The question of how many children to have is such a personal one and there are so so many factors involved in reaching an answer. It’s a question that we are considering a lot at the moment. There are so so so many sensible reasons why 2 children feels perfect and why we feel we are stopping now …. but there are still emotional factors that make us question whether this is the right decision. On the one hand the thought of having another baby actually gave me a panic attack a few weeks ago… but finding out someone I know is having a third child made me a bit troubled, like that is what I should want? Is there something wrong with me for not wanting that?
Both hubs and I are the middle child of 3 so for both of us a family of 5 is the norm and I think that is one of the biggest things that challenges us. We both adore our respective younger brothers and it sounds very very daft to say it out loud but somehow dismissing the idea of us having a 3rd child feels almost disloyal to them. Like saying our families would have been better with just 2 children. Which is absolutely not the case!
On the flipside, growing up as one of 3 we both are all too aware of the practical challenges having a family of 5 brings. Bedrooms, cars, holidays, restaurants, finances…. all have additional challenges with a family of 5 or more. Those aren’t the reasons we want to stop at two though. If they were, and it was a question of head vs heart, it make it much easier as heart would definitely win over practical considerations.
The trouble is that in our hearts we do believe that 2 is right for us. So while in an ideal world we would love 3 or even 4 children… there are too many reasons why in reality that just may not be the right thing to do. Each reason on it’s own may not be enough to say a definitive no, but they add up to be fairly conclusive.
So what are they?
I don’t enjoy being pregnant. Yes it is magical feeling the kicks and knowing life is growing inside of you. But the tiredness, exhaustion, sickness, and the fact that your body is no longer your own just makes it difficult to enjoy, for me.
Pregnancy for me is made much worse by SPD or PGP whatever they call it now basically hideous pain in my pelvis and lower back. With Monkey I ended up on crutches as I could barely walk and with LM I avoided crutches thanks to hours of extremely painful physio. Infinitely preferable but not exactly enjoyable! I think that is a big part of not wanting to be pregnant again as I felt so limited with what I was able to do with Monkey and 9 mths is a long time in his and LM’s little lives for me to be unable to run and play like I want to.
Because of my bicornuate uterus I have so far had 2 breech babies unable to turn and have therefore been unable to have a natural birth. There is a chance that my uterus will have stretched enough for a baby to turn but that is only a slim chance and I have to be realistic. The likelihood is that if we had another child I would have to have another cesarean. And honestly I don’t want to have surgery again. The pain post birth can be agonising and it puts me out of action after the birth. After feeling out of action during pregnancy because of my pelvis being out of action even longer is very hard. It also makes me reliant on other people more and I am not very good at that!
I don’t enjoy the newborn baby days. I just don’t. Probably down to the fact that both of our little ones have struggled with colic and LM had the addition of reflux. Watching your baby scream in pain for hours at a time (generally in the middle of the night) is hideous. The endless self doubt and questioning yourself trying to work out what to do to help them, while also being exhausted and trying to make life as happy and normal for your other child/ren. .. I just can’t do it again, I can’t. Good friends of ours have a gorgeous little newborn and he has really struggled with reflux and by trying to help and give them some advice we have been reliving those days a little. Honestly the thought of it made me seriously panicky and one night I made Hubs promise that we wouldn’t have to go through it again.
With the best will in the world I have found that friendships suffer when a new baby comes. You can’t be everything to everyone and when you are so tired and trying so hard to be the best Mummy you can be… sometimes friendships suffer as a result. And I love my friends and don’t want to feel disconnected from them again.
Friendships aren’t the only relationships that can suffer. Having a baby seriously tests relationships with your partner too. Sex after babies is an interesting topic and I am not going to go into too much detail as I know my mum and brother read this sometimes (hi!).
For some people pregnancy can make them feel sexier than normal or at least no different… but for me it has the opposite effect . It must be something to do with hormones but it is like that part of me entirely switches off when I am pregnant and doesn’t come back on for a long time afterwards. I just do not want to know, at all. Poor hubs he is very understanding but sex is a seriously important part of a relationship and without it you are more like friends or brother and sister. I have to make a seriously conscious effort to try and switch that part of me back on and it takes a long time to do so. I don’t think either of us like the thought of losing that aspect of our relationship for so long again.
