How Did You Know Your Family Was “Complete”?

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A few weeks ago, I did something CRAZY. I hope you’re sitting down for this, because man oh man it’s really something. Ready? I sold my Ergo baby carrier. I know… I know… I’m as shocked as you are.

Here’s how it went down.

I was doing some belated spring cleaning (wait, what month is it?) when I came across a stash of baby gear that I had been hanging onto, you know, just in case. Storage is a premium these days, so I reactively listed it on Facebook Marketplace. It must have sat a few days without any hits because when I had a notification pop up asking if it was still available, it actually took my breath away. I forgot I had listed it, and that moment hit me like a ton of bricks.

Was selling the Ergo the same as closing the door on more babies? Did this mean my family was complete? I felt myself spiraling. I took a few deep breaths, and I responded, “Yes, it’s available.” Fifty dollars and a heavy heart later, the deal was done.

And just like that, I began questioning everything.

My husband and I each only have one sister. Both one of two, our B.C. (before children) conversations frequently involved what it would be like to be part of a big family. Whenever we would have these talks, I felt immediately transported back in time to playdates I had growing up at friends’ houses, particularly those friends who had multiple siblings. In my memories, big families meant big fun. I loved eating pizza at long dinner tables, playing freeze tag with a whole handful of kids, and being one of five in a row of sleeping bags as we fell asleep to the sound of crickets in the backyard. 

baby and dog for pregnancy announcementGiven all of those fond memories, I always kind of assumed Chad and I would have at LEAST three kids. I imagined we would have two girls first (my sister is my BFF, so obviously I would need to recreate that bond for my own daughters), and then we would just see what happened. So, when I found out number two was a little boy, I was really surprised. And if I’m being honest, I felt a little bit sad.

I remember calling my sister, in disbelief, and asking her what Emerson was going to do without a little sister. Who would she sit with on the bus in elementary school and cover for her when she stayed out late in high school? Who would she call when she had her first heartbreak or order late-night breadsticks with in college? Who would be her maid of honor? Whose hand would she hold if something happened to me? Thankfully, my sister promptly talked me off the cliff by reminding me not all sisters are as close as us, and Emerson would be just as close with a little brother. Since that conversation with my sister, I’ve never worried about Emmy having a little sister again.

brother and sisterIt’s quite the opposite, actually. Nowadays, I realize just how perfect it was for us to have a little girl and then a little boy. 21 months apart, I have the great joy of watching two little toddlers walk hand-in-hand at the playground, share their snacks at a tiny table, and giggle as they make the world’s biggest messes. I hear the pitter-patter of little feet as they chase each other around the house. I feel so much love. Truly, our family IS perfect. Mom. Dad. Emmy. Charlie. Harper (woof). PERFECTION. Just the way it is.

But then, oh my gosh, the baby carrier. Ever since I sold that fricken Ergo, I haven’t stopped dreaming about a third baby. I wish I was lying when I say I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the layout of furniture in Emmy’s room when she and Charlie have to share it because his room becomes a nursery… but that’s the truth. The mind is a crazy thing…

So, how do people decide their family is complete anyway? Do they ever really know?

I’m 38 years olds, so I feel like I don’t have a bunch of time to ponder this. 

On one hand, I know we are so fortunate to have two healthy, happy, relatively easy children. Why roll the dice? And we LOVE traveling. It has got to be easier to travel with two kids than three – one per parent! Plus, without family nearby, we have no built-in babysitters. To maintain sanity, more kids would mean more babysitters, and that also means more money.

But on the other hand, the more the merrier! Emerson is a natural caretaker and would love to take on the role of big sister again, and I know Charlie would be the best big brother (you should see this kid around babies – he can’t squeeze them hard enough). Not to mention that because I always assumed we would have more, I never properly got to mourn the last of everything. If we had a third, I would be very intentional about savoring all of the lasts.

::SIGH::

So here we are, stuck in the middle, just trying to figure out answers to these giant grownup questions. Trying to get comfortable with the unknown, while also appreciating exactly what we have right now.

