One night, my husband, Heath, and I talked about how the pace of life with two kids would be easier than three. We noted how cramped our bed becomes with two extra little people in it on Sunday mornings. Where would a third go?
I had just read a New York Times article about preserving the environment by having no more kids than would outnumber the parents in order to maintain, instead of increase, the carbon footprint. I thought it was a very solid argument. It helped to justify our satisfaction with two kids.
We had just leased a new car that comfortably fit two car seats in the back. My 14-month-old son had just revealed that his personality is hot-tempered, impatient, and easily made unhappy.
When I was certain I would not have another child, Heath was certain we would. And then we’d swap positions. I disposed of my maternity clothes one sunny afternoon, dumping the carefully-packed and labeled garbage bag into the Salvation Army drop-off bin.
I colored my hair and rekindled my passionate love affairs with the effervescent, chemical sins of diet soda. I made an appointment for laser hair removal. I was so sick of shaving.
I thought about how it might feel, in a few months, to turn 40. I bought a journal to make some new goals.
It dawned on me that my cycle was off. I casually remarked to my coworker that I was late. When I said it out loud, it sounded foreign, like I was quoting a line from a ’80s teen movie. I hadn’t really ever been late. My coworker gave me a test stick she had leftover from a two-pack. I stared at the positive pink line in the bathroom for several minutes before it occurred to me that the bell marking 5th period had rung (and I was, coincidentally, late).
My first thought in the girls’ bathroom, holding the little stick: Where would the third car seat go? My second thought in the bathroom: Where will this baby sleep? Then, I thought about how to tell my husband that we were pregnant again.
I channeled visions of Golde from Fiddler on the Roof, which in part helps to create the fantasy of what my own great-grandmothers’ lives with five (or seven) children might have been like in the shtetls and metropolises of Eastern Europe. Crowded living spaces, but happily crowded Shabbat tables. Yelling, but lots of kissing. Have I, subconsciously, always wanted a bigger family to compensate for the sisters and brothers my Bubbe and Zaide lost in concentration camps?
I cancelled my laser hair removal appointment.
I spent 15 minutes on the phone–in the middle of trying to make dinner, trying to get my toddler on her potty, and simultaneously trying to pacify my infant–with an organic foods company. I’d opened a box of mac and cheese to discover only macaroni, but no cheese packet. I complained, politely, that spending two-dollars-and something-cents on a box of pasta and powdered cheese is ridiculous enough without having to pay that much for just a small box of pasta in the shapes of bunnies and carrots. What I really wanted to say was thank you for reimbursing me, because we now have to save money for three college tuitions, possibly three graduate school programs, and hopefully, three weddings.
I remarked to my husband that a third baby might be the craziest thing we will ever do. He replied that I shouldn’t be talking such nonsense now, because what’s done is done. And thereafter, he needn’t have said it, because his eyes said it for him.
We started to share the news. (I waited to tell those friends of mine who are still trying to conceive, and felt somewhat guilty–or greedy?–about revealing a third pregnancy.) Friends asked if we had “meant” to get pregnant. I was never sure how to answer that question. Would I continue to work? Where in the house would the baby sleep? Aren’t you worried about the cost of daycare? The most disconcerting reply to date came from my diminutive, Korean manicurist: Three baby? Stupid girl.
Exhausted. Terrified. Excited. Doubtful. Hopeful. Joyous. Anxious. Quiet. Cautious, but not enough to have an occasional sip of wine or beer. Superstitious enough not to prepare the baby’s room, but anxious to clean and sort newborn clothes, hats, socks… On the precipice of a chaos I cannot yet fathom, I am hoping I can find within myself the ability to deal with whatever challenges being a parent to three kids, 3 years old and under, brings.
I have not yet written in my turning-40-new-goals journal.
I heard myself say aloud at Pilates that I may want a fourth child.
For more pregnancy tales, read why this mom was not entirely happy about her pregnancy, what a high risk pregnancy is like, the second time around, and the things people say when they find out you’re having a fourth kid.