I have postnatal depression. My antidepressants help massively day today but it is still there. I am reminded of this every month when I get hit by PMT, it is far worse than it ever used to be and I can be vile. It goes to show how much of my depression is related to my hormones I think. I know it could be a lot worse but also I worry what having another child would do to my mental state as it is already fragile. Like I say I panic at the thought of a third baby and I just don’t know how I would cope with the reality of one.
We see a happy little unit of 4 and I can’t help wondering how a 5th member of our family would change the dynamics. Monkey is the big brother and LM the little sister… they have their roles and sibling rivalry already. How would it be for LM to be a big sister too all of a sudden? I was 4 when my little brother was born and it is embarrassing to admit it now but at age 4 I hated him. I had gone from being the baby of the family to having an adorable baby brother who was constantly cooed over instead of me. I don’t think that did me any harm but at the time I hated him and was horrible to him for a long time. I even packed his bags when he was a few years old, and told him to run away as no one wanted him. Harsh eh? Thank goodness he only went to the end of the road (we were the first house) as he wasn’t allowed further.
We are really close now and love each other to pieces but for years when we were children there was a lot of animosity (my older brother and I have always got on well). How would our childrens’ dynamics be with an additional personality? It’s funny but when we do imagine life with a 3rd we always imagine our third child being a boy… probably because we both have younger brothers… but what if we had another girl? That’s a whole other different dynamic to have sisters. .. neither one of us knows anything about! It’s scary but by not having a third are we denying them the chance?
As with anything parenting related the weight of responsibility is huge. The decisions we make now affect the people our children will become. Would having another sibling make them stronger, or not? And what of the potential life that we are choosing not to bring into the world? Who would they be? What would they have the potential to become? The trouble with that argument though is where does it end. So while I love the idea of more children and can live in a fantasy world about the wonderful things having another child would bring to our lives… I have to remember the realities and the reasons why it would be so hard. And why we are choosing not to go down that road again and are stopping at two.
As ever I think I am probably over-thinking it all and our children will grow up perfectly happy without another sibling… Many families of four are perfectly happy and I do think I am so conflicted as I grew up as a five. I am so so grateful for the wonderful happy healthy children we have and I guess I don’t want to mess that up. Have you made a decision on how many children? How did you decide?
I’m not sure I’ll ever decide for sure, but having two children has felt ‘right’ for a long time now, and continues to do so. As each year goes by, things get easier and it’s hard to imagine going back to the days of babies and toddlers. Life generally looks a lot harder for everyone I know with three children – more stretched – in terms of time, logistics and money. For us, being a family of 4 feels right. There’s always wistfulness, but it’s not strong enough yet. Maybe it will be with time. I have one sibling and my OH is an only children. Hope this helps! 🙂
I am happy with two and we are stopping there because it is right for us. Someone once told me “You will only regret the children you don’t have, never the ones you do” and I think that is so true. #MaternityMonday
There are so many reasons why two kids is more than enough for me. Like you I didn’t enjoy the baby bit. The husband and I are both one of two so that just feels right anyway. And yes, I just think that life gets exponentially more difficult/challenging with each child and the thought of having reached a more manageable place with the kids then taking it all back to square one is horrendous! I like the symmetry of a family of four – two kids, two hands, enough room for both on one lap. Who needs more? 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout Caroline Xx
My husband has decided for us after watching me and the boys nearly not make it through birth; he never wants to go through that again and as it takes two to make a baby I have to respect that! I was one of two and I loved it though I always wanted a sister as well as a brother!!
You sound like you’ve weighed things up well and if the odds swing towards a family of 4 then that must be right for you. Your reasons are very valid and I can understand them all. I am one of three and always thought I’d have three myself, however I’ve only actually had one. My son is ten now and I don’t feel as though I want to go back down that road now with my second husband. If I’d had two close together, I think that would have been perfect. You guys sound like you have a great family unit. xx
Well the important bit is you are going into it with your eyes wide open! I’m struggling with the idea of going from one to two so you’re doing well 🙂 If it helps my sister and friend recently went to three and said it was much easier than going to two.
