The Third Kid

We’re not having a third kid. I was really grateful to realize when I felt sure I didn’t actually want one (after believing my whole life that I did) because with our diagnoses and lack of IF-related insurance coverage, it most likely wasn’t going to happen. Oh and husband would never agree to it. If I got pregnant again he’d expect me to have an abortion. So yeah… it wasn’t going to happen and I was incredibly grateful when I realized I didn’t want it to. If I hadn’t figure that out, our secondary infertility would have morphed into something much darker and more devastating, my marriage would have festered with resentment and I probably would have felt generally unsatisfied with my life. It was a gift, that realization, and I have clung to it, hoping against hope that when people started announcing their families would expand beyond two kids, I would feel only relief that ours wasn’t doing the same.

Of course it hasn’t been quite so simple.

I’ve only experienced a few, “hey we’re having/hoping this will be our third kid” announcements and my reactions have been… confusing.

It took me a little while to pinpoint what is hard, exactly, about these announcements. I don’t want a third kid, so I shouldn’t care if other people have one, right?

I realized though, what I’m jealous of is not that they get to have a third kid, what I’m jealous of is that they want to have a third kid. And can afford a third kid. And have a partner who is elated (or at least enthusiastic) about having a third kid.

What I want is not to have a third kid, what I want is to want a third kid. Does that make any sense? I want motherhood to be so fulfilling that the idea of doing it a third time makes me swoon. I want to have the financial security that allows for a third kid without sending us into crippling debt. I want a husband who loves parenting so much that he wants to experience more of it.

I want to enjoy parenting so much that I want to experience more of it.

When someone happily announces they are happily pregnant again after having two children, I am reminded that I am happily not pregnant again after having two children. Which is a reminder that I already can’t handle the two children than I have. That motherhood was not at all what I expected when the only thing I planned to do in my life was get pregnant and have babies and live blissfully ever after raising them. It’s a reminder that my present day reality is nothing close to what I expected, that my marriage is almost buckling under the weight of it, that financially we’re barely getting by and that at the end of the day, it’s all a million times harder than I thought it would be.

Every time someone announces they will have three kids all those feelings of maternal inadequacy bubble to the surface and I have to sit with the complicated mixture of emotions left over. I feel disappointed and agitated and frustrated and annoyed, at myself for not reveling in motherhood in all the ways I wanted to, at my husband for being so overwhelmed, at my friends who clearly are doing it better (or at least having a better time doing it).

Because how can they be having as hard a time as I’m having if they want another kid and I don’t?

Clearly I need to work through all this so that I can get to a place of peace. Many people I know will be expanding their families in the next few years and I don’t want to trudge through this kind of muck every time I hear about it. I need to arrive at a place of acceptance, to be fundamentally okay with who I am and how I feel about parenting. It needs to be okay that I don’t want another kid, that motherhood is way harder than I expected and I’m relieved not to do it all again. It has to be okay that I don’t want to fail at breastfeeding a third time, or wash diapers for another three years, or ask for more schedule accommodations from my boss, or spend $50K on childcare before Kindergarten or buy a bigger car or renovate my house.

I suppose I’ll get there eventually. I just hope it doesn’t take too much time and too much work. Because I truly am happy for the people who get to have all the children they’ve ever wanted, and I’m happy for us that we have exactly as many kids as we can handle. And I don’t want all this other shit mucking up the space in between.

27 Comments

  1. This is so exactly how I feel! I always thought I wanted 3 kids. But now I have no time, no money, very little sanity, and a husband who does very little to help out. I rely am happy with my family the way it is. But I do still wish I was the kind of person who could handle 3, or had the kind of life that could handle 3.

    1. I really appreciate knowing other people same the way. It makes me feel so much better about myself. I really thought I was the only one! Thank you for putting this out there and making me feel less alone in feeling this way.

  2. Feel the same way! I want a second eventually, but not now. When I hear about people who are expecting number 2, whose first is the same age as mine or younger, I feel a twinge of jealousy? Maybe disappointment in myself? How come they are ready and I am not? Why is this so much harder for me?

