Having a Third Child

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi everyone, we are a cis-straight couple with 2 young toddlers. My husband is a very loving and dedicated father. He is a naturalized citizen, originally from a country with 'machismo' culture, plus he grew up in a military household. All of this to say - many American ideas of modern parenting aren't his style. On most days, our parenting dance gets along. While he is more of a disciplinarian and I am more of the nurturer, we do try to meet in the middle. Here comes the rub: I would like a 3rd child, but he is adamant that he is done. He is fulfilled with 2 kids. I am trying to see it from his side and have realized that he is exhausted from the daily grind of having small children, the neediness, lack of independence, perpetual noise, mess, etc. When he gives, he gives 100%, but he also needs a lot of downtime. On the other hand, I thrive in motherhood and all the chaos that comes with it. I keep the house running, and I feel my job as the mother to be more important to me than any other job. We are at a standstill. More recently, we have been able to talk about this without ending in anger, frustration and tears. That's a big improvement, but I would like some therapist recommendations as well, however, one who has experience with working with not only biracial couples, but also understand men who aren't used to talking (and never saw the need for it). In fact, I am sure that he will initially see my foray into couples' counseling more for me than for him, but I hope the therapist can add value to his side too! I am happy to hear your experiences, thoughts, recommendations. Thanks!

    I have worked with Natashia Fuksman (https://www.natashiamft.com/), and she was amazing. I worked with her solo, but she also specializes in couples counseling, particularly with respect to deepening intimacy and parenting. Her heratige is culturally diverse so I think she would fit the bill for being culturally inclusive. When you go to her website, it seems like her main thing is sex therapy, but she is really so much more. SheI would recommend talking to her to see if she might be a good fit for you.

    I'm sorry, but his lack of interest in having a third child needs to be taken seriously! BTW, his decision has nothing to do with where he grew up. He sees a future different from your vision.  You are framing him based on your own judgmental terms like "machismo culture" and "military household".  You are hoping that a therapist can change his mind, but I doubt it.  If you try to force him to have another child, you could lose him!

    I was just wondering if you guys talked about fostering/adoption? You can skip the infant times that might effect your husband more (lack of sleep) while still stepping into a bigger motherhood role and helping a child in desperate need! Just a thought!  

  • Thinking through the 3rd

    (10 replies)

    I have two children -- 3 1/2 and 6 months and I'm thinking through our options for a 3rd. I really thought that I would be happy to stop at 2. I'm 41 and we have two happy and healthy kids. But then I had my 2nd, and I feel like I'm not done. My husband is on board with any decision I make here, but I'm super struggling. On one hand, I think I'll grieve the end of having a baby no matter when it's over. On the other, I have always envisioned myself with 3, but thought that I would be too old. And the age thing does scare me! Not because I'm necessarily worried about disability. If we're going to do this, I'm going to do it quickly-- so, IVF. I had two miscarriages with chromosomal abnormalities between my two kids, so I wouldn't want to go through a bunch of miscarriages at this point. So, IVF and hope. But man, a baby at 42 (best case scenario) or 43? I'm totally freaked out over how old I'll be (although, how different is it from 41?). Anyone else going through the same or similar thought process? I'm not sure if I want someone to talk me into it, or talk me out of it, to be honest! Anyway, if anyone wants to talk about this... I'm available!

    I think only you can truly know the answer to this. My question for you is why you believe IVF is more of a sure thing? For context, I am 40 with a 5 and 3 year-old.  When I was 32 we did IVF to try to avoid a hereditary disease on my husband's side. They gave us 50/50 chance for each implantation. We did 3 rounds (2 fresh and 1 frozen), spent around $50k and none stuck. It was very emotionally and physically draining. I imagine that 41 year-old eggs would have statistically less chance than 32-year-old ones (unless you are considering egg donation or previously froze your own?). We ended up coming to terms with and accepting the outcome of the hereditary disease and conceiving naturally. I had a miscarriage before each successful pregnancy. Obviously miscarriage is also physically and emotionally taxing too but for me, IVF was worse. I do not think 42 or 43 is much different than 41 and if it were me and I wanted a 3rd, I would personally try naturally or with other fertility help. Not sure if this helps, just adding my experience 

    Find a moment to meditate, spend time in nature, or whatever makes you centered by yourself, and connect to what you truly want. Then trust yourself either way. Best of luck to you!

    I just had my third at 39 and also struggled with this. She was a very unexpected surprise but I had thought long and hard and read everything i could on it before this happened and actually had decided against it (life circumstances and just a feeling of uncertainty). 
    now that she is here i see both sides. Its amazing to have such a big family and see the olders interacting and creating a new dynamic. My heart is full of love in the most amazing way and i feel like i appreciate her “baby-ness” more, though i think that’s just selective memory.

     That said it is quite rough in many ways. For this phase we need two people. I can and handle all three often (as does my partner) but it’s hard to give everyone what they need and babies need to be held so my hands are often taken. Going to the store as a family is a feat, thinking of having a babysitter even more so. And then the obvious costs.

    i would have always wondered/regretted if this hadnt happened. And its nice to be 100% done. But i don’t think my life would have been missing all that much, in retrospect. But i only know that now (as i am sitting here pumping for the 6th year :)

    best of luck on your decision, there is no wrong one here!

    These are all good and tough questions! Here's my perspective as a mom of 3, in case it's useful: The short answer is, I like having 3 kids and adore them all and the dynamic between them. The caveat is, it's a lot of work when they're little - there's a 6-year gap between #2 and #3 for me and we still had our hands full keeping track of everyone's needs and getting everyone where they needed to be for a long time, pretty much up until the oldest started driving - you're outnumbered! :) If you're looking at having 3 under the age of 5 or 6 you will have marvelous fun and they will bond and you will look back on it fondly once they're older, but in all honesty there may be some tough times when you're in the trenches of it. (But they will all be at about the same stage of life at the same time, which is nice because they have similar interests in outings, games, etc.) You'll find out, too, that the world is geared towards families of 4 - everything from muffins to roller coaster seating seems to come in sets of 4, and someone always has to be left out or accommodated. I had my 3rd at 38, and the difference between having a baby at 30 or 32 and 38 was bigger than I thought it would be - it's definitely doable (and if you have a 6mo you're already familiar with the age thing), and not even considered old around here (even though they put "advanced maternal age" on all my charts - sheesh), but it was harder to bounce back. I'm a little freaked out doing the math about how old I'll be when the last one graduates from high school (or maybe has kids of his own someday). I know none of what I've said helps with a clear yes or no, but hopefully it's at least some perspective from one person who's been there. Good luck with your decision - I'm not sure there is a right or wrong choice, just different ones.

    The best advice I've heard so far is that if 1 child is easy, go for a 2nd.  If 2 kids tire you out, maybe it is time to call it a day?  For me, it is the loss of sleep that will influence interactions throughout the day.  I told the in-laws that I would be happy to have more children if someone would foot the bill for a night nanny.  So... we have two wonderful healthy girls who are now tween and teenaged.  They get along well and keep each other occupied splendidly.  Of course, one cannot predict these things.  I sleep reasonably well and happily play with other people's younger children too.  ;)  I'm certain that my sister-in-law will never regret having 3 children, but the oldest was shared between two households and is now a bit lost when it comes to college and other goals, the middle child is extremely insecure, and the youngest was diagnosed with childhood onset diabetes a year ago.  I am sympathetic and help out when it makes sense for all involved, but it is not an easy life for this SIL, and to say that her career has suffered is probably a gross understatement.

