A family of five or six or areyoukiddingme?

I’ve been trying to make a real effort to not complain about this pregnancy because I don’t want to lose sight of what a blessing it is to have a complication-free pregnancy and carry a baby to term. But as the days and weeks pass it’s getting harder and harder. I’m achy, I’m tired, I’m getting bigger, the comments are getting ruder, and I find myself wishing the end of this pregnancy away. For some reason I feel like it might be different if I knew this was my last pregnancy. I might savor it more, enjoy the passing of this phase of life.

But I don’t know.

Years ago, when Tom and I first started talking about having a family together, we always said we wanted four kids. We wanted a big family, lots of kids, lots of chaos, lots of fun. Now we know that was ambitious talk for two people who had no idea what it was like to have kids.

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In the weeks after I had David, I kept thinking over and over, “There’s no way I can ever do this again.” All of it — labor, recovery, nursing, sleepless nights, figuring out how in the world to dress a baby boy — it was all just so much harder than I expected.

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Then I had Mary Virginia, and things were just easier. For starters, her birth wasn’t couched by a series of natural disasters. She was a sweet baby (though, sleepless from the start), and the biggest difference was that I knew what to expect. And, soon after she was born, I found myself thinking, “I suppose I could do this again.”

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Now here we are, I’m very pregnant with baby number three, and with every ache and pain I think, “If this is what a third pregnancy feels like, no way can I survive a fourth.”

But I’m not sure.

As exhausting and unmanageable as our life feels right now, I still have a hard time thinking we’re done. Maybe it’s just the finality of the decision that’s hard for me. I’ve been either pregnant or nursing for over four solid years now, and it’s become a bit of my identity. (Even though I’m also starting to feel like a brood mare.)

I might feel differently after this baby comes and I’m, once again, wrapped up in the whirlwind of a teeny tiny newborn. I find myself hoping that, once we’re a family of five I’ll either throw my hands up in the air and celebrate, “This is it! Our family is complete and perfect just like it is!” Or I’ll look at that baby and say, “One more, just one more.”

Meanwhile, Tom says that if this kid won’t sleep then we’re done for sure. And he’s not kidding.

I just wish I knew. 

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But how do you know? Is that even possible?

We already have kids of both gender, so there’s no pressure to have just one more to “try for a boy” or whatever, and we have plenty of space in our van for at least one more carseat.

I suppose one of two things happens: you reach a point where your patience is worn too thin, and you’re so tired, and so broke that adding another baby just isn’t an option anymore. Or, flip that on its head, your heart is just perfectly full and your family seems to have reached a beautiful homeostasis.
Tell me, how did you know when your family was complete?
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33 Comments

  1. Jessi Von Bank April 23, 2015

    My answer is a mix of both…so tired, but so happy… so we are done! A wise woman, Sarah Cornwall, once told me that no matter if its your 2nd or 7th, when you are finally done its a little sad…like the end of an era. I felt some freedom in that knowing I could miss the baby days, but that didn’t mean we had to have more to feel complete.

    Reply
    • amandakrieger April 24, 2015

      thank you thank you for sharing that tidbit! i like how you put it — freedom to miss the baby days. that doesn’t mean you’ve made a wrong decision, though.

      Reply
  2. Katherine A. April 23, 2015

    On my best days, I’m like YES, FOUR, or EVEN MORE! And on my worst days, I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know.” And then I think, well, do I want to make this decision based on my best me or my worst me? My joy or my fear? And then I talk to Mark about it, and he says, “Katherine, I thought we were done at two.” So that’s where we are today.

    I will say, I hold Baby 3 way more than the other two, in case he’s my last. And I started buying Julia more dresses than ever before, just in case she’s the only little girl I ever get to dress. And my minimal self wants to get rid of all the baby and maternity clothes instead of putting them away, but my mama self says, not quite yet. And Mark says, “You make no sense to me.” Hahaha! So, hmmmm. 🙂

    Reply
    • amandakrieger April 24, 2015

      sometimes i fantasize about getting rid of baby/maternity stuff.
      and then i fantasize about my fourth baby.

