Motherhood

How Many Children Do You Hope to Have?

How Many Children Do You Hope to Have?

Last year, I wrote a post about debating whether or not we should try for a third baby. This fall, Alex and I decided…

…our family is complete. Even as I write that, I feel a pang of Oh but what if? Babies are just so lovely. But I know that our family is best as a fearsome foursome.

We had thought a lot about trying for a third child. Alex wasn’t so sure about it (with our balance of jobs and children right now, adding another child to the mix would likely be too much for us), but I still daydreamed about a third little one running around. I have a brother and a sister, and it was really fun to grow up in a gang of three. Plus, I love our two children so overwhelmingly, psychotically much that wouldn’t it be wonderful to have another one? And slow everything down? And have a house full of children forever? After all, Toby will be off to college in TWELVE YEARS! That is not that long! Twelve years ago, I was 24! I still feel 24!

Funnily enough, my friend pointed out that maybe a fear of aging was contributing, too. If there’s another baby in my future, I’m still in that group of young mothers-to-be. But if I’m done having babies, I’m in the group of women who are done having babies — including my mother, aunts, and grandmothers. I’m in the older generation. It was such a fascinating realization that had never occurred to me before. It felt like one of those Magic Eye photos — ta da! I see the dolphin! Only this time, I was like, ta da, I’m scared of death, who knew?

In the end, once I realized that the major reason I craved a third child was because I actually wanted Toby and Anton to slow down, the decision was clear: I want to soak up these boys as much as possible, without being distracted by another baby, and just enjoy this wonderful time with them. And it keeps getting better and better: Alex and I are always laughing over things they said, and studies show that parents are happiest when their kids are between 6 and 12 (fascinating, right?).

Two is the magic number for us. We feel so lucky to have had two sweet children, and our family feels complete. (Plus, who knows? Maybe we wouldn’t be able to have a third child.) On the bright side: I can look forward to grandchildren, ha!

How Many Children Do You Hope to Have?

How Many Children Do You Hope to Have?

What about you? How many kids do you hope to have? One? Five? None? Not sure? Are you and your partner on the same page? Did you decide to have a baby on your own? Was it hard to conceive? I would so much love to hear your thoughts…

P.S. On having a boy. And how do you know if you’re ready to have a baby?

(Photos by Olivia Rae James for Cup of Jo. My sweater is from Madewell. The boys are wearing Polarn O. Pyret shirts and Mabo pants. No one wants to know where Alex’s flip flops are from.)

  1. CLF says...

    Joanna, Have you given any more thought to this? It is a constant weight on our minds too. We have a 4 and 7 year old and our window is closing with age. It is such a TOUGH decision. On one hand we keep thinking how, each baby eventually grows up (you will never have a baby forever, like you thought you would when you were little– thanks to T.V. shows, cartoons, movies where babies and families were frozen in time, and playing with dolls made you believe), but the benefit is you can have at least one child at home a little longer (when they are high school and college age). But, yes, I miss my babies as babies. I think part of it is I just want MY babies to be babies again. We often ask each other; how much would you pay to have one week with each of them at each stage/age again? I like your point that life would become a blurry, busy, speedy time again with a new born and we would miss out little bit on cherishing moments that we have the leisure to do now with our existing kiddos. I have come to the conclusion that until you are of an age that you biologically cannot have more children, you may always question having more? It is such a dilemma…back and forth, back and forth. The magic of babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers, and the youth it all represents. If anyone has any more thoughts that could bring peace to this decision making process, please share!

  2. Angela says...

    I came to your blog this morning looking for some words of wisdom searching the “moterhood” section. We are expecting our 2nd in the fall, another boy. We’d always planned on just 2 kids, a 3rd seemed insane (a mutiny)! But I’m struggling with the disappointment of not having a daughter, and it has been crushing. I always felt I would have a girl and it’s been very hard to let go of that reality. Did you struggle with that at all, being the mom of two boys, and the decision to have no more children?

  3. Erin says...

    Joanna, I LOVE your blog, and read it every single day while I eat my lunch at work. I’ve never commented, but this post (which I am re-reading for the probably the 10th time) really hits home… and I keep coming back to it. How did you finally decide? How did you know that you know that you wanted your boys to slow down, rather than have another child? We’re in the same boat right now, with an almost 5 year old and almost 3 year old, and I feel like my window is closing. My husband is perfectly happy with 2, and life with the girls is just getting easy. We both work full time, with demanding jobs, and the girls are almost in school long enough to really cut back on child care, and the related expenses. All of that logic aside, I still can’t seem to get past this decision! I’d love your advice if you have time. Thank so much for “sharing” my lunch with me everyday! Erin

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, erin, it’s so funny that you wrote today. i felt SO certain of our choice back when i wrote that post, but nowadays i’m really really craving a third child (if we were able to have one). alex is still feeling that our family is complete. we have been having more discussions. does anyone ever make an unambivalent decision?

    • Rachel says...

      I reread this post AT LEAST once a week. I have a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old and I have always thought (since I was little) that I’d have 3 kids. I am an only child – and the idea of a large family is so appealing to me. That said, I’m an energy/environmental attorney and (for me) having 2 kids seems most ethically responsible. Replace ourselves on the planet without contributing to overpopulation, etc. My husband is also VERY happy with “just” having 2. But I definitely ache when I hear about pregnancies. And I miss being in that all encompassing newborn stage (sleeplessness and snuggles galore). Joanna – you helped me SO much realize that maybe it’s wanting time to slow down that’s really gripping me – and I know without a doubt having a third would speed up time, not slow it. So I plan on living vicariously through my friends having babies and enjoying my kids for all the things you CAN’T do when they’re teeny (travel, leave with a teenage babysitter, have 10 hours of sleep). Here’s hoping there’s some peace in that!

    • Erin says...

      It’s so hard, isn’t it? And here I am, 7 months after I first reached out to you, searching for this post to read AGAIN! I can’t say I’m any more certain about what is best for our family, but I haven’t given up thinking about 3, so that says something, right?! I’ll keep you posted :) – please do the same! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

    • Erin says...

      PS, I’ll do it if you do it :). Ha!

    • Ashley Burns says...

      I read this post and thought it was me. Like maybe a drank some wine and forgot that I posted this? Ha. But I feel right there with you. I have girls that are 5 and 3 and we’ve been debating about a third for what feels like forever. I got pregnant in August and I was freaked out, but also excited and glad the decision was finally made. But then I miscarried and it was a long, arduous process and now we’re back at square one. I agree, I feel like my window is closing. As my girls get older and life gets easier, it’s hard to imagine the logistics of a third. But it feels like time flew by with my first two. So even it’s hard time would fly by with a third right? And my husband is torn too. Neither of us knows what to do. At least if he felt strongly one way or another I could just get on board with his choice. Ugh…I still can’t decide!

    • Erin says...

      Ashley, we are living parallel lives! The odds of us living close enough to one another to hash this out over a glass (bottle) of wine are slim, but I wish you and your family all the best (and I am so, so sorry about your miscarriage – you’re in my thoughts)!

  4. Xara Buckingham says...

    I have two grown sons. Due to very difficult pregnancy and birth experiences with both, we decided that two would be enough for us (upon seriously considering having a third, I found myself having pregnancy-related nightmares!). My father-in-law at that point let us know that he was very disappointed to not have a namesake. He offered us a thousand dollars if we had a third and named him “Clifford”. Ummm…. NO! And, hello, it might have been a girl. We felt fortunate and content with our two sons, and as the years unfolded have gained two ‘daughters’ in their wives, which has been just lovely…. and now a sweet granddaughter too!

  5. Rachel says...

    I think you should try for a girl.

  6. Sophunny says...

    “No one wants to know where Alex’s flip flops are from.” Made me laugh out loud!

  7. Heather D says...

    Just saw this post again when browsing your site and felt compelled to share.

    Honestly, I just pray for one baby. One healthy child to call my own. After dealing with infertility for seven years, the hope seems to be fading. We are looking to foster care and possibly adopting via our state, since private adoption is not a financial option. Posts like this are just so heartbreaking for me. You and many other healthy women try to prevent pregnancy since your family feels complete. Here I am with monthly doctor visits, needles, vials of blood, ultrasounds, tests and dollar upon dollar being spent to try and get me pregnant. It’s highly depressing.