    Hi! We have three children. I had my kids at 38, 40, and 43. I love having three kids and I think if you feel as you describe you should go ahead and have another kid. At 43 I had much less tolerance for sleep deprivation so I would plan ahead for that. You may feel differently. Ironically I had and still have way more patience with my third kid than I did with my other two. To be truthful, my husband found three kids a real stretch and still does. I thought the adjustment to two was way more difficult. There is no way to tell what kind of pregnancy and birth experience you will have. Nor what kind of baby you will have. :) Just surround yourself with positive supportive people and make sure you plan for support during the first two or three years. Just my two cents and experience. 

    This is not a direct answer to the points you are making, but something else to think about. You may or may not feel the same about things in a few years when you are menopausal and your kids are teenagers, and your family members (parents, relatives) may need a lot more support from you. I really really really (!!!) wanted to have two kids and got what I wanted. I have a big gap between them (the oldest one is 20 now and my youngest one is 8), and just turned 50. My first one had some developmental delays and generally has had various issues growing up, but I loved him more than anything and postponed my second pregnancy until his childhood issues were finally under control. I wanted the second one so bad and was ecstatic when I finally had her. Now, at 50, I wish I never had kids at all. This may be a "stage" and it could be and is likely related to my menopause, but consider that you will be menopausal at some point in a foreseeable future and your kids that you already have and your family members will age and have different needs and abilities. Never in a million years did I expect to feel this way. My whole identity was shaped and revolved around being a mom ever since my first baby, so it's always been about my kids: getting pregnant, having them, raising them, making sure they become independent and successful adults. I never stopped to think about myself as a person. If you are able to maintain a sense of your own self and enjoy things that aren't related to your kids now and are able to do that when you have another one, then by all means go ahead and have more kids. But, beware that you may find it's really tough if your whole identity is so dissolved in being a "parent" that you end up having nothing if say your kids (or even one of them) don't turn out the way you thought they would. My older one did drugs, started on sex early, went into depression and was suicidal and hospitalized, and he was the sweetest little kid all the way until he turned 16. My husband and I have a great relationship, love each other and our kids, there were very few stressors in our lives and we've always shielded our kids from the ones that came our way, so there was no way to predict our older one would be in so much trouble. Not saying your kids will, but what if?  Do you have mental and financial resources to cope with anything like that? Sorry don't mean to scare you or take you aback with so much negativity but thought I'd give you another perspective, as a 50 year old. 

    Do it. 

    I have a friend who is 43 and about to have their first (planning for only child) and she has a great attitude, "not crazy about being the older parent but someone has to be". LOL. She takes great care of herself and has a youthful, fun spirit. I don't think it's uncommon in the Bay Area to have a baby at 42 or 43. And it would be your third. 

    It sounds like you have the resources and support from your partner so I say go for it. I can totally relate to that pull--almost immediately after having my second I felt this strong urge that I wanted to have another baby. Biology is a funny thing! The feeling didn't go away. For me, we don't have the financial resources to responsibly handle that, and I didn't have the support of my partner, so that made the decision for me. I actually switched my career within healthcare so that I now work with infants and their toddlers and their caregivers and that fills me up. :)

    Be well and I hope a decision that feels whole and good come soon. 

    I am going through a similar thought process but regarding number two. And I have never been so on the fence about anything. I have come to realize that either way I will be happy- but either way I will mourn the loss of what I don't have- be it the second (or third) child, or the ease/ financial gain of one less child. I am so undecided I told my partner the choice is his. And I know whatever is chosen I will try to focus on what is gained rather than lost. 

    I had my third at age 37. I am now in my late 50s. I really wanted a third because two seemed so ordinary, I wanted my two kids to have another sibling, and I was afraid I would regret it if I did not act then. I don't regret my decision to have three, and I love all my kids, but being an older parent has its challenges. My third child also happens to be my most difficult in terms of temperament. I think Generation Z is so far removed from my Boomer generation that I find it hard to relate to my youngest on so many levels. That is something you may want to consider. Part of me might say you should be happy with the two healthy kids you have, but in the end it is your decision, and you will rise to whatever challenges you might face. At my age I am finding that parenting a young adult can be fraught. Maybe part of it is menopause or just being older or the generational divide. When my children were young, I found parenting to be physically demanding, but certainly doable. You believe that once you get through the toddler to teenage years and they become adults, that your parenting responsibilities will decrease, but that is not always the case. I am finding parenting more challenging now on some levels. I love my kids and have found motherhood to be very fulfilling, but, at this stage in my life, I can understand now why some people choose not to have any or to have only one. Kids are truly wonderful, but they can also break your heart. These are just some things to think about. 

    I had two and then really wanted a 3rd but was very freaked out that I would be overwhelmed and it would be too much. I spent a long time agonizing over it. I ended up having the 3rd at 40. I couldn't be more thrilled. It's hard and there are moments when I think about how much simpler and easier and cheaper it would have been if we had stopped at two, but there isn't a single moment that I even slightly regret it. Having three is awesome. And I find that I really savor the 3rd, knowing that I'm actually done. I do find that I have more patience for the crazy toddler years, than I did with the first two. 

  • Perspective on IVF remaining embryos

    (7 replies)

    My partner and I are at a standstill over what to do with our remaining IVF embryos - this was after many years of trying and multiple attempts at IVF. He says he is done building our family (2 kids, one from IVF and one spontaneous post-IVF, which totally totally confounded us). I am not sure if I am done with growing our family and in all honesty, would like one more (we have several remaining embryos). This has caused some strain on our marriage, and both of us acknowledge that it could cause greater rifts if we don't find resolution. Having a sense for how large our family would be wasn't something we talked about before having kids because there was a stage in our lives where even having one child was a distant dream. I would love to know any personal stories about whether anyone had encountered this same dilemma, how (if) you resolved it, as well as perspectives on embryo donation vs. discarding them. I am very open to thoughts for anyone who has been touched by infertility. Also, if you have any therapist recommendations who have specific experience in helping people (individual or couple) with this kind of dilemma (can be growing family and even more specifically, remaining embryos), please let me know the name. While I prefer to keep my own username anonymous, if you are comfortable providing yours so that I can reach out with more questions, that would be most appreciated but understand that this is also a sensitive topic. Thank you so much!

    Hi - we are an IVF family too... i did work with a therapist while pregnant from IVF with some issues i had. happy to give you her name (and even lend an ear too... we're discussing our next steps as well).

    Lnforner [at] gmail.com


    I had one child using IVF. My partner didn't want more children (he didn't one the first one to begin with). I decided that I was OK just having one. I donated my embryos to a family I found using  NRFA.org. We wrote an agreement stating what we expected out of our relationship. I wanted my son to potentially have a relationship with his blood sibling. A few years later, now my son is 5 and his "blood sibling" is 2. We communicate at least once a month,  we send family photos. We were supposed to meet this summer by everything got cancelled because of COVID. The family that I donated to had 4 miscarries before having this kid. They are very grateful. 

    Good luck with your choices!

    We were in your EXACT situation, down to the surprise second natural conception after years of infertility and IVF, and the divided opinions. When I was around 40 I decided “now or never” and my husband wasn’t on board, so we destroyed our frozen embryos. I thought I needed to close that door and move on. A few years later, as our kids got older (and life got easier!) he was more receptive to the idea of a third child, and I’ve often regretted our hastiness. My advice is to hold onto them; things change. 

