When Jamie and I were in the thick of it with trying to decide whether to have a third baby or not, we were in good company.
The more we talked openly with close friends and family about the decision, the more we heard from others that they struggled (or were/are currently struggling) with the same decision. I couldn’t count on my fingers and toes 10 times over how often this subject naturally came up in conversation with others.
It seems like most of the people we talked to knew they for sure wanted two kids, so the decision to jump from one to two was easy for them. But when it came to having a third baby, most of our friends were well aware of what each additional kid entailed and were hesitant about doing it all again, especially since the majority of them were/are still neck-deep in the baby/toddler/preschool stage.
When Jamie and I weighed the pros and cons of having a third baby, the list of cons seemed to outweigh the pros. Thank God that the Lord’s plans were better than our own though because we almost let that list of cons hold us back from Jillian.
And my gosh, there are just no words to describe what that baby girl does to my heart.
If this is a subject that your family is wrestling with as well, I wanted to share our initial concerns and how they’ve ironed themselves out.
Anyone who knows me personally knows two things: that I’ve never been happier in my life than I am having three daughters but that I’m also a firm believer that three kids is not the best situation for everybody. Three kids is all-consuming, exhausting, expensive, etc. so I am 100% in the camp of “what works for one family may not be the best for the next”. Just like how 4+ kids is the best for some families (and some of my good friends!), but not for ours (we shut down baby town permanently months ago).
So just know that this isn’t a post about me convincing anyone to have three kids. I just wanted to share my heart about our initial concerns with having a third baby, and then how those concerns eventually took care of themselves.
“The stress of a third kid will hurt our marriage.”
Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been… and no one is more surprised that we are! Taking care of three kids means that we need each other more than we ever have. We are constantly looking for ways to take things off of the other’s plate and are both “all hands on deck” to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. We have been forced to communicate better, serve each other, and be more intentional about quiet time together. We are both finally peaceful and in love with our complete family. All of these things have made our marriage stronger.
(In full transparency, the hardest times of our marriage were right after Hadley and Sadie were born. We fought about who was more tired and about not serving each other in ways that we both needed as new parents. We feared this would happen again, but the exact opposite happened.)
“Three kids is more difficult for babysitters and grandparents.”
It’s a very different story handing over three kids to grandparents than two. We fortunately live near grandparents who are happy to spend time with our children and help when we need it, but we also knew that three kids might tip the scale when it came to needing time away from the kids for one reason or another. Of course it’s easier to ask people to watch your kids when you’re actually asking them to watch fewer kids. 😉
While this is still true, it hasn’t been a big deal. Our moms both have two car seats in their cars, so they’ll often take the two big girls out, leaving me with just Jillian. Or sometimes they’ll take just one kid at a time, lightening our load with 1 or 2 kids at home. We don’t have any plans to hand over all three kids overnight until later this year when Jillian is 16 months old, so this hasn’t been an issue.
Both sets of grandparents have babysat all three kids before for a few hours at a time, but it’s usually at our home so that all of their toys and needs are there. Basically, it is more work handing over three kids than two, but the joy of a third baby brings way more happiness to our family members than the stress than I thought another baby might bring.
“Three’s a crowd.”
I do think there can be truth to this statement, but we’re hopeful that the girls develop strong, loyal friendships with each other. We can already tell that they are all three very different from each other, so it’ll be up to them to cultivate a sisterhood of inclusion with each other instead of pairing off. We’ll see!
“We won’t be able to travel as much with three kids.”
Not true. Yes, the price of each trip may be more expensive because there will be another person to buy tickets for, but we very rarely travel spontaneously. We always plan out our trips way in advance and save for them in cash, so now we’ll just have to up our budget a bit to include a fifth person. Will a trip with three kids be more expensive than a trip with two? Sure, but we’ll save for it just the same.
“Our home best accommodates two kids.”
When we bought our house a couple of years ago, we knew that it was ideal for a family of four. Having Jillian meant giving up our home office, which in hindsight wasn’t nearly as big of a deal as we imagined it would be (we’ve never not had a home office before.) We also considered bunking the two big girls, which would have been a great option too. Basically our house had more than enough room for another kid, so this concern was a little silly. Babies don’t need much space, so we had the room. 🙂
“Another kid will take away from Hadley and Sadie.”
This concern was really, really high on the list for me. I was so worried that giving more of my attention to a baby would take away from what I could give them. This hasn’t been the case though. I actually crave one-on-one time with them more now. Plus, I never thought about what a gift Jillian would be to them. She makes them so happy.
“I don’t want to be pregnant or go through the postpartum period again.”
Pregnancy is difficult for me, and obviously the postpartum stage is tough, but it ends. All of that is a relatively short season of life compared to having a baby that I’ll God-willing get to love on for the rest of my life.
“I don’t want to do the newborn/toddler stage again.”
There are challenging parts of having a newborn or toddler, but those things are temporary. Hadley is six years old and in the most amazing stage right now, and even Sadie who is almost four is just the absolute coolest, semi easy kid (finally, lol). They are both proof to me that the challenging parts of having a baby and toddler are fleeting.
“Our car isn’t big enough for three car seats.”
Not a big deal. We simply bought a new van. We ideally would have saved for it longer than we did, but we tried to be smart with our purchase. Now I’ll be a minivan mama for the next 10 years. 😉
“Having a baby will delay me going back to work even longer.”
I’m still just as ready to work a bit more outside of the home as I was before, but now it’s just coming at a price tag for Jillian’s childcare. We’re not finding this to be a big deal though. In fact, we’re so excited for her to be around other kids more while Mommy dabbles with her own little projects. 😉 Yes, the money we’ll be spending is a good chunk, but we look at her and always think about how worth it she is. This is another one of the biggest concerns we had before having a third baby that has somehow turned out to just not be a big deal. You just work it out.
“We cannot afford it.”
All I can say is that the Lord has provided over… and over… and over. We are also better at deciding what is a need versus a want. I really, really, really thought a third kid would put a financial strain on us in a new way, but it’s been totally fine. I thought “there’s no way we can set up another college fund”, but the money going into it each month is money that we would have likely spent on other random things anyway. I think we’ve learned that you just make it work. That surely seems like a very broad, unhelpful answer… but it’s the truth. 🙂
Can you relate to any of my thoughts here? How did your issues resolve themselves?
All photos by the beautiful and talented Kelsi Loren
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo