Answer: Two or Three

Question: How many kids do you want to have?

Even before we got married, I would always answer with the above response. And it's still the accurate response because I'm maddeningly torn between having a third child and being done with my two. I feel that I must write this overly analytical, wishy washy post on whether or not to have a third but I do NOT want you all to feel like I'm begging for the following comment: 'You should totally have a third kid!' Because I'm not asking for that validation in putting this indecisiveness out there. Prom. I'm sure there are other moms in my position, going back and forth over the prospect of another pregnancy and I remember reading Laura's thoughts on this topic (loved it to death). Plus, I love to plan and over-think and control things. Hence this post. And this blog.

So, my kids are pretty freaking rad. Not sure I've ever used the word 'rad' before and that probably makes me incredibly lame and geriatric....but they are. Truman and Cecelia are freaking awesome. I adore being their mother---it's the most rewarding and the most challenging role of my life. I love my kids so much that I frequently find myself grinning like a creepster when I'm looking at their pictures or thinking about something cute they did the other day. Especially now, after crossing the magical first year milestone with my 'baby', I find myself feeling both settled and ready for the next shake up.

It's a paradox that I didn't really expect; I figured once Cecelia turned one I would just know whether or not we were done having kids. In fact, whenever anyone asked the golden question prior to her birthday, I'd say, 'We aren't even going to discuss it until CC turns one.' Because, duh. The first year is crazy hard and I feel like life has to be on the 'just getting by' setting until babies grow up a little bit, life settles down, and the dust settles. And now that the dust is settling (and we are all sleeping again), I'm kind of like, 'Well, that wasn't too awful. Let's do it again.'

To which Nate replies, 'You are crazy, woman.' Not really, but he would definitely be MORE than fine with 'just' these two whipper snappers. His take on the matter is that we have two happy, healthy boy, one girl...and they are more than enough to keep us busy over the years. Also, he likes to put on his dollar sign glasses and the cost of a third kid would be no joke, just like the two we have now tend to make a big impact in our budget. Cha-ching!

A third would mean we'd definitely need a new car sooner than later, although that is probably going to happen even if we don't procreate again. My beloved ride is twelve years old and starting to show some signs of the end of her sweet life...but she is a trooper and hanging on for now. We have a three bedroom home that we don't plan on moving out of anytime soon, if ever. I think having two kids share a bedroom is totally acceptable and seems kind of fun. Nate thinks it would never work. So then he thinks that the dream-worthy addition we like to talk about adding onto our house would be another 'must' which, of course, makes him grab his wallet for dear life. Another partially unpaid maternity leave, more clothes, more food, more diapers, etc.....and then of course the 'big kid' expenses like sports and activities and freaking college. Which will probably be a bajillion dollars each semester by the time our kids are there, but whatever.

Kids are expensive. But kids are freaking amazing and even Nate will say that he's not totally opposed to a third kid (cue the inner squeal!), but he's not totally convinced that is what is best for our family.

And honestly? I'm not totally convinced I want to push for a third, either. I love being pregnant, I love the magic of labor and delivery (WITH drugs, thank you very much), and that special dreamlike time when a new member of the family arrives? I could bottle it up, I love it so much. Newborns are hard but they are cleverly adorable. It's the daily routine with three kids that freaks me out the most. Three in and out of the car. Three baths. Three mouths to feed. Three kids all sick at the same time, creating messes at the same time, wanting to be held at the same time. The NEEDS of three kids, all resting directly on my shoulders when my parenting partner isn't there to share the weight of those needs. Would three be the straw that breaks the camel's (my) back? Would I be able to handle the chaos? Would I lose it mentally? Reading this article makes me very, very nervous, my friends. I think life is crazy with two but sometimes I cannot even imagine the stress level with three.

But it's a blip in the radar of life, right? So quickly we forget the pain of birth, the sleepless nights, the frustrating moments of mothering young kids. Selective momnesia, I suppose. I'm a good mom and I think I would be up for the challenge of three. When my inner skeptic questions if I'm cut out to be a mom of three, my inner competitor likes to say, 'Watch me.' I might have multiple personalities, yes, point taken.