    Hello there, 

    that sounds like A LOT. and i am familiar with it. After infertility on my partner's side and then possibly due to my age, we had IVF twice (once unsuccessfully and then successfully) and had extra embryos. We both knew that we didn't want any additional children but after all of the effort (physical and mental) to create those embryos, it felt unsettling to discard them. My partner was patient and I gave myself time to get use to the idea of donating the embryos to science. Since the cost of storage was about $30/month, I decided that the piece of mind to be able to sit on this decision was worth it. I had a friend in a similar situation and we would chat periodically about what we were going to do. even with both of us knowing that we didn't want additional children, we still wanted to hold onto them. after two years for me, i donated mine to science and feel good about it. in some ways, it's a relief because i don't need to think about it. i'm not sure what my friend has done but her son is now over 3 so perhaps she's made a similar decision. that being said, maybe not. I think the most important thing is that she feels good about her choice regardless of whether she holds onto them. 

    i'm sorry to hear that this is source of tension for you in your relationship. it sounds good that you are open to seeing a counselor as it would certainly be helpful. In my own situation, the idea of children (more or less) identified underlying issues in our relationship. my partner and i are no longer together and i wish that we didn't sweep so many things under the rug but i am pleased that i made choices based on what felt right for me (which also felt right for him). 

    Hi - I'd be interested in chatting about this privately if you'd send me a message.

    I agree with the person who responded to you by saying that things change. That goes for both your and your husband's opinion on having more kids. I don't have any experience with IVF, but I am almost 50 and have 2 kids, a 19 year old and an almost 8 year old.  I am familiar with aching for another child. I've had a period of clinical depression, because my husband wasn't as invested in that idea as I was and I didn't want to force him. Eventually, he gave in and we had our second one.  That's all I wanted at the time, and I was so happy to have my girl. We are a what you'd call a traditional family, have been married for over 20 years and still love each other. I always thought that our kids would be just like us and we wouldn't have any big issues with them. These days I wish I never had kids at all.  I love them both dearly, and my little girl is still just a kid, but the heartbreak and disappointments that I've gone through thanks to my older one negates the feeling of love and tenderness. I am ashamed to feel that way and would have never in million years expected it to be like this, but here we are.  As you are bathing in your happiness of being a mother to young kids, try to look ahead to the teenage and young adult years as truthfully as you possibly can.  Will you be able to finance everything you'd wish for them and yourself?  How about dealing with any health issues you all may have, or learning differences that are common to k? Having babies is addictive for us women. That's mother nature's way of keeping us from getting extinct. I can't imagine how it's for you when you already have the embryos, these almost babies, ready to go and having to decide to let go of them - or not.  So I can't offer any advice on how to deal with that aspect. Sorry.

    OP here - I am grateful for all your thoughtful responses. They were truly diverse, and it just goes to show that there are no right or wrong answers - only what is best for you. But also, it comes with a caveat because you can only make the decision that is best for you with the information that you have at that point in time. Thank you all for the resources and being open to sharing your experiences. To the one who responded with the 19 year old and 8 year old - it sounds very challenging what you are going through with your older one. I appreciate your response very much (no need to be sorry for it). I hope that things improve over time and that you can find the support you need for navigating this period...

  • 2 vs. 3 kids?

    (10 replies)

    My partner and I are considering trying to have a third child. We always envisioned having a large family but the realities of life with two kids has us thinking hard about whether we’d like to try to expand our brood. In addition to the cost of having three kids and the challenges of pregnancy and the postpartum period, we’re particularly concerned about the limits of time and energy on our parenting - essentially, whether we’ll be able to be good enough parents to three kids. 

    We’d love to hear from parents of 3 (or more) kids about what life is like for their families and their views in hindsight about having their third (or later) kid(s). Is there an age spacing you’ve seen work well? Pros or things that went well? Regrets or things you wish you’d have done differently? Suggestions about what we should be thinking about as we make this decision?

    We’re also curious to hear from grown individuals who had two or more siblings about any of the above.

    I am the last of 4 kids, the eldest only 7 years older. In my experience it was wonderful having so many siblings. Our parents were . . . not such good parents, so we relied on each other for everything. Now we are 62 to 69, and still hold our sibs close to our hearts. 

    We have 3, and for the most part I love it - both my husband and I come from families without a lot of other people in our generation, so I kind of felt like having 3 gave our kids some "critical mass" for the future. We have 2 older kids who are close in age and then a gap before the youngest, and that seems to have helped make things a little less crazy - the older two are more self-sufficient, and there wasn't much jealousy, although sometimes the youngest drives the older ones crazy just because his energy level is different than theirs. I love watching our kids hang out together, and I like the "big" family feel (although 3 seems to be pretty common these days). The cons to consider: One of my personal pet peeves is that everything from muffins to hotel rooms is geared towards groups of 4, so a family of 5 can be awkward from that standpoint. And there will be times when you need to be 3 places at once and there are only 2 grownups, and you'll have to farm someone out. And 2 of my kids have to share a room because our house isn't huge. And of course you're paying for an extra airplane ticket/food/shoes/college. But despite those things I'd definitely have number 3 again if given the choice - our family just feels complete now.

    We just had our third at the start of the year and we couldn’t be happier to have him. Our kids are 2 years apart so fairly close in age. Of course, you’ll love the kid, but beyond that a few benefits of having a third include:

    • We let go of some unnecessary expectations which has actually meant less stress than when we had two - we don’t feel overly pressured to put all the kids in activities throughout the week because we can’t afford it so we just pick one each and that fills the schedule
    • our older two have really built some independence (especially the middle kid) because we aren’t around to do everything or can’t immediately jump up - we discovered that the can find ways to do things like get their own water and snacks using chairs or asking each other for help and do a better job of finding ways to be entertained
    • Our middle has really come into her own since the baby was born - her language improved, she potty trained herself (seriously, she made a declaration she was done with diapers and she has followed through), she loves finding responsibility in being a big sister which is a whole new side to her

    some challengers of having three: 

    • the house is loud all the time - this took some getting used to but now it’s eerily quiet when one or more are gone so this is less of a drawback than it felt in the beginning
    • space is tight and all three kids share a room which means they sometimes sleep and sometimes don’t; they also share other resources like our time and attention, our money, etc. there are some economies of scale, but the cost does still go up (like childcare)
    • the big kids play with toys that are seemingly bags full of perfectly choking size so our latest challenge is finding ways to separate the baby from older toys. We spend a lot of time digging in the baby’s mouth for small parts he may or may not have found
    • although the older kids have growing independence, they are still young and require quite a bit of attention. “Mom” is yelled out no less than once per minute by one kid or another and my personal space is no longer my own. Luckily, my husband and I are good at tagging in and out when one of us is nearing the end of their rope 

    We’re enjoying it so much we’re contemplating a fourth! Good luck with your decision!

    I am one of three siblings, spaced 2.5 years between each. I think it went well because:

    1. The oldest started kindergarten just as the youngest was born, thus there were basically only two kids at a time at home.

    2. Same with college costs, the oldest was graduating just as the youngest was starting, thus only two kids at a time with college costs.

    3. One weekend day our parents split us up, one parent would take one kid on an age-appropriate activity, and the other parent would take two to do something else, that way each kid got some dedicated time with one or the other parent, and two parents weren't going crazy chasing after three kids. We did do more simple activities, such as go to Tilden park, as an entire family.

    4. Our mother was extremely fair, with time, attention, and money; I think she kept a spreadsheet to make sure. I really think this kept down sibling rivalry and us siblings have pretty much always gotten along.

    5. Cons were that some two always had to share a bedroom, we switched around every year or so. No vacations that called for air travel, with 5 people that was too expensive. No fancy anything, very basic groceries and no meals out. No trendy teenage clothes. We all started working during high school.

