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The Unexpected: Now We're Having Three Kids

An "oops" can definitely become one the best things that's happened to us, right? But what if in your all your careful planning you realize that you will soon be a family of 5 rather than 4?  A freaked-out mama needs your advice. And please, please remember the rules of engagement of being respectful, and careful not to pass judgment.  This mama writes and wants to know what it's like having three kids:

So, my husband and I spent the weekend realizing we are pregnant with our third...a definite oops.  I hope you all had much more relaxing weekends!  I was the one hesitant to pursue permanent methods of birth control and just last week (no kidding) decided I was getting an IUD right after the kids start school.  Right now, our heads are spinning with all kinds of thoughts...like, how could we be so stupid as to let this happen?  Isn't this pretty environmentally irresponsible of us (we've been entertaining the idea of an electric car, but it's looking much more like a minivan for crying out loud!!)?  Basically, we are so happy with our two and things are seeming much more manageable these days than they have for a long time (our kids are 7 and 3).  Basics like keeping the house clean and biggies like taking trips (all our family lives on the east coast) and going back to work seemed feasible, finally.  I haven't worked for pay since we moved here 8 years ago (2 months before our son was born) so I was really ready for some intellectual stimulation and professional (not to mention financial) gratification.  Not that working is impossible with three kids, but I haven't even done it yet with one kid, much less a newborn, and how hard (and expensive) must it be to find really good care for three?  I'm not even sure I can take care of three yet!

I keep coming back to the thing I've heard countless times...three is so much harder than two!  Three is such a huge adjustment!  You're always outnumbered...you have to switch from man-to-man defense to zone defense (OK, this is the only sports metaphor I've ever used in my life).  And from different people lately, we've each gotten this bit of advice: If you have another, you can't just have one more, you've got to keep it even by having two more; three is just too hard because someone always feels left out.  By the way, we are both disregarding that thing about having four...no way.  But all the stuff we've heard about the difficult adjustment to three is making me even more nervous.  My husband has mentioned, "You know, you don't have to go through with this...we could make an appointment..." but I think I'm likely to regret that in the future.

So, I guess I'm looking for your experience about having a third, or about unintended pregnancies...or whatever ya got that's helpful!  I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, but other people's stories often help!

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Take a deep breath! One more...and again. It's going to be FINE!

First, my story in brief: We'd always intended to have three, but we did not plan on them coming when they did -- our girls were 3.5 and 15 months when we found out about #3. I was a bit freaked, and my husband literally was speechless for half an hour after I gave him the news.

I'm not going to say it was a piece of cake, but it was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. After all, you've done this twice before! The infant thing goes blessedly (and sadly!) fast with the third because you're just so busy. We're now well into the toddler stage with our third, and while the chaos has been amped up a bit, our family is much happier than before -- and I thought we were darn happy with just two! The girls dote on their brother, and he adores them and saves his biggest smiles and deepest belly laughs just for them. I think the idea that with three someone is always left out -- and that that's a bad thing -- is just a fallacy. It's how you teach your children to deal with the lot they're given in life (whether it's no siblings or ten, living in luxury or struggling to get by) that will make them stronger, more resilient people as they reach adulthood.

Oh, and I've gotta address your sustainability concerns because that drives me CRAZY: it's actually more sustainable to have three children in one house than three houses with one each -- sharing clothes, toys, baths, etc. happens a lot! (And, no I'm not condemning people with only children...I'm celebrating the fact that we can choose how many children to have!) Plus, with the ages of your kids, you absolutely do NOT have to get a minivan. We can fit a booster and two convertible seats into the back of our Subaru station wagon, and by the time this baby is born, your three-year-old will probably be close to a booster -- most any car will fit your entire family.

I've always worked full-time, and even spent this last year with three in daycare four days a week. It was a budget-stretcher, that's for sure, but doable. And I've deeply valued my time away from the kids -- there's no doubt in my mind that it has made me a better, more patient mother. But if you can put off your back-to-work plans for another year or two, that's great, too. In the grand scheme of things, what's a year?

Travel is hard, and we just don't do it. Too expensive, too exhausting, and family lives nowhere I really want to go! We've limited our trips to camping and other Pacific NW stuff for now...but once we get another one out of daycare and in school, I think we'll get back to our more distant travels. For now, family comes to us.

I hope that addresses some of your concerns...I know a little how you feel, since that third pregnancy was a shocker to us, too. But I cannot imagine life without our little guy. He is absolutely the final piece to the puzzle that is our family, and I can only conclude that he was meant to be with us.

