Two or three? Finalising a family

NS February 15th, 2011

Over dinner the other night, Noble Husband and I somehow fell into discussing whether we are done having children or if we would like another at some point.

I’d always vaguely surmised that I would decide by the time Noble Boy turned 3 as I wanted to leave a bigger gap this time if I did decide to have another, but not too big to where it would feel like starting over again. He’s now 2 and a half so if I was to begin pondering it, the time would be soon(ish).

But the fact that I’m getting really into my new career and am putting a lot of my energy into it as of late has prevented me from even considering it. Another baby at this point would put the brakes on all of the wonderful momentum I have going right now and, honestly, I’m not ready to let it (and me) take a back seat again.

Plus, the sleep! Oh, the lovely, sweet, nearly-uninterrupted sleep. The ease with which both children now go to bed and how long it took to get to that point. I can’t give that up!

The leaps and bounds by which our marriage and our finances have improved and the ability to leave them with grandparents or friends while we go out on a date or paint the town red…it’s done wonders for our souls.

I finally got my office back just last month after successfully moving the children into one room together. That would all have to be dismantled and put away to make room for a cot if another baby were to grace us with its presence.

I’d be a fool to give all that up, right?  And 90 percent of me knows, deep down, that I am happier right now than I’ve been in a long time. To possibly screw that up for the 10 percent of me that daydreams of how lovely it would be to experience pregnancy again, to give birth and breastfeed a newborn again, to love another human being so fiercely and completely again…Well, when put like that it does make me pause. So what do I think about having a third?

I shrugged at NH from across the table and said I’d decide for sure in a couple/few years, by which time NB would be starting school. But then he had to go and make the valid point that he’s getting close to 40 and that if we were going to have another he’d want to do it sooner rather than later. He doesn’t want to still be parenting teenagers in his late 50s/early 60s, which is fair enough. He’s perfectly happy with the two we have and that’s what feels right to him, coming from a family of four himself. So if I want another, he’d want to do it in the next year or two, not in 3 or 4.

We talked over some of the pros and cons and he asked, What do you want, what feels right?

I’ve always imagined myself with three, I found myself saying.

Huh, that’s interesting. Any particular reason why?

I don’t know why, frankly. I’d always put it down to being one of three myself, though since my younger sister died when I was 9, it was only me and my older sister for the latter part of my childhood. I’d been happy enough as part of a sibling twosome so why, even though I’ve had no particular yearnings for another baby, does two not feel complete, somehow?

And then words came out of my mouth that I’d not stopped to piece together, let alone internalise. Until I said it, I hadn’t even realised it was there.

Because if something were to happen to one of our children, god forbid, I wouldn’t want the other to grow up alone.

I was as surprised as NH was. We sat in silence for a moment. He looked at me sympathetically.

I had no idea you felt that way, he said.

Neither did I. But maybe now I’ve said it the very idea automatically vanishes,  like an exorcised demon abruptly leaving a disturbed home, relieving its occupants and leaving behind a tangible peace and calm, the kind that flows through you in such a rush that it seeps into your bones.

Still, not exactly a good reason to have another baby, is it? It’s all a bit morbid and irrational. But now, having said it out loud, I can have an honest look at myself, at my life, and whether another baby would fit in or whether it feels more like an expectation I’ve placed on myself.

I’m leaning towards the latter but have put off making any rash decisions either way. Perhaps in another six months to a year I’ll be in a place to bring some resolution to the matter.

And if we decide that our family is complete as it is, I’ll be buying a large bag of frozen peas for NH with the words ‘FREEDOM!’ and ‘Your turn, SUCKA!’ written across it in marker pen.

23 Responses to “Two or three? Finalising a family”

  1. Andrea says:

    Wow – I love the NS family as it is and however it will be – and LOVE to you all!!!

    NS Reply:

    @Andrea, Thanks, A. Lots of love to you too.

  2. Troutie says:

    It may be morbid and irrational but its also quite compelling. I had never thought about it in that way before – oh god you actually made me consider a third and I thought that was IMPOSSIBLE!!!!

    Maybe now I’ve externalised it the idea will vanish for me too.

    You know what makes me really jealous? That you two actually have these sensible conversations. I just seem to get drunk, flail a few limbs around and get pregnant. You guys are so grown up.
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    NS Reply:

    @Troutie, Oh, believe me, this was the first time we’d actually sat down and talked about it like grown-ups. Our first two were conceived in much the way to which you refer.

  3. Expat Mum says:

    Realistically, the chances of something happening to one of them are very small, even though it happened to your family.

    As mom to three kids – 18, 15 and 7, let me give you some things to think about. You’re right, you don’t want to leave it too long, because the little one ends up doing things on his/her own; you will be older with a teen; you will be knackered by the time the child is a teen; the other two will be off to college when the youngest one is a teen (if not before); – my little guy will be 8 and 10 when his sibs leave, and he’s devastated already. If there’s too big a gap, the older ones sometimes resent the fact that there are things we can’t do because of their little sib. We rarely go to the movies together anymore because they don’t want to see cartoons. He does a lot of things on his own with me, which the other two didn’t have to. They had each other.

    Also, you have another baby to have a third child, not to have a baby in the house, lovely as that may be. It need not set you back in your career if you make your career more of a prioroty than perhaps you’re used to. You can do it but you have to have the help in place.

