Should I Have a Third Child? A Conversation between The Brain and The Heart

Should I Have a Third Child
We all know our brains make the informed decisions. And our hearts are the wild child within us, like the drunk girl at the party, leading with instinct and passion. Do I want that adorable dress I have nothing to wear it to? Brain says No, don’t be an idiot. Walk awayyyyy. And the heart is still cooing, touching the fabric, holding it up and telling you how thin and pretty you’d look in it.
It’s the classic angel and devil sitting on our shoulders.
So two years ago around this time, the dueling topic taking over my body was “Should I have a third child?” It’s a question I know a lot of people face, whether going for #1, 2 or 3 (or maybe even more!). And recently, while reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please (which I strongly recommend!), I realized the two voices wrestling inside me were my brain and heart. Here’s a snippet of how it went down. Sound familiar?
Heart: So I was thinking…
Brain: Oh no. No, no, no. That’s my department.
Heart: OK. So I was feeeeeeling.. that we should really go for the third child.
Brain: What? Stop. Now. You have two healthy kids. Don’t risk it. Really, I can’t take this stress. And the work. It’s too much work. Get over yourself. End of discussion.
Heart: But I want it. I fear I’ll just be empty without this last baby. We started this family with the goal of three. Here’s our window. The youngest is 3. I’m not getting any younger here Brain. We gotta poo or get off the pot. You know?!
Brain: Yeah, I vote we get off the pot.
Another child means 5 more years of child care, preschool and baby classes and programs. Life is just getting easier. We are out of diapers. Both kids are sleeping, communicating, and pretty enjoyable. Life is good. This would take us all the way back to the beginning. Sleepless nights (and days), nursing, baby-proofing, no long trips, working around nap schedules. It’s a mess. I can’t even believe we’re having this ridiculous discussion. And it’s 5 more years of childcare! You could go to Europe 17 times for this price – and buy whatever you want there.
Heart: Well, I vote we poo.
Seriously? With this busy life I’ll never really go to Europe, Brain. We both know that. Maybe once in those six years. And would that fancy trip really replace another kid? No. You can give me all the fancy vacations, shoes and bags, and I just have this empty feeling inside me. And yes, this is hard work. But that’s why we have to do this now, while life is still in hectic-mode.
I just want one more. One more!! That’s it.
Brain: I’ve heard that before. Like, every time you make chocolate chip cookies.
Heart: Nom, nom, nom.. Sorry, can’t hear you. I’m eating cookies.
Brain: One word: minivan. You’ll need a minivan.
And let’s do some math, you’ll need the new car…or should I say “van?” You’ll outgrow your house faster than you planned; and you think you won’t need to buy much — but diapers, baby food, it all adds up.
And Heart, what if? Just what if this baby is born with a health need you aren’t ready for? Have you thought about that? What if one of the older kids needs more of your attention – and you are stretched too thin?!
Heart: Brain work with me here. You know I’ve thought of all these things! But do you know that if I don’t do this, I will probably live the rest of my life feeling like I missed out on something? Like part of our family is missing? It’s a huge risk, I know. I am scared, very very scared. This feels greedy. If we do this — if we add to this family — we will have to be ready for whatever we get. And we will have to trust that whatever happens was somehow meant to happen. And we will rise to the occasion. I know we will.
But if we don’t do this, I fear I will regret it. Forever. And that’s something you and I will both have to wrestle with.
Plus, I could spend a lot of money trying to fill this void. So calculate that math.
Brain: So I guess that’s our answer. (Gulp!) Please pass the cookies.
Last July, my third child, a beautiful baby boy was born, and our family really does feel complete. I have to tell you that I actually wrestled with this decision for years, and to finally end the inner dialogue has been a huge relief. Probably for my husband too! It became the elephant in the room. I wanted to talk about it, but I didn’t. I kicked it out, and then I invited it back in again. In October we needed a new car, and it forced us into a decision. And once he was born, my brain and heart shook hands, and determined the heart was right.
She always is.



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