The decision to have a third child was not a trivial one, nor was it easy.
My heart wanted 3. My “life plan” from over a decade ago (from when I had zero children!) contained a note about 3 children, two girls and one boy. In this “life plan” I had noted that we would have two daughters first, then a son. This was tongue in cheek, of course . . . and yet it almost came true!
(I did not stick with the baby names on my life plan, if anyone is wondering. If I had, we’d have Cara, Lily, and ???, because I never decided on a boy’s name. At the time, Josh and I used Shaquille as a placeholder.)
ANYWAY. I knew going in that deciding to have a 3rd child meant:
1) More chaos to manage. More moving parts.
2) More $$$ (not the baby ‘stuff’, though I had thrown it out — primarily because #3 would extend the years of intense & expensive childcare, and then she’d have her own big expenses like camp, activities, college, etc).
3) Doing the whole baby/toddler thing again. Despite wanting a 3rd child, I did not necessarily have baby fever. I dreaded pumping (though apparently not enough not to do it.)
4) Risk of a child with a medical or genetic issue (I was 37 when I had G and very nervous about my genetic screening tests).
ON THE PLUS SIDE:
1) I wanted that ‘bigger family’ feel. It just sounded so cozy and nice and fun to me.
2) I didn’t feel ‘done’, and I felt I would regret not having one more deep in my heart.
Clearly, feelings trumped logic, and we went for it! And I’m so glad we did. But I will corroborate the first part of this list. Life has felt fairly chaotic over the past 9 months, and I hadn’t considered another negative which is that sometimes I feel like I cannot give A&C the attention they need because of the hands-on parenting G requires right now. It is particularly stressful after work, when I get home and I am tired but I have not one nor two but THREE bodies basically jumping on top of me with emotional and physical needs. Josh has been home since Halloween so that has been an enormous relief, but I’m already dreading his return to surgery hours (though admittedly our bank account is looking forward to becoming a dual-income family again!).
Also, the reaction of A&C to having a competing presence (or I guess that’s how they saw her, especially initially) was more intense than I had anticipated. Cameron was so incredibly jealous and neither kid is as gentle with her as I’d hoped. They do LOVE making her laugh and had the best time ever as she got her first slice of cake at her birthday party — the footage is priceless and helps me realize how much joy she really adds to our family. But there’s a lot more refereeing to be done (and there was plenty before!).
For me — having G meant a really rough year at work. Choosing to pump as long as I did may or may not have been the right choice, though I’m glad I did it. I managed not to lose any ground professionally, but at times I felt like I was going to lose my MIND I felt so scattered and overextended. I also had so much anxiety (clearly) around fitting in pumping, pumping enough, etc that it colored my work (and therefore life) experience for the past 9 months. I notice it so much now that I’m FREE of that burden and in many ways I’m looking forward to fully weaning so that a work event at 7 pm doesn’t fill me with logistical angst.
And while we are on the topic of logistics — it has definitely been more challenging with 3, in part because dragging her along (and trying to give her some reasonable time to nap) can make activities which would be fairly relaxing (taking the kids to gymnastics, for example) much more stressful. We’ve done a LOT of dividing and conquering between Josh and me — weekends are often spent with different divisions of kids with each parent, and sometimes it just feels . . . tiring and unsatisfying. I am working hard at trying to plan weekend that include some couples time, some ‘me’ time for each of us, and quality family time, but . . . it’s not the easiest puzzle, and sometimes I just can’t make the pieces fit! Having enough childcare is key and I need to be better about this in the new calendar year. It is expensive, but it’s temporary and can make an enormous difference in certain situations (and allow me to focus on the older kids sometimes which is really important, both to me and to them!).
From a couples standpoint: I’d say Josh and I are doing very well, all things considered. I think we both have the insight and experience to now understand that the baby/toddler phases are really fairly short and require all hands on deck when possible. We half-joke at the end of every weekend, saying something to the effect of “well, that was exhausting!” — but we still generally have a positive attitude about it. We go out on dates many weekends (typically if neither of us is on call, I schedule a Saturday night babysitter) and that time together really helps. We are planning some just-us trips for next year, which I am very excited about! I do think the next ~6 months will be very challenging as he has to focus on work once again and we have not been able to execute a move*, but at least I’m prepared for it.
