I never believed I’d stop at two. Three years ago, when we only needed four Christmas stockings, I bought five….hoping a third child would one day join our family around the tree. But after my seventh miscarriage last year, one that ended with an overnight in the ER and a D&C the next morning, I swore I’d had enough. With this one, the bleeding started in the middle of the night and my husband let me out at the ER doors so he could get home to the two boys we’d left alone in the house. “Go on,” I said to him, summoning a half-smile while holding my legs together as I fumbled for my insurance card. “I’ll be OK.”
I knew what to do, I’d been there before.
After this last time, I was tired. Tired of the first-trimester excitement, and the first-trimester sickness. Tired of the buildup, the dreams of how we’d rearrange the bedrooms to fit one more, tired of telling my two boys to expect a baby, to make room for my belly and for another chair at the table.
I mourned a little longer with this one. She would’ve been my first girl that I know of. There had been other miscarriages, but all too early to know, so I mourned for her more specifically and intensely. My mother came to stay and I lay in bed for a week, recovering, resting, crying while she cooked and cleaned. Occasionally, when the boys were napping, she’d sit down on the bed next to me and rub my head the way she had when I was little. “Why does this keep happening to me?” I whispered from under the covers. Of course, she couldn’t answer. Instead, she cried silent tears and left my freezer full of meatloaf. And when she was gone, I got up to find exhaustion had settled over me like a film, making it just a little harder to do anything.
Trying Again After Miscarriage
After six years of trying for babies, the sex ran on autopilot. And when my next cycle came, I didn’t want to wait as the doctor had suggested. I pulled my husband back into bed and we tried again. I was going through the motions, even if my heart was still catching up. It was as if my cycle was taunting me with each two-week window and I was unable to resist the dare. So we’d try one, two, maybe three days in a row, with one more day on either end for good measure, and then – enough – till next month. Autopilot. There was no in-between sex, no pointless sex, no sex-for-the-heck-of-it sex. If there was no potential for a baby, there was no sex.
But last fall, something changed. I remember it precisely. It hit me that in fact, I do want three.
Not just because I’ve always said I want three kids, and so I need to follow through. But because I honest-to-God-really-do. It smacked me on the head in a matter of minutes.
It went like this.
I’m driving home from lunch with my two boys strapped in their car seats. My older son is looking intently at his new toy shark from the museum and wondering aloud how big it will grow once we’ve dropped it in the water. He’s asking questions in his sweet, high-pitched little voice. “Can we put it in the tub right when we get home, Mama?” His younger brother, from the seat next to him, begins bellowing the welcome song from his music class, in so much as a toddler can bellow, at the top of his lungs. All three of his dimples, chin included, are smiling with him. He sees me watching him and starts in with a fake chuckle, tempting us to join in, and then it turns into a full-fledged laugh that he cannot stop, until he starts with the next verse and the bellow begins again. I’m watching them in the mirror and I’m struck by how much I love these boys and at the same time, by how different they are. They belong to me and yet they are little people with minds all their own.
Driving home from the museum, smiling to myself in the front seat, I decide that I will have three, or four, or five (maybe)*. Not because we wouldn’t be happy with the two boys who are both talking and singing in their own worlds simultaneously in my backseat, but because I want to add more to this mix, to this cacophony of boys. We tell ourselves each month that we are perfectly happy with the two, but I think we say this to keep ourselves sane and so as not to appear greedy when we are so fortunate. But now, I want to see what kind of madness we can call family. I am up for the challenge. Bring it, I think to myself as I step on the gas to get us home.
So here I find myself again, having made it to 25 weeks pregnant, wondering what it will be like with a third, as the creases in my forehead multiply quickly and my hands begin to look more and more like my mother’s. Though I’m ready for it, I don’t let myself hear the noise of three in the backseat of the minivan we’ll eventually have to buy. I don’t let myself wonder how many gallons of milk three teenage boys might one day take down, or whether a little girl will be adored and protected by her two older brothers. I’ve learned how to keep myself safe until the moment a baby is placed on my chest and curls a tiny finger around mine. Where I once worried whether it would be possible to love again, I now know that love indeed only multiplies. So bring it, I say, bring on the loud and crazy cacophony of noise. (Even if that means I must bring on a minivan as well).
Yes, Bring it.
* The author would like to clarify that after the first trimester of pregnancy earlier this spring, she has decided that three children is indeed plenty and that she will not be having any more babies. For real this time.