Having More Kids? When everyone says “You’ll know…”, but you don’t.

5 Sep

When I was growing up I always said I wanted to have three children.  Maybe it was because I am one of three myself.


~Meet my siblings~

Maybe it was because all three of my parents were technically one of three in their families (my stepmother lost a teenage brother when she was 13).  Or, later on because my husband is also one of three.  It seemed like everyone around me had three kids.

I pictured myself with a little girl, I think mostly because of the clothes.  I’ve always loved fashion and dressing someone else is so much more fun than (and easy than, right?) yourself.

After I had my PPD baby (which happened much later in life than expected on my 31st birthday due to some unexplained infertility the first few years of marriage), I was certain I was DONE.   I was so ill physically and emotionally from a traumatic birth and postpartum period that I couldn’t imagine having anymore kids.

~Meet L1~

Thank God, I didn’t go ahead with having my tubes tied, as I had begged my OB to do back then.  Because, of course, I got well and eventually got up the nerve to have another baby.  Things were totally different the second time.  I had a little more difficult pregnancy, but the birth was beautiful and I only had a couple of weeks of postpartum challenges.  And that’s when I fell in love with the newborn and early infant stage that sadly I could barely remember with my first son.

~Meet L2~

In fact, I remember blogging about that very thing the day that I took the above photo in late May 2011.  I believe I named the post “Best. Decision. Ever.”.  And it has been.

Since I had never dreamed I would have a second child, after all the difficulty becoming pregnant the first time and then my emotional challenges that had to be overcome to reconcile my PPD experience, you can imagine my surprise when I became pregnant with L2 after just a few months of trying.  It was meant to be.  Except, about halfway through my pregnancy I got a pretty bad bout of antenatal (or pregnancy-related) depression.  Because it occurred right around the same time we had our 20 week sonogram (and this time chose to learn the gender of our baby, which we had not done the first time around), I blamed it on gender disappointment.  I cried for three weeks straight.  I told only people who directly asked me the gender that I was having a boy.  I refused to shop for the baby or his room and denied my pregnancy in my mind, despite my expanding belly.  Thank goodness my hormones leveled out after a few weeks and I began to accept and acknowledge that I was going to be the mother of two boys.  Also, gratefully I was in the care of a psychiatrist (though I had decided not to medicate during pregnancy) and a therapist who helped me work through this difficult period.

I had deemed myself to be “done” prior to even conceiving L2, so it seemed obvious to me and everyone else (many of whom were also secretly disappointed I wasn’t having a girl), that I would never be a mother to a female.  I made plans to give away my maternity clothes, infant clothes and paraphernalia and toys as soon as L2 and I grew out of them.  I had labeled bins and bags ready and waiting in the closet.

And when that little head popped out of my belly and L2 greeted me with a wave and we locked eyes, I felt instantly that our family was complete.  My heart felt full and my eyes welled with tears, and this time they were tears of joy!

But here we are 15 months later, and all of that stuff having been donated, consigned or gifted.  And there’s still a little part of me that sighs when I walk past the maternity section at Target.  When I catch a glimpse of a mother nuzzling those soft hairs on her baby’s newborn head.  And mostly when I think about the future.  I always pictured big family holidays and reunions with lots of kids and in-laws and grandchildren.  With just two boys, will we always be just the four of us?  Or, will my boys marry and go to be with their wives’ families, leaving my husband and me (or even just me, if something happens to him later in life) to eat turkey alone?

I know lots of things rationally.  Sure, having lots of kids doesn’t guarantee they’ll be close to you or each other later in life.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll get to have a child of each gender.  Then there’s the advanced maternal age label and the associated risks now that I am over 35.  There’s the fact that I am still taking a small dose of medication to deal with anxiety that accompanies the first couple of years postpartum for me.  There’s my workaholic, traveling husband and the fact that I live far away from all of our family.  I can rattle off a thousand reasons why I should be able to proclaim “I’m done!” and mean it.

I know it’s what’s right in my head.  I know that my capacity to be a good mom is greater with just two very active boys.  But somewhere in my heart, not down very deep I yearn for another baby.  And if not for that, then for the courage and confidence to say “Just two for me.” and mean it.