      Reply
  3. Karen April 23, 2015

    I totally understand – but I knew I wasn’t done when I had my third. But it was with the fourth pregnancy that I had all those same thoughts and feelings. We had initially wanted 6, but at the beginning of the 4th pregnancy decided 5 would be it. But as I got bigger and more and more uncomfortable and crazy schedules and busy kids, etc, etc, I really felt that 4 was going to be it. I was having intense pain, I new I would never be able to stay at home fulltime and I couldn’t ask my husband to take on the burden for more kids when we needed to get him through school and into a better career. I felt that I was being guided by God, that 4 would be enough. We made the decision to have my tubes tied – which for me was the best decision, but oh did I mourn that there would not be any more babies! I mourned for a long time. I don’t know if it would have been better to not make such a “final” decision such as that, but I also knew that I would talk myself into another. (and try to talk/badger my husband into it). Now they are all grown and I know it was for the best. What is right for you and your family – will come to you – if you listen to your heart. You and your husband are the only ones who can make that decision. —–But then someday, the grandchildren will come and you will love them with all your heart – you can’t even imagine!

    Reply
  4. LB April 23, 2015

    I’ve talked to my mom and tons of moms of big families…they all say After 3 it doesn’t really matter in any way except finances (an even that is better than you think). All of your time and energy goes to managing 3, 4+ is strangly the same in most circumstances. Keep an open heart to receive blessings however they come.

    Reply
  5. jennifer w. April 23, 2015

    ironically enough the exact opposite situation has happened to us: we thought we wanted absolutely only two (and had to make ourselves have the first, because you know, just being married was fun enough) and now I just don’t know if two is enough. i ditto katherine’s best days/worst days explanation, except on my worst days i’m more like “Why did I ever have any children??” 🙂

    Reply
  6. JennyLynn April 23, 2015

    I always said that I had four kids “in my head” after I got married but having three threw us for a loop and we went back and forth about whether we were done or not. Finally, I said that we should just go “full Duggar style” and trust God and see what happens. I actually kind of thought that there was no way we could handle four and He would just confirm that. And here we are at 28 weeks pregnant. I really think we are done after this but I also feel unwilling to take surgical measures to make that reality – it feels so final. Ultimately God is sovereign whether you are “done” or not, right?

    Reply
    • amandakrieger April 24, 2015

      YES! it feels final. and maybe it’ll just always be sad (see the first comment…)
      and, honestly, it might be easier to move on from this stage knowing it’ll be a bit sad no matter what.

      Reply
  7. Sarah O April 23, 2015

    I’m pretty sure we’re done after this one – Larry was iffy about #3. So I’m trusting that God gave me a husband who listens to Him and knows what’s best for our family, because saying saying “no more!” is reeeallly tough for me. Even though I can’t handle the two I have and can’t even begin to imagine handling 3. Knowing that I was in over my head with 2, but wanting more anyway – yep. That’s me. Probably that’s why gave us (or me) men who are more practical and women who are more emotional – it takes both of us to figure these things out. And if God made me the leader of our family….well, it would be a train wreck of crazy.

    But, we always remember that we make our plans, but God directs our steps. I think it’s good to pray about what you think God wants for your family, but in the end we don’t have ultimate control, right? There’s some comfort in that.

    (P. S. My pregnancy is not FB public yet so you may not have known that #3 is in the way… But it is. 🙂 )

    Reply
    • amandakrieger April 24, 2015

      dude, CONGRATS!!!
      you’re right, there’s totally comfort in that. i’m so glad i have friends to remind me of that truth.

      Reply
  8. Erin D April 23, 2015

    So hard and so different for every family. I often see mom’s with 2-3 little kids and a baby and am just amazed. I feel totally frazzled and maxed out with two. The newborn stage is so so so hard for me. I have a terrible case of the baby blues (although a friend told me to have my placenta made into pills if we do have another to help with that – ha!) and I am such a monster to Hunter and everyone else when I’m sleep deprived. I also don’t like nursing or pregnancy – I know I’m so the “ideal” mother 😉 If we have another we will love that baby so much just like we do our other 2 but Hunter and have said multiple times, “just remember that out of the 100 times we’ve had the conversation about more kids at least 95 of those times we’ve said we’re done!” I would be open to considering fostering or adopting when our kids are older but I think my biological baby train may have left the station and I am ok with that. Best of luck to you and Tom!!