    • Rose says...

      Hi Heather,

      You are not alone in this very frustrating journey. We have been married for five years and have been trying to get pregnant for more than three years already. Just like you, more than the cost, what really gets to me is the emotional stress. Almost all of my married friends, even those who got married years after us, already have kids. I’m really happy for them but at the same time, I can’t help but ask why we haven’t been blessed with a child. What’s more frustrating is that we have been classified under unexplained fertility as both my husband and I seem normal, after taking several tests and procedures. Anyway, I just pray that we get our wish for a healthy child soon. Hang on and take care always.

  8. This article was one of the suggested articles from your A Parenting Question post and when I saw it I remembered commenting on it back in September. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for 18 months and were going through fertility treatments and the thought of children seemed so far away. Another reader commented to me saying that it took her and her husband 18 months to conceive and she was able to conceive her second child without interventions. My husband and I conceived the next month! I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant with our first child after 18 months of trying and fertility medication. Thank you to the sweet lady who left me such an encouraging comment.

  9. eve says...

    I’d like to have in between 4 to 7 children. My husband has conceded to four. Who knows though how many we’ll have in the end. I currently have 2 now and I love them to bits. I grew up in a family of five siblings.

    • You do know that overpopulation is a serious burden on our planet? Of course it is your choice, but if you are educated enough to write as well as you did, you are educated enough to make a responsible decision. A healthy environment is a precious gift to the children you have now.

  10. Such an interesting discussion…. personally I don’t think kids are on the cards for me. I am 37 and have never felt I wanted to be a mother. I like kids, I work with them, I wouldn’t be devastated if I were pregnant but all in all it is just not something I have ever seriously craved. It does however amuse me how many people have issues with our decision, on our behalf!!!
    https://champagneinateacup.wordpress.com/

  11. Stacey says...

    My husband and I are going to have zero biological children. Neither one of us are interested in having babies, and I’ve never wanted to be pregnant, so he got a vasectomy a few months ago. We haven’t felt any regrets about our decision.

    However, we really get along well with older kids, so we’re considering becoming foster/adoptive parents to some older kids once we’ve paid off student loans.

  12. Meghan says...

    Two is our magic number as well. Our unit of four feels perfect.

    I read somewhere (think in a story about UES families) that big families are today’s most conspicuous form of conspicuous consumption–and I think of this often. People shouldn’t have more kids just to round out the Christmas card or generate more cute baby pics for Instagram. Not everyone has these motivations, but there is a lot of social pressure to have thre or more.

    We have big challenges ahead I terms of environment and water use. I hope many of these larger families will raise their kids to help sustain our population.

  13. I’m hoping to give birth to one child and finances and luck permitting, we would not object to adopting a second one. But you never know how life is gonna turn out in the end… (Good luck to y’all)

  14. Chris Y says...

    I change my mind on this topic 7 times a day. With two girls, 4 and 17months, we haven’t been preventing for a third but learned I have PCOS which would explain why it took so long in the first place. Yes my husband and I lean too much toward being workaholics but we are working on that and yes it would make our house and car space tighter but I’m ok with that. I see a third as feeling complete. For some reason I don’t feel done. However as I get closer to 33, I’ve given myself a max age of 34 and if it doesn’t happen by then, to stop trying. Things are good and demanding at work so it’s a juggle of, do I try to have a third baby that I know will change my position at work due to the demands of both or do I stay with two kids so it doesn’t rock the boat with my job?

  15. Tess says...

    My husband and I have agreed to try for a third. We had a son (4), then had three miscarriages in a row within the span of 12 months – hardest year of my life, and then had a daughter (1). Instead of scaring me away from pregnancy, the miscarriages make me want ALL THE BABIES. My husband rolled his eyes at that but agrees to trying for a third. And of course my most recent successful pregnancy experience is uppermost in my mind, so I am finding it hard to believe that I might have another miscarriage (or more) again, but I try to force myself to remember I might. But somehow it doesn’t scare me as much as it did that one awful year when I thought something in me must be broken beyond repair. While we as a couple may be more prone to miscarriages for some reason (the doctors never really could explain to me why), my daughter showed that a successful pregnancy is still possible. Now if I have *more* than three miscarriages in a row again, I might change my tune. And then try to convince my husband to adopt.

  16. My husband and I just brought home our first baby this past Saturday, and she’s the sweetest, most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me, besides my husband … But husbands and babies are different. Before this baby my husband always said he wanted 3 and I always said I thought 5 would be nice but at the very least 3.

  17. Kristy says...

    Great conversation here! Obviously, I think there are so many factors that go into your decision to have children in the first place and when to stop. It is a very personal, individual decision, and I feel peace about ours. For my husband and I, there are several reasons why our family is stopping at 2 boys (currently ages 7 and 4): a) I got a new job. I took two long maternity leaves (9+ months- I am blessed) when I was at my old school and when I got a new teaching job at a lovely all-girls school, I didn’t feel the need to take maternity leave again. b) I am 35. I wanted to make the decision before then. c)The cost factor. After daycare and said (unpaid) maternity leaves, we have almost spent $100,000 on our kids so far. That does not include diapers, clothes, food, COLLEGE, etc. d)No family to help. My dad has Alzheimer’s and my mom is his full-time caregiver. My husband and I do all of the shuffling, sick days, etc, to make our working family function. I think that having 3 would just tip the balance too far for us. I am trying to focus on loving and enjoying my men!

  18. M says...

    There is so often an illusion of choice for those of us planning and creating a family… We desperately want three children, but the two lovelies we have were born at 32 and 31 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia. My heart aches for the just-one-more we feel would complete our family, but my head (and our medical team) know that this would be terribly unwise. There are so many circumstances outside anyone’s control. Life is a beautiful and complex mystery!

  19. Chris says...

    Really wanted to have a lot of kids but after 5 years of marriage, we’re still trying to get pregnant :( it’s really difficult to be diagnosed with unexplained infertility so we’re hoping and praying that we’ll be blessed with a child soon.

  20. My husband and I are planning to have no children :-) We are so happy and sure about our choice. It is right for us.

  21. CC says...

    Jo – thanks for sharing your process around having a 3rd child. I remember going through a similar struggle but it was not a possibility for my family for a variety of reasons. My baby is 5 (I also have two boys, oldest is 7) and I’m just enjoying every bit of his lingering “baby” sweetness. I also look forward to them both being in the 6 to 12 years, I have a feeling it will be different from having 2 little guys but really fun from a family perspective. Nowadays I look at younger women having their 2nd and 3rd and I just smile, happy to have had that experience and happy to be on the other side too!

  22. sara says...

    I loved reading this. We have 2 boys, and we are done. But still, when I hear about any friend having a third, part of me still feels jealous! But your post made me think — it’s not that I really want another baby, I don’t want my boys to grow up just yet. I’m missing the babies they aren’t anymore, and it doesn’t make sense to fill that baby-shaped hole with a new baby, instead delight in the kids they are now.

  23. Kathleen says...

    My parents only planned on two, and were thrilled with two girls, three years apart. But then my sister died in an accident, and they went on to have my younger brother and sister, to bring some much-needed joy back into our family. I am so grateful they did, and I can’t imagine our family being complete without them. Being one of two, then just one, and then one of three, made me want a big family. We have two girls, a third on the way, and would be thrilled to have a 4th. I know that not all siblings have good relationships, but seeing the love between my two and the excitement they have for a new baby, makes me hopeful that they will always love and care for one another.

  24. Tiffany says...

    I love this post….I have two boys as well, and I always expected to have another child…… This week my youngest turns 5, and we still have not made the leap to try for a third. Life is busy with the two boys I have, and I am not sure I would have the time and energy for a baby. Now our boys have so many activities, that to miss out on that stuff because I am taking care of a baby would be hard. I also feel so lucky to have had two easy pregnancies, that to try for a third makes me nervous. In my case, all of our indecision has lead to a new place- being happy with a family of four….plus a puppy:)

  25. Laura says...

    What a big decision. I just wanted to say, way to go, sister–it’s hard to listen to the quiet voice inside, or gut feeling, what have you–and I think it’s great you feel clear on this. I’m a mom of two boys, too, and have been chewing on this issue. Also, I’ve been walking around town, remembering “I’m afraid of death, who knew?” and smiling . I think it’s so helpful you could separate issues out to help figure out what you really wanted. So glad a friend recommended your blog to me months ago.

