The third baby

There is something I’ve been thinking about on and off for a long time now. Jon and I have talked about it a lot, and honestly, I’m not sure how to feel like I have closure on the issue.

It’s this idea of a third kid. See, when we got married, we discussed how many kids we wanted. We landed pretty readily on three. (Jon threw around the idea of four, but I nixed that rather decisively.) I couldn’t tell you exactly why three was the number. I suppose I liked the idea of a large family without getting into territory that felt unmanageable.

But then, years of infertility did a number on our family planning. I was 31 when Corin was born and 33 when Lina was born. I will turn 37 in a few weeks. Fertility treatments that were so physically, emotionally and financially difficult then would be exponentially harder now, with my increased age and all the responsibilities that come with the kids we already have. We’ve briefly discussed returning to the idea of adoption, but that process is also terribly difficult and expensive.

Most of the time, I am content with the idea that our family is complete. We have a boy and a girl, two beautiful kids who are perfect for us. Please don’t misunderstand: I am so, so grateful. And honestly, I’m not sure I have all that newborn stuff in me any more. I remember the borderline-hallucinogenic sleeplessness, the endless feedings and pumpings, the spit-up soaked burp rags, the mushy, barely-recognizable postpartum body. That very pragmatic voice also tells me it’s probably best that Corin and Lina have as much of my attention as I can give them. These kids need more from me than I could probably manage with another little one in the house. Also, I really don’t need more gray hairs.

But then, this photo popped up on that cursed Facebook timeline. It was posted four years ago today.

BFP 1.27.12

Suddenly, all that excellent logic evaporates in a wave of longing for just one more time. Just once more, I wish I could feel the unparalleled thrill of those pink lines. Just one more time, I wish I could feel the first movements of a baby I already loved in that uniquely intense and abstract way. Just once more, I wish I could experience childbirth. (Yes, I know how crazy that sounds.) Just one more time, I wish I could rest a tiny, fragile body on my naked chest and feel the total trust and contentment of a newborn who knows his mother. Just once more, I wish I could watch a baby grow, almost hour by hour, and see the infinite changes that every day make her more herself.

I know there are moms who are SO DONE with babies and can’t wait to send their kids out the door to school. I get it; I am that mom sometimes, too. But a lot of the time, I am also mourning the end of babies and toddlers. My kids are growing up, and even as I beam and cheer, I mourn the steps they take away from me.

Is there a way to find real peace with this? I actually told Jon the other night that it might be time to think about the snip. Not that we really need it, but I have a dark fear of a shock pregnancy at 45. And it just seems like maybe that step might give us final closure. I’ve already given away most of the kids’ baby clothes and toys. It’s actually pretty nice to clear out the storage and use it for things more relevant to our lives now. I spend a lot more time these days thinking about my future outside of parenting. But I can never seem to permanently dispel that niggling sense of longing.

I am tempted to sometimes feel as if we were robbed of an opportunity to have a third child, as if the ideal family we planned has somehow been diminished to something less. I suppose it’s normal to feel a loss. But when I really look at the family right here in front of me, I know it’s not less than we hoped. It is so much more.

I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a point when I don’t wish sometimes for that one last baby. I hope so. Maybe a lot of women struggle with closing the door on more kids, even when it’s a step of their own choosing. I’m not going to give in to regret over what should have been. I choose to focus on how full my life is and how grateful I am for what I’ve been given. But if you catch a strange look on my face when I hold your newborn, you’ll know why.

Naptime shenanigans, or things that make me smile

The kids finally headed back to school today after blizzard 2016, which means the return to a more normal routine. I picked Lina up from preschool at 11:30, we drove home, ate lunch, and then I put her down for a nap. I headed into my room to catch up on emails.

I think she had missed her toys, because instead of going straight to sleep, I heard her talking quietly and rustling around. After quite a while of this, I thought I’d better go settle her back into bed. As I walked across the hall, I heard a pause, then rapid footsteps, then the squeak of her bed springs. As I opened the door, I caught her trying to shove a book under her pillow. She gave me a wide-eyed look.

Why am I telling this story? It’s no big deal, I know: just normal three-year-old stuff. But that’s the thing. It’s normal three-year-old stuff. To me, that experience represents exactly what a kid her age should be doing, and I can’t tell you how it made me (secretly) smile. When Lina was first born, I didn’t fully appreciate how much the “normal kid stuff” would mean, and the joy I would get from watching my girl lead her boisterous, everyday life.