    1. “…I feel a twinge of jealousy? Maybe disappointment in myself? How come they are ready and I am not? Why is this so much harder for me?”

      Yes. This! Exactly!

  3. I partially feel the same way; but there is another part that DOES want the third kid. We don’t have the parenting skills, money, fertility, or patience for another, but yet…

    1. I think there is a part of me that wants a third kid, in that I’d love to be pregnant a final time, and snuggle a third kid and do all the fun things with a third kid. But I don’t have it in me to do all the other stuff, the hard stuff, again. And that is really what 95% of the daily grind of parenting is all about, the hard stuff.

      1. My friend once asked, “so you want a third BABY, or a third KID?” And that summed it up for me. I would take a third pregnancy (if I could deliver safely, and Dr. H says not) and third baby, but I don’t want a third KID for the rest of my life!

        1. That is the perfect way to think about it. I would love another baby. Another kid? Not so much. 😉

    2. I think this sums it up for me too. I really don’t want a third, but I spent so much time thinking I did, that I sometimes doubt our decision to stop at two.

      1. I was lucky because it was clear really early on that my husband was never going to be okay with a third, so I had a long time to get it in my head that it wasn’t happening. Still, a life time of thinking you want something is hard to rewire in a few short years. 😉

  4. I’m feeling this way about a second. I have no idea how to decide what to do, though I suppose money will eventually do it (spending $20000 a year on daycare is terrifying/close to impossible). I had never thought this would all be so hard – after all the awful TTC stuff, wasn’t parenting supposed to be the easy part.

    1. The money stuff is so crazy. I realized after I put that “not wanting to spend $50K” part that my in-laws have made clear they will not be watching our kids anymore (fair enough!) so it would be “$100K” in daycare before Kindergarten if we had a third kid. Yeah, no. Sorry. We just don’t make enough to absorb the insane cost of kids! We couldn’t have afforded two if my inlaws hadn’t helped out. There would have been no way (well, except putting $50K on credit cards or taking out loans).

  5. IT is interesting.
    I always told my children there was no pressure to make me a grandmother. I always pointed out the wonderful lives of people they knew with no children and financial freedoms that no children allow.
    I was surprised that both children were adamant prior to any pregnancy that they wanted children… at least 2 maybe 3. And then they each had a first child. And reality hit and neither family will have a second child by deliberate choice. Yet in both families the singleton is totally adored, just to keep the record clean.
    SO: what is it about parenting that was not known or not understood prior to having one or two babies? What did you not know and could it have been known and how could that have been communicated? How much of this is “Disney” related? (Marry the handsome prince you do not know who does not know you and live in his castle doing who knows what and having all these babies makes for happiness and a fulfilled life.)
    Because we want our children to grow up and be happy … but how do we break away from the cultural messages that for girls this means married (to whomever) and having babies, being a mommy; and for boys it is making money and having a career and lots of toys and prestige and sex … and maybe a trophy wife and poster children on the side.
    Because I do not think anyone on this post regrets their actual desired here now children; but you all agree it isn’t quite what you thought parenthood would be.
    And I listen to one of my children talk about childless friends wanting to become parents by adoption/surrogacy as only options and saying the friends don’t have a clue about the reality; and they do not know how to explain/share/tell the complexities of reality.
    SO how do you set expectations ideas desires realities for your children about adult life and parenthood? Because it is not about not adoring your own here now children!

    1. “SO how do you set expectations ideas desires realities for your children about adult life and parenthood?” I have been thinking about this question since you asked it, because I honestly want to figure out the answer and not only do this in my own home with my own children but with my friends and extended family who are embarking on this journey (or considering it). Such an important question. I will be writing more about this soon. Thank you!

  6. I never wanted more than 2. And still don’t. No offense to anyone but I don’t think it’d be fair to our 2 to have to share us further. I felt so guilty bringing home #2. I think it’d be much harder also with 3. And I am 46. Yet I am in the what may at first seem enviable position of having tested normal embryos left that likely would result in #3. So there’s that to deal with. Sometimes when I see newborns I get temporary amnesia but for me months 1-4 were hell and I couldn’t do it again.