    Overall it was pretty fun growing up as one of three siblings, especially when we got to be teenagers and we were partners in crime (ha ha)

    I’m one of four. The plus is we were connected as children, the minus was that my parents didn’t have the emotional or financial resources for three, let alone four (one was born quite a while after the rest. ) Three on us had one child families and the other did not have children. When I was younger I resented having to do so much in terms of chores and helping the others. We are not close now, though we keep in touch. 

    I am one of three, as well as mama to three. My older two are two years apart and the third trails along four years younger than my middle. That is a spacing that has worked well because the older two gained independence as I was taking care of the baby (who is now in middle school, by the way). I love that our dinner table is full, even if one child is out. I love that nobody is ever lonely, because there is always someone around. I love that my 6th grade daughter can hold her own with senior boys and my senior boy (and most of his friends) can hang with a middle schooler. Yes, our house feels crowded and oh my gosh, are three kids expensive! We've had perhaps just three vacations involving airplanes in the past 11 years, because 5 tickets cost a lot! Hotel rooms can be awkward and often someone has to ride alone on the roller coaster, but I love having a busy, biggish family and am delighted that my kids will have not just one, but two sibs in their lives when we, their parents, are gone.

    I am one of 3. My brother who is the middle child is an alcoholic and has many other problems. I love him but we will likely never be close bc of his disease. I thank god for my little sister who is my close friend and who helps me deal with the family craziness and share the joy. 

    I have three children. I wanted a third because my oldest daughter REALLY wanted a baby sister (our middle one is a boy). I have loved the activities I've done with them. the third one has done a lot of different things the oldest two didn't (like crew, ice scating, kickboxing) and being part of that is fun, as well as three sets of parents and kids to got to know. The downside is that now, with the oldest at 22 years old, I am quite DONE with parenting. What was GREAT is that my youngest did a school year abroad last year as a junior in High School. Those 9 months were great for me to recharge. 

    I am a mother of three (7.5, 5.5 and 2 yrs old) and I have two siblings to whom I am super close.  The challenges that I anticipated when having a third kid in terms of not having enough energy/time/attention for all three came to pass but have been much less of an issue that I thought they would be.  For example, having less attention for the older two when the youngest was a baby meant they became more self-sufficient - not that they felt unloved or neglected. And adding a siblings has brought more love/attention into all our lives - our two older see the youngest as a playmate and source of fun and attention now that she is a bit older and looks to them for laughs and excitement after school. As parents, we are tired (someone is always up a night for some reason - baby wake ups, teething, nightmares, rolled off bed...) and it is loud but I imagine it would be all those things anyway.  We try to give the kids some one on one time with a parent which really "fills their cup" as they say.  We thought about this decision for almost a year - going back and forth. In the end, I really really wanted a bigger family and we have found the transition to 3 easier than the transition from 1 to 2. We joke that we would even have another because of how fun it has been having this little person come into our lives. And for some insane reason my kids ask for a fourth!

    I’m the oldest of 3, with a sister who is less than two years younger than me, and a brother who is 7 years younger than me. My parents having my brother was nothing but positive for me and my sister. We helped with the caregiving and loved having a baby around. When he was 3 my mom went back to school and eventually back to work, so we did more and more to help with him, and I think that was great for us. I think is was a little harder for my brother to have us leave when we went to college or started spending a lot of time out of the house in high school. But overall I’m super thankful to have 2 siblings!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Have 2 boys and thinking about a 3rd child

Dec 2006

We have two young sons and are thinking about having a third child. We have always talked about having 2-3 kids and my husband and I are both from families of 3-4 kids, so we are used to a larger family. However, I am not sure we are thinking about a third child because we are subconsciously hoping to have a girl??? Has anyone else been in this situation? We wouldn't go through any special measures to have a girl, but I am wondering whether this may be the reason and if we end up having another boy, how that would be? I would love to hear from others who have been in this situation. How is it with 3 boys? There is a lot of pressure, I have noticed, when there are 2 boys and so many people have asked us if we're going to try for a girl. I don't want those comments to influence us. I love my boys and wouldn't have wanted it any differently, but I want to make sure if we try for three that it is for the right reasons so I don't get disappointed if we have another boy. anon

Hi, I'm the youngest of three girls and my husband is the youngest of three boys. My husband has an aunt and uncle who had eight boys!!! My advice would be, if you really want a third child then go for it. Good Luck!
Wow! I could've written that post! We have 2 boys and didn't find out what they were until they were born. We were happy both times. But, yes, a part of me now thinks it would be fun to have a girl, only because there are certain things that I can share only with a daughter. We are open to another child and I think I am OK with the chance of having a 3rd boy. I don't think it really matters to my husband if we would have a boy or girl - he is just worried about the financial costs of 3 children! Yes, I think you have to really think about it and be prepared that your 3rd may not be a girl. You need to really want a 3rd child, no matter what he/she is - at least, that's how it is for us maria
We have three boys and we love it. Both my husband and I would have liked to have a girl (and his mother had been pining for a girl since his brother wasn't one some 30 years ago). But with two boys already, I assumed we'd have another one and would've been happily surprised had the opposite come true. What we love about 3 (and this goes for either gender) is the chance for a changing dynamic. If one of our boys needs some time to himself, there's always another brother to play with. I think as they grow, they'll have a really special bond. We're also really clear that we're done now and won't keep trying for a girl. (We know a family of seven -- all girls!) Queen of the house
WE have 3 boys and yes; honestly, deep down I was ''hoping for a girl'' with number 3. Number 2 also, but what is wrong with that? I love my children no matter the sex. The bonuses for us having 3 boys are awesome. The boys are very close, best friends and playmates. Toys and clothes are recycled until they fall apart!! When someone asks if we will ''try for a girl'' I simply reply that, ''In a few years I will have enough of them!!''
Mom of 3 boys
I had two girls and decided to go for a third. I thought it would be nice to have a boy. My sister was pregnant with her second, two months ahead of me. She already had a girl close to the age of my older daughters and it turned out she was having a boy. We thought how great it would be if I had a boy, too. They'd be perfectly matched playmates. Well, I did not have a boy. And everyone was a bit disappointed. I was when I got the amnio news. My third daughter is coming up on two in January and from the minute she was born I have adored her and she is the darling of the family. That does seem to be the familiar story!

She is just her own wonderful person and I wouldn't change anything about her and I feel so lucky that some vague desire for a boy led me to have her.
3 of a kind makes full house

I have three kids. My first two were girls. My husband and I are both from a family of three kids. We always wanted to have three. It just happened that our third is a boy. I can not tell you how many people asked if we were trying to get ''our boy'' while I was pregnant. Once he was born we got just as many comments about how we could stop having children now that we had a boy. If our third ended up a girl I believe that we would have been just as happy. I have a few friends with three boys and they are happy with thier situation. Having healthy children is such a miracle, that it doesn't really matter their gender. Good luck with your decision. Joan
Hmm doesn't sound subconcious to me! Come on, you wrote this all out so obviously it's on your mind. In your place I would just say to myself, all boys will be easier, we have all the boy stuff and they will be the 3 amigos. A girl will be exciting and new and she will have two big brothers that will love her so much. If those are not equally convincing then you have a problem, but if it were me I'd go back and forth all day thinking about which one is better. If you really are wishing for a girl I think you should find out what you are having so any disappointment can be dealt with before baby is born anon
I am glad you posted and want to hear what others say about this topic. I can relate to the pressure and influence. What is the deal with this gender/girl thing? I am pregnant with my second boy and am amazed at the comments that people make when I tell them (with a smile and a happy voice) that I am having another boy. Some people are so rude and discounting of this pregnancy (are you going to try again?, well, that is just an excuse to have another, OR oh no, you'll have your hands full, etc.). A simple congratulations would do! I'm sad to hear that the pressure/comments don't stop after the child is here.