Good luck with everything.

Actually, I'd always heard that two was the toughest and that three was easier than two. I guess that just goes to show that it's all based on your perspective. Good luck, and don't worry too much. Three is a lucky number.

First, relax a little bit. You will do fine. I think it's normal to freak out, since your lives as a foursome will change. But, your 7yr old (who will be closer to 8 if not 8 already) when the baby is born will be reasonable self sufficient, so it wont be like you have 3 babies. Let the 7 yr old help you out a little with small things. And think of your youngest? he'll be 4 or almost 4 when the new baby comes,so although all your children will need attention, the older two can keep themselves busy and that will allow you to "take turns" in giving specific attention to each child.
You can do it! Be happy! This is exciting!!! Everything will be okay.

So I don't have three, just one. But, oh man, was it ever a shocking suprise when I found out that I was pregnant. I was finsishing up my undergrad and had plans in motion to set off on an international internship after which I was applying for graduate school. Well I was startled when I found out I was pregnant. I am pro-choice but can't personally see myself making that choice. Life isn't what you plan it to be it is what happens. I adapted. Noah is the bonus. I can still do all the things that I was planning, just in a different way and a different time plan and now I also get a richer life becuase I have my son!!!! Whatever choice you make is the right one but do know that it is doable and there is lots of support out there for the hard times. Good luck.

We have three, our oldest was 9 and youngest five when number three was born. In some ways it has been hard yes, but not a day goes by that we don't reflect on how glad we all are that we have our youngest around. She entertains us all, the older kids love her so much, many an evening is spent with all of us lying on my king bed playing with Maddie, and laughing. It has been so neat to watch the older two want to take care of her, although sometimes I think she must feel like she has 4 parents. I would never never change or go back to just having two, even if it is a bit tiring and expensive. lastly, we did things so differently this time with more experience under our belts, she has always seemed so easy to us, but I think we are just much more well-adjusted parents this time around.Everyone keeps telling me "three is the new two" and, I would have to agree. Our little party of five seems perfect and complete to me. Good luck!

OK, take a breath. A big, long deep breath. It WILL be OK.

Ultimately, you have to do what feels right for your family. However, I'll share our story, too, since three has been a huge blessing for us.

We had always planned on 2 kids. We bought a car and a house that would accommodate 2 kids. We started a college savings plan with two kids in mind even before number 1 came along. Number 1 came along, and when she celebrated her first birthday, we decided to try for a little sibling to make our family complete. When she was just 14 months old, I found out was was pregnant, not with one sibling, but with two. I couldn't think about it. The entire 9 months I was pregnant, I knew I was pregnant with twins, but couldn't really get my head around it. My mind would start on the "How are we going to do this" line of thought...being outnumbered, having 3 babies, 3 toddlers, 3 teenagers, 3 to send to college, a house and a car that are too small...I'd turn my mind off and distract myself onto something else. People would ask if we were ready, the sleeping arrangements, etc, and I would look a bit dumbfounded and say, "We'll figure it out when they get here."

I literally did not believe it until those babies were in my arms in the hospital.

The first 6-8 months were hard. Almost impossibly hard. But that is already a fading memory. The kiddos are 3, 1, and 1 right now. We have three toddlers, and most times are truly chaotic in this house. But you know what? I couldn't imagine my life any other way. All three have such distinct personalities. I love them all to bits, and I certainly wouldn't choose to send one back if I could. I would have missed out on so much if I didn't have these three little cuties in my life.

We have adjusted. All three kids share one bedroom. Guess what -- they love it! They share toys, and we bathe them all together. They all play together. They search for one another when they aren't in the same room. I do hate our HUGE car, and I'll be first in line to turn it in when they graduate to booster seats, but in the meantime, we deal with it. We walk more and drive less.

The added chaos is tough, but doable. You'll have built in helpers with your older two, and without a doubt the third is usually "easier". You've been though it before so you worry less about the little "kid stuff".

If you want/need to work, that's doable too. I have a nanny that watches our kids part time while I work in a home office.

If you decide to have the baby, you can rest assured that all the pieces will fall into place. it may not be the life you imagined/planned, but most likely it won't be as scary as you expect it to be. If you decide not to have the baby, that's OK too. You have to do what is right for your family. I wish you the best of luck!

I have one son, so can not comment on how easy or difficult three would be. But I can say that my son needs his parents as entertainment virtually every waking hour. It has taken us lots of time and practice to get him to entertain himself! :) Sometimes, we ask my nieces to stay over just to give us a break. Also, my husband was an unexpected third child. His family obviously couldn't imagine life without him and neither can I! I know life changed for his parents when he came along, but all I hear are the wonderful parts.

