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How Many Kids Are Right for Your Family?

Melanie at

I can still remember walking through lower Manhattan just months into dating my now-husband and discussing what we thought we each wanted for our respective futures. Since we were dreaming big, I told him that I wanted three kids. He balked at that and said he wanted no more than two. At the time, we agreed to disagree, but I remember joking with him that if we stayed together, we’d eventually have to reach an agreement.

And here we are, 11 years later, pregnant with our third child. I have no idea what life is going to be like with three kids. Overwhelming, chaotic, loud, terrifying… and hopefully just right for our family.

Our first son, Ben, was a really tough baby—or maybe I just had a really hard time being his mom. Either way, once he was in our lives, I really couldn’t understand why people ever had more than one child; the thought was literally repulsive. Fortunately, we all turned a corner when he turned a year old, and eventually our second son came along a year after that. And while having two made me realize in retrospect just how easy having one actually was, I still wanted a third child, while my husband felt like we were D.O.N.E. making babies.

It’s only now, three years after our second son was born and many, many painful discussions later, that we’re both happy to be adding to our family for a third (and final) time. For my part, I had (and still have) a really hard time articulating why I wanted another child. Both my husband and I each have just one other sibling apiece, so we started on even ground coming from identical family sizes. I guess I have just always wanted three kids—maybe because I enjoy the chaos of lots of family around (something I rarely had as a kid, with divorced parents and just one younger brother). Maybe part of it is really enjoying pregnancy and breastfeeding (although I realize that babies are eventually born, grow up and wean, so it’s not like either of those stages is permanent or even particularly long-lasting). Maybe part of my current desire for three goes back to losing my mom almost three years ago; her suffering (from breast cancer) and death led my brother and me to become much closer, but it also felt like a tremendous load to share just between the two of us. Would another sibling have made it any easier? I don’t know—maybe just the opposite—but either way the experience made me realize that much more just how important our nuclear family is to me. 

For my husband’s part, he worries about the practical side of things. Where would we fit another child (our older two will have to share a room, once the baby moves out of our bedroom)? Will we need a bigger car? How will having another child impact us financially? Emotionally?

I love that my husband thinks about all of these things and am grateful that he has given this third baby such serious consideration already. Most of all, I’m excited that he finally listened to his wife and that we’ll get to see for ourselves early next year just how a third child will change our family.

How did you decide how many kids to have? Were you and your partner in agreement?