I just got an email from a woman who said that she googled
"should I have a 4th baby"
and my blog came up. ( I tried it and it is the 7th on the list.) She didn't read much, she said, but wondered if I could let her know my thoughts -- financially, family dynamics, does it make you insane? or as she put it, can she handle it?
So instead of a long email to her, I'm blogging about it instead, but I can tell you now that I don't have any real answers to these questions, only thoughts and observations on my own life, I hope they translate well.
Starters, we wanted/hoped to have 4 children and we feel so blessed and lucky and unsure and hopeful that we actually do have these 4 healthy, beautiful souls in our care for a short time. But...
When I was pregnant with Laine, our #3, or maybe when she was just barely born, I had a breakdown and was crying -- "I can't have more than 3 children, this is crazy, I'm crazy, I'm a terrible mom, I'm so tired, I'm so crabby, and on and on..." One of those breakdowns where the poor husband doesn't quite know where all this came from. But Eric, the husband, is the greatest, and just said something like, "that's fine, you're a great mom, we don't have to worry about that right now, I'll go get 'fixed' tomorrow."
And then all those pregnancy -- and nursing -- hormones faded away and I realized that yes, I actually did want to try to have 4 children and yes, it all worked out that way. So we have 4 kids. And I'm so glad. For us it worked out in this perfect little way -- 2 boys then 2 girls, how lucky is that? (Almost as lucky as my parents who had 6 children and it goes girl boy girl boy girl boy.)
Financially? It certainly isn't cheaper to add another child but with the clothes and baby stuff already accumulated it isn't as expensive as the first boy or first girl. And you just make do. And you have more mom friends so there are more hand-me-downs. I can't remember the last time I bought pants for our #3 because our neighbor always sends her used ones our way. It does seem like we are always paying medical bills of some sort but thankfully, we do have good insurance through my husband's job. And I know it just gets more expensive down the road. But that is an expense that I'm happy to worry about because it means that our children have stayed healthy and living for a long time. Not everyone gets that miracle. I've been reminded today that life is precious, it really is.
Family dynamics? I'd say they are best when everyone is full and not tired. A friend once reminded me that even adults get crabby when they are tired and hungry, sometimes I feel like I'm the worst in the bunch. There are times when the boys play like best buddies and other times, usually in 30 minute intervals, where they are fighting like worst enemies. And baby Sommer loves her big sister so much. And #2 and #3 play so well together that it often relieves my guilt (for a while) that #2 didn't get as much time to be the baby as the rest of them since #3 is only 19 months younger than he is. But you know how it is, you can't picture life without the addition once she is there.
And can you handle it? Sometimes. I can be the worst at mother-guilt, and aren't we all our own worst critics? You do have to let some things go. You can't be a mother to 4 and keep everything on your to-do list. It just doesn't work out that way unless "progressive insanity" is the title of your list. For me, I'm still working on making my to-do list work for me. I'll put too many things on it, as mentioned in the previous post, and that has made me realize even more that I need to say "no" more often. Just take on what is best for me and my family so that I don't get depleted and so that my family gets my best self. Waaaay easier said than done.
"Everyone loves babies. Here's what babies do: Babies eat. They are always hungry. Babies sleep, and sleep, and cuddle. Babies splash in the bath. Babies are happy, sad and curious. They like to make friends. Babies play every day. They are carried and pushed and held up high. Everyone loves babies."
This is a book that was given to our baby #1 by his grandma Sommer for his 1st birthday. I read it, again, (recited it actually since it is memorized) today to baby #4. And I was thinking, it is so true. Everyone loves babies. They are so special, they are so close to God. Mom in MN, it sounds like you are a concerned, loving parent and another baby would be blessed to call you mommy.
I feel so blessed that I have 2 boys who call me mom, a daughter who calls me mama, and the baby girl who calls me ma. Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight (and god bless) mothers everywhere.