To Third or Not to Third? That Is The Question.

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My husband and I have been SO blessed with our little girls Sadie (5.5 yrs) and Lyla (3.5 yrs).  They both have their little adorable budding personalities and mean the absolute world to us.  They are our EVERYTHING.  We had always thought we would have three kids but lately we find ourselves having an almost constant conversation about whether to third or not to third? That is the question.

With Sadie entering kindergarten and Lyla her second year of preschool in the Fall, life has gotten a little bit easier for us-no one is on bottles, everyone is sleeping through the night and potty trained, the girls can talk to me to let me know when they need something, I don’t even keep a stroller in my car anymore…

If we decide to hold our current position of two kids, things might be a little bit easier long term logistically.  Such as figuring out after school schedules and playdates, being there to spectate their games & extracurricular activities, keeping track of their school work & needs.

I wouldn’t need to buy a bigger car, taking family vacations would mean only 2 extra plane tickets, and 1 extra hotel room (when they get older).  Not to mention we already have 2 college educations and 2 weddings to pay for (girls!).

There is so much love in this home, I believe we would have a very full and complete life with just the four of us.

All that being said, my husband and I both come from smaller families and have each thought it would have been nice to have had more siblings and a little more chaos growing up.

And busier, fuller Holidays!?  Sounds like a dream!

Considering the crazy amount of love we have for our daughters, I know our hearts would grow bigger and the love in our family would just multiply with another child.

Our girls have been putting in their requests to have a little baby brother or sister.  Which quite frankly caught me off guard the first time I heard it…

And, there’s always the what if we had a boy!?!

On several different occasions I’ve had women with two grown children tell me their only regret was not having another.  Actually, this past Mother’s Day my Mom told me she always wondered what their next child would have been like.  I had never heard her say that before.

Then again, on the other hand, I’ve had a Mom with three kids be brutally honest and tell me “Don’t do it, it puts you over the edge!”

The clock is ticking in terms of a decision since there would already be a 4+ year gap in age between Lyla and a newborn.

So my question is this, how did you know when your family was complete?    

Would love your comments below with your honest words of wisdom for us!  We can use any help we can get with this one!

Thanks so much!
XO
Susanne

48 Comments

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48
  1. 1
    Sara says:

    do it! I have 3 (ages 5,3,1) and wouldn’t change it for the world. we were in the same debate when our 2nd was 18 months and things were finally getting easier. but I didn’t want to regret not having a third. yes it is hectic, but you should see how much love the 5 and 3 year old have for their baby brother. and now I feel my family is complete – I recently held a newborn and loved it but didn’t feel the need to have another. that’s how I know we’re done.

    • 2
      Susanne says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sara- so helpful!

  2. 3
    Suzanne Towles says:

    Go for it! I love the dynamics in my husband’s large family. I wish I had had a third.

    • 4
      Susanne says:

      Thanks, Suzanne! We are seriously considering it!

  3. 5
    Jennifer K. says:

    My third was a major surprise. I found out at 11 weeks that I was well on to having another baby. With two boys already, I longed for a girl. At 18 weeks I found out my dreams were coming true!

    I love my daughter to pieces, but her arrival was very difficult. Having a third literally put me over the edge, as I struggles for a year after her birth with postpartum depression. That was the hardest year of my life, but I did get through it all. Right now the hardest part of my life is juggling full-time work and shuffling my kids around.

    My situation is not like a lot of people’s though, as one of my son’s has high functioning autism. Having 3 children all 2 years apart has only added an additional challenge. I guess it’s all relative though. If I didn’t work, it would be easier with 3. If my 4 year old was “neurotypical” I would probably have a lot less anxiety. If I didn’t have anxiety, maybe I wouldn’t have suffered from such horrible postpartum depression. There are a lot of what ifs, but I can tell you this – I cannot imagine my life without my daughter. All of the struggles of been worth it 100% and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • 6
      Susanne says:

      Thanks, Jennifer for your honest feedback. So nice to hear that even through some hardship you wouldn’t change a thing. XO

  4. 7
    Jennifer K. says:

    (please excuse the typos in the above post – commenting on my iPhone!)

  5. 8
    Kate says:

    The 4 year difference will be pretty big as they are growing up (been there!) Also having 3 stretches you pretty thin when they all have different activities.

    • 9
      Susanne says:

      Thanks, Kate- so much to think about!