I suppose that’s one of those things they don’t tell you when they deliver a diagnosis.

Nashville blizzard!

I am super behind on posting Christmas and New Year’s pictures, but I just can’t let today pass without dumping my photos of Nashville’s epic snow day. As of 3:30 this afternoon, we had 6-7 inches of beautiful, powdery stuff in our yard, and it’s still falling at 10 p.m. Corin and I spent most of the day outdoors, except for a couple-hour break midday to cuddle up with a movie. Lina played some, too, and liked aspects of the experience. She did not enjoy any part of getting snow in her face: not an inopportune face plant, brother’s snow balls, or the wind that picked up this evening. Jon had to work most of the day but got in a few runs down our backyard hill on his snowboard before supper. We ended with homemade tomato soup and cornbread.

It was a magical, magical day.


First thing in the morning










For the record, this kid went sledding with the neighbors while mommy built the snowman.


I named him Casper.



Tasting snow







Wearing the backpack she felt was necessary for the outing


Lina, meet Casper; Casper, Lina.


Heading down the street




Not a John Wayne movie

For the second time in recent history on this blog, I am going to weigh in on a hot button political issue. In fact, I’m weighing in on the same hot button issue. I will try not to make this a habit, for those of you who avoid politics like the plague or who disagree vehemently with me and find this spoils the rest of the content for you. I promise, a nice Christmas/New Year’s post is coming.

But for now, I find I have something to say that I’m not hearing in other places. As I discussed in my earlier post, public discourse on the issue of gun violence is at a place of complete inanity. Lobby interests and political agendas are so deeply imbedded that we as a nation appear unable to seek real solutions. It is discouraging beyond belief to the many of us caught in the middle, who simply don’t want to live with a pervasive fear that we or someone we love might die by gun violence in what should be a safe place.

In that context, I’m going to address the argument that seems most common among those who disagree with any attempt to regulate access to guns. I commented on this thought from a friend on Facebook today, and I want to say up front that I approach this subject with respect for those who hold this view. I want to engage in thoughtful conversation, not shouted arguments. We get more than enough of that elsewhere.

Here’s the thought I hear so commonly expressed: “Criminals don’t care what the law says about guns. They will get guns any way they can. Gun regulation only affects law-abiding citizens who are attempting to protect themselves and their families. We keep making more hoops for good people to jump through while criminals continue to arm themselves illegally. Then we ban weapons in public places, which means people who follow the rules are guaranteed to be unarmed when the criminals ignore the rules, as they always do.”

I get this. There is logic in the argument. But I think it’s based on a misunderstanding – or at least an oversimplification – of human nature. This line of thinking assumes one very problematic fact: That there is clear delineation between “good guys” and “bad guys,” and everyone is one or the other. Life simply doesn’t work that way.

Let me explain. Take, for example, the law passed in Tennessee a while back that allows patrons to carry firearms into bars. The result is that bar customers are now armed in an environment where they are guaranteed to have impaired judgement and lowered inhibitions. Why would we do this? Even the most law-abiding citizens can make terrible, life-ending mistakes.

What happens when a previously law-abiding employee at a local business faces a series of extremely stressful events and, in a moment of extreme distress, suffers a mental break while also having access to a deadly weapon? Here in Nashville a few years back, a video from a high school student made local news when a teacher had some kind of breakdown and started screaming and throwing things, including a desk.

My friends, this world is not populated by “good people” and “bad people.” It’s populated by a few really evil people, a lot more with a record of really bad decisions, and even more imperfect, everyday people who, given the right set of circumstances, can make really terrible mistakes. We know we want to try to keep guns out of the hands of the first two groups, but what about that third group, which almost certainly includes you and me?

Law-abiding citizens do have a right to defend themselves. But how do we also deal with the reality that so often, having deadly weapons on hand dramatically increases the likelihood that inevitable problem situations will turn deadly?

These issues are not simple. I don’t write all this to beat anyone over the head. Instead, I hope to provoke thought and start conversations that allow for nuance and complexity. Let’s stop demonizing and oversimplifying. We are not extras in a John Wayne movie. We are complicated people living in very messy times. Once we start dealing with that reality, we will already be much further down the road to a solution.