We Almost Had A Third

Three is the new two right? So many of the families we see regularly have three (or more) children.

We have two children. We will most likely remain as a family of four. I say most likely because I can never feel like it is 100% within our control; life, uh, finds a way. But for our part, we have decided to call it here.

For the last probably 2 years, the topic of more children has come and gone often. We generally both fall onto the same page but the pages turn quickly. More, no more, more, no more, more, no more. It felt so hard to get a clear reading. And so emotionally taxing to stay in this uncertain limbo, constantly tipping from one side to the other! Is our family done or not?? I just wanted to know either way so I could buckle in and enjoy the ride we had chosen.

We could find lots of reasons not to have a third… financially, emotionally, physically, environmentally but I knew, had we wanted a third all of those things would pale into the background, that we would figure it all out. In battle, my heart is much fiercer than my mind. Maybe that was our answer? We didn’t want it enough to ignore the practicalities, we didn’t want it enough to find solutions to any problems. We tentatively stamped no.

And yet, it niggled.

Honestly, part of it is because it feels so weird to pass up the opportunity to create life! Like how ridiculously incredible is having a baby? Is the ability to grow and nurture a new person? It is just such a wonder and a privilege and we love being parents.

Part of it is that we miss babies but specifically, our children as their younger selves. We wouldn’t trade the now for then but it is never long enough is it? Would it be too much to ask for a lifetime with our children at each and every age? Maybe there are parts we wish we focused on more or decisions we wish we could remake but mostly, we just want to do it all again! And when I imagine myself holding a baby… there are no siblings. There is no current scenes and rhythms bustling through the background. It is not a future but part nostalgia and part romanticised daydream.

Part of it is witnessing how beautiful large families are. Imagining our house full of laughter, of love, of stories. Of multiplying connections with each new addition. Part of me really does want to want more!

But no matter how hard I try to imagine a third, I can’t. It’s just not there.

And maybe I wanted to believe that was temporary. Maybe it is not for us… yet. Like I’ve just consumed a delicious two course meal and though I look longingly at the desert, I know there is no way it is going to fit. Maybe I just needed time to digest.

But I also felt like I couldn’t stay in this state of unknowing especially when two felt so right. I felt like our life was on hold with this question; is our family all here yet or not? As though we are sitting around at the bus station, just in case, unwilling to leave anyone behind.

Maybe I’m not quite ready to let go just because it is hard and sad and foreign but I feel ready to say we’re all here. I’m ready to board the bus. Every memory we make from this point forward includes all of us. And that is comforting amidst the sadness of fare-welling babies and babyhood. The next chapter is exciting!

Part of it is the miracle of life. But I don’t need to experience it again personally to appreciate it.

Part of it is missing babies. But our babies and those babyhoods have been lived and enjoyed.

Part of it is knowing how beautiful large families are. But we have a community beyond our home. We are connected to more than our children. We are so lucky to be welcomed into the stories of many.

We almost had a third. But we didn’t. It’s not logical, I can’t even really explain it but it makes complete sense to us. All aboard!

Update: it turns out one new family member did join us since I wrote this; our much loved adopted cat, Houdini.

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  1. Thank you so much for writing this! I have never heard anyone say exactly how I feel about a third baby, mine are 13 & 8 so the window to change my mind is closing fast, and I feel sad about that. What if one more would be so delightful but what if one more would tip me over, isn’t responsible? I feel like I am on the bus but I could hop off at any moment … Thank you Jessica, I don’t feel so alone now.

    1. I’m so glad you could connect with my words. I hope you can figure out which fear is the barrier to process, it is not easy <3

  2. I have six adopted/foster kids. I was done after four but life happens. I can’t imagine our family without the two babies

  3. I was so sure that I wanted a big family, and had it all planned out in advance… got pregnant with number 2 shortly after my oldest’s 2nd birthday… but I had all these assumptions, that my oldest would wean while I was pregnant, that she would want more independence and be doing lots of fun activities and wouldn’t want me hovering… Yeah she’s 4.5 now and it’s quite clear that what she needs the most is me. Still nursing and not at all interested in weaning. Meanwhile, to make it all work, my 20 month old spends a LOT of time with his grandpa, and they adore each other, but darnnit, I want to be the one raising my kids full-time!! And even with all the support from grandpa I’m exhausted and not as present as I want to be for my littles. So as we come up on baby’s 2nd birthday, I’ve had to really consider what I want and not make assumptions about my older ones’ needs 9 months in the future. I figure at the minimum I can put off a decision until my oldest weans… no way am I going to get pregnant with 2 nurslings!!! But really even then I don’t know what I’ll decide…

  4. Thanks! This is where I am at… My husband is committed to staying at two, I would take three…But, two is fine too. Thanks for your words.

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