I'm not here to convince anyone not to have a third baby. Yes, I have two children, but I don't believe it's my lot in life to praise the virtues of having two, and only two, kids. I don't believe there is a "perfect" number of kids to have. But I am here to discuss the debate about having a third, the decision not to, and why the reasons to hold back on baby number three are reasonable, valid, and OK, especially if you're looking at your two kids and asking yourself, "Should I have another baby?"
Look, something to know about me that I wish wasn't true, but most definitely is: I really like obtaining other people's approval. I don't always need it, but when I get it I really, really like it. So it's comforting for me to hear other people assure me that my choices are decidedly good choices. So if you're a parent who is wavering on whether or not to have baby number three, but are leaning toward no, but are nervous about that decision, then please know that I'm about to validate the ever-loving sh*t out of you.
If you've decided to green light a third child: mazel tov! That's awesome news! Congratulations! And if you've decided to hold off, well, also mazel tov! Awesome news! Congratulations! Both of those choices are extremely reasonable! But if you're still on the fence and want to hear from someone who's been there and ended up picking a side, here are just some of the reasons why not having another kid is a good move:
Because It Can Be Risky
Generally speaking, most people will carry a pregnancy to term with little-to-no complications. There's always at least a small risk of some danger, even under the best of circumstances, but by and large the typical American pregnancy and delivery is quite safe. But any number of factors add to that baseline level of risk, including but not limited to: age, medical history, and the physical stress of each subsequent pregnancy. There are also risks for couples who carry genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, and while the chances are often the same for each pregnancy (25 percent in the cases of CF or sickle cell) the chances of falling into that 25 percent category increase the more children a person has.
My point is, any one of these risks is a perfectly reasonable reason to call it quits after having kid number two.
Because Pregnancy Can Suck
Pretty damn close to the moment I found out I was pregnant with my second child, my body was like, "DUDE WE TALKED ABOUT THIS!" and immediately started vomiting in protest.
I was very happy to be having a baby the two times I had babies. I was not, however, happy to be pregnant. And I fully admit there are people who had way more terrible pregnancies than I had, but that didn't stop me from being really extra super cranky basically all the time. I didn't like it the first time and I really didn't like it the second time, to the point where I was like, "OK, I really can't do this again, because if I'm going to hate it more and more each time I'm going to spiral into a depression if I get pregnant again."
Because Real Life Is Different Than You Imagined
My husband and I always planned on having three kids. It was a number that, in my head, felt great. Even after I had our first child I thought three was the perfect number and having two more kids was going to be awesome. But then I got pregnant with my second, my daughter, and a switch flipped. Part of that, sure, had to do with hating pregnancy and being worried about passing on cystic fibrosis (my husband and I are both carriers), but most of it was just a complete and total shift. So after she was born I realized that, yeah, two works great. Two was and is our magic number. Two is what we could and can handle, and if I had another things would just get chaotic.
In other words, it's OK to change your mind.
Children are like adorable little black holes, but for money. Even if you feel like you're physically up for birthing a third, and/or emotionally up for parenting a third, crunching numbers might make three children a tough sell, even if you really want to buy in.
I feel like, in many ways, the world is built for a families of up to four people. Once you get more people than that things get a little more difficult. A sedan, for example, isn't going to cut it anymore. When you go out to eat you have to either wait for one of, like, three big tables in the restaurant or push together two (or someone is getting stuck on the end, which I think sucks for everyone involved). Hotel rooms are a challenge, because a room with two queen beds is no longer going to do the trick.
Throwing another person in the mix doesn't make life impossible, but it does require you to make some adjustments that may not have been strictly speaking necessary when there was just the two kids.
Because You're At Your Limit Already
I feel like some people see this as weakness or capitulation, but I can assure you it is not. I mean, my kids' car seat has a weight limit: it's not that it's an inferior car seat, it's just that above a certain point they don't work at peak performance. People are the same way. My limit is two kids. Respecting one's limit is damn impressive.
Because You Don't Want To Be Outnumbered
If you're parenting with a partner, then you have a parent for each child. If you're parenting solo (situationally or otherwise) then you still probably have a hand for each kid. Once you get to three, though, you're outnumbered in every way. Do not underestimate the power of a numbers advantage, or even parity.
Because Your Only Real Motivation Is FOMO
I've heard the following a lot, and I have also felt it myself:
"I think I'm done having kids, but there's something in the back of my mind saying 'What if'...? What if I regret not having a third? Other people I know are having third children and I worry I'm missing out on something. They say you'll never regret having a baby but you will regret not having a baby."
If this is your only reason to consider having another kid, or the reason behind you feeling like you want another kid, that is not a good reason to have another kid. Don't worry about the "What Ifs" or what anyone else is doing. What do you want?
Honestly, the FOMO hit me hard. I'd hear someone was going for a third and a part of me would be like, "OMG! THEY KNOW SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW! I SHOULD GET PREGNANT AGAIN!" But making your decisions based on someone else's life is never a good idea.
Because You Want To Retire
You can have another baby, sure, but then you'll have another kid for at least the next 18 years. That's the thing about babies: you have to keep taking care of them. And depending on how far apart you space your children, that could mean literal decades of raising children. If that doesn't sound like something you're up for then it's OK to call it a day after two.
Because You've Found A Good Balance
I always imagined myself having a big(ish) family because I was a child in a big(ish) family. But as I built my own family, I realized that what I was doing with the family I had was great, and as a result of that greatness I wanted to keep it up. Was it different from what I know and what I expected? Sure, but it's right and it's OK that what turned out to be perfect for me wasn't what I initially planned.
Two was and is perfect for us. Three is perfect for others. One is the best number of children for other families. Or none! The point is, your balance is yours and no one else's and when you find that it's wonderful to confidently settle into that groove and enjoy.