Wednesday, January 29, 2020

How I Knew We Needed a Third Baby

The question that gets brought up to me most these days: “How did you make the decision to have a 3rd baby?”. Or, said another way by those not as subtle (most recently by my hair dresser), “Was this baby an accident?” Lovely phrasing aside, I’m here to tell you how we know that three is our number, and why not less, and why not more.

I think the biggest misconception is that we’re totally killing the parenting game and decided to add one more since we’re on auto pilot over here. This is definitely not the case, and our days hold plenty of parenting and work/life balance challenges. The boys fight just as much as they get along, and there is a lot of patience, grace, and love that is required to navigate the uncharted waters of parenting our 5 and 3 year old boys. Our lives have also always included international travel, which sometimes feels like an insurmountable feat with two—let alone three--littles. Matt and I have been able to divide and conquer (or something very minimally resembling it) with two kids until now, and thinking ahead to how we’ll be able to travel with three kids, and all that that entails (cost, car seats, sleeping arrangements, rental cars) is enough to completely overwhelm me. So what the heck are we doing?

The shortest and easiest answer is simply this:  I just didn’t feel like we were done. The thought of completely moving on from this phase of life, as intense as it is, with the baby years in the rear view mirror, got to me more and more as we continued to celebrate birthdays for the boys. For a little while, I thought that maybe I was just one of those people that would never want to stop, always craving a newborn in her arms as a way to try to freeze time. It’s really hard to grow up. It’s painful to have to move on to the next chapter. It’s hard to stop dreaming and buying pregnancy tests, hard to give up that exciting and nervous high that makes your stomach flip-flop, hard to stop imagining the future with little people that you’ve never met yet. As it turns out, the moment I first saw this baby on an ultrasound was also the one where I knew that this would be the last time. I knew that our future was now going to be spent taking care of these three babies that we had been given, and I felt an overwhelming sense of completion. I feel like we anxiously gambled and ended up with healthy pregnancies and babies, three for three (my miscarriages aside). I knew that this baby was the missing piece to our family, and now that we had her, it was all I ever wanted. I just couldn’t ever fathom asking the universe to give us even more.

Another reason why we decided to have a third baby is for our boys. The gift of a sibling, a best friend, trumped any back-of-the-mind concerns on how we would afford college tuition for three kids. Oskar, especially, had been asking for a baby for a long time, and seeing his excitement bubble over with every pregnancy milestone and doctor’s appointment he’s tagged along to validates our decision tenfold.  The classic, “How do you want your Thanksgiving table to look in 20 years?” question also resonated with me, and the choice to give our boys another person to love was honestly made with my heart instead of my head in many ways. 

Finally, I never went into August’s pregnancy thinking it was my final time to experience it. Parenting a 21 month old and a newborn, I learned, allows for little time to slow down and relish in the “lasts”…my last newborn, last time nursing, last first words, last first holidays. To be honest, I existed in survival mode for well over a year after August came along, and never got to really hold on to it, enjoy it, then let it go. I ached to be able to do that, just one more time, and am so grateful that I now have that chance.

The same way I intuitively knew we needed just one more baby is likely the same way I know that this will be our last. I know that this is the perfect number for us, for our finances, for the way we want to live our lives, for our mental well being…for my patience, sanity, and amount that I’m able to extend myself. I want to work, we want to travel. I think, and hope, we can still swing it with just one more addition to our family. 

I know lots of people struggle with this very same question—are we done having babies? Finality is a tricky thing. My best advice is this: if you don’t know, do nothing. I think the answer will make its way to you in time. For us, three is it. Both my head AND heart know it this time, which is just about the happiest you can feel.

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