That bonus third baby: The arguments for and against

When you were at school, did you find that, for years and years, you thought you were “writing essays” and then suddenly, midway though GCSE, someone suddenly decided to teach you how to do it? And then, when they did, their advice was always totally rubbish? “Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end.” Like, duh. I mean, you might have written something that lacked structure before, but it’s not like you’d have been doing it on purpose. Then there was always “make sure you include the arguments for and against.” Why would you want to do that? Surely only one set of arguments is correct. There is such a thing as right and wrong. Otherwise you end up in a right pickle. Gah! I was ace at writing essays before anyone told me how to write them. They’ve stolen my essay mojo.

This morning I thought I would write a rambly post on my desire to have a third child, despire my knowledge that this is a rubbish idea. I was all set to do it and then suddenly, the Essay Police intervened and started messing with my Real Life. This afternoon, rather than getting on with my work, I have been transported to For and Against Land. It’s like a low-level version of A Christmas Carol or Sliding Doors. Only the Essay Police haven’t be arsed to send me any cool ghosties or to create a parallel me. Instead I’ve just had two slap-in-the-face events happen which yell, with full force: DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER BABY! And then, half an hour later: HAVE ANOTHER BABY! AARRRRGH!

Event 1: The argument against Baby no. 3

2.23pm (okay, I don’t recall the time that precisely. I just thought it would look better – a bit Jack Bauer-esque ­– if I did). My partner rings to tell me that the bank have been in touch because we’ve defaulted on the mortgage. I thought I’d sorted things this month, what with buying food on the credit card and panicking hard enough to think I’d earned a bit of a break. But no. How I regret that £14 spent seeing Snow White and the Huntsman.

We’re not on the breadline. We’re just muddling along, almost. I earn what was the average graduate salary a couple of years ago. The average, that is, for someone in their first job after university. I’m 37 so it’s not great going. Still, it’s better than the average graduate salary now, which is probably £2.80, a Close Protection UK poncho and a sandwich.

My partner doesn’t have a job. However, that’s not what’s crippling us financially. It’s the fact that since he’s training to be a teacher, he can’t be a stay-at-home dad, and we’ve been unable to find practical term-time only childcare. So we’re paying for our youngest to be in nursery full-time despite the fact that Daddy looks after him in the holidays and Daddy isn’t even in employment.

It was worse when we had two in nursery (even though at one time my partner earned a reasonable amount as a researcher). I might as well not have gone back to work, if immediate cash in my pocket had been the main concern. And then on top of nursery we have a fixed-rate mortgage from hell, obtained in May 2008 just before no one could become a first-time buyer ever again. These days, combined, nursery and the mortgage are just below what I earn each month. So each month I get further into debt but think “it’s alright, it’ll all be okay once partner gets a job and youngest starts school in 2013”. There might be a few months of prostitution in between then, but it’ll be okay.

Well, anyhow, don’t I just sound like a Daily Telegraph “coping classes” whinger? I’m sure it will be fine, just as much as it will be fine for anyone in one of the richest countries in the world, albeit a world in the grip of a recession. The trouble is, though, when I’m standing in the bank, having nipped out of the office without telling anyone because I’m too ashamed, and having maxed out my credit card to get enough to pay into the current account to pay the mortgage, I can’t help thinking having a third child would be the craziest idea ever. What I want more than anything, for all of the family, is breathing space. So we can all have our heads above water, pay back what we owe, just not feel this constant weight of debt and failure. So I can do the weekly shop with money I actually have, not money I’ll owe back at an extortionate rate. So my children have some freedom, so we can take them places, show them more stuff. And so I can get a haircut. The bank has mirrors and I look rubbish.

Anyhow, that’s what we need. Not to get back on the nursery fee treadmill for another four years, and to get sunk by all the other costs that follow and never end.

Event 2: The argument for Baby no. 3

3:04pm (as above). I sneak back into the office. Everyone is crowded round one particular desk. A colleague has just come in with her new baby. Not just any new baby – a third new baby. He is 14 days old. He is perfect.


Having weighed up the arguments presented by the Essay Police, I have now reached my conclusion / end. Obviously, as you can see from the above, one argument definitely outweighs the other. I need to have that third baby, don’t I?

PS Obviously I might not even be able to conceive a third baby, or I might have another miscarriage. Oh well. All the more reason to get my skates on re: partner nagging.


11 thoughts on “That bonus third baby: The arguments for and against

  1. It’s a tough one; we didn’t have baby No 3 and whilst I know that was right for us as a family, I do have the odd ‘moment’ when I look at a newborn. And my sons seem to consider it a possibility still – despite the fact that I am now 45 years old… (so no – never going to happen!)

