I had to take a hiatus from writing and blogging. The hormonal weight of pregnancy was crushing during the first trimester even into the second. I allocated all of my best energy into running my law practice, then feebly attempting to parent my two existing kids, a little squeak left for basic hygiene, and there was little left for anything else. Even now being comfortably into the third trimester my patience has been completely used up by 3:00 pm and I can barely keep my eyes open until the kids’ bedtimes.
The most inherently cruel part of modern pregnancy is that at the time when a sister most needs an extra cup of coffee she is supposed to be cutting back. If we could get some modern research showing that some extra caffeine - possibly to the tune of an extra pot or so of coffee - is good for a fetus, maybe we wouldn’t be so prone to fly into a homicidal rage every time someone asks for a juice box three minutes before dinner.
So I’m dipping my toe back into the blogging waters and what better way to start than to talk about having a third baby. Three is kind of a lot!
I grew up in a house of three and the world just seems geared towards families with two kids. Like, it’s easier to get a table for four at a restaurant. Where to put a fifth? On the end? Oh - sorry fire code prohibits that or something. How do theme park seating logistics work with an extra kid? They don’t. My guest bedroom? Gone. Cars? Peace out sedans unless you want a wrestle-mania situation happening in the back.
Not to mention I kind of had it made in the shade. My kids are old-ish. Maddogg is finally going to kindergarten and the fabulous magical yellow bus will take them BOTH to school five days a week ten months a year! I can finally get to work without shlepping a mini person to daycare or preschool first. We are traveling and visiting places and the kids aren’t melting down and having tantrums and throwing sippies.
We have long since left Elmo and diapers in the dust and traded up for baseball and Barbies. So what are we doing to ourselves?
I try to put myself in my kids’ shoes. If they never had another sister or brother they wouldn’t know a difference and would grow up feeling loved and fine and have full lives. Then I look at my own siblings and I can’t imagine life without them. The adult friendships I have with my brother and sister are the most pure and genuine friendships. We are weird and nerdy together and bask in it completely because we know deep down how weird and nerdy we all truly are.
And then the terrible thoughts creep in. What if we lost one of them? (Right? So dark and scary but it happens.) The violence in America is spewing out to all kinds of innocent people and kids. Another school year means another year of holding my breath, pretending like I care about reading and math assessments when all that truly matters to me is that they come home safe and ALIVE at the end of the day.
As a mother no one could replace a child no matter HOW many you have, but if there are just two, and you lose one then they lose having a sibling forever. It’s not the most rational or compelling reason to have more kids, but then since when is parenting rational or compelling at all. Since when is love?
So we decided to “see what happens.” As if that is a non-decision given the fertility stats in my family. For being a seasoned mom I certainly didn’t act like it when I saw a big fat positive on the pregnancy test this time. My reaction was more like something you would see on an after school special than an established suburban mom in her late thirties. (Sidebar: how OLD does the after school reference make me now? When did that happen?)
Honestly, I think if someone had just handed me a baby, my third baby, I would have handled it better. It’s not so much the idea of a baby that was freaking me out but the idea of being a prisoner of a host body cell for the better part of a year. Pregnancy is hard on the body and hard on the mind. Society casts you in a role where you’re supposed to appear maternal and angelic awaiting a precious blessing. Instead, I always feel like a biological mess that has lost control of the one thing left in this world I thought I had finally figured out, my body.
In the legal world when there is a pregnancy it’s like fresh blood in a pool of sharks. The idea of appearing anything less than perfectly professional, or that my legal mind could ever commingle the tedious and selfless task of mothering when I am supposed to be tough as nails zealously representing my clients is exhausting. I have to endure months of discussing my body and my fertility with clients and colleagues while less than adequately caffeinated. In the meantime, my husband gets to operate and navigate the world completely unchanged. No one assumes he will stop practicing law simply because we’ll have another kid at home.
Thankfully the time is 3/4 of the way behind me now. Having two older kids has helped this time around. It helps a lot. My kids are old enough to comprehend why I’m passed out on the sofa from complete debilitating exhaustion. They know to ask their dad what’s for dinner instead and they know I need a little extra space (mentally and physically.) They’re both very excited to have a new kid in the house. Their excitement and anticipation makes it all a little easier. They know I’m not just inviting a new baby in to crash the party, they know I’m giving them a friend for life.
I haven’t become so delusional that I think it will be easy. It will be a game changer for sure, but we will all be better off having an extra little one to love and spoil. We are trying to focus on doing fun things with the older kids (like planning a few Disney trips - yikes!) and having number three in tow to get used to going with the flow. Plus the older kids don’t realize it, but they’re going to be mini babysitters right from the start. Two extra sets of hands to entertain the baby and pick up her dropped toys and binkies is going to be immensely helpful.
There is also a calming sense of wisdom that comes with having a third baby. I look around at the gadgets in the baby aisle in Target and I laugh out loud at how ridiculous they seem. Babies don’t care about any of it. Diapers and burp cloths are the easy days of parenting. Sure they’re work, but not like the mental challenge of asking my diva five year old to clean up her Barbies, trying to jump start my brain for a common core math packet 12 hours before it’s due, or breaking up a physical brawl between the older two.
So here we are. Waiting on the third and preparing to see what things look like when our family is complete. I get to buy my favorite consumer product of all time - newborn diapers (the crack cocaine of motherhood) and drink in the sweet smell one last time. But when she arrives, I am definitely dropping these maternity clothes off at Good Will on the way home from the hospital. She is the third, and she is the last.