As I packed up Cecelia's bottles the other day, I felt a rush of excitement and butterflies in my stomach thinking about getting these bottles out again for another baby. When I dig through baby clothes bins in our attic I can't help but get a little giddy thinking about whether we would see the boy clothes or the girl clothes on another little bitty baby. I will pass by my 'pregnancy test/ovulation strips/charting stuff' box in the attic and smile, because how fun/exhausting/exciting to think about doing it all over again. A growing belly. Kicks from the inside. Another birth story. And then another newborn blur for the first weeks/months/year. I could totally do it again. In a heartbeat.

Without being too 'out there', somedays I have a flash forward vision when I picture myself driving a mini van all over town, and the van is packed full of three kids. I see three spunky kids throwing food at each other/yelling/singing/laughing behind my drivers seat. I see three different personalities and activities and three different backpacks strewn across our house. A calendar jammed with soccer games and tee ball and dance class and Lord knows what else. The taxi-cab years are something I'm actually looking forward to, although I'm sure it will be ridiculously crazy. But a good crazy. I imagine three kids coming home from college, three weddings, three sets of grandkids. I like to dream and a lot of them include three.

I hate letting negative thoughts sit in my head, so I might as well get them all out here. I also worry that we'd be pushing our luck with a third and what if we had a baby not as healthy, one with special needs or behavior issues, or one that is seriously ill? Part of me is still quite shaken up from my last two pregnancies. Having one really horrible/prolonged miscarriage and then Cecelia's pregnancy when she was not supposed to make it either has really left an impression on me. As they should, I suppose. Maybe I would have a really hard time even getting pregnant next time. Or another loss. Or worse. I'm not naive enough to think that I can just snap my fingers and make the decision to have another healthy baby in my arms. And I know there are women out there who would give almost anything to be in my shoes with two precious babes napping upstairs as I type this.

Sometimes I think that I need to learn contentment with the many blessings I've been given. How could I ever say that Truman and Cecelia are not enough, when they are the dearest blessings I could have ever imagined? To say that I'm grateful for my babies is the understatement of the year, and I try to never ever take them for granted. I worry that asking God for a third baby would be like saying I'm not happy with my current two. Which is obviously NOT the case but that is my inner pessimist talking.

After I think about the fears of a third kid a bit I always come back to this: I was also scared and nervous about adding Truman and then Cecelia to our family. Going from 0-1 was hard and going from 1-2 was also hard, but in different ways. And we all survived and I am so thankful we took those leaps of faith each time. I didn't know what it would be like to juggle one, and then two kids. The day-to-day stuff scared me then and thinking about it with a third scares me now. But I know that if we were blessed AGAIN with another child we would never regret that sweet baby. We might have some pretty low moments in the middle of the night after getting horribly broken sleep and tending to the needs of a preschooler and a toddler on top of a newborn. Oh, there would be hard times, for sure. But in my heart I absolutely think that the highs would still outweigh the lows. Kids are just the best, and having more kids would bring even more joy. Right?

So I've always wanted two or three. Nate would be fine with two but I'm sure I could convince him about a third. Plus I think technically he has also always said 'two or three' as his answer, even before marriage. But no matter what, we will wait awhile to make our final decision. There's no rush. I love our 2 year and 3 month age gap but waiting even longer than that would be fine, too. So for now I will continue to go back and forth over this matter One day I am certain we are done and the next I'm even MORE positive we'll have a third. Which basically means we are 50/50 at this point. Totally undecided, and that's ok.

Because life is still awesome with T and C as the epicenters. And feeling content is never a bad thing. And there's never a dull moment with these guys.


  1. I feel like I should preface this comment by saying that I want 6 kids but John only agreed on 4. Thinking about having more babies makes me happy because BABIES! but sad because then I'm closer to being done having babies.

    Everyone I know who is "done" having babies says you just know. And it sounds like you don't. I think the richness more children would bring your family would far outweigh the monetary cost. Someone once told me they wanted 10 million babies but didn't want 10 million teenagers, so that's why they stopped having kids. It made me laugh. And then realize that I do want 10 million teenagers.

    As a Christian (I know you are too), I say don't decide. Let God decide. Leave it open to him. His plan for you is better than your plan for yourself. I know how hard that is for a planner like yourself.

    Now wasn't this comment completely unhelpful? Sorry for that.

