Wanting Three Children Is Starting to Hurt My Marriage

familyFor as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother of three. All the families who I admired and wanted to be like growing up (when I was a lonely only child) had three children. There seemed to be so much love, laughter, and happiness.

There was also Monopoly. Lots and lots of Monopoly. There was no Monopoly in my house because I had no siblings to play with and my parents wouldn't play as much as I wished.

As much as three appealed to me, it wasn't until I had my own first child followed very quickly (18 months later) by our second that I realized just how much WORK three really was. And then I started to question it. "Do we really want three?" I asked my husband.


For a long time it didn't make sense to go for a third. We were living in a very small condo in the city, for one thing. But also our children took an enormous amount of energy. Having two was 10 times harder than I ever imagined it would be. Then after three years at home with them, I opted to go back to work, and the next three years passed in a blur.

Now, here we are. We have a house (finally) that is adequately sized. We have two children poised to both be in school full-time next year (my daughter is 6, her brother 4), and now I want nothing more than a third.

It crept on me slowly. Over the past year I started to say babies and feel more than a "Wow, thank God I get to hand him or her back." I started to get wistful when I saw pregnant bellies even though I hated both my pregnancies.

My children are getting more fun by the minute (seriously, older kids ROCK), but I missed holding a little baby in my arms and hearing those precious coos. I missed nursing and holding that tiny warm body close to me in the night. Most of all I miss that smell, that intoxicating fresh-baked scent that all babies have, the one they lose with almost no warning.


My husband, on the other hand, hasn't been feeling the same vibe. He wants a third. Sort of. He likes the idea. He and I both have the same vision of our future, all old and gray, our three (or four) beautiful children home for the holidays with their spouses and children. We love the idea of the chaos and wild good times.

But he isn't sure when (or if) he will ever be ready on this end. He doesn't want to go back to the sleepless nights, the $20 an hour childcare, the constant attention all babies require. I can't say I blame him. But I am willing to make those sacrifices on this end for what I hope will be a payoff. 

Those aren't his ONLY concerns, of course. There is also the question of tempting fate. We had our first two, perfect, healthy children. Why would we possibly risk another? Both of our first babies were born when we were 30 and under. Now we are older ... is there a risk to that?

There are a lot of questions. But to me, a baby isn't a "rational" decision. It's an emotional one. Now, obviously, you have to be able to afford a child, but beyond that, there is no real way to "rationalize" making such a huge sacrifice. It's love, plain and simple.

I know we would/will love our third. But I don't want to have a baby when my husband isn't completely on board.

It's been an ongoing struggle for us. We briefly agree and then change our minds from one extreme to the next. My fear at this point is that it will simply be too late at some point. Of course, I think women who go against their partner's wishes and trick them into parenthood or, worse, lie to them and steam-roll their rights are reprehensible. I will never be that woman. 

But what happens when a couple can't agree on this? I have told my husband he will win. If his "no" is clear, then I won't push the issue. After all, having a baby with an unwilling partner is unfair to everyone, but most of all the baby.

But what about my feelings? Will I grieve the baby that never was forever? Or will I be able to make peace with my family of four even though it wasn't the family I envisioned?

I really don't know.

How did you make the decision of how many babies you wanted?


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