    Reply
    • Katherine A. April 24, 2015

      Two things. 1. Your blog is the only one that I come back to to read comments after you posted. 2. I love that Erin used the phrase “biological baby train.” Haha. That just made me smile!!! 🙂

      Reply
  9. Tori April 24, 2015

    I love your posts that start a conversation like this! At first we said we would make decisions one kid at a time, but we have both felt like this would be our last baby from the beginning of my third pregnancy. I think it is making me more sentimental about this pregnancy right now, but I have no doubt that I will be wishing the last few weeks away too. That is only human.

    I know there will be an inevitable emotional rollercoaster in the future, especially as I see other people have babies or watch those targeted weepy mom commercials, but there is also so much to look forward to when we DON’T have a baby. My current list includes: getting rid of my maternity and baby clothes, never nursing again, no more diapers, fewer doctor’s appointments, doing more to serve people outside of my house, and doing fun things with my kids like camping and vacation (both of which feel impossible now).

    I really appreciate the way that my parents and in-laws are so involved in my kids lives and I want to be able to do that for my grandchildren one day. There is no formula or “right answer”, but that just gets practically harder the more kids you have. Plus I have found myself wondering things like – how many kids can you have before you need two babysitters to go on a date? Can I make my kids all play the same sports? If these two toddlers already eat as much as I do now, what is that going to look like in ten years? Are we buying them all cell phones? Cars? Ahh!

    Reply
  10. Abby April 24, 2015

    My third baby turned two in February. My heart wants more, but my body and my brain (it’s exhausted and broke) are at odds with my heart. I have been pregnant by now every other time if I was going to have another baby, but I’m not. I stare at my maternity Rubbermaid container wondering if I’ll ever wear any of that again. I sold some of the infant stuff because it was taking over my house, and I told myself that if we had any more children, that I’d just find something on consignment when that time came. I cried like it was the end of the world… It’s a tough transition. I think your friend was right, no matter what- when it’s the end, I guess we’re just a little sad.

    Reply
  11. Carley April 24, 2015

    Oh my! I’ve been wondering this EXACT same thing. We have two…and I waffle between moremoreMORE! and nah-two-is-awesome. I’m praying (like actually praying) that God gives me a peace about our family size…peace and patience. When I was little, I wanted millions of kids…now that I know a bit more about the process of childbearing, “millions” seems like a lot. 🙂

    Reply
    • Johnette July 18, 2016

      Wow! Talk about a posting knoknicg my socks off!

      Reply
  12. Brandi April 25, 2015

    I think some people know, and some people are just never done–whether they get surprised or just always have the ache. It was really hard for me this past time, starting over after the fourth went off to school…but now I wish I could do it again so the youngest would have a playmate! But luckily I’m just too darn old for it!

    Congrats and best of luck!

    Reply
  13. Cheryl @Treasures from a Shoebox April 27, 2015

    When we surrendered our lives to Christ in 1997, the very first issue He dealt with my husband and I about was our attitude toward having children (I recently wrote a guest post about this at Made to Mother: http://madetomother.com/2015/04/19/surrendering-fertility-to-the-lord-even-when-he-takes-the-baby-back-cheryls-story/ ). We were expecting #5 at the time and I WAS DONE. The Lord however, did not share my opinion. Haha. I’ll let you read the rest of the story over there. But simply put, how did we know when we were done? When the babies stopped coming. Visiting today from Mommy Moments.

    Reply
  14. Jess April 28, 2015

    Through prayer to God together with your spouse. Let God help you plan your family size. We always in everything think of the negatives of why we can’t do something no matter what it is. “I can’t do XXL because it’s to hard, God.” I know I’ve said it before. Trust in God’s plan for you – no matter how difficult or crazy or not you would’ve picked – it may seem. His plan is better than anything you will come up with yourself. I’ve seen it myself in our messy, difficult, and beautiful infertility and adoption journeys. And now we have 3 beautiful kids (and are open for more!) God will think of the big picture and take care of you. Also, when I think about family size, I think of how our family will be down the road: surrounded by my children and grandchildren over the years, having children to help my husband and I as we get older, their sibling relationships and closeness, etc. I’m the oldest of 6 and my husband is the oldest of 7. We’ve seen firsthand the awesomeness and sacrifice of being in a large family. And all of us kids – and our parents too – would tell you that the sacrifices are well worth it a million times over in the long run. Praying for you as you discern! Thanks for linking up with us today for Tuesday Talk! – Jess
    http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

    Reply
  15. Andrea Mitchael April 28, 2015

    When you find out how “you just know” — let me know! Seriously 😀 I’m just not sure 🙂 We have a boy and a girl now as well — but I’m not sure what the Lord has in mind for us! I never thought I would have “only two” but we very well may be complete, we shall see!
    ~Andrea || Mitchael Journey

    Reply
  16. Shelly April 28, 2015

    I really just think for most moms you will know….you will feel the ache in your uterus stop and you will be able to hold someone else’s baby without wanting another of your own. I know I felt that feeling of wanting “just one more” often and then I finally had my Carly Jo and at four months I knew our family was complete. Now…I was 36 so I did have my age to consider and my oldest was 15 but I just no longer was longing for another and I felt peaceful about it.