  26. Molly says...

    What a great post. I have two sons and feel like my family is complete as is. My husband talks about having a third because he really wants a girl. I told him that the only way to guarantee that we have a girl is to adopt one. After I said that it really got me thinking about all of the children out there that need families and I guess what it comes down to is that I feel more open to adoption than to having another biological child.

  27. kate says...

    Oh Jo, I loved this post. I love seeing everyone’s reasoning behind family size!

    I’ve always wanted three. I was an only child, and when my husband and I started talking about babies, three was the magic number. Then my first child was born. Oh my word. Such love. I love my husband to pieces, but I had never experienced literal heartaches of love over loving another person so deeply! Our little guy is the center of our world. He’s a lot of work, and I miss the alone time with my spouse, but oh, I love that little boy! So…slowly our number has crept up. Maybe 4? Wouldn’t 4 be nice? It’d be an even number, etc. The logical part of my brain knows that four children would be a nightmare, chaotic, and we would constantly be financially strapped– but logic so rarely comes into play when talking about baby lust. I’m now at the point where I’m daydreaming that we accidentally conceive surprise triplets. ;)
    I’m only turning 30, but I had a really difficult pregnancy. Difficulty conceiving and problems throughout the pregnancy, and lasting issues even after the birth, so there’s that. I have no idea if we’ll ever be able to conceive again, but the idea of my son’s future brothers and sisters have permanently burrowed themselves into my brain.

  28. This hit home for me. We have been trying for a second child for going on 10 months and it has really been taking its toll on me – the TTC journey. My first child came so quick but this second child’s conception is taking so much time. I have always pictured myself having a large family, at least 3 or 4. I hope it happens soon, god willing.

    • I’m in the same boat. Who knew it would be so hard? Much love and positive energy to you.

  29. Becky Horst says...

    My husband and I discussed when I was pregnant with our second that this was it. And two months after our second and last baby was born we made the decision permanent…well he made it permanent. But when he arrived home I thought awe…I’m a woman and my arms will always long to be filled with a babe. And that is not practical. So right then & there at the ripe age of 31 with a 3 yr old & a brand new baby I decided that I was soooo ready to be a grandma!

  30. Jessemy says...

    I have a 2 year old daughter, and have been trying for a second for a few months. I’m 39 and have a BRCA1 mutation that makes ovary removal a part of my near future. I have to admit that some days I long for another child, and other days I feel like calling the clinic to plan my oophorectomy! But it is good to hear how many of you also have mixed feelings about carrying on or stopping. Cheers, and thank you for sharing!

  31. I quit my job to have another. I have two boys and I’ve never been happier. I dream about a third, but I think it’s because I love babies, not because I love the chaos. I tell myself that if we only have two we’ll be able to travel and nurture our two the best we can. If we have a third I think we’d be strapped. Maybe it would go better than we think, but I don’t know if I want to test it out. I loved this post. I’m glad I quit my job because I think it really is allowing me to soak up this time with them and slow it down a bit. Work makes it all so much busier. Plus with two boys I really need to question if I would want a third boy. I don’t think I do which is a really good reason to stop. I had NO disappointment with my second boy, but I think I would really want a girl for my third. Now, if I KNEW I would have a girl I might go for it!

  32. I’m the oldest out of 3 girls and when my parents got married (they were considered old when they got married as my Mum was 31 and my Dad 29) they thought it would be 2 and done. Well my younger sister was born with Down Syndrome and my parents both felt like they should have another child so my youngest sister was born when my Mum was 37. I find it funny as my Mum always wanted 4 kids (she’s 1 of 4) and my Dad wanted 2 kids (he’s 1 of 2) so they met in the middle :)
    I want to have 3 kids just because growing up with 2 younger sisters was great and we are so close.
    I think when you know you know, for some people its one of those things that just happens and for others they have to sit down and think about it. I have heard that you should picture the family dinner table at Christmastime and if you feel like something is missing then maybe its time for one (or more) kid. But at the end of the day its your decision and no one else’s :)

  33. Kelly says...

    I just *knew* I would have five boys. When the fourth turned out to be a girl I said “We’re done” :0) Not that I was waiting for a girl, but hey if what I thought wasn’t to be, then now seemed like a good time to be done. (four natural births- so wonderful, but yes, I’m done, whew!)

    I should say on the other hand if we have an ‘oops’ baby, we would welcome that child (or those children) as well.

  34. Lyn says...

    When my husband and I got married, the subject of children never came up. We both had plans for graduate school and spent quite a bit of time discussing career aspirations, but children were never mentioned. When we were in our forties, our insurance coverage included fertility treatments; we felt like we should at least look into it to make sure we wouldn’t be sorry later. We were both shocked at what some people are willing to do to have children, and agreed that it wasn’t what we wanted. We’ve been married nearly thirty years now, and are happy with the size of our family (the two of us and our dog). I’m happy for my friends who are happy being parents (I have one close friend who has ten children and several grandchildren!), but I myself don’t understand why people want to have children; it’s just not something that has ever appealed to me.

  35. Sarah Beth says...

    I loved this post so, so much – mostly because it’s something I think about a lot. I’m 27 and haven’t been married long but my husband and I discuss how many kids we want frequently. I’m one of two kids (I have a younger brother) and as a child, I wished on every birthday cake, every dandelion, etc. for a younger sister and always felt like someone was missing from my family. Only as an adult did I learn that my mother also wanted a third child, but my father didn’t want to for financial reasons. Recently, he’s started talking about his regret over not having had a third child and imagining what our family would be like now with a third.

    I don’t know if it was a consequence of this sort of phantom sibling or what, but I have always, always pictured myself having three children (despite thinking two would be so much more practical for cars, hotels, etc. and more practical financially.) I just have always felt deeply as if I’m meant to have three for whatever reason. I think I’ll definitely be taking it as we go and see how we feel after two, because who knows how we’ll feel at that point (and hopefully we’re fortunate enough to be able to have them at all)!! However, I do think now that if we don’t take the plunge and have a third, I’ll always think about my third baby and what they might have been like, the same way I think about the youngest sibling I never had.

    • Wow, this comment really spoke to me. We have two boys and everyone asks ALL.THE.TIME if we will go for a third (maybe a girl!?) and I just don’t know. I too, wonder if there is a third child out there that we are meant to have and though I know it will be absolutely NUTSO during the early years, I also think about the big family gatherings around the holidays and the power of numbers. I feel like we would be so sad to reflect back and not have a third due to finances, etc. So we shall see…thanks for the comment and post!

    • This comment spoke to me too. I have two sons and I am not sure if to have a third one. The other day my oldest said to me: “I have one baby brother, so now I need a baby sister. Her name will be Emily. I need to have my two babies.” I almost passed out.

  36. Lauren B says...

    I’m glad you made a decision you feel comfortable with. But I don’t think all things can be planned (for my life! not judging yours!). So we’re taking things one kiddo at a time. My first is two and we are “planning” the second. Who knows what will happen after that. We are also considering foster care and/or adoption in a few years as well. The book “All The Money in the World” by Laura Vanderkam was really insightful about the third child dilemma.

    • This is the feeling I’ve got, too. One at a time. My first is three and we just had our second. Surprisingly, the added struggle of a second has made me feel more comfortable with the idea of a third, not less. Like, well, we are handling this alright, somehow! One wa a such a challenge I though two would put us over the edge but I’m as happy as ever even if things are nuts. It’s made me more open to, like, grace I guess. Just trusting that we’ll work it out. One baby at a time. :)

  37. Marissa says...

    It’s funny, my husband and I always wanted 3 to 4, and leaned toward 4, but the last couple of years after having 2 and getting older and time going on we said probably 3 was going to be our cap. I’m expecting number 3 now, and I think a lot of why I’m not sure I’m done after this is exactly what you said, that I’ll be done having children and it will make me feel old! I can totally relate!

