How do you know?

 

I’ve always wanted three children. After all, I’m one of three and I couldn’t imagine life with only one other sibling. My husband is also one of three and I just assumed that he would want the same number as well.

 

Much to my surprise, I learned early on that he did not want more than two.

 

I understood his point of view. After all, the cost of child raising is astronomical and he wanted to be able to give them the very best: vacations, private school, debt-free college. The more children we had, the harder that would be to do.

 

The only way we would have three would be if we had one first and then twins second, something that was actual feasible given our fertility struggles.

 

And then we had one and I was suddenly terrified of twins on top of her. Luckily, our second (spontaneous!) pregnancy was a singleton. We talked early in the pregnancy about only having two; we would not be trying for a boy once we found out we were having a second girl.

 

Along with wanting three children, I had always wanted to be done having babies by the time I was 35. I went through so much monitoring and testing with my first two pregnancies that I didn’t want to go through all of that and more with a geriatric pregnancy.”

 
But by the time we got pregnant and had our first, I was 33 and my second was born just three months before my 35th birthday.

 

My second daughter was a challenge from the beginning. An undiagnosed tongue tie led to struggles with breastfeeding. She was incredibly fussy. She did not sleep as well as my first. I was exhausted from being up at night with her and then running around with a young toddler and trying to keep our house in order.

 

We had a pregnancy scare at one point and I started sobbing as I waited for the result of the test. How could I possibly go through another pregnancy with two very young children to chase after? The sense of relief I felt at the negative result confirmed our decision that two was enough.

 

And then the tide began to change. As my baby got older, I started to yearn for another newborn. I don’t know if this was because I felt I had missed out on good newborn memories with my second or if I genuinely wanted a third. My husband remained adamant about only having two.

 

Curious as to how others knew their family was complete, I turned to Facebook to question my friends. Here are some of the answers:

 

We brought our youngest home and it felt like our whole family was in the room, no one was ‘missing.’
 
Physically, pregnancy was awful and childbirth was worse.
 
Pregnant with my third. This pregnancy is much more difficult and chasing a 1 year-old at the same time is tiring. I just know I’m done!
 
It was my age and the fact that I was so fortunate to have had two healthy babies. Didn’t want to risk it!
 
Mentally, two is best for me
 
We both thought we only wanted one (if any). We see the merit in two, but after the first, I know I wouldn’t be able to (or want to) handle it physically or mentally.
 
When you realize that you don’t even have enough $ for the two you have.
 
My financial planner projected the cost of college and grad school.
 
When I was in labor with him I said “This is it.” and I was ok with it. I just felt at peace.
 
Two is it for us because two preterm NICU babies and two miscarriages in between them was enough drama for us.
 
The severity of my growing infertility issues became a sobering, harsh reality the second time around; everything got so much worse. Everyone has their breaking point and I think I hit mine.
 
 1) The practical thought that it takes lots of money to bring the children up the way I want to; in addition to the everyday stuff, the big stuff—higher education, summer camp, trips, vacations, unexpected medical. 2) The philosophical idea that replacing the two parents is more than enough, especially since I believe in negative population growth for our planet.
 
We knew we were done when, while pregnant with our second, the excitement of being pregnant was greatly outweighed by the feeling of “Oh God, what have we done?”
 
A psychologist friend told me that she feels that people who have fewer kids want to be more emotionally invested in their kids’ lives. You just can’t do that when you have a lot of kids.
 

At this point, unless we are completely surprised, there will not be a third baby. Most days, I’m fine with this decision. It was no joke adding a second baby to the family, especially when our girls are as close in age as they are. For a full year after my second was born, I was stuck home all the time. It was incredibly lonely.

 

My marriage became strained as well with the added stress of a second baby. When we finally got into a groove with both kids, we were glad to have “man-on-man defense.”

 

This year, my girls will be turning 2 and 4. They both talk. They can play together without me. No one is left out because there are only two of them. One is potty trained and no longer naps. The other naps just once a day, leaving the mornings completely open for activities outside of the house. I’m exploring teaching positions for the fall and looking forward to a time when I will not be defined solely as a mother.

I am not one of those people who feels that there is something missing from her family. I’ve never felt that definitive “I’m done” click that some people talk about, but I don’t feel incomplete either.

 

I am happy with where I am now in life. Mentally and emotionally, I feel as though I do not have more to give to another child. I am not sure I’m capable of going through another pregnancy physically.

 

I want the very best for my children. I want to be the very best mother I can be. As much as I might feel a pang at hearing that a family member or close friend is having a third, I know that adding another child to our family would not be right for us in many ways.

My husband and I are excited to watch our girls grow up and be able to experience all the things we want for them together… as a family of four.

 

Dorothy

Dorothy Sasso is a Lifestyle Writer for She’s It, LLC. She has written for “Soap Opera Digest”, FitPregnancy.com, TalkingFertility.com and the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. Her work focuses on infertility, pregnancy and parenting, and also includes book reviews, features, interviews and event previews. After leaving a teaching career to raise her two daughters, she has loved returning to her roots as a writer. Currently, she is working on a novel and launching an online support community for people struggling to have a child. Follow her progress and join the community at www.maybebabyclub.com, on Twitter (@maybebabyclub, @dorothysasso), on Instagram (maybebabyclub) and on Facebook. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, daughters and two cats.