To three or not to three

Once I’d started taking the happy pills (sertraline) just after Alice turned 1 the effect was pretty instant so in the end I only needed to take them for 6 months and I was back on an even keel. It didn’t take long for a thought to start nagging in the back of  my head, in spite of the horrible period of post natal depression I’d just been through….we should have another baby.

Before we had kids I’d always liked the idea of having four – I think probably just because I’m one of four and I liked growing up with my brother and two sisters. John always said he just wanted two, again I guess probably because that’s how he grew up (he has a younger brother). We’d both agreed that we wanted children but we’d never really talked about how many we’d actually end up having.

So after we’d had Alice, John was more than happy to leave things there. We had our two little girls with a 2 year age gap. Our house was big enough that the girls had their own bedrooms and we still had a spare room. We could afford for me to not be working while they were little. Their car seats and the double buggy fitted just nicely in my car without having to upsize to a big family vehicle. After a rough and emotional 18 months it was time to enjoy life as a family of 4 with our two healthy children. Well that was the logical argument that John put forward anyway, which made total sense.

Then there was my totally led by my biological clock, emotional, not at all very rational argument and quite honestly I have no idea how I convinced John to have a third baby because the only case I could put forward was ‘I just really feel like we need another child.’ I couldn’t even offer anything coherent about why I felt that way. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the girls. It wasn’t that I was desperate to try for a boy. I just really really felt we were meant to have another baby.

John was worried about what would happen if I got post natal depression again. That period hadn’t just been rough on me, it had been really difficult for him too – it was possibly harder for him because for that time I wasn’t at all myself and he was helpless to do anything about it. It wasn’t just a worry for him – I didn’t want to go through that again either, especially so soon after getting better. But that’s how much I wanted baby 3, I was willing to risk PND again. I hoped it wouldn’t matter and that I would be fine this time, but I also felt that having gone through it once I would be more aware of what was happening if it reared its head again. I promised John I would re-join any support groups and get straight back on the pills again at the first hint of anything being wrong. I definitely would not wait a year to take any medication like I had before. I wouldn’t put us all through that again.

We both wondered if we were pushing our luck. Katie’s birth had ended in an emergency C-section and a stay in the special care baby unit, and my pregnancy with Alice hadn’t been completely straightforward with the concerns about Downs Syndrome and her growth. We felt very lucky that both the girls were fine. Did we really want to risk another pregnancy or were we just being greedy? There’s no way to know unless you take the plunge, and that’s what we ended up doing.

John also asked how did he know that if we had a third I wouldn’t do the same thing again and start pestering him for a fourth? I just knew I wouldn’t! (Again, a very logical and well thought out answer, I know). It was impossible to explain this totally illogical need for a third baby but I was pretty convinced three would be my limit and I wouldn’t want another one after that. I also promised John that even if I did end up thinking a fourth would be nice, I wouldn’t ask him or push him for it. He was already massively pushing himself out of his comfort zone considering baby 3 and it wouldn’t be fair to ask him again.

At this point Alice was 18 months old so was moving out of the baby phase and onto being a toddler. Both of us readily admitted we preferred life when the girls were one and onwards. The newborn part is so hard and so tiring! John was onboard with the idea of having another child but not crazy about the fact we’d have to go back to that newborn slog. I could see his point but at least the newborn phase doesn’t last forever! Also I breastfed the girls and presumably would breastfeed any future baby so the lion’s share of that was on me in terms of sleepless nights and feeding, and I was willing to do it.

So, somehow I managed to talk John round and he agreed we could have baby 3. Thankfully he didn’t get the time to change his mind, as 2 months later I was pregnant and at the end of the year along came Matthew. And it turned out that yes baby 3 did make our family complete, and not once have I ever wanted baby 4!

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