Q&A: Having a third baby?

Krissy writes:

"For over a year – OVER A YEAR – I’ve been in the middle of a baby-crazed bout of indecision.  I didn’t think I wanted a third child.  Two was always the plan.  Then suddenly, a girlfriend and I have dinner and she spends an hour convincing me that I SHOULD want a 3rd (likely because she is having a 3rd) and then suddenly all I’ve thought about for a year and one-half is having a third baby.

Biologically, my body is craving a third baby.  But do I really really WANT one?

Here’s how this plays out: I see a pregnant woman and become consumed with envy.  Then I see a mother of a newborn and feel so GLAD that I am not her.  Then I see a family with 3 older children at the beach and my craving for another becomes utterly intense.  And
when one of my children do something wonderful—be it small (saying
“thank you, mommy”) after dinner, or big (sleep for 12 uninterrupted
hours, wahoo!) I WANT ANOTHER.

But
when my almost-3-year-old is throwing one of his epic fits, or my 5.5
year-old has trouble with a friend, I think “how could I possibly DO
this again?  All over again.  I can't!”  And I don’t think I can.

My
husband needed some convincing, but now he's in the "if it's something
you want, let's do it!  I'm on board."  But realistically, he'd be a-ok
with 2 children instead of 3.  So here we are not trying but we’re not NOT trying.  So every month I feel both relieved and disappointed when I get my period.  If I want another baby I’m at the age where I need to hurry up and do it.

Can I handle a 3rd—diapers, and drool, and bottles, and leaky breasts and all?  But can I imagine my Thanksgiving table WITHOUT a third? I’m consumed with doubt, indecision, and a little bit of panic.  Advice?  My window's about to close, here."

Well, don't panic. Here's what I see here:

1. Your girlfriend was having some sort of pregnancy-induced temporary unsolicited advice syndrome by trying to convince you to have a third kid. Seriously. Why would she do that? (Answer: hormones and fear of being alone.) I get that she wanted company, but now you're in a tailspin and you would have been fine had she not brought it up.

2. Now that the horse is out of the corral, you have to separate out what you really want. It seems pretty clear to me form this email that you don't really want another baby, and you really super don't want a toddler (I get that, for sure). But you might want another child.

3. Are you willing to do the baby and toddler and preschooler stuff again for the joy of having another child? That's what this boils down to. If it's going to break you (or even just make you more uncomfortable than you want to be) or stress your relationship for a few years, is it worth it? I would not look at the moms of three little kids, because you know that's temporary. I'd look at the people with a 16-year-old, a 14-year-old, and a 10-year-old: is THAT what you want?

Readers? If you did it, how do you feel about it? If you didn't do it, how do you feel about it?

89 thoughts on “Q&A: Having a third baby?”

  1. Great way of breaking this issue down in to key questions, Moxie.Krissy, I was in the same boat for a long time. I’m now 6 mos. pregnant with #3, and it took well over a year of indecision to get here. My husband felt the same as yours — happy w/ 2, but once I convinced him, excited for a third. Then I was the one dragging my heels, because the thought of going back to the difficulties of an infant was so daunting. I spaced my two older kids almost 4 years apart because I really found infancy tough, and I wanted only one child in diapers/crib at a time. So I tried to talk myself out of this longing, but I couldn’t let go of the idea of a third child — not just a baby or toddler, but a person in our family forever. I would see parents with 2 middle-schoolers or 2 teenagers and think, where’s the third? It looked incomplete to me. I mean no disrespect at all for parents w/ 2 kids (or fewer), but it was this kind of slightly warped thinking that made me realize I would regret it if we didn’t at least try for a third kid. That recognition was convincing, enough to wade through the sea of diapers and sleepless nights and tantrums that I had (mostly) left behind with my other kids, age 7 and almost 4. Luckily, once I decided to take the plunge, I got pregnant quickly (at age 38, so not a given at all). Now during those bouts of pregnancy insomnia I alternate between being really excited and terrified about the financial strain and time strain this kiddo will put on our family. (Both DH and I work full time and live in an area with extremely high daycare costs, and no family nearby to help.) But despite the anxieties (well-founded at that), I still know in my heart I want this child for the long run, even though the short run will be tough. Good luck with your decision!

  2. I wanted three, and had three. But I didn’t realize how much MORE three kids are than two. I’m definitely happy and now I KNOW we’re done. But three isn’t just a big family Thanksgiving. It is crazy chaos pretty much all the time. Which is fun! But I didn’t really imagine the full extent.Also: my three are 8.5, 6 and 3. I am just starting to come out of the baby/toddler combat zone years. I am lucky to have both financial resources and family near by to help. I found three kids is a LOT of work/stress. If I didn’t have money for babysitters & preschool? And a mom and mother in law in town to help? I don’t know. It would have been a BIG strain, mentally and emotionally.

  3. I am in a very similar place right now minus the friend trying to convince me I need a third. My son is almost 3 and my daughter is almost a year old. I think I want another baby (not like right this second but in a few years). My husband wants another too. The problem is I work full time so I don’t know how a third would impact my career….I don’t even know if I want my career anymore but that is another discussion. The other issues involve money and space (our house only has 3 bedrooms and we.are.not.moving).But all of those things aside I see people with three kids and it makes my heart ache. I do the same pregnancy envy thing that the OP does. I don’t even mind the idea of up all night with a newborn (likely because we’re still kind of in that phase so it doesn’t seem different).
    I worry about the implications of me leaving my job because it seems like with three I would have to. I worry about the impacts to my friendships. We have a few friends with one or zero kids and my having a second so soon after my first baffled them. Most of them think more than two children is crazy so they would likely shake their head and slowly stop calling me.
    I never worried about any of this when we jumped from 1 to 2 kids. It’s frustrating and kind of exhausting. Krissy, I hope this all works out for you either way. I basically just wrote a book of a post to tell you I’m in a very similar situation.

  4. I had an accidental 3rd and love her to pieces but a 3rd baby/toddler/preschool years have been really tough. And another thing to think about is how our world is really set up for two adults and two kids. You’ll probably have to buy a new car or at least narrower carseats. Any air travel is going to cost significantly more and be way more logistically difficult. Staying in hotels? Often they cap regular rooms at 4 people and you have to spring for a suite. Then you look at basic organizational stuff – 3 school folders home, 3 kids to get to crack down on homework, 3 concerts to attend. It is all something where I adore my 3rd kid AND I recognize that my life would be significantly easier with just 2. I often hear people with many kids talking about how the difficulty increases exponentially until 3 kids then sort of levels off (more kids = more helpers/more friends for each other/etc). But yeah, the exponential increase has been true for me. And I am really laid back and was really not finding 2 kids to be difficult at all. The logistics of 3 threw me for a loop.That said, watching them be friends and negotiate relationships and politeness and such has been amazing. I think it was nurtureshock that said that 2 kids don’t get the social benefits of siblings because they can just ignore each other. with 3, they actually have to actively work on social relationships and alliances and such. I am super lucky in that my kids really love each other, so watching their arguments/frustrations never (yet) feels soul-sucking. But I fully accept that was luck – I know my mom raised us the same way and I couldn’t stand my sister until I turned 18. So I don’t know if that (admittedly huge for me) benefit would be worth purposely having a 3rd kid.
    Sorry for the rambling and let me know if you need me to clarify anything. I just think sometimes parents of 3+ tend to gloss over the logistical difficulties for the fun-big-family picture. And it’s not easy.