    Reply
  17. Brittany April 28, 2015

    We decided two a long time ago. I’m not sure how we decided…we just kinda said 2. I would love one of each, but if it doesn’t happen I will be just a boy mom. 🙂

    Reply
  18. Nina April 29, 2015

    For me, 3 has always been the max I could imagine, but our plan is to reevaluate after each kid. Right now I’m 7 months pregnant with #2 and I will say that making any decisions while you’re pregnant or right after labor is probably a bad idea, cause if I had to decide now I’d say I’m completely done with being pregnant. Back aches, and constantly feeling winded are not great selling points for expanding a family 😉

    Reply
  19. Congratulations first of all! and for us, after our third was born, we just felt complete and knew that was it. I’m so pleased I’ve come across your wonderful blog. xx Katrina

    Reply
  20. Faith May 2, 2015

    I love this, and feel exactly the same way. Being pregnant with our second right now, I often wonder if I want to deal with the morning sickness again, but at the same time, there’s no way to know how I will feel in a few years! Just trusting God and his perfect timing 🙂 Congratulations on your third on the way. This post was the top viewed link at Mommy Moments last week so you will be featured in this week’s link up starting tomorrow. Congrats mama!

    -Faith

    Reply
    • amandakrieger May 3, 2015

      Ah! That’s so exciting, thanks so much, I’m looking forward to seeing it! (congrats on your pregnancy as well!)

      Reply
  21. Sarah Donegan May 2, 2015

    We have 2 girls and knew we were done. The thought of more screeching makes me want to cry, and my husband pointed out we wouldn’t know what to do with a boy at this point. :). It all worked out. You can do this! 🙂

    Reply
  22. Christina May 4, 2015

    We are going through the exact same situation right now. We had 4 children in just under 6 years and now that our youngest is 20 months we are trying to decide about child #5. We have spent the last year living like our youngest was our last child. 95% of the baby, pregnancy and maternity stuff has been sold or given away. We thought that by living as if 4 child was it for a year we would know if that was really meant to be the number of children of our family or not.

    It hasn’t worked though!

    We are still confused. My pregnancies are hard and my last one was almost unbearable. Money is tight, we are tired, we are older now and we worry more. Neither my husband or I have had a profound yes or no answer yet so I have no idea how one tells if they are done or not.

    Check in on my blog in a year and hopefully I will have an answer by then 🙂

    Reply
  23. Adelaide May 4, 2015

    From before our wedding, both my husband and I were convicted and at peace with what was above called ‘full Duggar style’ (made me smile!!) of leaving such a decision to God.
    Sounds strange, but it has made life soooo much easier! I mean, I don’t have to worry about that decision or even ponder the thoughts of stopping or starting, as it’s all in the hands of someone greater!
    So here we are half way through pregnancy 3 (been married not quite 3 years):)
    It has helped though that we both want a big family… God gives strength and grace for what He calls us to.
    Just my 2 bits. Blessings in this pregnancy, I have also found no.3 a little more achy than I reckon it should be… feeling a bit older I guess:)

    Reply
  24. Sarah Ann May 8, 2015

    What a great post! I come from a large family, yet for me, two kids was perfect and exactly the way it should be. I know though, so many can be rude to ask inappropriate questions or make off-color remarks about family size. Good for you for sticking to your guns! Thank you for linking to the Saturday Soiree & Social Media Share! You’re featured this week!

    Reply
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  26. Gentle Joy June 24, 2015

    We have 6 precious kids… what a blessing…. and yet, we also wondered if we could keep going. It is a good thing such decisions don’t have to be made in the last weeks of a pregnancy or just after the birth!!! We are so thankful for all of the blessings God has given to us. 🙂

    Reply

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