  2. We have 1 that is about to turn 1 soon, still have sleepless nights and I have to admit that the idea of another one has just started creeping into my mind. And I can't believe it. 4 months ago I was pretty positive she was going to be an only child. I felt like maybe I just wasn't cut out to be a mom for more then one and my heart felt complete once we had her. My heart still does feel complete but when I see people with sweet little newborns I start thinking thoughts I never imagined I would. It is still 50/50 over here but I totally understand that little feeling that just starts floating around in your brain and in your heart.

  3. It's so hard to know! My first turns one on Monday and we are starting to have the "should we have another?" conversation in earnest now. Up until recently I have been mostly trying to convince my husband that we need a second, but this week I have started to try and seriously sit with the idea of only having one. And you know what I've realized? I really could be happy either way. I think that's the hard thing about family size--there's not necessarily a "right" answer, just the one you choose. Like you said, I know if we have a second child we would never regret it and we wouldn't be able to imagine our lives otherwise. But if we stopped now, I know we would still be happy as a family of three. Best of luck to you as you try to figure out the best thing for your family!

  4. Three! This is coming from someone who only ever wanted two children and never understood why anyone would want more ;) I have an 8 week old who was a surprise. (So not my way of doing things....I like to plan and research things to death.) We also have a 2 year old and almost 4 year old.

    Going from 1-2 was WAY harder for me than 2-3, even though there is almost exactly the same age gap between my first and second as there is between my second and third.

    Financially, three does make a big difference. We had to get a new car (mini van - love it!) and our three bedroom house may be too small in years to come. Of course, there is college too! It also makes things more expensive for us in terms of daycare (which will be a killer until my oldest starts kindergarten next year ) and also because our family lives abroad, so the extra airfare will make travelling home much more costly.

    Some days having three drives me over the edge. You are consistently outnumbered. However, seeing my older two playing together now makes me excited to see all three laughing and having fun in years to come. My youngest loves watching his older siblings already. Life is crazy, but fun :)

    I read somewhere that you'll never regret having the children you have, but may regret you the children you don't have. Good luck with your decision :)
    I read somewhere that you'll never regret having the children you have, but may regret you the children you don't have. Good luck with your decision :)

  5. Oh man....could have written this myself. Jim's like Nate - totally okay with being done. I'm like you where I envision our future with a nice haul of kids. But unlike you I DON'T want to be pregs again, don't want to deal with those shaky first few weeks at home and really don't want to deal with the day to day stress of juggling three kids. 90% of the time I'm totally cool with our two...but then the rest of the time I think of a third. I don't know...the bug hasn't hit me yet. Beginning to think it never will. I suppose time will tell!

    I'd put my retirement savings that the H family will have a third ;)

  6. Oh you are totally having a 3rd someday, I'm with Andrea ;)

    At the end of the day, it really does come down to the fact that you just want 3. It'll work out fine. Kids really can share rooms, Ben did his entire childhood and he is no worse for wear :)

    I'm in the 2 camp right now, but IF we did have a 3rd I'd wait way longer than the 2 year age gap we have now. I'm glad we did it and all that, but I also kind of realized that a bigger age gap would be just fine too. I was semi obsessive about the 2 year age gap being "ideal" and now I just don't think it matters much and something like 4 years apart would be aok for me. But really, at this point I still say we're done, but who knows how I'll feel in a few years??

  7. Oh I wish I could meet you at a starbucks and chat about this at length, which I won't do in your comments.

    so shortest version, I always wanted 3 (my family only had 2 kids, and I always wished I had another sib) My H has 3 bros and a step bro and that's probably why he's bent on 2, no exception, not to mention the $. We want me to stay home until school and that plays a huge part. I'm fine with it now bc my answer was always 2-3, leaning to 3. I'm so excited for our 2nd, but it'll be bittersweet too, although I think I'll be happier being able to give them the things I want to in life (the expensive sports, camps, and activities, new sneakers when they need them, etc,) then constantly feeling stretched because we can't afford the third or having one child's interests fall to the wayside because we can't financially support them to try something new. Now i'm tangenting... I'm sure you guys will decide when the time is right... however, I know two people who had this convo and immediately became pregnant!! So watch out, LOL!

  8. It's hard to remember that these young years are only a short season of our lives as parents. When making the decision to have a third, my husband helped me in looking to the future and what we've always dreamed our dining room table would look like in 15+ years during Holidays. That's what made me realize I did in fact want #3. I love having 3. It's A LOT of work (3 boys ages 5,3, and 1) and I definitely do not want anymore. It would have been hard for me to feel "complete" at 2. You will figure it out!