  6. 10
    Irene Yonkers says:

    Hi Suzanne (its Irene from St. A) – as you might remember, we had our third. It was the best thing to happen to our family ever. Our house is busy anyway with 2 boys so a third is not really that much more. However, our 3 sons truly complete our family. With Ryan and Bennett being a bit older, they get to bond with Caden in such a special way. I was just thinking last night that I feel at total peace with our 3 boys. Im blessed and complete. Go for it… is it more difficult with traveling, dining etc? Yes it is… but when that little one smiles at you or you find the three giggling and playing with each other… it makes it all worth it!! xo

    • 11
      Susanne says:

      Hi Irene! That is so sweet to hear the boys are all close. Thanks for your thoughts- so helpful! XO

  7. 12
    elle e says:

    well, we are praying over that situation right now tho we would be looking at number 5 …. i have girls 8, 6 and 4 … and baby BOY who is 18 mos … i do wonder at times if i’m crazy … we are not super wealthy, i do stay at home and sometime life is def chaotic … but we also don’t let having 4 smallish kids keep us from doing things … we just took them on a very strenuous hike at yosemite and made it to the top of a falls and back! yes, i drive a mini van, but we made that switch when i was pg w/number 2 … i wouldn’t look back at my sedan …. when ppl ask me how hard it is w/4 kids i tell them i thought transition to having ONE was the most difficult … then probably to 2 … then after that, you kind of already know how to *juggle* you’re just throwing in an extra ball … and so far, having a BOY is not that different from having a girl … he has a FANTASTIC personality and i can’t imagine my life w/o him … if you can imagine adding one more person to your life who you can’t possibly imagine NOT having in your life … well, that makes me want to have one more! but i’ve told my husband, FIVE is DEFINITELY the last one for us ….

    • 13
      Susanne says:

      Oh my gosh! I bet you are so busy! But I think that is so cool that you are taking them on (big) hikes and making those special memories! Love your juggling analogy. Thanks!

  8. 14
    Sarah says:

    I am a mom of three and I can tell you that I knew the minute our third was born that we were complete as a family. I have two daughters and we were sure our third would be another girl. Turns out, we had a son! He is the sweetest little caboose. I think you just know when your family is complete. Whether they stretch you thin when they are young or exhaust you, I think that’s nothing compared to regret over what could’ve been. Good luck with your decision.

    • 15
      Susanne says:

      Oh my gosh- I love the sweet little caboose image. So adorable! What great advice. Thanks Sarah!

  9. 16
    Ashleigh says:

    We only have one and have always wanted at least 2, but we are currently debating on if we should even have number 2 solely based on finances. I say if you can make it happen with 3 then you should go for it. With the cost of daycare, education, vacations & after-school sports/activities we just don’t know if we can afford 2, but I wish we could. I want to give our son the best opportunities, so if one is all we can afford then we may just have to be okay with that. I hope I don’t look back and regret it down the road. Good luck with your decision.

    • 17
      Susanne says:

      Ashleigh, I totally hear you! It can get overwhelming when you start to think about the financials! And I would love to be able to travel with our family…so much to think about!

  10. 18
    Kelly says:

    I also have 3, ages 5,3 and 1. Our third was a total surprise! After the initial shock, we were thrilled to be adding a girl to our two boys.
    It is crazy and I am exhausted, but you get through it. (We are even considering a fourth now!)
    If you are having any thoughts about doing it I say go for it.
    I too have heard so many people say they regret not having more kids.
    Plus, your two girls will have eachother to play with while you take care of a newborn. It makes things a lot easier.

  11. 19
    Susanne says:

    Thanks, Kelly- such a great point about the girls entertaining each other… sounds like you are having fun! Good luck deciding on the fourth! XO

  12. 20
    kathryn says:

    Sus, a family can always be complete with whoever you have in it. It is the beautiful part about being a grateful parent. That said, I feel like if you are still questioning, asking, deep down there is something more that you want. People get fixed on age gaps or waiting for the perfect time. RJ is seven, Ben is three and more than likely there will be at least 8 years between my oldest and youngest. My mom.always said that you just know when you are done. It’s a feeling that you get not because life has gotten easier but because you feel complete. I don’t think anyone has ever regretted, deep down, having more kids. But I do know quite a few that have regretted not having more. You are an amazing parent. Sit with yourself, all fears aside, and I bet you will get your answer. Xo

    • 21
      Susanne says:

      Thanks, KD- great advice!
      XO

  13. 22
    Teri says:

    We have FOUR boys…13, 10, 3, and 2…and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Of course, we have a pretty big age gap between the 2 sets (hubby having cancer and then a miscarriage kind of spread things out further than we wanted). I love the chaos though. And I’d even love a 5th, but not sure it will happen due to finances and my age (just turned 40). I just LOVE watching all my boys play together and interact. Sure, it gets crazy sometimes, but I LOVE it. (I also came from a small family…our house is a little overwhelming for my brother and his wife who have no children yet =) Good luck in your decision!

    • 23
      Susanne says:

      Thanks for the comment! The part about your brother & wife made me giggle! I bet four is SO fun!

