So my social media stream seems to have let up with the autumn pictures at last. Great. But now it has become filled with something much more dangerous. Third baby pictures!!!
There seems to have been an epidemic recently amongst my friends and acquaintances, everywhere I look people are having their third baby. And I am finding myself feeling very unsettled by it all.
I have spoken before about how my imaginary family always had three children in it. Now that I have my lovely, and exhausting, and challenging to the very edges of my tolerance, real-life family of two, unfortunately that imagined family in my head still has three children.
Three seems like a team. Like a gang who will always have a wingman, always have someone there to get their back. I think that is purely based on my lovely cousins, as opposed to me and my brother who definitely weren’t a team. I’m sure there are plenty of inseparable twosomes and just as many threesomes who can’t stand each other, so I don’t think that rationale has any logic behind it.
If I’m trying to be logical about it, well there is absolutely no good reason to have a third child. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding (and for seven very long months, both) for more than six years now, and my body is really starting to feel it. My children are finally starting to sleep well, after so many years of waking up practically every hour, sometimes even more. I struggle to work full time whilst being the involved mother that I feel I need to be, whilst earning the money we need to live the lifestyle that we currently enjoy. My husband has given up his job and his freedom and, at times, his sanity, to be home full time to raise our children. It is still ten months till my boy starts preschool, another year from then till he starts school, but that point finally seems I’m sight, two children in school and the occasional daytime hour to myself. The possibility of actually accomplishing a task, reading a book, having an uninterrupted conversation, spending time alone with my husband . It’s a very compelling thought.
So, the question as to why I would even consider adding another child is rather bewildering. We’d need a new car, our three bedroom house would be getting squeezed, not to mention our family bed that the children continue to enjoy. Worst of all we would be thrown straight back to the intensity of the baby years. To those sleepless nights, nappy changes, boob every hour night and day, and a baby needing me all the time.
Really not sure that my body (my pelvic floor in particular), our bank balance, our car, our house, our marriage or our sanity could survive another baby.
I wonder if the overwhelming motivator for a third is one of pride. The thought that if other people manage to have three children, then why can’t I? Are they better mothers than me? Better able to cope? More patient, resilient, caring, selfless? I don’t want to drag into competitive mumming, but I do wonder. I read some advice to only have as many children as you are able to parent in the way that you want and we have chosen to follow a fairly intense type of parenting. Co-sleeping, full-term breastfeeding, stay at home parenting, with no support network nearby and no one to rely on but ourselves, well it definitely takes its toll.
And yet I find myself longing desperately for just one more baby. I have heard other people say that they know they are done. I definitely have no desire for more than three, but at two I just don’t feel done. Adding my son to our family really was nothing but joyful. I have never regretted it for a single second. And yet there seemed a lot less at stake last time, less to lose. It was a matter of when, not if. And we were totally gifted with him, the most cheerful, straight-forward, sunny child you could ever meet. We might not be nearly so lucky another time. The question of having a third is far more complicated, and the more I think about it, the more I don’t think there can possibly be an answer. And it’s not a question I can answer by myself, and that just makes it even more complicated…