  38. Katherine says...

    It took my husband and I more than 2 years and fertility to get pregnant. Shortly after we found out we were finally pregnant, we found out it was twins! And then that they were boy/girl twins! We felt like we hit the jackpot (or at least I did – think hubs was still anxious about having twins)! When they were about a year and both walking, I thought, that’s it? No more babies?? I loved having 2 at once, especially after so long of a wait, but I didn’t like the idea of no more babies… My husband thought, why risk the great thing we have going? (I was also 35 at that point). However, when we went though potty-training 2 at the same time, I agreed, we were good! No more diapers and no more potty-training!! But apparently someone had others plans for us, as not long after getting through our hardest part with potty-training, we found out we were pregnant! Not only did we not use fertility, but we were using preventative measures!! But sometimes, life just happens. So, baby #3 arrived when our twins were 3yrs. 4mos. And he has become that blessing we did not even know we wanted/needed!! It has definitely been challenging with 3 kids under 4, and now 3 kids 4 and under, but who ever regrets a child? (At least in a happy, healthy marriage). Of course, we have now taken further more permanent methods of prevention, as I am not interested in fully testing my own sanity… I would not tell someone with any number of children that they just HAD to have another and I would not tell someone that they SHOULD not have another. And I TOTALLY agree on the fear of getting older and the pang of finality with saying you are “done”. Every family is unique, no matter what number of children. And things are definitely easier with a family of 4 (cars, tables at restaurants, number of adults to children…). I think no matter what happens, we are all just learning to figure it out and make great with what we have!

  39. Carrie says...

    My hubby and I had planned on two, but our first has been really challenging. She came early, at 26 weeks, and spent 15 weeks in the NICU. I had to go back to work a week after her birth so I could save my FMLA for when she actually came home. My milk dried up from stress and not getting to nurse, which was hugely disappointing. The docs still don’t know why she came early, so I’m afraid I’ll be super stressed the entire time, not to mention having to get progesterone shots weekly during a second pregnancy. She’s almost 6 months now, so maybe the fear will ease, but I don’t know.

    • N says...

      My story is different to yours but I had a challenging pregnancy with many scares. Ultimately I had a complication that resulted in a c-section at 35 weeks. My baby stayed in the NICU for 21 days and now is a healthy and thriving almost 2 year old. I wasn’t able to breast feed either.
      I am nearing 35 and feel that if I’m to get pregnant time is of the essence but I’m still terrified!! I want to give him a sibling and always saw myself as a mother of more than one child.
      For some women the idea of having another child is complicated by a challenging past pregnancy, loss, or infertility. I wish the decision wasn’t tainted by fear!
      Good luck to you!

    • Jill says...

      Carrie – I also had a challenging birth of my first child. I developed preeclampsia at 28 weeks (after having absolutely NO other negative pregnancy symptoms). After spending 8 days on bed rest in the hospital, I delivered via c-section, at 29 weeks/4 days. Our son, Teddy, was born at 2 lbs 3 oz. spent 3 months in the NICU and finally came home on our anniversary – Aug 26. Luckily my work provided eight weeks of partially paid time off – those early weeks were rough for me. I went back to work to hoard as much FMLA time as I could and when he came home, I was fortunate enough to take five weeks off to bond with him. At this point, I’d love to try and have another baby in the future. But, the docs say I have a 50/50 chance at developing preeclampsia again. The whole ordeal was pretty hard on my husband too, so he says he’s happy with our one little guy (who is 9 lbs now and growing!) for now. Like N says, your experience was very scary, but realize that you’re not alone. Pregnancy and childbearing is difficult for many women, for many reasons.

  40. Melanie Sneed says...

    I really only wanted 2 kids and my husband desperately wanted 3. To our surprise and God’s amazing plan we had girl/boy twins our first pregnancy and we are so blessed and it is funny how we have changed and he is perfectly fine with the family we have now and I long for another child… they are 15 months old and just the sweetest little things ever!!! :)

  41. j.fizz says...

    One. One is plenty. I don’t know how y’all with multiples do it.

  42. Mel says...

    We were planning to have a 2nd child but then our first turned 2 years old. LOL. No joke I yell at myself every single day “never have another kid!” I think anyone that decides to have a 2nd kid before the first one is 2 years old is insane. Recently a co-worker told me their child turned 19 months when they go pregnant again. He said if they’d waited they would have never had another kid.

    • Rebekah says...

      Aw, that’s sad … your co-worker’s comment that is. Kids don’t stay in the same stage forever, after all, so deciding not to have another simply based on one toddler’s behaviour seems a tad short-sighted. They grow and mature!

      I got pregnant with #2 when our first was 13 months. We have survived and I would like to think that we are not wholly insane. :) It’s hard but we are all fine!

  43. The comments here are such a wonderful illustration that we’re all so different — different circumstances, different desires, different beliefs. And that’s ok — actually that’s more than ok, it’s wonderful especially when we can give each other windows into our worlds and share. I love hearing about those with one baby as much as those with five (and contemplating six!). The few people who left more judgmental comments definitely made me sad. Why can’t we make our own choices? And why can’t people have the foresight to respect that we don’t know each others circumstances? My heart goes out to those struggling and I salute each of you who’s made the right decision for your own family.

    • Melanie says...

      This.

  44. Leigh says...

    My husband and I are a long way off from starting a family (26 and 23, respectively). I want to be done with school and for us both to have a solid career started and be financially ready. I long for four children. He says two. With both spouses having professional careers, four children is too much to balance. I’m also concerned with population replacement/ population growth argument. If money were no issue, I think we both would want a larger family.

    • This is the first comment i’ve seen that mentioned population replacement/growth in anyway so I had to jump in! I found it a little depressing that almost no one is considering the impact of their decision on an already overpopulated Planet. I would like a second kid but I genuinely worry about the state of the planet! Kids add a big strain I think? But family is a priority to me. Tricky.

  45. Dee says...

    2!!! My husband wants 3! We’ll see what happens because right now I’m pregnant with our 1st. Let’s see how one goes. One day at a time. We’ll figure it out down the road but I know myself as not the most organized and kinda messy in my home life so managing more than 2 might be more than I can handle without losing my mind. But definitely 2! That’s gotta be a touch decision to figure out let alone to post to the world. I give you credit.

  46. Debbie Z. says...

    I think you and your husband should consider a third child. First of all, your children are adorable and a third would be too. I am the mother of three adult children and I am so glad we have them all (I actually wanted four or five but life didn’t work out that way…I am so very grateful for the three we have). If you have three, you will not regret the decision when they all have families someday and are gathered around your Christmas tree and it feels like a big, happy family. Nothing else in life really matters except for those you love and who love you in return. Another child is an opportunity to once again experience the best thing in life.

  47. totally LOL’d at “no one wants to know where Alex’s flipflops are from.”

  48. I absolutely love your thoughtful posts like this one. Gives me food for thought all day, and I love the dialogue that is opened with friends as a result. PS your family photos couldn’t be sweeter

  49. This is such an emotional post for me coz am yet to decide how many I want. I only have one..at least for now….

  50. Julie says...

    We have three (8, 4 & 2) and I am 95% sure we’re done as I’m 37 and my husband is 38, and I’m not sure we would have enough energy for another one (plus my 8 year old is begging for a dog). It is a little bittersweet to think the baby stage is over but a lot of fun to see the little people they’re growing into. I was one of three so I wanted three and my husband was one of two so he wanted two, but we had a surprise third baby and I’m really enjoying the toddler years this time around because I know it’s the last time.

  51. Sara Beth says...

    We are 5 weeks away from having our 3rd girl. Our older two are 5 and 3. We still hope to have more. My husband only wants 1 more child, completing our family with 4 children. I would like 1 more if we have another girl but if we have a boy I think it would be nice to try for a brother or I would get my dream of 4 girls plus a boy. We discussed being done with 2 kids, because it is extremely practical, but we just couldn’t do it. I’m hoping I get hit over the head with we’re done having babies but it seems like you guys came to a slower decision.

  52. I had a brother who was born ill and died aged 10. I was 4 years younger, and my parents took the 4 years to get over the fact that they had to live with a child with problems, and then found out they were going to have to make a serious efford if they were having another one. I came, and they stopped trying, persuaded that they would not have another one. When I was three, they had my sister. Then the brother passed, and now, at 28 (almost 29 yikes!) I manage to say thank God they had another child and I have a sibling now.
    This is an extreme scenario, but even though I only say that we are two children, I cant help feeling fortunate that my sister had been the thrird (accidental, lucky) conception!

    • Ivonne Guerra says...

