Is our family complete? No more babies?

is our family complete

When is your family complete? How do you know when it’s time to put out the closed sign? For some it seems simple. After giving birth, often women declare they are ‘done’. I admire their decisiveness. For me, things are a little less black and white.

I have three sons. Even when pregnant with the third, I didn’t feel that it was my last pregnancy. Hours after he was born I declared to the midwife “I’ll see you next time”. Mr Wallace was horrified! I don’t feel ‘done’, but is our family complete? Is three children enough for us?

To be honest, I doubt I’ll ever have that overwhelming certainty that I am done having children. Even if there is a baby 4. I adore newborns, I cannot get enough of them. But lately my resolve to have another baby has wavered. It’s got nothing at all to do with the usual ‘kids are expensive/you’ll need a bigger car/you’ll need a bigger house/going on holiday will be hard’ arguments that people trot out against having a fourth child.

It’s not even being a huge pregnant lady, the sleepless nights, hours spent breastfeeding or endless nappy changes that make me question whether a fourth is a good idea. The thing is, I can see the light at the end of the ‘parenting small children’ tunnel. My boys are all getting older and with that comes, slowly but surely, increased independence. Slightly less reliance on me to physically meet their needs.

Perhaps I have reached parenting capacity

More importantly, my patience is wearing thin. I’m nearing my capacity to patiently respond to tantrums over the wrong coloured cup or the wrong shoes. There are only so many times I can answer questions like ‘are people meat’, or ‘did dinosaur’s exist’. I get they are inquisitive and learning, but it’s tedious some days. There are only so many times a woman can handle buckling squirming kids into five point harnesses.

Parenting some days feels rather dull. I’m tiring of trips to the park and pushing kids on swings. How many more games of hide and go seek or peek-a-boo can I enthusiastically play? Playgroup has been great. Yet I may lose my mind if I keep going every Thursday morning for years on end. I love reading to my kids, but I know where the green sheep is, and they know how much I love them. So let’s move on already, to bigger and better books.

I’m not in a hurry for my boys to grow up. There are adorable, funny things about each age. But maybe I’m ready to stop at three? Perhaps I ought to draw the line in the sand and say, my family of five is complete, even though I’ll never feel done.

Is your family complete? Are you ‘done’ having babies? If you are, how did you know?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

47 thoughts on “Is our family complete? No more babies?

  1. I had always said Riley didn’t feel like the last, but we had made a decision not to have any more, which is why we were so surprised about the small one. But I can say with absolute certainty, we. are. done.

  2. I totally understand where you’re coming from. It took me six children to finally feel the I am done moment. It was as soon as I fell pregnant too. I still feel done though the desire for more will always be there. I wouldn’t choose to have more however. PS: Parenting definitely loses it’s glow too! Still magnificent, but the patience level does wane a lot with each child you add. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Jody, I am so glad to know that I’m not the only one to feel the glow of parenting dim a little! I love all of my boys but my patience certainly decreases with each one.

  3. Oh my goodness sis, this made me cry. Today being my Rafferty’s 2nd birthday I’m feeling extra fragile as I officially cross over into the land of not having a baby to look after and none on the horizon. The thing is, like you, I don’t think I could physically or mentally deal with going back to the beginning again, but I don’t know how to ‘be’ when I’m not a mum to tiny people. It’s all new. And so far I don’t at all like how it feels. Right now I would actually give my left arm to feel “done”!! Wishing like crazy I could have a cup of tea with you today. Miss you terribly. Much love to you xxxxx

    1. Happy Birthday to dear Rafferty! I think it’s normal to feel a ‘void’ when your baby starts growing up. You just need to find a new groove xx

  4. I knew our third child would be our last. I really didn’t enjoy being pregnant the third time – I just wanted the baby at the end of it all. Not that my pregnancies were difficult or anything, but three in four years was enough! And like you, by the time I had Mr Busy the girls were toilet trained, they’d both had the chicken pox, they could dress themselves. I literally had to go back to the start without any crossover, like there was with the girls. I spent Mr Busy’s year of infancy aware that this would be the last and making the most of every moment.

    I think then, my hardest moment as a mum, was when they were all off at school. I didn’t know how to be a stay-at-home-mum when I had no one to mother all day long! It took me about six months to be OK with being at home without any children at home with me – to figure out what “normal” would be for the next season.

    Now that my oldest is 20 I’m kinda tired of parenting! I openly acknowledge that Mr Busy gets to do stuff I wouldn’t have let the girls do (like drinking coffee!!!) because I’m too tired to care that much anymore. He’s the spoilt youngest child. I know why it happens and I’m OK with it! I’m now looking forward to kids moving out and not paying school fees anymore and seeing how my kids take wing and fly because we’ve raised them well.

    For right now we have two baby adults and a mid-teen, and we still seem to be parenting fairly actively. Baby adults get to do a whole bunch of stuff that we don’t have to manage anymore. But apparently becoming an adult takes some guiding and directing that I don’t remember requiring.

  5. This is something I really struggle with. I always wanted four children but after my third, while struggling with bad PND, I declared us done as it was all too much. Now, my fourth child is 14 months old and, having had 4 c-sections and again suffering PND, I think I am at a point where I need to make a permanent decision. But…. I kind of want a 5th? It’s nuts. I don’t think I will ever have that certain ‘done’ feeling either, just a knowledge that I have nothing left to give?