Why do people respond to having 2 boys like it's the booby prize and having a girl or one of each is like winning the lottery? I know other cultures don't feel like that.

I'm really enjoying my first son and looking forward to another for us and him. Plus, people don't know what your situation is or how you are feeling. I actually lost a pregnancy that was a girl earlier this year and on some days these comments really get to me. I wish people would be more sensitive and keep THEIR desires and wishes to themselves. If you want more children or want to experience being a parent of a different gender, that is your family's personal decision and it would be nice to make it without pressure from others. If you have always wanted a larger family, I say go for it! If you might be disappointed to have another boy, have you thought about adoption? Sorry I can't bring more insight to your questions but I do understand the pressure and hope that you make a decision that is right for you and your family. Gook Luck! anon

Odds are your third will be a boy (but maybe not, I can think of one family I know who had a girl after 2 boys - and 6 families who had a 3rd boy). I wanted a girl, found out I was pregnant with a boy, don't remember being sad about it, just figured okay, that's how it's gonna be, at least I have lots of hand-me-downs... and haven't regretted my 3rd pregnancy one single second. I can't imagine my life without my third son. Some friends of mine who adopted a girl after having 2 boys told me: ''If you want another, have another. If you want a girl, adopt.'' Good luck! anon

How much does a third child really change your life?

Sept 2006

I am the happy mom of 2 great kids, a 6 year old girl and 4 year old boy. Lately I've have been thinking about #3. How much does it really change your family, and your life to have a third??? thanks for any advice

Go to http://www.havingthreekids.com/forum/

It's run one of our great BPN moms, you can read her thoughts on her 3 kids in her columns, http://www.havingthreekids.com/writing.html
working on #2

Third child after twins?

May 2006

We have twins (2 girls) who are just over 2 and my husband and I are now considering having a third child. We always thought we would have 2 children before getting pregnant with twins but now, as we are watching our girls grow up, we both are starting to feel that maybe we would like to have the experience of having another child again- people always say ''twins- wow you got it all over with at once!'' and its true in some ways but then what about the joy of 2 different pregnanys, two different infant and toddler experiences, and for the girls, the pleasure of a sibling of another age who isn't part of their pair. Mostly, I think I just somehow don't feel like our family is quite ''done'' yet, if that makes sense. But, of course, 3 kids sounds pretty daunting, for sure! I've read the posts about having 2 kids vs. 3 which have been helpful but just wondered from other twin moms what their thoughts are. Specifically, if anyone has thoughts on ideal age spacing between kids. Thanks.

I keep thinking about your message. I have twins and am also thinking of a third. I know it will be challenging. But what are some challenges for a lifetime of family, a sibling for our twins, etc. There is no perfect spacing, when you and your partner are ready, I say go for it. Have you seen this: http://www.havingthreekids.com/
We have boy twins and then we had another boy when they were 3.5 years old. I think this spacing was ideal. I also think that having 3 kids is the greatest thing I ever did. Having twins is hard. When you have a third, you can do that baby with one hand tied behind your back. At 3.5 years, the twins were old enough to understand about a baby brother and were getting more self-sufficient in terms of sleeping and learning to dress themselves. Four years later, it's even better. My youngest brings such joy and mischief into all of our lives. I could not imagine our family life without him. There's always enough love for a new baby.

As for space, they are all together in the same room (although he slept with us the first 6 months). Obviously, I am biased but I would do it again in a heartbeat. The only nervousness we had when we got pregnant was whether this would be another set of twins but the CVS reassured us that there was only one at 11 weeks.

As for people's comments, what do they know? And, who are they to suggest that 2 children is the appropriate family size? I doubt they mean it in any limiting way, however. They probably just observe lots of people with only 2 kids. I wouldn't give what other people think a second thought. Most people mean well but don't realize how they sound when they say that anon

Hi Twin Mama,

I took the plunge (unexpectedly, actually!) when my twins were 22 months old. Much to my utter shock, I found myself pregnant in the midst of twin toddlers. After ungoing IVF, my husband and I had just begun discussing what we might do with our frozen 'family'! Much to our amazement, we had a spontaneous pregnancy, which for me, was the way it had to be for me. We couldn't decide which side of the fence to land on, so nature helped push us to the 3rd child side!

Let me say that I felt much of what you've expressed in your post. I didn't quite feel like our family was 'done'. I wanted to experience another pregnancy, nurse more successfully, and like you, give my twins the experience of a sibling outside of there very close twin bond.

Fast forward 7 years! I am now the mother of nearly 10 year old twin boys and a 7 year old boy. I won't candy coat it; it's A LOT of work and three increases the demands more than you might expect. However, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I will tell you though, my twins are extremely close and I think it is a bit hard on the youngest especially since he's so close in age and the same gender. He has asked in the past why he didn't come as a twin, and would really like us to bring another baby home (nope!)

I think you are wise to ask the questions and contemplate all angles. If I had the chance to do it again would I? In a heartbeat! If I could have waited a little bit longer, that might have been good. Perhaps getting pregnant when the twins were 3 so that the baby really felt like the 'baby' and it was an easier transition for the older boys.

I want to tell you, too, that I have been running workshops for new mothers of twins for five years and in the past 2 months I've received four phone calls from moms with twins under the age of two who are expecting! In addition to those, many other of my past participants have gone on to have another pregnancy (one of which resulted in another set of twins!)

I wish you the best of luck!

Sincerely, Karen

Trying to decide whether to have a third

Feb 2005

I know there's been discussion about this topic before, but I'm seeking more specific advice about whether to have a third child. We have a two-year-old and a four-month-old, and life is very challenging right now and sometimes I can't imagine why we would want to put ourselves through the stress of having another baby. But as our youngest child is outgrowing his clothes and baby gear, I'm trying to decide whether to keep the stuff for a possible third child -- or give it away. What I want to know is: Does life get easier as the kids get older, or more complicated? What are the main reasons for not having a third child? Do parents of three children feel like they never have enough time for each child? Are children with more siblings more outgoing and well-adjusted? I fear that if I decide to just have two children, I will regret it later in life. But I worry that I may not be able to handle the stress of raising three kids, especially when they are young.
unsure mother

