Tag Archives: decisions

Bonus Baby

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This is my first post in seven months. My baby is seven months old. I have so many fragments of posts floating around in my head and what prevents me from writing them down is always this feeling that posts need to be made in chronological order, and how can I fast forward and write about something seven months after the birth of our Grand Finale, without actually writing about her birth or anything else right after that?

(sigh)

But nothing will ever, ever get posted if I follow that rule. Someday I will go back and post about Grand Finale’s birth and the days directly after that period, not because it’s particularly earth shattering or might apply to someone else, but mostly because this blog is an online memory book for our family and I’d like to be able to go back and read it someday.

This post, on the other hand, may be applicable to someone else, and I think it every single day:

Adults generally use the term “bonus baby” as a tongue-in-cheek way to refer to a baby who wasn’t exactly planned. A happy accident. An oops. A bonus baby.

While Grand Finale was very much planned, I very, very much consider her to be my bonus baby.

Every single day, I look at her and think to myself, “What if you never came to be? What if we had been too scared or too nervous to say yes to what we felt in our hearts? What if we had convinced ourselves that we couldn’t handle it, or that we wouldn’t have enough time or money?”

And then I look at her and I THANK GOD that she came to be.

Every day. That’s what I think.

She is SO MUCH a cherished and beloved member of our family. Her sisters adore her. They dote on her, care for her and help us to entertain and occupy her. And she reciprocates with BIG grins when she sees them.

Sisters

Sisters

WE adore her. She is such an easy baby. She was sleeping 11-12 hours a night by the time she was 8 weeks old. At 7 months she’s still very mellow. She’s by far our most snuggly baby.

As Monkey said one day, "She's a cute bug."

As Monkey said one day, “She’s a cute bug.”

When I look at her, I try to picture our family without her — would we be happy? Sure! Would we love our other two kids to death? Of course! Would we parent the same? Pretty much.

If we had remained a family of four, I think there be less chaos, more order, two little girls who would grow up to be BFFs forever and who would be used to receiving more attention and things. I probably would be more stressed out trying to maintain my version of parenting “perfection” (because with “only” two kids it seems more doable).

I think our family-of-five dynamic will be more chaos, less order, three girls who will grow up to be BFFs forever, and who will have a greater understanding of sharing, more selflessness and compassion, and hopefully more appreciation for things because there will be less of them. In place of things, they’ll have what I believe is the greatest gift we could have given them — a sibling.

If we had never had Grand Finale, we would have been a happy family of four.

But we would have never known what we were missing. Even in her seven short months, Grand Finale already added so much depth, richness and perspective to our family.

Love.

Love.

The baby is frosting. And I’m just so, so, so thankful to have her. I’m so happy we trusted our gut, and also so grateful that things worked out and that I had a healthy pregnancy.

And for that reason, although she was very much planned, she is my bonus baby.

And my takeaway to you, is that if you’re feeling like you want another child, but you’re just not sure if you can “handle” it, or if you have “enough” time or money, DO IT. You won’t regret it. That’s how I felt six days after Grand Finale’s birth, and that’s how I still feel today.

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That’s How it Works, Right!?

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Dear God,

As you’re aware, Husband and I are thinking of having a third baby. Every time we think, “Okay! We’re going for it!” one of our existing children acts so heinous in public that we think, “Clearly, we are not capable of this. Let’s sell them immediately.”

Just kidding.

So I was thinking, if you could just ensure that our third baby will be super mellow, laid back, and agreeable, that would be great. Because surely, you wouldn’t expect the same two people to raise a Monkey, a Bean, and an equally willful, determined, high energy third baby. That would just not be fair. Because I know people who have TWO super laid back, mellow kids already. I actually know those people. Okay, maybe just one person that I can think of with two of them (and her middle name starts with a “P” as in “Penelope.”). But anyway, I don’t think those people should get all the mellow babies, especially when they already have two. It’s just not equitable.

Oh, one more thing. So please make the potential third baby super mellow, laid back and agreeable, but also driven to succeed and not easily influenced by others. I mean, when the kid gets to school age I still want her/him to be a leader and not give in to peer pressure and other such nonsense. So maybe they could just be super mellow until they’re old enough to listen to me all the time, can reason and logic, and never be sassy; then they can have some of that drive and determination that Monkey and Bean have.

Again, I’d just like to make it clear that it would not be fair to give us a Monkey and a Bean, and a similarly-tempered child.

And I know you are very concerned about fairness and equality for all.

Right?

THAT’S HOW IT WORKS, RIGHT!?

Oh. That’s not the way it works?

(sigh).

Just tell me what to do.

Shining a Light

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Reading everyone’s comments on my post yesterday made me a little emotional. In a good way. It was so affirming for me.

As I had hoped, getting all our thoughts, fears and concerns written out instead of stuck in our heads, shined a light on our situation and we realized that we probably had the decision made all along — but on those super tough parenting days when no one is listening, everyone is purposely being naughty, the kitchen floor looks like there’s been a food fight, the crying and whining won’t stop and no one’s going to bed easily — you look at each other and go “We must be effing crazy to even consider this.”

