The other day I was hanging out with dear friends who live in in the inner city with three kids (hello, bunk beds!). I watched as their oldest daughter helped her baby sister take off her coat and get her shoes untied. Then the middle son brought out a game and the three kids sat on the floor playing, laughing and –- at times -– wrestling. Sure, I was seeing the good moments. And the baby is at that terribly cute age where her shirts don’t quite fit over her 18-month belly and she toddles around like a happy Frankenstein moaning things like, “Food now,” or “Mo’ juice.”
I told my friends that my husband and I were talking about having a third child. “Do it,” they both said without missing a beat, “You’ll never regret it.”
But here’s the thing: I’m already slammed. My girls are active little monsters, full of wonder and tantrums and also poo and pee and they always need food and help with zippers and laces. It sometimes feels like there’s no end to all the nose, butt, and tear wiping. They will require money and attention for life (and so would a third child).
There are also the practical issues. A third baby means getting a bigger car. It’s driving interstate because the plane tickets would cost more than a Rolex. It’s playing zone defence when you used to be playing man to man. It’s not practical. It’s not financially sound. It’s a crazy idea. We live in an apartment. We don’t have a backyard. I am a writer. Let me rephrase: I am desperately trying to make it as a writer. My dream, since I moved to the city at the ripe age of 21, is to one day have a published novel. I find myself closer to that goal now than I’ve ever been. I’m re-working drafts, revising pages, and talking to the right people. But it could still be a long road and if I get pregnant again, I will most certainly be out of the game for a while.
So why do I have baby fever?!
I would love to know what people think about having a third baby, but I’m pretty nervous that all the naysayers would judge me. I imagine they’d think, ” Why does she want another baby when she already has two beautiful, healthy girls?”
We can talk about the fact that my youngest is now 2 and she will probably start going to preschool soon. She is starting to potty train and she’s finally not drinking out of a bottle anymore. Soon, I’ll have two kids in school, more time to write, and we can start saving up for the house we eventually want to buy. And there’s sleep. Will I ever get to sleep again? Sleep is the bane of my existence. It’s good, then it’s bad again. It’s good. Then it’s really bad because someone is sick or is scared of the dark or just feels like having a dance party at three in the morning.
I also wonder whether it’s really like some of the articles state: “Three Is the New Two!”? Or, similar to my husband’s aunt, who found herself on the fence years ago with two daughters (just like me) and decided not to go for a third, is sticking to two children ultimately a better choice for a woman who wants both her career and her marriage to work?
Sometimes, usually when I’m putting my kids to bed — no, scratch that — when they are already sleeping peacefully (don’t they just look like such angels when they sleep?), I have this eerie, unsettling feeling. It’s a gut instinct that says there’s supposed to be someone else at our dinner table or it’s this momentary snapshot of our family tree with an empty space where there should be another growing branch.
All this being said, why is it that when my girls are playing together, typically when my younger daughter — whose hands are tattooed with dimples and chubby like a bear cub’s — is putting her arms around her big sister in pure loving joy, I think to myself, “Just one more.” I can tell my brain all of the reasons why I shouldn’t have a third baby. I’m very good at that. But then my heart has other ideas.
Of course then I start thinking about what pregnancy was like for me — and it was rough. During my first pregnancy, I developed debilitating depression and needed a swift course of meds and therapy to pick me up during my third trimester. Then, after 24 hours of labour, my daughter was born and I went through very bad postnatal depression and later questioned my decision to think of having another kid. But I knew in my heart I wanted a sibling for my daughter. And so did my husband. So, as the saying goes, with arms wide open (clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose), we went for it again. At the end of my second pregnancy, I started having painful, shocking nerve pain on one side of my body. At one point I was seeing a neurologist weekly as well as a physiotherapist. The shooting pains got so bad that I fell in the shower one afternoon while watching my then 2-year-old and was subsequently put on modified bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy.
My babies were not easy to conceive either. I saw a reproductive endocrinologist in order to have them both. This involved two surgeries over three years. There was one procedure to remove a critically infected Fallopian tube that was making it impossible to carry a baby. Then there was another surgery to remove scar tissue in my uterus from endometriosis. At one point, we even tried artificial insemination. It was a long, hard wait — but ultimately worth it both times. About this I have absolutely no regrets. But when I get that can’t-ignore-it feeling that someone else should be in our nest, I question whether I have it in me to go through all of these issues again.
So, please, go ahead. Ask me if I’ll have another child. It’s not taboo in my book. Just please don’t judge my answer. Just like you, I’m making my way through motherhood and could use all the help I can get.