How Many Children Do You Hope to Have?

Alex and I have been talking about this more lately, and…

…we’re torn. Recently I’ve been wondering if we should try for a third child, but Alex looks totally panicky (basically this expression) whenever I bring it up. So, we are, as yet, undecided.

We have two wonderful children and feel so, so lucky. But I grew up in a family with three children, and three seems like such a fun gang. And I’d love to see Anton as a big brother!

Meanwhile, Alex and I have talked about these thoughts:
* “The world is made for families of four.” (Tables for four, taxis fit four passengers, etc.)
* “We would be completely sleep deprived for another few years.”
* “Whenever you have a group of three, someone always feels left out.”
* “You don’t know your limits until you’ve passed them.”

Another thing I would add is that I am completely beside myself for the first 6-9 months with a new baby, since I experience terrible postpartum depression and anxiety. So I’d have to roll up my sleeves and prepare to go through that again, which definitely makes me hesitant. And who knows? Maybe we wouldn’t be able to have another baby. But, still, I just can’t get that third child out of my mind.

I’m so curious: How many kids do you hope to have? One, two or more? None? Not sure? Do you agree with your partner on the number? If not, how did you decide?

P.S. Raising your first vs. second child. And would you ever decide not to have kids?

(Photos of my twin sister and me)

  1. I have three children but the plan is to adopt or take foster children once mine have grown and moved out. We have a friend that does this and it makes such a difference to those kids in need. Thanks.

  2. As I read through some of the comments I was shaking or nodding my head. We currently have three beautiful healthy children. I want one more, my husband does not (yet). The thought of never being pregnant again or giving birth scares me. I adore both of those things as well as the smell of a newborn, the weight of them sleeping on your chest, the thrill of the biggest sisters holding their baby sibling for the first time. The magic of it all. My husband sees nothing of this and only of the more time I am preoccupied, the finances of adding another child, the hassle of going anywhere (not that he thinks we cannot go just the length of time it takes to get there). When we had one and two life didn’t change at all, adding the third, slowed life down in that we had to prepare more to go anywhere, it took my longer bc two hands three kids. I hope we can agree (to add another) but if not we will happily travel the world with our three cherubs happy as clams!And it still flabbergasts me, in my 20s, I was sure I wanted no children!

  3. I grew up as the oldest of six kids in my family and I absolutely hated it. My parents didn’t have the financial stability to care for all of us and that had majorly negative affects on all of us as kids and teenagers. I find it difficult to be a parent to one child as it is; mentally, financially and physically. The idea of losing even more of my freedom is terrifying to me, not to mention having to go through pregnancy and childbirth again! Something I also have to consider is how having a second child would affect my daughter’s life and well- being. Life is fine as it is, and my daughter is happy being an only child. She doesn’t lack in social interaction because I bring her to lots of places that I wouldn’t be able to if I had a second child.

  4. Nessy says...

    I have 5 children. Considering my 6th. Im excited. Did you go back for a 3rd?

  5. Great, thanks so much!

  6. S says...

    A little late to this article, and haven’t read all of the comments…but one big thing missing is the cost associated. I assume that everyone thinking about another child has the resources. Living in a big city (like NYC, where some people don’t even own their property and living in small spaces), student loans your kids are going to accrue if you can’t pay for it….less for the other kids needs to be taken into account. I think it’s not just *want* but to think about your other kids and what you can afford to give them. It’s a valid concern, no? Finances continue to get harder for future generations, and not everyone has trust funds or parents that are beyond middle income.

    Seems a little selfish that people are just thinking that they want more kids, but can they say they can give everything they want financially if adding more? I’m not saying parents are responsible for paying for school beyond 18 or anything else, but think it’s a big piece missing in this conversation.

    • Shannon says...

      I’m an only (I have an estranged half sister that I wasn’t raised with). I decided I was ready around 36/37 and knew I only wanted one. I was so lucky to conceive quickly and had a healthy pregnancy.

      Finances do play a part in this decision, as she is in private school and we have a small 1950’s cottage (space). I didn’t want to split resources with another child and honestly, I don’t like a “boisterous” home.
      We’re happy as a family of 3 going on 12 years now, wouldn’t change a thing!

  7. Stacey says...

    We have a four year old daughter and I have been wanting another child since she was two. My husband said he wants more kids but then he gets mad everytime I bring it up. We can’t afford another kid right now but I’m hoping we can in a year or so. I’m 31 and my hubby is 32 and I’ve heard it’s harder to get pregnant in your 30’s so I’m hoping when we are ready to have another one we will physically still be able to.

  8. Katie says...

    As many as possible! I’m 37 though, and sometimes I get bummed out that I’m single & having kids (a lot, especially) won’t be as easy. Still, I think I owe it to my life to listen to my dreams. So, lately, I think I’ll be stoked with whatever amount of kids I can have – whether they come from my future husband & I, or through the courts (or maybe I fall for someone who already has kids from a prior relationship?). There are a million ways to be content & a countless ways to have family. I say go for whatever you want, in whatever shape that takes!

  9. Claire says...

    I have a 5 yr old boy and a 18 month old boy. Both healthy & wonderful (so far ;) )
    My husband wants another. I kind of do too (we both came from families with 3 kids & though I love my boys I’d love a girl too!). But I’m scared, now that I’m a little older (36, & husband 42) that a third child might not be healthy. Shouldn’t I be happy with my healthy two? Shouldn’t I worry about overpopulation?
    But – twist – ….like your dear husband, Alex… My brother died – young(ish) – at age 30. It’s now just me and my sister. I can’t fathom, God forbid, if one of my children died, the other being alone in this world (after his parents inevitably die). I wouldn’t have survived this tragedy without my sister. It’s a tad morbid, but it’s in my thoughts when I ponder this…
    It’s a very hard decision & I’m not there yet.
    Hugs to you and your family. I know you’ve been through a lot of loss recently and it’s so hard. I wish you all healing. And take comfort that I (and millions of others ;) ) find your blog to be so sincere and relevant – truly a bright spot in my day, every day.
    Good luck with your decision!

