To Three Or Not To Three



I have two kids. Two incredible, bright, funny, healthy, gorgeous kids.

And I love being their Mum. Being their Mum is the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done. And sometimes I think I’m doing a pretty good job. Then there are other days when I think I’m doing a totally crap job and I’m raising two little brats.

Yes, there are days when I wonder if I’m not just messing them up. I wonder, if they didn’t have my constant nagging voice in their ear would they reach their potential much more readily.

Sometimes I think I’m not a great Mum at all, I struggle with needing to feel in control, and I’m a yeller.

And these doubts feed into my doubt about having another baby.

I’d love to have another baby. I would. But I think about how chaotic life is with two. I think about how poorly I deal with that chaos. I think about how the two we have are growing up, getting easier, less dependent  and I wonder why I would want to go back to that full-on new born phase of constant need, constant chaos and constant lack of sleep.

Then I see a Huggies commercial and I want to cry.

It’s very confusing for me and I find it hard to gain clarity over the issue. Part of the reason I find it so fraught is that I love being pregnant. Love. It. I had two amazing pregnancies in which I felt well and completely in my body the entire time.  And also? I loved giving birth. I know that on both counts I am very lucky and possibly in the minority. Most people don’t speak as glowingly as I do about their pregnancies or their birth experiences. I can’t speak highly enough.

Neither of my births were perfect. They both had their complications, they both had things from which I learned so much, things that I would love to have another go at, try and do differently, try and do better.

But then I have to wonder. Do I just want to have another baby because of my controlling perfectionist streak? Do I want another go, because I just know I could do better this time.

I have joked about how my second child is so much more relaxed than my first. I’m getting better at this parenting caper. Think how awesome my third kid would be?

It’s flippant and it’s probably not true. But there’s a seed of it I believe. I have learnt so much on the first and second children that a third couldn’t help but benefit.  And what a waste of all that knowledge if I don’t have another.

The same is true of the pregnancies and births. Wouldn’t I just love another go at it to see if I could finally achieve that calm birth that I know is possible and that I know deep down I am capable of.

But having a child is not a skill, something to be learned and honed and eventually perfected. And nor is it a competition. It’s not something I need to do better at, nor is it an argument I need to win.

But what do you do when one person in the relationship wants another baby and the other one is done?

My partner is done. He’s amazing with the kids and he loves being a Dad, but he’s a practical guy and he has practical reasons for not wanting another. He’s older. Too old to be having a baby, he thinks. He worries about money, that our house is too small, that we’d need a bigger car.

I don’t worry about any of that. And that must be infuriating to someone with his practical perspective. I just think all that would fall into place. But perhaps that is unfair. Because if it was to fall into place, it would be him doing the work to make most of that so.

It’s so hard because he’s not wrong.  And yet neither am I.  I’d like to have another baby.  He’d like not to.  And the longer we are in this kind of unresolved stalemate the less likely it is that we will have another baby.  The older I am getting.  The less convenient and neat it becomes.

Maybe I should just be happy with what we are so lucky to already have. We have had none of the grief of finding it difficult to fall pregnant, none of the tragedy of miscarriage. Yet these types of desires are not logical, practical, rational. And the fact that I am grateful, does not mitigate my desire.

Also, I have my own doubts. I think about my son becoming a middle child. I think about how beautifully my two children fit on my lap.I think about how neat the family is right now, one boy, one girl – there is something very complete about that.  And I think about where we all are right now, on the precipice of moving into the next phase of parenthood. My daughter starts school next year. My son will be out of nappies soon. Travel and work and life will become a little bit easier.

Shouldn’t I just let it be so? Why, knowing how poorly I respond to chaos, would I thrust us back into all of that?

Yet knowing all this and with all these doubts, the desire remains. It is not sated by logic or practical considerations. And it is not helped by believing that my kids would just love to have a baby in the house.

So I live in this whirl of indecision and inaction around the idea.

I think that the time has probably passed, and perhaps I should just focus on getting okay with that. After all, we can’t always get what we want.

How many kids would be just right for you? Do you feel done?


  • ShaezyB

    I know exactly how you feel. Mine are almost 7 and almost 5 and I swap and change about wanting a third. Some days I see a newborn and think, “oh how lovely,” and walk away without an issue. Other days I think, “oh how lovely!!!!” as my ovaries explode into frenzy. The clincher for me is that I suffered severe PND with both children and although it’s not a given that I would again, I am utterly terrified that it would happen, and much worse. I don’t think I can risk facing it again. It’s a very tough decision for so many people though – will it upset the (finally achieved) equilibrium, or add to the wonder of the family? You just won’t know until it happens.

    • One Small LIfe

      Thanks so much for the comment ShaezyB.

      I really hear what you are saying. Your past experiences play a massive role in deciding what to do, even though there is no way of knowing if they will be at all the same or completely different for better or worse.

      It totally does my head in too that I swing so wildly from desperately wanting another to being ambivalent about it. How are you supposed to make a decision when you’re spinning like a top?!

      Well done for getting through the PND and good luck with whatever decision you make.


  • carohutchison

    We have three and it’s chaotic. There is a decided imbalance now of kids:parents. I’d say if you like an ordered life then you need to be aware three isn’t calm. Mine are close together though (twins with a 2 yr gap to their sister) so it is more intense than if you had one when the older one is at school.

    Sometimes it’s the practical things that are annoying – you can’t all fit in a normal taxi – other times it’s the juggling of their needs gets tricky.

    I wouldn’t change it but I sometimes dream for a less chaotic life.

    • One Small LIfe

      My inability to cope well with chaos is definitely a big one in the CON column for three – I always think of that British series “Outnumbered”……

      Actually I also just had the thought today, when I was spending time with my son while my daughter was at kinder how nice (and important) it is too spend one on one time with the kids. Which I imagine only gets harder the more kids you have.

      But for every con there is a pro and I know the kids would get so much out of another sibling.

      Ahh, nothing if not indecisive.

      Thanks for the comment caro and well done on life with three. And twins! Great job you!


  • Kylie Purtell

    You know I pretty much could have written this post! Granted my youngest is only a mere 3 months, but she has been so easygoing and mostly a dream that I think having a third would be a piece of cake. But then on the other hand, what if the third ends up being a nightmare. If we were to have a third it wouldnt be until my eldest was about to start school, so maybe in about 2.5-3 years time. There is 20 months between my girls and I think I’d like a bigger age gap if we go again.

    But my husband is dead against having a third. He really doesn’t want to. And sometimes, like youk, on the hard days I think two is just perfect, but then other days, I think about how great it is having 4 siblings and coming from a big family and kinda wish my girls could have that, even if it’s only 3 rather than 5.

    Up, down, back and forth. It’s a dilemma. The hardest part would be to convince my husband though if I decide yes, it’s gotta be three. I just feel I have so much love to give!