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Question of the Week - How Many Kids?

There has been talk lately about how many kids people are having (see the talk in posts by Moxie (comments section), hush, Cloud, to name a few).

Though there are lots of answers on those posts and comments, I'm asking the question out right here for this week's Question of the Week:

In an ideal world, how many kids are you going to have?

I say "an ideal world" because of my intimate familiarity with infertility. I know there are some out there who want more and are having problems with conceiving and/or carrying another child or even a first child. BTDT.

But for the sake of pretend, let's say that fertility is not an issue. How many kids would you have?

My answer: Hmmm. My answer...

Well, before I had kids, I almost always wanted three kids. I was the youngest of three, as was my husband. I am used to three. I like the dynamics of three. Three is comfortable to me. And heck, if my parents had stopped at two, I wouldn't be here!

There was a short period of time when I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to handle three, and thought just two. This was still before I had kids, but after I years of dealing with recurring depression which turned out to be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). At the time, taking care of just myself even with the help of Londo seemed overwhelming. But then I figured out that it was SAD and started light therapy during the winters. Life seemed a bit easier.

And then we had the Pumpkin. My vivacious, spirited, active daughter who had such problems with sleeping and requires so much energy. But who also gives back so much joy and laughter and love.

To be honest, that first year of her life, I thought the idea of having more kids was I-N-S-A-N-E! But Londo and I had always planned on having two, at minimum. And after the first year, I started to regain some of my sense of self and sanity and even sleep. I continued to be sure I wanted at least one more. Not knowing how long it would take us to conceive again, we jumped right back into it, and were very lucky that it didn't take long with some help from the specialists.

Then was the really rough pregnancy, during which I swore up and down that that was it. I couldn't do it again. It was too hard, I was too tired. I could not handle another pregnancy. Two was it! I was so 100% sure!

Then... well, then there was the Pookie. He was an easier baby, and I didn't dislike the infant stage so much the second time around. And there were some really sweet moments with two children, and I would say to Londo, "well, maybe three." And he'd usually shake his head and insist that he was done. But once or twice he said "maybe" and meant it. In fact, we both agreed that he would hold off doing something permentant in the way of prevention for five years after the Pookie's birth. Just to be sure.

Enter into the narrative the Pookie's 6 month growth spurt/sleep regression, during which he woke up every. freaking. hour! to nurse! I made my sister promise me that if I ever started talking crazy about having another kid to remind me of that time, that hell of a time with both kids waking in the night, feeling drained and OMG I just could NEVER do that again! No way! I was done! Two and through! (Londo remained steadfast in his stance of just two.)

And now? Since about the time the Pookie was 9 months old on? I'm back to wanting three. I think I'm crazy. I can't imagine doing it again. We certainly can't afford it now AT ALL (which is the main reason I'm not pushing the issue with Londo. Yet). However, I do think I could handle three kids once I'm through the pregnancy and first year, thanks to the medication that was so successful for me last year. Granted it would be harder to have three, but I just don't think it would be exponentially harder. Just a fraction harder. After all, I found going from one to two not NEARLY as hard as going from zero to one. Surely going from two to three won't be as hard, either. (Unless perhaps we are blessed with another spirited child!) (Also, Londo does not feel the same about this. Londo found it harder than I did to go from one to two.)

When I walk around and see other families with three kids, I long for a similar family. When I think about the kids when they are older, I think how nice it would be to have three. When I think of the kids grown, I imagine three kids and spouses/partners and grandchild! There is something about a family with three kids that feels so right to me.

That doesn't mean that we will have three. Londo is still pretty sure his answer is two. I love our two kids, and I will definitely be extremely happy with this family as it currently is. But I worry that I will always feel like I wasn't done. That our family should have had one more. I just won't insist on it at the expense of going to the poor house or Londo having a total breakdown (his threats to leave me are just a joke... but his having a breakdown might have some truth to it).

I may want three kids now, at this moment, but my two are fantastic and I don't want to miss a moment with them. So I will focus on them now, and give it another year or two to decide for sure with Londo. This does mean we have to keep all that maternity clothes and infant clothes and toys for a few more years. It will be nice to get all that out of the house. But I'm not ready yet to say that we are done.

What about you? Are you done with one? Two and through? Three and let it be? Four or more? Has your answer changed over time, especially since actually having kids? Is your partner in agreement? If you don't have a partner, would you be willing to have more on your own? In your ideal world, how many kids would you have, knowing what you know now?