No ‘post-baby’ report would be complete without a ‘body’ section, so I will note that I have essentially fully recovered physically from my 3rd pregnancy and am back to my usual ‘happy weight’ and in my pre-preg jeans/clothes/etc. This happened very quickly once I stopped pumping (and stopped eating with the intent to produce as much milk as possible). I am greatly looking forward to buying some new clothes — and also eventually getting OUT of my nursing bras! On the exercise front, I’m managing to get workouts in 4-5 days most weeks, mostly short morning runs (with or without stroller) and 30 min Beachbody 21 Day Fix sessions.
IN SUMMARY (because whew, that was long!):
I feel like we were meant to have a 3rd child, and I am so glad we have Genevieve. I now have the feeling of completeness that I didn’t have before (so no, we are not going for #4). There are definitely logistical challenges and tradeoffs (less undivided attention for A&C being the biggest one I can think of) but they are dwarfed by the amazingness of having another PERSON in our family, and one as cute and sparkly as this. And I say this as I hear her on the monitor at 5:41 AM . . .
If you are on the fence about having a third (or a second) — I’m happy to share more thoughts or answer questions. I will admit that lagliv’s post may have sealed the deal for me, so maybe this post will also bring some new babies into the world!
* We actually decided to go for it, but then the rental we wanted got snapped up by someone else while we were in the process of submitting everything 🙁 We haven’t yet found another that meets our specifications but since we have the luxury of time, we will just keep one eye on Zillow and jump on the next ‘right’ one when it comes around.
Thank you for sharing! It”s a discussion that comes up often with my husband. We”ve both always said we wanted 3, and here we are after 2 and I know in my heart and soul someone is missing but it gets in our head when we think logically about money, sleep, and logistics all becoming harder. The number of people who say things like “why chance another when you have two healthy kids” almost hurts… all this to say it”s nice to see a positive yet realistic view into what it”s like to have three. I think my favorite part of all of this is realizing the my brain & logic side may never feel fully ready, so I need to listen to when my heart does. Thankfully I have a Husband who would be happy with either choice too!
Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m 35 weeks pregnant with my 3rd now but did spent the better part of the past 2 years in complete conflict over it and probably left a lot of comments on this blog expressing said conflict. 😆After years trying to rationalize the decision I finally just accepted that my heart wanted it and we would figure out the rest. I don’t actually know any working mothers of more than 2 kids so you and Laura were a huge influence and virtual support for me. I think that would be my biggest advice to someone trying to make the 3rd-or-not-call: listen, like REALLY listen to your heart and stop trying to rationalize things, even if you are a normally a very rational person. I know that’s easier said than done, but in the end it’s what I had to do to end the endless conflict in my head.
Great post SHU! I have no admit my overview of our first year with 3 kids is less nuanced… in part because I think it just was easier. My job is more flexible during the day (i.e., not patient or client care), I did not pump (I genuinely had no interest and am very glad it wasn’t something that was important to me because I think it really is part of why that first year was so easy! but you have to fulfill your own priorities), my kids were older (a 6.5 year old can basically be a sub-parent at times!), Cora slept through the night early (this is luck; our first baby DID NOT and I don’t care what the books say/said, he was not going to until he was f-ing ready at 11 months old), and finally- to your point about A&C, I’m realizing how much it helped that Landon and Claire were always each other’s feedback loops. I mean, they need James and I, and they’re thrilled to see us- but particularly at 3 and 6, they were absolutely each other’s best friends and first/main source for all attention and feedback. They were very self-contained and they ADORED Cora and there was truly never a moment of jealousy or even a moment where I felt I wasn’t giving them enough. But again, I think it’s because they got so much from each other; therefore, my level of input didn’t really change much.
Which is all to say, I’m so glad sweet Genevieve is in the world, I can’t wait to watch your five-pack grow, and I’m so glad you are happy with your decision! (Not that you wouldn’t be no matter once what that little person is part of your family, but still, that it generally worked on a practical level for the first year for you!)
Thank you for your honesty here. We are going from 1 to 2 kids any day now (I”m 36 weeks), and it took years before I felt like I could handle two kids. Most everyone just says how wonderful things are after a baby arrives. It made me feel like an absolute failure for finding my first child”s infancy incredibly challenging. As a second grader (told you we debated for years before trying again!) she”s an amazing person. It helps to know the tough times are temporary, and we all struggle.
Thank you for this post! I’m 24 weeks with #3 right now (all three will be 21 months apart). We are very excited, but we also know that it is going to be absolute chaos for a bit.
