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Stop at Two or Go For Three?

pregnancy belly

Do I want to do that a third time? Credit: Kit4na, Flickr

My daughter just turned 3. My son is 18 months old tomorrow. And I’m trying to figure out if I want to do the whole thing one last time or call it quits at two kids.

When we first started trying to have kids, my husband and I both thought three kids would be the perfect number. After having one, we knew we definitely wanted one more, so we were thrilled when we got pregnant right away. But going from two to three is a harder decision. We flip back and forth daily on if we should have another, and it honestly depends on the kind of day we’re having. Kids both screaming to get in the kitchen with the dog barking to join in on the fun? That’s a two-kid kind of day. Kids behaving and cooperating and my daughter holding my son’s hand as they walk to the playground? That’s a three-kid kind of day.

I don’t think I’ll feel “done” until I have that third. But I do worry. I worry about getting pregnant. I worry about stretching myself too thin. I worry about my history of premature babies. I worry about going for No. 3 and ending up with Nos. 3 and 4. I worry about having the energy to keep up with two active kiddos should I be lucky enough to get pregnant again. I worry about having time for myself and my work.

But I don’t worry about having enough love for all of them. I don’t worry about dividing my attention three ways. I know that the first couple of years would be tough, but that it would get easier as we go along. I would, eventually, be able to have a full night’s sleep again. I hope.

I recently read a great post from a mother of five about how she often gets the question, “How do you do it?” She had such a fabulous response to that question that it bears repeating here. She said that no matter how many kids you have — even if you “only” have one — you’re maxed out. Because, let’s face it, babies can be overwhelming. Two-year-olds can be overwhelming. Parenting can be overwhelming. But the other important thing she said? You’ll find your way. For many reasons, now was the exact right time to read that article; it’s okay to feel maxed out and overwhelmed, and sometimes, feel just crazy enough to add one more to it.

While we’re still debating, I’m trying to wear both hats. I’m trying to imagine us with one more and how that would be day to day — the stress, the love, the dynamics of our family. And I’m also having days where I accept the fact that we might be done. I wear that hat of imagining retiring the crib after my son outgrows it, instead of it being filled with one more kiddo for a couple more years. I’m trying to see the positives of two — not being outnumbered, retiring all the baby stuff, having more time for myself as it’s gotten easier with the two we have. And there’s the not having to go back to the sleepless nights stage again.

Who knows which side we’ll land on. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! How did you decide how many kids to have? Did you know when you were officially done? —Erin

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