How Did You Know When to Start a Family? And How Did You Know You Were Done?

links + small things

This is a question I’ve seen come through on a handful of Monday Morning Q&A boxes.

How did we know when to start a family? Did we have a feeling? Was there a certain thing that had to happen in order for us to know? And when did you know your family was complete?

While we were dating, we discussed that we both had a desire to have kids. This was important to each of us, and it was a non-negotiable that we had to agree on before getting married.

He kind of always mentioned wanting two, and I always imagined having three children. I think that is primarily due to the family size we were both raised in.

He grew up with one older sister, and I grew up with an older brother and younger sister.

When we got married, he was still finishing up his undergrad degree (he started college later than usual due to his time in the USAF) so we knew we wouldn’t start a family until after that was complete. We also wanted to enjoy being married for a while, just the two of us.

After he finished his degree and started working, he also began to toss around the idea of grad school. At the same time, we were also discussing a timeline of when to start trying for a baby. Our plan was for me to stay home with the future children, and for Justin to work in Engineering.

We decided to start trying in early 2012. And to make a long story short, it took 14 months to get pregnant with David. I wrote about it here.

Given our experience in how long it took to get pregnant with David, and the desire to have siblings fairly close together, we started to chat about when we would like to try again when David was a few months old. Again, to keep this post from turning into a 100-page novel, we started trying and BAM — we got pregnant with Luke after 1 month of trying. Justin was *stunned* to hear the news.

I remember looking at 6-month-old David, laying in his crib, and touching my pregnant belly that was holding his sibling.

The boys were 14 months apart in age, so the few years following Luke’s birth are a bit of a blur. It felt a little crazy, but their bond, even to this day, is very, very deep.

When Luke was becoming a toddler, I started the conversation up again about having a third. I always imagined a third baby, and I also longed to be pregnant again. I loved being pregnant and genuinely looked forward to that happening again.

Justin took a bit of time to process the notion of adding another baby to our family. In fact, it took a full year of each of us praying and taking time to think and consider the other persons’ feelings about what our capacity was at that time, and how we would handle the day to day (at this point I was working on my growing business online and he was weighing the idea of quitting his job to start his own business).

We ultimately came to the decision to start trying again and BAM — I got pregnant with Emily in 1 month.

After I had her, I can honestly say that I felt done. Some of you may wonder if it was because she was a girl, and it truly wasn’t that. I was thrilled to have a girl, of course, but it was more a complete idea of 3 kids.

When she was just a few weeks old, during the sleepless nights and never-ending days of caring for a newborn and two little boys, Justin and I both knew that this was it.

This was our family.

And I can tell you now, with an 8, 7, and 3.5 year old — those tiny years, raising little babies and getting pregnant, and trying to figure it all out while also being sleep deprived? They were hard. But man, when you’re through it, there is nothing quite like the love you feel when you get a front row seat to watching your three children grow up and become individual people.

I’m so thankful for them and thankful for so many other things around my pregnancies and birth experiences. I’m so thankful for Justin, and the help I had from my family when we had a 14-month-old and a newborn at home.


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Melissa says · 02.19.22

Love this 💙 I can still remember the post you had to announce your pregnancy with Dave and I was so excited for you guys.

Kate says · 02.21.22

feels like yesterday still!

Ashley says · 02.19.22

I’ve been following you since the early blog days and I remember an Insta post or a blog post about you two trying to start your family. You had just bought a giant box of ovulation tests or something similar and then very shortly afterwards, you were pregnant! It’s been fun watching your beautiful family grow over the years!

Elizabeth says · 02.19.22

Thanks for sharing! I had my two sons 16 months apart right around the time you had David and Luke. Mine were born in November 2013 and April 2015, so it was a comfort following along with you during that time and knowing I wasn’t the only one crazy enough to have two babies back to back! I wanted another for a long time, but my husband was adamant that he was done. It was hard to come to grips with that, but ultimately I knew it wasn’t something I wanted him to agree to without being 100% on board. Now our boys are 8 and almost 7 and I’m happy with our family the way it is. We can finally do “big kid” stuff and go on family adventures without having to take into account a younger sibling who may not be able to keep up. I’m just sharing my perspective in case someone else wants to know what it’s been like stopping at two. Neither way is right or wrong of course! It’s a joy to follow along with your sweet family through your blog! Have a blessed weekend!