  14. 24
    Allie says:

    Sus-
    As you know we wavered back and forth, but deep down I always knew we werent complete until Will came along. I would think about the “big boys” going off to preschool and kindergarten and get sad because I wasn’t done with the little kid stuff. Having the older 2 two years apart it has been a totally different experience having a baby with a 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 year age difference. I know it was the right decision for us and watching Charlie and Tommy play with their little brother melts my heart. Charlie told me the other day “I didn’t know having a baby would be this much fun. Let’s have more”. That being said, life has gotten busier, we are just now all sleeping again, we did have to super size and get a bigger car, and when we all fly together we do need more than one row, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Can’t wait to see what you decide and if you want to do a test run, I can loan you Will;)

    • 25
      Susanne says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Allie. Watching your boys with Will is ADORABLE. Love your super-sized fam 😉

  15. 26
    Jen Perazzo says:

    Suzanne, I love your posts. Such a tough question – one we’re asking ourselves now as well. Im inclined to think, if you’re even asking the question, ya got one more in you! (Besides, you & Mike are wonderful, kind, loving, smart – the kind of people who should have lots of kids ;).

    • 27
      Susanne says:

      Jen-thanks for the kind words! I’ve been so all over the place with this decision I may have scared Mike into a holding pattern. We’ll see 😉

      (btw- your parenting FB posts are HILARIOUS!!!)

  16. 28
    Carrie says:

    As a kid growing up in a family of three kids, I say do it! Now that we are all older it brings a richness to our lives to have more than one sibling and as kids I never felt like missed out in anything. My parents did drive a minivan and although we never had a lot of money we still managed to go on vacations and fly together. My mother was a stay at home mon till I was in junior high and then we all kind of helped each other out. Yes, there will be a larger age gap but I am sure your girls will be the best little helpers! Lastly, a bunch of my friends just had there third kid and they are all sooo happy the did it. Different perspective but I hope it helps! 🙂

    • 29
      Susanne says:

      Love this perspective. Thanks for sharing, Carrie!

  17. 30
    Brooke Melton says:

    Hey lady, I was just talking to Heidi yesterday about how many kids she wanted. Its a tough decision, especially when you are considering finances, and the chaos of taking charge of one more life. I know it’s a lot to handle, but as your girls get older I’m sure they will become more helpful and the burden won’t be quite as heavy. Now that I’m an adult I don’t know how my mom had 5 kids, but I do know that in this huge world my 4 siblings and my parents are the greatest friends I could ever ask for. Growing up having to care for and look after one another gave us a sense of selflessness and responsibility that I value greatly. But really, the best part is that I have a huge network of “best friends.” Every holiday is an adventure, every family gathering is full (even if one or two of us can’t make it). And the love that you have, it grows exponentially with each kid. I remember when my mom found out she was preg. again with Chase I found her crying in a side room. It was so hard for her to imagine going through another pregnancy and how they would afford another child, but they made it work and we are a greater family because of what he brought into the mix. I love that guy so much. Whatever your decision is you will have a beautiful family. Just don’t fear the hardships another child will bring, because the blessings will FAR OUTWEIGH them. All my best to you and yours. xoxo-brooke

    • 31
      Susanne says:

      So fun to hear your angle, Brooke. I remember picking your Mom’s brain at Heidi’s bachelorette party about how she did it all with 5- she is a SAINT! Your parents did such an amazing job of building such a tight knit fam. Thanks for your helpful insight! XO

  18. 32
    Nancy says:

    Sus- You summarized the thought process of having a 3rd perfectly. I felt like you were in my head which maybe you were since we have had this discussion many times. 😉 I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and found them to be very enlightening. I know that I never want to be the older woman that has a sense of regret down the road. Now I need to make sure that my husband feels exactly the same way.

  19. 33
    Susanne says:

    So glad you found it helpful! I have really enjoyed reading all the comments as well. My mind is in a flurry!
    So- let’s say we decide we decide we are done with 2, am I ever feel confident that it’s my final decision???

  20. 34
    Heather Thome says:

    My husband has always felt you just replace yourself on the planet 🙂 That being said, I had always wanted a lot of kids. I grew up with one sibling and loved it. But…marriage and children came later than my scheduled time frame 🙂 Now, my more mature self says we are just fine with two beautiful girls. School tuition, vacations, and college funds will be easier hopefully with just two. I do however every once in a while, get the twinge….

    • 35
      Susanne says:

      What an interesting theory your Husband has! I do agree sticking to the two would be easier…
      Thanks for sharing, Heather!