If you have any advice, I’m all ears! And I’ll probably be churning over said advice around 2 AM…

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Born and raised in Indiana, Brandy spent a decade as an elementary teacher and instructional technology specialist in Chicago. After marrying her husband, Chad, rescuing their beloved pup, Harper, and having two beautiful children, Emerson and Charlie, they traded in their snow boots for swimsuits and purchased a duplex in downtown Charleston. Brandy loves being outdoors, capturing memories in photographs, exploring new restaurants, blogging, and organizing anything and everything! From being landlords and Airbnb hosts to parents and travel enthusiasts, you can follow her family's adventures at www.thewalestales.com.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Have the third! I was in the exact same boat, two kids (17m apart) boy and girl. Everything was settled, all baby gear had been sold. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that two kids didn’t seem like a big enough family. Easier, sure. But I read so many things that said it’s better to live with the chaos of a big family then the regret of not having more children when you could. We are currently pregnant with baby 3 and I am so glad we chose this for our family. The big kids are excited to help, and I feel so sure in my choice. We are team green and will meet the new squish around Christmas.

  2. I felt the exact same way after having 2 boys. I couldn’t shake the desire for a 3rd (and of course to try one more time for a girl). We ended up having a 3rd boy 2.5 years ago and we are all so happy we did. It’s definitely crazy but time goes so fast you’ll be out of the baby stage faster than you think. I did try to savor everything since I knew it was the last but I’ll say it still feels like you didn’t savor it enough after it’s over and you have an almost 3 year old.
    Go for it! The craziness can be exhausting but it’s so great.

  3. If you thinking about a third, I also vote go for it! We just added our third in June and I’m do happy we did. Our older kids just adore their baby brother and he lights up every time they walk in a room. Sure having 3 is more work, but it’s also more fun. We love being a family of 5!

  4. Turning 37 this year and pondering the same but oddly over a 4th.
    Love having three, thought we’d only have one or Two and now I couldn’t possibly need more right? Hard door to close. We also moved from the Midwest with zero family to help and we’ve yet to find a good sitter but it’s happy chaos.

    Go for it. And I asked my mom this same question. Her answer helped a lot and it was this…
    For some people you never feel done.
    You’ll always imagine what ifs and more kids because babies are magical. I’m one of those I think.

  5. We have four. After two, I was certain there were two more little people I needed to meet. Baby three was ROUGH starting nursing, bad enough that I considered stopping after three, but I still kept telling people three or four. I figured if I was holding my third and kept saying that, I must still want it. It is HARD and CRAZY and all the things you can worry it will be. We even had the first ultrasound where there were concerns on this baby four, so obviously that scared us(everything turned out fine). But even in the craziness when I can’t wait to have my hands free again, and some personal time again and travel again, all the things…I never regret the little person herself that showed up as my number four. She is a darling and I tell her all the time I am SO GLAD we had her. It is such a personal choice, I hope you find peace with your decision, whichever way. My peace was four!

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. Someone once told me next time you are all sitting down eating dinner, look around the table. Does it look complete or does it feel like someone is missing? I always felt it wasn’t complete so we had one more and now in my heart, I know our table is complete. Go with your first response 🙂

  7. I have 2 and they are 21 months apart. My oldest will turn 6 in Feb and my youngest turns 4 next week. We had also always talked about having a 3rd, but opted not to. We had conversations about it and decided in the end to stop at 2. Recently, I sold my double stroller and it was a struggle. However, soon after that the neighborhood girl came over and then the boys next door. In that moment, I realized even though only two came from me my house was full and I loved it. There is no right answer or prefect advice, but to be happy in the moment and see the blessings around you.

  8. I knew we were complete when I found out I needed a hysterctomy. I was 34 when the probablilty came up and I asked to wait a year, but not for any baby reasons. Over the year I kept thinking about it and had no good reason why not to get it. I knew I was done being pregnant again.

    I have 2 boys

  9. We have a big family (I’m weeks out from delivering number 6)! Almost every older woman I have ever met has told me they wish they had had at least one more. Not one single woman has ever told me they regretted having that last baby. Not one! Go for it!

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