      Similar situation. I’m the first of 3, but my youngest sister died when she was 1 and a half. I was 6 and my middle brother was 4. It’s been me and him ever since and I’m incredibly thankful I grew up with a sibling. I always think to myself, what if I only have 2 kids out of “practicality” and one dies? I dated a guy who lost his sister when he was 24 and she was 21 and he said the hardest thing about the whole thing was to think of himself as an only child.

  53. May I gently suggest that maybe the reason so many people struggle with whether they are “done” is because it shouldn’t be our decision to decide when we’re done? Maybe it should God’s (universe, etc.) decision?

    I have 5 kids and am “done” because my husband is dead. We never set out to have a certain number. We worked to space them a little but otherwise we decided to let be what would be. It pains me to have that sweet “what if” taken from my life.

    • Beth says...

      Thank you for being the only person on here to bring up God!!! I agree with you. Maybe people shouldn’t plan so much, and just let life happen. Why does a decision need to be made when the children we do have are so small? Like maybe in a few years when they’re both in school, you’ll feel ready and openly willing for a third? Ruling it all out, and being “done” just seems so depressing. Remember: “people plan, God laughs…”

    • Elle says...

      To be fair, a lot of people have to consider the finances of having multiple children. Children are expensive. Not everyone can decide to go the old’Duggar route and pop out 19!

  54. Es says...

    This is the first time i’m commenting here, I’ve been a regular reader of the blog for almost 2 years now, its one of my favorite places on the internet :) so thank you for that!

    I always wanted two children but we’ve recently found out that we can’t have children due to male factor infertility. We were lucky to find out very early on so we didn’t have to go through IVF or other treatments. I don’t think I’m handling it badly but there are good days and bad, its still hard to accept. I know there are other options but the realization that as a couple we can’t share the experience is a painful one. I also feel that if using a sperm donor or adoption are very different commitments than that of having your own children, and as I say that I don’t mean to imply they are any less fulfilling but come with a slightly different set of demands.

    When I turned online to find other people in a similar situation I found very few who talk about male factor infertility and even fewer whose experience isn’t linked to extensive fertility treatment. It would be great to hear from other such women. Its a strange experience because there are also days I feel that I perhaps its best for me not to have had children because I feel I might have been an overly obsessive and paranoid mother and would have lost all sense of my individual self.

    • Hi Es,
      Me and my husband had issues conceiving and it was similar to this. We struggled for over a year and went to get tests done on both him and me. We had the results that said the sperm was slow (sorry I can’t remember the actual medical term). Strangely I discovered I was pregnant a week or so after the tests so I didn’t pursue or research the results. Just over a year prior to this I found out I had candida. For over a year we ate clean, healthy food and I believe this helped us conceive. A few years after we had our beautiful son we wanted to try for another baby but my healthy diet had fallen by the way side and I struggled again to conceive. I’m back on the healthy eating again and have been for over 13 months and my menstrual cycle is now regular but unfortunately I think it’s too late for us due to my age and I don’t want a large age gap between my children. We are enjoying the time we have with our special one too much.

      I really feel your pain and feel that your message deserved a response. Don’t give up hope and try everything you can x.

    • N says...

      Hi es – after being told the odds were stacked against them with male factor infertility and several rounds of IVF (eventually changing centres to a more specialist one) our friends had a gorgeous baby boy. I agree it’s so rarely discussed – don’t give up hope x

  55. I so appreciate you being open about this topic on an ongoing basis; it’s so fascinating to hear what other families dream for and decide! I’m 26 and my husband is eight years older than me. We’ve been married just shy of a year and have started talking about babies, but aren’t quite there yet. I used to think I wanted just one, and maybe still do, but who knows — I think it’ll depend on when we start and how it feels to be a family of three. We are on the same page I think which helps!

  56. I had a baby at 41 and we are only having one. We had a difficult time conceiving (miscarriage, uterine polyp removal, failed medicated IUI treatments) for three years. Finally, happened naturally with acupuncture (I believe it helped us conceive since my body was out of whack after all the ups and downs). My husband always wanted two kids and I was always fine with one, as I am also an only child. I think reality bit when it took us a while to get pregnant and since we are both in our forties we are happy as a threesome. I sometimes think I may not be a grandmother, but that’s okay. :)

  57. Kristin says...

    My dad would always say, if you have more than two you’re outnumbered ;-) Meanwhile I’m one of four “kids”.

    So glad to hear you made a decision that is right for your family! Enjoy it!

  58. Kate says...

    So happy for you guys! Congratulations on your beautiful, happy family! ???

  59. Reena says...

    I have one girl and I am pregnant for the second time now. I always wanted 2 kids. I come from a country in Europe where everyone used to have one or two kids. That’s it. If you have 3 kids you are frowned upon. Now I think that’s changing slowly and more and more women are having a 3rd child. A friend of mine had a third one and her mother got mad at her and didn’t speak to her for some time. I read here about people having 4-5 and even more kids, and I am amazed! I don’t know how you do it both physically and mentally…

  60. Elliesee says...

    we have four between the age of 6 and 12, I really really wanted a third and did not expect to have twins. We’re happy, it is expensive and what has to give are the various extra-curricular activities a the daily healthy home cooked meals. Five neighbors have to help to bring our kids to and from 3 different schools, we try to return all those favors!

  61. Molly says...

    Jo- I would love to hear you talk about secondary infertility. It isn’t something I’ve seen talked about a lot but it is something, I’m sure, some of your readers are struggling with. We are! We got pregnant on our first try with our daughter who is now 4, and now 3 years of trying later… our second baby is nowhere in sight. It’s a very interesting parallel to deciding how many to have- what if you did decide, and you can’t?

    • tod says...

      we have one daughter and after her sadly 3 miscarriges. we couldn’t take it any more and have decided that we are lucky to have on healthy, lovely child.

    • Rhonda says...

      Great idea!

    • LL says...

      We are learning the hard way that you can’t always plan out your life. I always wanted 5 kids and my husband 2-3. But, I was thrilled about having 3 and happy with 2. You see we didn’t marry until I was 34. Until now, we have been blessed with one beautiful daughter who is just under 2 and have been trying for number 2 since she was 6 months. We’ve experienced two miscarriages – one of which was at 13 weeks after a year of trying using aggressive fertility treatments. It’s been a very challenging and painful (and expensive) year for us as we long to give her a sibling. I cry often and my heart aches but haven’t given up hope. It helps so much to be able to funnel all my energy to her (Moms probably wonder how I have so much energy at the park – I can’t get enough of her). I now feel the pain more of those who struggle to have one and haven’t been lucky. I would love to hear more who have struggled with secondary infertility. I feel strongly that diet plays a huge role and after a few weeks of letting myself go after our 13 week miscarriage I start my strict diet tomorrow hoping it’ll help us to have a healthy second baby and a sibling for our daughter. It undoubtably been the toughest year and have found it hard to stay close to friends at a time when you need your friend’s the most.

  62. Christina says...

    I am the same age as you (35 turning 36 in a week). We have 3 boys (7,5, and 2 years) and struggled for a year to decide whether we wanted another one. I didn’t feel done and wasn’t sure what “done” was supposed to feel like. This last June we decided not to have any more and I for the first time felt really content with our little family but lo and behold as soon as we packed up and donated ALL of our baby stuff I found out I was pregnant. Now we are expecting a fourth in March. I am excited but in a weird way this pregnancy totally took me by surprise because I had mentally saw myself in a family of 5. We are really elated though, however, this is definitely the end for me. Now I know for sure I am done no matter what and that was a feeling I didn’t have with my last pregnancy. I know it’s actually controversial to have lots of kids this day and age but I do take into consideration things like the environment, politics, etc. My husband and I are dedicated to raising our children to be conscious citizens of the world, even at a young age and hope that our children will become a part of the generation that can potentially turn things around in our society rather than the continual contribution towards excess.

  63. siheme says...

    hello,

    I m 29, happily married and we are French. We live in the USA (MD). Our son is now 4 years old and we decided we don’t want another baby. WE are still young, we might regret it but this is our decision. It was very hard to be away in the US without our family around. Now, with our jobs, I don’t see myself having another one. It will be very hard psychologically. If I have another child one day, it’s because I really wanted him or her. For now, I don’t want to. Thanks for this post!

