Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Holding Steady

A friend of mine lost a baby last week. He was 14 days old and very, very sick. I can't stop thinking about it; the way she and her husband must be feeling, and how nothing I can say or do for her will take away the pain.

It puts things in perspective for me. Aden's been cutting his first molars the last few weeks and is whiny and clingy. I'm frustrated when he tugs at my legs and cries "ma ma" while I'm trying to get dinner on the table, but what I should really be doing is thanking God he has a voice; that I'm able to hear him cry. That thought brings tears to my eyes because my friend never had the chance to hear her son cry or laugh. She'd probably give anything to have a healthy, teething baby right now.

I've been thinking a lot lately about having a third baby. Even before the recent news about my friend, I've been wondering if we're a "two and done" family. It seems like every single person I know is expecting a third (or fourth!) baby right now, and secretly I've felt guilty for not having the desire to join them. Really though, it's not a bandwagon to jump on -- it's a human life in question, and a really big decision to bring another person into the world. It's a choice that alters the entire make-up of a family.

I've said it a few times -- this year is the Year of Me. I have a good life, a great life, and I've got absolutely nothing to complain about. And yet, when I dig deep in my soul I can honestly say I'm worn down; I'm tired; I need a breather. That release in tension, the heavy pressure I've been carrying around for the last one or two years is finally letting up. I see glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm starting to feel like myself again. Tory and Aden are beginning to sleep through the night -- not every night, but some nights -- and the immeasurable stress of caring for two little ones is lessening. For the first time in a while now, I'm not pregnant or nursing or so dang sleep-deprived I can't see straight and it feels so good. Am I a terrible mother for admitting that? Sometimes, it feels like I am, but it's the truth. I'm finally keeping my head above water.

I've said this to a few people before and no one seems to fist bump me in agreement the way I think they might, but pregnancy and infancy (the first year of a child's life) are hard on a marriage. Not that Andi and I aren't good -- because we're great -- but those two years of complete dedication to a baby are hard. They're exhausting for Andi and I at least, and maybe it's because our little people never sleep. Ever. I'm not entirely sure I want to go back there for a third time -- putting my marriage on the back-burner once again, and then scraping nail by nail to get back to a happy, fulfilling place in our relationship.

Aden and Tory are in a really great spot with one another, too. I know I say it a lot, but those two are the best of friends, and it warms my heart to its core to witness their sibling love for one another. I'm not saying they won't grow up and fight or have their differences over time, but for now it's a gift to watch my two children love each other the way they do. I often wonder if having a third child will upset the balance. Will someone be left out of the mix?

Of course, there's the worry of something happening to the baby. My friend. My heart is aching for her and her family. I realize Tory and Aden aren't immune to tragedy. Something could still happen to them, but now understanding as a mother how precious human life is somehow increases my fear of bringing another life into this world. Andi and I have been blessed with two amazing, healthy, happy children. Would we be tempting fate to roll the dice again?

Lately I've felt this intense snowball of suburban life surrounding me. Graduate college. Get a job. Get married. Buy a house. Have a baby. Have another. Buy a bigger house. Have a third child... like this is the mold of life; everybody's doing it. Am I doing it wrong by not stepping in line to get pregnant again? Where are the women who buck the system and are content with one or two kids?

Then, there's this -- Our family loves to travel, and we'd like to do more of it. Andi and I always said having kids wouldn't slow us down but the truth it, it has. Traveling with children is logistically challenging. It can be done and we've done it, but many times Andi and I question whether we should just go to the cabin instead. It's so much easier with the kids and we really do love it there, but our lack of enthusiasm in traveling with the kids is squashing one of our biggest goals in life -- to see the world together. Part of our family's five-year plan is to travel the world for several years, and I honestly think we'll do it. Having a third baby would throw a big (gigantic! huge!) wrench in those plans. Can you imagine traveling the world with a new(ish) baby? I can't. On the other hand, I question whether I'm trading a few years of exploring the world for a lifetime of joy that a third baby might bring.

