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.