  10. Mel says...

    I have 3 children…..I think that if you “think” you want a another child that you should definitely have one. If you don’t it maybe a big regret but if you do have another I don’t know of a single person that really regrets that decision.

    • Thanks for the advice! I really needed to read this.

  11. Liliana says...

    I don’t have any children yet but my perfect plan is to have two children and then adopt two.

  12. Claire says...

    We have a four-month-old boy and the conversation of “how many kids should we have?” has been a frequent one between my husband and I! I want four (I have three brothers) and he wants three (he has a brother and sister). We have agreed that if we have two boys next we’d try for a girl and if we have two girls next we’ll stop. But if we have a boy and a girl next we’ll have to decide after Baby #3! Our logic is that we don’t know if we’ll be ready for four kids until we have three.

  13. Ariana says...

    Growing up, I never had any doubt in my mind that I wanted a large family. As luck would have it, that’s what my husband wanted to! I think a major factor had to do with the fact that we’re both from big families. I am the oldest of eight and he is the middle of five. We both have numerous aunts and uncles and cousins and for the life of me, I could never imagine a growing up with a small family.

    We got married mid twenties and travelled extensively all the time and I have never wanted to be pregnant so we decided we would adopt. A couple years later adopted our first from Brazil, a year later our next baby from Korea, then Russia, then Ethiopia and finally an American baby, too.

    And now we leave in New Orleans as a constantly loud, constantly late, and constantly messy family. One of the greatest things anyone has ever said about my family was my second oldest best friend, “The door is always open here and the smell of food, too. Your home is like a colourful hug, aunty.”

    • Laura says...

      That is the most fabulous compliment to have received! I hope to one day hear a similar sentiment about my family of 3 children :)

  14. Hi Joanna! Love your blog and all your posts. Truly. Each time I see a new post from you, I’m thrilled!

    I had planned on commenting earlier, but am on vacation in a hotel room and can’t sleep—so I’m reading your archived posts. Ha!

    We are currently in the middle of trying to figure out whether to add another child to the mix as well. It’s been the daily topic of discussion for months! My husband comes from a family of six kids, and we have five kids in mine (hey, we’re Mormon!), so naturally, we have always been used to the idea of large families. However, having three children is AMAZING (which we currently have). We added our third two years ago—he’s a crazy, adorable, wild child (nothing like our first two), but has added SUCH a delightful dynamic to our life.

    As I reflect on OUR parents, I realize that a huge part of their joy comes from being around and involved in THEIR children’s lives. The same is true for me. I adore my kids and each little child we’ve added to our family has brought me more happiness than I could have ever imagined… As I’m sure you can relate!

    So, my advice is that you should do what FEELS best to you and your husband. I love that there are no right answers or set rules when deciding upon the mix of your family. I want my husband to be just as happy about our life decisions as I do bc we are a team in every sense of the word!

    Good luck figuring it out and getting on the same page! I will wish myself a good luck as well—trying to decipher if I’m mourning the loss of baby-dom and our current chapter of life, or if this is a sign that we need to try for another—it’s one of the hardest things to figure out! Heaven help us all! :)

    Sending lots of love to you and your adorable family!

  15. My husband is the oldest of 4 and I’m, based on age differences, essentially an only. When we were dating, we agreed on four (I said I’d birth 2 and we’d adopt 2), but as we face down our thirties, still a couple years from being ready to start a family, I think there’s a good chance we’ll end up with only two.

  16. We are currently pregnant with #2 and think that we want 3-4. We had a difficult time getting pregnant with both babies, so I’m not sure what the future holds. The one piece of advice that I will keep tucked into the back of my mind as we discuss our future family actually came from a few different people. We’ve had maybe 3 or 4 different families tell us that they wish they had had just one more child. Each of these families is now past the point where they would conceive again and all regret not trying for that one more baby that they felt on the fence about. I’m hoping my husband and I both know and agree when our family is complete. We shall see as time goes on.

  17. I always wondered, too, but never threw it to the wind. We were super happy with our two girls and deeply involved in our church and community. We did not have extended family close by, not even in the same state, to lean on and learn from. The years flew by and then… regrettably, it was too late. I spent quite a few years lamenting not having one (or honestly, two more children) more child. When asked now, which surprisingly happens quite often, I reply that in hindsight, I wish we would have had more children. Truly, parenting days are long but the years zip by; the craziness ends and you are left with wonderful adult children. You two will be gone/die some day; and how lovely for the siblings to all have each other to carry on; I say the more the merrier! At the end of life I do not think we will mutter we had too many children; rather, I think we will reach with outstretched hands to our adult children and luckily, any grand littles, and even great grand littles, with hearts brimming with love and gratitude for family. I think it will all be worth it. Hard for a few years, but think how many more years to enjoy them as adults. It’s hard to see that far into our futures, and life certainly has twists and turns, but I still think babies and families are well worth the investment far more than the expenditures that come with them. Follow your heart. There is no right or wrong answer.

    • Madie says...

      This is lovely, and just what I needed to read right now. :)

  18. I went through this recently, asked all of the same questions, we shared all the same fears and anxieties over having a third. I always knew in my heart that I would have three girls…what it came down to the conviction that we will never regret having a child, but we might regret not having one…
    So we did! Best decision ever!!!!

  19. We’d love to have a 3rd and stop there. Only thing that is stopping us from trying for a 3rd really is the financial aspect. But now, another reality is setting – we can do more and more as our girls are getting older. We would have to give that freedom to do more for another couple years if we had another. We’re having more and more conversations like this right now since our youngest is 2.

    • Grace says...

      I’m in this exact moment. It’s 5 years later. Did you have a third? Did you lose the freedom? If you had one, within the year the babe would be close to 4? I’m so curious.

  20. We were similar until a few months ago – husband happy with 2, me wondering about 3 (I’m from a family of 4). Then I took our two to the park one day and watched them run off and play. A woman with a newborn stood beside me, swaying and bouncing back and forth while watching her bigger children. (I should note that the baby was calm and happy – not crying or discontent.) I realized in that moment that I am completely content with where we are – I love the friendship our two have, I love the ages they are now (5 and almost 3), and I felt a huge wave of relief to not be starting over again. It was as clear as could be after that.

