn’t ultimately up to us. We’ve been lucky to always be on the same page, both when we wanted a large family, when we wanted to stop after four, when we had a surprise fifth and now when we have six. We also like to joke a lot about where all these kids come from (the woodwork?). I think we’ll have one more child – we have five girls and one boy, and I feel it in my bones that we have one other boy. But I do kind of hope that we can at least plan his timing? If not, we’ll have more to joke about, at least.

  8. I love to hear about how families decide on the number of children. For us, it wasn’t really our decision. We both come from families with 7 kids, so we both wanted a big family, between 4-7 kids, 4 at the very minimum (funny how we think WE actually have control over the number of kids we are given). After years of infertility, failed IVF’s, we decided we were just going to be an awesome aunt and uncle. Three months later a baby boy entered our lives thru a miraculous adoption (unplanned). We continued to try for biological children but were told it would NEVER happen (we’re both ‘broken’). A couple years later, we were told about a baby girl that could be ours (also thru another miraculous adoption – we were super lucky and never used an agency), and welcomed her into our home. The same week we found out about our baby girl, I found out I was pregnant! Miracle of all miracles. My last 2 babies are 5 months apart – they are now almost 8. The past 8 years we’ve tried for more babies, but to no avail. We both feel so grateful for our 3 babies, but still long for more. We’re both, just now, feeling like we are probably done (not because we want to be, but because of the gap, and we’re pushing 40). When I get a little sad about not meeting my desired kid number (which I now think is ridiculous – they’re kids, not a required quota), I look at my 3 miracle babies and realize how blessed we are.

  9. This is so timely, and reading these stories makes me want to share mine. I have one sister but my husband comes from a family with four kids. We never set a specific number but I always figured we’d end up with two, maybe three. But it was sooooo hard to get pregnant. We tried for almost a year with our first, and after she was born I had 2 miscarriages in a year of trying. Eventually I ended up on Clomid and got pregnant pretty quickly. But surprise, twins! Our twins are 10 months now and I get baby fever when I see newborns, and I could see us being really happy with another. However, the thought of trying to get pregnant again, and all the heartache that goes along with it and more potential miscarriages, is just not something I want to put myself through again. My husband had an easier time dealing with the infertility so he jokingly talks about #4. It’s not causing fights at this point but it definitely feels like a sore spot that just keeps getting poked.

  10. We’re both from families of 3 kids and thought that was a good number, or maybe four. We married young and waited about 8 years before starting to try for kids. Surprise, twins! I remember holding them on the first day at the hospital and thinking, yeah, these two are great, we don’t need more…

    Due to some circumstances within our control and some without, we were both unemployed and job searching for most of the first year, and it was not easy. Then we were both working full time, and that has not been easy either. Twins are fun and a beautiful blessing, but herding them through infancy and toddlerhood is not for the faint of heart. But we both love being parents, and spent about two years trading off – one of us would want more and the other didn’t, then vice versa. It’s one thing if one of you has a desperate yearning for more kids, but it was more like a feeling that we had more love to give, if someone was around to receive it.

    Eventually we came to a point where the logistical hurdles – especially paying for more years of daycare/preschool/nannies or one of us hitting pause on a fulfilling career – just outweighed the feeling that “more could be nice.” So we let go. Now I am impatiently waiting for my sister or brother to have kids so I can cuddle the heck out of those babies.

    1. Rachel, I feel you – I think often, that if someone else could handle all the logistics of raising young children I would have a lot more babies.

  11. My husband is one of 13 kids and always wanted a large family, I only wanted 4 at the most. My husband realized that his career in the military would give me heaviest burden of raising the children so he left how many and when up to me. He was ready whenever I was and although I know he would like more kids he has never pressured me to have more. Timing wise, I had them closer together than I wanted but planning a family around school, training, deployments, and a desire to be finished having kids by 35 we had 4 kids in 5 1/2 years.

  12. Hello everyone. this article really caught my eye. when my husband and I married I didn’t think I wanted any children! However 5 years in I became exceedingly broody. we didn’t plan our first child but didn’t not plan either…a little girl, 18months lator another baby girl, 2years lator another baby girl, two years after that a baby boy! we decided it would be sensible for my husband to have a vasectomy as 4children under 5.5yrs was pretty full-on! our little boy turns 4 shortly and I havnt stopped wishing we had carried on…I would dearly love another baby. my husband hates me to talk about it because he says I’m just trying to make him feel guilty……..I know our decision was a sensible one. however I adore babies and do not feel right without another, its a feeling I think will never go but I do know I am very lucky to have so many without having any problems.

