The Magic Number? Deciding to Have Two or Three Children- May 27, 2015

Scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across another woman with kids the same age as mine. She proudly posed with her newborn as well. Her third baby. Then I saw another friend pregnant with her third. Last week I got the same question two days in a row from friends, “So, are you done? Or are you going to have more kids?”

Oh, wow. I really don’t know, ya’ll.

mother of two or three

I ask myself that everyday. I look at my kids’ faces and think, “We make the most adorable babies. We already have two, why not have another?!” I love babies. I love being a mother. I soak up the sweetness of my children and wonder how a third child would change our dynamic.

I’ve read the articles about how families with three kids are the most stressed and heard how miserable and awful middle children are. I don’t believe any of that! First of all, I’m not buying that “middle child” garbage. I know some amazing middle children. My husband Greyson is an amazing, well adjusted middle child who grew up to be a successful business leader in his company after following his dream of becoming a sportscaster. He’s a loving husband, father and provider. My Aunt Wanda is a middle child and is the glue that holds our family together. She raised twins, welcomed another child into her home to raise, had a career as an educator and has been married to my uncle for more than 30 years. I pray my children, no matter their birth order, are like these middle children. Recent studies show middle children are pretty much as well-adjusted as the rest of the family and “Middle Child Syndrome” is totally exaggerated.



Some people have told me that they assume we’re done having babies because we have a girl and a boy. I see friends with two of the same sex who may try for another. I get that. But, the friends I’ve seen lately are just like me. They already have one of each. Of course there is always the friend who…surprise! Just gets pregnant with baby #3.

But, I want to know. How do you/did you come to the decision to have, or not have, a third child? We’re not ruling it out, it’s just not as obvious as having two kids, you know? There was no question we would have at least two. SO MUCH goes into deciding about the third. Our ages, money, obstetrical health, parenting, careers and sibling relationships are just some of the things we weigh when thinking about this. Please, don’t think I don’t realize how freaking lucky we are that we COULD have a third. I know the struggles of infertility stop many parents from having more than one or two kids. We’re very blessed to have two healthy children. I have to imagine the impact of caring for sick children or kids with special needs may alter some parents’ decisions on family planning as well.

If we don’t have a third, I don’t think I’ll feel incomplete or anything. Life will still be great and our family will be fine. Again, we’re so blessed. Do we want to add another little blessing?

Last week in the car Charlotte asked from the back seat, “Mommy, are we going to have any more babies in our family?” I gave the answer I give everyone, “I don’t know.” I returned her question, “Do you want another baby in our family?” She said, “Yes! I want it to be a girl and I want to name her Starlight!”

Then she said, “How do you get a baby in your belly, anyway?” Oh, yikes. Maybe I’m not ready for another. Then my husband says, “Well, if we have three, we have to have four kids. You know…balance.”

Sure. Starlight and Fourthkid. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I will say, if we have a little Starlight, no one is allowed to buy him/her anything. We have everything. Starlight will live in hand-me-downs. That’s just part of being the youngest. (Says the oldest child with a smirk, as she writes this blog post.)


25 Responses to “The Magic Number? Deciding to Have Two or Three Children- May 27, 2015”

  1. Katie says:

    I always planned to have three. My mother is one of five, my father is one of three, my husband is one of three, and HIS father is one of three. I, on the other hand am one of two, and my younger sister and I talked about how we always felt like there should be more. When my husband and I got married, we thought that three born two years apart would be good. My husband is already in his mid-forties so he doesn’t want to have any more than three simply because he doesn’t want to have to haul his Hoveround into anyone’s graduation ceremony. I would probably have liked to have one more, but his logic makes sense, so I got my tubes tied to keep myself from taking advantage of him to get more kids in the house 😉

    I’ve read the blog posts about how having three kids is so much harder, but I disagree. The only difference is more laundry and more expense. And you are outnumbered in public, but one gets creative really quickly about effective crowd control. Mine are now 6,4, and 2 and are at ages where they really are entertaining themselves and each other. In a way, it’s taken the parenting load of being their ringmaster off my shoulders. They can go outside and run around after each other, play pretend with each other. and build forts. They are really a joy to watch, especially when my daughter goes off on her big brothers like she’s their mom. “Boys! Stop that fighting!” I do have to resolve some squabbles, and sometimes the boys get too rough with Kat, but in the end, they’re great friends. They do everything together. They even sleep together most nights.