As they say, "life is what happens when you're busy making plans..." My parents have told all of us kids (5 total, 2 of which were adopted) that none of us were really planned for! I've always liked the idea of having 3 kids. My two kids are frankly kicking my butt these days, so who knows if we'll end up at 3 someday. I know someone who recently had her 3rd (surprise!) baby and although she's only a matter of months into the experience, she recently said she has no idea why or how she ever thought this was going to be a bad idea. The entire family seems to be enjoying that baby, and really enjoying him, not just surviving if you know what I mean. Good luck to you and your family!

First of all, I wish you much peace as you navigate this unexpected turn of events. As others have stated, you will make the best decision for your family. And whatever you decide, in the long run, it will be ok.

As one of three, I can state that I found it difficult. There were a lot of fights over stuff and parental attention, and the last piece of cake just naturally does not divide in three. It was always me and my older brother against my little sister. Financially, in terms of college, it was a struggle. (The car thing wasn't difficult, since back in those carseat-less days we could just cram into the backseat any which way).

I remember my childhood as incredibly chaotic with the three of us. On the other hand, my mother recently told me she really wanted to go for four (but my father put his foot down). So who knows.

I think it really comes down to what you want. What you think would be best. I imagine that this is one of the most difficult positions to be in, as a parent. Good luck to you.

First of all, congratulations!
I believe everything happens to us for a reason...(a more cosmic reason than just your birth-control method failing)so maybe it wasn't just a coincidence that you got pregnant right before you decided to get "fixed"????
You're head will stop spinning so much soon, and it will be easier for you to wrap your mind around having another baby. Your oldest is old enough to be a big help with the two younger kids...I had just turned seven when my brother was born, and my mom relied on me a lot to help her out, and I enjoyed the responsibility.
So, take the advise of everyone else on here and take a deep breath! It will be okay.
Best wishes to you and your family!

We currently have twins, almost 3 yrs old and are thinking about a third, and I struggle with the same issues about family size, travel, cars. But my aunt once told me that your third child is the one get to do best since you have already had 2 times to practice. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is the best child, but that you will have a lot of parenting under your belt and more experience to pull from.)Congratulations and good luck!

I agree with all this positive advise :) Breathe, etc... I'm not sure I agree with the left out middle child theory. It's more like you have to work the hardest with the personality that is most incompatible with your own (that's what I struggle with at least). Give yourself, and your life lots of grace, just like you give it to your children. Changing your personal timeline is really not the worst thing in the world, when you think about all the awesome things you can fill the next couple of years with. Sometimes it's good with the cosmos force us to slow down and redo our plans! :) You're gonna have fun-- more kids = more love and hugs and fun! When it comes down to it, that stuff that warms your heart is more important than the stuff that cools the o-zone ;)

My third baby turned 4 months old today. His brothers are 6 and 4.

DH and I always knew we'd have 3 kids, but we were thinking #3 wasn't going to make his appearance for a few more years. Oops.

It was harder going from 1 to 2, than from 2 to 3. We already had a system in place, as far as cleaning, cooking, day-to-day stuff. So, yeah, the washer/dryer are literally ALWAYS running (of course, one load a day now is cloth diapers), the kids are always crazy, something is always on the brink of disaster, and I wouldn't change a thing.

But it is tough. My older boys were just becoming a little more self-reliant, which meant more Mom-time. That doesn't exist right now. Some days, I'm lucky if I eat more than the crust from the kids pb&js. There's no napping when the baby naps, that time is reserved for dishes, laundry, making dinner, etc. (not showers, those are so low priority right now, maybe 3-4 a week?).

It's stressful. The older ones want to go to the park? Nope...baby's sleeping/nursing, they have to wait. The 3 carseats barely fit in the back of our Ford Focus wagon. It's so tight I think the seats would hold themselves in, even without the seat belts. The lack of my eating has led to huge milk production issues, to the point that I'm constantly popping fenugreek, and still I need to supplement with formula. Not the end of the world, but I was trying to avoid it.

And yet...this baby is my favorite baby. Not my favorite child necessarily, but having done the baby thing twice already, I don't worry about him as much, I just am enjoying his babyhood. With my first, I was so worried I was doing something wrong, while simultaneously looking forward to the next stage ("I can't wait until he walks/talks/etc."), whereas now I am just having fun with my little man, because I know he'll be doing all that stuff way too soon.