  13. I know I am late to the party, but this post is so timely! I read through all the comments and discussion, which is great. My husband and I have 3 kids. The first one was planned, but the second and third were both (welcome) surprises. We had 3 kids in 4 years, which was intense. After that, we decided to wait. We were (And still are) living overseas, with no family around to help out. Now that our youngest is almost 5, I find myself wanting another baby. I can’t bring myself to give away baby clothes or gear, or even toys!

    Our family seems great right now, with 3 kids ages 4, 6, and 8. At the same time, part of me wonders if it just seems that way because I never made a conscious decision to add another child to the family. It just happened. Does that make sense?

    The main concern holding me back is – is 5-6 years between the 3rd and 4th kid too much time? Would my 4th kid ever bond with his/her siblings? Does anyone else have a large gap between siblings?

    1. My 3rd and 4th (both boys) are 4.5 years apart. They’ve actually played together a lot until very recently. They’re now almost 13, and 8-and my older one is losing interest in legos. It helps that they’re both boys. I think if they were different genders they might have stopped playing together before. I figure each stage is so different. How my house will be when my youngest is in middle school will be very different than when my oldest was-and we had a full house. But I imagine us doing more traveling at that point with him.

  14. It has been so interesting reading this post and the comments, as well as the baby fever post! Both my husband and I came from families with four kids, and thought that was what we wanted. After our third came, we felt like we were drowning for almost a full year, and at that point had a crisis moment – did we really want more? But I felt like I wasn’t done, and we decided to try for number four. He was the first one we actually tried for, after having an IUD removed, and I had two miscarriages before he was born. And after he was born, I knew again I wasn’t done! My compassionate husband has let me take the lead since I work part-time, and am the one who has to bear the children. I felt we should have two more, and my husband came around. After #6, we were both definitely “done,” but like others have said, I still experienced baby fever. Then we had an unplanned pregnancy, which ended in an early miscarriage. We were both surprised by how heartbroken we were over the unplanned loss. In the rush of hormones, I wavered about being done and we decided to try for just one more – and I am now 26 weeks pregnant with #7. My oldest is 14, and #6 will be 2.5 when the baby arrives. I have had thyroid issues during and after each pregnancy, and this one has felt particularly hard for me, physically and emotionally. I don’t know if it was the hasty decision, or my age (35), or the thyroid problems. Having been awed after meeting each of my other kids, I know this one will inspire love and amazement like the others. I will note- all my kids have been good sleepers and although I have some strong willed children, none have had behavioral or developmental issues, which I know has made it easier each time to say “yes,” to more. Finally, I am feeling like I am at the end of my ability to give enough to be the mom I want to be, so even though I know the baby fever may not go away, we plan to make the end permanent this time.

  15. What wonderful and insightful thoughts!
    My dad comes from a family with 6 children and my mom Is one of 10 children so growing up I had tons of family and cousins around. This has made me long for a large family to give my children the wonderful experience I had. However my husband (who has 3 siblings) would prefer to have 3 kids.
    We currently have 2 kids, a girl who just turned 1 and a boy who turn 3 in April, and they are both so high energy and demanding that I really wanted to space our 3rd + out more. However we found out that we will unexpectedly be having our third in October.
    Oh how I am struggling to wrap my head around giving birth and the first year with a new baby. I am so happy to have been able to conceive and I most definitely want more children but it all just seems overwhelming.
    Also it makes spacing a fourth child out a bit would be mean to that child. But I know that I don’t want just three!

  16. Number one was a very difficult baby and so we waited but knew we didn’t want him to be an only child. 3 years apart Number two was a piece of cake but my husband was fighting for tenure and I was alone with two very busy boys. Then I lost a baby due to an accident but quickly got pregnant again so almost 5 years between 2-3. He was born with a major heart condition. (he is doing great now) My husband was terrified to have another, but we thought we would try one more time for a girl. We were blessed with our girl 4 years later. She was born premature and I had my tubes tied. We were done until around her first birthday when my husband came to me and said someone was missing. After much prayer we pursued international adoption and brought home a daughter from China who was 3 month younger than our youngest. In China we knew we would go back because #5 needes a sibling who was adopted like her and who looked like her and because there are so many orphans in the world. #6 a girl is 2 1/2 years younger than #5. We never set out to have #6 kids it just kind of happened. If you would have told me at #1 I would have 6 kids I would have told you that is crazy. We are done though now! No one is missing! Our hands are full and blessed. So today I have an 18 year old, 15 year old, 10 year old, a soon to be 6 year old a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old.