  5. Did it, and ended up with twins on the third go. So that’s in the mix.We always planned on three, though. So it wasn’t a matter of overcoming and changing plans, it was always in the plan. And then we had twins, which was NOT in the plan.
    I am not a fan of the baby phase, but I do like toddlers even though they stress me out and max my skills out daily. I am GLAD that I will never have to do it again. YAY! I’m also glad I have the additional kids, even with the bonus child unexpected.
    You don’t know what it will look like, in the short term or long term. It is a gamble, which is another reason for going see-saw on wanting/not wanting. You don’t know who you’ll get. Our timing check was ‘when the fear doesn’t stop you anymore, you’re ready enough’. But that’s not the right check for everyone.
    My read is like Moxie’s – you see the FAMILY and you realize that you do want that, you just don’t want the suck in between. A four year gap between the youngest (current) and the future is actually not a bad gap – fours can be pretty cool with a baby, and the instant-adore thing from the baby to the older kids is useful for counterbalancing that sense that kids are getting less of you out of it. (Tip: if you do go for it, read Siblings Without Rivalry and apply it to the not-yet-arrived child as well. When the eldest would make a lot of noise, I’d get kicked like crazy, and could have said ‘baby doesn’t like it when you make noise’ but instead said ‘baby gets really excited when you make noise – a bit uncomfortable for me, but baby clearly can hear you, isn’t that cool?’ – that seems to have helped set up the ‘baby will love me’ expectation, and then we could balance that with ‘baby is sometimes a pain in the butt’ for sanity check.)
    The odds of having twins goes up with age, so there’s that in there, too. I’d already miscarried twins once, so I should have been more mentally ready for the idea, but no.
    We’re currently just past the 14-yr-old plus 10-yr-old plus two 7-year-olds. That was not a ton of fun, phase-wise, but by now we’re better at rolling with it. 15, 11, and two 8’s is looking interesting in new ways. I like 15 a lot so far. 11 is always good (out of two experiences). And 8, sliding into better than 7.
    For us, totally worth it. My heart ends up overfull with love. The one-more-than-planned ended up being a wealth of love and family. There are downsides, we’re living with those. Resources are thinner, time is a scramble, and nobody’s needs always get met on time. There’s always someone yelling at someone else for overstepping someone’s space or needs, and there’s always someone helping someone else or being kind or heads-together over a mutual task or game. Every 20 minutes the family looks different, like a kaleidoscope always in motion. Complexity increases with the number of kids, but it’s beautiful and I love it.
    Last thing I’ll leave you with is my mom’s commentary (which I’ve repeated often here). My mom had 7 kids (most of them unintended, as she is hyperfertile). People have often asked her two things: Are you sorry you had so many, and would you do it again if you could go back and do it over?
    When we were all in the hip-to-ankle biter ages, the answer was No, I’m not sorry, but No, I don’t think I’d do it again if I could start over. When we were all crossing through the teens in series, the answer was YES, I’m sorry I did it, and NO WAY would I do it again, ever ever ever. And then as the last of us crossed into adulthood, and she had the family of adults to adults, her answer changed again. No, not sorry at all. And yes, would do the entire thing again, in a hot second, from the worst moment (holding her firstborn in her arms as he died when he was three) the hair tearing phases, every crisis of indecision and hoping-I’m-doing-it-right-enough, all of it, absolutely worth it. Even though the adult relationships are not all joy (one is very rocky, one is off-and-on, some have had long spans of frustration), the longest and most satisfying part of it is the adult-to-adult relationship, and that, she says, is completely worth the whole trip.
    I’m not there yet – my kids aren’t adults. But I can see it coming, and I like what I see. Even the ‘I am not IN your life, but touch down in it at times’ aspect of having adult kids, while a different kind of life, is pretty cool to anticipate. I love the relationships my kids have to one-another, the complexity of their dynamics, the way they become a unit at need, their own little tribe. Love it beyond anything I thought possible.
    And there are still no guarantees. Teaching skills for handling relationships, navigating conflicts, and expressing affection to each other won’t make them click as adults. Looking at my own family, I have siblings I’m close to, and siblings I’m not close to, even though I love them. The dynamics are not guaranteed, and life is messy. It’s a hope, and a leap into the unknown, no matter which way you go. In the end, I think Moxie is right – which family do you see being the most satisfying 20 years from now? The one where you held steady and preserved resources to support and grow the two you have already? It’s a fine thing to be able to afford to feed the goals and dreams of the two already here to greater degree than if you stretched it further. Or do you want the greater complexity and the additional kid at the table that the additional child adds, even if that complexity means more thin spots and trade-offs?
    For my mom, also, there were more kids in her soul than she had in her life. We have added another as an adolescent, a made-family fribling who is so embedded in our lives that she’s in the will equally, and her son has a college fund like my kids do. So if you decide to hold steady at 2, that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself later with another person at the table, adding to the joy. If the baby and toddler years are too much to contemplate, or would sink you or your marriage, then leaving that space open for others to land safely in your family is always another possibility. My sister-by-choice has done the same herself, and now has a foster teen, a gem added this year to our family (he may pass through and move on, or he may stay, we don’t know – but adding him to the table on Christmas morning was just one more bit of merry chaos and joy). There isn’t only one path.
    And that probably doesn’t help as much as you’d like, because it sounds like you’re asking for certainty. I hope my experience helps a little, though.

  6. Personally, I am totally through with two. But I’m 44 and hubby’s 57, so there’s that. My personal feelings would color any advice I could possibly give, so I won’t offer any.But this brings to mind a conversation I had years back with an acquaintance who was considering a 4th child. She and her husband asked themselves 2 questions: (1) Would we ever regret having this child? (answer: no) (2) Would we ever regret NOT having this child? (answer: yes)
    If these questions seem appropriate for the OP, they might be worth asking…and might help clarify things.

  7. I have two, and I am so so so satisfied with that. Financially, it would be way too much. Emotionally, I think I would be a wreck. Changing diapers again after being without them for almost two year – no way. Going back to newborn zombieland – no thank you. I feel like I am struggling to give enough of my time to the two kids I already have and there’s no way I want to throw another one into the mix.I never saw my family as anything other than two parents, two kids, though. I’ve had a bit of baby fever from time to time, but I never wanted another kid.
    Good luck!!

  8. To echo what Tine just wrote about those two questions I talked to my mom about having a third last night. She had me and my brother and she dropped the bomb on me last night that she regrets not having a third. She said she would have never regretted having a third but she still revisits the regret she feels having NOT had a third from time to time. I think asking yourself those two questions is important.

  9. I’ll add that a lot of people don’t SAY they regret having a 3rd because they love the kid and that would be soul-crushing to hear your parents had said. I don’t think it’s that uncommon to wish your life was as much easier as it was down one kid, though. Is that regret? I don’t know. I do know I’d have been happy if we’d have stopped at 2 and never would have known the 3rd and so would not have known to regret her. I love her because she’s here but I don’t think that’s the same thing as knowing I wouldn’t have wanted a 3rd if I’d been planning successfully. Obviously this isn’t stuff that gets talked about much, but I think people understandably tend to err on the side of love and inclusiveness of all their kids rather than being truly honest about the reality.

  10. Um, can you come talk to my cadre of friends and aquaintences who are pregnant with the third? They all ask me the same question, but then give up the secret that number 3 is mostly a surprise event. Then they let on that this is not going to be easy. Maybe they can convince you against your friend’s romantic notions, if you need it?If I am surprised by a third, I’d have it. But not by choosing to get pregnant like before.
    My friends all love their third children, but they let on that they really have bitten off more than they wanted to.

  11. two things people told me:you never regret having another child, but may regret NOT having another.
    most people have one more child than they can actually manage.
    we have four. thought we were set on three, then very very very close friends got pregnant with their fourth and i came home to my husband and told him the very next day i was getting my IUD out 🙂 had a miscarriage and that cemented the want for a fourth even more. now we are DONE with three boys and a little princess.
    our age gaps: 26 months, 3 years and 3.75 years…so right now my oldest is 9 and the baby is 7 months.
    good luck!!!

  12. Once in a while I think about having another and am jealous of people who are pregnant, but most of them are having their first or second. I have had easy pregnancies and deliveries but hated all of it. I had two terrible sleepers and bad nursers but powered through. Whenever I think about another (and I love snuggling little babies), I remember how miserable I was last year at this time with my now 18 month old. Nursing and pumping are two things I never want to have to do again so there’s my decision. Also, the thought of having twins is enough to scare me off. Ultimately, what I also realized, is that I kind of want a do-over because #2 has been particularly challenging in every possible way and I feel like I didn’t really get the newborn and infant experience I had with #1. But, I’m not having another just for that. Not fair to #3 or or the other two. Plus, #2 freaks when I hug #1-can you imagine what she’d do if I had a baby attached to me 24/7? She is not cut out to be a middle child. Deciding to have her was a very difficult decision as I was perfectly content with 1. I don’t regret having her but OMG she is certainly payback for how easy #1 was/is.

  13. We had a third, on the same decision model, only I also hate being pregnant. But we decided having a third child was worth the lost baby years. As it turns out, number 3 was a dream baby who slept through the night immediately.1) it gets to he more fun faster. Maybe by the time the youngest is 3 you can sweep them up in the way of things.
    2) no denying, at 4,7,8, this is just more fun than 2 would be. They are an awesome pack.
    3) but the money is no joke. Babies are cheap, but kids are not. And there’s no economy of scale for college. It’s times 3. Also most of our friends have 2, so we have to make more money to have the same lifestyle or hang more with our friends who have less disposable income.
    4) I like that they are not polarized. No smart one/ pretty one.
    Really it is less of a difficult shift than most people think and way, way more fun, but the money gets to be kind of a wallop a few years in.

  14. The decision was made for us early this fall: surprise pregnancy with number 3. I grieved HARD for a few weeks, the loss of the light at the end of my tunnel with having made it nearly all the way through the 2nd year with #2. I was getting more sleep, she’d weaned and potty trained over the summer…Then BOOM! I felt like my body had betrayed us and ruined our lives.
    Well, my husband had to sit on his hands and bite his tongue to keep from jumping up and down in a victory dance. Turns out, he didn’t even realize how much he wanted another child. That excitement is tempered by his recognition of how much it takes out of me to gestate, deliver, and nurse an infant. The first year is really ugly around here.
    I still do not feel connected to this child (my second-born is everything I’ve ever hoped a child would be, and I felt so complete when she was born), and I worry that I never will be. I worry that I’ll pop out another super high needs, high strung, intense screamer of a baby that #1 was. I worry that adding another personality to the mix will entirely change the dynamic of the other two, which is SO great.
    And of course I worry about all the WORK and sleep deprivation, and how will I homeschool with a newborn attached to me. And will our car (that we bought less than a month before I found out I was pregnant) fit three carseats across?!
    But when I think about the humanity of the person we are bringing into the world, all that vanishes. What will this little soul look like? Who will he or she act more like?
    I’m giving birth to a PERSON, not a burden.
    Then I feel better. 🙂

  15. Can I just say that reading the comments on this site always make me feel better? I’m in the middle of this decision-making process, but with number 2, and I tend to feel like I’m selfish for dreading pregnancy and the first year…like I’m not a real mom if I feel that way. I realize that many people feel the same, and that you do it because you take the longer view. Not sure I’m there yet, decision-wise, but I am relieved in any event. Thank you.