    Another thing to think about is that you’ll have to schlepp a baby around to all the activities you currently take your kiddies to. I remember the first winter, when little guy was 5 months and the other two were swimming. We were there for hours; I had to take his food, tons of diapers, etc etc. Lot of work.

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    NS Reply:

    @Expat Mum, Thank you Expat Mum, lots of food for thought. Excellent points. It does sound like a lot of work to have a big gap! I don’t think I’d do a gap of more than 5 years. If I haven’t decided by the time NB starts reception then the decision will be made for me!

  4. I’m glad it’s not just me. I have very similar feelings to you – down to the morbid thoughts (although it was my husband who had that idea first, not me). I feel as if I’m just emerging from the mists of babyhood into a more balanced life where I can work and have my own life. Yet, I don’t want to end up regretting not having a third baby – and I don’t want to leave it too late, as I’m now heading into the late 30s. What a decision!
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    NS Reply:

    @nappyvalleygirl, It’s such a tricky one isn’t it? I’m exactly the same. But I’m just feeling far too settled and selfish now to even consider it, though it’s a nice idea in theory.

  5. Expat Mum says:

    And don’t forget, the older you get the more likely you are to double ovulate……resulting in TWINS!!! Yay!
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    NS Reply:

    @Expat Mum, I think my ovaries actually shrank away in terror just then.

  6. I can totally understand where that came from, I am so pleased that my children have each other to support them through whatever the future holds for them. Good luck with your decision.

    NS Reply:

    @CherishedByMe, Thank you. :)

  7. It is such a difficult decision. I am having the same thoughts. 95% of me is knows I am so fortunate to have two healthy happy(ish) kids. The impact another baby would have on us in terms of finance, career, sleep, family life, even environmentally would be too great. And yet……..we just have this inbuilt yearning to have babies. Why? It’s so bloody inconvenient!!! My decision to stick at two is based on two factors – my age (40 this year) and the fact that I know of two mothers who decided to have a third child and ended up with natural triplets. Can you even imagine………Good luck with your decision making x

    NS Reply:

    First Expat Mum mentions twins and now you’re talking about triplets?! NH, get that Big V and a bag of peas, stat!

  8. Having just gone for the third (having had a similar thought process to you) I have to say that I am loving it. Bigger age gap this time (a sensible one). He does seem to have just slotted straight into the family and is already diluting some of the intense sibling rivalry/clashes between his 2 older brothers.

    The PhD is up the spout, we really have even less cash and I do feel as if I’m never going to have any time to myself ever again!
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    Noble Savage Reply:

    @PantsWithNames, How big is the age gap between your second and third, if you don’t mind me asking? Nice to hear that number 3 has slotted in so nicely!
    Noble Savage´s last blog ..Two or three Finalising a familyMy ComLuv Profile

    PantsWithNames Reply:

    @Noble Savage,

    Similarish to you now. 19 months between 1 and 2, and then nearly 4 years between 2 and 3.

    I don’t think we’ll be having a number 4.
    PantsWithNames´s last blog ..A tale of two photosMy ComLuv Profile

  9. Wow, what an open, honest post. Naming a fear is often the first step to dealing with it. Sometimes saying it out loud is really important.

    Good luck with your ponderings.
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  10. nicola says:

    Fantastic post. That is an incredibly insightful…well, insight. xx
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  11. geekymummy says:

    Wow, your reasoning makes perfect sense given the tragedy in your family. Three is a nice number, I’m one of three (20 months between my sister and I then 3 years between my sister and brother) I think everyone does just know what is right for them. My sister has three (2 and a half years between them all), and she teaches part time, has done since the first one. Its right for her, but man, it is busy! I am completely done with my two, but partly because I’m 40. I don’t want to risk having a disabled child, or a difficult birth. And also because my DH is snipped now!

    You have the advantage of youth, so you don’t have to decide right away (even though your DH maybe doesn’t want to wait so long, that’s understandable). I have a good friend whose kids are 19, 17 and 10. It works really well, the younger one (they are all boys) has a great relationship with his big brothers, and she just adores her littlest one.
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  12. April says:

    Thanks for sharing all this..and a lot of good comments. I’d LOVE to have fact I’ve always wanted four, but some days I think “can I even cope with the two I have??” When i’m having melt downs during half term over the stupidest things??
    However DH is doing the whole “we’ve got one of each…we’re sorted” thing…and he is in his early 40′s now…and he is sort of playing catch up with life, and I think he’d see a third baby a step backwards…because we’re now just getting to the point where it’s “getting easier” and I’m starting to become more available to bring in a bit of income, or getting closer all the time….and I think he’d be happier if that responsibility was shared.
    In some ways I almost feel like I’d like to be a bit more on top of things..maybe established in something…before having a third…so it wouldn’t be a “step backwards” for me career wise, but the baby would just slot in….anyway, thanks for brining this up and it’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on it! (Love the new website by the way)
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  13. Emily Barton says:

    I hope that if you decide you want three you will consider adoption. There are so many, many lonely, lost children in the world who could benefit so much from a caring, loving, committed mother like you.

  14. elizabethm says:

    This is so hard isn’t it? I ended up having four as a result of my first marriage imploding and eventually marrying someone who had two of this own. I always felt it was sort of cheating. I loved having more kids but I was crap at pregnancy and not great with small babies. Earth mother I was not. But I was good with older children and this way I ended up with a big family without ever having had to give birth to them all! Not a route I would recommend to others though.
    It is hugely important in my view to look after your marriage. That is the rock on which everything else is based.