Hi friends and happy 2023! This newsletter is (usually) a round-up of life things - what I'm enjoying, reading, learning, buying, doing, thinking about, and more. Thanks for being here + reading along! 💛 Today’s newsletter format is a bit different, as I usually share about various topics, organized in sections mentioned above. For those of you totally uninterested in motherhood/parenting, I promise my newsletters are usually about more than that!
This one is also a lot longer and more personal. I’m doing more of a reflective, word vomit-type newsletter on just one topic that’s been on my mind. I’m positive that I didn’t cover everything I think/feel about this topic and that this isn’t very ‘buttoned up’ or polished - it’s just what’s on my mind and heart as I’m wrestling with this idea. I’m just going to dive right in…
How did you decide whether to have a third kid?
Obviously, this is such a personal choice for each person/family, but…I’d love to hear from you, if you’re willing to share. You can comment publicly on the newsletter or email me directly with your story, thoughts, perspective, etc.
But first, let me back up.
I always wanted a big family. I’m one of four kids and love being apart of a big family. Before having kids, E and I talked about having 3-4 kids (likely three). But now, we have two. And I just don’t know anymore.
I was shocked by my positive pregnancy test for Lucy. We knew we’d eventually have kids and thought we’d ‘start trying’ after a very fun, very rosé-on-the-beach filled trip to Europe…but got pregnant months before that. I did not expect to get pregnant when we did and was so overwhelmed with emotions. I didn’t really know a lot of people with kids at the time, we lived across the country from my family in a tiny apartment in a city that is more dog-friendly than kid-friendly, and I just felt so…not ready. Of course, I now know you won’t ever be 100% ready for starting a family until it happens, but I hold that younger ‘OMG THIS FEELS LIKE A LOT!’ version of me so tenderly.
I was surprised by the positive pregnancy test for Winnie, but not shocked. We weren’t trying but weren’t ‘not trying’ and it happened basically right away. Having a second kid wasn’t ever a question. We knew we wanted to have multiple kids and for Lucy to have a sibling, close-ish in age. At this point, we had about a year and a half of parenting under our belt and lived in a home with more space that was closer to my family. Outside of the usual first trimester anxiety and quite candidly miserable last few weeks of pregnancy, everything was great. And we never once doubted that this was a great next chapter for our family. Of course, I had lots of feelings about going from one to two kids — less time with Lucy, our relationship changing, etc. but I now know (several years later) that having a second child (Winnie) has strengthened my relationship with Lucy.
Our girls are two years apart. Lucy is almost five and Winnie almost three. I’m content and happy with two kids. We are in a good groove right now as a family. I love our family dynamic, the 1:1 relationships I have with both girls, the sister relationship they have with one another, where E and I are at, etc. We are (mostly) sleeping through the night. We are both able to be (mostly) present, engaged, loving parents while also pursuing our jobs outside of parenthood as well as our hobbies/passions. Things are good. I love and feel good about the way things are right now.
Part of me wonders…why change up a good thing? But then the other part of me wonders…but what about what I always thought/planned/expected my life and our family to look like? What about that other longing for another person in our family that’s hard to shake off?
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I guess…here’s a random, train-of-thought / brain dump of some things on my mind:
I didn’t know or feel like my last pregnancy + birthing experience was my last time going through that. It was really empowering and wonderful and (a little scary) and just…magical. If you decided to not have another kid, how do you reconcile with the fact that a huge chapter of your life was closed that you didn’t even realize?
I just turned 34. Apparently, the “advanced maternal age” for a pregnant person is 35+. The term “geriatric pregnancy” feels SO outdated and I have many friends who have had healthy pregnancies and babies well past 35, but age is also a consideration. How will my body respond to another pregnancy/birth and will it be a lot different than my (fairly easy, all things considered) past experiences?
The transition from one kid to two was a lot more challenging for me/us than going from no kids to one kid. This was partially because our kids were fairly close in age, but mostly from the isolation/lack of support/all the things during the pandemic. I’ve heard mixed feedback on whether going from 2 to 3 was easier or harder than other transitions, but obviously, it would still be a lot. Again, I wonder to myself - if things are (finally…after several very hard years) good, why are we rocking the boat?
I don’t shy away from admitting from being vulnerable about how ups and downs of parenting, including some really challenging seasons/days/situations (being exhausted, feeling stretched too thin, grieving the loss of autonomy, postpartum anxiety, the list goes on and on…) Being a parent is so wonderful, and SO hard. Sometimes I wonder - if its hard already for me/us with two, how and why would we have a third?! If I already feel stretched too thin and tired and overwhelmed (although not as much as I was in 2020/21), why proactively add more to our plate by bringing another family member in?
