'So are you done having kids?'
Short answer: Probably. Yes. I think so. Yes, we are done. I think. Yes.
Long answer: So many thoughts on this, get ready for some classic Julia rambling.
I often heard this question when we were a family of four, before Porter was that second line on a pregnancy test. 'You already have one of each, why would you want another?' they would ask. 'They' meaning a lot of my patients who are known to lose their filters with age, the same population that has always produced the most shocking statements during my pregnancies.
Actually, let me elaborate on the filter-less declarations I've heard from patients. Ah, the crown jewel in the collection of observations on my pregnant body might have been from a patient who birthed seven children of her own. So she *knows* how pregnancy works, okay? And when she asked me if I was absolutely sure that Porter was a boy in the third trimester of his pregnancy, I said yes. She then informed me that I was carrying him 'right in the back' gesturing to her butt, and she knows that is how people carry girls. Not boys. So I had a fat butt while gestating a boy, which did not follow the guidelines. Good to know. Another patient once told me when pregnant with Cecelia that, 'I can tell you are normally a fit person but your face really looks pregnant right now, just kind of puffy.' Ah, good times. I love how pregnancy and babies tend to bring out the best, most kind comments from others!
But I digress.
The assumption that we would be done after one boy and one girl brings up numerous other issues, such as the notion that the sex of your children should determine the size of your family. We weren't done of course, even though sweet Porter wasn't exactly planned. In fact, Nate would have been quite content with two kids (hate to say this now that Porter is here, I promise Nate is super happy about our third baby!) as both he and I grew up with one other sibling. I have always said 'two or three' for my desired number of offspring and I'm so grateful we've been blessed with the greater of those two options.
Now that we have three children, I think everyone assumes we are finished growing our family. And they are probably (very very very likely) correct. Of course I can't quite slam that door shut and say with 100% certainty there will never be a number four. But I can say it with 99% certainty.
There are so many reasons to be finished having babies.
First and foremost: one of the very first things Nate said when I told him I was pregnant with Porter? "Well, we are NOT having a fourth, though." Hahahahaha. He is really 110% finished, guys, and obviously his feelings on this subject really do matter to me. I like to tease that he wasn't sure about having a third and look who was right on that choice (Porter is the besssssssst), but in reality I know he's seriously done now.
But also, I do feel incredibly blessed with our three healthy children. I hate to be a pessimist but I worry that trying for one more might be asking for too much. I know the chances for having a sick child don't necessarily increase with each subsequent pregnancy but it still feels risky. We could surely handle having a child with special needs and we'd love that baby with all of our hearts, but it would mean adding challenges to the lives of everyone in our family.
And I'm not getting any younger with my 34th birthday rapidly approaching in a few weeks. So yeah, 'advanced maternal age' would be my label should I actually get impregnated with mythical baby number four. And being AMA does mean a few more risks for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Obviously, things might also turn out TOTALLY NORMAL but some part of me believes it might not be the same experience of a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby four times.
Ah, pregnancy. I still truly love being pregnant but I think it has become less and less 'magical' each time, with more and more kids to care for while pregnant. Plus I need my beauty sleep with age and newborns are killer for the whole 'well-rested' concept. The first year is hard, man. Freaking awesome but also really hard.
But one of the biggest reasons I am nearly certain we are done is because I feel content with Truman, Cecelia, and Porter. It doesn't feel like someone is missing from this group. I feel happy and like I couldn't ask for much more in life with these kiddos in our house. This is a relief because when I was pregnant with Porter, I wasn't completely sold on that being my final pregnancy. Even when he was born, I sort of held onto the notion that maybe…..just maybe we could do this fantastic thing of pregnancy and birth and meeting a newly formed human being one more time.
And it's not that Porter has been particularly difficult, thereby changing my mind about a fourth. If anything, he is just so frickin edible and (dare I say it?) perfect that I can't imagine needing another. Which is strange, since I know a lot of moms love their babies so much that they want to do the baby thing over and over (and over and over) again. It's like saying, 'MAN I love this child so much, I never want this time to end and I never want them to grow up and change at all. Because this is the best. If I can't freeze time I just want to keep doing this same thing repeatedly since it's the bomb.' I completely understand that concept.
But in reality, I can't keep having babies forever. At some point we all have to be DONE with this baby gestating/birthing chapter in our lives. It's hard to admit I'm done having babies, but it's not all about me and how much I adore the scent of a newborn (intoxicating, I tell you). Babies turn into two year olds, babies grow into actual human beings that need to become productive members of society with their own lives to lead.
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in this season of motherhood with small kids and think this will be the best part of the gig, that the peak of motherhood might have already happened sometime between hearing a baby's first cry and seeing his first wobbly steps. It's all I've ever known as a mom to be pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing, then pregnant again and nursing again. But now that I'm not nursing, not pregnant, and not actively plotting to become pregnant I find myself in this new, exciting stage of life. My body is finally my own. We are sleeping (!!!!) and finding our groove as two parents outnumbered by three kids. I'm realizing that our time as parents has really just begun and our kids keep getting more fun by the day.
I'll miss the impossibly small newborn sleepers but there are shadow boxes for that. I'll miss haze of the first few weeks with a baby but I've done my best to document that time here on the blog. I'll miss the anticipation during pregnancy of meeting a new member of our family, but I know the anticipation also drove me certifiably insane when it was actually happening. All of the firsts, the milestones, the innocence that comes with another baby will always hold a special spot in my heart. But instead of feeling like I'm losing something by admitting the baby years are over, I have to remind myself that there has been much to celebrate. And there's many more celebrations in store for us, too---newborn sleepers or not.
But that (highly annoying) 1% of me who entertains the notion of a fourth likes to whisper 'never say never' and 'these kids are amazing, you need another' and 'you're up for the challenge.' I hate to even admit there's a tiny part of me that would welcome a fourth child because I don't want it to seem like I'm fishing for people to say DO IT, or YOU COULD HANDLE IT, or whatever affirmation us moms sometimes like to gain from the internets. Because really, I'd probably feel a little wishy-washy about being finished with babies no matter how many children we had.
Three is a good number. Babies are magic and I'm glad we've had three particularly awesome ones complete with hundreds of memories and blog posts. I'm only showing one itty bitty baby Cecelia picture in this post because LOOK AT HOW TINY OMG THE SWEETEST GAHHHHHH.
Anyone want to let me borrow their newborn sometime? I can't be held responsible for any head sniffing that occurs.