how did you decide how many kids to have? — The Bump
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how did you decide how many kids to have?

The subject above is essentially all I was wondering. What did you take into conisderation when deciding how many kids you were/are having? I am wondering how other people made this huge decision.



Re: how did you decide how many kids to have?

  • We don't have kids yet, but I think for us it had to do with our own families growing up. We each just have one sibling, but our parents come from larger sets (his dad is one of 14!!). We agreed on 2, but threw the "maybe 3" in there because I think if we ended up with two of one gender we'd try for whichever we didn't have. Two seems "safe" with me. And it gives the family an even number, which I'm weird about.
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  • Age, financial, and difficulty TTC all influenced our decision.
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  • I'm an only child and always wanted a sibling.  DH has a sister and liked, we're planning on 2 but discussed the option of 3 if we had 2 of the same sex.  That being said, now that we have one, two is on hold as we try to figure out the finances of two (let alone 3). 
  • Our family's size. We each come from a 2-child family.

    Social norms. I still have a hang-up about having more than 2 children, having come from a country where a 3rd is extremely, extremely rare.

    Financials. We can manage to put 2 kids through a Bachelors degree. Not 3, and I would like to be able to have the option to pay for their schooling in case loans/scholarships are not an option for them.

    Size of home. Our house fits 2 kids just perfectly based on how I envisioned it. I'd like each kid to have their own room, and since we like our pad, won't sell any time soon, and can't expand it any further, that's it.

    Age. We ain't getting any younger, and S is already concerned about being 60 when the kids turn 20.

    Fertility. We used up our pennies getting these 2. No mo.


    But would I like to be pregnant again? Yes.

  • I've always wanted 3-4.  That was when I was younger and did not know that I would get a late start.  I also am 1 of 3.  My mom comes from a total of 5, my dad is one of 3

    My husband is one of 2 and wanted two.  Mainly he wanted one of each.  At this point, we arent positive if we are done.  I think if the kids had been the same sex, that may have swayed us a bit to have just one more. 

    I just pictured myself with 3 kids I guess.  Obviously, as reality sets in, I think of college costs, whether or not we want to send them to private schools, braces...

    We will see...

  • I'm an only child and growing up I never wanted to have kids.  Met DH and he wanted kids sometime.  He wanted 2 and I only wanted 1 if we did have kids.  After our 1 he agreed that 1 was all we could handle.  If we had more family support around he would have wanted 2 but I have always been 1 and done!
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  • I have a brother, I always thought I'd have 2 kids. 

    To me two is perfect.  I can't imagine having 2 siblings- to me someone would always be on the outs.  I guess that says a lot about me!  Cool

    The gender issue is neither here nor there to me really.  I always thought I'd have a daughter but I don't and I won't, that's ok.  My boys are my world!  

    That said, if I had boundless resources, I would have a boatload of kids.  I love being a mom and I would love to just pop 'em out one after the other.  It's just not reasonable in our real life.

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  • we just had our first LO a month ago, and we already semi had this conversation.  we will probably have 2 or 3.  we both come from 3 kid families, and if we have 2 of the same gender we might try for the third.  i guess i am not sure!
  • It's such a complex question isn't it?  ThIere were my own thoughts growing up that I would have two kids, a boy and a girl, of course in that order. Ah the naievety of youth.  Then for a long time I didn't want kids at all, pretty much from around middle school until DH convinced me.  I just didn't see myself with kids, had no desire to be pregnant or birth at all!  If was funny because I was very child oriented in my employment pursuits as a youngster.

    Then I caught baby fever from DH and we decided to have one and see how it went.  Had we had a girl the first time we would have been one and done.  DH longed/longs for a girl so we knew we'd be having a 2nd.  The entire time I was pregnant I cursed not having had a girl and knew that we would not go for a 3rd because 3 boys would be the death of me.  I will say though that if we had enough money for lots of extra help I would go for a girl up to 4 kids.  Now that i've got them it's so incredible watching how different they are, it's really magical and I love that.  I just would need someone to do everything else so I could focus soley on the kids.Big Smile

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    That said, if I had boundless resources, I would have a boatload of kids.  I love being a mom and I would love to just pop 'em out one after the other.  It's just not reasonable in our real life.

    This is me exactly, and may I add to those resources boundless patience, which my one and only is REALLY testing this week!

    We haven't decided once and for all yet. DH is pretty set on having only 2, only because that's what he had growing up (he just has an older sister). I grew up in a family of 4 sisters (1 who was born way later than the rest of us, so we all helped raise her). I'd love to have a large family. My dream would be to have 2 back to back, wait 5-10 years, and then have 2 more back to back, but I don't think 4 is in the cards for us for a few reasons. I personally lean toward 3, mostly because I cannot imagine the next time being my last time ever to go through pregnancy, birth, the precious newborn stage, etc. Knowing that I won't be a full time SAHM though, since I'm working toward what I hope will be a wonderful career, makes me think 4 would be out of the question for us. So I hope that I can convince DH to change his mind and go for a 3rd.