Would you mind talking more about how you handle the evenings with all 3? I’m lucky in that my husband and I are both home most nights, but I have no idea how we’re going to handle bedtime with all three when one of us is gone. That (and how we can possibly fit one more seat around our tiny kitchen table!) is my biggest simple/logistical worry about having a "big" family.
i put my 3 (7 years, 3 years, 10 months) to bed myself a lot and have for the past year. The 3 year old goes to bed at 7 pm and the 7 year old goes to bed at 8 pm. I try to put the baby down in between.
Logistics: The oldest basically entertains himself while I put his sisters to bed and he gets himself ready after. He has a basic kindle and i get him kindle books from the library which he reads in the evenings. Baths happen <1/week (more during summer) and are typically for weekends. The baby comes to cuddle/hang out while I cuddle the toddler and read. When she was small i stuck her in a bouncer, now she crawls around the nursery. Baby goes to bed second and the oldest third. I would love to put the baby down earlier but the 3 share a room (NYC) and she gets woken up by the 3 year old going to bed otherwise. There are days it’s hectic but we have a routine down and its really not that bad most of the time. We have a clip on high chair (Inglesina brand). I have 6 years between #1 and #3 but if yours are spaced closer you can always get a babysitter for nights alone.
You and Lagliv are part of the reason we decided to go for #3. We didn’t feel done and I didn’t think we’d regret having a third. She turns 1 next month and we are all so happy she’s here.
This brings me great joy to see!!
I’m living vicariously. 🙂 I loved babies and would have had 1 or 2 more (have 2 now) but my husband was DONE at 2. I’m at peace with it so now I can just have fun reading about all of you with bigger famliies!
Ditto to this. Also….I do love reading about bigger families, and it sounds so cozy and fun, but I need to remind myself that the decibel level in our small house, with just 2, is more than I can handle on a usual basis.
Absolutely! The reality is that I get overwhelmed sometimes with just two, and struggle with feeling torn between their needs. (They go HOURS without needing anything from me but then inevitably both urgently need something at the same time.) Also, the noise.
I love the "big family" feeling too. When we were expecting #4 I really felt like the kids were also welcoming a sibling into *their* club. There is a lot of fighting but life is also a constant playdate.
Love this post!!
I am so glad you posted your thoughts after one year…..one of my favorite things about this blog is your self reflection and openness with regards to your feelings "after the fact". I feel like your readers were along for the ride on this decision (like so many) and I really love that you always circle back to recap.
Most worthwhile decisions in life are fraught with emotion and rarely easy.
Here’s to a great 2019!
Thank you so much Victoria – that means a lot!
So fun to read the dialogue here! We have an almost one year old and almost three year so of course the #3 question is starting to loom; however, we live somewhere with extraordinary daycare costs so that should help keep the question looming until we get closer to kindergarten for our oldest 🙂 my oldest constantly tells me she wants two babies (one in addition to her sister) – she even asked if we could have one of her cousins so at least I know she”ll be a fan if we do go that direction! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing the update on what it’s been like w 3! I am nowhere near having kids myself but was the oldest of 3 with 2 MD parents, so it’s really interesting seeing your side of things.
Also — this is completely unrelated to this post but I was wondering if you were going to do kind of a planner 2019 recommendation overview? I have been really enjoying the individual planner reviews but am now beginning to consider which one I’d like for next year and would love a summary review with recommendations.
As usual always love reading your blog. Have a great Friday!
We only have two, and we are done. Ours are 6.5 years apart. With #2 I was surprised by how much more stretched I feel as far as energy and brain space. I was also surprised by how my oldest reacted, feeling left out and needing more attention. I come from a large family (#8 was born when I was 14) and jealousy of younger siblings or feeling pushed out of place by them was not something that really happened, or if it did it wasn”t major.
I”m pretty sure your post referencing Lag Liv”s post influenced me when I started thinking about a second one! 🙂 We feel complete now, mostly. When I do think of a third I remember that with how stretched I feel with two, three would probably be not great, so it”s just as well. (I got my tubes tied during my second”s delivery so we are for sure done.)
Currently thinking about a 3rd and wondering if C has warmed up to G by now? I worry about changing our family dynamic, our 2 are best friends right now (ages 3 and 5).
He still has jealous moments but is much much better w her now! And Annabel is amazing with her. And she adores both A and C.