I distinctly remember being in the hospital after giving birth to our third son thinking, “I never want to do that again.”
Within six months of having our first and second sons, I desperately wanted another baby. Not right then, of course, because I could imagine the havoc of multiple children that close in age, but I knew with everything in me that I wanted more children. After my third, not so much. Not after he was born, not when he was six months old, not when he was 18 months old. Not to try for a girl, not to have an even number, not to feel the magic of a baby growing inside me again. We were having serious “are we done?” conversations.
There were so many things associated with having another baby that I wanted to avoid: the stress over whether the baby has IVA, making plans for the baby’s care just in case he does have IVA, the prenatal testing for IVA, oh, and let’s not forget the actual labor and delivery part of it all.
And yet, here I am celebrating the Christmas season of 2016, easing out of the first trimester and, Lord willing, going to do it all over again.
It’s not just the stress of the pregnancy, and the IVA, and the delivery, parenting in general stresses me out. Monday night I sat on my bed finishing up Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach listening to my two-year-old cough over the baby monitor. He had thrown up shortly after he went to bed (interrupting what was starting out to be a quiet drink with a friend at a nearby McDonalds) and I was convinced that he was choking on popcorn. Popcorn that he ate two weeks ago.
The source of my concern was an article that I read on Facebook- where I get all my credible source of parenting information obviously- that spoke to the choking hazards of popcorn in children under the age of three. Hadn’t we gone, as a family over Thanksgiving break, to watch Moana? And hadn’t Caleb devoured a huge amount of popcorn and spit some up later during the night? Voila.
Not only that, my four-year-old has a severe dairy allergy. We have an epi-pen we keep in the cabinet at home and we have a travel epi-pen. I spend too much mental energy shuffling it back between the diaper bag (for church and shopping) and the backpack that I take to practice as I coach volleyball. Because what good is the epi-pen if you don’t have it with you?
Then there’s the six-year-old with the IVA that I dried off after his morning shower on Saturday while he stated, “I don’t feel bad. I don’t have a fever. I don’t need to go to the doctor.” Of course he did have a fever. Thankfully he did not have to go to the doctor that time, although we did interrupt the said doctor’s Saturday with an email and a few questions.
I love my children. They make funny faces. They cuddle on the couch to read stories. Monday night, the Kevin announced that he was “just a hero” for coming to tell his daddy that his little brother threw up. Micah has claimed the new baby as his own and insisted he was not sharing her (because he’s sure it’s a girl) with me. I love being a mama. It’s harder than I imagined and I’m not as good at it as I hoped but it’s a delight to me most days, and we get through the other days and start over.
But another baby? Another child to worry about illnesses and coughs and metabolic disorders? More questions and concerns and “am I doing anything right” sessions in the middle of the night? I hear a resounding “yes” echo in my heart.
Because in all my questions and in all my doubts about my abilities and my strength to deal with another baby, I put my hand on my slightly rounding belly and know that he or she is growing in there. And this baby will be welcomed and loved and prayed over. And yes, this baby will push me beyond my capabilities. I’ll sit in the hospital room and wonder how on earth they are letting me leave with this tiny new life. I’ll struggle through those first months adjusting to our new family, wondering if anyone is getting all they need from me but eventually at some point we’ll settle into a new normal. I’ll worry about all four of them, taking temperatures, going to the doctor, asking advice from older moms. I’ll wonder how I ever thought life would be complete without this fourth child rounding out the family.
Does the baby have IVA? I have no idea. Will I have another amnio during the third trimester to find out? Certainly will. Will I be up nights, feeding and rocking and wishing like anything that this child would just go. to. sleep? Undoubtedly. And (s)he will fill a place in my heart, graying my hair and testing my strength, just like the boys do now.
Not because I’m some kind of supermama. But if I’ve learned anything I’ve learned these two things: God is never surprised and He doesn’t need my help.