I have a four year old, a two year old and a three month old. We made the decision to have three children because we wanted our children to have more than one sibling. When we were deciding, my husband turned the question around and asked ''why shouldn't we have another baby?'' when we couldn't come up with a compeling reason not to, we did. At first I felt like a freak here because it seems like everyone in the bay area has only one or two children. But since having the baby, I see more and more families of three. They are out there- lots of them. Anyway, I feel the transition to two children was harder than the transtition to three. Having three is just more of the same juggling, which we have gotten pretty good at. You have a small baby now and when you ha! ve a small baby the thought of more babies is overwhelming but yes, it does get easier when they get older. My older ones play with each other and have a great time together most of the time. I would suggest you hold onto your baby things and postpone your decision until your little one is a little older. Then things might seem more do-able. Or you may decide that two is just perfect for you!
family of five
We love our three kids (ages three, five, and nine), but it must be said that the baby-stage is by far the easiest stage! Life gets increasingly more difficult and stressful for us. There are issues of after-school care, summer camp (no school during the summer), piano lessons, gymnastics, swim lessons, play dates, mis-matched schedules (different kids need to be in different places at the same time sort of thing), and so on. ANd! yes, I DO feel that one kid is always waiting for something, one kid is always last, one kid gets more than the others, two kids must share a room but not the third kid (who gets the room alone?) and the list goes on. We cannot imagine our family without three kids, but at the same time, if one of the two older ones has a sleep-over at another kid's house, we really notice a huge difference in how easy it is to have TWO kids rather than three. WE love the idea that they have siblings (rather than one sibling), and that they can navigate the world together, but it does not get easier at they get older.
Wish I had three arms!
hi, I had my third child nine months ago--my oldest is a girl, followed by two boys. My husband and I both wanted a third and even so it's been quite a challenge. It's absolutely exhausting, significantly more so than having two. But totally worth it. And the kids truly love it. It's been interesting to see how having another baby has nudged the first two into a very close relationship with each other; the attention they don't get from me has clearly been made up for by each other. And they both love the baby (and are proud of having another brother). It's been really hard but there's a lot of joy. If you google ''Having three kids'' you'll find an installment of a column I write on this topic (the column is called Degrees of Freedom, this particular installment is called ''On having three kids.''). It doesn't have much in the way of advice (I'm still figuring it all out) but provides a sma! ll picture of what it's like having three. For us, anyway. Best of luck to you--
I have a 6yo, 4yo and a 1-month old. I was worried about how it would work out, and still worry, but so far, it has been great. The older girls love their little sister. They want to hold her all the time. Whereas we had sibling issues when the middle one was born and her older sister was not yet 2, this time we have none. So far. That said, we have been lucky to have a very easy-tempered baby, who sleeps 20 hours/day, and never cries which is not something you can count on! I am the middle of three and my siblings and I have the same spacing as my children, approximately. I loved having an older sister and a younger brother. My parents didn't spend all that much time with us individually, but they stressed the importance of family togetherness and spent lots of time with all of us and I never felt th! e lack of individual attention. I think that on the issue of who is better adjusted, who is more outgoing the jury is either out, or in with inconclusive findings. So much depends on the individual personalities of the children and how they interact. There is no doubt that things get easier as the children get older. You may have a more complicated schedule, but the kids are SO much easier. They are more rational, and have more stamina and tolerance of adversity. And they can get themselves dressed and get their breakfasts and help with dishes and tidying. I took my three girls on a hike to Ano Nuevo to see the elephant seals last week. The older two were happy to run and walk the whole way---no more carrying!---and the baby slept. I had thought that such adventures might be a thing of the past, and of the future, but not for now.

We'll see what the future brings. Check back with me in a couple months---I may have changed my tune!

I'm still new at this, but thought I'd chime in...I have 5 and 3 year olds, and now have an 8 week old. When I was at your stage in the game (when the 3 year old was only 4 months), I couldn't imagine having a third. It was way too difficult just getting out of the house with 2 kids. But yes, it does get much easier. I've found the transition between 2 and 3 MUCH easier than from 1 to 2.

But it took longer. We were sure we were finished after two. But we kept the baby clothes and equipment anyway...the first two are exactly 2 years apart, but we were not ready to consider having a third by the time the first one was 15 months...it took a whole 'nother year. #3 is exactly three years younger than the second.

But we just knew. All of a sudden, the younger one became easier...she slept through the night, she walked and talked, and we knew we wanted another baby. Don't throw away your infant stuff...just give it a while. You'll know. I had only one sibling, so the idea of being a family of 5 was foreign to me, but we could afford a third, and we had room (we gave up our guest room to make a baby room; the girls share a room), and we got to a point where both of us really wanted to have more kids, surprisingly to me.

My advice: it's too soon to think about a third now; give it time; wait til you're sleeping through the night, getting out and doing things with your two little ones...then try to picture a third one; with ample preparation, will your first two welcome a third? Do you have room? Can you afford a third without too much trouble? (Of course, people have kids regardless of these issues, but we wanted to remain secure and comfortable.) Follow your heart. You'll know.
Berkeley mom of 3

here are my personal reasons for not having a third:
1. my exhaustion with two, and fear of not having time/ energy enough for my two current and for myself and marriage
2. money: we are barely making it in the Bay area and can't afford a bigger house so it would be 3 kids in one smallish bedroom- I don't have any notion against it per se but knowing my older! one who needs some defined space of her own, it would be stressful and chaotic. don't know how I'll be able to help with college costs as is. vacations- plane tickets X 5 for us would mean none, x 4 we can do occasionally.
3. managing carpools; all kids would have less activities/ sports type things just by sheer logistics of getting everyone somewhere, and money.
4. our family does not have a large social/ extended family support in the area.
But I don't know anyone with 3 who regrets it (once you meet the new person how could you?) It's just more to manage and I think many people are cut out for it, I just know that I'm not and might seriously have a nervous breakdown with one more (oh, reason # 5 I enjoy solitude and need a certain amount of quiet when I can get it, hence the impending nervous breakdown if there was another screaming, maybe even playing or laughing voice in the house.)
admiring those with 3 who do it well
I'm a mom of 3 kids, ages 11, 7 and 5. I have found that life has certainly become busier since my children have grown from the baby/toddler stage! When my kids were little, it was much easier to have them on a schedule, but as they develop their own personalities, needs, etc., life has become more complicated. I looked at the archives before responding to this message, and I relate very much to the mom who mentions homework and outside activities taking up an enormous amount of time. Most parents I know have weekends that are taken up with activities such as swimming, soccer, playdates, sleepovers, etc., and it is definitely more difficult to schedule these things when you have 3 children! I am spending much more time volunteering at school, and am thinking of cutting back at my already part time job. Many friends who have children ! of simlar ages to mine, have decided not to work outside the home at all during these years. I would say that lack of money is a reason that many people don't have 3 children. We both have flexible, secure jobs within the UC system, which has excellent benefits and pensions. We also have educational savings accounts, but we still worry about having 3 kids in college and the cost involved. As far as time together is concerned, we have very little. But as the kids get older, we are hoping to involve them more in the kind of activities we used to do together before kids - skiing, hiking, outdoors activities. I am no expert, but I would assume that children who get the most attention from their parents are the most well adjusted. It's definitely a juggling act, as each child has their distinct personality. I wish I had spent more time at my oldest child's school when she was in kinderg! arten, but I had a newborn and a 2 year old. My middle child doesn't like being the middle child and she gets very frustrated. On the whole, my kids get along fine, but there is more fighting than there was with two - often, two of the kids will ''gang up'' on the third. I come from a family of 5 kids and I know I hated being from a large family, while my sister loved it.... Kids can certainly pick up on how stressed out and chaotic things are, so if you think you could not handle another child now, please give this some thought. By the way, we know at least 2 families who decided to have a 3rd child and ended up with twins!
good luck with your decision

Pregnant with 3rd, afraid of starting over

Nov 2004

I just found out that I am expecting my third child. I have two boys that will be ages 14 and 9 when the baby is born. I am having a difficult time with accepting this pregnancy, which is very different from my first two boys. I find myself breaking into tears when I talk about it. I am not sure if this will pass or not but it troubles me alot. I am really afraid of starting over again. Does anyone have any advice or words of encouragement?
baby blues

