Full Disclosure: I wrote this blog post months ago, probably back in the late fall. The timing just wasn't right then. I don't know if it was holidays, or posts that I needed get publish ASAP, or just a general oddness that prevented me from posting it then, but the post meant too much for me to discard it completely. So I sat on it. Periodically I'd save it again so it popped back up to the top of my post list, but I didn't read it or edit it until now. But now that I have, it is still 100% true. What's more, I feel less weird about posting it. It's a very honest confession, but given that it still rings true so many months later, I think it's safe to post it. So here goes...
I have to admit, lately I've been a little sad that another baby is not in our future. It's absolutely ridiculous on so many counts, but it's been on my mind a lot. Carter is definitely stepping further and further out of the baby stage, which is probably part of it. I see a tiny baby and miss the innocence of it all...tiny fingers and toes, first smiles, knowing that your baby's cries aren't strategic, and the lovely absence of back talk. At the same time, there are definitely many things I'm glad to leave behind. Sleepless nights, feedings every three hours, blowouts, not knowing why your baby is crying, pregnancy, labor, and delivery...none of those things were my favorite. But was holding my sleeping infant outstanding enough to forget a lot of that stuff? Absolutely.
I read a blog post not long ago that was written by a woman who was sure they were done after two. And then she started to wonder. And in the end she took some advice to think long-term. Rather than dwell on being "in the trenches" for the next five years, look beyond it to the years of grown kids enjoying each others' company and big family gatherings. And so, number three is on the way for her.
I totally get where she's coming from on that, and I can't argue that the long-term view is probably why this nagging sense stays with me. I mean, yes, I love the little baby phase. I love the milestones, I love the cuddles, and I love the anticipation of who this baby is going to become. But if the good baby stuff and the tough baby stuff sort of cancel each other out, you look beyond and see cool stuff from your grown children (you hope, at least). With two kids, I'll be honest...I worry about if something happens to one of them and the other is left as an only child. Even as an adult that is isolating--no cousins for your kids on that side of the family, no one else to manage aging parents. I'd hate for my kids to ever have to deal with that stuff alone. And honestly, with how Jacob treats Carter, I do wonder if they will ever truly get along. Jacob insists he will never like Carter, and while Carter still adores him, I can't help but wonder what years and years of that treatment from his brother will lead to.
Once in a while I notice a trait in Carter that makes me think about what a great big brother he would probably be. He can be so helpful and so loving, and I'd hope that would translate to his treatment of a younger sibling. But maybe not...maybe he'd flip and it would be awful. But on the chance that Jacob actually never gets past this, I'd hate for Carter to not have a sibling he relates to. I feel like he deserves that chance.
There's also the issue, of course, of the chance to have a girl. I'm very much at peace with never needing to dress a girl, or even to have girl toys all over the house. Despite my sadness when I went through my own toys a while back, I fear that I wouldn't be able to navigate some of the ridiculous girl toys out there right now. But I'm still saddened by the thought that my boys will have to "leave me" someday, while a girl could always be my dear friend. If boys are still close to their mom, it's weird and awkward as they get older and eventually get married. But girls can always be close to their mom and it's fine. That part makes me sad.
But most of all it's so fun to see what your child will look like and what their personality will be. And when you have two, it's almost like you want a tie-breaker for all the ways the other two are different! Would kid #3 be blond or brown-haired? Would they love sports, cars, or something totally different?
But the reality is, it just can't happen. Even though I see that long-term benefit, I'm simply not sure I could survive the short term. I just can't fathom going through all of it again. I don't have the energy or the patience. I don't feel willing to take the risks. I'm 37, which is starting to get deeper into the "advanced maternal age" category. That could mean a number of problems for me and for a baby, and honestly, I don't feel I have what it takes to be a special needs mom at this point. My last pregnancy was hard, and I worry that I'd be earlier than three weeks next time. Delivering another sunny-side up baby seems practically impossible. I think about the stress of Jacob's newborn hospital stay and what we'd do if we had to do that again with two other kids waiting at home. I worry about going through the SIDS age range again. The stress of breastfeeding and milk intolerance and acid reflux is overwhelming. After one rice intolerance and a Celiac diagnosis, I worry about a true allergy popping up in #3. I can't go through the sleepless nights again. I can't quite fathom fitting another baby into our house, cars, or schedules. I think Jacob would completely implode if he had to deal with another baby here, and I have no idea how it might impact Craig's and my relationship if we could no longer do man-to-man defense or equally divide and conquer. It's already hard enough to have time for ourselves, and #3 would make getting away (solo or as a couple) nearly impossible. It would be another round of daycare costs and diapers and doctor visits. It would mean a string of three straight stomach bugs instead of just two. If we had another boy, the clothes and toys would just multiply again, and if we had a girl we'd have to get everything new! I could go on and on. The thought of it is simply overwhelming.
And yet...all of the baby stuff still sits in our crawl space. Part of that is out of fear that the second I get rid of it, I will somehow find myself magically pregnant. But the other part of it is because I know that getting rid of it will be exceptionally difficult and emotional. Inexplicably, apparently there is a huge difference between saying we're done and actually doing something about it. I don't really understand why that is or what we're supposed to do about it. The evidence is clear, but my heart is still pretty sad about it. Sometimes I feel like I just need a baby fix, to have a close friend or family member with a baby I can hold all the time, or to hang out in the baby room at daycare, or to be one of those hospital baby holders. None of those are currently an option, however, and realistically, I probably really crave the connection I had with my own babies.
So, I guess that leaves me in a place where I have to be okay to be done and okay to be sad about it, all at the same time. I feel like it's smarter to err on the side of the known than of the unknown. Another baby seems fun until reality hits, but at that point there's no going back...no matter how hard it gets. So I will just have to keep seeking out the joy in our current existence and hope it fills any of the empty spaces. Our family's story is really still just beginning, and there is much to look forward to in the years ahead. A third baby may not be part of that, but so many other things are...and that just has to be enough.