Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How many children do you plan on having?

When J and I first decided to start a family, we wanted to have four kids. Then we had Coco and things changed. Initially, during her babyhood, I was so high on could nine that I thought I wanted five, or maybe six kids! It was the absolute best thing I had ever experienced to have a baby. Of course, babies turn into toddlers and when Coco hit toddlerdom, our preferred number of kids quickly dropped to two, maybe three. Immediately after giving birth to Theo, I was convinced we were done. But about 24 hours later, I thought, no, we can still have another if we want to. I was completely high on the baby love; the hormones were in high gear once again.

I do not take for granted that we are really lucky that this is an easy do-or-don't question for us. J and I are so fortunate to have been able to conceive exactly when we wanted to (twice!) without month after month of disappointment. So, the question is, do we want to have a third child?

I think about this question all the time. Here are some of the most arresting (in my humble opinion) thoughts on the topic, in no particular order, and from a completely random assortment of sources.

From a woman in the checkout line at the grocery store, mother of three:
You'll never regret the children you have. But, if you regret not having them, then you're old and it's too late. 

From a friend, mother of three, on her Instagram feed:
You don't know your perfect number of children until you've surpassed it. #stillkeepingallthree

From a friend's mom, mother of three:
It just felt like our family wasn't complete. Once we had our third, I knew it was.

From a friend with no children of her own:
It seems like having three means you're really only a mom; it's your whole identity, which is great if that's what you want.

From my cousin, mother of four:
The transition from two to three was the easiest one for us.

From a friend of a friend:
With three, that was when I really felt like it was too much and I couldn't handle everything.

When you have your first child, of course it's a huge deal, and kind of scary, and completely amazing. Then, in my mind, having an only child was never an option, so naturally, the second came along as a given. But the third. That is really something. Deciding to have a third child, there are no illusions. You know exactly what you're getting into and it's no small thing!

As of next week, I will have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for FIVE SOLID YEARS. That is an extremely long time. And as much as I love all of this intensive mama time, I'm really starting to wonder what it would be like to feel normal again. If we have another baby, it's going to be at least another three years, from conception, before I feel normal again. And then there are all the logistical and practical considerations like cars (minivan?!), car seats x 3, travel x 5, swimming lessons and camp fees and tuition x 3, being outnumbered, needing a big living space and so on.

I just keep pondering, because Theo isn't even two yet and I am loving every minute of his babyhood. Besides, he and Coco are just about the most perfect, healthy, incredible little beings imaginable. It's the toughest question in the world, and not the least bit important to answer right now. I think about it a lot all the same.

14 comments:

  1. I had always wanted 2 kids before moving to the States, but changed my mind to 3 after living there for awhile; even now, I still want 3. But rarely Taiwanese, nowadays, want more than 2. I guess it's a culture thing. Usually when the 1st born is a boy, we just stop having more kids; unless you can afford having more children. Having children for us is more like an obligation rather than truly enjoying the motherhood~ of course, I believe there must be people enjoying the motherhood here, just I rarely hear about it.

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    1. I definitely worry that we pressure ourselves to love motherhood a bit too much in Western culture. It is not fun all the time and there are definitely many moments not worth savoring or loving! I'm trying to find that balance every day. Thanks for pointing that out. Such a good reminder!! xo

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  2. I am pregnant with my first and I've always imagined having three or four. My husband is very interested in two (especially if we get one of each). I guess I won't know until we are parenting a wee one what decision we will come to. your post reminds me of Cup of Jo's musings on the topic: http://cupofjo.com/2014/11/how-many-children-do-you-hope-to-have/
    and her follow up:
    http://cupofjo.com/2015/09/how-many-children-to-have/

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    1. Those posts were the inspiration for this one, Flannery! Good eye. ;) I figured instead of leaving the world's longest comment, I'd just write a whole post!! One comment in particular left an impression on me. It was from a mom of three boys, who realized how desperately she wanted a girl when she found out she was having another boy, and who had wanted to really savor the baby time, but found herself too busy to do so. I could feel her grief jumping right out of the page at me. I still think about her from time to time. Sigh.

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  3. My husband started out wanting 6. I wanted 1. What did we end up with? Twins for starters! It's been a major, massive adjustment to say the least. He would like more, but I'm not so sure. I had a difficult pregnancy and a lot of struggles with post-partum depression (yay extra hormones!). Our twins are 8 months now, and more kids sometimes does seem feasible, but if we had twins again...I'm not so sure.