Take heart, the right hormones will kick in and before your baby is born you'll be just dying to hold that little bundle of joy. I speak from experience. I am 31 weeks pregnant with my third. I have a 6yo and a 4yo. Life had just gotten easy when I decided to ruin it by having another one (this was my perspective early in my pregnancy anyway). I was ambivalent about getting pregnant with the third, but decided that one day I would regret it if I didn't. My ambivalence turned to complete horror and regret immediately after I found out I actually was pregnant. I was unhappy most of the time about the pregnancy and didn't want to talk or think about it. I regularly referred to the baby as ''stupid baby.'' As in, ''after this stupid baby is born it will be back to sleepless nights.'' ''After this stupid baby is born every car trip over an hour will be an ordeal again.'' I had a very hard time thinking any positive thoughts about the baby. Flash forward to now. I am looking forward to having a baby. I can't believe that I had all that sadness about the sweet little lump kicking around inside. Yesterday my 4yo told me that I had granted one of her biggest wishes because she always wanted a little sister. The kids are very excited. I bought the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and have convinced myself that we're going to make sleep a central focus this time and be better rested and happier. But most of all my 6yo and 4yo are reminding me every day that they are growing up fast, and that having little ones around is fun and delightful. I am sure your 14yo and 9yo will be big helps to you and be excited about the baby. Let yourself have the negative feelings and try not to worry. The mothering hormones will kick in and you'll find yourself being anxious to give birth and hold your baby and all your fears will be a distant memory. And you know that you've done it twice before and you can do it again.
Take care, susan

Unplanned pregnancy = 3rd child

May 2004

Last week I realized that I'm unexpectedly pregnant with our 3rd child. Although the initial shock is diminishing, I'm still having mixed emotions about having a 3rd child, and feeling a little guilty about not being super excited like I was with our first two. We don't have family in the area and are concerned about being able to handle being a family of 5. (We are going to look into hiring a nanny to help when the baby is born.) I'd love to hear from those who have 3+ children and their experiences, hopefully positive(!). Thanks. anon

We had a similar thing happen to us in that we were happy with two children, and had decided we were not having more children (for emotional, financial, and ecological reasons). Although we had taken actions to prevent a third pregnancy, we now have three children (my O.B. said that I was ''that one percent''). Anyway, I cried when I found out I was pregnant, was in denial most of the pregnancy, and did not feel overjoyed (as I had been with the other two pregnancies). Fear not. Although our lives are indeed very messy and chaotic and we do not have a dime or an inch of space to spare, we adore our baby and cannot imagine our collective lives without him! His sisters love him, and he loves them, and we often comment on how lucky he is to be born into such a place of priviledge. He is like the family pet, and adds much laughter and humor to our lives. Of course, it is not easy, and a family of five seems huge in this day and age. We fear that it will only get more complicated and comprimised as they grow older, but we are happy. Somehow, it all works out. Good luck to you. Mary

Third child with 6- and 4-year old?

Oct 2003

I have read the archives on having a third child but the posts don't really address my concern. I would like to ask people how much a third child cramped their style. The older two are old enough for a lot of adventures: skiing, kayaking, hiking. Did having a third child mean that only one parent got to go with the older two? Did you resent being stuck at home with the baby? Or did you end up not doing much for a couple of years until the baby caught up? My husband is lukewarm to the idea of a third because he thinks that it will deprive the two we have of a lot of great experiences for the next four years or so. My older child asks for a baby brother or sister all the time, but I am not sure she would actually enjoy the experience (she likes a lot of attention). Anyway, despite all these factors I still feel like I want a third. I would also be glad to hear from people who decided against a third and how they feel about it now. Can't Decide

We have three children, ages nine months, four, and seven. One thing that people don't want to talk about are the demands of school and team sports. We have found that since the baby came, it is really hard to help our older child with homework (and yes, he has a lot!). The four year old can play or draw, but the baby demands attention (and will for at least another year or two). My husband often works up until dinner time, or later, and I find that between getting dinner ready, doing homework, baths, and so on, life is very complicated. I can only imagine what next year will be like when both kids have homework. Then there are the soccer practices and games, music lessons, and so on. I feel like much of the time my husband and I have to divide the kids in order to manage. We all adore the baby, of course, but it has not been easy for any of us. I feel like I tell the four year old to ''wait'' a lot of the time, because between the baby and the homework, I have no more ''me'' to give. This feels awful. I know it gets easier (or harder. I am not sure), but depending on the needs of your older children, three is a handful. I have no regrets, and cannot imagine it any other way, but truth be told, my head is still spinning. Honest Mama of Three Boys

Tips for siblings adjusting to third?

March 2003

Hello! We have a 4 yo and 2 yo and are expecting our last baby next month. I'm at at-home mom who works p/t (from home) and was looking for any tips on adjusting to 3, minimizing rivalry/regression, and any other insights you can share. Thanks very much. ml

I am the father of 3. When my youngest daughter was born, my wife and I bought presents for our older children. When we brought our new baby home, we gave the kids their presents and told them that they were from their new baby sister. That helped take the sting out of having a ''stranger'' in the house.

We also encouraged the kids to talk to their new sister while she was still in the womb. They had fun talking to ''mommy's tummy'' and it encouraged them to think of the baby as a member of the family.

If your 4 year old is sufficiently mature, you can talk to him/her about helping you with the baby and being the baby's ''protector''. I did this with my son and it worked great. I told him that heroes help protect other people and that is what I wanted him to do for his baby sister. Kids love to feel involved.

No matter how exhausted you feel (and 3 kids will exhaust you) remember to give your older children a hug and a kiss every day and remind them that you love them just as much as ever. Tell them that you're sorry you don't have as much time to spend with them, but that things will get better when the baby is older.

Lastly, have your husband plan special outings with the older kids. Even an hour out of the house for lunch and playing at McDonalds can do wonders for everyone (especially you). A kids movie is even better (they're gone longer). Best of luck. Robert

3rd child in a 2 bedroom condo

Oct 2002

We are presently a family of 2 adults plus a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I just found out I am pregnant. We cannot afford a home in the Bay Area so we bought a 2 bedroom condo before our 1 year old was born. I feel we are going to get funny looks from other condo owners and I don't feel this is an ideal situation, but I'm too stressed to move and we love the Bay Area. I'm sure this situation will work itself out, but any suggestions?? Thanks!!!

I have three sons 16, 13 and 9. We're in a two bedroom house in Albany and due to financial setbacks I never could add on. I'm amazed at how my children have managed to carve out space for themselves. I always had their toys in the living room because I wanted them near me. So their room is for sleeping and dressing. The oldest does his homework there, too. He puts on his CD player and he has his own world. He reads a lot in his bed. The other two have desks in the living room.

It's really worked out alright, I'd say they are closer emotionally than if they had their own rooms.

One strange thing is that they fear being alone much longer than I think is usual. But the 13 and 16 year old are fine.

One day I overheard a conversation my sons were having about big houses -- ''In some of the houses the kids don't even SEE each other,'' my son said.

So my experience has been that you can define their own space -- their own book shelves, toy shelves...It's cozy, too. Cornelia

We have a three bedroom house with four kids. We manage to fit. When the children were younger we were all within two of the bedrooms. All of our babies slept with us until they were almost three and the kids of opposite sex shared rooms until they were about seven years old. You will manage to fit within your space. It might become more difficult when the children are older. But you have many years to figure it out before it should really be a problem. Susan

We're pregnant with #3 - I'm terrified

July 2002

We've just learned that we're pregnant with #3, and I should be delighted. My husband was resistant for a long, long time, but after many late-night discussion, he finally agreed. Now I'm terrified. What was I thinking? Where will I find the time? The money? The attention? My current two (ages 4 and 2) are a fabulous team -- am I going to ruin their lives? My husband and I (who have a generally good relationship) certainly find struggles over childcare to be a source of stress in our marriage -- are we going to kill each other now? Help! I'm just in sheer panic. Those of you with more than two, please tell me it was a good decision!