  16. My husband always said he wanted to stop with two, that he couldn’t see adding more people than he’s taking out. I was always open to more but not fussed about it. We decided, you know, if we want more after two, the state will give you a kid for free and there’s plenty that need homes. Seems like a good plan in theory, but Murphy’s Law being what it is, our second will probably be twins.

  17. I see your 1 year and raise you 1 year. Because that’s about how long it took me to decide no to trying for a 3rd.I have had easy pregnancies, though at this point a guaranteed C-section would loom at the end. I love nursing, newborns don’t scare me anymore, the works. I find 3-4 year olds insanely hard, however.
    But it was more family dynamics that tipped the scales for me. My husband desperately wanted more. (Also in the religious community I am a part of, 2 kids is relatively infrequent. Not unheard of, but 3-5+ is way more common.) My husband also works a LOT of hours and has, in the past 5 years, struggled with anxiety and depression related to his job. Things are much brighter on that front now, but the prospect of being 95+% responsible for 3 human beings (not financially, but the day-to-day drudgery) was extremely overwhelming — plus I just did not want to be 39-40 with a new baby. I absolutely remember that having a kid under 3 is SO PHYSICALLY TAXING. I finally got to a place where I could sleep through the night and I find it much harder to function now when it’s interrupted.
    Our older child has some social deficits that take time and energy to deal with; the idea of adding a baby on top of that was a lot.
    On a purely selfish (although not quite) note, in the past 12 months, pretty much once I decided definitively, I have finally found great part-time work. I feel like I am contributing financially to the family for the first time since having kids (not counting the inherent savings for child care that you get with a SAH parent), but I am available to the kids for homework, chauffering, catering, etc. I don’t know that I would have had the headspace for a this kind of job if I also had a baby/toddler.
    I think I decided in my head long before I finally worked up the courage to tell my husband, who had grown so sick of my hemming and hawing he finally told me to just let him know when I decided. I also had the visions of “grown up holidays” and seeing how close adult siblings can be, though of course it’s not a guarantee.
    I honestly think the “you’ll never regret having another baby” thing is kind of bullshit. Loving another baby is one thing; regretting the upset to family dynamics, finances, career prospects, and more aren’t necessary flash-in-the-pan things. You CAN work around them, if you’re motivated to do so, but it may not be as “brief” or “easy” as 2-3 years of diapers et al.

  18. A note on carseats- the sunshine kids radian carseat is narrow and very highly rated. I have two for my two boys (4&2) front facing. We can fit an infant seat, booster seat OR a third radian in the Volvo with our two radians.So, new carseats would cost less than a new car. Just a thought.
    Finally, I am in the same boat of indecision with you. Thank you for posting this. Reading with interest…

  19. I hate people who say that once you have 2, what’s one more? Well, a lot–even though I love #3 (who is 10mo) as an individual, there isn’t a day my husband and I think, gosh, our lives would be so much easier if we just had the older 2 to deal with (even though one of them is 3.5 yo). Especially since #3 was hospitalized for a few weeks recently, there’s the continuous stress about his gaining weight (so I still wake up every 3 hours at night to breastfeed), and while he’s not a difficult baby, he’s probably cried more than the previous 2 did combined.Three is so much harder, make no mistake. I was looking forward to regaining some shred of my old life back–maybe a hobby, maybe some exercise? I cried like I cried when I found out I was pregnant all 3 times, but the last time was the worst. I totally agree that “you’ll never regret having another baby” is bullshit–heck, I totally regret having another baby, even though I love him and his laughter is the best sound ever. I admit that when he turns 5.5 yo, I may love the family I have at that point.
    Yes, #3 was totally an accident, the fastest labor, and the least complicated pregnancy.

  20. Two years ago I got married with a girl who already had 3 little children. She is 26 now (I’m 28) and we have another daughter and waiting for another baby (6 months left). The only thing I miss is that we will never have another one (the sixths), because that would be too problematic for her health. It is not much more difficult to take care of one more child when there are others. But only if that’s what you want to.

  21. Huh, on reading the comments I see I am a tiny minority not finding 3 logistically harder. I am not a person who minds “hacks,”though. Squishing into booths, socks for mittens if we forget, sharing if eacj family just gets 4 of something, that sort of thing, and there is probably more of that (or I would be more stressed out trying to avoid them). We also are pretty easily able to manage them, but they are spendy enough that we are kind of down a notch financially. Which is fine from where we are, but would be less so if things were thinner to start. Or maybe I wouldn’t notice as much. Who knows. But I have found it much easier than I thought., logistically. At this point we just have “kids.” 2 or 3, doesn’t make a difference.

  22. I am in EXACTLY the same boat for all of the same reasons. I want 3 kids (sometimes) but don’t want to go through the first 2 years or so to get there. I’m off to read the comments. Like you, I need to get on this FAST if its going to happen…at 38 with a history of infertility issues time is most definitely not on my side.

  23. Just glad I’m not the only 38 yr old pondering this issue…right now it’s financial for me and I hate the thought of not having a 3rd bc of $$$ but realistically it is a big stress to consider. Also I’ve had easy pregnancies after one really bad one that ended in miscarriage. No matter how well the other pregnancies went I know I stress when pregnant in fear of losing again. So I’m sorta procrastinating the decision but can’t for much longer.

  24. I guess a lot depends on your life now. I know of nobody who could keep working after #3 because childcare was just not feasible to afford for them. Then there are the logistics of how many schools they will be at. It adds up with school events, activities, and friendships. Many people with a larger family decide they have to limit each kid to one extracurricular if both parents work just so they can come close to coverage; and still there may be conflicts.I would go back to where you were before your pregnant friend tried to sign you up. And I would probably go back on birth control just so I could say I was making the decision, unless what you really want is for the decision to be made “for” you by “not not trying”. It’s okay if what you want is for the chips to fall. That is how some people do it. I just think you should weigh it against your husband being “A-OK with two” and willing to get on board if it’s what you want. I feel like that is very different from it being his idea as well. If it’s what you both want, you will
    FIND a way over the obstacles.
    Anecdotally, my mom had twins on #3 and she is not the only case I know of, either. Can you handle 4 kids if that’s how it goes? I realize that is not how most people approach a pregnancy and odds are it would be only one, but would 4 upset the apple cart?
    I did not go forward with #2 because I had DD late and had medical problems afterward, and the window closed for me. I’m fine with it but I do know what it’s like to envy the preggos and the new babies and the bigger families. I do feel that I reached a point where I could say this is the right size for our family. Only you know if you can do it all again or if you should, financially.

  25. Not true that everyone does not regret having a third. I imagine most don’t, but I’m the third in my family and was always aware that they regretted it (and also aware that if I had been the boy they wanted that would not have been true). So, that goes back to Tine’s questions.We stopped at two and we knew we were done as a matter of our own resources and comfort level. Our car is tiny and we would have had to get a new one. Someone would have ended up sharing a room and I know that’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but long term their need for privacy was important to me. So we stopped, and medically the decision was reaffirmed for me last summer anyway.

  26. I’m in a similar situation to Leah and Carla. #3 was accidental (I had even had a tubal ligation that obviously didn’t work) and came when #1 was almost 6 and #2 was 21 months. They are now 8.5, 4.5 and 3, and it’s chaos all the time. The first two years of #3’s life nearly broke me.In my experience, 3 is exponentially more than 2 in terms of logistics, relationships to nurture and navigate, strained resources. I have only known a couple of people with 3 kids who didn’t think going from 2 to 3 was by far the hardest transition. Having a third also derailed my career for even longer, and we’ll see if I can get it back someday.
    I worry about all the posters saying, “You’ll never regret having another child.” I don’t agree. I think Leah is spot on that no one wants to admit that they regret the third because, of course, you love that third child. My third child is the sweetest, mellowest of my 3, but it’s still a lot of work to have 3.

  27. I am also torn. I think the ‘you’ll never regret it’ must be some kind of biologically determined imperative, because of course you love the kid once he/she is born, etc.I think I might regret it either way. The investment of time and money, the lost career prospects, etc…. and I might also regret NOT having a third child, because I would kind of like another sweet (frustrating screamy infuriating) wonderful person in our family. But it took me a year to feel fully human again after #2, not coincidentally when I could finally leave his nursing little self with non-family.
    Since I am fortunate enough to be super-fertile and fairly young, I probably have another NINE years to decide too. Ack! Better than the alternative, but still.