  21. Not to scare you, but we went for our third and it ended up being twins. While terrifying at first, it’s really been the coolest experience so far. I never pictured having 4 kids, but I am oh so grateful.

    And, as far as the sleeplessness goes, it’s such a tiny, fleeting time in the overall timeline. We’re in month three and I’m still getting up twice a night, but it’s flying by.

    When I was grappling with the decision to try for a third, one of my friends said to me, “it’s not about how many babies you want or even how many kids. It’s about how many PEOPLE you want in your family.” Because while were in the thick of it, the child part seems to last forever but it really is such a small part of the overall parenting journey.

  22. We have four beautiful children and I’m sure we will have yet another. We almost stopped after two…but then didn’t…I was literally close to dying during my third labour (very awful experience) and thought for sure that was it. My sweet husband convinced me (it took a while) that we needed a fourth (which shocked me to no end as it had always been him who was “done”). After building up my courage, we had #4 and he is seriously like my little guardian angel. I know he was meant to come to our family. I am so glad we didn’t stop after two, I can’t imagine not having my last two kids. Life is busier, there’s more sacrifice required and less time for me, but the rewards are indescribable. We are now talking about #5, and I know it’ll be our last, and I know I’m the girl who gets all the crazy looks from people at the grocery store who think it’s irresponsible for me to have so many kids, but I don’t care. It’s a beautiful life I live, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Some people think it’s unfair to the kids. My kids are best friends with each other and have a built in support system for life, so I couldn’t disagree more. I am by no means a “everyone needs to have lots of kids” pusher, I think everyone is meant to experience life differently and uniquely, and some experiences are meant for some and not for others…my advice is simply to put a lot of thought into your decision, for me it also required a lot of prayer. It’s not something you can take back either way, and only you know how much you can or are willing to handle emotionally, financially and physically. Those are always the three factors I like to asses with this decision. Hope that’s helpful :)

  23. My “number” has been 4 for a long time. I am one of three and I loved having two siblings, and to me one more would be even better (and still pretty manageable)! Something about the number seems so perfect. I am halfway to 4 right now (youngest is 9 months) and now I find myself being more flexible with my number. I do not feel like our family is complete, but maybe 3 would be right. Or maybe even 5… we will see.

    I sometimes think the strong pull at the heart for another means that another is meant to be :) But I know there are reasons that make another not a good choice for a particular woman and her family.

    I struggle with a medical condition during pregnancy, but I have not had to experience PPD. I can only imagine how much more challenging it would make those early days, weeks, and nights. I want to encourage those who are suffering or think they might in the future to search for a Napro medical consultant. There are trained in identifying and treating underlying issues (often hormonal imbalances). They are also awesome at treating infertility/subfertility.

  24. I am currently expecting our eighth baby. I understand this goes way beyond the family of 4 range but I really do love having a big family.

    We had our first five children in about 10 years. After the fifth my husband and I decided to take a little break and see if we felt like our family was complete. Four years later we knew we were ready to have another. We got a wonderful surprise and actually ended up expecting boy girl twins! We were thrilled!

    I thought I would be done after the twins. That they would be my Grand Finale but I couldn’t commit to being done. It just did not feel right. When the twins were 9 months old I became pregnant with our eighth. My husband and I and all the kids were so excited to be adding another little person to our family.

    I came from a very large family of 10 kids. I loved having so many siblings growing up and I love it even more now as an adult. The greatest gift my parent’s gave me was all of my brothers and sisters. And I hope that I can pass on that same love and loyalty to my own children.

    Good luck making your OWN decision! :)

  25. I never considered myself a motherhood person until I was older.

    I have my doubts about marriage, but motherhood is something that I hope someday to experience.
    Maybe it’s because I yearn to make that ‘perfect family’ I never had growing up.
    But at the end of the day, I still believe in romance – despite the heartbreak we have felt or may have watched others we love and care for, feel.

    I absolutely want children. I don’t think I’m any less of a feminist for admitting that I want a family. A large family (hopefully) someday. For some reason I’ve always pictured four kids. :)

  26. I just scrolled through the comments and was honestly surprised at how many people were perfectly happy with one child. I would keep having babies forever, I think! We have three and I’m pregnant with our fourth- though our third child died (gosh that’s still hard to type.) in April. Because I have c-sections, I think we are limited. I’d love to have a fifth if it’s in the cards for me, if my uterus can take it!

  27. I know it’s becoming less and less of a thing but I’ve always wanted a large family.
    I have two younger siblings, but my Dad is one of four, and my mother is one of THIRTEEN! Meaning, I have an incredible amount of aunts and uncles, as well as cousins (28) and second cousins scattered around the world.

    I have to say, it’s incredible. It’s so much fun and I cannot imagine having a family that is “small” and consisted of only one or two children. The memories and laughter shared during family gatherings is incomparable. I hope to have four babies at least ;)

    But we’ll see what life has in store for me!

  28. I have twin boys and vowed we would never have a 3rd. Then they got bigger and easier….we went back and forth for well over a year. We now have a very sweet 18 month old boy:) Someone once told me, you are never going to think back and wish, “man too bad we had that 3rd child, BIG MISTAKE!” Lol. So very true….the only regrets I hear are for not having another.

  29. I am 48 and I have two, boy and a girl, 4 1/2 years apart. Have no idea how women have them so close together! They are now, 20 and 15. I considered a third in my late 30’s. Then at 39 a divorce, also not something I ever anticipated… Second marriage a year later, and tried for thee months for a baby.. nothing.. now, I am so glad I did not get pregnant. I say just wait, and the urge will pass with wanting a third.. and later when they are older, you will look back and say. Now, it is time for us.. I found it really hard work and I even had a nanny full time… I nursed my first for 4 years and second for 2 1/2 years, I know cray, cray!!! My babies never took a bottle or pacifier. Your are right too, about the hormonal roller coaster. It come back in your mid-forties with a bang. (peri-menopause).. I say no….