Anonymous said…
With one baby, at 3am and on under 2 hours sleep so far tonight - call me crazy but I'd still like 4... The husband says 3 at the moment. We're both from big families (I'm the oldest of 4, he's the 2nd of 6) and I find it hard to picture life with just 2 kids.
nej said…
I'm thinking you're crazy, too. :)

I'm just kidding...sort of. Now that my #2 is 9m old, I get a twinge of remorse that we're done (the door to this factory was closed and locked.) But then when I notice that pull on my heart, I remind myself that a) I do not like chaos or loud noises b) shifting from man-to-man to zone defense seems really hard c) sleep deprivation sucks, c-sections sucks, being big fat pregnant with a little one sucks, etc (I'm just making the grapes sour, I know.) But mostly, I hear my husband's voice in my head that we are so lucky to have two happy healthy babies and a living momma (E was supposed to have birth defects and I almost died on the operating table with B.) So yeah, two and we're through. But mostly because of circumstances. And my aversion of loud noises. But mostly circumstances. :)
Lexie said…
Like Nej, I always thought we would be two and through. But now that my second babe is getting bigger, I'm feeling twinges about a third. WHOA.
Cloud said…
I'm done with two. I think Hubby would have another if I'd agree.

But I'm 38 (yikes! When did that happen?) and I'd like to sleep through the night again.

I get twinges when I realize that Petunia, who is such a sweet, easy baby in many ways, will be my last baby. But I think I can live with those twinges in exchange for being able to see forward to a time in which I might sleep....
Melba said…
I always wanted as many as my sanity will allow, and up until quite recently I thought that was at least 3. Now I don't think so, I think its 2. My husband is pretty firm on 2. So I'm 99% sure that we're done. But I'm leaving that 1% out there, just in case. :)

The other day, when Larry and I were discussing this at 4:00 a.m. when I was melting down because I hadn't slept YET, he said "I like our family just the way it is. We don't HAVE to do this again." It made me feel better about the decision to stick with 2. I do find myself mourning the child we'll never have though. Sometimes.
Anonymous said…
SIL here : )

well, from the time i saw a woman 'in labor' on my mom's soap opera at age 4, up through the age of about 20... NO KIDS THANK YOU!!!!!

then..... i dunno. I was an only child up until age 12, and i needed a pal. One'd be ok. so at 23 me and your bro figured we'd give this parenting thing a go. in NJ. alone. within the first year of marriage. no family to help. young and stupid. It. was. hard! Him: Two more and we're done. Me: aw hellz no! i told him i'd be the first to dance at his next wedding if he needed more offspring. I loved loved loved my eldest, but this parenting was hard!

then... well... about the time she turned 10, and i turned 35... man, she was so self sufficient! i was feeling a bit of an empty nest syndrome, and she was still there! So i was like "one more" and D was like "aw hellz no!" on account of him getting used to the newfound calm and peace of the 'tween' years. But.. well, who can deny this face anything, right? So, one more for us!!

Psych!!!! at 36, my eggs started abandoning ship, i guess, because with no history of it: twins!!!!!!!

and... you know how that went/is going.. haha! I don't regret it at ALL but the horror of the first year is all too fresh tyvm.

so, now your bro brings up a vasectomy about once a month, and instead of me going "sounds kinda permanent" i say "hm. well, maybe it's a good idea"

... you're always welcome to take one of mine for a week, if your nest starts feeling empty ; D

love ya chicka
mom2boy said…
I'm done with one. I remember when Tate was about 18 months old I started having feelings like I'd like another but then he turned terribly two and now we are on our own so I'm thinking we are good as a pair. I don't have the lack of sibling regret factor. My best friend is an only and is an awesome person and completely happy without a brother or sister. I'm the oldest of three and one of my siblings is a train wreck so it's not always a blessing having another relative around.
Anonymous said…
I come from a family of two and so that feels right to me -- though more and more I can imagine 3. Though I'm almost 37 and not even pregnant with the second, so the chances of that seem slim. And the chances of getting DH on board seem even slimmer.
We have a plan to get pregnant with #2 very, very soon, but wouldn't you know that DS (2.5 years old) is in a very rough patch right now, whiny, demanding, bedtime hell, and we're both losing some nerve. But like I said, I'm almost 37 and I feel like it's now or never . . .
caramama said…
@zenmoo - After the night I had last night, I am also still crazy! Here's to getting more sleep, even with more kids!

