I always told people I wanted "at least 3 kids." Granted, I didn't expect to have ALL THREE before I turned 28, but nevertheless. Here I sit. Three kids.
Sometimes when I told people that I wanted "at least 3 kids" they would tell me, "You say that now - just wait 'til you HAVE ONE." When I was pregnant they added, "You might change your mind after labor!" (Which, by the way, is a really stupid thing to tell a pregnant woman.)
10 minutes after delivering Madeline I looked Dan square in the eyes and said,
"Just so you know, that wasn't so bad that I couldn't do it again."
After we'd lived with a baby for a little while, and especially after we received Madeline's diagnosis, people continued to ask, and my answer never changed.
"Yes, I want more. Yes, I want at least 3 children. Yes, I'm sure."
"Just wait," they said. "Wait until you have two," they said. "Then you'll see," they said.
I smiled politely and suppressed the urge to roll my eyes.
PSA: Please, parents, stop telling people in different stages of life to "Just wait." It's kind of patronizing and rude and it never, ever makes anyone feel better about anything. Stop saying "Wait 'til you have two, wait 'til you have three, wait 'til they start walking, wait 'til they start throwing tantrums, wait 'til they're teenagers." If you want a cookie, just ask for one. But stop telling everyone else to "just wait..."
Thank you. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.
In the delivery room, holding Sam for the first time, I knew: I'm not done. I'm not done being pregnant. I'm not done having kids. This family is beautiful and perfect, but it is not finished.
As I sit here, 36 weeks pregnant with my third child, for the very first time in my life, if someone asked me if I thought I'd have more kids I'd have to answer honestly,
"I don't know."
I know that I don't not want more kids. But this is the first time I've not known with certainty that I do. This is the first time I've even been able to entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, I won't be pregnant again.
And now, the what-ifs that tag along behind "the unknown" are here en force.
As our little boy gets bigger and bigger, as this pregnancy draws nearer and nearer the end, I can't help but think:
Could this be the last time I feel a baby do a somersault inside of me? The last day he bumbles around for 30 minutes straight? The last time I sit on the couch and watch my belly twitch? The last time I feel the l o n g, s l o w rolls? The last time I push down and find a foot, or feel a knee bend beneath the pressure of my hand? Could this be the last time my womb is full?
I don't know. It might be.
That is maddening to me.
Pregnancy is hard for a lot of reasons, but to think that this might be the last tiny baby that I whisper private whispers to, the last baby that lives on the inside of me before he lives on the outside of me, the last baby that sticks his toes up into my rib cage - it makes me stop.
I know that, sooner or later, this too shall pass - this season of baby-bearing. God knows I won't miss 98% of it. At the risk of sounding terribly, awfully, embarrassingly vain - I mostly want my body back. My breasts have been completely out of control for the last five years (and don't even bother making cheeky comments like "share the wealth," because believe me when I say: if I could afford the surgery, it would have been done yesterday).
But to think that this could be my last tiny little baby makes me forget about the giant bras and maternity pants. It makes me forget, if only for a minute, the discomfort and fatigue.
Because I'll never know whether or not this is the last walloping kick before he's born. The last walloping kick ever?
This is the trouble of having to live life forwards instead of backwards - we just can't know. I could never have known "This is the last time Madeline will fall asleep on my shoulder." I don't even know when that happened, but somewhere along the way - it did. I could never have known, "This is the last time I'll swaddle Sam. The last time I'll nurse him." I'll never know when it's going to be the last time he will call me "Mmmmmm" instead of Ma-ma - then Mommy, then Mom. It just...happens. They grow up.
I suppose I'm feeling extra nostalgic, not because this is my last baby, but because it might be.
And so - I'll just soak it up. I'll cry because I'm so happy with this little boy floating around inside of me. I'll try to memorize every sensation and know that, in 30 years, despite my best efforts, I won't be able to recall it, not perfectly anyway.
I won't wish him born, or wish to not be popping quite so many Tums, or wish for my face to stop puffing up with swelling and baby weight. I'll just love it - because I can only live life forward, so I'm going to live it.
(7 months pregnant with Madeline. At the time I thought this was a "big" belly. Oh, firstborns.)
(5 months pregnant with Sam.)