Although so far we are up to hurdle #6, this is probably higher up on my list of challenges mothers (or parents) face. The question of whether or not to pull the goalie from the net weighs heavily. And more so recently for my husband and I as we wonder if we should go for a third child. We always knew we wanted more than one; we didn’t want an only child. But more than two? Are we playing with fire if we do this?
I remember after my second a coworker asked me if we were “done”. I hesitated. “I don’t know,” I finally responded. “Well, if you say you don’t know, then you probably do want more. If you didn’t, you’d say no right away,” she smiled at me knowingly. I was slightly annoyed at first, because I had literally just came back after my maternity leave. Why would I be thinking about another child when I was sleep deprived and covered in spit up from this one, and being given the run around by a two-year-old? But then I realized she had a point. If I wasn’t sure, that could mean I wasn’t done having kids. Also, she should know: she has four kids of her own!
We did know we wanted a second child, but we didn’t really plan very well. I hadn’t gone back on any birth control, since I had attempted breastfeeding and didn’t want my hormones to be out of whack. I was monitoring my own cycles, but apparently not very well since everything was all sporadic. So when I went for my yearly check up at my ob-gyn and they were asking about my cycles, I could tell something was off. Sure enough, I found out while there that I was pregnant with my second without even realizing it. Since we knew we wanted another, and didn’t have to go through hell and back to try again, it was awesome. A little earlier than expected, but awesome.
Ok, so what about a third? Do we or don’t we? I feel like we are super happy with our two. Our eldest is the most helpful, thoughtful, fun-loving child. Our youngest is definitely testing us more, but still adorable and happy and peppy. We are past the waking in the middle of the night, past the bottles and multiple naps a day, and can leave them for short periods of time in different parts of the house without worrying (too much). Do we go backward to those days again? And with already having two older ones, what sort of balance would that upset?
My husband told me that once we moved (which we did) so we had more space (which we do) and we were financially sound (he just got another promotion and bonus from work), that he’d agree to go for #3. But the what ifs are haunting…what if the baby is miserable for the first (insert indefinite amount of time here)? What if it truly upsets the happy balance we have now with our two? What if my postpartum comes back with full-fledged vengeance, ready for the next round? What if I never go for it and then regret it for the rest of my life? And then there are the “good” what ifs…what if the baby is so sweet and sleeps well and just completes our family? What if we are meant for a third? Part of me wants to plan it, the other part almost wants to leave it completely to chance. Pull the goalie but don’t do anything else; if it happens, it was meant to be, right? Am I too much of a planner to let this happen? Or will it cause too much anxiety?
I can remember a few years ago, my sisters’ friends had gathered at a birthday party. Most of their children are older than mine, and they all had stopped after two. I overheard a discussion amongst some of the mothers: “Okay, who’s going to do it? Who is going to go for number 3??” one mother said. At least six other mothers (including both of my sisters), forcefully said, “no way!” All I could think was, is it really that ominous to go for the third child? I guess it’s something my husband and I have to revisit very soon if we want to or not so there isn’t a big gap in age between #2 and #3. Or I could always leave it to chance…