  28. I really enjoyed the comments here. I’m in a totally different situation, having 3 stepsons and 5 adopted little ones. My stepsons were 11, 10, & 7 when we martied 9 years ago. Being a part-time parent is totally different and brings its own challenges & joys. A year ago my husband and I adopted a sibling group: 4 year old twins, 3 year old twins and a 2 year old. All 8 of my children are completely chosen parts of my life.I appreciate everyone’s comments on the difficulty of toddlerhood & the hope for the future!
    Good luck, mamas!

  29. My 3 kids are 8.5, 6.5, and 2, so I’ve got the split in ages she’s considering. When my first 2 were baby/toddler, it was HARD. We thought we wanted more kids, but the idea of 3 under school age made me want to cry. But they got older and I mostly pulled things together and #3 arrived when #2 was almost 4.5. And it has been awesome. He’s been the easiest of the kids by far, the older boys love him, the baby and toddler stage have been easier. I’m so, so glad he’s here. Now our question is when we’ll be ready for #4.

  30. What a great thread. My heart resonates with the idea that “you never regret having another child”, but I think this also overlooks the very real practical consequences that can occur. I have a 2 y.o. daughter, and I would truly love to have another. But I am also very aware of how *hard* having her has been on our life, our marriage. For whatever reason, we are just not that couple that skates through easily with a child. Not having any family close by doesn’t help.My husband has always been very clear that he would be happy with no kids, and got on board the “1 baby” train. He absolutely adores our daughter and is a wonderful dad, but he is DONE. I am not sure our marriage would survive a 2nd baby, and I think both our mental health states would suffer. So while I’m sure that I would love baby #2 totally and absolutely, I believe there would likely be some very real negative consequences and it seems selfish to push the issue with a full understanding of those.
    That doesn’t seem the case with the poster here, but I cannot be the only person who looks at it this way. I’m sad for not being able to give my kiddo a sibling, but it’s way better than risking not raising her in a happy and stable house.

  31. I have to say 3 isn’t harder in terms of diapers and food (I have 3 boys 8, 7 and 4), but in so many unexpected ways it is way harder.I don’t regret the third, but I have been at my wits end on almost a daily basis. Having 2 close together was never too hard. The two are best friends and I never found it much harder, maybe twice as difficult.
    With 3, its like 3 squared harder. It’s very expensive, there is way more sibling fighting, and you can no longer divide and conquer. You or your spouse will always have 2.
    Every family is different and every child is different. Enjoy your family, whether you have 2 or more!

  32. Son is 6.5, daughter is 3 and I had a real bout of baby fever awhile back. Took me awhile to realize that I need 2 years to recover from being pregnant/having a baby before i think I can handle another one. Once I figured that out, it put my baby fever in perspective. Son was almost 3 when I got preggers with my daughter and so when she was almost 3, I really freaked out. You sound a bit similar. FWIW, i am happy that we have only two….about 99.8 percent of the time. I have given away all the baby stuff, make jokes about the heir and the spare and was very happy not to be buying any baby gear or baby presents this season. I am done and it is A-okay. oh yeah- we also couldn;t afford more daycare, I’m 41, etc etc. But all that is crap if you reallllllllllllllly want that 3rd kid. We figured out that daughter would make a lousy middle child, I would make a lousy stressed out mom and really? Three kids? Nope. Not for us.

  33. I’m differently situated from most commenters, having 2 adult stepkids and a kindergartener. I wanted a second — I won’t say desperately because I *did* desperately want the first and went through pretty grueling infertility treatment to have him — but a bunch. But when the next 3 (after DS was born) treatment attempts didn’t work and I didn’t feel like I’d been run over by a train (as had always been true when they failed before he was conceived), I decided I was OK with being done (my DH was *way* ahead of me on that one).Anyway, I still wonder if I made the right choice, and now that DS is 5 sometimes wonder it that much more, because even if we have had more meltdowns around holiday time (sigh), 5 is *fun*. And knowing how much I enjoy my adult stepkids I expect this to get better and better (not without some backsliding). But truthfully? Are there lots more members of my extended family (including but not limited to the steps) I wish I were spending/could spend more time with? Why yes, there are. And given that, shouldn’t I maybe focus more of my energies on finding ways to spend time with them (which in my circumstances often means resources on travel and/or time off work, neither of which an additional child would facilitate). Why yes, I probably should. And thus is it that I have decided to embrace and enjoy the family size I have and try to spend more time with more of the ones who do exist rather than bringing additional ones into the family.
    (Much of my large extended family contains fun, reasonable, and/or functional human beings, which I realize is not true for everyone. So I definitely don’t want to suggest that this decision rule could or should apply to everyone but it is at least for now working for me (that’s not to say I might not have regrets in the future, who knows?).)

  34. Our kids are 5, almost 4 and almost 2. Having three kids has made our house messier and louder but also way more fun. It takes longer to get out the door and get everyone buckled but we didn’t need a new car or house. Two kids share a room and they are always asking when #3 can move in with them.I think the logistics of three kids is a bit more complicated but totally doable. Your life will change with a third but not all of it is for the worse.

  35. I would really love a third. I’ve always wanted three and had my heart set on it. But the logistics of my life are conspiring against me (husband gone for much of the year, the strain of single parenting and working full time took me to a bad place), PLUS I’m pushing 40, PLUS I had hyperemesis in pregnancies, especially bad in #2. And I’m starting a new, more intense job, so #3 is probably off the table. But I feel deeply sad about it and I can’t let go of the dream.@hedra – I know someone who went for a third and got triplets (totally spontaneous/no ivf)!

  36. I went for number two because I had three older women friends who told me (separate from each other) variations of the same story: that they regretted not having a 2nd or 3rd child every day.I think that every woman KNOWS deep down if she wants another child or not. It sounds to me like you want one.
    After my first child I wanted another desperately, and once I got my wish, I am 100% sure that I don’t want any more. No way, no how.
    I say follow your gut.

  37. I did the “no bc, whatever happens, happens” approach with #2, so I totally get that mindset. However, the door was TOTALLY shut after #2 arrived. There would be no #3. I do admire other babies and love their smell, etc., but in no way does that override the relief that comes with knowing in a year we will be out of diapers. My friend (3 sons), wasn’t sure she was done, and so she had #2 and #3. I think the poster may know what her heart wants but her circumstances and short-term reality are conflicting?Also: best tip on going from 2 to 3 (as told to me): If you think you can switch from man-to-man to a zone defense, you can handle 3 kids.

  38. Wow what an awesome thread. Thanks to everyone for their honesty and insight! I am trying to sort out my motivations for wanting to have a third and read all the comments hoping something would reasonate. Katherine and Andrea’s did. So I guess that means I’ll have to start getting my husband on board!

  39. I’m still gestating number 2 but still think about whether we’ll have a third all the time. In the beginning of this pregnancy, between the fatigue, morning sickness, and early genetic testing (which always stresses out both my husband and me, even though we’re not particularly high risk) I “decided” that if this pregnancy was successful, two would be IT. And in the throes of that decision, I had a little epiphany that really helped clarify things for me: it isn’t selfish not to want more children, no matter where you end up stopping. I don’t know where I got this idea that it was, but somehow I had convinced myself that if my husband and I decided to stop at two so we wouldn’t have to buy a second car, or save more for college, or give up taking our kids to Disneyland more than once every 8 years, or so that I *could* get back to work figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, or my husband could go back to school, or we could just be done sacrificing all our time and energy to little ones, then we would be horribly selfish people who were putting “material” things over family. I don’t even know where this idea came from but it was definitely part of my weighing process. And honestly, it’s ridiculous, because selfish to whom? It’s not part of my personal belief system to think there’s a soul out there just waiting for me to let it be part of our family, so who is hurt by us stopping when we decide to stop? Realizing that those considerations aren’t selfish but are rather perfectly valid really freed me up to think more realistically about what we might want down the road.Now that I’m past the first trimester, I’ve realized that the decision is by no means made and we will likely revist it multiple times in the next few years. But in case anyone else finds this thought creeping in when trying to make their decision, I thought I’d throw it out there. I think there’s a tendency in our culture to view the chaos and self-sacrifice required in raising a bigger family through rose-colored glasses – not even considering shows like The Waltons or Seventh Heaven, it’s hard to name even a modern family sitcom where the prototypical straight couple has fewer than three kids. And in a weird way, I think this bounces back on those who choose to stop at one or two as if they represent something self-centered or unembracing with their small families. I’m in no way trying to pass judgment on people with big families and I’m sure that for many people, all that chaos and sacrifice is absolutely worth it – maybe it would, or will, be for me someday, too. But I wanted to point out that beyond personal considerations and “baby fever” there is also a certain underlying cultural pressure to have more than two that those of us trying to make this decision might not even realize we’re experiencing.