    Also, when you have three kids, people stop giving you parenting advice, which is a huge benefit. When you have three kids, it’s like you unlock this parenting level that you didn’t know existed, but where because you have more kids than most people and because people with more than two kids realize that there is no “right” way to parent, other than to go with the flow, no one offers you unsolicited advice anymore. The most you will get is “you have got your hands full!”, which pisses some 3+ child parents off for some reason, but doesn’t bother me at all. I usually make a joke out of it. So my verdict is, if you can afford it, have a third. It’s fun. The more the merrier.

    • Amy says:

      I think I agree with you on all this. My sister and I totally wanted another. I’ll take less advice. That would be amazing.

  2. Katie says:

    Oh one more thing… in my situation, at least, handing clothes down between boys is more difficult than between girls, so if you have a third, cross your fingers that you get a Starlight. Will permanently stains shirts or tears the knees out of a pair of pants at least once every two weeks. I told him that he has to take care of his clothing because it’s got to be handed down to John. I still end up replacing at least half of John’s handed-down wardrobe every season.

  3. Beth Anne says:

    I honestly thought we would only have two, no matter the sex of the babies. I’m one of four & Doug is an only. But then Ben came & while we love, love, love him…we’re not complete. Everyone said I would have that feeling that I KNEW we were done & with Ben’s arrival, everything pointed me to one more, from his first day.

    The biggest factor for us having a third is giving the boys built-in family. With no aunts/uncles/cousins on Doug’s side, they’ll have no Ballance family when we’re gone. My oldest brother isn’t having children & my only nephew is already a preteen. When we’re gone, we want to be sure they have each other, a solid support system without us.

    I know that might not make sense to some people but for us (& me especially), it’s everything.

    My only bummer is that we can’t do the 5 1/2 year age difference again. Because THAT is awesome.

  4. Heather says:

    I was almost sure we were done with baby #2 (even though we had 2 boys). Throughout his infancy and early toddlerhood I tried to soak it all in thinking it was the last time we’d experience those things. The end of his infancy was difficult (hospitalized with RSV, months long recovery with little sleep) made me almost certain we weren’t doing that again. But something changed when he was a little past 2. Suddenly I wanted another baby. Like right now. My little “complete” family of 4 started to feel like someone was missing. My husband wasn’t ready for another baby so we agreed to reconsider in a few months. I didn’t say another word about it for about 6 months. Then we agreed we would (try to) be a party of five. And now I cannot imagine our lives without Rachel. She came at the perfect time for our family. I am almost certain we are done with 3. I absolutely love being pregnant and raising babies. I would without a doubt have more children if time and finances were out of the equation. But I am 35 and my husband is 41. So if we were having more, the time is now. And we are maxed out!

    My boys are close together (right at 2 years apart) and there is a 3.5 year gap between #2 and #3. Raising 2 older children and a baby was easier for me than having a toddler and a baby. The boys are old enough and close enough that they can happily entertain themselves when the baby needs attention. We typically do a zone defense when it comes to parenting. One of us takes the boys, the other takes Rachel. Flying solo when my husband is out of town is quite an adventure. The boys’ room is on a different floor than Rachel’s – so things tend to get a little crazy at bedtime. But we manage. And I love every chaotic minute.

  5. Heather says:

    Oh and the comment above that people stop giving unsolicited advice with 3 kids – SO TRUE! Now I just get a plethora of “You sure have your hands full!” and “So are you having another to even up the teams?”

    There is no pleasing people – you have one kid… “When are you having another?” You have another boy… “When are you going to have a girl?” You have a girl… “When are you going to even it up?” Shut up people.

