While my brain wanted two, my heart longed for three.
We always said we'd have "two or three kids."
My husband and I both come from families with two kids. Most of the families we know had two kids. Two was just "what people did" in our circle. It felt practical—a family that was full of love but not entirely chaotic. A chance for siblings to become best friends, without the kids outnumbering the parents. Two was a good choice for us.
Still, I couldn't let go of the "or three." Because while my brain wanted two, my heart longed for three. My wild, always emotional, often impractical heart rarely listens to my brain. And I could not let go of the 'or three.'
But when my second child was born, I realized that three would just be too much for us. I was in over my head already and I could not rationalize how a third would fit into our life.
"It would be impractical," my brain kept telling me.
I remember so vividly the conversation I initiated with my husband one night. Tears streaming, I said, "Honey, I know we always said 'two or three', but I think we should just have two." He hugged me and said, "Okay babe, that sounds fine."
And then I couldn't stop crying. For days, I just cried and cried. I knew it was the right decision. I knew I was being sensible. We couldn't afford to have another kid. The jump from one to two kids was way more significant than I anticipated, and adding yet another child to the mix would be completely overwhelming.
I loved my two children fiercely. I felt immensely grateful for them and knew that I would be happy forever with the privilege of getting to be their mom.
So I reminded myself over and over that two was right—but my heart ached with a longing I cannot describe in words.
And then—well, I was reminded, yet again, how little control we have on this parenthood journey.
You know how they say that birth control is 99 percent effective? (And by "they" I mean "we"... I am a midwife. I prescribe birth control for a living. Sometimes it just doesn't work.)
My three-year-old was at preschool, my husband was in the living room holding our six-month-old (yes, he was just six months old), and I walked into the room, pregnancy test in hand and said, "Honey? It looks like we're going for 'or three.'"
And 10 months after that tearful conversation when I decided we would have two children, 15 months after welcoming baby number two, a baby boy came into the world (on our wedding anniversary, no less).
It turns out my brain was right. For our family, three often is impractical. We are outnumbered—and therefore exhausted most of the time. Daily life is often overwhelming. Chaos reigns supreme. Our home is loud and messy and wild.
My heart was right, too, wild and emotional and impractical as it may be. And I am so profoundly grateful, it takes my breath away.
When each of my three children is brimming with their personalities, each so unique it's almost incomprehensible that they each came from the same place.
In the ways that I have learned to surrender—to the chaos, to the imperfection, to volume, to the love.
In the moments when we get swept away by laughter and fun (even though we know that tears and tantrums are not far behind).
In the rare but epically powerful moments of peace, when all three are cuddled on the couch or "reading" a book together.
In these moments of magic, my heart can hardly stand it. And my brain has decided to come along for the ride.
- Jessica Alba on having 3 kids: 'You're outnumbered, but I really like it' ›
- Have 3 kids? Here's why I think you're lucky - Motherly ›