  40. So far I have not had any real urges for three, but my youngest is just 3.5 months so I barelyhave the brain power to even count to three at this point. But I did watch one of my best friends go through a very similar situation, except her husband was slightly less on board. She finally decided and made peace with her decision to stick with two and is now so happy with her 4 and 6 year old. They are doing so many things together they simply wouldn’t be able to do if there was a baby/toddler around. Just thought it might br helpful to share this story of someone whose urge for a third actually went away or at least subsided.I also have to add one thought I hadn’t seen yet in the comments – are you ready if the third has special needs? I have seen friends who had a third and ended up with much more than they could handle because they were assuming the third would be “easy ” like the first two. Picturing yourself in that scenario might be a useful gut check to test if this is really what you want.

  41. I always wanted a third child and long story short it was a very tough road to get our third baby. Now he is 2 3/4 and we also have a 6 year old and an almost 10 year old. My third baby is my GIFT! In general he is a “good” baby, but I think in large part he is so good because a) nothing he does surprises us, b) we know everything is a stage, and c) we are able to appreciate everything knowing tht he is (barring a minor medical miracle) our last baby. Yes sometimes it is chaotic, and yes sometimes it is crowded, more expensive, a pain, etc. but that was true when we only had two kids. Plus my older two LOVE him to pieces and we make it all work. It was so much harder for me to go from one to two kids because I was so used to being so laser-focused on my oldest and I didn’t know how to divide my time and energy. With #3 we do, and yes sometimes everyone gets a little short changed, and sometimes I dread the idea of potty-training again, but more often I am sad that I am in my last month (God willing) of diapers. We make it work with love and laughter and if you realy want another CHILD–Moxie is right don’t think about a baby/toddler that is fleeting–then go for it. You will not regret it. You will wonder what you ever did without him/her.

  42. I can not wait to read through all the responses! Once again Moxie, your question comes at a very interesting time for me.This month my period was 4 days late. I’m NEVER late. So, even with a 3 year old and an 8 month old I began fantasizing what a life with 3 kids would be like. Our son as a baby (our first baby) was a extremely challenging baby – he had it all. Colic, thrush, sick, didn’t like to eat, didn’t take to my boobs, didn’t sleep through the night until he was 2 YEARS OLD. We thought we were going to die. We decided to have 1 baby I was 38 anyway and so we were fine until he started sleeping through the night and began getting easier. On a beautiful vacation in Hawaii, while walking on a gorgeous beach – we decided to go for another. I was pregnant the first month we tried and I was 40. Baby was healthy and a girl! One of each – I even wrote on my Facebook post when we first posted her picture “our family is now complete!”
    To our surprise our baby girl is so different from our Son. She eats, sleeps, no colic, no thrush, is already sleeping 6-7 hours a night and is just a delight. Our son who will turn 4 this February is a joy as a toddler. This made me think that I might want a 3rd but when I got my period this afternoon, my first reaction was “thank God.”
    I mean – I’m 41 now, my Husband has been out of work for a year and a half and he’s starting a new business. I make enough to take care of us but we aren’t saving anything at all which scares the shit out of me. I work at least 50 hours a week and not to mention, I STILL baby weight to lose from my second. That first baby rocked our marriage (this is how I found your website in the first place (just hoping we weren’t the only ones who thought parenting an intense baby sucked).
    I think I’m sad about making a decision or rather that mother nature is making a decision for me. It’s really hard being AMA – Advanced Maternal Age and being pregnant. At least for me.
    Sometimes I feel like we’re complete and sometimes I don’t. I will tell you that if we both were 5 years younger and both had great jobs like we used to, I don’t think we’d stop now but I think we have to now.
    I do have a friend that says going from 1 to 2 is nothing but going from 2 to 3 is the hardest thing she’s ever done and far harder than she ever thought it would be.
    So for me, I’m counting out blessings and enjoying our kids as much as I possibly can.
    Good luck to the OP. xo

  43. “I think it was nurtureshock that said that 2 kids don’t get the social benefits of siblings because they can just ignore each other. with 3, they actually have to actively work on social relationships and alliances and such.”^^^ Yeah, I am going to call bullshit on this. When you have one that wants to ignore but the other will absolutely not allow that to happen? We spend an inordinate amount of time negotiating and on social relationships between just two siblings. Everyone’s personality makes a huge difference. When they get along it is superb. When they don’t, gloves off.

  44. This has been really useful for me, except we are deciding from 1 to 2.We have one. And I haven’t wanted another one since she was born. Except for tiny moments where I think I should have another one just for her, as a sibling. When I don’t really want more. Not at all. Not emotionally, not logistically, not energetically.
    So that’s the best decision I can make. The right one for me.

  45. Some other thoughts:1) when you ‘hit the wall’ of it going from easy to HARD to ‘eh, what’s the difference if you add more?’ varies by person. For us, going from zero to 1 was the WALL. Total life changer. For friends of mine, it was from 1 to 2 (they tucked one child into their life and carried on with minimal change, but two made them completely come apart and have to reassemble themselves). My mom came apart at four, but child five put everything back together, and six and seven had only minor incremental impact (very ‘after five, it doesn’t matter how many you have’). So YMMV on that ‘one more is easy/one more is hard/one more has no impact’.
    2) I neglected to mention how I *knew* we were done. Washing baby clothes to put away (or donate to friends, as we tend to do), I found myself saying ‘thank GOD I don’t have to touch that ever again’ instead of ‘aaawwww, so-and-so was SO CUTE in this! awww! I’m going to miss this one!’ Huge relief to be done with the phase. SO done.
    3) I do agree that social dynamics are different with more than two, but I think the comments are oversimplified. It isn’t just the ‘can ignore vs. have to engage’ but ‘have to learn many ways of being/interacting rather than just one primary’ – and the degree of advantage to that varies by the specific kids you have. Close cousins can play a similar role, too (my eldest spent more time with his cousin than with us in his first three years – same daycare, weekends at grandma’s – and at 15 they still spend much of their life together). That’s complex, but I definitely see the impact on skills from having to navigate (and carry constantly in mind) that M responds to approach A, and R *HATES* being responded to that way so needs approach B, and some spin on approach A works with G, and B doesn’t mind either way.
    4) on the no-regret thing – I think it is a matter of full acceptance, not lack of regret, for most people. Once you accept, there is a reduction of regret, so that’s the process end point for many people. Which is why the two questions for my mom – do you regret AND would you go back and do the same if you could do it over? Regret vs. practical ‘is this your actual ideal life?’ Regrets come in bad phases, and may come and go. And so does the ‘what is your ideal life, and is this it?’ question. I don’t regret it at all. I would do it again. I would plan better financially if I could do it again all the way back, and do more skills building for me. But I wouldn’t change the number of kids. I know others who would change the number of kids. So perhaps it is more about knowing how you will cope if it IS ‘one more than you have skills for’.

  46. No advice here, just a thankful shout-out to all who have shared. I love this community for its real, honest experiential discussions. We have one, and it’s been one heck of a ride for the first 11 months. Not sure when I found Moxie & everyone, but I do know it was a middle-of-the-night search borne out of desperation, that we couldn’t be the only ones struggling instead of blissful with a wee one. I used to want 3; having my son at 36 obviously limits the potential future number, and that was revised before we even married to wanting 2. But the first has been so….draining…that I don’t know if I’m up for another year like this. And yet I can’t picture us without another. We’ll see what the next year brings,

  47. HAH – that was my exact age timing with my oops 3rd. Yikes! Glad you didn’t match me – 17 mos apart was AWFUL!Kate/Hedra – the chapter in Nurtureshock makes a lot more sense than my paraphrase of it, you might want to check it out so it makes more sense to you.

  48. my kids are now 15 and 9. i always wanted three, at least three, and the plan had been to have #2 in the middle of the two kids i have, so like 15, 12 and 9. we always thought we’d have another bio kid and adopt #3. as it turned out, infertility delayed #2, who we did end up adopting, but not on the schedule we thought. several years after #2 joined our family, i went through a period of CRAVING #3. but i was older than i ever would have planned on having a third (by that time i was 39/40), #2 was a challenging kid in ways that felt like might push me over the edge sometimes, the thought of another adoption felt tiring and expensive, and my wife (we’re a two mom family) was very very very sure she did not want another. so obviously, we didn’t have #3. i spent some time feeling sad and even a little resentful of my wife, but just a few years later it became clear that it was totally the right decision. i totally know that feeling about the thanksgiving table and the three kids, but with the challenges #2 brought with him (almost all resolved with the right meds and the right school, and he’s doing BEAUTIFULLY), i’m pretty sure i could not have been a good parent to three kids. the two i have are perfect, and now that i’m totally out of the baby/toddler/little kid phase, and putting my own self back closer the center of my universe, i’m sooooo grateful that we only have the two kids we have. our family feels exactly perfect.

  49. I would also add that it makes a HUGE difference if you have family around you to help. We have none and so it would be extremely difficult to have anymore.

  50. I have 2, 19 months apart and we are DONE. There are a host of reasons, but a big one was my husband’s experience growing up as the youngest of 3, and the only boy. He felt like 3 kids set the group up for exclusion, because there would always be an uneven division of genders, skill levels, etc. there’s also enough compelling evidence for me that the middle child loses out significantly enough that I wouldn’t want to risk that loss for a child of mine. I just can’t get on board with the 3 dynamic, so if we had more, it would be 4, not 3. Other circumstances preclude that, so an even 2 it is.