But as my friend Anna, summed it up: “If your heart tells you that you have more love to give, then everything else will just fall into place.”

And as several of you said, “You will not regret it, but probably would if you didn’t.”

A few other key takeaways for me:

Whether you’re going from zero children to one, or one to two, or any number, you have concerns about “will we be able to handle it mentally and financially.”

Well, duh. I hadn’t thought of that before, but that’s so true! These are the same questions we ask ourselves when we’re considering any big life change — buying a house, changing jobs, having kids.

It’s the fear that holds us back. The fear of the unknown. You get comfortable with the ways things are, and change is risky.

But as another friend said, “As a mother you can adjust to ANYTHING. Especially for the sake of your kids.”

Amen. Eventually, caring for three kids would become a routine and there would be nothing scary about it. We would adapt.

And finally, I had never heard anyone say that the “KNEW” when they were done, but apparently people feel that way just like others intuitively know when they’re not done. And we definitely don’t feel like we “know” we’re done.

Thank you to the many of you who said “God will provide.” It’s comforting to know that other people believe this too.

I encourage anyone who’s having this discussion in their household to read all of the comments. Also, a mom-of-three friend sent me a list of very thought provoking questions. I honestly appreciated so much her taking the time to help me think through some very realistic scenarios. I thought about my responses, and I’m including the questions here in case it helps someone else decide:

  1. School — this includes homework AND seeing their performances. School plays during the day time, concerts at night. Homework with three kids!
  2. Don’t worry about the money. That’ll come and you’ll find a way.
  3. Vehicles — eventually you will need a new vehicle. Someone is going to want a friend to come along. Be prepared.
  4. Uh, plain and simple. The amount of work doesn’t double when you go from one to two. It increases exponentially. LOL. And that is NOT a joke. But the JOY increases exponentially, too.
  5. Babysitters — it is WAY harder to find someone to watch three kids. Even grandparents, not that they don’t love the kids, but it can be overwhelming with so many. You can always find two sitters, but then you worry if one cancels, who is the backup, who goes where … etc. This is easier as they get older.
  6. Sicknesses — a third child is a fifth person to be bringing germs into the house, which is another vehicle for illnesses. More doctor bills, more time off work, etc.
  7. Think of the WORST DAY EVER POSSIBLE with having three kids (short of any life threatening things). Someone is begging to go for a bike ride, but hasn’t done her homework, someone has the flu, and baby three is ripping apart books. Your husband is late at work, no mothers can come over, and you have a long list of work to get done (still make dinner, clean up after the kids, basically do everything on your own). On this worst day (and it’s likely to happen many times over and over again), do you think it would cross your mind that you might wish you didn’t have the third baby. I could tell you my answer, but you need to figure it out for yourself.
  8. There are moms of multiples who have successfully raised well adjusted, happy kids into adulthood. It is possible for you to do it, too!
  9. Your world will be turned upside down, sideways to the left, to the right, back upright, to the left, upside down, right side up, to the right, to the slight left, spun a few times if you have a third. But it did that after the second, and it did that after the first. You’ve been there before. You can do it again.

Thank you for your affirmations, your encouragement and your positive thoughts.

Thank you for helping my brain understand what my heart already knew.

Unfinished

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I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to many people who know us, since we’ve been blathering about it and asking family members and friends for opinions, but Husband and I are considering having a third (and final) baby.

We pretty much always thought we would have a third baby, but thought it would be prudent to reserve final judgment until we actually had one baby. And one baby was so fantastic (and in hindsight, so easy with a 2:1 ratio), that we went ahead and got pregnant again when Monkey was 13 months old. Our goal was to have our kids about two years apart. Aaand we succeeded (21.5 months apart).

Bean is just over 18 months old now, and to realize that I was six-ish months pregnant when Monkey was that age, is jaw-dropping to me. Because man, two kids is a whole boatload more work than one.

But, obviously I wouldn’t have known that. And honestly, I wouldn’t change it either. They have a super close bond and I think they’ll be the best of friends.

However, when Bean turned one in February, I was VERY CERTAIN that I would not be getting pregnant the next month. We decided that if we were going to have another baby, we wanted them to be a little more than two years apart.

Well, guess what folks. The time is nigh.

Husband and I have been throwing this question around for the last three months.

Should we have another baby?

Here’s the big picture. I don’t feel done. WE don’t feel done. I didn’t feel like my last pregnancy was my last. I guess I knew it could be. But I didn’t think it would be.

When we think about what our family will look like in 10 years, 20 years — our adult children coming home, all of us sitting around the table on Thanksgiving —  two people does not seem like enough. Both Husband and I have large extended families — his mom has six siblings and my mom has eight! We revel in those large family gatherings with aunts and uncles everywhere, loads of cousins and now our cousins’ children running and screeching about. It’s chaos.

And believe me, I don’t want six children of my own. But two? Two doesn’t seem like enough. Three kids though? Three kids bring the possibility of three spouses and maybe even six grandchildren. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Affecting me more in the present is that when I look at friends’ pictures of their three kids — when I see those three faces, I think “I want that.”