  17. Jessie Scanlon

    This is such a great discussion. My sister has some intellectual disabilities and has never felt like a real peer to me. As a result, I’ve often been envious of other people’s happy, close sibling relationships — and didn’t want to deprive my child of the possibility of experiencing that by only having one. (Though to be clear, I completely see the advantages of the one and done approach.) My husband was the oldest of six and his mother was often single. So he already felt like he’d changed too many diapers before we were even married, though he was willing to have one child. I hoped he’d change his mind, but he was adamant. One was enough. Then when my oldest was two and a half, I got pregnant by accident. When I realized I broke down and cried, worried that my husband would be angry with me or think I had done it on purpose. I felt that for the sake of our marriage I had to offer to terminate the pregnancy. (I hope this doesn’t offend anyone here. While I am pro-choice, this was an incredibly sad and difficult offer to make.) Luckily, my husband recognized that, for the sake of our marriage, it was the wrong decision. I now have the joy of watching my children play together and take care of each other. And my husband has a son to play basketball with.

  18. Such an interesting discussion, thank you for starting it. I’d imagined a houseful of babies but I have only my two beauties who are now teens. My husband is happy with 2 but I have always wanted more. I come from a big Irish family of 8. You mention ‘mourning’ and it took me a decade to permit myself to mourn that I couldn’t welcome anymore children via my body and forgive myself for that. My second baby arrived in such a harrowing way that ended my chances of carrying any more; however, I didn’t know that at the time. I tried for another 10 years to have our third baby, a girl I’d already named in my imagination, only to learn the second baby’s delivery was too damaging to my body and I wouldn’t be able to have any more. We would be delighted to welcome a child through adoption but we can’t afford to go through the process plus we are both working full-time which unfortunately is required at this time. My dream now is to welcome foster teens into my home. There is a need for parents to foster local LGBTQ youth and I am so ready to become a mama to those children and teens. So when our oldest leaves for college in 18 months we will begin that new chapter as foster parents which makes my heart happy.

  19. My husband is the middle child of 3 and always wanted 3 kids. I’m an only and wanted 2. He’s a stereotypical middle child so I always secretly thought I didn’t need another middle child in my house!
    Baby #1 was easy to conceive; she’s 8 now. But baby #2 was hard. After much time at the fertility doctor, I finally got pregnant. With twins! So much for my plan! So they’re 21 months old, and only time will tell if the “middle child” stereotypes hold true with a twin. Adjusting my vision of the perfect little family of 4 was hard, and it still feels on many days like the world is built for families of 4, but my girls are incredible and of course I can’t imagine life without them. If I could go back in time and tell my 30 year old self that my vision of 2 kids three years apart would turn into 3 kids with a 5.5 year gap and a 47 minute gap, I can’t even imagine how she would react!

  20. Dealing with this question as I am waiting for my 2nd to be born in the next few weeks (the first will be about 20 months old). My husband wants to keep the door open for 3, while I would love to be done being pregnant forevermore! I am fortunate that it has been an uneventful pregnancy but it is just not pleasant for me.

    Our first was a fairly easy baby and we adore her but I just feel like 3 kids is a lot for us…waiting until the two are a little bit older/in school before trying again would make things easier but then I’d be older and it would just postpone the day when I can hang up the maternity clothes for good. I have never had “baby fever” so I don’t think that will be an issue for me!

  21. Oh, this is such a complicated and emotional topic!

    I’m from a big family and I always knew I wanted kids (a lot of kids ;-)). My partner is an only child, had a miserable childhood and thought for a long time that he doesn’t want kids at all. Then we met and had child 1 pretty soon. Child 1 was an extremely demanding baby – cried a lot and didn’t sleep. I was so exhausted and sometimes thought that I would never dare to try to have another one.

    Only when child 1 was two I started to be ready for a new baby. Child 2 was the easiest baby ever – happy, content and a super good sleeper. Alas, I wanted more, but my partner said that he’s done. I was really heartbroken and the baby-issue among others lead to a serious crisis in our marriage. It took a few years, but we sought counseling and were able to build your relationship anew.