  51. Wow, what a range of responses! I always wanted 1 or 3. When we got pregnant with #2, I thought, Yay, 3!But. #1 turns out to be mildly autistic (super mildly, anyone can see his ADD but no one guesses the ASD stuff except other parents of ASDs). His rage at his brother is enormous (though ironically he kept begging for another baby) and his need for attention is huge.
    Do I still wish we’d had a third? Yes, in many ways. The 2nd child is an absolute baby whisperer and is the most tragic waste of an amazing big brother in history. And most of our friends have 4, and I can see how it all works out on a good day.
    But I am also happy we only have the two. Their relationship gets better as they get older, and I am able to give more attention to the first when he needs it. And, I worry that either way with the 3rd, things could have gone wrong. (It could have been fine, and the 2nd’s best friend, and the first would feel more isolated. It could have also been on the spectrum and would have saddled my second with a lot to take in to adulthood. Etc. etc.) And I am realizing now how much I am wired to be anxious and I think a 3rd would have been a real strain on my mental health.
    Long story short: being fine with either two or three is a great place to be. Good luck to all those deciding, and thanks to all those who shared.

  52. This comment thread has inspired me to finally make that appointment to get fitted for an IUD. I’m totally serious.I had a really tough pregnancy with #1, and years of TTC and fertility treatments for both #1 and #2. So while we always knew we wanted at least 2 kids, when I finally got pregnant with #2, we both thought we were DONE. But. Pregnancy #2 was relatively easy, and even though my husband was still sure we were done, and even though I’d never wanted more than 2, there was still this whisper in the back of my head that maybe I could have another. A lot of it was because of the sadness of knowing this was probably my last pregnancy, my last baby. And I don’t even LIKE the baby stage all that much. Now, having #3 would take a minor medical miracle, since I’m still infertile and I do know that I am never, ever, ever doing fertility treatments again. But I still thought, wouldn’t it be cool if…?
    Now that we have #2, though, I see that a third would be a bad idea for us. First, my husband is 41 and I’m about to turn 39. Not ancient by NYC childbearing standards, but I don’t want to be in my 40s and pregnant. Or parenting a(nother) teenager in my late 50s. Financially, a third would be a big strain. And it would be a strain on our marriage as well. I also realize that the kind of parenting we like to do–the intensive parenting we got used to as the parents of an only child for 5 years–is best suited to a small family.
    Most of all, though, reading these other comments has made me realize that I don’t feel like someone is missing from our family, the way I did when we had one child. I don’t see myself regretting not having a third, the way I would definitely have regretted not having a second child.

  53. For selfish reasons, I’m hoping there might be a similar discussion about going from 1 to 2.We have one 3yo, and man, it has been such an intense mindf*ck for us. I think we are good parents, and we try hard and take it seriously, but it doesn’t come smoothly to us. So we think about having a second, and it’s basically wild veering between “NO MORE.” and “We should definitely have a second.” and then back to “Oh God, we couldn’t possibly.”
    There’s a constellation of birth issues and NICU stuff and PPD and a really high-needs baby that, at least in my case, makes me wish I could have a do-over. Which of course you can’t, so… realistically, I know a second baby would not magically heal things for me. (And what a burden to put on that kid, right?)
    But it’s still hard to know what to do. I envy my husband, who seems more like “One would be a little sad, but I could be over it in the next fifteen minutes.” Whereas I really, really feel the swings in my heart, from YES… EVENTUALLY to “I am just now becoming a person again. I can’t mother someone effectively and lovingly and also sustain my personhood. There’s no shame in understanding your limits.” and back to “But it would be so sad to stop at one!”
    Tough stuff.
    (I used to think I wanted four children, by the way. Man, parenthood is so freaking humbling.)

  54. I have three (7 yo, 4.5 yo, almost 2 yo). I adore all three.I regret having the third. And I would have regretted not having the third.

  55. @electriclady: “I also realize that the kind of parenting we like to do–the intensive parenting we got used to as the parents of an only child for 5 years–is best suited to a small family.”I really feel this way, too. Our high-needs/spirited/etc. kid needed really intensive parenting, and so we responded, but now I also feel like I can’t just double up on that. I’m already maxed out. I would have to do a radically different kind of parenting, or hire a butler.

  56. I have two children: a son aged 3.5yrs and a daughter 18 months. I was utterly shocked when I had my first baby at how hard it was. Though it got slightly easier from the age of 2 onwards, I don’t think the shock ever really wore off. I was always going to have a second child, so exactly two years later we welcomed our daughter. Though I don’t think anything compares to the shock of the first child… two children it is definitely harder. I have very active children that were early crawlers/walkers and combined with my low stress threshold, I have found the experience of two littlies hugely exhausting. I know without a doubt that I would not go for a third. Mostly this is because I know that I couldn’t cope (I barely do now). I come from a large family of 6 children and my siblings are my best friends…they are the world to me. My only regret is that my two children will not get to experience life in a big family and all the benefits that come with that. Having said that, I am so totally done.

  57. Coming to this with a later perspective – my kids are 17, 20 and 23. While the baby & toddler years have their own challenges when we made the decision to have our third we hadn’t yet hit the activities challenge – 3 kids doing 3 different things at the same time in different places – music lessons, soccer, after school stuff – etc. For more than a decade we were running ALL the time. It was logistically very difficult and exhausting. That said, yes I’d do it again!We’re now in the midst of what will be years of two kids in college at the same time and will be empty nesters in the fall. I think they were babies just a couple weeks ago but I don’t miss those times. More food for thought pro or con – my third pregnancy was much harder between being in grad school and being that much older. Things one can’t really control! And kid #3 was a far, far worse sleeper with epic colic. We thought we had the baby stuff wired until he came along.
    So if you go for it do expect the unexpected. Also – (the more I write the more pops into my head) three is unstable socially so the odds are good that you’ll have plenty of times where any one kid is the odd one out and the other two get along. This hasn’t stabilized yet in our family although for the most part they do get along now.

  58. I’m late to this party, but I love reading these. I’ve got three; almost 5, a few months away from 3, and 7 months old. Our first was colicky, intense, and very, very high needs. I don’t think she stopped screaming for most of the first 9 months or so unless she was being bounced or rocked, reflux meds, etc. She got easier, though, and we just went for it with #2. We basically said that we were already in the trenches, and we wanted to just push on through. If #2 were as high maintenance we both agreed we were DONE. Totally done. But #2 was a pretty easy baby, and I just felt like someone was missing from our family. I can’t explain it, but I “saw” 3 school aged kids in my mind’s eye. We just decided to power on through with #3. I don’t love the baby stage, and I find the toddler stage tough. In fact with my oldest, I love each new stage more than the one before it– so it wasn’t that I wanted a baby, as Moxie says, but I really wanted a third child.I laugh that when we got married everyone asked when we’d have kids. When we had the first, everyone asked about our second. When we had the third, everyone asked if we knew how that happened! Around us, most folks have 1 or 2, so 3 is a BIG family. And although we’re busy and it’s a big crazy, I feel like 3 is still a size where I can have one on one time with my kids, and I love watching their relationships together. It’s crazy and hectic and loud and fun and infuriating and totally unlike how I grew up as an only child.
    Our biggest concern to start with was vehicle size and the cost of child care. At this point me working is a wash, but I still do for my mental health, job skills, retirement, etc. There is saving for 3 college educations, and I don’t know what we’ll do w/ the activities, but we’ll figure it out.
    I remember asking friends, and most said that I’d just *know* when my family was complete. After #2 it didn’t feel that way, but after #3 I just knew we were done. As someone said upthread, I am pleased about getting rid of the stuff the baby outgrows knowing that we won’t need it, and we’re all getting ready to move on to new stages together.

  59. We have 3, and I agree with Leah – you can’t say, when you’re not anonymous, that you regret the 3rd. But our 3rd has taken time and attention and money and even, seriously, love away from our first two. There really is a limit to what I can give in a day, and if it has gone to the baby it’s not there for the big kids. Friends are contemplating this transition, and I wish I could tell them what I really thing – for them it would be an awful decision. We have a lot of resources (money, helpful family nearby, high quality childcare). They do not. But the mom in this family feels she “deserves” another pregnancy (and baby – she loves those stages. Toddlers? preschool? school? not so much). So unlike the comment above, I feel 3 can be a selfish choice – it was for me, it would be for her. And you should stop to think hard about the impact on your older kids.

  60. The child you don’t have is the road not taken. Of course you would wonder what that would have been like. I still wonder about/regret not going away for college, and I will likely push my daughters in that direction. My life worked out wonderfully, thankyouverymuch, but that was my particular crossroads.I always, always wanted 2, absolutely do not want a third, and I still find myself wondering from time to time. I don’t have to wonder what 2 is like, it’s here. (And thank all the heavens above – the second was a major spontaneous fertility feat.) The best question I’ve heard on the subject is, “You want another baby (the snuggles! The wee little toes!) but do you want another whole human being?” If that answer is yes, go for it. The rest is just details.

