How Many Kids Is Too Many Kids? Asking for a Friend

So really, guys, how many kids is too many kids?

Ever since I miscarried my fifth pregnancy last March, I have been asking myself that question. Don’t get me wrong—4 kids is a lot of kids.

Next year, for example, when they are all (finally) in school, I will be packing 20 lunches a week and negotiating 4 parent teacher conferences and attending 4 music shows and a passel of open houses and making SO MANY BIRTHDAY CUPCAKES.

Even if we try to limit each kid to 2 extracurricular activities, that’s 8 activities a week. And as you know, when kids get older, their sports practice more frequently and travel longer distances and compete multiple times a weekend. 4 kids means a lot of hockey and boy scouts and dance and gymnastics and baseball and—you get the idea.

Surely we are using up our fair share of resources, too. Is it conscionable to have a large family when overpopulation threatens the earth’s carrying capacity and the effects of climate change are more noticeable than ever before?

Did I mention that I’m too old to be thinking about another baby?  I turn 40 in May, and my youngest child will be 5 by then. I have made it through the slog of the preschool years with my body and my sanity basically intact. Stretch marks and mild anxiety attacks DON’T COUNT. Shouldn’t I quit while I am ahead and enjoy wearing sophisticated shoes to the bounce house place and bringing a coffee and a book and curling up on the bench because my kids are too big to need me to wear the grippy socks and prove to the world I can bounce without peeing my pants? (That’s another thing! I CAN BOUNCE and not pee my pants. Another baby would seriously tempt fate there).

Just for a minute, maybe we should talk about money. I don’t know if you know this, but kids are expensive. They eat. A lot. They outgrow their clothes. They lose their winter coats. They think gloves and hats and mittens are a (magically) renewable resource. 4 kids in college—yikes. Not to mention all of the braces and bikes and computers—I shudder to do the math.

What would another baby do to my career?  To the novel I have been waiting 39 years to write and type faithfully every morning? To my marriage? To my sanity? To my sleep schedule (that’s one amazing thing about bidding goodbye to the baby years—the sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep)? To my relationship with my tween and his brother who is almost a tween?

We are blessed beyond measure to be happy and healthy and engaged in thoughtful, rewarding work. I am so grateful for my already-larger-than-normal assortment of children. (The assortment is large. The children are all on the small side).


No day in your life is more magical than the day a new person appears in it. Think about they days your children were born. Have you ever been that close to a miracle? Now imagine a tiny baby burrito-ed in a hospital receiving blanket in one of those weird plastic boxes on wheels surrounded by small faces and fat little hands as your rowdy pack of kids meets a new sibling. It’s sublime.

Fast forward a little bit to see your living room strewn with squeaky toys and board books and those huge plastic baby-holding accessories that you never really get to use because the baby is always right there in your arms or on your chest or literally strapped to your body. Remember how a baby smells and the warm, damp weight of a baby pressed up against you, a soft little head with flaky skin always in kissing distance of your lips. In the middle of the night when you are exhausted and stumbling out of bed, your reward for your efforts is that sweet suckling pig of a creature who loves you so much it can’t stand to go more than a couple of hours without you, and even though you move—and look—like a Walking Dead extra, you feel the same way.

Smash cakes.

Shambling toddlers.

Lisping little voices and their intoxicating malapropisms.

I want all of it again. One more time. The last one, I swear.

My husband points out that I have said this after every child and then after every child I want another one. Like cookies. What can I say? I am a binge-birther. 

Or, I would be if my old-lady body would cooperate. It’s not infertility if you already have lots of kids, but there’s this fifth-baby-shaped hole, ache, weight, want that isn’t going away even though the stick never has a second pink line. Anymore.

How did you make peace with the end of the baby years? Tell me, won’t you? I really want to know.

Sarah Jedd
Sarah Jedd has a Ph.D. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches and studies the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood. Sarah has 5 (F I V E) children: teens Harry and Jack, elementary schoolers Cooper and Dorothy, and sweet baby Minnie, born in August 2020. Sarah blogs about being a mom of many at and overshares on IG as @sarahjedd. Sarah, her husband, and their kids live in Verona with the world's laziest dog.


  1. Oh Sarah. I LOVED this. And I feel like everything you said is exactly how I have felt, except I only have 2. I want it all one more time. I am hoping it happens for you (and me!) or that we can at least find that peace we are looking for.