  30. I thought i wld have 4 or 5, then it changed to 3 or 4. My numbers 3 and for kept on tapping until i surrendered. Two or three years of hard yakka and eternal rewards. I am no longer ‘consumer driven’. Thr r sacrifices … investments. I hav mstr 14.5 mstr 12.5 miss 8.5 and mstr 2.5 and after two years of deliberation i am secure in my heart four is enough for me / us.

  31. We have two sweet kids, our son is 18 and a freshman at Stanford and our daughter is 10, we didn’t plan to have two children 8 years apart, but they are so very close and independent. Because of the age difference we never had the rivalry- our son still says that our daughter was the best present he ever received (she was born on x-mas day). I also feel lucky that we also had time with them as parents as only children- it’s a gift to be able to really enjoy them.

  32. We have one. After struggling to conceive, he came prematurely. I was advised no to try again until he turned five years old, but there were no certainties that I could carry again to fullterm or at all. Risking a life isn’t worth it to me or my husband.

    We love our little dude. He’s amazing, and he’d love to have a sibling. He would make a terrific big brother, but it isn’t going to happen. We had planned on two as our minimum, but the prospect of the financial and emotional roller coaster of adoption took that of the table.

    So here we are at one. I feel lucky (actually) that my choice was essentially taken away from me. I am able to look at my son and say, “You are enough. You have my heart.” We focus on fostering strong relationships with cousins and close friends.

  33. I grew up in a family with 4 kids, lots of fun. But as a teenager I decided parenthood just wasn’t for me. Luckily my husband was OK with that when he met me. I like kids – just didn’t want any of my own.

  34. We’re praying about #4 (I have 3 boys)

    I also struggled a lot with PPD with #1 and #2 and I won’t tell you what I did to completely keep it away with #3 cause you’ll puke, but let’s just say that it doesn’t always happen and there are ways to fight it.

    It’s a tough decision. We’ve lost three babies in the second trimester (all between our live #2 and #3). Six pregnancies, six boys and people ask if we’re going to try for a girl. I think that’s just not going to happen :)

    After 3 kids, adding another isn’t the biggest thing ever and my husband is open to it if that’s where we feel led, but we’re both scared too, mostly of loss and not of having another child. When you’ve buried a child, it can make the crappy things your living kids do just a little less crappy, but it’s not a perspective I ever want anyone to get if that makes any sense.

    My kids aren’t angels. My #2 is either going to be a billionaire inventor or blow up the world. It’s still a toss up at this point cause he’s almost 7. But my baby won’t be 2 for another few months. With this wide spread in ages it’s definitely easier to think about having more. I have a 10 year old who is very helpful.

  35. We have four… 8, 4, and 2 year old twins. We are debating a fifth. Why? Because I would have to take fertility drugs this time because my body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to anymore. Four kids is a beautiful number. Two was comfortable, but three is no longer you and me, but “we.” We are Catholic and like the idea of letting God be in charge. He knows what’s best for our family. My husband is also going with the flow, the thought of another one doesn’t worry him because we have all the supplies and it’s really just one (or two) more scoop(s) of Mac and Cheese.

    From what I hear, parents are sleep deprived even after their kids grow up and move out… ;-)


  36. Hopefully six or maybe seven! :-)

  37. My husband and I thought long and hard about kids, and although we love children, we’ve decided that our contribution to the planet is not adding to the population. We will enjoy hanging out with our friend’s kids though! (We’ll also enjoy going home to our quiet, clean apartment where we will get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, hahah!)

    • Margot says...

      I really respect people who choose to not have children.. and also to those who join the ‘one and done’ club.
      As a new mom of a three week old I am absolutely shattered at the reality of what being a parent is. It is really hard for me. A lot of things have not felt or come as naturally to me as It appears to come for other moms.
      I adore my little girl and feel like having her is a huge accomplishment and also have no doubt as she gets older she will enrich our lives greatly but I very much doubt we will have a second child. I am an introvert and extremely creative. I have to be selfish in order to be the best wife and mother I can be. I had no idea having a child would be hard. Well done to you for being totally in time with yourself and making the decision you have made. I kind of feel that way about keeping my little one an only child.

  38. I’m a middle child and I love having two siblings, I loved growing up as a family of five. My brother and sister are both so important to me, I can’t imagine only having one of them.

  39. We are going to stick with one, and it’s amazing how many people give me crap about that (subtly or overtly)! I feel like the range of what a “normal sized” family is in the U.S. is bizarrely small – basically 2-3 kids is normal and anything outside of that is “weird.” Which is ridiculous!

    I love my daughter dearly but I just … have no desire to do it all over again. I am not sure if I could, to be honest.

    • Dana says...

      In the same boat, mama!

  40. We just had or second. Neither one was planned. Our daughter is 2 and we’re over the moon for her! Our son is 2mo and were falling for him more every day. We’re 100% sure we’re done. We’re looking into surgery for my husband. I really don’t like being pregnant and I dislike newborn stage even more! I think you’re so right that the world is made for families of four these days. For us it just feels right. Although we considered having just one but before we could even decide, I was pregnant with my son. But I feel lucky to have one of each!

  41. My hopes are for two healthy, beautiful babies. I have anxiety issues myself and have trouble balancing everything now but i always knew i wanted to be a mom one day. My fiance wants three so we’ll see what happens. As long as I have healthy children then I’m kinda at the standpoint at this moment in my life that I’ll put it in God’s hands.

  42. We’re in exactly the same boat. I’m just not ready to say that we’re done yet, you know?

  43. We always thought we’d have 2 or 3. We even wrote it into our wedding vows. But after our daughter was born, we were so overwhelmed! She was colicky and screamed at us for the first four months of her life, and at the same time I was so deep into PPD that I could barely breathe. It was heavy. A heavy, heavy love.

