Searching for Clarity:: Should We Have a Third Baby?

Should we have a third baby or is our family complete? This is a dilemma I struggle with, and I know many moms can relate to my feelings and questions.

Searching for Clarity: Should We Have a Third Baby? A photograph of a baby's feet extending out of a fluffy blanket.

I remember the day we found out our oldest son was a boy. It was May 4, 2015 and we were filled with excited energy as we waited in the doctor’s office for my OB to read the results of the ultrasound. A little part of me knew before she even walked in the room that we’d soon be picking out tiny onesies in powder blue. I kept thinking how all my future children would be blessed with a big brother, and felt nothing but joy. I couldn’t even wait until we made it home before I called my parents to let them know I was carrying their very first grandson.

Things were a little different the second time around. For starters, I was too anxious to wait until the twenty week scan so we opted to do the genetic blood test. And since this sweet babe wouldn’t get a big baby shower like our first, we decided to do a little gender reveal party instead. We didn’t invite anyone {deciding that we preferred to keep it just the three of us}, but I gave my best friend the envelope with our baby’s gender secreted inside and the task of ordering a a box of pink or blue balloons for us to open.

A mother and a father holding a young child stand next to a box labeled girl or boy. Extending out of the opened box are blue balloons.

It was in that moment, as I gazed at the box I’d carefully decorated with pretty pink and blue paper, that I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. You see, unlike our first pregnancy, this time I had a very vested interest in the gender of my child. I’d dealt with crippling postpartum depression and anxiety with my oldest, and suspected, rightfully so as it turned out, that I would face a similar darkness with this new baby I carried within me. And since I had dreamt my entire life of having a daughter one day, I needed this child to be a girl, because I simply wasn’t sure I could face a third pregnancy. A third newborn. A third round of postpartum panic attacks and fear.

Now as I watch my two beautiful, healthy sons play together, I am ashamed of how I reacted when those blue balloons drifted out of the box. How I spent the whole day weeping instead of celebrating. Because my sweet youngest son is the most incredible blessing. Two adorable dimples pop out when he smiles, and he has a laugh that would make the Grinch’s heart grow ten sizes rather than a mere three. He’s the most precious thing in my life {along with his older brother of course} and I wouldn’t trade him for the little girl I’d wanted for all the riches in the world.

That being said, my husband and I now face an agonizing dilemma. Because the truth is I still long for a sweet baby girl of my own. I’m so envious of my friends and family members throwing Little Mermaid birthday parties for their daughters, and taking them to their first ballet class. I long to see my wonderful husband escort our little girl to the father/daughter dance, and give her away at her wedding.

But as much as I want those things, I honestly don’t know if we will ever be ready to have a third child. There’s so much more to it than the dread of postpartum depression, though it’s ever present in the back of my mind when I think of future children. Could we handle the financial strain of a third child? We’d always hoped we’d be able to pay our children’s college tuition, but how much harder would that be with three? Would it be fair to sacrifice the financial advantages we could give the two wonderful children we already have for a hypothetical third?

Not to mention the emotional strain. As much as my husband and I love being parents, it’s no easy gig. It took a solid year after our youngest was born to start feeling like we could breath a little easier. To relax a little. If we had a third, we’d be starting from scratch, only this time we’d be outnumbered. And every time one or, God forbid, both of them get sick, and sleep once again disappears, I’m reminded how much harder it would be with a third.

Not to mention the fear that if we got pregnant again {rather than expanding our family through adoption, as we’ve considered as well}, there is no assurance that those balloons would be pink the next time around.

In the two plus years since we found out we’d been gifted a second little boy, we’ve discussed a third child more times than I can count. But the truth is I don’t know if we’ll ever be ready. The thought of never having a daughter is excruciating, but I don’t know that having another child is the right decision for our family. Should we have a third baby? Maybe with time we’ll find a moment of clarity. I really hope that’s the case. But for now we’ll live with the uncertainty. And wonder…

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Lauren M
Lauren M. is a native Houstonian who now lives one street over from the house where she grew up in Sugar Land. After a brief fling with Austin where she received her Bachelors Degree in English Lit from Southwestern University, she returned home to attempt to write the great American novel {or, you know, the next Harry Potter series}. A short while later a friend recruited her for a kickball league where she met a tall, handsome engineer who quite literally swept her off her feet. After tying the knot in 2014, they soon welcomed their first son Raleigh {October 2015}, and little brothers Renner {January 2018} and Rafe {September 2021}. When not chasing around her three crazy Texas tornados and reveling in the boy mom life, Lauren has discovered a newfound passion for photography and Photoshop, creating whimsical family portraits at @andwhetherpigshavewings on Instagram. You can also find her at @polyjuiceandpixiedust .


  1. You will never be sorry to have a third baby. However, you might regret not having another baby when you reach an age when you cannot have any more babies.

    • I’m sure I would absolutely love a third baby more than life itself, just as I love my first and second. However, it may just not be the right decision for our family. Until I’m really sure it’s what we want with our whole hearts and not just because I’d love daughter, I wont be ready to bring another life into the world. But one day if we decide we’re ready I know I’ll love that child with my whole heart.

