Third baby hunger?


Three children. Your idea of bliss, or do you think, ‘Three children? No. Way.’ Or are you, like Lucy, our guest writer today, one of those people who thought you would never ever want more than the traditional two – and yet find yourself yearning for (or maybe even having) a third? We’ve met Lucy before – she’s a freelance writer and mother of two gorgeous blonde boys (Logan and Felix) who writes the witty blog Ill All the Time. She’s back now, two children in tow, and yearning for a third…

“I was expecting a lot of things on having my second baby six weeks ago – sleep deprivation, sibling rivalry, an increase in visitors bearing excellent cake – but I was totally unprepared for this really weird urge. I must have another baby. Like, now.

My husband, Jon, and I have always been sure we wanted two children. No more, no less. Why?

Partly for financial reasons, which I feel fairly ashamed to admit. It’s not as if we would be destitute if we had another. We know plenty of people who have more children and less money than us, and are extremely happy. But we would have a different sort of life if we let our offspring outnumber us.

Even more important are reasons of energy, sleep, time and generally spreading yourselves too thin. Given how we’re struggling to cope with a toddler and a newborn, it’s almost a joke to imagine us ever functioning with three.

Jon and I are both one of two. Okay, I gained two stepbrothers when I was 11, and it’s really fun when we all get together these days with our kids and other halves. But, looking back, having a big family wasn’t that big a deal when I was a teenager. And two just seems like a good number – you all fit in a normal car and you each get to mark a man.

But while I was still in hospital after having Felix, this powerful feeling tapped me on the shoulder and has been whispering in my ear ever since. I want another baby. I’m absolutely positive. I need to keep going. I was destined to have more babies. Turns out I’m not alone. In fact, the more I mention it, the more people I come across who identify with the desire. Some have acted on it, some haven’t. (Take Alex’s circle of friends: three are due to have their third this summer; two popped out a third last year, and another’s on her fourth.)

For me, it’s partly the girl thing. I’ve got two beautiful, healthy boys and I am not going to write the word ‘but’…so, and, um…I’d just love to have a girl. For reasons I’ve already gone into elsewhere on this website and on my blog.

But it’s also a more general urge. I just like children. I’m good at them. I’ve always been the sort of person about which others say “I can tell you’d make a good mum”. Suddenly all the reasons for stopping at two seem irrelevant – of course I want more! What was I thinking?! Onwards!

All this despite being utterly exhausted, and tensions in our household at times running high; Jon and I have been unusually bickersome, purely down to sleep deprivation.

Another explanation is not wanting this to be my last baby; feeling sad that this will be the last time I’ll have this particular experience.

That’s certainly the case for Charlotte, 35 (same age as me) who has a two-year-old and a nearly two-month-old: “I have this weirdly primal urge to have another one RIGHT NOW, straightaway, even though Alfie is so tiny and new. It’s like my body doesn’t want my childbearing days to be over. I’d hate to think that this was my last baby. It’s as though my body WANTS to be pregnant again – I look at pregnant women and envy them. Which is ridiculous, I have two children already and one of them is brand new!”

One thing I’m definitely not is sad about never being preggers again. No siree. The physical side of being pregnant I can totally do without.

Actually, I suppose I did like feeling special. Sorry, I mean ‘excited and privileged to be growing our baby’. But I got less of a fuzzy glow this time around than I did the first time, mostly because I was too busy chiselling dried Shreddies off walls. And – this will sound awful, especially to anyone struggling to conceive – the novelty had slightly worn off.

Maybe it has something to do with how sweet and docile tiny babies are, compared to tantrummy toddlers? You can cuddle and kiss a newborn as much as you like; your terrible-two is more likely to thrash about violently while you try to change their nappy and blow a raspberry in your face rather than kiss you.

I wonder if this is why so many people end up ‘accidentally’ getting pregnant again sooner than expected – or even when it wasn’t planned at all? I can see why this sneaky feeling, even if you’re determined to see it out, might coincide with you being a bit careless with contraception. It’s a phenomenon that must have some kind of hormonal explanation. Because I rarely have such changes of heart about such important things. But the impulse seems to have grabbed all sorts of people, even if they haven’t succumbed.

Including Matilda, 36, who describes herself as “three baby barking mad”. Last year she found herself in exactly the same situation as me, and describes it much more eloquently.

“It was really strange, because almost as soon as Ben was born, I wanted another. And, in December (maybe because he was three months and sleeping well) I really had to give myself a stern talking to. I had this primal urge just to get on and procreate. But, I had to keep telling myself that if I were to fall pregnant then there would only be a year between them and that would be AWFUL. If I’d had two little nightmares, perhaps I’d think differently. But they adore each other. And seeing them together – watching Jack [nearly 3] make Ben [7 months] laugh, hearing him saying ‘I love you, Ben’ and hugging him, seeing how much they love each other and will be there for each other as they get older – just makes me want more. Maybe it’s because the love explosion which happens when a new baby is in the house is just amazing. I want that fix again.”

Matilda also has some wise words about expanding from two to three that I find so encouraging, I might make them into bumper (or rather, buggy) stickers – “Financially, it doesn’t make sense. But then children full-stop don’t make financial sense.” And – “They do say that you don’t regret what you have, but what you don’t have.”

At the moment, I’m still waiting for my ‘primal urge’ to pass, and making a joke of it – mostly for Jon’s sake, I must say. I still think we’re unlikely to go for a trio, unless we win the lottery or some other drastic change in our lifestyle/childcare situation comes about. As it happens, that’s not beyond the realm of possibility: Jon’s work may give us the chance to move abroad in the next couple of years, and we could end up somewhere where nannies are comparatively cheaper and/or we are comparatively richer. In fact, one might say the location and timing could be fate, in the third baby respect…

Having said all that, if anything could bring me back to earth with a bump, it is my next task of the day – booking a holiday. Nothing keeps it real like the cost of interconnecting rooms and extra seats on a plane. Not to mention the prospect of surviving a plane journey of any length with two small people. Three? You’ve got to be kidding.”

I MAGE: The Independent

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