    Despite that, to me, our family still didn’t feel complete. Probably because our marriage was now strong and thriving, my husband agreed to one more child. Child 3 has been such a blessing! This child has brought so much good to our family and changed the family dynamics in a very positive way. We all feel so lucky and grateful.

    But now we are done. If our life setting would be different (meaning, if we were not expats and had less demanding jobs than we do) I would definitely try to discuss with my husband the option of a fourth child, but as our life is as it is, I’m ok with having “only” three three children and enjoying what we have.

  22. Our daughter was one when I was finally ready to think about a second – we started casually ‘not trying but not preventing it’, expecting it to take a while. It was around 5 months when I fell pregnant the second time, and it resulted in an ectopic pregnancy that burst my left tube and nearly killed me.
    We continued trying right away (sometimes you can have luck after a loss) and fell pregnant again – again, another ectopic pregnancy.
    Eventually we started trying again, and that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

    After a number more years of trying and not getting pregnant again, I was told that at age 33, I am entering early menopause. Instead of grieving what we don’t have (we desperately wanted a sibling for our daughter) we’ve chosen to focus on the blessing we do have – many families try for years and never succeed in a healthy baby. The three of us are a team and we are closer to our daughter than I feel like we could ever be if we had more kids.

    Best of luck to those struggling with a decision or feeling somehow unfulfilled – it’s a journey to get to a place where you’re happy with what you have. X.

  23. My only child just turned 18 months last week. I’m gay so my wife and I have the added variable of deciding who will carry a second child. After a c section and post partum depression, I’m just barely feeling sane and remotely like myself again. My wife, who did not physically have to recover from pregnancy, is gung ho about trying for #2 pretty soon but I’m scared. We’re a tidy little family of three at the moment (with a toddler who sleeps through the night, finally!) and I’m reticent to give that up. It doesn’t help that I have a single sibling while my spouse came from a family of four; our definitions of normal were pretty disparate to begin with.

  24. Had a boy and a girl, 3 years apart…a millionaire’s family. “Who needs any more?” they all said. Six years later we started again and had two more boys, again 3 years apart. I KNEW with the last one I was DONE. Didn’t want to be pregnant again, certainly didn’t want labor again, didn’t want to get up in the night ever again, etc.

    So very happy that I knew so clearly that the final one was the end. Never had a moment’s doubt!

  25. I always wanted a big family, like 5 or 6 kids. My husband and I were in agreement on this. We have an almost three year old daughter and she’s amazing, but I don’t think i can bear having anymore physically or mentally because my husband basically left me hanging during the hardest times of caring for a baby. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a provider and he’s there but when it came to helping out during the late nights, helping grocery shop and running other errands, and doing chores around the house, he was MIA. I cannot possible do all that I do as a working mom with a second child. He wants another solely because he wants a boy and that’s not a good enough reason. He also wants me to nurse again. And he promises that he will do better this time around, but he promised that with our first and the promise was not met. I would love more kids, but I think I’d either have a nervous breakdown because of the stress and/or just be totally resentful to him if he doesn’t keep his word. It’s a big risk to take.

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  28. My husband and I have 3.5 year old twin girls. It has been so lovely but also extremely challenging for me, especially since I am not near family and husband works 12 hour days. I do not want any more children, but he does. This came up the other night and we haven’t talked since. I don’t know why he doesn’t understand me. Good for you having all those babies. I wish I could do that.

  29. I’m currently struggling with this as well. I am 12 years younger than my husband and we have a blended family. We have one child together (2) and he has 3 older (12,10,6) I am desperately wanting one more but I know he doesn’t so I haven’t brought it up. Everyone around me is pregnant and it’s making me sadder and sadder by the day. I’m only 31 and want 1 more. I don’t know what to do.

  30. I am so lost with this problem at the moment also. I was a teen mom (15) and met my now husband at (16). We didnt really know what we were going to do with our lives yet so more children didnt get discused untill i was ready to have our second at (19). But when i brought up that i wanted a third…he is dead against it. He came up with a multitude of fixable reasons before just saying “i just dont want anymore”. Im heartbroken. Its all i think about everyday, i cry silently at night, burst into tears randomly whenever i start to think about it. I can feel the saddness in every bone of my body. But i cannot bring a child into this world unwanted. I need his support. So what am i to do? I feel like im in limbo

  31. I’m currently struggling with wanting more, ours are 19, 17 and 13. And not only are we preparing to become first time grandparents, starting all over from scratch is a little scary as well. My husband is 100% not on board and we argue about almost daily, but I’ve have this nagging and need for another baby going on 3 years now. I’ve tried everything I could think of to get rid of this need to start over, I thought I was done. I wanted 3, I got my 3. I was happy, then BOOM.