@nej - My hubby always voices the concern about shifting to zone defense. It's just harder! I'm not quite sure how people do it! And amen to being lucky to have two happy, healthy babies and a living mama! I feel the same. And yet...

@Lexie - Whoa indeed! Where do these twinges come from? It's got to be hormones.

@Cloud - Age really does come in to play. If we are going to have a 3rd, we can't wait too long, especially since we have no idea how long it will take us to conceive. And it is hard to imagine going more years without quality sleep. Sigh...

@Melba - "as many as my sanity will allow" That's a great way to put it! Good on Larry to say what he did in the middle of the night. That must have helped a lot. Mourning is totally allowed.

@SIL - I love to tell your story, did you know that? This is usually how I put the part about the twins: "So they decided to have one more. And guess what? BAM! They had twins!" Hehe. I love them all, though, so I'm really glad you had each of them!

@mom2boy - I totally get just having one. I really do. "so I'm thinking we are good as a pair" I'm thinking you guys are too! :-)

@iwannablogtoo - What we realized was there was never going to be a "perfect" time. So we just went for it, and yes there were rough spots during my pregnancy and since having the second, but boy, there have been such beautiful moments, too. Good luck!
hush said…
Zero. (I kid). Done at two, thank you for flying Bastard Airlines! ;)

A perfect world for me would mean several guarantees: free unlimited childcare anytime we wanted, free marital therapy, free personal trainer to help get rid of the vagaries of multiple pregnancies all over my body, free housekeeper, kids who sleep through the night at birth, who are perfectly healthy, who flow painlessly from my vagina in Sept/Oct/Nov, who potty train themselves in a day with no regressions, who have impeccable manners and can dance, who leave the house at 18 and become emotionally and financially self-sufficient immediately, and who each comes complete with a tree that grows $100 bills and time. In that world, and in that perfect world ONLY, I'd want 4 kids...

@caramama - BTW, your SIL sounds very awesome and funny!

I'd be curious to hear what you think you're really seeing there when you say you "walk around and see other families with three kids, I long for a similar family." Because the things I'm seeing in families with 3 & 4 kids around here are things to which I definitely DO NOT aspire.

It already breaks my heart that we haven't read to my second child as much as the first. I don't even have my kids' rooms decorated! Not that that matters at all in the grand scheme, obviously, but for me it represents a huge disconnect between my old dream of what life with X # of kids would be like and the current reality. The living standards would only get worse with more - kind of like hoarding cats, in a way. Less is more!

I'm rambling now but one more thing. This family of 4 we know was asking us recently if we were done and we said yes, vasectomy is planned once needle-free anesthesia comes to town. They were practically begging us to reconsider. "But you're so young" - "don't do anything permanent!" And I was thinking to myself, um, that is very presumptuous for them to be projecting their choice on me. They must assume I think they are doing a great job with all 4 kids... and I honestly don't, but I would never say anything. I can't help but notice their poor 4th child is always wearing these tattered ass clothes, and now she has a dark front tooth they won't fix, and there are behavioral things I just don't like... it freaks me out. Really, at some point, who is the choice to have another really about? Like my grandma who had 12 effing kids because she "likes babies." WTF? It is like sad ego gratification or something for some people (not you of course).
hush said…
Oh shit, I hope my prior long comment just went though. I got a Google "request too large" message.
z said…
Before getting married I wanted zero kids.
After i got married, i liked the idea of 1. We had a surprise pregnancy with panda baby. Then we had a should-have-known-better pregnancy with baby bear and life with 2 boys 19 months apart has been tumultuous and exciting. On somedays i want a third. But i can't start over completely with a 3rd. Baby bear is now 2+ and I think the most i'd want is a 4 year difference between him and baby#3. Given that my hubby is where your hubby is in terms of almost to meltdown point- I think baby #3 is a slim possibility.
I am for the most happy with 2 but there's something about 3 that is very alluring. I also worry that #3 might bring the house of cards down in some ways so I wonder if it's best not to mess with what we have.
Charisse said…
one and done baby! I'm not much of a baby person, so I've never experienced any of the sadness that this was my last baby. Thank goodness this was my last (adorable, sweet, much-loved) baby!