I was worried the 3rd baby would be neglected, just by virtue of the fact that there's only one mama. But those times when he starts crying right when I get to a crucial part of cooking dinner--well, at least one, if not both, of his brothers will run over to him and try to soothe him. I realize now, he's probably the luckiest baby, because he has 4 people who dote on him.

Being one of 3 myself, I never felt neglected by my parents, and as a teenager, I took full advantage of the fact that there were only two parents and 3 of us. I also think that growing up and not always having the undivided attention of the parents is not so bad--I like to think it helped me learn how to be a little more self-reliant and industrious.

Plus, now we have a tie-breaker. Sometimes, the 4 of us who can speak will sit around and try to decide what movie to watch or where we are going out to eat (yeah, that stuff still happens), and it's usually 2 of us wanting X and the other 2 wanting Y. Of course, baby will probably choose Z. :)

As the mother of a 3 1/2 year old, 2 year old and 8 month old (yes that was 3 kids in 3 years), I have to say our family feels complete. We are in the midst of all the craziness that 3 children bring - but think of this perspecitive- babyhood, toddlerhood, preteens, etc are all phases of life - your children will be adults longer than they are children, and if you are lucky you will get to enjoy all of it. Travel, take in the world, who cares if it is hard to get out the front door, who cares what other people think, love them and you will be rewarded ijn the end. They will ultimately have lives without you - how lucky they will be to have each other.

Dear brave mamas,
Just a little perspective from a #3 child herself (and a mom)... I was the third daughter; my sisters were 7 and 20 months when I was born. how much I have learned from and loved my sisters through the years! What would I do without them? We were seldom bored, and wow, did I learn to share... And my parents went on to have #4, my brother, when I was almost 7 (according to my mom, we were all oopses)! We are a very close family even today (I'm now 31)... and to show that it wasn't miserable for any of us, my sisters both have 3 kids (one is about to have her 4th!), and I am also considering 3 as well. Why not?

Good luck, mama - I hope you write us back and let us know how you are doing...

I dont know if this is helpful or self indulgent. I always thought I would have 2 and then when my son was 3 I divorced his father. I am coming to terms with the reality that most likely I wont have another child due to my age and my status as single. So although this isnt what I thought it would be I am recognizing the sweetness of just having one. Its not what I imagined when I thought of having a family but there is a sense that works for our family of 2. So I can appreciate your sentiment of surprise. I dont have an epiphany for you. Just want to pass along support and I guess a positive perspective of the unexpected yet affirmative aspects of parenting that we encounter and embrace.

Good luck finding a sense of balance and peace.

Congratulations! I can honestly say that I have no advice to contribute...I am the mother of 2 girls, ages 3 and 19 months. But I have really enjoyed reading this post...All but one of my close friends with 2 have gone on to have a 3rd. And my husband wants a 3rd as well....in short, I am feeling a bit of pressure. And I have been the one who is not so sure....I myself was from a family of 2 children, so it is a bit foreign to me! All the posts are very encouraging.....

our 3 feels like our own little tribe-we absolutely love it-and-have never owned a minivan or suv, never will! we love our old (1990) 3rd seater-volvo. we had an only child for 5 years before having our second, and then another 5 before having our 3rd. sometimes i wish they were closer in age, but all in all i think the space is fine.

wow, I know that feeling! been there twice! We have 4 kids, 1 boy and 3 girls ages 5yrs, 3yrs, 2yrs and 1yr. I think i cried and was freaked out during the entire pregnancy. Once our child number 3 arrived, i took one look at her and I found myself calm. My husband jokes that we are a walking party. The kids are great, they play together and are great at sharing. its our bedtime routine that is still out of wack. :) coffee is my best friend! :)

We have never thought that life would be easier if we didn't have the last two oops. we do know that we can't have more.

i know its not an easy choice either way, only you know what is best for you and your family.

I recently had the oops freak out. Just when I was ready to go back to work after being a SAHM with the first one I found out that the tears and indigestion was not PMS or a spicy meal but baby #2. It took me the whole PG and 5 days in the hospital to realize what I was in for. I,of course, can not imagine it now any other way.

I agree with the previous post that encourages help from the older kids. I have 3 younger siblings and I remember helping when they were born I was 6,8,and 10. It makes the older ones realize there is room for everone in a family!

I wish you and your family the best, cars can be replaced, houses bought or added on to, new babies, planned or not are really a once in a lifetime opportunity!

