Both coming from small families, my husband and I have always wanted our children to have more than one sibling. We pictured full tables at the holidays and minivans filled with kids. With our first two now being older, it was time to decide if having a third child was right for us. And we decided that it was.
This summer, my husband and I took a trip to London—our longest trip together since the kids were born and the furthest we’d ever been from them. At ages four and six, we felt comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time.
Related: Should we have a third kid?
We were hopeful that they wouldn’t be too much of a handful for the grandparents and confident that we’d be able to let go of the guilt that usually keeps us from enjoying ourselves. And we were right. The kids had a great week and we had the time of our lives exploring the UK. When we returned, I immediately began planning our next vacation.
And then, instead of making travel arrangements, we decided to try for our third baby. We had finally reached the sweet spot—our lives no longer revolved around nap times, dirty diapers and potty training. Not to mention, we were past the stage of sleepless nights. Our kids were more independent and that meant we got back a part of ourselves that we had let go when they were younger. And now we’re starting over again.
We knew that having another baby meant no vacations for a while and a lot less time for just us. But it also meant being able to experience the incomparable joy of first smiles, first steps and first words all over again. And we realized that putting things like traveling on hold was worth it if it meant bringing a new person into our family.
But now it’s real. I’m pregnant—and I’m struggling.
I feel like I was just starting to see myself as more than a mom. I was just starting to get back a piece of my identity that I had lost. I was able to focus on my own wants and needs more. With my kids being a little older, I finally made time to read, write, travel—even shower in peace. And now I find myself grieving that piece of myself that I just got back. Does that make me selfish?
It is OK to feel conflicted about having a third child.
I know when this child arrives, I will feel overjoyed (and sleep deprived) and grateful. I know it’s the right choice for our family. But this pregnancy is different from my first two. It’s filled with conflicting feelings—excitement and anticipation, but also fear, a bit of regret and definitely some guilt.
Pregnancy isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. Neither is parenthood, for that matter. From c-sections to tantrums, it’s all life-altering. It’s so worth it, of course, but I do need to remind myself that being a mom is a sacrifice. It is hard. And it is OK to not be over the moon right now. It is OK to feel conflicted about having a third child.
How will I get through it? I’m focused on the future—the tiny toes and newborn cuddles, the way my boys will swoon over their new sibling. I’m also looking ahead to the days when there will be more freedom and (hopefully) more traveling.
I’m giving myself grace, accepting that my feelings are valid and reminding myself that it’s OK to feel both apprehension and excitement about the changes that are coming with having a third child.
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