How do you decide when you’re done having children?

How do you know when you're done having children?

When you get married, you’re harassed about when you’ll start popping out babies. Once you have one child, you’re bugged about when you’ll have a second little bundle of joy.

But it gets really interesting once you have two children. If you have two sons, you’ll inevitably be questioned about if you’ll try for that elusive baby girl — and if you have two daughters, people will ask about trying for a lil’ slugger.

As the parents of a son and a daughter, we’ve heard the term “million dollar family” so often that I’m starting to wonder why we aren’t actually millionaires.

How do you know when you're done having children?

Of course, that doesn’t stop our family and friends from inquiring if there might be a third or fourth in our future. Who wouldn’t want another precious grandchild, or another cute niece or nephew, right?

Years ago, yes, I admit I had small-scale “Duggar dreams” wanted four kids. Of course, that was before I had any children, and clearly I had no idea of the work, time, energy, and money involved with raising tiny people.

But now we know. And this week, our family is taking, uh, measures to ensure it won’t be getting any bigger.

(*** Edited to add: That didn’t happen. While we were waiting for the final appointment, this happened. ***)

It’s not (just) that I would have to stop working entirely for a few years, because there is no maternity leave for the self-employed — and no way I could continue to work from home with three children four and under. It’s not (just) because vacations are made for families of four. It’s not (just) because it’s easier to fit four people into a restaurant booth.

It’s not (just) because we love that our children are a year and a half apart, and we wouldn’t want to go through the “baby” stage again. It’s not (just) because I sold my maternity and nursing clothes, and sold or gave away all of our baby clothes and gear.

It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason, because there are so many reasons.

We can’t afford more than two kids — or rather, we don’t think we could provide for more than two kids properly, without making even more sacrifices than we do now. We could logistically handle more than two kids — I mean, we own a minivan — but we don’t really want to try.

I also don’t feel like we could emotionally handle more than two kids.

Having children and juggling multiple jobs is hard on a marriage — and on a person’s sanity — and I want to be in a position to guard mine a little more cautiously.

The appointment has come up pretty suddenly, and at first I found myself having the odd panicked thought. Was I totally sure? Were we completely ready to stop at two kids? I mean, babies are adorable …

You know the best way to answer those questions? Picture adding a two-year-old to your family, effective immediately. No, not a cuddly little baby — a toddler. A baby is only a baby for about eight or nine months, at least in our family. Then they’re off and running, destroying rooms as they empty your purse and overturn boxes of cereal.

Instead of asking someone if they want to have another baby, I think we should ask them if they want another child. The baby stage goes by in a split-second. Adding another member to your family is a much more serious decision than just craving the scent of a newborn. If I want to hold a baby, I’ll hold a friend’s baby … and then I’ll hand it back when it starts to cry.

I used to wonder how people would know when they were done having children. But now I know that it’s just sort of a peaceful feeling. My very wise friend (a mother of two) once told me, “You have to stop sometime,” and she’s absolutely right. Unless you really want to be like the Duggars and have 19 or 20 children, there comes a point when everyone stops — and it’s up to each family to decide when they’re ready to put on the brakes.

It’s kind of scary any time you shut yourself off from an option, and that’s what we’re doing. But it’s not only about saying no to future children — it’s about saying yes to focusing on what’s best for our family. It’s saying yes to being happy, and living a life that’s fun and comfortable and exactly right for us.

Yes, we’re closing a door. But we’re also turning a page and starting a new chapter.

The four of us are stepping into the future, together, to see what it holds.

How do you know when you're done having children?

4 Comments on “How do you decide when you’re done having children?

  1. Good thoughts. There is a lot of pressure (at least in my LDS culture) to first, have lots of kids but second, know exactly how many you'll have and third, by what age that will happen. Family planning is a personal and complicated process and there are often unforeseen changes of plan along the way.

    I like your positive focus on the future and decision to provide a happy and healthy life for them. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Thank you, BriAnn! I love your point about family-planning being personal and complicated, with unforeseen changes of plan — completely true, and something that people often overlook from the outside looking in.


  3. Love this. You’re totally reading my mind these days. I had always told myself I’d close up shop by 35, and those days are very very near… I still wait for that ‘feeling’ of knowing we’re ‘done’.


    • It’s so hard to feel DEFINITE about it either way, I think. There’s always the thought that another one would be nice, and sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have another kid or two, but for us it just didn’t make sense. It made more sense to NOT have more than it did to HAVE more.


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