  9. I'm going with Andrea and Erin and saying that yes, I'd bet my retirement on it, too, that you're going to have three. You *say* you're 50/50, but reading this post, you sound about 90/10. ;) And I don't just say this because I WANT you to have a third (which, duh, I totally do) but because it seems so clear how much you want it deep down.

    (But side note, if you only have two, that's wonderful and fine by me, too! Because clearly it's all about me.)

    But you know my feelings. Yes, kids are damn expensive. Yes, these early years are hard and the years to come will probably be even harder in many ways. But it IS still a blip in the whole scheme of life, and you make it work. Because all the love and joy and fun of having a big family outweighs the not having quite as much money or peace and quiet in your life. More kids, more grand kids around that Thanksgiving table ... that's priceless.

    I agree with a previous poster that I think you just *know* when you're done. (Though I don't agree with the leaving it in God's hands because then you'd end up with a family the size of the Duggars!) And that you'll never regret a child, but you'll certainly regret the one you really wanted but chose not to have for 'practical' reasons.

    I have those same fears about a third child (as I did with a first and a second), but along the same morbid lines, I also think of how many people lose children. Not at birth, but later. It's a possibility, and when you've only had two, you're left with just one. It's such a horrible thought, and obviously having more kids doesn't make it any easier to lose a child, but more family means more support and more to lean on when tragedy does strike.

    And you are not asking for too much if you ask for a third child. I know I said it in an email recently but it bears repeating!! To want to bring a child into this world to love and care for and raise to be a good person, a valued part of your family, and a contributing member of society is a beautiful, unselfish thing! The good parents of the world, the ones who love being parents and who really take the time and effort to raise their kids right, need to be the ones having the kids. You have a beautiful home, a great family, a flexible work schedule, and two kids who'd make awesome older siblings to one more. You're golden.

    Whew, I guess I gave you exactly what you said you weren't looking for - 'have a third!' But truly, I think your heart yearns for a third and I think you'll have him/her when the time is right. All of our husbands (Jim, Dave, Nate) are 'fine' being done but love us and our kids enough to have one more - I, for one, am going to take mine up on it! ;)

    In conclusion, yay for babies. That is all.

  10. Oh wow... right there with you. I have gone from okay with just two to lets have four or five in an hour.

    I know it is really dumb but the car thing drives me nuts. I hate cars, car shopping and all of that. I would drive my old beat up car until the wheels fall off.

    It would be a whole lot easier if our kids weren't so cool. :)

  11. Sounds to me like your mind is made up! I've always wanted at least 4, lol. After Adam's difficult birth and dealing with a fussy baby, Rob isn't so sure he wants more. I LOVE being pregnant and having babies. I LOVE raising my children. Leave it up to the One who knows best. He won't steer you wrong. :)

  12. Just wanted to let you know that I am your newest follower! I am getting a design by Stephanie G and found your blog on her site. I LOVE YOUR BLOG DESIGN!!

    Also, your kids are beautiful, your pictures are perfection, and your house is gorgeous. I heart your style big time!

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  13. My husband and I were 99% sure we only wanted one (our daughter who is one month younger than Truman) we were certain until around nov 2011...we started trying, and trying and trying! I had 4 miscarriages. Then we said 'no more trying we are DONE!' We got rid of all our baby stuff and were 100% ok with it. Fast forward 7 months and now we have completely decided that we want another child. We decided this when we found out my husbands grandfather became terminally ill. It was like a light bulb just exploded above our heads and we agreed to start trying again. I feel a peace I have never felt before and I know that this is gods plan for our family. If you don't feel peace in your heart and mind maybe a third baby is trying to come through.

  14. Okay, I seriously think you and I share the same brain sometimes! You don't know me from Adam, apart from a little IG action (I'm cvannahmen on there), but we are so similar in our thought processes. I, too, have a 3 year old son and a 1 year old daughter (with a miscarriage in between) and am so torn on whether or not to go for a third. Every reason you gave is something I have thought about, and as another control freak, I feel like I need to decide everything Right Now!

    I always wanted more than just the one sister I had growing up, and I would love to have a big, happy family when our kids are grown. But I also worry about the stresses of day-to-day tantrums, feeding, bathing, exhaustion and the strain that could put on our marriage. I love my hubby and our marriage is strong, but I would never want to do anything that could jeopardize it...and sometimes I think the hot mess I might become trying to corral three kids might make me a not-so-nice wife. HA!