    As far as cars go..we didn't get a minivan...we got a Ford Flex. Ugly on the outside, awesome on the inside, really nice to drive. Plus, my husband is pretty tall, and this gives him more room than anything else we looked at. Just saying ;)

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  4. Wow, your description of life during Coco's babyhood couldn't be more opposite to my experience! I am pretty envious, honestly. I knew that two would probably be more than I could handle, and yet I did it because I didn't want R to be an only child, as you said. Everyone told me it would be great, I'll love it, everyone had those fears, etc... If you don't have that fear and you love babyhood, then my two cents would be to go for it! One of my best friends tentatively decided to try for a third and got twins... Eek! I feel like... If they could just pop out as already two years old,I'd maybe be okay!

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    1. Okay, that twins thing freaks me out! And, I'm a bit jealous that you really love them starting at age two, honestly. ;) J feels the same way as you, but for me that baby time flies by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always love reading your comments. xoxo

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  5. Responding to your friend WITHOUT kids who said if you have 3 kids your whole identity is a mom. Total BS. No woman's whole identity is as a mom, whether you have 1 or 8 kids, work or stay home or volunteer. Everyone has different interests and passions. It may be harder to make time for those, the more kids you have, but it's not impossible. I have very good friends and work colleagues with three children who are successful professionals, earning big bucks, managers, executives, etc. Yes, they have lots of help from family, nannies, cleaners, etc., but they can afford that because of how successful they are. And I know stay at home moms of 3 or 4 or more kids with lots of other activities going on who still aren't defined solely as a mom, despite not working outside the home.
    BTW, I have two children now, work part-time and want one (sometimes two!) more children. And I don't plan on losing any part of my identity :-)

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    1. Tara, I'm going to AltSummit in a couple weeks and I am so ready and excited to meet all of the Mormon mommy bloggers there. Those women all seem to have four plus kids, as well as awesome hair, killer style and crazy successful business ventures. But I know they still spend lots of time with their families and find a way to make it all fit. I'll be picking their brains for sure! Thank you so much for chiming in. xoxoxo

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  6. What timing! My husband and I are in the middle of making the big appointment this week. We have gone back and forth on the subject many times...but finally made a decision this week (we are done). We decided that if we happen to change our minds down the road, we would look into adopting. Our factors were: my body does not like birth control (we have tried a few different ones now and i become a hormonal mess) My age...I will be 36 this year, I know that is still not a big deal, but the chances of risks (and multiples! ;) ) increase. Finances (our car and living size). Being outnumbered (it's nice that we can each take one on), our dream of moving overseas (schools are less likely to pick families with more than two children)...and also my last pregnancy wreaked havoc on my body.
    It's hard to know...and to know for certain...I am definitely trying my best to enjoy our baby right now as our last one...and like i mentioned, if we change our minds in a few years and feel our family isn't complete, we will definitely look into adoption (i have always felt that was in our future somehow :) )

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  7. My grandmother had four under five, which blows my mind. Yay Catholicism for my Mum and her four siblings! I think I'm still on the high as a kite gimme all the babies hormones as my daughter is 10 months. I always wanted four. Hub wants two. I hope we will have three- he is ok with this, in spite of arguments about uncool cars and sports games. The issue on my mind is when to begin trying again, and age gaps. I want S to have my full attention until she is launched to preschool at 2 and a half, then some time to get into that routine. But then is three years a big age gap? Will I have just got my body and career back only to trash them both again for the next beloved baby? No good answers.

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    1. One person's perspective on the age gap: I have two sisters, one who is 2.5 years older than me and one who is 4.5 years younger than me. The age gaps don't feel significantly different, and never really have (maybe when we were REALLY little - but who remembers that anyways?). In fact, my younger sister and I frequently get mistaken for twins! So from my perspective, don't let the age gap factor in too heavily.

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  8. I always think this topic is so interesting, I have found that the number of children you have is often related to the number of siblings you have. For example, both my husband and I come from families of three children. We currently have two and can't shake the feeling that someone is missing. Perhaps we were conditioned to handled the level of chaos that comes with three because that's the only thing we knew growing up.

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  9. I love this question! My husband and I don't have any children yet, and I hope we will be lucky enough to make the decision ourselves, rather than biology making it for us! For us, it comes down to family dynamics. I come from a family of three children, whereas my husband comes from a family of two children. We both agree that three children makes us feel like there is more of a "family" identity rather than a "parents and kids" identity. In my family, if one child is gone it still feels like the family is there. In his, if one child is gone it feels like one kid and the adults. So we lean towards three, but who knows how we'll feel a few years down the road!

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