  64. Natalie says...

    I’m 25, recently married, and at the beginning of the journey of trying for a baby. I have always thought that I wanted 3-5 children and my husband feels similarly, but might be more in the 2-4 range. I think as we start our family, a number of things will factor into the ‘how many’ decision. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  65. AJ says...

    I’m 37 years old (4 years older than my husband) and I’m currently 20 weeks into my first pregnancy. I always knew I wanted to be a mom but as I got older, I started to accept that maybe I wouldn’t have one of my own (adoption was a thought). Mostly, it was about finding the “right” partner. Then I met the man I’m with now and we’ve been together for 4 years. He came into my life with a son from a previous relationship and that little boy is the love of my life! He’s 4.5 years old and sometimes I say, the reason my relationship with my partner has survived some tough times is because of my love for his son. I will be having a boy, due next Feb and I’m so excited about having my two boys! I’ll be 38 when I deliver and I wonder if I’ll be able to have another. I’d be open to that if it can happen naturally. I still feel like I’m in my 20’s/early 30’s mentally/emotionally, so I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I will be an “older” mom.

  66. Meghan says...

    I just had my fourth child in August! I can say for sure that we are finished adding to our family (for sure, for sure I made things “official” in that department!! Ha!) We have 3 other daughters (aged 5, 3, 2) and people always ask are you going to keep trying for the boy? I will admit daughter number 4 was a surprise but it is becoming more common (again!) for parents in my generation to have more than 3 children.

  67. I love this! I live in a small town in the south…I’m 27 and am the only one of my friends here who doesn’t have kids, or is not pregnant at least. I just started a new business and have no plans of kids before 30, and I feel like an outcast here. “Who is this girl who wants to put her career and other goals before having kids right away?! She must be crazy!” It’s so refreshing to hear that people are choosing what works best for them (whatever that happens to be) without judgement of others. Cheers to your sweet family of four!

  68. Talia says...

    I hope this isn’t taken in a critical way–it’s not meant that way. I’m just curious: do environmental concerns come into anyone’s family planning decisions? I’ve known since college environmental studies classes that I would not have more than two kids. But now, with climate change, I wonder if I should have any at all.
    Are there other people who think about this?

    • Terry says...

      We talk about this all the time – the world we’re leaving to our kids and also the impact of adding more people to the planet. We are note wealthy in terms of US standards so a lot is a struggle, but compared with many people on this earth, that we have any choice in what we eat/use/buy we have abundance. I feel incredibly guilty by the thought of having kids and using even more than I already have when so many have so little. And when so much of our natural world is getting exploited to make throw-away stuff (plastic water bottles, disposable diapers, cell phones that last 2-3 years if we’re lucky, etc). This is a HUGE consideration for us and very likely the reason we will choose not to have children.

    • Clare says...

      My partner is determined we will only have two children in order to not contribute to further overpopulation (his arguement is if we have two then we’re essentially just replacing ourselves so no net increase). I tend to agree just so that everyone fits comfortably in a small car and we can live in a smaller home

    • Liz says...

      Climate change was the biggest reason that I did not want kids. I couldn’t imagine bringing children into such an uncertain world with such a scary future. And then I got pregnant. With twins. So now they are 5 but I still can’t believe that when they are my age the world will be so different than it is now. I feel guilty sometimes for having them. Although they are awesome people. But whoa, it’s scary.

    • lomagirl says...

      I always thought two was good because of environmental reasons. But I also always wanted 3 kids. We had two, and it looked like we wouldn’t have another, but then the Arab spring happened- and so did a surprise pregnancy. We gave him the middle name Salem- and I hope he grows up in a peaceful world and contributes to more peace. So it’s not environmentally responsible, but it is hopeful.

    • Anna says...

      We have two girls, pregnant with a third, and will probably have a 4th. This is something we did think about when we discussed the size of our family. Ultimately, we want to raise conscientious people that are good stewards of the environment and we are raising them to be mindful of all that they do have. It’s definitely something we wrestled with, but when I see my 4 yr old pick up litter and talk about taking care of the earth, or the 2 yr old helping us plant our garden, I feel like we balance it out.

  69. Katerina says...

    Dear Joanna, I’ve been reading your blog for more that a year but never commented on your posts, although I agree with so many of them. Today I feel obliged to make a commend, because reading this post was almost as reading my own thoughts. I am a happy mother of two boys, ages 6 and 4, who become even sweeter, prettier and more lovable as the days go by. I would really like a third child-for the aforementioned reasons- but my lovely husband feels that our family is nice as it is. Still, I wish that maybe someday I’ll have a third. Like Amy, I feel a bit jealous when friends are having their third…
    Well, on the other hand, you never know…

  70. Linda says...

    Oh, such a hard decision! I hear you! I’ve got two boys (15 & 10), too, and they are great! We were in the process of foster adopting 2 sisters about 5 years ago, but then I had some unforeseen health issues that have become chronic, unfortunately. It was so hard to let that dream go, but at the same time, we are just pouring into our boys and enjoying the blessings they are to us. I’m thankful!

  71. S says...

    Love our family :). I have to say i find Anton very intriguing he has very old school vibe and I bet he will be an old soul too. :D. Funny how people make opinions on pictures of strangers right. I know its silly but thought I would share.

  72. ck says...

    This post is so on point with my feelings of late. I am a late Mama, my first at 37 and am due with my second on my 40th birthday. My husband is 48. I am so happy to be pregnant again, and am enjoying every moment of it. I am also a wee bit sad, as I have always wanted to be a Mother, love being a mom to my girl, and know that if the conditions would have supported it, I would have had three children. I have to fight this jealous little voice in my head that says “oh, they’re just showing off” when I see families of 5 on the street. Thanks for this post. Life is never perfect, nor does it follow our best laid plans. We all are making hard decisions, as well as living with conditions from past choices, or choices that we never even had. I am so grateful for the family I have. I plan to savour these little people, as they grow and head out on their life paths. Life goes so, so quickly. I’m planning on enjoying the ride I’m on.

  73. LLB says...

    I love this post and I love the comments even more. I always saw myself as having two children, but I feel in my heart it’s just not meant to be.

    Before we had our daughter, who is now nearing 3, I endured intrusive, yet seemingly well-meaning questions regarding when it would be “our turn.” After we had our daughter, the questions turned to when we would be having more. Co-workers, friends and family alike pose questions and cutesy remarks without any regard to the emotional burden they create.

    The light-hearted questions and comments really beg for just one response (the only “acceptable” one). But I can’t possibly be truthful with most people. It would involve explaining that shortly after our daughter was born, my husband lost his job and his ensuing breakdown and alcohol abuse nearly cost us our marriage. Although he’s been employed and sober for over a year and we are a happy family, the damage has been and remains insidious.

    Aside from all this, our student loan debt and age make having another child difficult, if not impossible.

    So, when those well-intended souls tell me my daughter wants to be a big sister, I smile and stay silent. But inside, I become the scene in the movie Amelie where she melts to a puddle on the floor.

    • Lena says...

      I feel for you. Thank you for being brave enough to leave this comment. I realize my situation is very different from yours, but there are some few similar feelings involved. I also have a toddler and doubt we will have the dreamed of second child and sibling for our first. My relationship with my partner is unstable and fraught with pain and hurtful behavior, and at times though we take joy in co-parenting at other times I wonder if I am in an emotionally abusive relationship. I can’t bring another child into this and feel so sad about the loss of what I imagined for our family and my first child having a brother or sister. I’d love to hear from any others in similar situations.

    • Tea says...

      A friend of mine has the best answer for when people ask if she and her husband are going to have a second (in the most expensive city in the country). “Nope,” she says. “One is all the market will bear!”
      Their full story is more complicated and nuanced–as yours and everyone’s is–but I love how it shuts people down when they ask. Truly, it’s nobody’s business but your own.