I'm continually reminding myself these days that it's okay not to follow the same path as everyone else. Andi and I have different life goals and just because other people are having three or four kids doesn't mean I have to do it, too. Then I remember my friend and realize it's ignorant of me to even think for a second I have a say in this life of mine. God has a plan for all of us, and what will be will be.

If you could, please keep my friend and her family in your prayers. She needs them. XOXO


  1. I have tons of friends that have had or are having three kids and I think that they are insane! I definitely think that three is the new two but I am not interested (of course it's a lot harder for us to have kids what with having to use IVF). I'm all about the man defense instead of zone. If you are happy with your family size then don't worry about what others are doing.

  2. I basically have this same post in my drafts that I haven't hit publish - yet, not sure if I will it was just a post to get everything off my chest. We are 16 weeks away from baby #3 arriving - I reached viability and that in itself has been a huge accomplishment for us! I feel so blessed that he is on the way, but often worry how our family dynamic will shift. Will he be okay when he is born? Will all three of them get along? How will I have enough of me to give everyone what they need?

    I personally feel that two to three has felt like a much bigger jump than one to two (I know most others 100% disagree) I may change my mind once he gets here, who knows. Just the logistics - appointments and checkups seemed manageable with two kids, but adding my appointments in there and sick kids recently we are racking up the days/time off of work - not to mention all the "cookie cutter" type things that people ask us know that we having three - "when are you moving?" "when are you buying a new car?" etc... We are bucking to some of these norms because ... well them seem unnecessary. We may or may not get a new vehicle - but we have one that would comfortably fit all three kids and I really love my car - We are not moving, despite only have two rooms on the same floor - we like our house and we feel no need to move. Although I feel the pressure to conform - I know what feels right for our family.

    My biggest wish is that baby boy is born safely : ) I will be keeping your friend in our thoughts and prayers!!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I am one of the women who would love three...or the family size my husband and I grew up in. But, it's that whole tempting fate thing. You're right--the longer I'm a mother, the more I realize how fragile and beautiful and improbable it is to make that new life. So many things can go wrong; now I'm even more acutely aware of it. Prayers for your friend.

  4. Oh my gosh, my heart aches for your friend. That's so awful. Did they know he was sick before he was born? These are the stories that make me question if we are insane for having a 4th. It's not the idea of raising, caring for, loving four kids - I KNOW we can do that...but if we are being greedy by hoping for 4 healthy children. Scary stuff.
    So I understand your hesitation in that department. But at the same time, lots of people have 3 or 4 healthy kids, so I suppose that shouldn't really be a hindering factor in making this kind of decision.
    Around here most people seem to have 2 kids. Way fewer have 3 and I probably know only 4 families with 4 kids. 2 is still most common. But regardless, I think you need to listen to you heart and do what is best for you and your family. It's definitely NOT something to let societal pressures influence you in. I've always known that I wanted a big family, so the decision to have 3 was not something I ever wavered on, but I will admit that everything gets a little more challenging with a 3rd child, not just during the pregnancy/infancy stage, but forever! You need bigger cars, it's harder to travel with them, or without them (finding childcare for 3 is a different ball game!), and just life in general is more chaotic. I mean, little things like walking from the car to a store…you only have 2 hands, but you need to hold 3 to safely get across the parking lot. Stuff like that is just a little more challenging.
    Also I'm TOTALLY fist pumping you on how tough pregnancy/infancy is on a marriage. I GET that! I'm surprised other's you've said that to don't agree. Don't get me wrong, our marriage has always been fine during this stage (which is going on more than 6 years of continued pregnancy/infancy stage, yikes!), but there has been very little room for us to focus on our marriage during this time. I look forward to having the time and energy to put toward it again in the next couple of years.
    Good luck with you decision. I hope you are content with it, whatever it may be :)

