Should I have a third baby?

By Mindi Bullick

Congratulations! You’ve done it. You’ve created a picturesque family, charmingly paired: two parents, two progeny. Perfect.

Or is it?

Some women arrive at that perfectly paired place and still feel a nagging feeling that there may be someone missing. Other women — no doubt you know some of them — begin giving away bibs and bottles the minute their second child (or first!) outgrows them. They’re done and they know it.  You may not be so sure.  

Having a third baby is a big step. Of course, there are challenges consider. First, you would be going from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense, which could be tricky. You are bound to miss a tackle now and then. Add to that a whole new set of sleepless nights, spilled Cheerios, and college tuition payments, and you may begin to wonder why you ever thought of having a third in the first place.

But this is not a decision about numbers, is it? It’s a decision about family. And only you and your partner can know what is right for yours. After having my first baby, I never wanted to be pregnant again. But I felt like my family wasn’t complete with just one child. Now I have four children; my youngest just started kindergarten. How I made the leap from one to four, I don’t know, but it wasn’t all at once. I took baby steps, making each decision in turn, weighing the pros and cons, trying to look at the big picture.

It’s true that having more kids means your house will be messier, your nights will be shorter, and your pocketbook will be stretched. It’s also true that you can’t give each one as much undivided attention as you might have given if there were only one of them. But as I watch mine grow, I see them more than make up for this in the undivided attention they give to and get from each other. Having siblings has helped them become more independent, more easy-going, and more compassionate — in many ways, they’re giving each other invaluable gifts I couldn’t have given them.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep perspective when you’re kids are small. Little ones are a full-time job — and then some. Thinking of adding a third to the melee can be daunting. There were many times when I felt overwhelmed and under-slept, inadequate and unsure of myself. But, I did what you do. I got up every day, I got dressed (eventually) and I did my best. To my surprise, I also became more easy-going, more patient, more compassionate, more grateful for the little things. Now that my kids are older, I find parenting to be a lot less work and a lot more fun.

Having a big family has its benefits, but it’s not for everyone. If there’s a piece of you pining for another babe, it’s worth exploring those feelings and talking about them with your partner. Other moms you trust can be a great source of wisdom and understanding as you try to figure out what’s right for you.