On top of that, we’re fairly certain that we would regret not having a third baby. I actually have several friends and acquaintances who have told me that they regretted not having another baby (whether that was baby #3 or #4). Which motivates me to think, “Go for it.” Yet, don’t you think they made the decision they did because it was best for them at the time?

Or maybe they were slightly paralyzed by the indecision that we seem to find ourselves in.

The trouble is, that the day-to-day details of existing, can be hard. Not every day, although we do seem to be going through a tough couple of weeks.

Bean is at a hard age right now. She is super challenging. She presses all my buttons. But, I keep reminding myself that even if I got pregnant in the next 2-4 months, maybe longer (although probably not because that’s always been a blessing of mine), she would be at least 2.5 years old. And that’s actually a pretty manageable age, considering that she’ll be really verbal by then. Our experience with Monkey was that once she hit the two-year mark her tantrums dramatically diminished because she could communicate what she wanted, and we were able to reason with her (as in, STOP RUNNING CIRLCES AROUND PARKED CARS, because IT IS DANGEROUS).

Here’s the big BUT.

BUT, are we underestimating how hard it will be and how much work it will be?

Are we underestimating the expense? I doubt that we would be able to pull off half of two kids’ college educations, much less three.

I tend to be more of the romantic mindset of “we’ll figure it out.” And so does Husband. Is that foolhardy? In situations past, we’ve made cuts when we needed to make cuts. But there are certain things that are very important to Husband and me — we want to take biannual family vacations with our kids. We want the road trip experience to South Dakota and Washington D.C. We want the annual trip to the water park or the state fair. We want to go to Disney (not multiple times, but at least once). Will we price ourselves out of these things, leaving us and our kids disappointed?

Normally I’m a “gut” decision maker. My gut says, “Do it.”

It’s my head that’s screwing everything up.

Primarily my head is asking me, “It’s really hard at times right now. Can you really handle it? Are there things you’re not considering?”

I want to be the best mom I can be, or at least “good enough” most of the time. I don’t want to be overwhelmed and stressed the majority of the time. I don’t want frustration and anger to dominate my interactions with my kids.

Am I capable? I don’t want to short change my kids.

This is a bigger decision than I thought it would be.

I want to trust my instincts, but I’m afraid of not thoroughly thinking it through.

I know we could wait longer until Bean is even more independent. I know that technically, we don’t have to make this decision right now. But I’m going to be 33 this year, and 35 is considered “advanced maternal age.” So if you want to get technical, we really don’t have that much more time.

More importantly, our personal choice is that we don’t want to wait much longer.

Primarily, because life is getting to a pretty nice stage right now. We have some freedoms. Monkey is starting pre-school next week and then next fall she’ll be in half-day Kindergarten every day. She no longer needs a nap. Bean only takes one nap a day, there are no bottles, and soon enough we’ll be diaper free. To have several more years of increasing “freedoms” to go places and do more things, without having to worry about the kid-missed-a-nap-meltdown, will make it really tough to start over again.

We don’t want to get too far away from the 3 a.m. feedings, diaper blowouts, pooping in the bathtub, food-throwing stage.

So for us personally, we don’t want to wait much longer.

My actions have not demonstrated my indecision:

  • Three months ago I bought Woombies when they were featured on a mom bargains Web site (and ironically, they’re on sale again today) — I figured that if we didn’t have another baby that I could always give them to someone as a baby shower gift.
  • I’ve been researching how we could fit three car seats in our sedan because we can’t afford a new vehicle, and I almost bought a narrow booster seat that would make the configuration work (I think) — I rationalized that we’ll need a booster for Monkey anyway. I stopped short only because it’s money that we don’t need to spend right now since she’s at least a year out from needing it.
  • I haven’t wanted to part with any of my baby clothes, maternity clothes or baby gear (and actually have been asking for things back).

My gut is saying yes.

Are there things we’re not considering? Can we handle it?

I want my brain to say yes.

For the last several months I have been asking a lot of my mom-of-three friends to give me the good, the bad and the ugly (THANK YOU!). I’ve even been asking perfect strangers for their thoughts.

And I have been praying, asking God to open my heart to the right decision.

So this is one of those opportunities for you to go ahead and give me your advice, because I’m actively soliciting it! What do you think? Are you or have you struggled with this decision? What did you end up deciding?

As a side note, two other big pros are that the girls are extremely nurturing and I think they would love another (REAL LIVE) baby. They already fight like cats and dogs over the baby dolls. Also, we have an absolutely awesome childcare situation since my mother-in-law watches the girls and has said that she would be willing to take on another baby. Although, we better just triple check that 😉

Feel free to weigh in.

I should also note that it’s rather uncharacteristic of me to so publicly talk about our reproductive intentions since this has always been something we reserved to very close friends and family members. While I’m pretty open about sharing my thoughts and feelings, and asking questions, the whole “having kids” thing wasn’t something I liked to share with just anyone. In part we kept it private because we struggled with miscarriages. For some reason, maybe because we have two kids already and it would be okay if we couldn’t have anymore, I’m feeling more open about it. More likely because I’m tired of having an internal debate and I need to get my feelings OUT. (Don’t worry, Husband gave me the ok)