When my third child, Sullivan, was born almost 19 months ago, I had a feeling he wouldn’t be my last. It never felt like my last pregnancy, and it didn’t feel like my last birth. (Although I kind of wish it was in some ways!) Sullivan was my easiest baby, not because he was one of those easy-going, fall asleep in an exersaucer, lug around town kind of babies… I think he was probably a mostly average baby, but compared to my first two baby experiences that pretty much kept me awake for about six months straight, he was a piece of cake. Which made it a lot easier to talk about having a fourth.
The first year of his life we talked about it a lot. Our family adjusted seamlessly to having a third child, having another seemed logical. But we were fooled. That first year of his babyhood was only hiding the toddler he would become and the havoc he would wreak on our home. You know those insurance commercials with that guy who embodies “Mayhem?” That’s Sullivan. Once he hit about a year and started walking and getting seriously mobile, Clay and I started rethinking our idea of having a fourth. And yet, we just didn’t feel done. I kept thinking that someone else was “out there.” That we had the freedom to close up shop if that’s what we decided, three kids is plenty, but that I would regret it down the road once life got a little easier.
So last summer we started trying for a fourth. This was during a small time period when Sullivan was learning to walk, Harris broke his leg and couldn’t walk for eight weeks so I was carrying him everywhere, helping him go potty, etc…, and Evelyne had an overnight stay at Children’s Hospital from an asthma attack. Life was crazy.
That broken leg nearly did me in. Harris couldn’t do very much independently, and Sullivan wanted to do everything independently! I was literally chasing Sullivan down the street while Harris was sitting in the front yard crying for me to take him potty. (At this stage he was still having about 5-6 accidents a day, so there wasn’t much time for delay!) It was the most like having twins that I’ve ever experienced. (How in the world do twin moms DO IT???!!)
One afternoon Clay came home and walked-in the door to find me sitting on the couch holding Sullivan, both of us crying. He from an ear infection that we didn’t know about at the time, me because I was completely overwhelmed. When he asked what was wrong, I burst-out, “I don’t want another baby! I don’t want to be pregnant!”
The stress of an immobile three year-old on his mother is not to be overstated. Nor is the exhaustion of the mom of a physically advanced 13 month-old who almost kills himself at every turn. This was just a couple of months before we were to move to Memphis, but we knew it would be awhile yet before we decided where to live and bought a house, and things just felt up in the air and crazy. Compromising my energy with a pregnancy felt so scary, and Clay and I decided to take a break from trying until things got a little more stable.
A few months later, we found ourselves in a wonderful new house outside Memphis with plenty of room for more kids. Evelyne was settled in her new school, Harris was back to walking normally, and Sullivan was, well, just as crazy. We were as settled as we’re ever going to be, so we decided to try again.
My plate feels very full as it is with three children. I have a hard time imagining how a fourth will fit into the picture. But I know God has someone else planned for us, we’re not yet complete. And I’m also excited to announce that we found-out last week that I’m pregnant! Next November we will hopefully welcome another person into our family, someone who will surely add to the craziness but whose presence we wouldn’t want to do this family thing without.