In Defense of the Third Child

Growing up, it seemed that everyone came from a family with 3 children. It was what was normal at the time. I am not sure at what point that changed, but now it seems that having 3 (or more children) is strange and almost socially unacceptable. Maybe it is the change in lifestyle, where everyone is working more and constantly on the go. Maybe it is the rising cost of everything. Maybe we are more in tune to the environmental impact of having children. Or maybe we are just having children later in life and after 2 kids, we are tired and ready to move on to the next stage in life.

meganblog2I know for us, being considered advanced maternal age, and already having two children, we thought we were done. Our babies were conceived with love and science. Not to mention I was given a less than 5% chance of ever having a child on my own. Needless to say, number three was a complete shock to the system. While we are still sort of shocked, we are thrilled. And my girls are thrilled. Everyone is happy.

Yet, the dilemma I have is this need to explain ourselves and our third child. We’ve had so many random strangers comment on how we “really have our hands full with our girls.” Then my husband or I will point out that we have a third on the way too. The looks of pity and shock usually follow. Then our comments, “Well this one wasn’t really planned. It was more of an accident.” Sometimes my husband uses humor and says, “I tripped and fell.” I don’t know why, in these moments, I feel almost shamed at having a third child. This child was a blessing we never thought we would experience. Yet strangers feel the need to comment when they know nothing about our story.

One incident in particular stands out to me. I was at the grocery store with my two girls this summer. They are 4 and almost 2. Both girls feel the need to make their presence known where ever they go. This day, they were being really good in the store. Yeah they were loud, but they were sitting and not fighting and just commenting on all the fruit and vegetables they see, asking me to buy this and that. An older woman, probably around 70, looked at my girls. Instead of telling me something nice, she said, “Wow I can’t believe you are having a third. You seem to have enough on your plate with those two.” After picking my jaw up from the floor, I managed to mutter, “Well, this one is a boy so it will be a nice change of pace.” But by then, she had moved on to her task of picking out vegetables.

I suppose its comments like these that get me defensive and feel like I need to explain why we are having a third. Yet, I strongly feel that family planning is no one’s business except that family. But being pregnant is something that is open to conversation. It’s hard to hide my 26 weeks pregnant belly. So, if you see me out with my two girls, and I look like I’m struggling, it’s probably because I am. But don’t make it worse and say something about having my hands full. Instead say, “Wow. A third baby and a boy! Very exciting!” Or even a simple, “Congratulations.” Simple, kind words go a long way and may even help get me out of the habit of explaining why we are having a third.


  1. first of all, congratulations!
    Second of all, I think that the obvious problem is that people today view children as a burden instead of a blessing. Of course raising children is hard work, but it’s also very rewarding.
    Another concept that most people don’t seem to grasp is that some people are called to be mothers, just like some people are called to be nurses or lawyers. It’s a vocation, not a hobby!
    I can’t wait for all the crazy looks I’m going to get, because I’d love to have 6 kids, both biologic and adopted!

  2. Congrats!! This hit really close to home! My miracle number 3 is 14 months and there are times when I still have to defend her existence. We also had two conceived with love and science and never thought we would get a surprise! Having pcos and endometriosis and becoming pregnant by “accident” was definitely a shock. After overcoming our shock, I was honestly afraid to tell people because of their reaction. The excitement on the faces of my children when we told them made me realize it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Our family is now complete and I can’t imagine life without the little girl who keeps us all on our toes. Enjoy your surprise pregnancy and flaunt that bump proudly!!

  3. It’s interesting. I grew up in a family of 5 kids which was larger for the late 80s-early 90s, but not unheard of. Now it’s true, all I seem to see are families of two, maybe three kids. I know I will probably be limited to three due to age and fertility issues as well, but I LOVED having four older brothers. There was always SOMEONE I could hang out with (I guess it also helped that we were all within 8 years of each other) and life was NEVER boring. Plus now my son and any future kids I have will have lots of cousins (my brothers have all had at least three kids each) which is the best- cousins make the best playmates when siblings aren’t around (thankfully I had tons of girl cousins near my age which was also quite awesome and made up for the lack of girls to play with). Rock on with your family! And congratulations on the surprises. They are the best!

  4. Congrats!! I only have two boys right now but will deff be trying for a girl in the next year or so. My boys are 18 months apart (my second was a surprise). I get those same comments all of the time! It’s so rude! I had trouble getting pregnant the first time and needed meds and IUI. Needless to say I didn’t think I would concieve naturally. When I found out I was pregnant for #2 I was over the moon! I just don’t understand why people feel the need to say negative things about the number or ages of children! Why is anyone worried about how full my hands are? Children are a blessing and I am proud of my two sweet little guys. You will love being a mommy of a little boy! When he throws his dirty little hands around your neck and says ” I love you Mama “, your heart will just melt!

  5. congrats!! I’m now pregnant with my 5th. I am very hesitant to start telling people about this baby because you never know what will come out of people’s mouths. I am very excited about this baby and really do not want others to lessen that joy with their negativity and personal questions. I do not want to feel embarrassed or ashamed that I have a large family.
    We have four boys 6,5,3and 2. Yes it’s a lot of work and yes there is always chaos. And I love every minute of it.

  6. Congrats!!!

    I realize it is a social norm now to have two or only considered “reasonable” for three if trying for that gender you didnt get. But it really is sad that we are missing the blessing and value of life. I think sometimes women have worked so hard to be considered equal and independent that the view of SAHM or larger families can seem like the enemy. Almost as if the large familiy is the supression of women. Yet as I too have had the career and faced infertility I now long for a larger familiy. I feel like society has swung from one side to the complete opposite side of the spectrum in regards to the family unit (8 kids to very few kids).

    I am sorry people are rude in their comments and gestures. I imagine they have had their own challenges in the familiy arena to feel the need to judge you. However, I think babies are beautiful and gifts from God. And if given the opportunity I will be supporting a few more bumps through the store embracing the same glares. If I were you I might even have a little fun with it… Tell them your expecting twins!

  7. Thank you for writing this! I am an only child and am raising three children. When I was pregnant with my third I had many people ask me if it was planned! Umm…yes, I know how this works, I am married, and am still young. Why the big shock? I had someone ask me where I was planning on fitting in a baby in my small house. Since we already had two boys I also heard, “Trying for that girl?” It was so frustrating!


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