Long before I was married, I wanted to have three kids. The basis for my decision was my aunt and uncle’s family – three kids, two dogs, three cats, a pony, a horse and lots of love. When visiting their country house for family gatherings, I reveled in the chaotic glow surrounding the kitchen where laughter spilled over and dishes clanged.
When my husband and I married eight years ago I still wanted three children and so did he, having come from a family of three boys. Along came our first baby and we were already talking about the “next time” before we left the hospital. Little did we know what bringing home a baby would mean to the little life we built as a couple. Before we cut our parenting chops with baby number one, along came – surprise! – baby number two. Enter sleepless nights, early tantrums, and meeting everyone’s needs but our own. (Balance? Pfff!)
Now that we’re done with breastfeeding, bottles, diapers and pacifiers, and family life has eased into a predictable pattern, my husband and I have been having the great debate. Do we try for a third child and start all over again? It would mean purchasing a mini-van, planning our day around the baby’s naps again, and figuring out childcare. We’d be back to ground zero when it comes to time for ourselves and each other. We’d be under water again.
It’s hard to accept that I’ll never put a baby to my breast again or feel the kick of a future soccer player growing inside me. Never mind feeling the weight of a newborn napping in my arms, listening to happy suckling sounds, or seeing the first smile. Graduating from the baby-making stage of life is all sentiment, some relief and loaded with future nostalgia. Reaching for the diploma just feels so final.
I don’t think I could have actually come to a decision to stop at two – other than letting time make it for me – if it weren’t for recently thinking that I might be pregnant. It must have been during a week when I was tired of refereeing sibling spats and midnight calls for missing pacifiers. Nothing about the possibility of being pregnant made me excited. In fact, I felt the opposite. It was then that I knew I could be content with two children.
These days I’m more excited than ever to hold a baby in my arms, rock one to sleep or make it smile. But I’m also just as happy to hand a fussing one back to her mommy and relieved it’s not my job to monitor the crawling tyke fond of choking hazards. Instead of interviewing midwives and discussing whether to find out the sex of a new baby, I’m looking forward to getting back in shape (yes, I still have some of the baby weight three years later), spending more time with my hubby and pursuing my personal passions. Hello yoga mat and downward facing dog – I’ve missed you! Hey there novel, I’m back. Let’s curl up for an hour.
And I’m imagining the future fun my foursome will have. There will be soccer games, gymnastics, horseback riding and crafting. There will be s’mores and movie nights, board games and slip and slides. There will be more than enough to love.