This is probably a question better answered by my mother, than by me, since I was an "oops" that came 9 years after her third boy. I know..she's amazing. So personally, I always love the "oops" stories, since I owe my life to my parents deciding not to go with an abortion (which had just been legalized right before she found out she was pg).

My friends who've gone the three kid route (which is a notion we're toying with currently) said that actually, the third kid wasn't nearly as big an adjustment as going from one kid to two. They tell me the third was just taken in stride and added to the joy and love in the family. Holidays and vacations are a little busier, but a lot more fun with all the different personalities in the mix.

What I do, and am doing as we are thinking about the possibility of a third, is try to picture yourself 30 years from now...at a family reunion....surrounded by your kids and possibly their kids. What does it look like? Do you have any big regrets? Or are you happy with the decisions you made?

I have a sneaking suspicion you've already made a decision? :) Just the feeling I get from your note. Sometimes the decisions that cause a little fear, end up being the most rewarding in the end. And remember, you're a mom....and mom's are truly the most resilient people around -- aside from our kids, that is! Whatever your decision, I feel for you and wish you the best!

Congratulations! Having 3 kids has been a wonderful experience for me and my partner. We have a son (6), a daughter (3) and our newest daughter (4 months). I completely agree with the previous posts that going from one kid to two is much more difficult than two kids to three. Your time is already split, so two to three seems much smoother, it is just on a different scale. Our lives are so full now. We are busy busy busy. There is always a load of laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to cook, pictures to draw, poop to clean up, hair to brush, toenails to trim, etc. But that is really no different than when we had two kids, again it is just a little more intense. I think the biggest adjustment has been getting everyone ready to leave the house. The time seems to have doubled than what it was before.

The other advice I would have is if you can manage staying home either full or part time with your new #3, then do it! Don't figure it all out on paper how it will work, because it doesn't work on paper. I began staying at home when #3 came along and on paper it is impossible that we meet our bills, but somehow we seem to do okay.

Good luck and again, congratulations!!

after a brief scare last month for #4 (whew...), this was a timely post. i'm going for my yearly next month and plan to ask about essure (another post, perhaps??) as my man won't consider the big V (don't ask, it's apparently an emasculation thing that i don't get).

i wasn't sure about expanding our family to 5 (our second daughter was an ummmm.... challenge), but we did 3 years ago, and honestly, i can't imagine our family without him. i agree with the previous posts that the transition to 3 is much easier than from 1-2. it's amazing to see the three playing in different combinations: the oldest and youngest play much differently than the oldest and middle or the middle and youngest. i also find that spending individual time is much easier with 3 because 2 can be playing together while i hang with the other...our kids adore having a couple playmates to choose from as well.

and the van thing....well, we all fit in the subaru, but the eurovan rocks for roadtrips and camping. and what could be better for the environment than raising conscientious children??

working has been a gradual change, but i found taking a class/job or two in the evening and taking time for myself has been invaluable. part time work (i'm a college professor) has saved me some sanity and reserved that little bit of professionalism until the little guy was in preschool.

it's all about balance. good luck, friend.

I am a 3rd "ooops" child-my sister was 5 months old when my parents got pregnant with me.We have 2 (5yrs and 5 months)but Im pretty sure a 3rd is in our future as well.You are going to love that little baby so much and just think how wonderful it will be to have the possibility of even more grandkids someday!

I was completely devastated and depressed when I found out I was pregnant with #3 - it was a total oops and I spent the first 12 weeks being sick and tired and depressed and a little resentful. My older kids were 4 and 2 at the time - but by the time my beautiful baby boy was born (he is 7 months now) I couldn't imagine not having him in our family. His brother and sister adore him and he gets TONS of attention. I think having the 3rd baby was definitely the easiest, and I agree with one of the earlier persons who said that her 3rd was her favorite baby - you aren't worried about anything and you can just enjoy them without being in a rush. It's already going too fast!
I sometimes feel guilty that I was so upset, and yes, I did consider for a moment or two not continuing the pregnancy. But now I know that he was always supposed to be a part of our family, we just didn't know it! He is loved and adored and he makes our family complete.
Relax and enjoy. This baby is a blessing!! There are no accidents.

Whether you have one or two or three, none of that is easy. As mothers, we all multi-task out the kazoo and run ourselves rampant. If you have one child, you bend over backwards answering your child's every beckoning need, with two, you constantly try to make #1 feel included and are very sensitive to their emotions in dealing with #2. With three, well, you realize they will be just fine and (at least in our situation) are very much more relaxed about it all, even though it is insane and crazy and we are outnumbered, etc. Honestly, it's such a very short time that they are little, so why not?