  74. Rose says...

    So this is going to seem old fashioned, but it’s how I was raised and how we’re doing things: I don’t have a plan. So far, we have three kids. I am expecting my fourth in February. EVERYONE has asked, ever since my last pregnancy, if we’re done now, if we want more, how many do we want? To me, this sort of thinking commodifies children — makes them into objects rather than seeing them as people. When we got married, part of our vows said that we would “accept children lovingly as gifts from God.” This has not been easy. We actually struggled with infertility at first, and were even told by a specialist that we’d be unlikely to conceive on our own. We had to accept this as well, and walk away without treatment and wait to see what God gave us. Now we’re on the other side of that spectrum, with what feels like an overabundance, and we have to try to deal with the stress and fatigue that comes with lots of kids. But they are people. They are unique souls, and they won’t always be babies or little kids. I can’t imagine our family without any one of them, and I know that feeling with continue with any additional souls. It’s a great mystery and a wonderful adventure, and it’s also a trial that’s made even harder by everyone else contentedly declaring themselves “done” and asking when I’m going to join them. I don’t know when, and that’s a little scary, but I trust that when I’m older and look around my Thanksgiving table I won’t regret a thing.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Well put. I come from a large family and my seven younger siblings are the best thing that ever happened to me. I cannot thank God and my parents enough. I know that my grandparents expressed concern at times as the babies kept coming and my mom would reply, “Well, which one should I not have had?” As I watch my siblings -my dearest friends- grow up and become positive influences in our church and community I know that God’s plan is better than anything else could be. If I get married someday, Lord willing, I would like to incorporate something like what you shared into our vows as well.

  75. We have five (10, 8, 6, 4, and 2) and we are done, barring any surprise babies or sudden dramatic changes of heart! I really struggled for a year or two after my fifth was born with worrying about whether to have another (my husband was done with the decision long before I was!). It was a very emotional thing for me to close the door on that stage of my life…it took me soooo long to pack up the baby things! What really decided me was realizing that my older children needed much more emotional energy from me, and that those needs would only increase as they got older, and knowing how difficult it would be to give them that if I was pregnant or busy with a newborn, especially in light of the crippling depression I’d experienced after the birth of my fifth. It was much easier to make the decision when I framed it in terms of raising my family instead of adding to my family.

  76. I long for a large, loud family—Family Stone-style :) It’s what I have always envisioned, when I imagine sitting around the table together someday.

    I know, though, that the realities of fertility, parenthood, schedules, finances, etc. could change my mind, so I am really interested to see what size family we grow!

  77. Since bring married, I get asked time and time again as to when am I going to have my first child?? My husband and I have agreed that we will have children after ‘x’ amount of years, plus taking into consideration of our career and finances. I love seeing my nephew smile, and how he quickly learns new things.. But as of now, I know its best to continue doing what I love doing – which is fulfilling my dreams and enjoy being married, because once they are here… there’s no turning back lol! =)

  78. I have been struggling with the same question, and my husband and I (finally!) decided that we’re going to have a third. He was hesitant, mostly for the practical reasons you discussed in your original post, and I was hesitant because I was worried that I wanted another baby for the wrong reasons (i.e. not ready to leave baby stage, etc.). We ultimately realized, though, that we see ourselves with 3 kids not just now, but as teenagers, college students, and adults. I look into the future, and I get misty thinking about spending holidays in a house full of my children, their spouses, my grandchildren, etc. And while they are young children, I love the thought of them learning patience and imagination while killing time during their siblings’ activities. Playing at random baseball fields and horse arenas was a huge part of my childhood, even though I didn’t participate in either of those sports. I feel really at peace with our decision now, and it’s just a matter of timing!

  79. AG says...

    I am a mother of two, ages 4 and 2.5, and currently pregnant with our third. We debated a lot. In the end, knowing that the third baby was going to be his/her own little person, completely different from the first two but just as lovable and interesting, was what decided us. We could not turn away from knowing that third child. But we are certainly very anxious about how difficult it will be to balance three children and two careers and a marriage and strained finances. It is comforting to read the comments from others who have had three and enjoy it.

  80. TB says...

    I am going to guess this is going to be a very unpopular comment…the Administration of Children and Families put out a report stating that in 2014 over 415,000 children were in foster care and over 108,000 children were available for adoption. It seems most people are willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on fertility treatments when there are many incredible kids out there already who desperately want to love a family and be loved. Why is this option–the adoption option–for creating a family not a bigger part of this conversation? Why are so many people so opposed to this amazing opportunity?

    • Beth says...

      A very good point.
      Also, consider that wanting another baby because you like babies too be a year-long window. Kittens turn into cats you know. Do you really want a baby or another child/tween/teen/ young adult?

    • Kelly says...

      I agree with you. As someone who has been struggling with fertility for nearly two years, adoption is a big part of our conversation. I would love to be able to provide a home for a child who so desperately needs one, however my husband is not sure adoption is for him. I also don’t think we can choose to bring a special needs child in to our home at this point. Beyond that, adoption is expensive and if you go the foster to adopt route, you could spend years dealing with family court and end up in heartbreak when the child is returned to their home. I am not sure this is a potential loss I am ready to choose. I think adoption takes a very special person and it is not for everyone.

    • Maria says...

      Adoption is a choice for EVERY family, not to infertile families.

  81. janet says...

    Thank you so much for this post.
    I have been debating whether to try for baby #3 for quite some time as well. I had always imagined I would have 3 children, especially because my husband and I do not have any close siblings or cousins.
    Your post really hit home, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you.

  82. Molly says...

    I am struggling, myself. I am a step-mom to 3 kids – a 17 year old girl and 2 15 year old twin boys. One of of the boys lives with us – the other 2 live out of state with their mom. The son who lives with us came to us at 12 with some health problems—it is in his best interest to live with us, and he will do so through high school. He is a good kid—we have a great relationship. My husband and I have a 2-year-old boy together. He is a joy and the most amazing boy – the happiest little soul you’ve ever met. My husband does not want a 5th child for financial reasons—if we won the lottery, we’d get pregnant tomorrow. I would LOVE another baby. And as my 2 year old edges closer to three I feel like my window is slamming shut. I am so devastated thinking that money is the only reason stopping us. I was an only child (divorced parents) and had many privileges as one – lots of travel, private schools. I try to comfort myself with the notion that our 2 year old could have some of those perks growing up, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. A tough consolation prize. There’s no guarantees that another baby would be anything like our first – I understand that – but I can’t quite be okay with just timing out. I am 38, my husband is 45.

  83. Erin says...

    If I read this after our first I would think y’all were crazy. Difficult labor, recovery, colicky, still doesn’t sleep at 3, you get the idea. But in our hazy, sleep deprived state we had a second who is now 5 mos and she makes me want to have a million more! Who knew kids could be so easy!! However living in the Bay Area and both working out of the home means we have a small house and packed schedules. I want to bask in the glory of our little family of 4 and showery girls with love. I just need to enjoy every moment, as you mentioned its that I want time to slow so I can enjoy each stage that really drives the desire for another. And that I want to see what the third would be! What personality awaits? Great post.

  84. Jen says...

    I would still like to see a post on single women deciding to have children on their own. This blog post (& comments) is a wonderful discussion – but would also love to hear about women who haven’t found someone to have a baby with, but are getting older and still have a dream of having a child. What to do…

    • Living the dream says...

      I had a little girl just over two years ago using donor sperm. Flat out the best decision of my life.

    • Jen says...

      Wow. Thank you ‘Living the Dream’, your response brought tears to my eyes. I started to go to a fertility clinic this month to gather more info and freeze my eggs – to be honest I am still too scared to go ahead with it, but it would help to hear more stories like yours during this decision making time/process and in the future if I decide to take that path. Thank you for sharing.

  85. Wow! I love how this post strikes a cord with so many readers! I have a family of 4 (2 parents and 2 kids), so I do know how you feel about the dynamics of four and how a family can feel complete. I am lucky to have a girl and a boy, both of whom get plenty of attention, and I wonder/worry what would happen if I had 2 boys or 2 girls. How would our family dynamic change?

    I love being close to my kids, so having more would make that change, insofar as I would be a lot busier!

    If I were younger, I would’ve loved to have had 4 children. That would be ideal, but actually I didn’t even know if I wanted kids at all. But I did want to get married, and my husband wanted kids, so that’s what we did. After having our daughter, I only wished I had her sooner, I loved being a mom SO MUCH. My husband wanted two kids, so we tried for another, and after 2 miscarriages, I had our baby boy at 39.

    I would love to have more kids, but we are done. But I can’t totally put an end to it because when the doctor’s asked me if I wanted my tubes tied, I couldn’t bring myself to say yes. I am open to more kids, but at 40, it gets harder.

