From the moment I announced I was pregnant, I had family members and strangers ask me when (not if!) I’d have another child. By now, I’ve broadcast my one-and-done-ness, so most people know better than to ask me. But I often witness the other side of this: parents of three or more children boldly asked, “Why did you have so many?” Seriously, why does anyone think this is their business?
And yet, I suppose we might all have a little bit of curiosity about how other people form their families, especially when they look different from our own. Because I personally felt so overwhelmed by one baby, I couldn’t imagine wanting more myself, let alone five more. To someone who adores a big family, my own might seem too quiet and empty. So, I thought we might settle this issue, and I asked this nosy question of a bunch of moms: “When did you know that you were done having kids?” And many moms who are also bloggers and like answering this sort of nosy question responded.
When you look at these answers all together, you also get one big answer: You can never know from the outside why someone’s family is the way it is. The reasons and experiences these mothers shared were more varied than I even anticipated. Some keep going because they feel their love growing and want more; some feel satisfied and whole after a certain number; and some had to stop before they wanted to because their bodies just couldn’t do another pregnancy or childbirth. Read on and feel validated in knowing there is no one right reason for your family being the size it is.
Sometimes we’re just ready for what’s next
“After having my second son, I knew that I didn’t want to have any more kids. At the age of 23, I told my OB-GYN I wanted to have my tubes tied. She agreed with me. Two was enough for me. I personally never wanted to have kids. I disliked being around kids growing up. And yet here I am with two kids. Kids are an expensive and huge responsibility. I started my family life pretty young, and now I’m remarried, my boys are older, and I want to travel and do the things I missed out when I was a young mom.” — Jasmine Vargas, JasmineMaria.com
“For us, we always felt a hole in our hearts, hoping for a daughter after three amazing and wonderful boys! When we found out our fourth baby was indeed a baby girl, we knew right then that our family was complete. I think whether you know you’re done having children or not, it’s bittersweet regardless. It’s sad to close a chapter on your life, and that’s exactly how it feels to be done having children: closing a chapter in a book and moving on to the next one. You feel so thankful and lucky to have read that chapter, but you also know that you can’t read that same chapter over and over again. (especially when it includes such little sleep!)” — Kyla M. Charles, kylamariecharles.com
Sometimes we’ve got all we can handle
“I knew I was done when I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant at 36 WITH TRIPLETS! I wasn’t trying to get pregnant and had not done any treatments. ” Alicia Gonzalez, 24/7 Modern Mom Media Corporation
“My husband and I always talked about having a big family. We talked about having at least four kids, two girls and two boys. But when my second daughter Kaitlyn arrived and started walking around at 8 months, our lives changed forever! My first daughter is only a year older so they keep us extremely busy! We took them to Target one day. While we were walking toward the cashier to check out, my younger girl anxiously wanted to get down, and before I could put her down, she jumped off and started running away! I start to chase her down and heard my older daughter start to scream hysterically. My husband’s turned bright red, and as he was trying to calm her, he needed to check out. I grabbed my younger daughter, kicking and screaming trying to escape me and as I headed back to my husband. They did not stop crying until we got to our car. We were embarrassed. We felt defeated. Somewhere while this was all happening, my husband and I looked at each other and we just knew we were DONE having kids!” — Cheeia, NotesbyCheeia.com
“I knew I was done when I realized both of my kids want to pursue multiple expensive sports. In addition to the financial side, it’s a huge time commitment for me to get my kids to practices and games that are quite a way from our house. My husband travels a lot for work, so I’m the one who’s mostly responsible for getting the kids where they need to be. I was a competitive gymnast growing up, so I completely understand my own kids wanting similar experiences. I just never realized what a commitment it is from the parental side, too!” — Tricia Nibarger, Covet by Tricia
“Having been raised by the perfect stay-at-home mom, I was convinced motherhood would be a storybook adventure. My mother was the epitome of the word ‘mom,’ and I just knew I would rock this job title, too. Library trips, feeding the ducks, epic Girl Scout leader — sign me up. Fast forward 20 years. My son came screaming into this world (and has never stopped by the way) and I quickly realized motherhood sucked. In fact, I quickly recognized my perception of parenthood was a complete myth. I knew I was done having kids after having a kid.” — Chris, Tourist With Tots
Sometimes it’s a matter of partnership
“I knew I was done having kids when my husband booked his vasectomy appointment. LOL. When our second son was 4 months old, my husband had gone through a crying spell during which [he] just couldn’t figure out why he was crying. Exasperated, he knew this was the last time he could go through the baby phase. … We never wanted to be outnumbered by our children and now that my boys are almost 13 and 15 years old, though we love them dearly, we have never regretted our decision. It’s the most exhausting best job in the world!” — Nicole Johnson, babysleepsite.com
“I was 40 when my daughter was born. I felt blessed to have a healthy girl and really loved being a mom. My husband had always talked about having as many as three children, so I figured we’d have at least two. After agreeing to try for baby number two, my husband began avoiding intimacy. On day he said, ‘I don’t want more kids.’ Shortly after, he arranged for a vasectomy. Though I was deeply disappointed, I made a point of cherishing and savoring the precious moments as my daughter grew. And no, we are not still together; and yes, I did find an amazing man to share my life with and my daughter has grown into an amazing young woman. I feel truly blessed.” — Nina Bandoni, sharingajourney.com
