Three babies. Four years. It’s been quite the streak.
We have always wanted a family. Our senior year of college (for which we were married) I used to joke with DanO about dropping out and just making babies. Mostly joking. Sorta not joking. Not really joking. We were quite pregnant on our second anniversary and we haven’t looked back.
When I was not-really-joking about dropping out of my ridiculously overpriced college and starting our family, the number we threw around was four. Four kids. This likely had a lot to do with my husband’s family of origin. There wasn’t much friendship to be had with my one brother growing up – we were neither playmates nor companions – and although things like this are impossible to orchestrate for our children, it seems to me that having more than one sibling increases the odds of my kiddos having a well-suited childhood playmate.
And O, the babies themselves.
I friggin’ love babies. They are my anti-drug*. The moment one starts to wean themselves from nursing my brain switches to ‘must. have. another.’ mode. When people say they ‘knew they were done’ I just can’t fathom what that felt like; I will never not want another baby.
What I will want is to not be pregnant again. The hardest part of motherhood and growing our family hasn’t been birth or breastfeeding (both of which I love) or the lack of sleep or barrage of constant NEED from all these short people around here. It has been the sacrifice of my body during pregnancy. My poor, poor body. This is not to say that pregnancy is purely damaging to a woman’s body. I’ve said before that there is much more to it than that. But there is sacrifice that comes with growing another life on your insides. Choices that are different, body parts that are changed permanently, temporary changes that take work to improve. And in a lot of cases, very real and hard emotional work.
This is weird to explain to people, even friends. It is a dichotomy of dread and desire, a battle between my mind and heart. My heart knows that we aren’t done yet, that we want more of this drooly, crawly, get into everything but then snuggle-nurse to sleep baby stage. But my head knows that it will come at a price, it knows how much it cost last time. How hard the third trimester of my pregnancy with ODear was on my spirit. Have I told you, friends and readers (who are friends I just haven’t met yet), that 10 weeks from my due date with her I went back onto the anti-depression medication that I had weaned off of for the sake of getting pregnant? This pregnancy defeated me in a lot of ways. Gloriously, I did not experience the postpartum anxiety that I have experienced with my other two, but I still get a little clammy-handed when I think about what my brain and heart went through while ODear was being knit together.
When someone asks if we are done, the answer is no, but I say it through a clenched jaw with glazed over eyes envisioning myself pregnant again. Yes, we want at least one more baby in this not-little-anymore family but no, this time I am not chomping at the bit to start that process.
So, there you have it, stranger at the YMCA who sees me hauling around my gym bag and all my babies every week like a sherpa, that is the long version of the answer to your question.
*Although, given my postpartum depression journey, well, they’re kinda the opposite of my anti-drug too.