You can relax! I had my third child when my first two children were 2 and 5 and everything worked out wonderfully! You will find that you will naturally fit in whatever you have to do for your new baby with what you are doing for your two older children, including giving attention to all and affording everything (reuse whatever you can from the elders for the new baby). Our biggest challenge to this day (my children are now 15, 12, and 10) is finding individual time with each child--it's nearly impossible! But lives haven't been ruined and I think we're a fairly functional family. Lots of love and senses of humor are the key. While stressful at times (but isn't this true of all families no matter what size?), overall it has been a lot of fun and I can't imagine my life without all three of my kids in it. Have fun!!
I have three stepchildren, and I wasn't around for the stage you're describing, but I have a couple of comments I'll offer for whatever they're worth. First, didn't you have some of these same fears when you were expecting number 2 -- and that worked out OK, didn't it? I think some of the extreme fear you're having is due to the fact you ''talked your husband into it.'' Well, he agreed, and it happened, and you didn't do that by yourself, I trust. Second, three are more work than two which are more work than one. No getting around it. I'm sure at times you never thought you could deal with one child, but you did, then you never thought you could handle two, and you did. You'll manage three, too. Third, the dynamics between and among the three are endlessly fascinating. (If you enjoyed the alliances on ''Survivor'' - just wait.) My three have much better relationships with each other, in very different ways, than any of the two sibling combinations I've observed. Your two may get along beautifully at this moment in time, but that could change next month. Having three does widen the opportunities for conflict, but it also disperses the intensity of sibling rivalry. Fourth - believe in karma. You're going to have three, it was for a reason, it will work out for the best. Good luck!
We have three children (ages 6,3, and six months). It is NOT EASY, believe me. My older two now fight with each other (which they never did before), I do not spend much time with them anymore, I am tired, and my house is a mess! BUT, I am so totally in love with the baby, as are the other two kids, that I am positive that there will come a time when everything runs smoothly again. This baby is like the family pet, and we all adore her so much that we wouldn't have it any other way. It is really hard for a while, and I still miss the time I used to spend with the other two, but others who have three kids tell me that this will pass. Three kids is a lot harder and a lot more work than two, but somehow, it works. You can't change things now, so just enjoy the time you have with your other two and get ready to welcome your new little one! Third Time is the Charm!
My situation was so similar to yours. It took a long time for my husband to agree to a third child and when I finally became pregnant, I was surprised to feel so anxious about it. I felt so much ambivalance when I expected to feel joy and anticipation. My children were also a good team (aged 4 and 7) and things were getting a lot easier with their development and dynamics. Just why was I rocking the boat with this new baby? Not to mention the added expenses and stress to the family. But I realized that I was also anxious while pregnant with the other two; that the anxiety was of the unknown. What was important with my husband and me was to not get into a blame mode with one another when things naturally got rough. While you were the one who wanted a third child more than your husband, he must remember that you both willfully entered this decision. Family dynamics will change and these days a break for me is just having less kids around vs. no kids. Make sure you have enough time to spend together with your husband to keep contact as you will find yourselves busier with the juggle. A good one is the Baby Brigade at the Park Speakeasy Theater in Oakland! You just need a sitter for your other two. You say you already have a great team with your two now, but think of how enriching having another sibling can be, that you will have a larger and greater team! I don't have regrets with having a third. It's been a wonderful experience for all of us. Best of luck to you!
We had three, much to my husband's dismay (at first). Number 3 has fit in quite easily with the other 2. I can't imagine how depthless (''easy?'') life would be without him and we all love him to pieces. He is so easy compared to #1 and #2. I don't think I ventured out of the house after #1 for 3 weeks. With #3 I drove to preschool (multiple times), children's hospital, the orthopedist, etc. all before he was 5 days old (#2 pushed #1 off the play structure when #3 was a few days old, but I don't think it had anything to do with #3; who knows, I could be totally wrong). Do I wish we had done it differently? Only that we were all in agreement ahead of time. I can't imagine life without #3. He's a wonder (as are they all...) kj

Considering having a third

Oct 2001

We are considering having a third child and would love to hear from others who've been through this about your experience. (While we are concerned about over-population, we also believe that the world very much needs well educated, well cared for citizens and feel like we have the resources to provide such an upbringing.) How has adding a 3rd child to your family affected the dynamics of your current family constellation? What positive and negative afffects has it had on your other children? What positive and negative affects has it had on you and your partner? Was there a significant difference in speed and completeness of physical recuperation after a 3rd pregnancy as compared to after a first or second pregnancy? What kind of other resources have you called upon to try to ensure that the needs of all in the family are met (housekeeping help? au pair? Costco? cooking in large batches ahead? what has helped?) Having the benefit of your experience to date, would you still add a third child if you could make that choice again? Why or why not? We'd also be interested in hearing of the experience of families who have added a third child by adoption to 2 older biological or adopted children. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Anonymous

We have three children. We had planned to have three, but our third was bit of a surprise when she decided to grace our family with her presence. I love the fact that we are, indeed, providing the world with three strong females, and I love getting to know them in the special way you know children who are in your family. I'm from a family of four, and I believe that the bonds of siblings are especially special in this world. But, it is definitely a much more complex situation with three children who have different needs, need parental time and energy and financial support. I believe it increases pressures in the family, and requires more attention to family matters. Leah Statman, a local parent educator, speaks about this quite a bit in her work, and if you are in a quandary you might consider speaking with her (phone 525-5080). Good luck in your considerations about this. Diane
We have three great children (12, 8, 4), and I am someone who could not have been stopped from trying to have three. The joy that was brought by the first two, our love of kids, our relative ease of adapting to a kid-centered life, the presence of three grandparents nearby, a life situation that worked for accomodating the first two, and my easy pregnancies all made us sure that this was the right thing.

While we could not ever imagine anything different, and our third child is easy and a complete joy, having three children has been extremely difficult. Instead of feeling like great parents (as we did when we had just two kids), we feel pretty humbled and inadequate. Our philosophy of childrearing is much like growing plants; you provide mulch, just the right fertilizer, more or less water, pinch back ungainly growth, replant as necessary to different sun conditions etc. according to the specific needs of the specific plant. We still believe in that approach, but find that it is harder and harder to do. Often nearly impossible. Both my husband and I work (and the increased costs of three put more pressure on maintaining that configuration) and the arrangement of our work schedules makes it so there is usually just one of us with the three kids. We feel like we're out in the back forty, flying the crop duster by once in a while, with the plants getting tended more on a schedule and a formula and less according to individual need. And it feels really bad not to be able to be the kind of parent you would like to be.

Because two kids and two jobs overfills your time to start with, adding a third kid to the equation changes things not by making you busier (because you're already full up) but by making you decide what things you can no longer do. Will it be reading to a child? A chance for you to exercise? Arranging playdates for the third child? Your sleep? Music lessons? Time with your husband? Involvement at your child's school? Socializing with other families? Letting your kid play a team sport? Having the time to save all the special artifacts from your children (teeth, school work, art work)? Our family schedule is solidly busy...wall-to-wall. Even then we can't provide our children with the support and opportunities that we were able to do when there was just two of them. And we can't even begin to meet the needs we have as parents and adults.

One of the surprises for me was that the first two years of having three kids (when the third was still a baby) were much easier. I remember thinking that we were handling it! I think this is because it is so much easier to meet the needs of a baby while doing other things for other children. Now that our three have their own interests, own friends, own schools, etc. it is much much harder.

Yes, a housecleaner helped a lot. And bulk cooking. And all those systems you can set up to handle the massive, exponential growth in logistics that occurs. And money helps, as lots of the solutions cost. But ultimately, I think that parents of three (esp. if both work) need to adjust their ideal of what kind of parent they can be and what kind of lifestyle they can maintain. That's an adjustment that's coming hard for us.