I Always Wanted 3 Children, But...

I think in my head three has always been the magic number when it comes to children. I have two sisters myself and I pictured myself with a trio. Ask any mum of three young children if having a third is a good idea and they will probably nervously laugh “of course it is”. None of us actually regrets that third baby, but right now I’m finding it very tough going.

Older child pushing baby on swing with a 3 year old behind also on a swing


The journey to get my third child was long, not as long as for many admittedly, but it wasn’t easy either. My eldest was born eight years ago and her first few years of life saw my relationship with her Dad deteriorate. He and I stopped communicating and I looked on in envy as I saw him shower her in the love and attention I craved from him. 

Four and a half years later (and following a divorce) my second daughter was born with a different father. The early days with my eldest had been very hard as I struggled to breastfeed and I had a demanding baby who needed a lot of attention, in contrast her little sister was chilled out and generally a much easier baby (if you ignore the sleep challenges from 4 months).

Even when I was still pregnant with my second I was broody for another and I knew I wanted a closer age gap this time so I planned to start trying again as soon as possible. Thanks to breastfeeding my periods didn’t return for over a year and it was another year before I was successfully pregnant with Baby Boy. In that year I struggled through countless negative pregnancy tests and a miscarriage. 

For so long my sights were set on that third baby that it was only in that last month, the month I said we would try for the last time because my mental health couldn’t handle it any longer, that I started to think maybe two was enough. I spent that two week wait to pee on a stick thinking about all the great things about having just two children. I thought about how it was a relief that we were out of the baby stage, that we had enough bedrooms, we could go away easier, I didn't need a new car and I could start focussing on my career again. I did such a good job persuading myself that when I got that positive test there was a small element of disappointment thrown in there with the excitement and the fear of losing another baby. 

I share this because I really do know how lucky I am to have three children. I have friends and loved ones who aren’t so lucky and I am really very grateful. I also feel complete in a way I can’t really explain beyond just a contentment that I no longer have that urge to have more children. I can only compare it to me not being a dog person, I can see dogs and like them, but I have no interest in having one.

But.

Yes there is a but.

Three children are hard work. Of course, but it's more than that. Children are hard work and babies, particularly the fussier kind of baby or even the normal kind that don’t sleep through the night until they are one (or later) are really hard work. I am grateful for having three children, but I am so exhausted from having a small being dependent on me for so many years.

Happy times on holiday with 3 children in the swimming pool in the sunshine

What’s the perfect age gap between children? 


I haven’t a clue, but the unplanned four and a half year age gap gave me a break. Ok part of that break was from separating from M's Dad and only having my daughter every other night, but I had a couple of years without breastfeeding or pregnancy. A couple of years where my body was my own. I had enough nights where my sleep was uninterrupted for it to become the norm. I could go out in the evenings without worrying my child would be inconsolable because they needed me there for bedtime. In short: I could be me again.

Between Little and Baby Boy I had no break. Little self weaned when I was around six months pregnant because she could see how painful it was when she breastfed (my nipple sensitivity was off the charts), but even though she stopped feeding to sleep she wanted me there when she went to sleep so nights out (off) were still a worry. 

For over four years now I have been pregnant or breastfeeding (or both). For over three years I have had to spend a large part of my evening getting a small child to sleep. I dream of spending a childfree night away with my partner, a dream which consists of an early meal in a nice restaurant and then an early night (to sleep). I suspect my partner doesn’t have the same dream.

I am exhausted physically and mentally. My body and my mind need attention. Many mothers of eight month olds up and down the country will feel the same I know and having been through the bad nights and dependent baby stage before I know it will end. One day I will be able to start spending more time on me again. The multiple years of having small children is taking it’s toll though and this is why I have moments when I question if I was wrong to spend all that time hoping and trying for a third child. All that heart ache I went through to get to this moment. 

This moment where I sit on the sofa in a quiet house not knowing how many minutes I have until Baby Boy wakes up from his nap. I sit on the sofa surrounded by the mess that my children managed to achieve in the small window between waking and school/ preschool. My mind hasn’t yet recovered from the school holidays when I got no peace at all. My washing basket flows over and my fridge is empty of food. Even my biscuit supply is nearly out.

I see people whose youngest children are starting school and I know that I will cry that day, but it’s still a year and a half before I can put Baby Boy in nursery for a few hours which feels such a long time when you are waiting for it to get your life back. I absolutely love my adorable little squidgeball of a baby and I am not willing him to grow up too quickly, but at the same time I am so ready for these baby days to be over. I will miss these moments, but I long for the days when I can get rid of the pushchairs, carriers and baby changing bag. When I have freedom. I want to just grab my wallet and go.

Me looking hassled in an american style diner holding the baby and sitting next to my 2 daughters who are messing around with slush style drinks


Many of the reasons I feel this way are due to my parenting choices; attachment parenting, breastfeeding etc. I see people on Instagram going for nights out and weekends away without their baby who is smaller than mine and I feel jealous, yet I know that to have those options would take sacrifices I don’t want to make. I see those Mums happily talking about how they have such an easy, happy baby and I am so incredibly grateful for others like Jade from Raising the Rings, who have shared how grumpy and hard work their babies are/ were. For the first three months Baby Boy pretty much wanted to be held constantly and even then he would cry for hours on end. He has never been an easy baby. 

I don’t regret having three children. There are times I look at them and my heart swells with love. I love the ages they are now and it scares me how fast they are growing up. They are wonderful. But that doesn’t stop me being exhausted. 

My advice for anyone wondering about having a third child? 
It’s not the third child you need to be prepared for, but how long you might need to wait to be you again.

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