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