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  • Are you all thinking about having a 3rd?  If so, go for it!  I've never met anyone that regretted having additional children, but you often hear people talk about regretting that they didn't go for another one.

    We've gone back and forth on it forever, and overthought it to death.  At this point, we're done.  My youngest will be 3 in July, and I want mine close together.  If we had another one, they'd be 4 years apart which is too much for me personally.  I do, however, wish we had just gone for it when the youngest was less than a year and the decision would be done (and I know we'd never regret it).  Now that my kids are a little older and will soon be out of the toddler stage, I just don't want to go back to the infant stage and start over.

  • As of now it's based on a financial standpoint.  We can only afford to have 2.  If things changed, I would want 1 more.
  • I always wanted a big family, at least 3 (I came from 4 myself). DH wanted two, like his own family. We finally agreed after having our first son that if #2 was a girl we'd stop at 2, if he was another boy (which he is) we'd have a 3rd.However, we plan on adopting our 3rd. Both my sisters are adopted, and I've always wanted to adopt myself. We're planning to adopt a toddler-aged girl from China. We're not in any particular hurry, I don't mind if theyre further apart in age than the first two were at 23 months, so we're not worried about long wait times.Plus, we're not the gambling types, so this way we're guaranteed a girl! ;-)
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  • Ideally, we will want 2, and I don't think anything (sex of 1 & 2, coming into lots of money, etc) will/would change that. 

    I like that theme park rides are built for multiples of 2 or 4, booths at restuarants are meant for families of 4, cars seem suited for family of 4. 

    The middle-child syndrome scares and concerns me.  It makes the most sense to me, environmentally, for us to only reproduce to replace ourselves.  It's important to us to have money set aside for college...and that will be much easier for us to do with 2 than any more than that.  It'll also be important to us to take family vacations, etc which would be impacted financially by a 3rd+. 

    We're very sure we only want two.  And I really think T will go in for a vasectomy within a year or two after we have a second.

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  • Financially to live the life we want to live with our children, we will only have 2.  Travel is very important to us and having 3 kids would really change a lot of our plans.  In a perfect world where finances were not a consideration, I would like 3 although DH is pretty set on just having 2.

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  • Sorry that I didn't reply with my own answer -- I was fighting my phone hard just to post what I did last night and I decided I would wait until I was in front of a computer to respond :D

    Whenever DH and I talk about the number of kids we are having, we usually only talk about our emotional responses to the idea and finances. You know how they always say, "Wait six months after a life-changing event to make a big decision"? M is over 6m old now, so if we were going to make any long-term decisions that would impact our ability to have more kids, the time is coming upon us. (Granted, we don't HAVE to do anything, but now is the time to talk about it!)

    Since it's been a topic we've been floating for a couple of weeks, I was wondering what other people took into consideration as well. I like that this board has such a varied number of family types and responses... you guys make me put my thinking cap on, for sure. :)

  • age, finances and availability of family help

    we both came from families of 4 but were NOT keen on having THAT many kids. we were older 1st time parents (35 and 39) and as age increases so do the risks. i don't think we could handle (emotionally or financially) a special needs child.

    we can afford one ok .. 2 would be pushing it. we'd like to give dd the things that we never had (assistance w/ college funding, paying a substantial portion of her wedding, helping her buy her 1st car, etc.) and having more than 1 GREATLY limits us from doing that.

    the lack of family help - simply put, we do not have family close by so we're on our own. no one to call if we need a break and viola they're there. adding another to the mix would be overwhelming .. no thank you.

    given all of these factors .. despite me originally wanting THREE ?!? kids, i'm more than content w/ my one that giggles wildly and the 2 that bark. if we can afford another (daycare and health ins.) that would be great, if not, i'm not heartbroken over it.

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  • In my alternate universe, we wanted two.  I wanted a girl and a boy (just because I wanted to mother each gender). 

    And then it took us three years to concieve and a difficult pregnancy, etc to get to our one live child.

    And that child wreaked havoc on us, physically, and emotionally.  He's a joy, and mothering him is my favorite part of my life.  BUT there can't be another to join him.  We wouldn't physically be able to handle it even if it we could conceive with ease (highly doubtful), I had a good pregnancy (highly doubtful), and the baby was an easier child (like if he/she slept, ate well, didn't get sick a lot, etc.). 

    So even though I would love to do the baby stage again, I can't personally handle the rest of it, so he'll be a much loved only child.