      • Would you be willing to do an update post now that you’re in the thick of baby 3? I love this post, have read it more times than I can count now, and would love to hear how life transpired with your third boy. (And Congratulations!!)

  2. This is exactly what I needed to read today! I have always wanted three and have two boys already, but with two really tough pregnancies, having a third just isn’t in the cards for us. Still struggling with the thought of not having another one with my newborn being just 2 months old. It’s such a tough decision and I can totally relate.

    • It’s such a big decision and there’s really no way to know what the right answer is. Maybe with time you’ll know better what’s best for your family. I’m sorry you’re struggling with that during what I’m sure isn’t the easiest season of life. Just know you’re not alone and you don’t have to make any decisions right away.

  3. Everyone is different, and I could totally relate to every word you wrote. Maybe since you don’t know, that is your answer? I’m not sure. I thought I wanted three or four, then I had one and had crippling post-partum anxiety. Then had a surprise baby that put my sons 17 months apart. THEN decided to try one more time, since I was so restless about not having one more. We welcomed our daughter 27 months after our second, and she has a critical heart defect. I write that not to cause fear! But that once you commit, YOU COMMIT. And I’m so glad we have three, every single day. They need each other; they play off each other and fight and compete and encourage and protect. They’re now 8, 6.5 and 4, and I’m eternally grateful we went for three. Sometimes I wish I had four, but that’s not an option anymore. I guess I commented because so many of my friends and me battled whether or not to have three, and we are ALL happy, those of us who stayed with two and those of us who had a third. Praying for you!

    • I think you’re absolutely right – when you commit, you have to COMMIT. There’s no going back so you have to be sure, and the fact that we’re not is, for now at least, an answer in itself. And like you said, we’re happy with two, so for the time being that’s enough. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your own journey! Mamas like you are why we do this and expose little pieces of ourselves to the outside world. I’ll keep your sweet daughter’s heart in my thoughts and prayers Whitney.

  4. You definitely CAN hold My Little Mermaid parties and attend ballet classes with boys.
    To say you want a child with different sex organs to enjoy a different idea of family?
    Everything you want w a daughter you can absolutely have with your sons. Have more children or don’t (Who knows if there will even be college to save up for?), but please continue to see moments like those dimples to enjoy instead of a dream of societal norms

    • Oh you’re absolutely right there – and let me assure you if one day my son wants a Little Mermaid party I will throw him the biggest, baddest Under the Sea bash this side of the shore haha! But I won’t deny I’d still love to have daughter, and teach her about trucks and sports just as I taught my boys. But whether that dream becomes a reality or not, I will always relish in my children’s sweet dimpled smiles and be thankful for everything I have.

  5. I have three boys and I totally understand your feelings of wanting a girl. You can’t have a third child to have a girl though. You have to want to have three children. I’m not saying that you can’t hope to have a girl, I just mean you have to want to have three children more than you want to have a girl. Obviously as you already know if you were to have a third boy you wouldn’t trade them for the world. Good luck in making your decision.

  6. Thanks for this article. I now have an almost 3 year old and a 6 month old, both girls. I love them SO much and love having 2 little girls, but part of me wishes I had a son. I just love hearing people say, “Oh are you done or are you gonna try for a boy?” As if my girls aren’t enough or that we’re not complete without a son. I know nobody means that but sometimes that how it sounds. I’ve always said I wanted 2 or 3, and I still don’t know what’s the right number. I don’t feel “done” or that my family is “complete”, but will I ever? If I had a 3rd, would I get those feelings or not? I know majority of parents don’t regret having more kids, but how do you know that’s right for you? I so enjoy every moment with my baby and I want time to slow down because I wonder all the time if this will be the last time I witness a new laugh… see a baby roll over for the first time… feel a baby sag completely against me asleep. It’s so wonderful and so agonizing. I just pray God will grant me peace to enjoy this time with my girls and one day hopefully He will speak to me on what the future holds for my family. And hopefully you will have your answer as well!

  7. I’m pretty sure we are the same person in the same situation. To the T. I have 2 boys. 9 & 4. Had my first at 19 almost 20. I am now 29. On the fence of wanting a 3rd. Completely 50/50 on the matter. How do we even make this decision? I see this article Is a few years old. I’d love to see what has happened with you since this article.

    • Hi Teresa, I’m happy to give you an update! We had a surprise third baby last September during the middle of COVID. I’ll be honest, when we first found out I was pregnant again I was terrified. And was fairly devastated when we found out the baby was another boy and thus my dream of having a daughter was well and truly closed. But let me just say, this sweet baby boy is a dream come true. I love him more than life itself and cannot imagine him not being a part of our family. He just lights up when his brothers are around, and they adore him. And for the first time I was able to relax and just enjoy the little baby stage which, with my older two, wasn’t really possible for me. I don’t regret in any way that we had a third child and thank God for our little surprise baby. I can’t really help as far as how to make the decision because, to be honest, we were still trying to decide when we found out we’d gotten pregnant by accident. But I love having three kids and for me, it isn’t that much more difficult than two was (two was a very difficult transition for me). I hope this helps in some small way. Please reach out if you need someone to talk to about this further. I’m happy to share in any way.


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