  21. 36
    Erica says:

    Go for 3! Yes my life in crazy but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Watching my older 2 (5 & 3) intact with my baby just makes my heart melt. Yes the baby stage (mostly not sleeping) can be challenging but really it’s short term & before you know it the baby is running around after the older ones. Now I can’t say what’s it’s like once they are all in activities but I’m sure ill figure it out & you would too. 🙂

    • 37
      Susanne says:

      Thanks, Erica- I totally agree the baby phase does fly by and I’m sure even quicker in a bigger/busier household!

  22. 38
    Michelle says:

    We have two children and when people ask us if we would have a third, we always say we don’t want to be “outnumbered.” 😉 I believe that our family is complete though. I love their ages, 6 and 3, but can’t wait for them to be old enough to travel abroad without stress. I do not want to start over again with diapers and nursing and sleepless nights. Some people feel that their family is not complete yet. I think it is either a calling you have or, in oops cases, meant to be.

    • 39
      Susanne says:

      Yes- Michelle, I’ve heard people refer having three as setting up a Zone Defense 😉

      I do believe I could live a very full & complete life just the four of us. I’m really not sure how we’ll ever decide. Hopefully it’ll just become clear (sooner than later).

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  23. 40
    Lindsay says:

    Sus… Go for it! I don’t have kids (yet) so I am speaking from the perspective of the child. Siblings are the best and you can never have enough. My sister is 7 years older than me and we are as close as ever. Plus, how awesome that you will have your girls to help you out. I say go for it!! XO

    • 41
      Susanne says:

      Thanks Lindsay- so true! Love to hear that you are so close despite the age gap. XO

  24. 42
    Hilde says:

    We always knew we wanted three kids and tried hard for #3. At times we felt guilty for trying so hard to get pregnant a third time when there are so many who would give anything for even one of our two healthy girls. But we wanted it and kept trying. We finally came to peace with the fact that ours was a family of four when I became pregnant. We added a little boy to our family and he couldn’t possibly bring more joy or smiles to all of us. He completes our family. Of course it is craziness most of the time and we definitely use the “zone defense” plan but it’s worth it. Our kids are 7, 4 and 16 months and I already shuttle around from activity to activity. I can’t imagine how it will all work out when those activities multiply. But we’re fortunate to be able to manage it and I can stay home. If it works for you you’ll be happy in the chaos and if it doesn’t work then you come to peace with what you have.

    • 43
      Susanne says:

      Isn’t that funny how sometimes life has the plan for you. And how fun your plan has a little boy in it! 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, Hilde!

  25. 44
    Jen says:

    I loved this post because it is something all of us can relate to.

    For me, the moment my second daughter was born, I knew in my gut and heart that our family was complete. It’s hard to explain, but I felt that feeling so strongly.

    I think our gut instincts usually end up turning out to be what’s right for us.

    I love having two daughters, and love having a family of 4.

    Luckily my husband is on the same page, even more so than me, and he agreed 100% that 2 was “our number” and didn’t want to go for a 3rd to try for a boy.

    I would say trust what your gut is telling you – that is the answer! And it will end up working out the way it is supposed to!

    Thanks for sharing your honest feelings in this post!
    xoxoxoxo
    J

  26. 45
    Brooke says:

    I always figured I would have 2 kids – a reflection of my own family growing up. I also swore I would only have boys. Now that I have 2 boys…I am hoping to have a girl – it is funny how life decisions change. I knew with my last pregnancy that I wasn’t ready to be “done”. My husband on the other hand was very content with two and was almost relieved to have a 2 and 5 year old who are now mostly “independent”. However, after talking with friends who have or are expecting number three and even after talking our decision over with a family planning counselor, we are both looking forward to number three. I know for me it is an emotional pull while for my husband it was a logistical decision to make. I think because we are in more stable positions in our lives than when we had our first two children he feels confident in our ability to make this decision. However, it took us a year to get to this point. And while we worry about finances and have to already make sacrifices, we don’t see the sacrifices changing that drastically – it may simply mean saving an extra month or two to reach our financial goals. I hope this helps and thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts as well! 🙂

    • 46
      Susanne says:

      Thanks for sharing, Brooke! We are still so torn, I love hearing you’ve come to a decision & are at peace with it!

  27. 47
    Lara says:

    I have 3 girls (4,2,9months) and its. A blast. The big sisters love there baby sis more then ever and it’s special time when I just have the baby or a date with my older two. I had the exact feelin, it is so personal, but honestly feel your heart and not how it looks on paper.Your blog is my go to for all things in my mama life so I know your a very smart gal. It will ALWAYS work out. Plus if you have a girl again they always take care of you a daddy when you get older!

    • 48
      Susanne says:

      Lara- I love that- so true little girls are pretty maternal and it would be fun to be surrounded by 3 of them later in life! I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for sharing & the kind words about the blog. XO

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