  5. Wow, I cannot believe that about your friend.... how awful to be going through that. One of my high school classmates lost her 5 year old right around the time I had Ben and it definitely put a lot of things into perspective during those first few weeks of having no sleep! I totally get your feelings on this, I feel almost the exact same way about going from 3-4. I was always a 'three kid' person - my entire life I just knew I wanted three kids. But, then something shifted this last pregnancy and I started thinking of four, something I had never done before. And, now I just can't get it out of my head what the 'right' answer is. Sometimes I wonder if it's like you said, I see people having kids or bigger families and I start to wonder if I really want that or if it's almost a competition thing- like I can do that too, why shouldn't I have more? Or, if it's truly that we would be a better family with four kids and that God wants me to have four. It's just so hard and I really, really thought after having three that I would just *know* I was done. Not having that feeling makes it a lot tougher. I also believe I have to factor in my situation - I work outside the home, I own a business, our house is 'built' for three kids, etc. Am I pushing the envelope with four? Not even just the sense of a healthy kid (although that weighs heavily on my mind), but just logistical things in general? I honestly thought from one of your last posts that you guys were trying because you said something about feeling like a big change was coming and I thought for sure you were trying to get pregnant, lol! I hope you can come to a decision that you and Andi are happy with; I know you will and I know whatever it is that it will be the right decision for you guys!

  6. Definitely praying for your friend.

    I felt the same way when my second was 1. I just couldn't jump back in again for round three. I didn't know if we ever would. We were very torn on whether to have a third.

    It took an extra year, but we finally decided to go for it. Obviously once someone has the child they say "totally worth it! So glad we did!" (and that is how I feel) but I'm also so glad we gave ourselves extra time.

  7. I am so sorry for your friend's loss. How devastating - it breaks my heart.

    My husband and I decided early on that we would have one child for a number of reasons (we're older, some health stuff...), but I also see all these people having 3 and 4 kids and wonder if that's the thing to do now. Not that it will change my mind, but it's made me think "should I have had a second?".

    I totally get what you are talking about in regards to your relationship with your husband. I think I have a good marriage, but those early years with a kid were hard and did put a lot of strain on us. I finally feel we are laughing and talking again like we did pre-kid and I wouldn't want to give that up. Obviously, everyone is different, but I think for us it's best that we don't have more. I think I'm a good mom and would be if I had another, but I also know my limits and, for me, it's probably best to stick with 1.

    Anyway, this isn't to encourage you to stick with 2 or go with 3, but more to say that I understand and that you aren't alone in your thought process.

  8. I've found that my visceral emotional response to any trauma to a mom and/or child has been the biggest change in me since becoming a mom myself. I used to think "oh, yeah, I'll cry at some Hallmark commercials..." but whenever I hear stories about what happened to your friend I feel like someone has punched me in the stomach and removed all the oxygen from the air. I will certainly be praying for her!

    And I'll give you an emphatic fist bump for finally feeling like you're keeping your head above water - that doesn't make you a bad mother, I think it shows what a GREAT mom you are! Managing little ones without losing your identity is no small feat, so the fact that you're being yourself AND a parent is truly admirable (and one of my goals!). Your little ones will sure benefit from setting such a great example.

    As far as having more kids, don't let anyone influence on what's right for you! If your family is complete - great! If not, also great! I find that when stuff is weighing on my mind, I try (as best I can) to just push it to the side for awhile and usually the answer bubbles up on its own. I'm sure you'll find happiness in whatever you decide!

  9. Oh girl, I'm so sorry to hear about this. I can't even imagine what your friend is going through. Heartbreaking.

  10. I am so sorry for your friend.

    I completely understand the pressure to have more as well as the effects children have on your marriage. The first two years of M's life weren't "bad" in our marriage, but I definitely didn't have the energy for anything besides minimum maintenance. Now that she's 3, we are traveling again, have regular date nights (I can't imagine paying a sitter for 3-4 kids), have energy for romance, and to be honest, I see value in that because it sets an example for M of what a happy marriage should look like.

    I just turned 36 and just had my second miscarriage in six months, so we might be one and done. And that will work just great for our family. But I feel like the odd woman out at music class, at ECFE, etc because so many women around me are moms of 3-4. If we have another, we will for sure stop at 2, because of my age. But that pressure... gosh, that pressure. 3 really does seem like the new 2, especially among the suburban SAHM crowd (maybe because if you're home, why not have more?). But 3 also seems like so much less freedom. And I value my freedom.