    Of course I worry about the financials too...if we had three kids I feel like my sanity would require me to at least work part-time, if not stay home full-time, because trying to manage a household of five people while working full-time would be enough to make me go crazy! But then I worry about what that would do to my long-term professional life...decisions, decisions!

    There is SO much to contemplate. I loved reading your eloquent thoughts on it! -Cathy

  15. Two or three has never been a question for us - we definitely want three, maybe even four (or five? six? haha) but I definitely wonder if I'll "know" when we are done. I just can't fathom feeling like I never want to go through pregnancy and the baby stage again. It makes me sad to even think that some day that stage of my life will be over.

    One thing that is definitely different for #3 vs. #2 though, is the timeline. I really wanted a baby closer to Isaac's age, but after having experienced the 2.5 year age gap, I love love love it. I think our transition was easy in part because of the gap and I really would love to recreate that. I figure if we have 4, all at about 2.5 years apart, I'll be done at 35, which would be great in my mind. But I guess we'll see what happens!

    I definitely understand the worry/freak outs about money and several kids to get in and out of car seats/stores/etc - just the massive organization and logistics of it all - but I also know that it's just a blip and more than anything, I want to give my kids the awesome experience of a large-ish family with at least 2 siblings, maybe more. No doubt in my mind that the final result is SO WORTH the hard times in between.

    I'm pretty confident that baby #3 will show up in the Hornung household. :) I agree with previous posters that it sounds like you are leaning heavily to the three side of this question! And I, for one, will be thrilled to follow along with another Hornung pregnancy!

  16. Ha, ditto all of the girls that are saying you will have a 3rd. We definitely want 3, but thinking about the baby/young child stage is overwhelming. I just love the idea of 3 growing up together. Mike and I both are from families of 3, so that has always felt "right" for us. I say, "go for it, girl". Of course, when you are ready :)

  17. I am in the same situation - but more "3 or 4" I fear that when I have four I will still feel the same way. Is it normal to get weepy with every darn little milestone thinking this could be our last. Ugh. I am sort of hoping that if we have a 4th, it will come the same way as Cole appeared in our lives. A big fat surprise. Just hope that surprise comes in 2 years. Mama needs a break! Hope you find clarity - or clarity comes with a surprise :) I mean, you make too cute of children to not have more.

  18. I would love three, but my husband insists 2 is his max. We'll just have to see. I just pray we're blessed with another before this one starts sleeping through the night and we decide we don't ever want to go back to having a newborn! :)

  19. Ooh, I really enjoyed this post.

    I'm with you on many levels and I'm also happy just to sit at this intersection - good if we do go for three and good if we don't. But I would guess we are both going to end up with three :)

    However, I remain so ON THE FENCE - at least in terms of thinking about the reality of another pregnancy & delivery - and I'm surprised at how little clarity I have gained as a full year has passed since I wrote that post you linked to.

    I think I mentioned this at some point on my blog but awhile back - maybe last year? - a lady at the midwife was very pregnant and had her two boys with her. We got to chatting and I asked how she came to the decision to go for three. She said that she and her husband sat down and wrote a list of pros and cons to try to decide. But in the end, the paper reasons didn't mean that much. What it absolutely came down to, was that there wasn't enough reason not to when there was a reason to still do it. (Heh, it).

    I think that is what it will boil do to for "Raj" and me. That want will exist no matter how many reasons not to. And the long term desire for a bigger family will outweigh the short term scary of a hard pregnancy and potentially complex delivery. Oliver is about to turn two I feel sad to think that this is my last baby.

  20. This post was so us, before we had our third anyway; a beautiful, angelic looking little boy who turned our world upside down. Because we love him to bits and he seemed to make our family complete, but also because he has a genetic disorder and severe behavioral problems caused by autism spectrum disorder and adhd. And that makes life hard...

    I gave up my job, my university training in progress, most of my time with my girls and husband to manage living with a special needs child. We'll be okay one day, but it's a long journey back to some sense of normality and truth be told, it was not what I was up for. People often say that you never regret having another baby, but we gave up a lot and I miss our life as a normal family.

    Maybe this sounds really harsh, but I just wanted to put things in another perspective. That it's okay to count your blessings, if that's what you and your husband decide. You'll know what's best for you.


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