We didn't plan on having 3. I became pregnant unexpectedly, we freaked out, then became very very excited, then I lost the baby, then we chose to adopt. And it's all pretty wonderful. So no worries!

Hey there: Just wanted to lend my support, having recently had a scare with what would have been #3. In the end, I wasn't pregnant, but I had the experience of walking around with my girl in the backpack (16 months) and my boy next to me (4.5) pleading with the universe not to "bless" me with another. So I completely understand the way you feel. I had the surreal experience of scarfing down folic acid supplements while researching how the RU486 pill or whatever it is works -- didn't know which way I was going to go for a while there. In the end, I felt like I didn't have it in me to terminate a pregnancy, given my positive experience with both the births and young lives of my children so far, but the experience gave me a huge empathy for women who are put in the position to make such a decision. I agree with previous posters who talk about how the change in your life from no kids to a baby is much more dramatic than going from 1 kid to more kids. I wish you the best of luck and hope you and your family are well.

We debated forever about whether or not to have #3, decided finally to take the leap (after being SURE we were done) and now can't believe we ever even debated! We have a 7,4, and 1 month old, and although we are obviously only 1 month into this, we are all totally smitten with our little guy. Of course there is lots of craziness, but it is all so sweet ... and our family of 5 is perfect for us. We did decide to get the "family car", and we probably won't take a plane trip for awhile. We will spend a lot on childcare (we both work full time). But we have no doubts that having #3 was the best decision we ever made!

i'm a mama of three boys -- 6, 3 and 13 months -- and i have to say that i love having three kids. oh, it's hard. it's extremely hard, and no more so when the baby is very young. you seem as if you may be in a really great place to have #3, though, with your older kids a little bit self-sufficient; changing two kids' diapers at once is not fun, and lately i've been doing a lot of holding my toddler away from the toilet with one foot while i wipe his brother's poopy bottom. while shouting to my six-year-old that i'll find him the tape in JUST A MINUTE!

but having three is a way to suss out what's really important. i think the thing i missed as a mama of two was really savoring everything about my children, and really being present with them. i have no choice as a mama of three. i have to carefully consider everything i'm doing, from who i'm letting sit on my lap and for how long, to whether or not i'm being even-handed with the treats, to how many things we *really* need to do outside the house. i find myself saying 'no' over, and over, and over again (or saying 'yes' and not making good) when i'm invited to birthday parties and casual shindigs outside my neighborhood and routines. we decided not to start swimming lessons for our six-year-old this year, mostly because no parent had the bandwidth to go with him, alone; i think we'll try and teach them all three in one fell swoop in a couple of years. we embrace activities that include *everyone*, like family biking (the littles can ride on mama's bike while the big one rides his own bike) and our radius gets smaller and smaller all the time. family has to come to us, and most often, they do; although we've spent less time with grandma and grandpa this past year, for which i'm continuously sad.

i think that having three is most rewarding when you can let go of your expectations and plans and just enjoy the interaction of your children with your life; sometimes for a fleeting moment i feel resentful that i can't do something extravagant and lovely, like plan a trip to see my sister and new baby niece in panama, because it's absolutely impossible to afford tickets for all five of us. but i'm saving that amazing trip for when my children are older (i hope); for now i don't have to run around frantically planning relaxation and excitement, i can just *be* with them, spending my energy and focus on making sourdough bread and really great strawberry jam and figuring out what books we should read next.

when everything comes into place, when you've got three little ones sitting next to each other on a picnic table eating pancakes you made together, or when all three are tumbling around on the floor in giggles and silliness, or at night when all three conk out on the same bed, sprawled in exhausted asymmetry, it's hard not to just want to keep conceiving until you've discovered every possible way perfection can be created with two people's genes.

and i love the concept of living lightly and efficiently with several children in one household.

I just wanted to chime in.....i have two boys and when they were 5 and 2, i had an oops. My 5yrold was headed to kindergarten in a few months and my 2yr old was having a hard time. I was so sad and sick and resentful. Then I got sicker. I had to make the toughest decision of my life. I could not take care of my family and my husband did not make enough money for someone to help us out. After spending two weeks in bed, too sick to stand and definitely too sick to eat or take care of anything, I had to terminate the pregnancy. I think about that baby almost once every hour of every day. I have guilt and heartache that I know I will live with my entire life. If I wouldn't have been so sick, i know it would have been wonderful to have three children. I wish you the best.

