Let me start off by acknowledging that my husband and I are in a fortunate position where having more children is a possibility, due to family support and stable jobs that allow us to be stationed in the same town, and work that’s mostly within the regular working hours on weekdays (except for the occasional ad hoc work issues), giving us time to allocate for the kids.
There are families with spouses who have to work in different locations or countries or have regular travel commitments due to work, or some of us do not have family who have the capacity to babysit our kids during working hours. Sometimes it’s due to finances, as having children is not cheap by any means in today’s setting. In these situations, having children (not to mention having more than one) will be a strain on both husband and wife.
In our case, the kids have two doting grandparents who care for them when we are at work, and my husband and I even get to have once-a-week date nights to spend time with each other. For this, I am grateful and do not take it for granted.
That being said, to have 3 kids spaced at most 2 years apart, is by no means a walk in the park. What’s also challenging is being pregnant and breastfeeding every kid over a year each, while working full time, and on some days I still had to work long hours ( even at this point in time I am still nursing my youngest, but due to pandemic I have more time working from home). Some people may comment that the kids are too near in age, and in fact, at work I have colleagues who were surprised to know I was pregnant again ‘so soon’ after we had our first two kids.
However for us, it was intentional and we still feel the benefit outweighs the difficulties we faced, here are some reasons why we chose not to wait long to have more children.
1. We wanted more kids from the start
When we got married, my husband and I agreed that we wanted 3 kids, and we would joke that we would name them Raynor, Kerrigan and Zeratul respectively (StarCraft fans will get it). Interestingly at one point in time before I got pregnant with number 3, I started to feel guilty for wanting another child, due to the thought that I would be contributing to the world’s over population problem (or so I naively thought back then). So I did my research on the topic of over population and found out there was no actual ‘crisis’ after all, and got to watch some pretty informative videos on this topic in the process ( Have a look at Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained). Basically, we will hit a standstill in our numbers, and some countries are reporting lower and lower birth rates as time progress.
Anyway, after having the first baby, I was hooked to having another little one to love and I wanted to give my son sibling companionship. After our second child, we did not wait long to have the third, as we already knew our number three was what we wanted when we thought about having children when we got married.
2. They can relate to each other better
Since they are closer in age, the kids were able to play together and talk to each other relatively well, with the exception of my one year old who only has a few words at this moment. Right now the kids are aged 5, 3, and 1 years old respectively and it is really a joy for us when we see the three of them interacting with each other. The older 2 kids do tend to baby our youngest daughter quite a bit, we suspect it’s because they observed how we as the parents treated her. Thankfully for us, there was never an issue of jealousy between the 3 of them as we loved each kid individually, and consciously gave each of them as much equal attention as their other siblings.
3. Do it in one season
Bundling all 3 kids together seemed right and we could have the ‘baby’ season done once and then move on once the youngest grew to toddler hood. This helped us manage their baby belongings and things like the crib, the playpen, stroller and even their clothes were used repeatedly with less than a year interval between these items among the kids. Sleepless nights? Do it in one season. Breastfeeding? Do it in one season. It would be much more difficult to pick up these habits and routines again later on if we waited 3-4 years in between kids.
4. Grandparents were getting older
This actually was one important factor for me. My husband’s parents are relatively healthy now, and if we had waited longer to have more children, they may not be as physically fit years later to manage babies and young kids. Since the kids were with them whenever we worked which can mean almost 10–12 hours a day, I wanted to be sure they could cope with the kids, and as most parents know, babies and toddlers are like energizer bunnies that really sap the energy from their caregivers.
5. Fertility declines with age
Another big one for me. I have a career that I relatively care for and want to continue doing, but career and work, unlike fertility, does not have a time limit, at least not such a tight one. The fact is women’s fertility does, however, goes down with age unfortunately. I had to choose, to have babies first or to push for career first.
I chose to have kids, because I could still pursue my career when my kids are a little older, by then I would not be too old still, and I might be more matured after going through how it feels to be a working mother, by choice. Generally, the rule of thumb for women is that fertility goes down after age 35, so I made sure to have the kids before I hit that age number to prevent any risk, for both mummy and baby’s optimal health. That being said, by no means it will suddenly become much harder to conceive the day after your 35th birthday, but it is a guideline that doctors will use to remind you not to wait to have kids.
6. There’s never a good time to have a baby
I watched a video from a female gynecologists’ 2 years back who was my age and she had 4 kids of her own while still being a full time doctor in the US. When viewers asked her when is the best time for a doctor to have kids, her answer was, basically that there’s no right time, in their line of work there is no specific season where things slow down for doctors to plan to have children.
This is true even for most of us, if you are a working woman, it is not easy to time a baby in your schedule as things will only get busier as you progress in your career. In most instances, there will not be a right time to have a kid or have more kids, but what happens is as your family grows and career progress (as you get better at it ) is that you learn to manage home and work better, till it becomes second nature.
So if I were to advise, for those of you who want more children or want to start a family, if your finances and health are in check, and better if you have family support (though this is not a pre-requisite), go ahead to have that baby. Some words of comfort, from my experience, having the second and third child is not exponentially harder than having the first child, as you already have the experience and expectations of how to manage babies, parenting, or even breastfeeding (if you choose to do so). The only time I would recommend waiting before having kids is after you are just married, as it may take some time for husband and wife to settle down to married life and living together, and to adjust as a married couple a little while before baby comes.
Before I end, below are some graphs on how it felt like going from one kid to the next, from personal experience ( I should have used excel to plot it but nevertheless, hand written graphs still have some charm right?). Maybe those who have 3 or more kids can relate ( feel free to extrapolate this graph for kids number 4 and beyond).
If you refer this graph, the rate of parenting difficulty actually decreases with the number of kids you have, due to your parenting skills have leveled up and more realistic expectations are set the second and third time around.
It could be derived from this graph here that 2 kids is the expected number of children for couples this day and age, to have 3 almost feels somewhat ‘outrageous’.
Thanks for reading and happy parenting.