We sometimes thought maybe 2 before Mouse was born, but she really fulfilled our entire desire for children, which had been incredibly strong. It's really important to me that everybody understand this is a positive thing - we're bonkers about her. It's not "oh this is awful we're done", it's "we were probably done anyway and this is awesome and we love it SO we're done". If that makes any sense.

Mr. C is a happy only child *of two only children*, so he doesn't even have cousins, and I'm 1 of 2 with a not-great sibling relationship, so neither of us has much of a template for a larger family to boot.
Katie said…
We're probably "3 and we'll see". We're certainly at "at least two" - 18 weeks today!

Before L was born I always said two and only two. DH said, oh, 2 or 3... Then I had an AMAZING birth with L and wanted to start again the INSTANT she was born (yes, I knew that wasn't practical, but endorphins do funny things to you ;) ), and also said, maybe 4 would be great! DH still says three. Now that I have a toddler, some of the realities of parenting have sunk in... and the realities of future parenting have begun to occur to me... but I want more children. We'll really have to see.
geeks in rome said…
you read my mind. I do the same thing: when I see larger families I long for the same thing (and notice how their kids are all well-behaved!!) I get all sad and feel inadequate, but I am a realist and know I am just too old.

My ideal was three. Just felt right. But fertility issues meant we started late. I prayed my second pregnancy would be twins so I could get two in less time.
But I always remind myself I'm lucky to have ONE given the IF.

My hubby would have been happy with zero. He was one of five!

One major creepy reason I wanted more than one and as many as possible is I have this irrational fear of losing a child. It's horrible to say, but I would want to die if I had one kid and something took him from me and it was too late to have another.
caramama said…
@hush - Got both comments! I want to live in your perfect world! Wouldn't that place be nice? And yes, my SIL is totally awesome and very funny!

What do I see when I look at other families with 3 kids? I'm not exactly sure. What I think is, "Oh, three kids! Wow that must be hard. But wouldn't it be nice to have three?" That is probably literally what I think everytime I see a fam with three. I don't see some perfect image that is not reality. And the thoughts I have are usually when I see families with three older, school-aged kids--past the crazy hardness of babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers.

I think it's kind of like the project management position I would like to work towards. I don't think it'll be an easy job, there is a whole load of responsibility, it would take a lot more work than what I'm doing now. But I want that position. Not today, but I want it in my future. I think I'll be good at it, and I think I will enjoy it, even with all the difficulties. That's how I think of having three kids.

Hmmm... that was interesting! I have never thought about it that way before!

@z - "there's something about 3 that is very alluring." That's a good word for it! My concern with waiting another year before TTC again is that by that point it will likely seem too hard to start over completely. In fact, that's probably what my hubby is banking on. And we'd have to wait another year, cause we are not ready, financially and otherwise, to have one sooner than that.

@Charisse - I think it's fantastic that your girl has fulfilled your entire desire for children. She sounds like such an amazing girl, and I'm betting you three have a very special relationship with each other. One child is the perfect amount for many people!

@Katie - Yeah for 18 weeks! That is so neat that your amazing birth made you want to start again right away. I can't even imagine that!

@geeks in rome - I also kind of wished I was pregnant with twins my last pregnancy, because then Londo and I wouldn't argue about 2 or 3, it would have (hopefully) been 3. And considering we had to use meds and treatment, it was a high possibility. But we were very relieved when it was a singleton. Cause I've seen how hard twins are--see SIL's comment above!

And I totally hear you about the fear of losing a child. That has often come to mind for me. But then, what if you lose two children? Or more? How many do you have to ensure your progeny survive to adulthood? It's a slippery slope of fear, and one I have to stop my mind from going down. Especially since I'm 100% positive I don't want to try for more than three (barring any multiples when trying for a third).
sheSaidC2 said…
We said pre kids, no more than can fit in a car I am willing to drive... and I like small cars so 2. Then we had matthew and wow I wished I could be done. He was the kind of kid that made me only want one. But I am an only child and really feel I miss out on sibling relationship, but have such a one on one relationship with each parent....

But we still planned we thought to have 2. but I felt guilty trying. Like I hated the first year WHY would I choose to do that again. So we decided to wait... and then found out I was pregnant and had just started grad school. I was unhappy for months.

When I see three adult grown children, I want that. And I saw my cousins together as teens and it seemed so cool of a relationship. But if I survive this year I will be lucky! All the maternity clothes are leaving the house this week!

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