We’re not having a third kid. I was really grateful to realize when I felt sure I didn’t actually want one (after believing my whole life that I did) because with our diagnoses and lack of IF-related insurance coverage, it most likely wasn’t going to happen. Oh and husband would never agree to it. If I got pregnant again he’d expect me to have an abortion. So yeah… it wasn’t going to happen and I was incredibly grateful when I realized I didn’t want it to. If I hadn’t figure that out, our secondary infertility would have morphed into something much darker and more devastating, my marriage would have festered with resentment and I probably would have felt generally unsatisfied with my life. It was a gift, that realization, and I have clung to it, hoping against hope that when people started announcing their families would expand beyond two kids, I would feel only relief that ours wasn’t doing the same.
Of course it hasn’t been quite so simple.
I’ve only experienced a few, “hey we’re having/hoping this will be our third kid” announcements and my reactions have been… confusing.
It took me a little while to pinpoint what is hard, exactly, about these announcements. I don’t want a third kid, so I shouldn’t care if other people have one, right?
I realized though, what I’m jealous of is not that they get to have a third kid, what I’m jealous of is that they want to have a third kid. And can afford a third kid. And have a partner who is elated (or at least enthusiastic) about having a third kid.
What I want is not to have a third kid, what I want is to want a third kid. Does that make any sense? I want motherhood to be so fulfilling that the idea of doing it a third time makes me swoon. I want to have the financial security that allows for a third kid without sending us into crippling debt. I want a husband who loves parenting so much that he wants to experience more of it.
I want to enjoy parenting so much that I want to experience more of it.
When someone happily announces they are happily pregnant again after having two children, I am reminded that I am happily not pregnant again after having two children. Which is a reminder that I already can’t handle the two children than I have. That motherhood was not at all what I expected when the only thing I planned to do in my life was get pregnant and have babies and live blissfully ever after raising them. It’s a reminder that my present day reality is nothing close to what I expected, that my marriage is almost buckling under the weight of it, that financially we’re barely getting by and that at the end of the day, it’s all a million times harder than I thought it would be.
Every time someone announces they will have three kids all those feelings of maternal inadequacy bubble to the surface and I have to sit with the complicated mixture of emotions left over. I feel disappointed and agitated and frustrated and annoyed, at myself for not reveling in motherhood in all the ways I wanted to, at my husband for being so overwhelmed, at my friends who clearly are doing it better (or at least having a better time doing it).
Because how can they be having as hard a time as I’m having if they want another kid and I don’t?
Clearly I need to work through all this so that I can get to a place of peace. Many people I know will be expanding their families in the next few years and I don’t want to trudge through this kind of muck every time I hear about it. I need to arrive at a place of acceptance, to be fundamentally okay with who I am and how I feel about parenting. It needs to be okay that I don’t want another kid, that motherhood is way harder than I expected and I’m relieved not to do it all again. It has to be okay that I don’t want to fail at breastfeeding a third time, or wash diapers for another three years, or ask for more schedule accommodations from my boss, or spend $50K on childcare before Kindergarten or buy a bigger car or renovate my house.
I suppose I’ll get there eventually. I just hope it doesn’t take too much time and too much work. Because I truly am happy for the people who get to have all the children they’ve ever wanted, and I’m happy for us that we have exactly as many kids as we can handle. And I don’t want all this other shit mucking up the space in between.