    Annie just turned 2 and all is great now! She’s a vibrant, clever, fun little thing and we just can’t get enough! But – we have decided to stop here – a very mutual decision that took months to make. There was a mourning period for me – I am the youngest of 5 girls, and my sisters are everything to me. But in my heart, I know that our family is complete, and I emotionally don’t have the capacity to handle more. It was a hard choice, but the right one. And since the decision has been made, I cherish each and every day so much more, because I know I will never experience the growth – the good and bad – again.

    Best of luck to you guys in this decision!


  44. We have one very treasured little girl. I’d love another but as I’m the only one who would it probably won’t happen. I think the only thing that could swing it would be our daughter asking for a sibling… her dad can’t refuse her anything!

  45. CS says...

    Go for a 3rd! In the scheme of things, the hard-work now will be worth it in the long-run. I’m from a family of 3 and in fact, my parents biggest regret is not having a 4th child! Go for it. :)

  46. We have 3, one girl and two boys. The third was a decision that we happily let happen. Then it was very clear to me that we were complete. Then, my husband happily got a vasectomy.
    Now, they are 31, 27, and 21, waiting for grandchildren and I don’t have any say in that :)

  47. We have umhhed and ahhhed and then had 3 AND we are so grateful we did. I love the fact they have another person when they get sick of one another. I love the fact that it has decreased the intensity of their relationship. I love the fact the third baby is like a family project – we all work together to look after her although this is shifting as she has just turned 4 and is now part of the rough and tumble. But for many years it felt like we were all working together to care for this little person. Good luck!

  48. We have two little boys similar in age to yours (3.5 and 1). When we had the first, we talked about the maybes–maybe three? Wouldn’t two little boys and then a little girl just be perfect? And we’ve had those two little boys and they are wonderful. But we’re both attorneys, work full time, and I am just exhausted. After working a mentally challenging job during the day (and multi-tasking non-work things that MUST be taken care of during work hours), there is a whole other job waiting at home–balanced meals, kisses and hugs, cleaning, laundry, bills, etc. etc… I do feel like our family isn’t complete and know that inevitably I will agree to get pregnant again…And yet–if my husband gave me the panicked look (instead of the three thumbs up he’s wistfully giving me), I wonder if I would talk myself out of a third. Working while pregnant, and, later, with a newborn, is just hard. I know I wouldn’t regret it, but I’m a planner and sometimes the logistics of a family of five scare me!

  49. OMG I am in the same boat! My husband says we are done, but I am just not sure. I have two boys very close to your little guys ages. I know three would be my max if we even go for that. It’s so hard to decide!!!

  50. I hoped to have 3 children. But then I discovered that the chances for me getting pregnant AND getting through the pregnancy are more than slim. I got very tired of doctors and tests and clinics, etc. So tired that I suffered from a bout of depression. It was difficult to think that I would never have any child. But, lo and behold, few years later, we are happy parents of a great 4-years old – our adopted son. As soon as we’ve adopted him, we’ve got literally avalanched with questions about adopting another child (yeah, it’s really easy, guys – you get them in all sizes and shapes at your local IKEA). As we’re both grateful for having a child, which is nothing short of a miracle, and we’re tottally in love with our little guy, I am not planning on having another one. If it is meant to be, the child will find us :) I learned one of the most important lessons in life – sometimes we don’t get what we want and that’s really, really ok!

  51. Our family consists of five children and we love it. Never a dull moment, always exciting. I got some advice from a very wise man. He said, “Grow your family with the thought in mind of what you want to see at your Thanksgiving table. The younger years (sleep-less nights, diapers, etc.) are so few and pass quickly.”

  52. I have one son (18 months old) and I am just starting to think about a second baby. I just loved being pregnant, my pregnancy was a breeze, so from that point of view I would like to have 10 kids :)
    My son will start daycare in Janaury (we live in Germany and usually kids start daycare at min. 1 year old) and I really look forward to that. While I love him with everything I have, I did not really enjoy staying at home with him. I missed work a lot and being a SAHM did not really fulfill me, so I am debating whether I would want to do that again. (It only makes sense for us financially for me to stay at home as my husband earns 3 times as much as I do).
    Its a difficult decision!

  53. i couldn’t imagine life without our #3 in our family. we were on the fence for a bit as well after 2, considering some of your same thoughts on convenience and expense, etc. in the end, you figure it out. i didn’t want to regret because we couldn’t all play tennis together ;-) and we travel all the time!

  54. Such an interesting topic. Since we are religious, it is has been a matter of prayer for us. But still a hard decision. My husband and I have both always said we would take it one at a time. So far we have three boys. I am feeling very overwhelmed at the moment but the youngest is only 5 months. For me, the hardest part is the labor and delivery. I had two very hard, scary labors with my first two boys. I anticipated the third with a lot of anxiety and trepidation, but he came peacefully and without complications which was a huge blessing! And he’s been a really easy baby too. We love him so and are glad we decided to try for one more.

  55. I have six – youngest just turned 4 and oldest is almost 14. It’s crazy and hard at times, but so worth it.

  56. I agree with one of the earlier comments, you will NEVER regret having a third, you may regret not having one tho. I have three and it is a perfect number. Good Luck in your decision, it’s such a personal one.

  57. Great post! Has been on my mind too A LOT! I have 3 other siblings and can’t imagine the world without any of them. We may have 3 or just 2 (boys) but it just feels selfish to have a third when there are so many children without loving families. It also sounds expensive. Who knows though, trying not to think about the future too much because I will be disappointed if I try to plan life.

  58. I hope to have three. I say go for it! My mother always wanted a third but my father didn’t and my mother always regretted it. The few months of horribleness don’t compare to the lifetime of joy another child can bring!

  59. Oh, I’ve totally been there, Joanna. I didn’t understand what other friends meant when they said they were “done” after two kids. This is not to say that I didn’t feel completely fulfilled and thrilled by my two kids, I just wondered about a third. A lot.

    At some point, my husband and I decided that we would see where the wind took us, and as luck would have it, we got pregnant again! I come from a family of 2 and my husband is an only child, so 3 is new territory for both of us. Now I completely understand the feeling of “being done.”

