How to Know When Your Family is Complete
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I always thought I would have at least 4 children. Maybe 5, perhaps only 2, but never 3.
And yet here were are, about to meet our third and almost certainly final child. Isn’t it funny how life takes your best-made plans and tips them on their head?
The decision to be finished with having babies has actually been an easy one for us, but I understand it isn’t so for everyone.
Read on to find my tips for helping you on your decision-making journey. Whether you’re still trying to decide or just looking for affirmation, I think you’ll find them helpful.
1) Ignore Opinions
If you already are a parent then I would imagine that you’re very aware of how readily people offer their opinions on how one should parent.
I’ve often been blown away about how unabashed people are to share their thoughts on how many children other people should have and what gender they should be.
Family size is such a personal thing. It should never be decided upon based on the opinions of others. Except for one other that is. Your spouse.
2) Communicate With your Spouse
We all know how vitally important healthy communication is in a marriage. So many fights and misunderstandings can be avoided if we would only take the time to effectively share our thoughts.
Often times I’ve seen women share their disappointment over the desired family size that their spouse has. Unfortunately, in many cases, that disappointment has come as a result of not talking about the subject with their significant other.
For the record, Shane and I actually discussed what kind of family size we’d like before we even got married.
I am one of 4 siblings and Shane is one of 3. Although, there are 18 years between Shane and his little sister, so for his entire childhood he grew up as one of 2.
Before we got married I said I could do 5 kids. He said 2…maybe 3.
Well, it’s important not to just fixate on a number and to take the thoughts and feelings of your spouse into consideration.
Honestly, after our first child, I thought we’d probably have four. However, we’ve settled on 3 for a number of reasons. It’s the family size that I thought I’d never be happy with, and yet here I am, entirely content with the idea.
Shane and I discussed it a lot. Each of us had our reasons for wanting the number of children that we have. Much of my decision has been made up out of consideration of my husband. He hates seeing me struggle so much in pregnancy. He has said so many times ‘I can’t wait to have you back.’.
Throughout my pregnancies, he has been so supportive and loving despite how lopsided the weight of the family responsibilities has been.
Be open, honest, and thoughtful towards your spouse. Whatever they are, don’t hide your feelings from each other.
3) Recognise Cluckiness for What it Is
This is something that I’ve talked with many women about. Cluckiness.
You’re good with your family size, but then you see a scrumptious newborn and all your resolve disappears. I get it.
There is not much in this world that compares with the velvet soft skin of a brand new baby. Having their little breaths blowing on your neck as you hold them up to your shoulder. They are warm, snuggly, and absolutely gorgeous.
Like I said, I get it.
However, I don’t think that feeling that way about babies is (personally) a good enough reason to keep adding to our family. Why?
Because I feel as though those feelings are a biological norm. It’s what draws us to have children in the first place. However, there’s a big difference between the cluckiness of having a baby and actually having another child.
Babies don’t stay babies forever.
Feeling drawn to newborns and all the wonderful newness that comes with them doesn’t necessarily mean you need to or should have another baby.
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4) Look Long-Term
The baby and toddler years are hard. Like, really, really hard.
That’s not to say that other stages of parenting aren’t. I know they are from watching my own parents raise my younger siblings as well as friends raising their children.
However, there’s something unique about the pregnancy/newborn/toddler stage that is completely overwhelming. Perhaps its the sleep deprivation? Or, it could be the physical drain that pregnancy takes on a woman’s body.
And then there’s the fact that when children are that young, their level of independence is very limited. That leaves their parents to not only look after their own person, but also one or several others.
So, I can understand that when you’re in that phase of life it can be entirely daunting to think of adding another child to the family (chaos!).
However, I would encourage you to look long-term. When you consider all the family holidays that you’ll celebrate, who do you see sitting around the table?
That’s the reason we went for baby #3. In all honesty, I didn’t want to be pregnant again. I’m not even sure that the newborn stage is that appealing. However, I knew that I wanted another child.
I could have stopped at two if I absolutely had to, but I always envisioned another. Perhaps it was because I grew up with several siblings. I couldn’t imagine my children not having the same kind of experience.
Whatever the reason, it made the decision to have another fairly easy.
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Well, it was much sooner than any of us expected (37 weeks 5 days), but our darling Annie Elizabeth made her appearance at 7:37 this morning. Weighing in at 6lbs 4oz. I thought Jack’s labour was fast, but this time it was around 6 hours total from the first contraction! We’re doing well, and I’m soaking in the newborn snuggles. 😍😊
5) Look Short-Term
Just to balance things out a bit, I would also encourage you to focus on the now as well.
Motherhood is all about balance. Balancing your needs, those of your husband, and also your children. There are very few things that can be seen through a black & white filter.
Situations and circumstances vary. While one decision will work brilliantly for one family, it might cripple another.
Achieving balance is what has made us decide to stop at 3 children.
At the time of writing this post, I’m 33 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child and second daughter. I’m thrilled to meet her in just a few short (well actually, probably reeeeeeally long) weeks.
But, this pregnancy has been taxing to a point where I’m actually frightened of ever having to go through another one again.
There hasn’t just been one thing, but many. They have piled up on top of each other and formed a perfect storm. We suspected that this would be our final baby, but this pregnancy has confirmed it.
In truth, I could probably have a fourth child. I think once you get used to the crazy, it isn’t such a big transition. However, I can’t do another pregnancy.
I joke about having the stork just drop off a babe on our doorstep. I’d be totally happy with that. The physical challenges, as well as prenatal depression, have finally tipped the scales.
Read this post for some great advice that can also help you reach a decision –> How Do You Know When You are Done Having Babies?
Is it Worth it?
People say that it’ll all be worth it, but sometimes it isn’t as simple as that. Part of parenting is taking into consideration the holistic needs of your family. Yes, ultimately, a child is invaluable. However, I personally feel as though part of my job as a mother is to give the best of myself to my kids.
For me, pregnancy takes a lot of the ‘best of me’ away. I can’t love and serve my children the way I want to. I’m not the happy and joyful person that I typically am.
So, while the decision to be ‘complete’ and ‘finished’ is very much a unique one, these are the factors that have influenced ours.
6) Contentment + Waiting
Each woman comes to the point of know they’re ‘done’ with having babies in a different way. For me and many others, it’s just a sense of contentment.
It’s like there has always been this space available for our third child. Like an empty spot at the table just waiting to be filled.
Now that our third is almost here, I don’t feel like that about having a fourth. I’m content. I feel as though our family is complete.
However, I’m also aware that there are many women out there that don’t feel that way. They don’t feel done, or they’re not sure either way.
In the case of my mother, the decision was taken out of her hands for medical reasons. That can be really difficult to work through.
If you’re one of those women who is just not sure about being finished having babies, then the advice I’ve heard many wise women give is to just wait. Wait, if you can.
If there is no reason to finalize things, then just wait.
This post has some really helpful tips that expand on this post, especially if you’re not sure. –> Being Done Having Babies
Our original plan was to wait until this baby was around 5 years old before we did anything ‘permanent’ to prevent another baby coming along. This pregnancy changed our minds, but if it hadn’t been so difficult we would have stuck with that plan.
It’s Your Decision
No matter what anyone says or thinks, the decision about how many children to have is almost solely yours. You can receive helpful tips (like the ones above, I hope!) but it’s up to you and your situation as to how they impact you.
You and your spouse decide what is right and wrong for your family.