  61. I think this is the best thread on this topic I have found. Thanks everyone for their brilliantly honest comments. Recently I have been consumed with the thought of “not” having another baby. Have a DD 5yrs and DS 3yrs – easy pregnancies, brilliant babies, one of each, get along great (although the usual squabbles). Never really had a third baby on the radar but now the biological door is seriously closing (I’m 41) and I’ve been confused by the strength of broodiness recently. Its almost worse than when we decided to start a family. Is this just because my body must know its coming to the end of this possibility? Because really, I only now feel I am getting my career back on track, my body back to a place where it feels like mine again, time for me and DH that isn’t always consumed by the kids now they’re that bit more independent, that the family is evolving to a really balanced state. But yet I think this is making me miss having little people when they really are little and can only be held in your arms. Not a great reason as stated really well on here for having another “whole person”. I have enjoyed my two so much, but its almost too neat, and my DH who could go either way on this feels another would be just as easy. but we’re both that bit older, even having another healthy baby at my age would make me 47 by the time it went to school – I mean, knocking 50!! And we are so blessed with our two, I worry our luck would run out and how that might impact on all of us, if another baby had special needs. Even a healthy baby would mean an impact on family dynamics and resources. To be honest we’re counting the days till our eldest goes to school and one less set of child care costs. None of that matters in the end though, right? But if I’m being really honest i might be the kind of person where I would regret a third. In the past I know I’ve said a third would break us, the tiredness, the relay parenting. We both work full time, I know I’d resent my career being sacrificed, and we don’t have family close by. We’re in a better place now – that balance thing again – but if we went right back to the beginning again? I guess I’ve really answered my question, but somehow I feel selfish and cowardly not going for it again, like I’m denying us all something (or someone). If we’d met earlier, if we’d been able to start a family earlier then I think definitely we would try for another with less time pressure, but I can’t really separate whether this is a real wish for a third child from the slightly desperate pressure of knowing my ability to do this feels like it is ending next week and/or whether this is about proving my fertility one last time. I’d love to hear other’s views on what I’ve written.

  62. I have three (8, 5 & 2), I always wanted three, and sometimes, I regret having three. Sometimes I even fantasize about what it would’ve been like if our eldest was an only child, just because of the places we could’ve seen, the things we could’ve done. My family lives in London, and I’m in the US, and trans-Atlantic flights are expensive, so we don’t get home as often as I would like.But I adore my children with all my heart, and if I didn’t have my girls, I would miss them so much. As soon as I laid eyes on #3, I knew she was the missing piece to our family puzzle. There are the right amount of people around the table.
    I will say the first few months were brutal. I found AskMoxie because #3 had All The Sleep Regressions which were short, but nasty. I also had a 1st grader who had to be at school at a certain time, who had homework for the first time. There are no school buses here, so I had to follow his schedule, not the baby’s. That was rough. And then my newly minted middle child was left to her own devices as daddy helped with homework, and I fed the baby/fed the family. It wasn’t really fair. But now it’s all clicking. They are at an age when they can play together with out me hovering over them. The toddler is very verbal, which helps, and so, so happy. A sweetheart. And everyone sleeps all night long. Mostly.
    And then there’s the matter of adding a 4th child. I never saw myself as a mother of four, but I used to get raging cases of baby fever. Until I remembered I would be adding another child, not replacing one. I knew my decision would be made once I met my newborn niece last July, She was 7 weeks old, and a very content baby. But her naps were so short, and she nursed every two hours (not at night though). My BIL and SIL were exhausted. I took one look at them and said, “That’s it. I’m done. I’ve paid my dues.” And that was that.
    For now.

  63. Here’s why we’re happily DONE at 2 kids (DS is 5, DD is 3, I’m 36, DH is 35) – because we personally have a special way of counting the number of “kids” for whom we’re responsible.We count our Marriage as Kid #1. (We’ve put a lot of time and money into creating a strong marriage. We consider this a huge gift to our kids.) Our Actual Kids are #2 and #3. (We’ve been diaper-free and generally sleeping though the night at our house for over a year now. Why on earth would we want to go back to that level of crazy?) Our Careers are Kid #4. There’s no realistic way we could be happy with the idea of 5 “kids” and the mental, physical, financial, and emotional overload that would entail; so no more babies.
    That’s not to say I don’t occasionally catch myself imagining the Path Not Taken. What would another baby look like? Would my epidural work this time? I can just imagine the Xmas card picture. Yes, I’m curious. But not curious enough to take the many risks involved.
    I’m a two-time winner of the pregnancy and childbirth lottery. I’ve been totally spared the pains of infertility and loss and grief and doubt. I have two gorgeous, gifted, kind little children – one of each sex, not that I cared. Time to do a little jig of deep, happy gratitude, and leave the casino.
    Amen @electriclady- “the kind of parenting we like to do–the intensive parenting we got used to as the parents of an only child for 5 years–is best suited to a small family.” I’m a bit of a perfectionist in this regard. I like my kids to look presentable when they leave the house. I like them to have plenty of one-on-one adult conversation, and to be read to a lot, and cherished, and documented, and to have the boogers wiped from their noses, and their hair brushed, and the gift of time to just sit and cuddle without anyone else vying for their spot. I can’t handle chaos; I crave order, and neatness, and stability. A baby would ruin us.

  64. I wanted three, and I was lucky and got three, now ages 9, 4 1/2, and an infant, born when I was 43 (the pregnancy was the same uncomfortable but healthy pregnancy I had with the first two, born when I was 35 and 39). So far, so good, due to the spacing and decent financial situation. We don’t love the not-sleeping-through the night phase, or the preschooler having adjustment issues, but we look at our lovely nearly-9-year-old, and even though we know the preteen and teen years are coming, this once difficult baby is now such a pleasant human being, she inspires us to work through the challenging phases with the others. So far, the transition from none to one was by far the hardest.Thanks, Leslie, for your comments from the perspective of having teenagers and college students. We hope to get there one day, and we don’t think we’ll miss the baby years either. Thanks for saying you don’t.

  65. @Lydia — just a random opinion from a stranger, so don’t take it too seriously, but it sounds as if you’ll be happier if you stop with two, and being happy is very, very important — for you and your family.

  66. Lydia- another random stranger’s vote for stopping while you’re ahead. I don’t know this personally, but my mom has talked a lot about how many of her friends had a last burst of baby fever just as the doors were closing, so to speak. A couple went ahead and had a third (now they’re in their late 50s/early 60s and still doing the college thing), most just rode it out. There’s no right or wrong answer but to your point early in your post, I do think there’s a bit of a hormonal rush that takes place!Thank you to everyone who has posted. We need to wait a couple years to evaluate–I’ve ALWAYS wanted 3-4, as has my husband, but we’ve found the transition to two awfully tough. (And I suspect most of my enthusiasm is because all my favorite books had groups of 4 siblings in them.) And like Hush, we’ve hit the pregnancy/birth/kid jackpot. Risky to keep gambling? We will see. I’m 32, #2 is 5 months old (23 month split), and I need a break from pregnancy and nursing before we decide. I do sort of think its a choice between two and four, though, and yikes. That’s a lot of kids.

  67. Thanks KKF and Sherry for kind thoughts. In my heart I know this is the right thing for us and the comment from Hush about the two-time winner of the pregnancy and childbirth lottery is totally bang on. Probably had my baby rush late enough anyway (36 and 38) so realise that I have been oh-so lucky and whilst like some others on here there’ll sometimes be the wistful thought of ‘what if’ I really think that quitting while we’re ahead is the way forward for us. And what I’ve read on here has helped to shift my thinking from the ‘what might have been’ to the ‘wow, look what we’ve got and what we have as a family’. So thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences : )

  68. I remember going through that at 38, and one month thought we might have an “oops” on the way. I was devastated when I thought I was and devestated when I found out I wasn’t. Now, at 43, I can tell you I am glad we stopped at 2. No regrets at all. Mine are active, curious children. Even with a limit of one instrument and one activity (sport, club, etc.), I feel stretched to the max… And we live across the street from our school so mom’s taxi driving is minimal. I just don’t think three would each get enough of my attention.On a slightly different note (which did not heavily influence my decision, but I find interesting), my mom was one of three and hated it. She comes from a close family, they generally get along and love each other, but she said someone was ALWAYS left out and that’s what she didn’t like and wouldn’t want to pass on.

  69. This is why I love reading this blog so much! You all are so honest that it makes me feel so much better about what I have to say :)I have 2 and I can say that even with “only” 2, there is the question of why did I have the second. Love him to bits and wouldn’t change it now he’s here BUT severe PPD for both me and the rebound for my partner (he tends to take the hit when I have my bouts and then have a low period once I’m done!), financial struggle and no family close by has really left us stretched thin. I always wanted two, he wanted more but was willing to discuss it later (he’s one of 8 so wanted a big family) … but he’s the one that said when #2 was about 8 mo … we’re stopping now aren’t we?
    As much as I can see more kids in our family I know that at 1 & 3 yrs old – we’re just coping right now. It’ll get better as they get older but I don’t want to then go back to just coping with another one. And will it go from coping to struggling? Will I resent that third child for putting us in that position? Someone (Hedra?) posted about the family you gain as you grown older and I can totally see that happening. But I’m hanging up the no vacancy sign permanently.