    What I can tell you is that my third child (now 2 years old), is jolly and patient, well adjusted and fun-loving. She entered into a world where the party was already happening all around her (with two older siblings, it’s a given). She saddles right up to the excitement but also knows how to play quietly by herself. While we were on the fence about having a third, I saved everything from my other two, so I spend next to nothing on her clothing and gear.

    At the moment, we don’t have the ganging up. My kids are 8, 4 and 2. They are developing separate relationships with each other, which delights me completely and I think will help them later in life understand how to manage in a group dynamic. When life hands them difficult decisions decades and decades from now, I’m happy that they’ll have each other to turn to for love and support.

    I’m in NYC and I can tell you, sometimes people look at me like I have three heads when I walk down the street with my kiddos. But I also notice families of 5 everywhere, and it gives me huge comfort. We are so fortunate to have a wonderful public school system in NYC and beautiful parks and playgrounds and excellent, thoughtful programming for kids (not to mention great museums and vibrant families everywhere). It’s absolutely doable to have three kids in the city without being a billionaire, and if you have specific questions about logistics, I’d be delighted to give you my 2 cents.
    As far as the sleep (or lack thereof) goes, it’s a blip in a long lifetime of joy. And from your past posts about postpartum depression, it’s clear that while it’s horrible to go through, you have a wonderful support system of people around you.

    Finances aside, would you be game to get to know another tiny human and help him/her navigate this lovely world?

  60. Well…it takes two caretakers per child, so…

  61. I currently have one, but I would love to have 3 in total :)

  62. It’s so hard. My husband and I agreed before having our daughter that we only wanted one child. Then we had her, and she is wonderful and a joy. At first, we started thinking about having another baby. But, before she was a year a old, we found out our daughter has special needs. She requires pretty intense amounts of assistance. I would love for her to have a sibling, but I fear short changing that child the attention he or she would deserve. And, frankly, my husband and I are very introverted and crave alone time. It is hard enough to get that now; the thought of losing more makes me want to weep. In the end, we are very torn. I wish these decisions were easier.

  63. I’m the youngest of 4 (I was a mistake actually), so i can’t very well say I’m against having more than 2 kids… but at the same time I am. I definitely like having more siblings, but it feels rather old fashioned. Nowadays with the cost of living increasing and parents expecting to pay for college educations, it doesn’t seem right to bring more children into the world than you can truly pay for. For us we only have one currently and are even considering if two is financially viable. I’d love to have two to complete our family. Any more and I think it’s just too much.

  64. I’m curious as to why finances weren’t on your list.. aside from a fear of not giving enough individual attention to everyone, that would be a major part of my decision!

  65. We have five kids, two biologically, one through adoption and then two more biologically. People often say, “If you can handle three, you can handle more.” And I think in large part that is true. My experience was that with two we could still very much have our own ‘old’ lives. We had a very active social life and entertained all of the time. But I think having time for yourself, much less a social life becomes much harder with more than two. If you stay out too late and aren’t yourself, there are just more people who need you the next day. When you are taking care of kids all day, it can, at least for me, feel daunting to host company. And for my husband as a working parent, because he is working during the work day, we don’t want to hire a babysitter to go out with friends every weekend, either. Weekends are now pretty much exclusively family time. That was a huge change for us. Also, as kids get older, they have more and more activities and you can’t just put them to bed at 7p, drink wine and watch movies. So there is less alone time and as a couple. Also, when they can really catch on to what you are talking about, and/or can spell, it makes it harder to have conversations with your spouse. This all said, I absolutely adore having a big family. But it also comes with a lot of sacrifices. We live in a city with a low cost of living, including housing. We are somewhat introverted so we don’t mind that we can’t entertain like we used to. And we are still committed to giving back to humanitarian causes, particularly in Ethiopia and hopefully raising our children to be people who care about giving back, too and leaving this world a better place. :)

  66. Wow, I just finished reading every single comment, up until mine, that is. Not going to divulge how long that took, but in defense I was breastfeeding and had some time to kill… Anyway, I was surprised to find that no one went into detail about the importance of you and your husband being on the same page when it comes to a decision that holds so much gravity. Coming from a divorced family, I’ve always been intrigued by the dynamics between husbands and wives of families where it seems to work – at least from what I can observe as an outsider. The number doesn’t matter as long as the two of you are committed to the idea 100%. I’ve seen beautiful families with 2 kids and others with 7. And then I’ve seen many with 2 or 3 kids that break under the constant stress of it all (financial and otherwise). What we fail to consider is that it really does take a village to raise a child. Perhaps it isn’t as much the financial burden (as some have stated, you will end up finding a way to raise them), but more that there aren’t any grandparents or another support group of relatives in your city. Having help (even just in the back of your mind) can be an amazing stress reliever. That’s where being on the same page helps a ton. What’s more important to the two of you? Living the city life, or perhaps moving to the West Coast (just an example, since I know your sister lives there) and living a bit further away from the city, but having a possible babysitter if you need a weekend retreat alone with Alex. Whatever you choose to to, remember to consider how your husband feels and make sure to share special moments with him, as it can get harder with more children. No one has brought up how incredibly high the divorce rate is. Do I think children increase the probability that a couple is likely to divorce? Even though it’s extremely complicated, i do think that it can definitely have a strain on even the best marriages. As long as you two are prepared and truly in agreement on the issue, the number won’t matter. If you can’t shake the idea of more, and can afford it, I would get a nanny. It will save a lot of stress. I tell all my friends who are expecting to budget in some money for a cleaning lady at least twice a month with a new baby – it is a marriage saver! I know my parents would probably still be together if they did it (and had a dishwasher back then!).

  67. We have one and I’m happy with that. Then I think about our future and I always envision being a 4 person family… Only time will tell.

  68. Lol when we were engaged and talking about this years ago my husband always maintained that he was perfectly happy with anywhere “between one and ten” TEN!! haha. I come from a family with 4 kids, including a surprise brother 12 years younger than me and I always loved having a biggish family. There was also something so magic about having this new totally unexpected baby when we thought our family was done… so I’ve always had this idea that a little bit of “who knows?” is good.