  • We both decided way back during our dating days that we wanted two children at the most. The cost of raising a child was a huge factor to the decision. Also, we both grew up with one sibling and the dynamic worked for our families.
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  • We still aren't sure how many kids we want to have.  DH is an only and I have one much younger brother and we both want a house full of kids, ideally 4.  The biggest factor in us being done with this baby is how horrid the delivery and recovery was with J.  I still have big fear issues about doing that again, but I was also certain that I wanted J to have a sibling and I wanted them 3 years apart so I was going to go for it.  If I can deliver this baby vaginally without major complications then I am pretty sure we will be having at least one more child.  If not, forgetaboutit.  Feeling very blessed with my sweet boy and that we will be having a girl exactly 3 years later so if this is it, so be it.

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  • We would like two.  It's just a matter if we're lucky enough to have two. 

    We will definitely try for another, we're just not sure how "aggressive" we are going to be trying.

  • DH and I always wanted at least 3 kids.  I wanted 4, plus in an ideal world I'd adopt a couple as well.  This being my 3rd pregnancy, I'm thinking I'm done.  This one is taking more out of me than the other two and it made me realize that I'm okay with this being my last pregnancy.  I'd love more kids, but don't want to be pregnant again.  So unless I can convince DH to adopt in the future, 3 may be it for us.  

    We like big families.  DH is one of 3 and though I only had a brother, I wished for more siblings. We'll see what the future brings.  :) 

  • I've always wanted 3. preferably with the 2 same sex kids being close together (so I would prefer another girl rather than having another boy with the girl between them, though of course If I actually got pregnant I would welcome any healthy baby.)

    BUT, in my mind I never imagined having a career. At this point we could not afford a 3rd. If I were working more we could but having a baby impacts my ability to work. Kind of a double edged sword.

    A couple more things keeping us from having a 3rd: Winnie is...difficult. I love her to death but she is pretty needy and non-sleepy. I don't feel (right now) like I would want to go through the baby phase again. Lastly,  I am a horrible pregnant person. The only way I would consider getting pregnant again is if I got down to a healthy weight, which means I need to lose 60 more pounds (i'm working on it!). 

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  • Money, goals/aspirations, difficulty of pregnancy.

    Those are the big ones.  here is the break down in case you were curious:


    How much would it cost to send our child/children to private school because we felt that public was not the route we wished to take. How much would it cost for us to maintain the lifestyle we want (newish cars, family vacations, living in bay area, going out to dinner when we feel like it) while still affording private school and other child associated costs? How much money did we want to be able to save and put into retirements (we max our deferred comp, etc) and still afford previously decided lifestyle.  How much college were we interested in affording (bachelors for sure, but if he chose to get a masters/phd how much of that would be willing or want to contribute to that)?


    School, I decided to go back to school and the aspirations just keep going up from there.  After my injury and the reality of never being a cop settled in...I knew I needed to go back to the drawing board.  So then I asked...what do I want to be? How much school will it take? What is the end game result I wish within that field so I know if I should get my BS or MS in it now.  DH is thinking about getting his MBA or MPA, he might change careers in 2-5 years because he is unhappy right now.  How much will these changes cost and how much will they rock the boat.  Will we move out of the bay area (this is a strong possibility with my career aspiration)?  What is our travel bucket list?  What is our housing desire (where to live, how much space, etc)?  What are our child's career dreams, will he want to go through extra education, will he have special needs that require him to go to a specialized school?  

    Difficulty of pregnancy:

    I had a crap pregnancy.  I had hypermesis gravadium and gestational diabetes.  I also had some other high risk factors that made the stress level of the last 3 months of my pregnancy pretty rough.  Ultimately I asked myself...if I wanted a second child would I be willing to do pregnancy again? The answer was a instant yes.  But since we are not wanting a second I feel immense relief over not having to do it again.  That said, if we did have a second, we would be sure to choose to live in an area close to a hospital that can handle my specific high risk factors, so that limits us in some of our goals and aspirations.  These are just the things that we have thought about.

    I shared all of this to say...make your list, then start filling in what each one means to you.  It will become clear what you really want/can manage when you do it. 

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  • Mostly financials, while we probably could afford another, we wouldn't be able to live the way we want.

    I'd love to have another, and gender did play a role in that.  I always wanted to have a son, I love my girls and feel like our family is complete, but I would love a boy.  Dh is dead set against more kids, but I'm holding out hope that we can maybe revisit the issue at some later date.