  70. I know this is an oldish post, but I have been following since the beginning and really reflecting on what everyone says. I have two, 4.5 and 1.5 and have been almost obsessively been thinking about how I can’t handle a third since the second was born… Every time I buckle them in the car, I’d think what if I had another to wrangle across that parking lot?? Or at bedtime, how would I get three kids to sleep?? How could I take care of two kids while pregnant?? Which made me think maybe I actually did subconsciously want another. Buuuuut… Reading all these posts and experiences brought me to the realization that I am more than ok with my boys. I can be the mom I want to be without feeling stretched thin; I can even start putting some of the focus back on myself, my husband and my marriage. And I don’t have to feel guilty about not wanting another, even if EVERYONE I know ( or at least it seems so) is currently pregnant with their third ( or first, interestingly). So, thank you all for sharing. It has helped more than you know.

  71. WAAYYYY late to the party here too. I have two boys, 6 & 3 and am heming and hawing over a possible thrid. I always envisioned myself with either two or four, never three, so for some reason I feel like if I go for three I must therefore continue on to four. Which is ridiculous, I know.My boys are very close and get along as well as I can hope siblings to get along. They love each other dearly. I worry about upsetting their relationship with another but then again, when we’re with their cousin who is three months, they LOVE him and cannot get enough baby time. I feel like a third could glide right in and we’d just keep plugging away.
    Then I remember what it was like when #2 was very tiny and I remember thinking, “why didn’t we stop at 1? This is awful!” even though my second is the sweetest most affectionate little guy there is. It was #1 who was, and continues to be, lets say, a challenge.
    My cousin has five kids and i envy her. I wish I could have five kids but I know i don’t have what it takes. Two works for me but I continually feel as though I have the time (I’m only 31) what’s one more? Or two more? There’s time for me, more than likely, when they’re grown to do whatever it is I want to do. Time goes by quickly and I really want them to have more than just one sibling when they’re older. What happens if one of them dies at a young age? Or they grow up to hate each other? Then they have no one. That scares me. I feel like if I have more kids I increase the odds of them liking at least one of their siblings. I’m a mess, I have no idea. And FWIW, I have been reluctant to get rid of any baby stuff I own. Clothes, toys, bouncy seats, whatever. It’s all in the basement, waiting.

  72. Have 3..we were in the same.. done at 2 boat.. and then I got pregnant and miscarried.. then we knew we wanted one more…
    #1 was great – easy infancy
    #2 had a very hard time sleeping, and now at 3.5 is a very picky and stubborn toddler. but sleeps like a dream.
    #3 – much like number #1…
    1 is aged 7.5 years
    2 is 3.5 years
    3 is going to be 1 years old this week.
    The world seems made for a family of 4, but 5 is slowly getting there.
    In my head, the way I see the family size question play out is how many can we take care of comfortably and pay for thru college.
    Also another thing that took any more than 3 out of play was my health, almost died having my third (though I didn’t know it at the time) so we HAD to be done. Don’t want to risk another baby’s health and want to be able to take care of the 3 we have.
    Also and it’s just a suggestion… but if you’re done biologically having children is adoption something you would consider?
    Good luck in figuring this out. Once my little *LAST* one arrived, I knew in my heart that we were done.

  73. I have three: 6, 3, and 1. (2y6m, 2y2m separations between them). Our oldest has emotional problems and takes up quite a bit of energy, time, resources. He was a high needs baby that – like someone else said – made parenting a humbling experience. My second had a rough start but is completely normal and my third was born with some genetic disorders that blindsided us. Her daily care and needs are such that we did not plan for, financially or emotionally. I would’ve had 1,000 carbon copies of my second child; I absolutely did not want another first … and ended up with a child who has medical problems.I love my family very, very much but I definitely fantisize about only having one — or none. And then I tell myself the truth: if I had no children, I would be moping around, complaining that there was something MISSING from my life.
    We are busy. We are happy. We are done having babies. I regret nothing, but I regret everything.

  74. You’ve read my mind…. Here I am doing “research” on women having their third baby over the age of 35 wondering if I’m the only person who feels this way. I’m 37, each month I say I’ll be 38 and x months if I got pregnant this month. I had a c-section with my second… after that I said, “forget it, no more.” But, then I wanted another. It took me a good 6 months to get over that fear. Then I look at my 2 healthy kids, 4 and 2, and wonder am I being greedy wanting another healthy child? (I work with children with special needs, so it’s something that is hard to ignore… and with my age I can’t help it).My husband and I both work and love what we do… will this have to change? We don’t have family it the area, although both our family’s are supportive of whatever our family consists of.
    Basically, it’s a bunch of unknowns getting in the way of me pulling the trigger, so to speak.

  75. Well, this is a different viewpoint to offer. I am a third child and I am also pondering having a 3rd (Still undecided). Last summer my mom became unable to care for herself after a long fight against cancer. I was the one who came home to help her—we have always been like 2 peas in a pod (so much alike we often argued more than my siblings did). I know that I was a "surprise" but always felt like a happy surprise. I am so glad my parents had a third and this impacts my thoughts on having a third myself. Also, remember that your children will only be young for a minority of the time you are their mom/parent. Hopefully, you will have many more years after they are grown to enjoy them–likely more years than you spent with them living in your home. I know that if I have a 3rd it will make like much more difficult for at least 5 years and probably a little more difficult and expensive for another 10-15 years after that. But I am also trying to weigh the joy and love that a 3rd child may bring into your life.
    Unfortunately, I also know of older mom’s who have had their 3rd and had babies with special needs. They adore their new babies but they are very burdened by the major change that these special needs babies brought to their lives.
    There is not an easy answer….I think that is why so many of us are here reading each others comments. Wish the original poster would give us an update. 🙂

  76. I am reading this while wondering if I am pregnant with our third, an unplanned pregnancy. It’s too early to test, but I’m already feeling the hormonal changes. I never wanted a third, nor my husband. We are so happy with our pigeon pair, 6.5 & 3. I love babies and toddlers, but I was looking forward to ‘me time’ when our boy starts kinder this year. Was going to get my career started again, so now I feel like I’ve put our life back. But thank you for everyone’s comments as I needed to be reminded of the other end – when you have the teens and adults in your life. I guess i will know for sure in a few more days.

  77. I guess my situation is a little…crazy! My husband and I are 27, we have 2 right now (boy-2.5yr, girl, almost 1.5 years…only 14m separating them!) Hubs wants more (we’re talking 3, 4, even 5)…while I’m still debating. The first few months after my daughter was born was difficult only in the ‘getting used to more than one child’ kind of way. As she wasn’t planned, I felt enormous guilt that I’d taken away time from my son. Now, they’re partners in crime 🙂 . And (yes, I’m bragging a little bit here:) they both were pretty easy babies, minor complications in pregnancies, relatively easy deliveries, great eaters and great sleepers. I’m fearful of having any more kids because of how awesome our current two are! Selfish? Yea, but…I’d like to be finished having kids by 32, so I guess I better make up my mind!

  78. I have 2 (22 months and almost 4) and I want a 3rd, but my husband does not. He thinks that the kids should not outnumber us; that we should give all of our time to the 2 that we have. I absolutely loved being pregnant. Our 2 were VERY good babies, slept through the night, etc.I love the baby years and the toddler years. I just don’t know that I can say, "Okay, I am done because you are." Disagreeing on having more kids is not something that you can compromise on…we are stuck. When I hear that someone is pregnant, I am envious and he knows it. I am trying to separate feelings: Do I just want to be pregnant again? Do I just want another little baby? Am I prepared for 3 kids? 3 teenagers? And honestly, I think that I am, but do you ever really know? We can financially afford it, we have enough room, my parents are in town…I want a 3rd, but he does not. He asks me if the 2 we have are not enough and it is not that. I guess I just see more in our family when I look down the road….Help.

  79. Diapers and tantrums are not bad at all. It’s all part of having kids.

    My wife still has another 20 years of child bearing years. So…we could have a LOT of kids from here to then! 🙂

    When we decided to have a second, it was terrifying. But within a day we realized it was actually a piece of cake. After that, there was no going back! We had him at one of the worst time of our lives. He was a save-the-marriage-baby. And it worked. Both of our kids were conceived on the first try. The third was taking forever! It has been about four months of trying and my wife is finally pregnant! I was so excited about number three, I literally have a BOX of negative pregnancy tests I have been saving up to show how frustrated and anxious I was to have the third. 🙂

    Now, in another insane time of our lives, we discover we have a third coming! We have no clue what we’ll do. But we are happier than ever!

    I put it to simple logic. If you don’t have kids when you can, you may regret it later. However, once you have children, you will NEVER regret them!

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