    I always used to say between 3 and 5, but honestly, ever since we had our first (he’s two), I feel a little like that was a little overestimating of my abilities!! I think I would feel a little crazy saying FIVE out loud to people now!! lol, welllllll we will have to see. Who knows! :)

  69. As I lay on the floor screaming the pain out of my contractions when I give birth to my second 10 pound baby I said to myself: Sol never again. And I cannot remember the pain, but I do trust myself enough to know that I should never have another baby. My husband was kind enough to have a vasectomy.

    That said: I only have one brother and we don’t have a good relationship. We have no contact, actually. So I wish there were three of us, because I miss having a sibling. While I realise this is not per se a reason, I do think that the more siblings you have the more love there is in your life.

  70. I have 5 children, and i am busy. I still want another though. One part of me knows it is bad timing and we have enough on our plate and it would push things over the edge. But the other part just wants that baby, wants the older siblings to experience again caring and loving a baby. Want to meet another fantastically unique little person. But then will that feeling ever go away? I dont know. Is it just hard to close that chapter of a woman’s life? I think so. We are probably done but i get all emotional thinking about it and then my husband thinks i am crazy. ;)

  71. what good questions and great conversations you are having! After our 2nd child was born almost 2 years ago, we had the same conversations very often. I get really sick when I’m pregnant with hyperemesis Gravidarum, so it’s not joke. The last two pregnancies I had to stay in bed from wks 6-10 and after that I was still nauseous and throwing up for weeks, but able to drag myself around. I love my two daughters so much and I would do it again to have a new person to get to know as part of our family! (I hope to be pregnant with our 3rd soon, to keep the spacing correct – heehee!) Both my husband are from large families (4 kids in mine, 5 in his) and the love and relationship of those siblings is such a joy to us – while growing up and now as adults. Even though it’s super intense to grow your family at the beginning – all the pain/suffering/insanity of it is for a short time in the scheme of your whole life. I’m going to have to give myself a major pep-talk to get through so much nausea and vomiting again with pregnancy – but I’m going to hold onto the dreams of who my three kiddos will be and what my they will be doing as they grow up together. I think it’s so worth it – go for it, Joanna!!

  72. Three is beautiful! Three makes for a full Thanksgiving table (for whatever reason when I think of big family, I always imagine our future Thanksgiving table brimming with conversation and personality as we all fight over the candied yams). I am currently pregnant with my third for that very reason. I think that three is a wonderful number (it’s the ‘new two’) and I hope you guys consider it ;).

  73. I have two younger sisters – one is 20 months younger than I am, the other seven years (!). They’re both my best friends, but in completely different ways. Lauren (middle) has always been my partner-in-crime since we were little and is the first one I go to for boys, clothing, work – anything. I remember the day Elizabeth (baby) was born and the love I felt for her was more than anything I had experienced. I would change her diapers, sleep on the floor of her room to take care of her in the middle of the night and carried her long after my parents told her to walk. Even though she knows all my faults, she still looks up to me and makes me better – I want to be as good a person as she thinks I am.

    I’m sure there were some rocky years when we were very young, but now that we’re all grown up we’re inseparable. I can’t imagine it any other way.

  74. Hello Jo, I also have 2 boys (pure joy!) and am pregnant with my 3rd (not sure if boy or girl!). The 3rd wasn’t entirely planned – I was undecided about a 3rd, so I kinda let nature decide. I think you either rule out the 3rd absolutely (as most mums of 2 I know do) OR you have an ‘i don’t know’ that turns into a ‘maybe, yes’ and then yes! For me it feels the 3rd baby in our family will be a gift to the 2 big brothers – they will adore their new sibling and it will give them a further relationship to learn and flourish from in life. The practicalities are hard to get my head around and the exhausting first few months too – but the heart expands with so much love when I picture a trio squeezing into our big bed on sundays! I have a feeling you’ll become a mum of 3 – if you have a feeling a 3rd is there – she’s in the wings waiting! LOVE, Bekka (of xx

  75. I would have always wanted a third child if my husband did. But I wasn’t completely tied to it so when my husband said he was done with two I was able to let go. However, I STILL have those moments where I think about it. I’m not sure as a mom those thoughts ever go away. But in the moments when I’m completely overwhelmed or when I see families struggling with a baby and a toddler, I’m glad to be out of that phase of our life (even those I very much love babies!).

  76. The difficulty of the first years is microscopic in the long run. By the time Toby turns eight, the trials of the toddler and baby years will almost seem like ancient history (but don’t get me wrong, you don’t forget – it just no longer zings like it did; much like labor).

    Of the concerns you’ve mentioned, the one that I think needs the most thought is your suscepibility to post-partum depression and anxiety. The other four discussion points will work themselves out simply, naturally, and without a lot of upheavel. They are issues that will all be null and void within a short time span when viewed within the big picture.

    Your mental health and emotional stability is vital to your family however. Again, six to nine months is also VERY short term in the big picture, but if during that time there is damage caused to relationships or neglect and hurt that takes years to reverse, it could end up being a ‘big deal’.

    Your physical and mental health is critical to the whole.

    All of that said, If your family doesn’t feel complete – GO FOR IT! Add that 3rd child! I NEVER felt ‘done’ (another? sure! I LOVE being a mom, having children, being a family – the more people to love the better!), but there did come a time when I no longer felt as though we weren’t done. Does that make sense? It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. At least it was for me :)

    Good luck! Big decisions are tough, but the best kind.

  77. We have three kids aged 15, 12 and 8. Before number three was born, I was talking to my big sister about whether or not we should have another baby. She simply replied “Are you all here yet?” I realized we always felt like someone was missing and after Charlie was born I never felt that way again. His birth notice in the paper read “We are all here now…”
    I have friends who knew two was their perfect number and others like me who were unsure.
    Yes three babies/small children are exhausting but they become these wonderful people (sooner than you think) and I am so glad we have five sets of elbows on our dinner table. Good luck.