    1. It is really hard! I know some people who feel really sure after two (and a bit of me worries I don’t want to stop at two because that’s the “standard” option!). But newborns are so irresistible…

  2. So sad and you know so many will be in your positition but not talking about it. Do see if you get some help with finances perhaps from Consumer Credit Counselling Service or Citizens Advice Bureau or National Debtline.
    You do have a bit of leeway probably at your age. Hope things ease up and you get the right outcome for you and yours.
    You will have helped others in posting so honestly.
    P.S. You write really well

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment! I have just had a lovely day with my sons and know I am really lucky to have them. Wanting another is so weird, really, since it’s just a feeling – a baby that doesn’t exist – but I have this feeling that things aren’t quite “complete” yet. And a fear of resenting my partner for not “getting sorted” financially sooner if we end up not having one!
      With money, we do have a kind of contingency plan. Other students on my partner’s course say if they don’t get jobs they’ll do supply but we couldn’t afford childcare cover for such uncertain work patterns. We think that my partner being a stay-at-home dad and offering some tuition would probably improve things a lot. But it delays him getting NQT status for another year… Anyhow, we will sort it out and contact the organisations you suggest if need be (not going to – the credit card is bad enough!).

  3. Oooh I wish I had some helpful advice but we muddle along in a very similar fashion. When I fell pregnant with no4 I was terrified and a very kind old woman told me ‘you’d feed them off the others leftovers’. Not quite literally but I think I understood her point and it helped x

    1. It’s really hard because I think if you want another child and don’t have it, you know a part of you will regret it, whereas once a wanted baby is there it’s impossible to think you’ve done the wrong thing. I will check out your blog to see more about family four fun!

  4. Basically as #glosswitchgroupie I am just going to copy what you do. Same dilemma just further behind in process than you so whatever you decide can be my decision too. So make it the right decision. No pressure.

  5. (Just found your blog, after LadyCurd bigging it up on Twitter – she’s right! Great Blog!)

    Just do it!!! I felt exactly the same about two years after having my 2nd girl. Other half wasn’t too enthusiastic, we are like you, muddling along financially, but I didn’t want a big age gap so we went ahead. Everyone thought I was crazy having a 3rd (hence the name of my blog) but when he was born, and he was A BOY the joy (sorry – cheese) was immense. We manage fine. Yes, we haven’t been on holiday for YEARS and we don’t go out to eat as often as I’d like, but we have 3 amazing beautiful kids.
    So go for it!!!

    P.s after having no3, I’m now longing for no4 and I get very jealous of all these pregnant or trying to conceive people on Twitter. Where will it end?

    1. One of my friends has ended up with four because she can’t face stopping. I think (I hope) I do have my limits. I once saw a couple in Ikea with four kids and it looked like herding cats. The minute they’d found one another had gone missing. I don’t know if I could face that!

  6. You are the only one that can decide and oh how well I understand that missing baby feeling. I am 60 now so my four are all grown up. I decided to talk my husband into a fourth baby when one day my other three were on a swing ride at a fair and I had a very strong feeling that the empty seat alongside them would be filled. I was 40. BUT I have also been where you are after a divorce and had years of very very scary worrying about money and debts. Especially like you the covering up with colleagues as I had a high paid job. Over time it saps your energy and the thoughts and care that you can give to the children you have got. Often all the mental energy you can muster is to go round in circles robbing Peter to pay Paul. The other problem with having children as you get older is that your retirement looms and comes all too quickly and just when you need money for yourself your children are still at Uni wanting a laptop and needing the use of a car like their friends. The problem is not really that your husband is doing a teaching degree but like me you are not good at managing money. It took me years to accept that as there was always a plausible external reason in my head why I kept getting into these money scrapes. But really the problem was and is me. Other people managed I didn’t and if I am honest still don’t.
    Is wanting another baby a way that we women exercise personal power in a situation where we feel out of control? Also a massive distraction from day to day problems as we soak up the congratulations and attention that pregnancy and being a new mother bring?
    Looking back subconciosly I knew my marriage was in trouble . But that fourth baby was and is a delight and she has turned into a beautiful, clever and funny young woman who we all love to bits.
    Re the debts do see if you can get help to reduce payments from the charitable debt support agencies and see Martins Money Tips if you dont already know it the debt free wannabees forum on there is excellent .

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I think you are right about the managing money. Once I have to dip into the credit card to pay for things I need, I often think “sod it, I’ve messed up anyhow” and want to start buying things I don’t.
      I worry that with me, wanting another baby is also a way of showing I’m properly committed to being a mum and not just someone who has two for the sake of it, because nearly everyone who has babies has two. But that is ridiculous! They’re people, not a reflection of me!
      Since I wrote that post I have had a lovely weekend with my sons. I am very lucky to have them, and it’s lovely to hear how proud your daughter makes you.

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