On Wanting Number Three

posted on: Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sometimes, I wonder what's wrong with me. I look at my two perfect babies - more perfect than perfect they are! - and I wonder why they can't just be enough. My head tells me two is good. Two is more than good. I am so lucky to have what I have. My heart is already overflowing with love, and I feel pushed to the limit on time and energy already. So why is it I still want more? Why is it that when I look at my little family I still feel like someone is missing?

I told Josh yesterday that I'm fairly certain my brain is 80% babies, 20% everything else. I don't say that to be cute, and obviously my life is more than just a desire to be a baby making machine. But I'd be a liar if I told you I didn't wrestle with this conflict every single day. I try to focus on what I have and be happy with the here and now. But that tick tick tick is dulled by little. That yearning for more maternity - it's something I just can't shake. When I pack away the swing and bassinet, the thought that they might never be used again causes me to go weak at the knees and makes my head spin just a little. When I think that I might never feel the weight of a newborn sleeping on my chest again - well the lump in my throat is enough to choke on.

My parents had three. So, three just seems right to me. Three seems like the way it should be. What if they had just stopped after Abby? There would be no Ben. How would life have been different? Who would make us all laugh until we cried? How lonely it would seem without him. To not have had a brother, it's something I cannot even imagine. I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. And yet...

They say money doesn't buy happiness, but it kind of does, right? Every month when I write out the checks for my student loan bills I'm reminded of this. My parents had us when they were practically babies themselves. They worked so hard for everything we had and we somehow managed to get by. But times were hard and there was a lot of struggle. I know they did the best they could and we turned out just fine. Better than fine in my opinion, actually...but...

There were no trips to Disney World or to the beach. There were no cars on our 16th birthdays, no airplane rides and no college savings set aside. Of course I'm glad they had us when they did or none of us would be who we are today. I wouldn't go back and change it even if I could. Still...those things would have been nice, and I want all of that and more for my own children. What parent wouldn't? I think about it every time I write a check for another one of my loans instead of buying Wes a new pair of shoes. I think about it when I watch Abby put off the haircut she's been needing for months because her student loan payment just went up again. I never want my children to have to bear the burden of this kind of debt. That responsibility will be on Josh and I, we have already promised each other that. We have their college funds set up and the savings is already in the thousands, but with each additional child it's that much harder to save and that much more we have to sacrifice every day. You only get one shot at childhood, and I want theirs to be magic.

So why can't my head and heart get on the same page? I know it will be infinitely easier to just stop now. But how do you know when it's time to really close the book on that chapter of your life? How do you really, really, really know?

And what about my Ben? I still want my Ben.

I don't feel done. 


  1. I could have written this post myself. I have always known that I wanted 3 kids. But then after I pay the babysitter, the student loans, the hospital bills, the groceries, I feel like I'll have to be CEO someday to make it all work. And then I'll never see my kids anyway because I'll be a CEO. It's so hard. I still have that little baby who falls asleep on my chest and I can't imagine what it will be like when I don't have that anymore :(

  2. Oh Audra, thank you for that. Blogging can be so good for the soul. It makes me feel so much better when I know someone else out there can relate. (even though I wish you didn't have to)

  3. You are not alone. I struggled with this as well. We have two boys and I have wondered if we should have tried for the girl. Now that I am six years away from the babies I can appreciate the time I had with them while they were babies and now I appreciate them more when they are 6 and 12. You will never regret having another baby, but you might regret not having one. You can always work more and get more money, but the time to have children is finite, and trust me on this, 6 years between is about 3 too many. Good luck with that decision. It is never easy and it consumes you until it is done.

  4. Oh the struggles and decisions we have to make... And I wanted a fourth, but at three I was definitely happy and felt fulfilled. Had I known about the college loan struggles, I would definitely have tried harder. With paying for almost 12 years each x 3 kids, there was hardly much left to save for college. If only I would have really known.... I would definitely have tried harder. No matter what though, three was my magic number and I don't regret in any way having that Benjamin. He is my boy! Some are happy with none or one. Sometimes you just get the best suprise in the world and get number three without even making that decision - best thing ever for me! Three special gifts that I selfishly hold on to forever - my pride and joy, my entire life and being.

  5. @Kate Thank you, definitely some food for thought :)

    @Mom You are the cutest ever. Love you!

  6. Personally, I think you would make it work with three. So what, you don't get yearly trips to Disney World or the beach? Kids who do are mostly smug, entitled, privileged little shits anyway. And they grow up to be smug, entitled asshole adults. Evidence: every reality show on MTV.

    BUT, there's no harm in waiting to see. You've got another 12 to 15 years before your baby maker calls it quits for good. Even longer, considering medical intervention. You can wait until Oren is two or three, and see how you feel then.

  7. Of course Em.......And my FAVORITE sister Audra knows this......but "The More you have the MORE you have".....right? My bestest sister Annie is now 7 deep and I really don't think she is stopping. SO why stop now? Oh yeah.....cuz that's chaos.....three is the perfect number but only when two finds it's way to three. I support you treating Oren like a baby for the next 17 years and spoiling them!!!!!

  8. Oh Emily, I don't think there are many parents out there who have the magic number. Where is the crystal ball when you need it. Don't rush with the decision. I am blessed with our three, and I agree with you in not being able to imagine life without Ben...or Cara. I can tell you we went to Disney, but not until Andrew was in the 6th grade. Some years vacation has been a bigger event than others. There is something to be said for not having everything as you are growing up, I think it is called appreciation. Your family will have an amazing life no matter what because that is what you and Josh are committed to. I will tell you that after Cara, I definitely knew I had reached my limit! Good luck, love you.

  9. @Adam. I love you! That is all.

    @Laura and Marisa You're both right. I have plenty of time to decide, thanks for the pep talk :)

  10. Make lots of babies you make the best ones make hundreds of them and give me one! Just kidding but I want to be around to hold the next one more so you got to wait and I'm way younger than josh and it's my favorite part about having him as my brother it's the best thing because as the gap closes between my sisters and I I know Ill still feel like that special little sister with josh most likely I'll feel it forever. I sure hope so!

  11. The "two versus three kids" conversation is one my family had for a long time. My mom always wanted another one, but she and my dad decided on the beach trips and the college funds.

    Was my childhood wonderful? Absolutely. Am I grateful for everything my parents did for us? "Grateful" isn't a strong enough word. However, I think my brother and I would have been at each other's throats a lot less if there had been a "Ben" to break up the sibling rivalry. I wonder what it would have been like to have a sister. Our family life was and is still a happy one, but that doesn't mean there couldn't have been another kind of happy.

    Listen to your heart and don't force the decision. When the time comes, you'll make the right choice for your family.


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