  78. We’re two and if I have kids, I don’t know if I’m going to have more than one. It seems so difficult to be a parent.

  79. Husband and I have always talked about 2. When we first got engaged he asked “so how many kids are we going to have?” At the same time, one of us said “more than 1” and the other said “less than 3” so it was a pretty easy decision! I’ve got a 15-month old now and my pregnancy and labor and immediate post-partum phase all went really well so we have made some jokes about “It’s too bad we don’t want more, we’re/you’re really good at it!”

  80. I feel like so many people want what they grew up with. I am an only child and I loved it, I am so close to my parents in a way that I don’t see with many of my friends that have siblings. My boyfriend has a brother and when we first started talking about kids he said we had to have two, but now when we talk about kids we consider the financial aspect of it all and I think we’re going to stick with one…but I guess only time will tell :)

  81. I always thought I wanted no more than 2. But now I have one and am addicted! I can’t see myself wanting to stop after the next one. :)

  82. I love what one woman said: “There are two things a woman will never regret – going for a swim and having a baby.” You will never regret a baby. And the chance at a daughter! I have two boys and two girls and I am in heaven. It was absolutely hard for a few years but I am surprised that looking back those tough years seem short (and sweet) and we have the best conversations around our dinner table now.

  83. EH says...

    Even though I agree with the concerns about population (I have two teenagers myself), it’s lovely when kind, engaged people choose to bring more kind, engaged people into the world. Plus, I get my baby-fix vicariously through your beautiful sons. <3

  84. I am currently 10wks pregnant with our second child. My husband and I have always had two children in mind. Both of us are the oldest of two. About three weeks ago I had serious pain and nausea and couldn’t stand up without fainting. I was taken to the hospital and the doctors found that I had had an ectopic pregnancy in addition to the normal pregnancy. My Fallopian tube had burst and I was losing a lot of blood fast. All I could think about while I was being rushed into surgery was that I didn’t lose the lovely family I already had. I have to admit, if this pregnancy doesn’t go through (it is still early days), I don’t want to try again for a second child. I don’t want to risk losing what I already have, and I definitely don’t want to risk having twins! :)

  85. We have one, amazing, almost three year old daughter and I can’t even imagine sharing the love I have for her with another child! In all seriousness, we both work an hour away from home and full time work coupled with a long commute just doesn’t encourage me to want to spread myself thinner. We waited 15 years before we thought having a child would work and I wouldn’t change a thing! Also, turning 40 this year has also influenced this choice, too. I will admit to sometimes thinking it would be nice, but then I realize how great our family of three is and all that we can afford for her.
    Thanks for sharing such a great post.

  86. if we stay in new york city: 1. if we leave for the suburbs (likely): 2. we just can’t afford to raise more than one here. and whenever i see a parent with more than one child on the subway it looks like a nightmare. i grew up the oldest of three, and my closest cousins were three siblings, and in both families it seems like the parents got lazy on the third child and didn’t give them as much attention. so definitely no more than 2 for us. my husband and i are also both introverts so the idea of having a full house doesn’t appeal to us.

  87. I understand the biological need to have children, however, from a practical standpoint, I often think about the world being overpopulated. Lately, I have also been thinking about all of the children in foster care who need a family. I am not sure I think it is right to have my own kids when there are children in need. I feel that we need to take care of the planet and take care of the people who are already here before we continue to create more people.

  88. A wonderful quote I once read said not to base your family size on the insanity of infancy – it’s such a short period in a person’s life. Instead think about who you want around your Thanksgiving table in 20 years. Go for number 3! You’ll never regret it.

  89. I always go back to the same thing: would I regret NOT having another child? If yes, than all the challenges are none issues from the get go. We have 2 (5 and 1) and are waiting a few more years to have our third. I think, because we started “young” (25) we have the luxury of time on our side to make these decisions and enjoy a larger age difference between our kids. And I agree with one of the comments that for 2 kids the relationship is very direct, oldest vs. youngest. With three kids relationships are more complex, and I’m drawn to that idea.

  90. Any children you and Alex may have will be so blessed to have you as parents.

  91. I personally hope to have 3 children but after reading this post and realizing that yes, the world really is made for families of four, i am re-thinking the idea!

    rae of love from berlin

  92. I felt the exact same way when we were deciding if we wanted a third child. We had two lovely boys, but I always felt that there was someone missing. Yes the world around us is built for families of four, but families of five are just so much more fun! I love seeing my second child interact with his baby brother, he is so sweet with him, and even though it’s a lot of work, I wouldn’t change our family of five for anything in the world.

  93. I am totally in the same boat (have two young kids, not yet sure about a third), but I think often of something my aunt told me – she said if you think you want to have another kid, you should have it because you might regret NOT having another, but you will NEVER regret having one. She had two kids two years apart and then waited five more years before having the third, and she said that was perfect because the third was like the family pet – everyone adored him. Also, ever considered adopting a third kid?

  94. EXACT same sentiments here! I’m dying for a third but experienced such severe anxiety (& still working on it) after weaning #2 that I’m nervous of going through all of that again. And then my husband was an only child, so two seems like plenty to him. I’m one of four and LOVE having my siblings as my best friends to this day. I have no idea what I’d do without them. It’s tough, I’m trying to take a laid-back approach – what will happen will happen – but of course I obsess about it anyway :) I do think if you all make the decision to have a third, you’ll approach it the way you do so many other things & will be successful. xoxo

  95. kz says...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  96. This is obviously a very popular topic! I feel compelled to comment because I think about this all day long even though we have a 3 year old and a just 1 year old. #2 was a lot harder than i expected, and a cross country move and some job hardships made it an even rougher ride. i’m still recovering from that. plus, pregnancy with a toddler around is rough. I think we have some more time to decide, but i have a feeling we will just go for #3 even though i think i will really be at my limit. it just feels right, but i don’t want to rush into it. i want to enjoy my 2 babes right now. i wish i could just relax about it though! i think i may always regret not trying for 3 if we don’t. i also loved being 1 of 3. thanks for sharing your thoughts! just writing this is helping me work through my own.