  6. Lee Anne Holman says:

    I think you just know. After our middle was born I knew we would have more. I was dead set on a girl but we felt incomplete too. After our third was born we just didn’t know so we talked about it and waited. Sure enough we hit a point where we felt done. I knew that we were good and we would not try for anymore. I think if you just wait it out it will come to you. There’s no one size fits all that is for sure :)

  7. Nicole Castle says:

    I think you just know. I always said 3. Then we had twins and issues due to premature birth. So, I thought we were done. BUT God had different plans. We were blessed with a surprise and now, really do feel complete. And I’m with BA. There is a lot to the only child thing. Keith is one of 3 and I’m an only. Having already lost one parent way too soon, I knew what it was like to feel like your support system is dwindling. So, 3 makes it just right for us. And selfishly, gives me more comfort knowing that if something did happen to me and Keith that Avery is very well taken care of. So, I think you just know.

  8. Hilary Vanderveen says:

    Well Well… this is all to interesting and what a great blog post! However, I say STOP but it isn’t up to me or anyone else for that matter. However, being the younger sister of that “middle child” you’re married to, and the youngest of three I would say no. Here are my reasons why:
    1. Three times the stomach bug! EWWW Three kids vomiting! OH.DEAR.GOD!
    2. It is NEVER even. We had many of family dinners where my sister was talking to my mom and my dad and brother were having a conversation about sports. Me– I talked to my silverware— LOL– not really but it is hard.
    3. Three times the stomach bug! EWWW Three kids vomiting! OH.DEAR.GOD!
    4. Getting a table for 5 is much harder and longer at a restaurant than a table for 4.
    5. Three times the stomach bug! EWWW Three kids vomiting! OH.DEAR.GOD!
    6. You have to get a bigger car. Three kids don’t fit in the back seat anymore like we did growing up.
    7. Three times the stomach bug! EWWW Three kids vomiting! OH.DEAR.GOD!
    8. As a mom with kids in sports and after school activities it is REALLY hard getting them to everything with TWO. Ted will take one (when he can) and I take the other. Throw another in the mix and I don’t see how it is possible, and our kids are not OVER-SCHEDULED or booked. We do the BARE minimum.
    9. Three times the stomach bug! EWWW Three kids vomiting! OH.DEAR.GOD!
    10. Did I mention that when the stomach bug visits your house it will be THREE kids vomiting???

    Either way… no matter what decision, I will support you and if you decide on another I of course, will LOVE him/her just like I do my precious niece and nephew now!

    Love ya!

  9. Wendy says:

    You’re totally going to have another! I always only wanted two, and to be honest I almost could of had just one. My husband got the big snip so I know we aren’t having anymore. The thought of having another made me want to throw myself off a bridge. Okay a bit of an exaggeration but I do NOT want anymore.. especially to be pregnant again. If I ever get the urge we will just adopt. Two is so much easier for traveling, house space, cars,etc. I feel overwhelmed with two and can’t imagine having anymore.

  10. Britney says:

    I love this post- it’s so personal to you guys but so much of what we have all been thru at this “I have two is this it?” Stage. I can’t lie to you since you are so open with us. Two with my personality is all I can handle and I had to admit it to myself. It was hard… Don’t get me wrong- I think I have the best children and I love watching them do crazy things and I laugh. I laugh a lot. But the thought of adding another one just didn’t work for me. I think this is such a personal decision- everyone’s family dynamic is different and if it makes sense to have 10 I don’t judge. More importantly I’ll play with everyone’s babies and love you guys for being able to juggle more than two!!! Good luck- you guys will know 😉

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! Yeah, it’s so funny. I’ve heard from other moms with two, “I’m done! I’m so done!” I just don’t feel that way, you know? I could totally have another. I started to think there was something wrong with me, like I had some crazy maternal need. Then I’m like, “Wait! I’m not Michelle Duggar. I use birth control.” Ha!

  11. Emily says:

    I smiled to see you post this because we are in the same place and are leaning towards stopping at 2. For us it came down to being ready to move past the baby phase of our life into the big kid phase. When you do family activities you always have to consider the lowest common denominator, if that makes sense? My husband is ready for family bike rides where we can all be on our own bikes! Going to an amusement park and everybody can ride! I want to volunteer for service projects and actually be helpful rather than in the way! With a new baby it would delay that season for our family. One day I turned to my husband and said, “You know we have to stick together, because some day they are leaving us behind and never looking back!” Honestly, we look forward to that time too. I’m sure we will feel the empty nest, but I am excited to have my husband to myself as well! Money, possible deployments, our oldest having some (genetic) behavioral health issues, having to upgrade vehicles at 3 kids, being nervous about pregnancy/labor at 34, also play a factor too. However, my ovaries insist we hold on to the possibility of later fostering children when ours are older; so for now, I humor them. I would say this: Don’t feel bad for only wanting 2. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty like “Of course you want more, you’re a good person, you love babies! Who doesn’t love babies?!” It’s okay to be okay with 2, as long as you really are okay with it.

