It is the greatest joy and privilege of my life to be a mom to our three beautiful kids. They are funny, smart, kind, loving, and growing up so quickly. We are learning to navigate so many new stages, the ways our children handle situations differently, how birth order may or may not affect their behavior, and the ways we must logistically and carefully plan ahead with a family of five and a giant golden retriever and a cat…or else!
But I knew. I think it happens in each family or with each spouse individually, but my husband and I knew when our family was complete. After our second child, a son, was born, I never could quite give up the ghost of a third. Would it be a boy or a girl? What would he/she be like? Would this be the baby who would one day save the world or take care of us when we’re old?
About the time we decided that two children, a boy and a girl, were enough…I found out I was pregnant. We were terrified, overjoyed, and knew that God had given us the answer the answer we were too scared to really come to on our own.
And also in that moment while holding that positive pregnancy test, we both said, “This is it. No more kids after this one!” I know that sounds crazy…we should’ve been daydreaming of #3, but we were both so sure that this was our last rodeo, our ride into the sunset, the perfect caboose to our family…that we just wanted the other to know…definitively.
Our third baby, our precious boy who adores his mama maybe a little too much, will turn two soon. And we found out a few months ago that my brother and sister-in-law are having their first baby in June…woohoo! We are excited to welcome our niece/nephew (he/she will be a delivery room surprise) and realize that this is a baby we don’t have to get up with in the middle of the night! Score!
But here are a few more ways that we knew we were finished having kids:
- I no longer feel ovarian twitches/urges from my uterus. You know the ones, ladies. Like…when you see/hold/dress or change the impossibly tiny diaper of a newborn. My new move is cuddle-kiss-release. You’re adorable, but back to your mom, kiddo.
- Baby clothes hold no more joy. There was a day when baby clothes called out to me…”Carrie, you need a baby just so it can wear ME.” Yes, I still find tiny clothes adorable, but I can pawn them off on my brother’s baby now. Or strangers’ babies. I’m sure they would take free cute baby clothes, right?
- Breastfeeding. My cousin calls it being “The Contented Cow,” a happy vessel of milk for your child. That metaphor never worked for me. I nursed as long as I could stand it (the longest was 5 months), but something always stressed me out: going back to work, what my toddler was destroying while I was stuck in a chair with a baby, just anything. My frazzled nerves needed a drink and the babies are brilliant, even after formula for a few months. Judge away.
- The Hubs and I are old. We aren’t senior citizens by any means, but we ain’t no spring chickens either. Our poor almost-2yo learned to sleep through the night at the Cry-It-Out School of Hard Knocks. I threw out my back picking him up at a soccer game, which required seven chiropractor trips. SEVEN! I let him crawl at the ball field where he may or may not have eaten sunflower seed shells spit out onto the ground by other people. Why? We are old. He has practically been raised as a baby doll by my daughter and her friends.
- Diapers. Teething. Potty Training. SO glad that these don’t go on forever. BUT, I’m pretty sure that #3 will be going to kindergarten (possibly college) in a diaper because I’m too traumatized by potty training #2.
- I’ve run out of room in my SUV. I’m not ready to go for a minivan. Three kids, their friends, and our dog, plus backpacks, fast food wrappers, and other kid detritus. No room in the inn…
- The Disney Factor. People who have “done Disney,” please feel free to correct me. The Hubs claims we cannot go to Disney until all three kids are reasonably guaranteed to have some vague memory of it. I think it sounds awful to spend that much money only to have to go back to the hotel room for a nap for a grumpy toddler. But I also don’t want to wait until our daughter is too old to want to see the princesses and experience that magic. Any more kids and she would be in the eye-rolling, teenager-meeting-boys phase. Not acceptable for her first Disney trip.
- We are reaching the age of reason. Everyone can walk. We don’t require strollers or baby carriers. Going out in public is becoming more bearable (not COMPLETELY bearable yet, but we’re getting there). Everyone faces forward in the car, so I can hand them things or yell into the rearview mirror. They also play together and entertain each other, especially when their evil mother has issued the no-screen-time moratorium. Starting over on this with a newborn sounds SO HARD.
- Laundry, Dishes, and Meals, oh my! As it stands, our family at minimum wears ten outfits (five sets of clothes, five pajamas, and that’s if no one pees on something or plays in a mud puddle), eats off of 15 plates and the dishes used to prepare them, and eats 15 meals (and numerous snacks), each and every day. For our family at least, I am unwilling to up that ratio any more. Yowza.
- Someday, we would like to retire. Kids are absolutely awesome and crazy expensive. According to an article on CNNMoney, a child born in 2015 and raised until age 18 will cost an average of $245,000 (this number excludes the cost of college…feel free to pause and pick your jaw up from the floor). Of course, people have every right to spend more or less on their children, and this article elaborates on some of those numbers, too, but the Hubs and I have a few plans of our own, such as traveling and eating in fancy restaurants.
Of course, there’s no right answer. For some families, one child is more than enough. For others, it’s two, four, ten, or however many Duggars there are now. Still others open their homes through adoption and fostering, and some couples choose to never have children. It’s all good. But at least for the Hubs and me, three babies was our answer, and these are some of the ways we knew.