My three sisters are my best friends. I love that I have individual relationships with them, but also our collective ‘sissy’ relationship as a group. I also have chosen friends-that-feel-like-family, and know that Lucy and Winnie could cultivate that too. Siblings are absolutely not the only tight-knit, important relationship in one’s life. But part of me longs for that big family dynamic, especially for Lucy and Winnie to have more than one sibling, like I do.
Most of our close friends have one or two kids and don’t plan on having more than that. Of course, we have to do what’s right for our family, and it’s not like people outright say ‘we won’t hang out with you if you’re a family of five’ 🤣 but it just changes the dynamic.
The world feels so set up for ‘life as a family of four.’ Whether it’s restaurant tables, hotel rooms, water park slide / amusement park rides, whatever. Many activities happen in pairs and five is an uneven number. Again, this isn’t a make or break reason (for me) not to have more kids, but it just feels like having more than two kids makes things slightly more challenging from a logistics and activity perspective.
You have to want to add a whole person to your family - not just a baby. The newborn/baby phase is temporary. Yes, it’s magical. Yes, it’s exhausting. Some people really love this stage and many others struggle with it. Either way, it’s a good perspective to have that 1) for those who are obsessed with pregnancy/the baby phase, when thinking about growing your family, you need to remember you’re bringing a whole human into the world, not just a baby. And 2) if you’re anxious or worried about the baby phase, but do know you want another person in your family, the sleepless, exhausted year(s) are (mostly) temporary.
None of these musings even scratch the surface of logistics, questions, and considerations that many have to consider when thinking about growing their family, whether that’s for LGBTQ+ families and/or families with fertility issues or complications. The above also doesn’t address surprise pregnancies, nor the harsh reality that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and that many of us (myself included) live in states with a frightening lack of reproductive rights. I am not discussing the financial implications/costs of growing your family, nor the common, emotional challenge of when one partner wants another child but the other doesn’t. All of these concerns and mental/emotional considerations are SO valid.
I know that maybe the answer is that I’ll never fully have a “100% without a doubt, this is the right choice” answer. Getting pregnant, giving birth (or adopting/other ways to grow your family), and raising children is a lesson in letting go. A step of faith. We can’t perfectly predict, precisely plan, or know for sure what another human will be like, how another child will change our family, the millions of big and small ways things will be different (in good and challenging ways).
I know that life is full of contradictions, that we can live in the in-between spaces and that it’s okay to sit in the conflicting thoughts and feelings. A big part of me is content and grateful and happy and love our life/family as is. But also, part of me just wonders about the what-ifs - the what I wanted/assumed/expected/hoped for.
I don’t have a polished wrap-up to this reflection. I guess I just want to know that I’m not the only one not sure about going from two kids to three. I write and share what’s on my mind as a way to process my experiences and connect with others going through the same things. I feel so encouraged and supported when other people share their stories with me. There’s so much power in hearing “same, me too” - knowing you’re not alone ‘in it’, whatever that may be.
I’d love to hear from those who decided to go for a third kid, but also those who decided to stay with two kids. How did you know or decide? Where are you at in this ‘family planning’ phase of life? How do you feel about it? Do you have closure or peace about that decision? Of course, I’d love to hear from those who are deciding about going from one to two, or those going from three to four, or whatever transition you may be in as a parent!
You can either comment publicly on the newsletter, reply back to this newsletter when it comes to your inbox, or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org. I would so appreciate your thoughts and honesty — thanks for listening. 💛
No. 13 - September 2022 (The Travel Issue)
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This post really resonates with me & my experience/journey with two daughters. I always, ALWAYS pictured/wanted three. We have an 8 & 5 year old. The past few years have been spent waiting & wondering if going for a third would feel possibile or even right for us (financially, state of the world, if it would be too much for our mental health or hard on our marriage, the girls’ close relationship, etc). Then, almost a year ago, my little sister had a third daughter & I expected to have some pretty big feelings around it. I was pretty shocked to mostly feel happy for her & content with where we are & who our family is! We have a rhythm, we fit comfortably in our house, in our car, we have friendships with other families that match up, our marriage is healthy, our girls are in school & thriving (day dates during school hours are life-giving!) I think a small part of me is always going to want another baby, but an even bigger part of me feels like THIS is us.
Thank you for sharing this.