I can relate to so many of the things you mention. For a start it took us 3 years and 3 IVF treatments to have son#1 and then son#2 ended up being some miraculous conception but who knows if a third would end up a repeat of the first or second. Then I had horrid morning sickness and struggled with the sleepless nights and I like order so I think 3 would be too much for me if I’m honest! I also have a 2 bedroom house so realistically, 3 ain’t gonna happen right now. I’m still reluctant to allow my hubby to get a vasectomy though! I want the option in case I change my mind! #sharewithme
I was desperate for a third child but with hindsight, two would have been fine! I wouldn’t wish little man away, but the added stress it has bought with no family to help has been a lot. I think there is a lot to be said about stopping at x #sharewithme
We are in a similar situation. The hubs and I are both one of 5, which is quite unusual I’m sure, and feel like a third would be good but just don’t feel ready for it yet – we’ll see #sharewithme
I am now pregnant with the second child and I find a lot of resonance with your post. I can’t imagine going through pregnancy again. It is painful for me (my pelvis popes out at the sacroiliac joint) and it does make me sooo exhausted. As you say, I feel guilty because I can’t be the mum I want to be for my toddler. And, yes, I am dreading the newborn days… We didn’t have reflux with Little F, but he did not sleep though until he was 8 months – before he’d wake up every 2-3 hours every night. These were looong months…
My family was a family of 5 and I loved playing with my baby brother. My brother is 9 years younger and he was not a planned child. It wasn’t a perfect family of 5, as my brother was left alone with my ageing parents, while I left the country and my sister moved out (and had a lot of personal issues to deal with). He needed a sibling his age.
Okay okay…you have produced an amazing list of reasons to stop at two! There is no justification needed. You do what feels correct. It;s such a personal thing that it’s no one else’s business. But as you’ve asked, age was essentially the factor in our case. Got together relatively late in life and Mrs Adams was 42 when she gave birth to our youngest. Expecting to do this again in her mid 40s would be madness. #truthabout
What a fab post – so honest about a topic that is constantly asked to parents. I can completely see why you feel happy with two, you have a lot of reasons not to even consider having more. Completely agree with the csection thing too – I hated being reliant on my mum all the time. We just have Zach at the minute but number two is hopefully on the cards soon. For us we are likely to stop at two because of the financial reasons. I would love more although I may change that once I have two! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
Oh I just don’t know either. I know I would have another but Hubster says no. I love babies and the newborn phase didn’t seem so bad to me at all.
Like you I would not like another section though. There are pros and cons. If we did have another, I wouldn’t want a gap as big as there is between Boo and G.
I’m totally torn. 🙁 #MaternityMondays
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Sounds like you’re really trying to convince yourself! 😉 All of your reasons are valid too. I felt the exact same way after two. And then after three. And then after four…all for a time, with my mind always changing as our life changes. I know that four is enough for us. Actually to be honest, four is too many for us!! So I’ve realized that that longing for “what if we had one more?” may just always be there biologically and perhaps doesn’t really mean much other than we are women and moms and therefor slightly crazy. 😉
It really is always at my forefront of my mind having a third. I feel would I want to stop after the third and the fourth. I love a big family but I also like to travel and see my family back home and money wise I really should stop at two. It’s a up and down roller coaster. You sound like you are trying to convince yourself sometimes its a hard decision to make. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
It sounds like your family works beautiful as a little unit of four and there is definitely a lot to be said for the symmetry of it all – having enough hands to hold each child’s hand and enough lap space for both when they’re little. I have to admit there is a big part of me that would like a third but for us, everything revolves around Jessica’s next surgery. Sophie is now old enough that she will be fine staying with my sister for a few days if needed so I can focus on Jessica and the thought of trying to juggle being in hospital with the needs of a small baby is not an appealing one! It may be that by the time we’re ready to think about a third child, we’ll feel that two is the right number for us anyway, but who knows?
We have 3 and we are 99% sure we are done. I think there is always that “what if” lingering in in air….