It happened again the other night as I was nursing Grant. He is almost three years old now but still so much in need of nursing at the end of the day. He needs the connection, the closeness, the time when he and I are just he and I, when he doesn’t have to share me with anyone. I don’t mind and enjoy having a moment of calm with him too, but that night while he drowsily had “muckosh,” I was distracted by this… feeling.
The feeling is always the same. Sometimes it arrives in the middle of chaos, other times in the center of calm. A stomach flip, a skipped heart beat and then a brief moment of panic before I realize I’m searching for someone who doesn’t exist. I am searching for my baby.
Not my third son, my sweet Clarky Boo. He is usually right in front of me, playing on the floor or clutching the furniture as he walks around it. Sometimes he is yelling or laughing or tackling his brother. Mostly he is being held, nursed, kissed and snuggled.
Not my middle son, as Grant is always front and center; telling me about his day, wanting to play “kick” or asking to help with housework. Or, as he was the other evening, in my arms having milk.
It isn’t that I’m searching for my big guy. My Truman-Boy is usually in the same room as I, watching a show or chattering on about any number of things. He might be dancing, laughing or negotiating a deal for more screen time.
No one is missing, the other night they were all right in front of me. I looked from one to the other, all three of my boys accounted for and had to again remind myself that this was it. They were here and they are our all. There is no other baby to find. There is no one to search for. My brain and home and arms usually feel full… but it feels like someone is missing from my heart.
Since bringing Clark home from the hospital I have had a number of moments when I am questioning the whereabouts of my other baby. It makes me uncomfortable and it makes me wonder if I’m going crazy. It also makes me wonder if this feeling is a calling. A subconscious reminder that there is someone else meant to join our family, meant to make us complete. Mike would – and does – say no. He feels done, his ideal family is complete. I have always said I wanted four children and he has never agreed. He only ever wanted two, so we compromised on three. But… now I want to call our deal off and go back to my original plan. When I originally said I wanted four kids, so many people told me, “Just wait until you have one!” Well, I wanted four after Truman was born. And I still did after I had two and after three, I even thought the desire for four would disappear… but wanting four babies has never gone away. As crazy as my kids can be and as sleep deprived and as busy as I am, there is nowhere I would rather be than with my children. I adore them. I love spending time with them, I love caring for them, teaching them, talking to them, and all of the work everyone said it would be, it is… and it feels like work I want to do.
There are a million reasons why we shouldn’t have another baby. I know those reasons and I ponder them constantly. We aren’t especially young. We aren’t wealthy. We both work full time. Our kids are busy and close in age. We have “tempted fate” three times and been incredibly blessed with healthy children, healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. It is hard to travel with many children, you need more space, bigger cars, and they want expensive things as they grow.
I believe that we aren’t especially old. That we are healthy and healthy pregnancies don’t just run out, and healthy children aren’t the exception to the rule. We aren’t poor or unable to provide for our family, and we have plenty of room to make budget cuts. We have careers and we manage our work-home balance well. We are able to use clothing, toys and baby gear over and over again. We already drive vans, and there is a lot to be said for children learning to share bedrooms and belongings. Kids will certainly want expensive things and they do not have to, nor should they get everything that they want. I love my children endlessly. I enjoy parenting in all of it’s crazy, messy, frustrating glory more than I’ve enjoyed anything else in my life. Ultimately, I do not believe anyone regrets having another child… but plenty of people regret not having another child. I don’t know if I will always feel this longing, but I certainly don’t want longing to turn into regret.
So, here I stand with three beautiful healthy boys, a wonderful husband who is fulfilled and done… and a nagging empty corner of my heart that won’t let me get rid of the baby clothes in the garage. I think about our baby’s name. I think about whether we will find out the sex. I dream about a fourth boy and imagine which of his brothers he would likely pair up with. I dream about a little girl with three big brothers and whether that would drive her to be the ultimate girly-girl or more of the Tom-Boy type. I feel as if I’m awaiting a visitor, counting down the days until s/he arrives. All the while, searching as if he or she is already here…