    My daughter is due in October and my husband keeps saying, “well there you go, you’ll have your baby”. But that will not be my baby that will be her baby, he only ever wanted 2 and I had to talk him into the 3rd. There is no way I’ll be able to talk him into a 4th. And truth be told he’s the worst husband ever for a pregnant wife, another reason not to get pregnant. But I still do :(

  32. Me and my husband currently have 2 children as of now and am or was in the process of trying for another one. My husband was set on 3 at first and then it slowly became 2 and then was like maybe we only need one. Which i on the other hand came from a big family and want a big family of my own. My 2 amazing daughters are exactly 5 years apart and are the most outgoing, when I decided i was ready and he said he was too he slowly started to hesitate at the thought of trying. Why? not sure but the thought of him backing down from what was decided crushed my heart in pieces. We are trying as of now but i don’t feel at this time that I’m pregnant i mean a mom knows when she is or isn’t. So i asked him if I’m not pregnant this time around are we going to continue to try or what is your plan after. He tells me “IDK we will see what happens.” I don’t know if that’s a sign that he doesn’t want anymore or if I’m over thinking it. I don’t want to push him but my heart can’t take a ” No more children” decision from him. Any suggestions on conversations i can approach him with??? Ladies and/or Daddies i need your help.

  33. My Significant other doesnt want more but i do. I cant even trully enjoy sex and its not on purpose i am flooded with thoughts of our pregnancy planning days and baby arrival awaiting anticipations. I have no clue what to do or say because he avoids the topic or has many excuses. I feel alone in the matter and cant talk to anyone about it seriously including him. Its been a more sad and sadder few years. My youngest is going on 7. Please give me advice.

  34. I’m late to the discussion, but specifically looked for this topic. Thank you for writing this to help those of us out there on this!

    We have one beautiful 2.5 year old daughter. When we were dating, we both said 2 (I compromised down from 3). Fast forward to the present…She was not an easy baby, my husband & I love to travel, we both work full-time, he’s 50 and I’m 43 (but very healthy, so feel good if I were to get pregnant again), so lots of reasons to stay with just one as things are finally fun again. But, I think we should give her a sibling. It’s not about us as much as it about her. And we’d have to do it now or never.

    He now says he never said 2…he said up to 2. As an attorney, I know those were not his words…I interpret words for a living. But, he’s happy where we’re at and feeling too old to uproot our family to add a new creature to the mix, only to start all over again. I’m struggling on how hard to push it since I agree things are finally good for all of us.

    But, it’s the new year, it’s a discussion to broach sooner instead of later, so on my mind to happen.

  35. Thank you so much! I have five girls myself, for over a year now I’ve been wanting another baby so badly. Like you I wont ever do something with out my sweet heart being 100% on board. Our girls are 8,6,5,3 and almost 2. I’m 28 and all our girls are at most 26 months apart. I’m so sad to think that I wont have another baby.

  36. My husband was the oldest of 6, and helped with a lot of childcare. His mother was 17 when she had him, and a single mom for most of her parenting life. So my husband said he only wanted one child. I really wanted two, in part because we are on the older side, and my daughter (our first) doesn’t have any cousins close in age. And in part because my sister is mentally disabled and I always idealized a more typical sibling relationship and wanted that for her. When she was almost 2.5 years old, I had an accidental pregnancy. Not wanting to jeopardize my marriage, I offered to terminate the pregnancy. It was such a painful and sad offer. But my husband recognized that doing so wouldn’t have been the right thing for our relationship. Our son was born almost three years to the day after our daughter and we are now a happy family of four.

  37. I was married at 32 and immediately tried to get pregnant. When I was unable to conceive I had blood tests for fertility and was told that I had an FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) of 54 and would not be able to have children. Even though the doctors knew that I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis since age 25, no one bothered to check my thyroid levels. my TSH was measured at .001. My Synthroid dosage was lowered. a friend advise me to contact a spiritualist who help with fertility with his medicine, i collected his contact and explain my situation to him he prepared for me a herbal medicine which i took as describe by him. became pregnant very quickly, I had a successful pregnancy. I have my baby august 2017. to get pregnant at age 35 with my 2nd child in september 2019, thank you sir , this is his email contact if you require his help babaka.wolf@gmail.com or Facebook at priest.babaka

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