When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I experienced a few different emotions:
1. Yay! I'm so excited! I'm gonna be a mom!
2. Huh?! Whaaa?! I'm gonna be a mom?! I'm completely terrified.
3. Oh no. Everyone is gonna know I had sex.
I know that's a totally weird thing to think, but I thought it nonetheless. I remember feeling so incredibly awkward when we announced my pregnancy to our families, because even though they knew we had done it before, now they really knew.
Thankfully I got over that pretty quickly. We told our family and close friends right away when we found out we were pregnant and it was fun, because no one even knew we were trying to get pregnant. Total surprise. We kept it a secret to the general public and the blog world until I reached the second trimester at which point we pretty much proclaimed it from the rooftops. I posted "bumpdates" and we had a gender reveal party. First babies are new and exciting like that.
With our second baby there was a lot less planning. We weren't completely ready for another baby (or at least I wasn't) and we weren't really even "trying" to get pregnant; more like just not not trying. Once we found out, we were mostly excited, but there was a lot less fanfare. We told people as it came up, and still did an announcement on my blog once I had a baby bump worth documenting, but there were no other baby bump photo updates and no gender reveal party. #SecondChildProblems.
After two, I told my husband I was done with the whole baby-having business. I had always told him I only wanted two kids, which he was on board with, despite the fact that he would love an entire soccer team if I was willing to have them. He would still bring up the idea of a third child on a regular basis, but I told him it wasn't going to happen. My body and my sanity, I feared, could not stand up to another pregnancy/postpartum/first-year combination. My husband was understanding, but asked me to try to just keep an open mind; to not simply say an immoveable "no" but to leave room for a potential change of heart. I agreed, though as vehemently as I was against the idea of having more than two kids, I wondered if a change of heart could even be possible? I was 98% certain it was off the table.
Everyone I spoke with who had more than two children said that they never regretted it and a quite a few who had less expressed wishing they'd had more.
But, then a weird thing happened. Friends and others around us started having their third babies and instead of looking on and thinking, Gee, that looks awful! I saw them and thought, Awww. I kinda miss having a tiny baby. This is no small thing, because I am most definitely not a baby person. I don't ooh and ahh and coo over stangers' babies and I don't get particularly sad once the first year of my children's lives were over. I much prefer the communicative nature of toddlers on up. So, why then was I suddenly looking semi-longingly at little babies?
I started asking people about it. I "interviewed" friends and family I knew who had more than two children. What was it like? Was it worth it? How did it even work logistically? Were there times they'd wished they'd just had two? I even asked our parents. Both my husband and I come from families of two and I asked our parents if they ever wish they'd had more kids. Both of them said if they could do it again they probably would've had more. My husband's mom had challenging pregnancies though and my mom had two C-sections, but they all agreed that in the later years it would've been nice. Having a larger family is a nice perk once children are older and out of the house — it increases the odds of more grandchildren and of having a busier, more bustling home full of people in those later years. I was still unconvinced, but I thought about it often and worked out the idea with friends and family through plenty of skeptical conversations.
And then my husband and I went to a parenting conference. The conference was filled with wonderful, encouraging and applicable information. The conference speakers were sharing how parenting is a lot like building a house and different stages are likened to the different stages of home building. The early years, which we are currently in the thick of with a one-year-old and a three-year-old, are the years when you are in the trenches. You are building the foundation for your house — pouring concrete and all of the other tasks that while incredibly important and crucial to the process aren't really all that exciting. A slab of concrete doesn't look like a house. But, pretty soon that stage will be over and you'll start to see the fruits of your labor. It felt so good to be validated and to hear that I wasn't alone in my exhaustion and to hear this couple walk us through all the stages of parenthood that they had experienced with now-grown children was life-giving. Seeing how full of love this family was with four children made it all seem fairly wonderful, though I still wasn't completely sold.
Toward the end of the two-day conference, there was one comment that really stuck out to me and that was this: "You will never regret the time you put into your children." This phrase was small and might not have stuck out to many other people because it's kind of obvious, but something about the way it was phrased just pricked my heart when I heard it. The phrase echoed what I had heard from many others. Everyone I spoke with who had more than two children said that they never regretted it and a quite a few who had less expressed wishing they'd had more.
Somehow I suddenly just knew in my heart that having more kids would be OK. Once I looked past these early few years of really exhausting work with babies and toddlers, I could see the beauty to be found in having more kids. This season of life can feel so overwhelming and never-ending sometimes, but it truly is just a blink in the big scheme of things and I know that down the road I know I will be glad I chose to have more children.
And so I had an official change of heart about having more babies. A third baby is definitely on the agenda in the not-so-far-away future and it's funny how different the experience has been than the other two. Definitely not secretive, since it was such a collaborative process even just wrapping my head around the idea of another, but it feels right and I'm glad our friends and family were there to help us (me mostly) talk it all out.
Now to start collecting back some of that newborn gear I gave away so preemptively!