Sometimes our number is different from what we expected
“I’ve said the statement over and over: ‘I’m not having any more kids.’ It seemed like a running joke in our house. We have six daughters, and after each one, I made the same vow to both myself and my family. No more kids! Especially since we could not seem to make a boy. But after our last baby girl, a real ‘I just can’t do this baby stage anymore’ came over me. I know that may sound weird but really once you have a self-sufficient child, and you go back to diapers and staying up all night, babies seem like a no go! Doing it all again for me was not in the cards after number six.” — Lateva Woolfork, TheAllPurposeWoman.com
“This comes at a crazy time because I am currently pregnant with our fourth and last child. After my third child, I thought I was done, but felt a battle in my mind over the decision, then we experienced an unexpected pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. As hard as it was to get through that, it made me realize how bad I wanted more kids. Now I feel blessed to be pregnant with my fourth and last child. I know it’s my last because there is no fight in my mind over the decision only joy. Joy of looking at my kids, joy of looking forward to the next season of life, joy of thinking about regaining my own physical health, and joy of what life will look like once my kids are grown. Can’t wait for this next stage of life and so blessed to have four incredible children… June 2021!” — Hannah, myfamilydinner.com
“I always wanted three kids, but I’ve had two complicated pregnancies in a row, which both required specialist appointments three days a week. My second pregnancy was so much more physically uncomfortable than my first, and on top of that, the pandemic started around the time I hit my second trimester. I knew I was done after two months of quarantine parenting two children (I’m on month six now)!” — Kristen, Mochi Mommy
Sometimes we never know
“I have three children here on earth and one in heaven. I’m going to be 32 years old this July, and I’d always said I wanted to be done having kids by the time I was 30. Well, my youngest will soon be 3, and the baby fever has been on me off and on the past couple of years. So, I also want to know, how do you know when you’re DONE?!?! I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure. —Anna Bruder, Fitpire
Sometimes (often) it’s out of our control
“One, I always envisioned having a son and a daughter, and I was fortunate for that to become a reality. Secondly, my last pregnancy and delivery was really hard on my body. I was sick the majority of the pregnancy, delivery presented some challenges and the C-section recovery was not fun. Several years later, and I still have some chronic pain/issues that showed up following childbirth. My children are well worth any ounce of physical pain I endured bringing them in the world. My heart is full as a mom of two, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” — Shalyce Tyson, shalycetyson.com
“I had two children in my early 20s, got divorced and remarried someone who didn’t have any kids. After losing three babies, we were finally able to bring a fourth child (our second) into the world, after a tenuous pregnancy full of hospital admissions, treatments and six months of bedrest. Two sections, two vaginal deliveries, and we still wanted to try for #5 and maybe even #6, but we were informed that another pregnancy could result in my death and that of the baby. Sadly, we had to stop and I had to have a hysterectomy. I learned we were done in the office of a cold OB/GYN who didn’t seem to get the gravity of the situation.” — Donna Biroczky, Dangerouscupcakelifestyle.com
“I was born with a congenital heart defect called TGA, and because of it, I have a pacemaker. The pacemaker paces my heart at a normal pace and helps to stop incidents of atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation (when my heart enters a dangerously high heart rate), among other things. The moment I knew I was done having children was when the doctor said my pacemaker had stopped working and my heart was functioning completely on my own while I was pregnant with my fourth child.” — Nichole Smith, knowitallnikki.com
“I was pregnant with my second son when I knew. He was a complete surprise. I was ‘old’ when I had my first son and went through a ton of IVF to have him. So, I would tell everyone I was a ‘one and done’ to get them to stop asking me when I was going to have another. I thought there was no way I could get pregnant on my own. Imagine my surprise when I did just that. Truth is, I wasn’t too thrilled about having another child because it meant we would have to move out of our apartment and probably out of the city. I had some complications towards the end of this pregnancy and knew right then and there it would be my last. But I am so happy I have my sons and that they have each other.” — Lauren Dimet Waters
“I knew we were done having kids when I was pregnant with my youngest. I had perinatal depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum which impacted our whole family. I also have lost a lot of strength in my body and experienced bone loss and increased back pain with each pregnancy. Even though I love babies, I knew it was time to stop so I could reach a point of self-care eventually.” — Shari Stamps, navigatingparenthood.com
“I knew I was done with kids when I almost died having the last one with a blood clot in my brain. It was a hard decision, but one that I don’t regret at all. I will say probably a year after, I felt a sense of, ‘Did I make the right decision?’ when my friends started to have their own kids. However,, with three, I’m grateful for my crew and have decided to live without regret in everything I do from that point on!” — Latoi Storr, toitime.org
Celebrate the beauty of different breastfeeding journeys through these photographs.