    • Amy says:

      I LOVE that you are humoring your ovaries! Ha ha ha! I’m dying! Good luck with your decision. I get the “big kid” phase thing. Totally.

  12. Kate says:

    Of course it all depends on what you want, what you can afford, what you can handle medically and mentally. It is a very personal decision, yet I still have a lot of opinions about it. I always think it’s funny when a mom says, “I didn’t know our family was incomplete until (baby #3) came along.” I mean, really, what is someone supposed to say, “We made a terrible mistake?” Of course not. I’m with Greyson, I like symmetry. My hubs is the oldest of 3 boys and he has always said no matter how hard you try you can’t be there for everyone all the time. He doesn’t feel short changed, or any less loved at all, but he was aware of an imbalance that swung in all directions from time to time. When we started our family, I wanted at least three. It’s just me and my big brother, and we’re 7+ years apart. After my 2nd came along, 2.5 years after the first, I was TIRED. So SO tired. (They are 7 and 5 now and I’m still really tired, by the way). I didn’t want to admit to being done when the baby was little, but within his first two years, I was still so tired and nowhere near ready to be pregnant again, or have an infant to take care of in addition to the preschoolers. It all just seemed liked too much for my short fuse. And then, time passed. Too much time for me personally, I didn’t want such a big age difference between the first two and the third. So, that’s it. Like you, I know SO MANY people who have gone on to have three; they too have a boy/girl first, so it’s not like they’re trying for the other gender. . . I think people really like babies, I think people like the hope that a newborn brings. I also think there’s been a shift where big families equals status and financial stability. Which, I also think is weird. Thing is, I love babies too. I really LOVED being pregnant, both times. And I still get a little sad to think that I won’t have anymore babies. I’m considering a kitten instead. :)

  13. Kate says:

    Oh, and to Emily’s point about guilt, every time I hear about families going for a 3rd kid I think, “they must get a lot more sleep than me, have a lot more patience and energy, and have two really good kids.” Yet, having “just” two kids doesn’t make me feel like any less of a mom. I am deep into the stay at home mom routine; everything I do, every thought I think is for my TWO kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  14. Johanny says:

    We were one of those parents who said 2 was good, our first two kids were not planned, they were purely meant to be. In 2009, when my son was 8 months old I lost my mom. It was a very difficult time for me. One of the memories I had with my mom after becoming a mother myself, was that she wanted 3 kids and regretted it so much that she only had 2. For one reason or another time passed and she never had that 3rd kid. After I hit my 30s, I started having that feeling, that I wanted more kids. Talked with hubby over and over and we decided to have one more. Mia was planned and was my most difficult pregnancy, She was born a preemie at 32 weeks and I almost had to have a hysterectomy. It was that bad!. I was convinced that 3 was it, especially after such a traumatic experience. Last year, my hubby and I renewed our vows and celebrated our 10 year anniversary. The last thing we thought was that we would have another baby. Well 9 months after our anniversary we welcomed Dominic our 4th. I truly believe God had a plan for us, especially our 3rd and 4th blessings. We now have 4 kids and hard is an understatement!. But we manage and love our big family!. My recommendation is go with your heart and pray. If you feel like having more, then do it, the worst feeling is regret.

  15. Jennifer Turk Lee says:

    Amy, I love your humor with this subject! Even though I’ve never met your precious babies, I totally pictured that conversation between you and Charlotte playing in the car!! I’ve always said I wanted just two…then I’m done. Of course I’m staring down 34 right now and still no babies and I think God has really shown me to trust Him in this department! I know He will bless to be a mother someday in some form or fashion, but to put my own stamp on it is not what He’s wanting. So, I would say if you and Greyson can handle another…at least give it a try!!! :)

    Love your blog…keep these witty posts comin’!!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge