I like to think that I am not alone in this fear and the constant back-and-forth of whether or not to have a third child. The decision to have our first child was an easy one- we got married at a young age for a reason- we both wanted to have a baby and be young parents. The decision to have a second was also a no-brainer. We wanted our kids close in age and we wanted me to stay at home until our youngest was at least a toddler so we had to get moving if I was ever going to get back into the work force. Now, we face the decision to have a third and it is paralyzing. If I am being honest, I think I am too scared to have a third child.
Some of you might remember my post from a few months ago about the BRCA test I had done to determine if I had the gene mutation that would increase the chances of my developing breast or ovarian cancer at some point. Before I got the results, my husband and I had already decided that if the test were positive, we would not have another child and I would undergo all necessary surgeries, including a hysterectomy. I had made peace with it and was so certain my test would be positive that in the back of my mind, I thought that if it were negative, I would take it as a sign from the universe that we should have one more baby.
As it turns out, that teeny chance happened and my test was negative. I was completely overjoyed and my husband and I decided we would try for another baby this year. I am a big believer in the idea that everything is meant to be and I truly thought this was a sign that we should definitely have another baby.
As summer has gone on, my doubt has begun to creep in. Our kids are five and nearly seven. I know a big age range is not a huge deal but what of the fact that we have not had to wake up for a baby in years? The idea of going back to that actually frightens me. When I discuss this with friends, I get responses like “Well, you’ve lived through it twice before! You will be fine!” Yes, exactly. I have lived through it twice before and that means I know precisely how much it sucks to hear what my husband and I call “the first crack of thunder”. You know, that teeny cry-noise that means all hell is about to break loose and you will not be sleeping for at least another few hours. Were we ready for that again?
All of that aside, money is a huge factor. I am honestly baffled by and envious of families that make the decision to have more than two children in a cavalier fashion. It is something we have given a great deal of thought to because of what we pay in daycare and the fact that we could not live the life we want on only my husband’s income. There is also the fact that I felt good about being at home for our children’s first years and I would want to do that again with a third child. I have to work in some fashion to maintain our current lifestyle and even writing from home full-time (which would eventually be the plan) would require some form of daycare.
Even beyond all of these concerns, we worry about our family dynamic and how it would change. Our kids are literally BFF. They are 20 months apart and more like twins than regular siblings. I love their relationship and I would honestly feel a bit sad that baby number three might be the third wheel forever. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I remember my brother, who is seven years younger than me, struggling to keep up with me and our other brother who is four years older than him. Everything is great now that we are adults but I can’t imagine it was fun for him tagging along with us and begging to be included.
There is also the matter of our burgeoning freedom as parents of older kids. I am not talking just the sleep stuff. Our kids dress themselves, wipe themselves, tidy their own rooms, put their own plates in the sink and can do minor chores. It is kind of awesome having a little family unit where everyone participates in keeping the household humming. There is also the fact that my parents have recently become comfortable with having our kids sleep over since they are no longer babies that cry for us at 2am. If we had another baby, it would be years before we got another child-free weekend with Nana and Papa helping us out. I have to say- eating Chipotle in front of the TV last weekend while the kids were with my parents was basically amazing.
All of this aside, I still get a bit wistful when I hold a friend’s baby. I miss nursing and wonder if I will ever get to do it again. I think of how amazing it would be to see my kids doting on their younger sibling and teaching them everything they know. Despite all of the negatives, my heart still wants another child. It is so difficult trying to decide if it’s my heart or my head that will make the right choice.
I am really unsure if this will ever happen for us. I change my mind literally on a daily (sometimes, hourly) basis. I almost wish we had gotten pregnant by accident at some point over the last few years so we wouldn’t have to think about it. The decision to have a third seems like the biggest decision of all when it comes to our family planning and I wish that it weren’t that way. I don’t want to wonder forever if having a third child was the right choice but I also don’t want to regret forever if we stay a family of four. Stay tuned for more- I know this one is not over yet.