  2. So I had my 5th! It was wonderful and amazing and my last….until I found out last week I am having another! Surprise!!!! I went through all these crazy emotions. But what I realized today was that I am already so fiercely attached to this precious baby. But seriously after this…we are done!!!

  3. Sarah, first of all, that pics of your 4 kiddos is beautiful!!
    And I get it.
    Con to more children for me: I’m still waiting/trying (well, honestly I’m not trying THAT hard) to lose the baby weight from my Cooper he is 15 years old).
    Pro: babies don’t talk back for a number of years ????

    I could go back & forth all day so I’m no help

    But I do know your kids are great — either way you’re 1 lucky mana & your kids are BLESSED

  4. Wonderful writing. We have pictures of our babies and recordings of their voices, but I’ve been mourning what technology can’t capture as the ‘real’ memories fade to almost nothing. You helped bring them back. Thank you!

  5. My husband is certain he only wants one. Me, not as much. But as I also approach 40 (in September) and had two miscarriages before we were blessed with our sweet boy, I’m thinking one might just be the magic number for us…

  6. My husband and I have six children. The first was born when I was 25 and the last when I was a few months shy of 41. I am a bit of a birth and baby addict myself so completely understand the pull in that direction. Having four children, I am sure you know there are many advantages to having a larger than average family. Having a family who is a bit older, my oldest child is now a senior in college and my youngest is in first grade, I will say that for me there are two downsides to a large family to consider. One is that I am literally exhausted ALL of the time. We have four kids at home now, one teen, one pre teen and two elementary students. While it is easy to say when children are younger that you will limit their activities, it is hard to when they are a teen begging to be in another activity that you know will be healthy for them but will also require more of your money, more of your time and more of the dreaded fundraising that every new activity seems to require. Another downside is that with many kids in even a few activities each, there is limited time to do stuff as a family or as a couple. There are many evenings that I might spend the evening taking one child to horseback riding lessons while my husband spends the evening at another child’s band concert….and it is never ending. I started being a parent in 1995 and my youngest will not graduate until 2029, this is a lot of years of hands on parenting. All this being said, if I found myself pregnant again or if someone left a baby on my porch, I would likely happily embrace it and start again. On this point though, I am sure my husband differs. Good luck with whatever you decide!

    • Kind of a late response. But this is spot on. I just had my 6th in march of this year. Oldest now 15 youngest 9 months. Oldest has autism. I teach full time. Its a beyond crazy life. I don’t have my mother in law anymore and my mom is incapacitated. Its all me. Every doctor’s appointment. And then some. I am very spiritual though. I hear my mother in law a lot telling be strong be strong… Her spirit keeps me going! My husband and I also have no time ever though. I love my family. A lot. But I am beyond tired ????

  7. So all last school year I’d cry every Monday on the way from dropping off my big kids elementary school to the preschool drop off knowing this was the end of an era. It was agonizing at first knowing that all 4 of my babies would need me a little less and be off to learn in school. But I came to terms with it, reluctantly. Then in May, we found out surprise baby #5 was on the way! He’s here now and splendid! All the baby loves that you mentioned! After every baby we’ve thought we were done, even this time. Just a week ago what words did I utter? “Maybe we should think about adoption again?” So, how many is too many? I don’t have that answer, God knows just who and what we need so I’ll trust that and know that if we’re meant to have even more babies or toddlers come be part of our family via adoption then that’s what’ll happen.

  8. Sarah, I thought I was done with one, then I had another and that was DEFINITELY done. Then I remarried, he had 3, now 5 is definitely enough and DONE.

    BUT–Foster care started, we acquired three more permanent teens, and adopted a new born(when I was 50).

    All that to say “you’re done when you’re done” !

    Good Luck, God bless

  9. I have been told our current newborn is our last. After 3 boys i have been told we are done. I dont want to be done. I mean i admit right now in the middle of the night when the baby is wired and i havent slept, i look forward to the toddler years when he sleeps better. However, i dont feel like my world is complete. I feel like we are missing someone. There is still this weird ache for someone who isnt here. Every time my newborn does something i think about jow its the last time i will do this. I wont be pregnant again? How can that be true. I totally relate to everything you wrote.


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