Driving along the coast of Oahu seemed like the perfect time to ask.
We would have no interruptions – no chance to change the subject. I had waited for so long to bring it up because I was afraid of the answer, but I knew that it was time to accept whatever his response would be. My heart beat fast, but I turned to him from the passenger seat and spit it out.
“So do you ever think about having another baby?”
And without hesitation, while looking ahead at the road, he let out his crushing answer.
“No, I’m good with what we have.”
From behind my sunglasses, I blinked. Over and over to keep my tears from falling – to make him think it was no big deal.
I can’t say I blamed him. After all, here we were in Hawaii…alone together. With our boys at the ages of 5 and 3, it was no question as to whether or not I’d accompany him on this business trip – an opportunity to experience this amazing place together for the first time. Having both boys out of diapers and easier to occupy meant that my parents didn’t hesitate to keep them, even for several days. This was the beginning of our time to reconnect – to get out more often together. To sleep alone in the same bed without a little person between us.
We were one on one – man to man, so to speak. If he wanted to take Isaac to see Harry Potter, I could think of something special to do with Alex. When we took them skating, he held one kid’s hand, and I held the other’s. They each had their own room, so at night we’d take turns reading books. He read in one bed, and I read in the other. The next night, we’d switch.
Even when he wasn’t around, I was fully capable of handling two kids at their ages. Taking them to the park was a breeze since they would run off and play together while I talked to other moms. When Rodney was out of town, bedtime had gotten easier for me — I even enjoyed when they each climbed in my bed, one on either side of me, so I could read books that they both liked. Many times, they’d just fall asleep with me because the three of us fit perfectly.
And I had been home from work for five whole years already. My quitting had cut our income in half, making us put off some of the things we wanted — a newer van, a trip to Disney World, and renovations to our house. While we were still living on a tight budget with no cable TV and having campouts in the backyard, some of my mom friends had headed back to work and were taking their families on nice vacations and moving into bigger homes. We could have those things if I went back to work.
I understood why he didn’t want to start over.
Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that our family was incomplete. I had lent out my boxes of baby clothes a couple of times — but I always asked that they give them back afterward. I had stared at the disassembled crib several times in the basement, considering selling it for money we could use, but I couldn’t bare the thought of letting it go. For a while I would tell myself that it was okay not to have a third, because chances are it would be a boy anyway. But then I got to the point where I would look at tiny baby boys and my heart told me that it didn’t matter if we would have a girl or not. I just wanted another child.
So when he told me No that day as we drove next to the beautiful ocean, I felt a stabbing pain. I could try to keep begging, but did I really want to ruin our trip? And did I really want a baby if he didn’t? I had no choice but to let it go.
And I did, for about a year. But when my youngest son started his last year of preschool, I panicked. This was it. As soon as Alex moved on to Kindergarten, I would go back to work, and the odds of me re-starting my career and then quitting again to have a baby were slim to none. I kept looking at our family picture and seeing a spot where another head should be. Someone was missing.
When he came home from work, I was doing laundry in the kitchen. I stayed quiet while he talked about his day until he finally asked me what was up.
“I want another baby.” There, I said it.
“We already talked about this,” he said. “You’re about to go back to work, and we have college to pay for. And you keep saying that you want a new kitchen floor. We can’t afford to do anything to the house if we have another baby.”
He was good. Always so practical. Our house that was built in the 80’s still had the original yellowing, linoleum flooring with holes and cuts all through it. I was sometimes embarrassed when friends came over because compared to what they had, my house seemed gross.
But at this point, I didn’t care what other people thought. I knew what really mattered.
“When we’re 60 and the boys are moved out, are we going to look back and say ‘remember that conversation we had in the kitchen, where we talked about having another baby? Gosh, I sure am glad we got that floor instead.’ No. We won’t even remember the year we had it installed. But by then, we might regret not having one more child.”
He stayed quiet. My heart pounded. He looked down at the ground for a few minutes, and then back up at me and said, “Okay.”
I ran and threw my arms around him. “Are you sure?” I asked, almost afraid he’d change his mind. He said yes.
Within a month, I was pregnant. Since I had taken fertility drugs to get pregnant with each of the boys, I can only assume this one was meant to be.
The boys were excited, and it was fun that they were as old as they were because they understood what was happening. We had found out the sex of each of them, but with this one, I wanted to be surprised. Rodney chose to find out, and kept it a secret until delivery day.
During my C-section, he stayed next to my face, and as soon as the baby was born, he looked at me and said proudly, “It’s a girl.”
Tears streamed down my cheeks and I couldn’t stop saying, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” The only way to describe how I felt is utterly, totally, complete.
I’ve heard some people say that once you have two kids, having a third is really not that much different. Well, I wouldn’t go that far.
Since we only have three bedrooms, we put the boys into bunk beds so she could have her own room and not keep them awake at night. It was really hard for me to not be able to lay next to Alex and read books because he was on the top bunk – eventually either Rodney or I stood next to the bed and held up books so they could both see. Sometimes I would invite them into my bed to read to them while I held her, but as she got older she crawled all over them or tried to tear the pages. Sometimes they got frustrated, but most of the time, they laughed.
I missed my one-on-one time with them. There were days when I wondered if I ruined their lives by creating more chaos in our house – when she’d scream through what formerly could have been a peaceful family dinner, or would call out for me just when I was getting ready to tuck them in. But often, as soon as I would feel like I wanted to apologize for having her, I’d find them laying by her or giving her a cracker or helping her with a puzzle. Eventually, she just became part of what they viewed as our normal family.
And the daddy who once said he didn’t want a third child is now completely smitten. All she has to do is give him a sweet little smirk, and whatever she wants is in her hands. He will be her protector, her knight in shining armor, for life.
Choosing something we knew we’d never regret was the best decision we could have made. We still don’t have the giant house or fancy trips, but we have three healthy children and that’s all that matters.
Oh, but that new kitchen floor? I got it anyway 😉
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