    1. It’s weird, four seems almost possible for me. But five, now that seems like a big family! But really, what’s one more?

  6. I think you ‘know’ when you are done. I try to convince myself, and others, that I am done. That I’m enjoying the independence now my boys are getting older. That I couldn’t go back to sleepless nights. That I don’t actually ‘do’ pregnancy or labour that well. And that’s all true. But if it were possible I’d have a third in a heart beat. I don’t think I will ever feel done, but I just have to learn to live with it.

    1. Sometimes the head and the heart just can’t agree! But you are right, sometimes you just have to learn to live with things xx

  7. “I know where the green sheep is” – loved that bit!!
    Yeah, I agree, I think it’s much easier to know when to start having kids than when to stop having kids.

  8. I know exactly what you mean about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – I can see things getting easier. Not yet! But at some point. Unlike you, I couldn’t be more more done though ha! x

  9. Completely agree with the light at the end of the tunnel with nappies and self sufficiency but I am quickly learning that as they move into the tween and teen stage they need you just as much in such a different way. My son (my eldest) really wasn’t too hard as he moved through the tween stage at nearly 15 we are really starting to ride to puberty hormone rollercoaster and all of us are just holding on! My twins goodness tween girls are so different to boys!

    In saying all of that have never felt done, I have always longed for more. I occasionally think about fostering but know that while we could provide a wonderful home for another child we don’t have the space and I couldn’t let them go so I know I am not a good candidate for fostering. I guess the thing for me was that I was told that if I had more I would die so the option for more was taken out of my hands and that is really hard. I am not sure if feel more not done because I was told I couldn’t or if I yearn for another baby. I know I certainly don’t yearn for another toddler though lol.


  10. I always wanted to have 4 kids and we did consider going again after our 3rd but we are done. I’m 40 now, the last pregnancy was tough and with my youngest now at school, there’s no sense in going back again. However, if I was younger I would definitely consider it, even though I think I’ve also reached my parenting capacity of 3!

  11. One and done for me. My son’s newborn period was horribly difficult due to severe reflux. I can’t do it again.

    Sometimes it feels selfish to deny him a brother or sister but I’m not sure I’d survive it again. My husband and I still have a wierd sort of PTSD about crying newborns.

  12. I’m currently pregnant with my third – I have a three year old and a 20 month old. And I already know that I am not done. I’ve always seen myself as a mother of four {surprisingly, always four boys}. People think that I am crazy, but I love the idea of a big family. I know people say it’s hard and expensive and tiring…but I’m always wanted these bundles of joy in my life xox

    1. Shari you sound exactly like me when I was pregnant with my third son. While I still see a fourth child in our family, I must say now that the baby is nearing two, I’m questioning it a little more! All the best with the arrival of your third child xx.

    1. Maybe that’s the answer for me then Mandy, I certainly don’t ‘know’ yet. While there’s that lingering thought perhaps my family is not complete!

  13. I’m done and I only have one. I’m 43 and actually started peri menopause but that’s not the reason. I’m just not a baby type. I like it with just me and my girl. “Are people meat” made me lol 😂

    1. Some people just aren’t baby people, not me I’m afraid. Today I got asked if slugs are real, honestly!!

  14. Hey Claire, It was fun reading this. In India, our generation prefers 1 or max 2. I had already made up my mind for 2 before my first was born but I will certainly wait until I feel we are ready for another one. Wonder how you manage juggling with 3 boys around.Its great.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Upasna, it is interesting how different cultures hold different ideas about family size. Here in Sydney the Chinese community seem to LOVE that I have 3 boys!

  15. I’ve spent the last almost three years struggling with this myself. I always wanted three, but hubby was done after two. No wonder, 2 in 19 months can certainly help you to feel done when you’re faced with two non-verbal poo machines every day (and night!). For a long time I really, really wanted one more, but I realised the other day that I’ve gotten to the point now that when I say “I’m done” I actually really do believe it, I’m not just trying to convince myself as much as the person I’m talking to. I realised when I saw a photo of a friend’s newborn the other day and the very first thought to cross my mind was “Thank God I don’t have to deal with another baby!”. I LOVE newborns, but I HATE toddlers, and now that my youngest is just about to turn 3 I know I couldn’t go through dealing with another toddler. I’m content now to sit back and wait for all of my sisters to have their kids and be an awesome Aunty. Plus there is also the consideration that our family works so well now, that I wouldn’t want to go changing the dynamics by adding another baby in to the mix.

    Belatedly catching up from last week for #teamIBOT

  16. When I had my second, as soon as she was out I thought that was the last time that was ever going to happen. As she has gotten older though I am not so sure. If our circumstances where different I think we would definitely go another round. We just think ourselves fortunate to have two healthy, happy kids.

  17. I totally get this! I have 3 boys too and they’re hard hard work but adorable (of course). I have started giving away all our baby things which says to me that in my head I think we’re done and I think we need to be because I too feel like I’m at my parenting capacity. That’s what not having a full nights sleep in three years does! Although in my heart, I yearn for a little baby again. I think that’s something biologically built into me to feel. Also I think part of it is that my identity for so long has been a baby producer and now that it might move into something else it feels a little unfamiliar so I naturally want to pull myself back into what I know. It’s so complex isn’t it?!

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