Kate says · 02.21.22

you’re right, there isn’t a wrong or right way! Glad yall are enjoying Big Kid stuff 🙂

Avory says · 02.20.22

It definitely seems that you were done since you had a girl! I’m sure had you not, you would not have felt complete and would have had a desire for more kids. Nothing wrong with admitting that by the way 😉

Avory says · 02.20.22

I’m sure you desired a girl and wanted to have 1 more. Had you not had a girl you’re answer might be different 😉 nothing wrong with admitting that by the way !

April says · 02.20.22

I haven’t been following along since the beginning yet have loved watching your family grow and thrive since finding you. Here’s to a lifetime of healthy years and fun ahead!

Kate says · 02.21.22

Thank you April, that is so kind!

Kristy Leavitt says · 02.20.22

Beautiful 💛 Thank you for sharing your story, Kate!

Sherry says · 02.21.22

Kate, I have followed along since the beginning of your blog, the Pinterest days and before you had the kids. It is an absolute pleasure to watch them growing up and see some of the cute and funny things they do and say. They are all three so precious. That picture of David and Luke holding the announcement of baby number three, it’s like David knows what that means and the beaming smile on his face. He seems so proud to be a big brother to his siblings. Thank you for sharing with us.

Hildy says · 02.21.22

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kate! We waited 5 years after getting married before trying to have kids. I’m so glad we waited and really honed in on building our marriage before adding kids to the mix! We just have 2, and after my 2nd I had that same “I’m done, our family is complete” feeling. Being pregnant and being a baby momma wasn’t my strong suit, and I had to accept that my strengths lie elsewhere. Now that mine are 12 and 9, I love the age they’re at and I don’t miss the younger toddler/baby years one bit!

LeAnne Bruce says · 02.21.22

I’ve been following for a long time, pre family long time. And I just have to say, it is very inspiring to hear how you and Justin work together in your marriage. Thank you so much for sharing your life, family and being vulnerable. ❤️

Valerie says · 02.21.22

This is so sweet! We tried for many years, suffered through some losses, and now have a wonderful 6 year old boy. We tried for 4 more years after he was born with no success (but also no losses, which was a big part of my prayer as we moved forward with trying to grow our family). While things didn’t turn out like I had always pictured, being his mom is my greatest joy. The Lord is good and faithful. I love what you said about having a front row seat. What a privilege it is! Thanks for sharing!

Ashley says · 02.21.22

Thank you for saying the early years with 3 little ones is hard! I’m in the thick of it and trying to soak it all in but it’s exhausting. I know it’s just a quick season so trying to enjoy it because I know I’ll someday miss it. It makes me really sad that my babies are growing so thank you for saying that it gets even better!

Austin says · 02.22.22

“But man, when you’re through it, there is nothing quite like the love you feel when you get a front row seat to watching your three children grow up” I am 4 months postpartum and this about brought me to tears. So encouraging, just what I needed.

Isabel says · 02.22.22

I remember finding you through Pinterest, while looking for quick easy hairstyles I could do. Going through med school not only was I such a fan of your quick hairdos, but it felt refreshing being able to get out of the medicine world by reading your blog posts. Feels like yesterday sometimes!

It’s been so much fun following your journey, and also so helpful while I became a mom too.
Thank you for sharing with us. 💙

Hope says · 02.23.22

Brought tears to my eyes to read this.
We have a son who is just a few weeks older than Luke, Lincoln. And our daughter is a couple months younger than Emily, Claire Elizabeth. I have been going over the third baby questions for two years now. I know another baby belongs here but its such a hard thing to decide. Thank you for posting your story!
We love watching our children grow and seeing you raise children similar in age.