    The one thing I remind myself when I get that urge if how difficult my births were. 2 C-sections, 2 kids in the NICU at birth, one preemie, one previa, one hemorrage., 2 ambulance rides to the hospital. Priceless? Of course, but too intense. I love my kids with my whole heart, but I don’t want us to go through another high risk birth again.

    Analog House
    http://theanaloghouse.blogspot.com

  86. Stephanie Marie says...

    I always wanted to have 3 kids and I was lucky to have them and I love my two boys and one daughter. BUT. The kids grew. Became teenagers. Be aware! Don`t underestimate the power (and not at all only positive) young adults bring into your life. A challenge you may not take into consideration NOW. But soon to come…

  87. LA says...

    Hi Joanna,

    I’ve always loved your blog, but posts about having (more) kids like this truly hits home.

    I have a wonderful 3 year-old son whom I love to death. I’d absolutely love to have another baby, but here’s the problem.

    My husband and I have stopped loving each other since probably 1-2 years ago. We do not want to get a divorce because it is very taboo in our family, society, and religion. It will be a huge pain in our asses. Our marriage was also half-arranged, which is not uncommon here.

    My husband and I don’t hate each other and we care for each other, but our relationship is very platonic. I haven’t had sex with him for probably a year, as I see him only as a big brother or simply a roommate (not even a bestfriend). He’s a an all-around nice guy, and an amazing father, but he is just not for me. Not as a lover.

    I would love to have another baby, but I couldn’t bring myself to have one with the man I don’t exactly love. The thought of my children are not “made from love” is heartbreaking.

    On the other hand, my husband (who is very practical and doesn’t have a single romantic cell in his brain), has been pushing me to get pregnant again. He is raised with 3 other siblings, and he hates (almost rejects) the idea of a small family of 3.

    Sigh.

    • Molly says...

      Wow. This is fascinating. I appreciate your candor. In some ways another child would add to the love in your home, but without the partner to enjoy it with, I can see how it could feel hollow. Life is not easy. I wish you much love!

    • Marina says...

      I really could have written this. Very close in some ways to my own experience. Will you stay together? I wonder what I should do, and how I could leave with a young child, but I see my own last shreds of youth and time for a romantic relationship of that sort leaking away.

  88. Nicola says...

    I recognize the thought processing described in your post. We decided , whilst driving around the Loire Valley in 2012, with a 4 year old girl and 1 year old boy in the back seat, that our family was complete. Over the years, friends and family have added to their brood, and although my head has always been certain, my heart has had a little pang. Until this year, when I heard my sister in law was having a third. This time, no pang, just pleasure in my certainty that we too are best as a fearsome foursome. I suppose I have now passed through the childbearing phase, and I am loving my 8 and 5 year olds. The balancing act between being a mother and being a doctor has reached a pleasurable equilibrium. Thanks for sharing.

  89. I have 3 boys, ages 7, 3 and almost 1. We are on the fence about having a 4th. I would love another child for a variety of reasons. I want my kids to grow up in a full house and have plenty of playmates. I love babies. But I don’t know what to do.

  90. Anyone have any advice on deciding to have children? What are some ways to help you make up your mind? I’m always on the fence about having kids and as I get older I know I need to make up my mind.

    • Erin says...

      I think you can’t wait until you feel ready because most people never feel ready. For us we got to a point where we just wanted a little person in our family so badly, from previously being sworn against kids. I think if you open your heart to the idea, you’ll see if it feels right. I know that sounds cheesy!

    • Not cheesy at all. Thank you Erin.

      Alexa – I’ll def be reading the blog. Thanks for sharing.

  91. lola says...

    i am the much wanted 3rd child born 8 & 11 yrs after my brothers who wouldn’t have been without scratching the itch for no 3! im pregnant w my 1st how can I think of wanting any less than 3 ;)

  92. Michelle says...

    As one of three I always thought I’d have the same. But then there was the small (!) matter of finding someone I wanted to have children with! This year (aged 36yr) I’ve married my boyfriend of 18 months and we are now just hoping our first ( and maybe our last depending on how long it takes) will come along soon.

  93. Karla says...

    I wanted a large family but my uterus, while fertile, is divided so I’m incredibly prone to miscarriages. I have two beautiful girls (16yo and nearly 13yo) and have had 5 miscarriages. Just a few years ago I finally reached a point where I was ok with not having more but it is still bittersweet and more often than not I opt not to hold friends new babies because it does still make my heart ache.

    • Rae says...

      I have a similar situation – my body decided for me that I was done after one. I will likely always wish it was possible to have more but I do cherish the sweet girl I have. This “choice” of children is a funny one as we don’t fully get to choose. Instead we hope and plan and change plans for unexpected events don’t we?

    • PM says...

      Karla, thank for sharing this. I had a miscarriage about a year ago and have struggled to get pregnant again since then. It’s not easy. I do take such comfort in knowing that I am not alone – that other women have survived this and MUCH MORE.

      Joanna, I would love to see a post on miscarriage – what they do to a woman, a man, the couple, and how to endure and overcome.

  94. Marina says...

    I have four kids. The last two are twins, so we had both a planned and an unplanned child at the same time. :)

    I am done. Definitely done. I desperately wanted a third child after baby 2, and my husband wanted to stop at 2. The years of indecision were though on our marriage, because I knew I could not accept not having one more and he (really really really ) wanted to (at least) wait.

    Going from 2 kids to 4 was difficult. Although the first two pregnancies had been quite easy, the twin pregnancy was hard and full of worries, threats of miscarriage and early labour, etc. I don’t want to go through all that again. Also, I felt a little robbed of “my last baby”, because with two (plus the older kids) I just couldn’t find the time to just hold the baby, smell him, enjoy him. There was always something that had to be done…

    They are 3, 3, 7 and 10 now. And it’s wonderful. They are so good together, so happy and close. I hope they stay like that when they are adults. They play together, they help each other, they sleep through the night (ost nights). This is it. I gave away the baby clothes and most of our baby stuff without a tear. I look forward to hockey games and ballet shows, to traveling together (we went on a plane trip for the firts time with all of them this summer and it was wonderful). My house will be full of children and friends for the next 15 years, and I will cherish every moment. But I am slowly starting to be a woman again, and making important career progress, and I feel wonderful about it.

    • Meg says...

      This is such an encouragement to me – thank you for posting your story! We have 2 children (ages 4 and 2.5), and were on the fence about possibly having one more. Awhile back we decided just to go for it and try for a third. I was nervous about going back to the newborn days now that it feels like we’ve really hit our stride with the first 2 (we are all sleeping well, able to travel more easily, etc.), but since my first 2 were so close in age and it made for a bit of a blur the first year or so, I also had a desire to cherish and enjoy those special moments with one “last baby.” Lo and behold, I am now pregnant with twins – a complete shock. I never envisioned myself as a mother of 4, and while I am of course excited to meet these babies, I am also grieving the fact that instead of savoring time with one last baby, life will be even crazier/more exhausting than the first 2 times around. Reading your comment gives me a lot of hope for a big, close, cozy family – not what I planned, but still hopefully just as wonderful. But yes, after these babies are born we are DONE, and I know I will give away every bit of baby gear without an ounce of regret!

    • Marina says...

      Meg, congratulations on your pregnancy!

      It will be OK. Everything will fall into place, it just may take a while. It did take me sometime to feel that I know the twins as well as I know their brother and sister. Being two boys and looking the same, at first I got a little lost: who had slept well and who didn’t? Did I bathe J. twice and M. none? Also, the older kids took time to fall in love with their brothers, because they couldn’t tell them apart.

      However, experience gives us security as parents. We don’t stress over every cry, we are more aware of the distinction between what is important and what’s not.

      Give yourself and your family time. It will be wonderful. Not what you had imagined, but another kind of wonderful. I am now very proud of our very full minivan. And the best part of it all is watching the kids be siblings, seeing how they belong to each other. They will always have 3 pairs of helping hands, even if me and my husband are not around any more.

      All the best for you! :)

  95. Nic says...

    I’ve been following your journey and my pangs almost echoed yours and this is absolutely refreshing and reassuring to hear. Mom of two boys wondering, this sure does seem full to me! Your family is beautiful and incredibly blessed, here’s to being thankful for all the love we do have!