Oh man, it's tough getting pregnant when you're not planning it. What a shock that must be.

I'd like to invite you over to my place -- www.HavingThreeKids.com -- where there are lots of other moms struggling with unexpected third pregnancies, deciding whether to have a third kid, and discussing pretty much all things Three.

Good luck to you, and hang in there.

Thank you all so much for your kind words and for taking the time to tell me your stories! I've been reading them all along and it has been truly helpful. In fact, soon after you guys started responding, I reached the point where I just couldn't freak out anymore, so that was definite progress. Now I'm more in denial about it...except for the fact that I'm so tired and so hungry and my boobs hurt so much!

I still haven't made any definite decisions about this, but I can't actually see myself ending the pregnancy. After reading all your stories, I feel we CAN do it...but I'm still not sure whether it's the smartest idea. Since we moved here 8 years ago, my husband and I have both struggled with anxiety/depression, exacerbated by lack of community, work/life imbalance, and identity issues (for me, that is...I have been totally focused on kids so I feel completely one-dimensional). Extending the "little kid" phase of life seems like it would only intensify those problems, unless we can figure out a way to do it differently this time. Maybe that will be the gift of this pregnancy/child...figuring out a better way to do this? I'll have to figure that out if I want to be sane, I think. My kids have never even had a freakin' babysitter! Just in case you wonder how far from sane I am right now. :)

I really do appreciate each and every comment. You guys are awesome!

Thank you all so much for your kind words and for taking the time to tell me your stories! I've been reading them all along and it has been truly helpful. In fact, soon after you guys started responding, I reached the point where I just couldn't freak out anymore, so that was definite progress. Now I'm more in denial about it...except for the fact that I'm so tired and so hungry and my boobs hurt so much!

I still haven't made any definite decisions about this, but I can't actually see myself ending the pregnancy. After reading all your stories, I feel we CAN do it...but I'm still not sure whether it's the smartest idea. Since we moved here 8 years ago, my husband and I have both struggled with anxiety/depression, exacerbated by lack of community, work/life imbalance, and identity issues (for me, that is...I have been totally focused on kids so I feel completely one-dimensional). Extending the "little kid" phase of life seems like it would only intensify those problems, unless we can figure out a way to do it differently this time. Maybe that will be the gift of this pregnancy/child...figuring out a better way to do this? I'll have to figure that out if I want to be sane, I think. My kids have never even had a freakin' babysitter! Just in case you wonder how far from sane I am right now. :)

I really do appreciate each and every comment. You guys are awesome!

I had an "oops" last month, as well. I have two boys, 4 and 16 months. I was completely heartsick about it and it was the toughest decision of my life. I ultimately decided to end the pregnancy. Some may feel this is selfish, but I like/need to have time for myself, and it's really important to me to have a career (on hold now with two little ones). I do feel sadness, but I also want time to be the kind of parent I want to be for my two boys and to also have the time to do things that are important to me (ie; exercise, read the newspaper, spend time with my husband, garden, see friends, etc...)

I just found out that I am pregnant with #3 a couple of hours ago. And I must say that reading all of your posts has been an incredible source of comfort and encouragement. I have two girls, 4 1/2 and 15 months. I felt sure that 2 was enough and that was all that our family was meant to be. You see my first daughter was an oopsie. But I spent the whole 9 months of my pregnancy with her in near depression... but as soon as I held her in my arms for the first time I was overcome with a gratefulness to God. He knew what I wanted and needed in my life more than I ever could have. Wow. 4 1/2 years later I can not imagine a life without my precious girl. She is a delight. So #2 was carefully planned and anticipated. It actually took us longer to get pregnant with her than we expected... but we were overjoyed. She is just getting to a stage where she can walk/communicate/feed herself... etc. And now... just as things were really starting to look good, life was getting easier... wham... it is back to baby stage again. BUT..... this time I already know that I will have those same feelings about #3 when they are born. It just is a shock... But thank you all for your posts. They have brought me great comfort tonight.