Am I alone in this dilemma?  How did you “know” your family was complete?  And if you feel like you don’t know if you are “done”, then how do you believe you’ll decide whether or not to have more children?

Bless your heart ;-),


p.s. I linked up with Naptime Review today.  Check it out, I think you’ll like it!

10 Responses to “Having More Kids? When everyone says “You’ll know…”, but you don’t.”

  1. Max September 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Very well written Amber. Having had 2 miscarriages in the last 6 months, I’m feeling quite peculiar on this subject. With each mis I just feel more grateful for the kids I have and aware of how hard it is to “get” kids. That said, I’m still trying for #3! It’s wierd but the picture looks complete to me either way. Of course, I know I won’t feel this way of #3 does come along..

    • amberkoter September 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      It’s awesome that you feel confident fully accepting either answer. Hugs, my friend!

  2. Not Just About Wee (@notjustaboutwee) September 6, 2012 at 4:12 am #

    You’re so not alone on this one. You know my journey & as much as I don’t want to have another baby it doesn’t stop me feeling sad folding up clothes that are too small or knowing I’ll never stroke my new borns hair ever again. I’m allowing myself to grieve this even though when anyone asks if I’m going to have any more children I shake my head no before they’ve finished the sentence. I think it helps that my OB was the one that told me ‘to quit while you’re ahead’ & the fact that F’s still not 100% medically & still having issues with his feeding that cements the idea firmly. My head seems to know the answer, but my heart’s still catching up. Huge hugs to you for your bravery on writing this – so honoured to have shared this journey with you.

    • amberkoter September 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      I know. Having two challenging kids (for whatever reason), as well as anxiety makes it so difficult to imagine caring for more, yet, there is a bit of jealousy that I feel because of the people who have “easy kids” or who don’t struggle with the anxiety that makes me a not-so-easy-going mama.

  3. Audra Michelle September 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    You are not alone! After my first, I doubt we would have had any more thanks to the PPD monster. God had other plans as you know. We were surprised with #2 and #3 (one of these days we’ll figure out how that happens….). They are such a blessing. We decided after #3 that we were done, yet we no longer feel settled. I, too, have a workaholic husband. I am juggling working at home with 3 under 4. It’s busy. It’s tough some days. It’s expensive. I, too, just had my “advanced maternal age” birthday. Are we done? I’m not sure. We have yet to find a prevention method that we are comfortable with, so I won’t be surprised if we are “surprised.” I spoke with my retirement-aged neighbor the other day. She has three grown children. She said her only regret in life thusfar is not having more children. I want to live with no regrets. Are we done yet? My body would like to be. My heart, however, is uncertain.

    • amberkoter September 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Thanks for sharing so openly, Audra. It’s tough to really know. For me I am comfortable with my IUD, but I know that because of that I won’t just be “surprised”. Leaving it up to God I would love to do. This way I feel like I’m not allowing that, but perhaps God will send me another clear sign. 🙂

  4. LeAnn September 7, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    I currently have one- and want another- that is when I get myself out of this hole of baby shock, but I agree with the first commenter. Maybe you (we) will always grieve not having more kids- and we live in this tension. It’s closing a door, when you “close up shop.” It’s saying good-bye to the pinnacle of what makes us female- the ability to bear children. Holding things in tension- the ability to do this is a gift.

  5. LeAnn September 7, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    woops- 3rd commenter

  6. Kate Gardes September 30, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    Amber, I think you’ve hit on the ambivalence a lot of us feel when making this decision. For me, even though I knew we were done after our second, I grieved that decision when I saw a pregnant mom, a tiny baby, or walked through the newborn clothes in a store. Gradually, it faded away, and now that my youngest is two, I am certain our family is complete. I will always have a soft spot for babies, but now I’m happy that I get to hold a friend’s baby, and they get to take them home. 🙂

  7. Julie Trotter October 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I have to say I feel the exact same way!! I have 2 biological and 2 adopted kids and one baby boy who was a stillborn at 39 weeks. My husband doesn’t want anymore kids. While I know that’s the right decision and I don’t want to “raise” anymore kids, I still yearn for the pregnancy, birth, and newborn experience b/c it was such a wonderful feeling for me. It is a really hard thing to accept for sure!!

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