The thing about Third Baby is we were on the fence. We were happily on the fence, but still there. Third Baby fence-sitters, we were.
We talked about Third Baby often. The consensus was we would LIKE to have Third Baby, we were just not particular on WHEN. We did not want to go back to the RE. The infertility insurance vanished with my job and we weren't feeling baby-wanty-pain yet, in regards to Third Baby. After all, Charlotte only JUST turned one year old. No, Third Baby would have to be a straight-up miracle baby, or we were going to have to reallllllly want Third Baby, and be several years from now, to put ourselves (and our finances) through that a third time.
We were honest with ourselves. We knew our chances for having a miracle Third (free!) Baby were slim. Over the years it's been proven fairly unlikely we'd score a third kid on our own. Yes, we thought, this Third Baby is a very improbable thing, but it's fun to talk about and think about as something that might happen to us, if we got very lucky.
But, it's foolish to think it might actually happen to us. After all, we're not that lucky.
We trained our brains to be happy with two (and we are!) because a third child seemed SO FAR beyond a reasonable thing for a couple like us to want. (A twin pregnancy turned singleton with Claire, an exceedingly low beta that practically guaranteed an unviable pregnancy with Charlotte [she turned out to be a persistent little person], plus 19 failed cycles, very large needles, and big piles of cash.) We are lucky to have two.
I gave the baby stuff away. I sent all of my maternity clothes to Seattle. I gave my baby name book to my brother. I got weepy over the end of Charlotte's babyhood, thinking she was very probably my last baby. I told everyone who asked that it would be years before another kid, if we even DID have a third kid, which wasn't very likely.
(You see where this is going, yes?)
Then I found myself pregnant, almost exactly one year after Charlotte was born. Third Baby will be here in January, a mere 20 months after Charlotte arrived.
(Now we're a horrible, wonderful, infertility cliche. Maybe if you just relax! and all that. Oh, if only my past self could see me now.)
We're thrilled. Even though we really wanted a third kid some day, it was still a surprise that took a little getting used to, because it was just SO unexpected. We never allowed ourselves the luxury of dreaming the three-child dream. (I imagine this is what lottery winners feel like: they knew there was a chance to win, but a very small chance and expectations were set accordingly.) (FIVE! HOLY CRAP FIVE PEOPLE IN THIS FAMILY.) Jarring as it was, it has been so freeing to have the decision of when made for us. No more wringing of hands about whether to see the RE, no more injections or blood tests, no more hot tears of frustration.
Practically, if we're going to have three kids anyway, it feels somewhat sensible to be getting the diaper years behind us and getting onto the older kid, everyone-speaks-english and dresses themselves years. (Well, that's what we told ourselves when we figured out we'd have three kids in four years.) (Those cloth diapers are starting to look like a mighty, mighty fine investment right about now.) (THREE CHILDREN, ARE WE INSANE?)
I have moments of fear. I'm so frightened someone will get hurt this time. Have I been really lucky to have two healthy pregnancies and two relatively simple deliveries? Is this asking for trouble? I'm super intimidated at the idea of parenting three young kids.
I don't know how the carseats will fit, and we have to sell the airplane (it only has four seats). I am filled with dread at the pregnancy-related discomforts to come. It feels like I will never be thin again and the physical indignities of near-constant pregnancy and nursing for what will end up being six years will definitely take their toll on my body. Gaining and losing the same thirty-five pounds for a THIRD time will also definitely be bruising to my ego. I'll probably never sleep again, but that's the least of my worries. If I think about it too much, it sounds really tough (and exhausting) to have three young kids. The overriding thought I keep having is,
"Things will get so much harder before they get easier."
And...that's probably very true. (Well, I am GUESSING. People with three children, feel free to correct me. FEEL FREE.)
I console myself with the idea that our kids won't be so little and so whiny and so needy forever. It'll last a few years and then we'll be on to other things that require less round-the-clock attention. Mostly, I think about how much fun they'll be to watch grow up. And, when we're older, we'll have lots of people to take care of us. That part is nice to think about, too.
I never, ever thought I would have a family this size. For a long time I wondered if I'd ever have even one baby. And now, in a span of about four years, I'll have three. For some reason, knowing this is my last pregnancy makes everything in my life feel more grounded and firm than it ever has before. It feels as if a big piece of the story of our family, that we didn't quite know we were waiting on, has fallen into place.
And just like that, I can picture myself as an old woman, surrounded by my thousands of iPhone pictures and unedited videos, wondering if I ever really did have fits of worry about parenting three children. I am certain that one day I will remember this next year, this year of my last baby, with great fondness and joy.