Deciding to have a third child is one of the hardest decisions unless you’re a) 100% up for it b) categorically repulsed by the idea or c) clinically insane
‘HOW DID YOU DECIDE?’
This was one of the first things I was asked when we told friends we were having our third child. After, ‘Was it an accident?’ naturally. Because who in their right mind does this willingly?
We’ve actually done it both ways and, for the record, I’d go for the accidental third every time. It’s a hell of a lot easier having it decided for you. And you can blame ‘fate’ when it all goes wrong instead of knowing you did this to yourself. You crazy, crazy person.
The decision for me was both uncomplicated and complicated. There’s a Gemini mother for you. Daddy Pig has always wanted three. I’m one of two girls and felt pretty satisfied when Godivy came along and I had my two girls. That felt like the natural order of things.
Until suddenly it wasn’t.
THE ACCIDENTAL THIRD.
When I accidentally fell pregnant again, Godivy was only 11 months old and the order of my world went out the window (never to be seen again). The timing was dreadful. I was still breastfeeding and just about to go back to work. But you can’t undo what’s already been done and so the question of the third child, which I hadn’t even had a chance to ask, was answered. And I was pretty happy as it turned out. Which was perhaps the most surprising thing of all.
Then I miscarried at 11 weeks and the destiny I’d graciously accepted was replaced by a huge, gaping void. What did it all mean? An accident followed by a miscarriage. That we’d had a lucky escape? That we were never meant to have a third child? Suddenly, I wanted one more than ever.
People say you don’t get over a miscarriage until you have another baby. I suspect this might be true although trying again wasn’t an option. When you have two healthy kids and your first experience of miscarriage is losing your accidental third child, you can’t help but wonder if the universe is trying to tell you something. You wonder if you should just simply count your blessings and move on.
So that is how we spent the next six months. Counting our blessings. And not moving on. With me feeling anxious most of the time. The question of the third child swinging like a pendulum on a biological clock I couldn’t acknowledge.
NO. I MEAN YES.
Finally, for my sanity, I had to confront it head on. And I decided NO. We wouldn’t have a third child. A decision that made me feel so miserable, I had actually inadvertently decided YES. I guess there’s nothing quite like a bit of reverse psychology to show you how you really feel about something.
Would I have felt this urge for a third if I hadn’t fallen pregnant by accident? I’ll never know. I do know that the question would have come up eventually and that Daddy Pig wouldn’t have let it become a decision based on practicalities like changing cars, whether we could afford another child, least of all actually cope with one (we can’t, by the way).
Because if we’d ever gone down that path we both know we’d still be walking it. People live on less than us with more mouths to feed. Practicalities can become excuses. If you let them.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
So, my thinking on the third is this. If one of you is up for it and the other isn’t totally adverse. If you’re already embracing the mammoth chaos that two kids brings. If you’re happier taking a risk than possibly living a regret. If you just can’t get it out of your mind… choose three.
Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. Because it’s not a decision that becomes easier through debate. Or one which gradually makes more sense. It’s one that just gets scarier. And seems even more bonkers.
Instead, consider it a choice based on love. Love that you already have for your two children. That you want to share with another child. Because love is often irrational, the catalyst that makes you do what’s in your heart rather than what’s in your head. That makes you ignore the question, ‘Can I give them the most of everything?’
And anyway, you’ll have already given them the ‘most.’ You’ll have given them each other.
A HOUSE THAT’S NEVER EMPTY.
Failing that, on the days when I wonder what on earth I’m doing, days that are becoming more frequent as my due date edges ever closer, I imagine this.
One day, 20 years from now, sitting around the table with Beaver, Godivy and The Pea, boyfriends and girlfriends in tow. Noise. Laughter. Comings and goings. A house that is never empty.
And I think I will be thankful we followed our hearts. I think they will thank us too. And hopefully forgive us all the crappy, rainy summer holidays camping in Dorset.
If they’ve stopped arguing, that is.
And assuming Daddy Pig and I are out of rehab by then.
If you want to find out how it ends and read my blog post-birth where I retract all this and write a post called, ‘Don’t have a third child,’ please come and like Surviving Life and Motherhood.
And if you really want to know what three is like, ask writer and mum of three, Shannon Meyerkort. You’ve probably come across her bloody hilarious article, ‘The Brutal Truth about The Third Child’. She can tell you stuff like how much toilet roll you can expect to get through. Because it’s not all about getting a bigger car apparently.