Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why We Stopped at Two Children

Deciding how many children to have--or whether to have children at all--is such a personal decision (and it's important to acknowledge that deciding whether to have children is entirely separate from actually being able to have them). 

Initially Matt and I were going to stop after one child. For me it was about freeing up space in my life to give birth to other things, like a network of public Montessori schools in diverse communities nationwide. I added books to my wishlist about raising an only child. 

But after Henry was born, I felt drawn to add another child to our family. I wanted to bring another independent being into the world. I felt like having another child would better allow me to parent according to Khalil Gibran's advice. I could let my children grow into who they wanted to be rather than put all of my hopes and expectations onto one child. 

We knew it would push us to the very edge of our capacity, but we moved forward anyway and welcomed Sweet Tate into our lives. 

And it did push us to the far reaches of our capacity. I can't even imagine what it would have been like for us if Tate had been born with medical issues or special needs.

Our midwife explained that she worked with many clients who came back to her with an accidental third pregnancy. Matt and I didn't want that to happen to us, and we were confident that two would be all we could handle. We opted for a vasectomy soon after Tate's birth.

A year and a half into life with our expanded family, things are finally starting to get easier. And, honestly, the things that called me to have a second child have started calling me to have a third. The thought of adding another independent being into our family dynamic sounds amazing. Fast forwarding into the future is even more appealing. I love the idea of three grown children coming home for the holidays. 

But we aren't going to have a third child for all of these reasons that make sense for us as a family:
  • It would be really hard for me to go through pregnancy a third time the way I would want to and move forward with my career, while being the kind of mother I would want to be for Tate and Henry. For example, with both pregnancies, I was able to nap every day (with Henry I napped after I got home from my full-time job; with Tate I napped after my part-time job before picking up Henry from school). I have so little time right now as it is. I definitely couldn't nap, and I don't think I could muster the patience that would be required to tolerate fatigue, potential nausea, a toddler, and a four year-old. I already feel like I'm balancing everything so precariously. I can't imagine adding another major demand on my time into the equation. I feel like I would need to sacrifice my career goals and the kind of mother I want to be for Henry and Tate. Again, this feeling is very personal. I can completely understand why other people wouldn't feel the same way on this issue. 
  • We are eager for parenting to get easier and easier. The infant stage is really hard for Matt and me. The sleepless nights, my postpartum gallbladder issues, needing to be home for multiple naps a day. Of course these difficulties last a relatively short time, and it feels really short-sighted to focus on them (that's the argument I make to myself in favor of having a third child!). But we would be adding almost three more years of difficulty onto our life, and that would mean that we would be experiencing that kind of difficulty until Henry was seven years-old. 
  • Adding another child would force us to change our financial goals. Matt and I aspire to pay for our children's college educations so that they don't have to bear the stress of student loan debt (while building responsibility by requiring them to have jobs and to pay for their own cars, if they live in an area without good mass transit). Taking on this challenge for three children would be immense. It would mean that we would have to change our financial priorities, which include traveling a lot with our children. 
  • Stopping at two children means that we are replacing ourselves and not contributing to population growth over time. 
Writing out these reasons has been good to help squelch my baby fever!


REMINDER: The next Purposeful Conception Course: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy starts April 20. Register today! We'd love to have you join us!

Share |


Heather Shoberg said...

I definitely hear you on this. All of the sudden I find myself longing for a third child, but we will stick with two for similar reasons. I have to remind myself almost daily sometimes, though, why 2 is enough. ;)

spanishteacher83 said...

I don't know how many children my husband and I will ultimately add to our family. I am nearing the end of my first pregnancy and very excited to welcome our baby boy into the family. We both come from big families and it is difficult to picture our home with fewer than three children. I initially thought that I would only experience pregnancy once (or maybe not at all). Having gone through the process, I think I might be able to do it one more time. However, adoption is very close to my heart (two of my 5 siblings are adopted) and it may be that adoption is how we choose to grow our family in the future. We know that we want to adopt at least one child. My husband and I are both educators and the physical endurance that pregnancy requires, as well as the time commitment of doctor's appointments, has definitely made my job more challenging this year. It is difficult to imagine doing all that, plus raising a child.

Thanks for writing about this topic and getting me thinking!

Audrey said...

Pretty sure my husband will thank you for this post - the 3rd child longing has just switched into high gear for me! Seriously though, we probably won't for similar reasons - plus a few extra like 'would need a bigger this that & the other thing'. Very timely post - thank you!

Kristy said...

Having added the third child to our family, it is interesting to read about your decision to stop at two. We definitely went back and forth a lot on the decision to have the third for many of the same reasons. Three just felt like the right number for our family. Having three has definitely pushed us to our capacity - no baby fever here and I really enjoy having that feeling of certainty that we are done. I don't see my professional goals being hampered at all. I am fortunate to have a very strong support system in my husband and family but I'm also still early in my career which I think means less responsibilities while the kids are young than if I were more advanced in my career. I often wonder if we would've felt as strong of a desire to have a third if our first two children were a boy and a girl (we have three boys!).

Andrea said...

I'm pregnant with my second currently with first almost 4 years old. I had ideas of having three but this pregnancy has made me agree with my husband about stopping at 2. I'm the main breadwinner and in a busy professional role and have found that for months I've really only had energy to work and sleep (most of weekend). Given my age if we went for number 3 it would be closer spacing - can't imagine us managing with a school aged, and toddler and this much exhaustion. Different for everyone but I think 2 will feel right for us as a family.

Related Posts with Thumbnails