  • I personally think there is never enough money to have with that said. i would like 4-6 kids. I came from a family of 4....buthave half and step siblings too. DH came from 3 also and was adopted. he says we are done with just two..however recent baby talks have been expereinced. They seem to have been in a joking manner...but I believe there is always some truth in joke type i believe we will end up with 4 if I have my way. Also we plan on moving out of this state so that we can better afford kids...bigger homes and more land and better school systems is what we are after!
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  • Right now we are good with 1. Will we have another, not sure. In a perfect world, I live on huge piece of property, grow lots of my own food and have 17 children. Yes, 17. (ok maybe not 17)

    Things that we consider when we talk about it

    $$$: How much do we have now, what is our month-to-month situation, what major upcoming costs do we foresee (school, house, medical etc)

    Schools: We'd like our children to experience a better education than we did. We love the school district we are in now, but we rent. We won't be able to own anytime soon, and don't love the school district we would be in where we can afford to buy

    Proximity to friends & family *our support system*: this is huge, that goes beyond babysitting needs. Thankfully we are close to them all, so if I truly wanted my 17 children, I know I'd have support. Now to find the $$ and land. =)

    Lifestyle: Right now we are still so much on the go. We see what having two children has impacted our friends, and we aren't ready to go there. Plus I'm in school, DH is thinking about going back to school.. and we just need to be as flexible as possible. Another lifestyle factor has been the health of our marriage.... we have a lot of stuff going on.. and are putting a lot of work into our marriage. I would like to just *exist* for awhile in one stage before trying to tackle another change.


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  • I don't think I could honestly answer this w/out getting crap.


    but it's interesting to read all of your thoughts!


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  • Well take this from someone who didn't really get a choice. I wanted two, I always said I would have two only. DH didn't really have a ideal number. He has three sibilings from his Mom and Two from his Dad, and I have just one other sibiling.

    I will say now that I have three, I can't imagine not having three. Granted I am doing it a little different with two at a time. Is it hard work .. yes. Is it worth it.. yes.

     Let me address my fears I had before I had three.

     $$$- Well I agree with PP who said you never have enough money for children. I mean even if we planned and saved for the kids college now the price is DOUBLING next year. I am not sure if we will ever be able to catch up, will be be able to help of course. Right now the basic needs are under control. I worried about needing a bigger car, but you know what we just bought a bigger car. Isn't a huge deal.

     Feeling equal or someone left out--Right now it isn't like that. They are the band of brothers and I love them all and they love each other. I picture them going to baseball games later in life together, and all their families living near each other and having bbq's together. I don't think anyone will feel left out.

     Pefect age spread- I didn't have to worry about that, but my big worry was starting over again after two and balancing that. I am not sure my way is the easiest way but I am glad I don't have to start over.

     Finally I knew I was done having kids when I had the twins because I felt complete. I feel complete. Just a feeling of being blessed with just enough. However my husband has been tossing around a idea of a 4th and I think he is crazy. I wonder though what happens if you don't agree with your partners idea of done.


  • When we went through IF our only goal was to be parents. How many wasn't an option. We were completely fine and happy with one, then we got our welcome surprise with Travis. I am very glad we were able to give Sabrina a sibling. But otherwise we had no need for a certain amount of children. I have zero desire to be pregnant ever again, go through delivery again or the newborn stage again. So we are definitely done no matter what.


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  • Great question.  We originally said 4!  Then we had 1 and dropped that number to 3.  Then life threw curve balls at us with our relationship and other things and well...  We thought 2 would be all we would have.  Now that things are looking up, we both just don't feel like we are done.  I just feel like our family is missing a member.  I think this might be because we are both from families of 5 it just feels like we should have 3 kids.
  • Really enjoying reading everyone's thoughts.  I always just assumed we'd have 2 because I came from a family of 2 and so did all of my close friends.  DH is an only and wants 2 as well.  We haven't really considered more than that at this point.  I wouldn't say it's impossible, but unlikely.  If we did, it would either be due to twins or through adoption, which I am interested in but haven't yet started really seriously thinking about. 


    For me, I'm really not sure about being pregnant again... given that I could be totally out of commission for 3+ months like last time (and not feeling so great the other 6, nor the first couple months PP) not only because I don't want to go through it, but also because I'd miss so much with my little guy.  I am fortunate that I got to experience both a natural childbirth and breastfeeding (for a whopping 28 months) so if I do not do either of those things again, I would be sad but ok with it. 


    I do want to add to our family somehow, though.  So this is what we'll be pondering and discussing over the next year or two.  I do want a larger age gap because my guy is way beyond a handful, and we're not quite ready for the demands of two... hopefully as he gets a little older it will seem more do-able!

  • We're a two kid family. DH and I are both only children, and we both knew we didn't want to have an only child when we were parents.  On the other hand, three seems like a lot to manage, and it would be a tight squeeze in our house for a third.  We're not getting any younger, and I'll be 55 when Noah graduates from high school, so that played into our decision.  Even though I really wanted to have a girl, and even though I get very nostalgic over every little baby thing Noah is going through ("This is the last umbilical cord stump I'll gag over!") I'm *really* glad to be done with pregnancy.  It was tougher for me the second time around, and I'm not sure I'd want to try for a third.  
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