whole site devoted to this question because it is such a big decision for so many parents. For my husband and I we always knew we would at least have two, no question. But three kids? This felt like more of a life-changing decision. Do we have the energy? Will starting from scratch hold us back from doing things? How will this change the dynamic of our family?
Since our second son was born, we spent the majority of the time feeling like we were 98% sure that we were done. Until we weren't.... We had our first two boys close together. They are only 19 months apart in age. And during the first two years of having two very little ones, we felt our hands were full and our family was complete. Additionally I had passed that magical maternal age of 35 possibly adding a few more risks. With that said, we never made the decision permanent because we both knew there was a chance that when our youngest was no longer a baby, we would change our mind. And we always said that if we had a surprise 3rd pregnancy, we would be thrilled. I think we almost hoped the decision would be made for us but the surprise never came.
Two major things happened that really made us decide it was time to take this leap of faith:
- I quit my job. I feel pretty confident that had I not quit my job, I would not have made this decision to have another. When I was working full time and juggling family I was at my limit physically and mentally. While I've seen amazing working parents successfully making it work with more children, I feel strongly that I was just not cut out for that. That's not to say I will never be a working Mom of 3 because I probably will go back to work at some point. But right now at these stages, in this moment, it feels like too much. Now that I'm home with my boys and focused on family, I think (hope) I can give the attention needed to another little one.
- Our baby turned 2. While he technically was no longer a baby after 1, he REALLY was no longer a baby at 2. He talks now. He is potty trained. We no longer have diapers in our house which is supposed to be a moment to celebrate but I actually felt unexpectedly sad about it. It's interesting because before I had my own children, I was never really drawn to babies. But now that I've felt the sweet rewards of motherhood, I now understand what "baby fever" is all about.
The consideration of having a third has never been about gender for us. Neither of us felt we had to "try for a girl" as many people have suggested. We are very happy with our boys and will be ecstatic with a boy or girl for our third.
There's no doubt I was still scared to make this decision. Do I really have it in me at 36 to start from scratch one last time? I started surveying moms during random conversations and also in forums. How do you know when you are done? How do I know if I should have another? Here are some of my favorite responses:
When you are done, you'll know it. But I don't know it. Then you're not done... I must say that it feels good to know this time that this is my final baby. And now I will be done. That lingering question was constantly spinning in my head.
You have a mini-van so you are all set! Ha! Obviously having a minivan in itself is not a reason to have another child but I think the point is that I have the resources I need to make this work without making a lot of big changes like moving houses or needing a bigger car so that definitely makes things easier.
You'll never regret the kids you have, only the ones you don't. This is the response that I think really got me. It actually gave me the chills. In the last few months since I've been at home, I've felt like there may be someone missing - someone we haven't met yet. My boys do fight but they also have so much fun together and adding another sibling to the mix truly seems like one of the best gifts my husband and I could ever give them. We were originally worried that having another baby would in some way hold us all back from doing things in the short term. This may be true to some small extent but when we look into the future and see more children at the table on Thanksgiving, playing together in the backyard, or standing up in each other's weddings some day, we like that view and now know that this is the right decision for us.
And so I am fortunate to be pregnant one last time. This time I am 100% sure that this will be my last. This feels like our family will be complete. I am going to make it my job to savor every moment of this pregnancy. I've had a rough start with morning sickness but I refuse to let that be my memory of this last beautiful experience. I'm looking forward to every milestone and every last kick. I am going to enjoy sharing this miraculous experience with my boys. I am fortunate that they are at ages where they can understand, join in the excitement and fall in love with the newest member of our family right along with us. We are truly blessed.