    1. Yeah, the whole “being outnumbered” concept is very real. We already struggle so much giving both of our kids what they need. I can’t imagine being in a scenario where three little people want us and there are only two of us to tend to them.

      Having embryos does make the decision harder. I hope you find a way to resolve that aspect of your family building journey that brings you peace.

      I don’t actually look at newborns and get temporary amnesia. Mostly I just think, you are cute, but you are a shit ton of work and I’m glad I’m not the one providing that round-the-clock care for you.

  7. I understand this perfectly. I felt this way about having two (one was so incredibly difficult for me that I simply couldn’t imagine two and yet I knew that I was pretty alone in having such a rough time of it). I also feel this way about a third to some degree. I am one of 4 children and I do think there is something special about big families but I personally don’t want another (well except very occasionally when the stars align just right 😉 ). Honestly, I think all families are struggling but I do see people embracing additional kids in a way that makes me wonder if they live in a different universe.

    1. It’s funny, I was thinking about this in regards to two. I was also terrified of having another, and there were many times during our 18 months of arguing about and then trying for another, that I was so thankful it hadn’t happened yet. But with two there was a sense that I should be able to handle it because MOST people do. With two there was a belief that it was something feasible. And I guess with two I didn’t realize what I was getting into, because you just can’t know, when you have one, what bringing another person into the family will actually mean. So I was scared, but I didn’t realize how scared I should have been. 😉

  8. A woman on my Facebook who is a year younger than me just announced the impending arrival of her 6th child. I was like uuuuhhhhh….*mind blown*

  9. I’ve decided that my lingering desire for a third child mostly comes from wanting to prove that I wasn’t “broken” in the first place. I’m jealous of the women who assume they can have children well into their 40s, while my inability to do so was made clear in my early 30s. It’s a very egotistical and unhealthy reason to want to want another child, but it’s the honest truth for me. I guess all I can do is acknowledge that and try to move past it.

    1. I think that is a VERY common feeling to have. How can you be infertile and have three kids? It’s almost proof that the whole “infertility thing” was some massive mistake. I’m sure many women in this community feel that way.

      I too balk at the women who assume they can start families well into their 40s. Even the ones who pay lip service to “fertility declines with age” don’t really seem to believe it will apply to them. And for most of them it doesn’t seem to. I have a friend who is 40 and is planning on having a second child. She just bought herself disability insurance and it doesn’t kick in until July so she said she can’t start trying until then. Imagine thinking you might actually get pregnant in the first month?! At 40! It’s so f***ing insane to me. I couldn’t keep my jaw off my chest when she said that…

      1. No kidding! I can’t imagine making that assumption but lots of women do and they often succeed. I hope that one day that won’t bother me anymore.

  10. I’m still wrestling with my thoughts on a third, but I am happily donating baby things so I think we have had all our babies and may adopt a kid or maybe more. I just have this niggling feeling that this isn’t everyone yet. I’m not in a rush to figure it out today but soon it will be time for a decision.

    I tell those in my life who are considering parenthood that it’s beautiful and agonizing and terrifying and frustrating and constantly changing while still being a struggle that never seems to change. I think some things are just beyond explanation until you experience them and I think it’s a sign of an awesome person if you can recognize a plan that no longer works and that a change is needed. I’ve been wrong about myself often and am surprised at what turns out to be right for me and my family, and I’d rather discover the new way rather than be miserable.

    1. “I think some things are just beyond explanation until you experience them and I think it’s a sign of an awesome person if you can recognize a plan that no longer works and that a change is needed.” I LOVE the beginning of this and I appreciate the end. I also see the strength in being able to identify when something isn’t working and changing course. I never thought of it that way when it came to changing family size though. I guess I was focusing on the part where it wasn’t working and beating myself up over that. It’s incredible how much importance we give assumptions about ourselves that we made when we were young and didn’t have a clue what we, or the world, were like.

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