I wonder what Freaked Out Mama decided to do afterall (interestingly there is no update)... but I do know that many people with similar situation actually go ahead and terminate their pregnancy. Very tough choice, but you have to always remember your financial, emotional, and physical situation when you made that choice. Of course no one says "I wish I had less children after you meet them", but that early phase is a very gray area for most of us where you don't really feel a connection.
Some interesting facts to consider: 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned and 60% of women seeking abortion already have children.
So... we're out there and guilty to admit that we turned out just fine. We love our kids, want the best for them (including a happy mom and a college education) and will do whatever we can to maintain a stable and happy environment for them. :-)

I want to lend support to the women who decided to terminate their third pregnancy. Like one mother said, she ultimately lost her third but gained a new empathy for mothers who are put in those circumstances. I love my children more than I can describe and they were the first ones that I thought of when that pregnancy test showed positive 6 months after my 40th birthday. My husband had a vasectomy but we think that due to scar tissues issues from previous surgeries in that area that it obscured the "clipping"..over a year later there we were..pregnant. My poor husband scheduled vasectomy number two. We are hanging on by a thread in this horrible economy..money from grandparents are the reason my 11-year old daughter can still follow her 'dance' dream and talents...and that my 7 year-old son can continue the taekwondo that he is so proud to accomplish at each belt level. When I saw that positive pregnancy test I suddenly had a vision of my daughter expanding down a long hallway out of my reach like in a movie or two we have all seen. She's going to middle school for Pete's sake and the reality is I will not have the time for her during this critical transition if I am exhausted and tending to a newborn. And yes age 40 is a big deal..trust me you don't bounce back from anything like you used to...sleep deprivation, reaction time, cognitive issues, physical issues. Let's not kid ourselves, all those movie stars are millionaires with nannies. Plus I want to reach out to all the older moms out there who feel the stress crashing down on them of age and all the new stresses that it brings when considering pregnancy and children..genetic problems so subtle they can't be tested for.. Yes, they exist and research is finding more and more that the father's age plays as much if not more of a role than mother's age in some cases. Many defects aren't discovered until after first trimester or at all for that matter. FYI ladies, after first trimester, society tosses you aside if you are considering abortion. You feel like an outcast..very high cost for the procedure..basically no insurance will cover it..or find an abortion provider for that matter. So let's say I move along through another pregnancy and at 41 years old deliver a disabled child or one who goes on to develop autism or some other condition and then my attention is suddenly shifted away from my other children to this third child who needs my undivided attention. Years of pushing the others aside..constant stresses in all areas. Who will care for this child once my husband and I are gone..my first two children? This is a real possibility due to our ages. My children never asked for this. For me it was just too much to risk and the irony is that so many women are told that abortion is a selfish choice. But what if you make the choice because you are protecting the children you already have? I will always fight for them even if I am being judged at the Golden Gates. Do we get a new "name" then? Until our society stops thinking in absolutes we will never find peace and compromise in our politics. But I will lie if I tell you that I am not still haunted by my decision every day and I find myself scouring the internet looking for justification for my decision. I wish I could find peace and see the 'gray' area of early pregnancy more clearly like another mother was describing. I hope the best for everyone. Hug your children every day.

To the last person who commented, I want to provide encouragement and to find the peace you are needing, you can turn to the Lord Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace and will wrap you in his heavenly arms with comfort. Invite him into your life. Ask him to be your savior. He is waiting and hoping you will. He WILL provide the peace you need and he understands all that you have been through. (And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6)). He also provides total forgiveness if you ask, for all areas of our lives. Also, unconditional love. He will bring you peace. Take care and God bless. And yes,the Bible does talk about getting a new name in heaven.

"A cord of three strands is not
easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though this verse applies to marriage and ones relationship with Christ in it, it also is giving me peace about going from two children to three. I'm hoping the children will be stronger and happier together as three.

I have 2 kids currently and am sooooo curious about how you fare when your 3rd is born. Please update for that. My children are about the same ages as yours and we are considering having more, but we are a little apprehensive about it. My daughter is 8 1/2 and my son is 2 1/2. I haven't found any blogs or people out there in the world to talk to about having 3 or more with an age difference like my kids have. Most people with 3 or more have them about 2 years apart. And since having 2 kids that are 6 years apart was very different than people who had their 2 kids 2 years apart, I can only assume that the differences will be just as great with 3 or more children. Please let me know how it all works out! I'll be checking back here to see. I wish you the best of luck and a nice calm pregnancy. =)

To wanting3mom, I have a 16 yo, an 8 yo and a 3 yo. I really enjoy the space between each because it gives me time to spend one on one with each toddler. I feel like my teenager has a warm, family environment to come home to, and responsibility to grow from. The 8 yo has a younger one to play with and an older one to take him places and the 3 yo experiences less older sib anger because the older two are old enough to reason with.

Most of the challenges usually come from exterior to our home, the childcare that will take some but not all the children, the vacations that fit some but not all the children, the 1st grade that gets out at naptime...

One thing that cuts both ways: it's unlikely you'll find another family set up like yours.

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