Three. Three was our magic number. We wanted a big family. I longed for the loud noises and laughter and birthdays and family trips. Yes, three would be perfect! But, wait, there’s only one of me. Just one. Yes, there’s the husband, but there’s still just one mom. Aside from the large belly, sweats that cause several wardrobe changes in the day, smelly armpits, stupidly ravenous appetite, lack of sleep (yes, even before the baby comes) and 49673496 potty breaks… I really wanted 3.
But we started with one, like many many couples do. One just about perfect pregnancy. My first. I ate all the food, bought all the things, worked all the hours, gained all the weight and enjoyed every bloated baby kicking minute. Then there she was. This blue-eyed, beautiful tiny human cozied against me as if we had practiced it for years.
She cried a lot. Only wanted me for the first 6 months. Ate nothing. No more job. My body was this gooey, stretch mark infested blob that I couldn’t recognize. Just a mom. Just one mom with one husband and one baby. But as we figured things out and the hormones finally began to balance, the weight began to come off and I wasn’t a raving lunatic. My husband slowly stopped wondering where in the hell the woman he married went and we found ourselves in that happy little sweet spot where sleep wasn’t a foreigner in our life anymore and we had a pretty decent routine worked out in our tiny first home.
So then we tried for 2. Two babies. One mommy. One daddy. Another round of morning (all day) sickness. But this time, while trying to feed a toddler who ate only things that made me want to barf all over her adorable little blonde curls. I found myself fighting sleep on the couch as we watched Mickey Mouse and crying into the pants that fit only days before. Anxiety hit and I found myself TERRIFIED of the idea of losing my baby. Terrified that there was no possible way to love another baby like I loved my first. But the overwhelming fear of a miscarriage loomed over me for weeks.
Why? I don’t know. But my doctor let me come in and hearing that strong, pounding swooshing on the monitor gave me a relief I’d never felt in my life. I sobbed for several minutes thanking God that it was all in my head. I knew love. Real love. Real. Deep. Blinding love and although I luckily never suffered post pardum… this shit (thankfully short lived) was real. How could I alter Cori’s life like this? As if she was my REAL baby and this new one was just a guest that entered my womb. I was so in love with this new baby already, but would it be the same? Would I still be a good mother? A good wife? How?! HOW do you love more when you already have your heart exploding all over your home all day long?
But then here she was! Too fast for meds and too cute for words. And I learned instantly, that love can grow. She was SO different which made our family dynamic even better. So here we went again with the hormones and the no sleep and then the house got smaller! Infinitely smaller. Maddeningly smaller. So we moved and while we hit all the new firsts as a family of 4, I periodically questioned myself…could we do another? Could I? Did I want to risk another natural birth? (HELL no. Y’all crazy). Did I want to risk more pointless arguments with my husband because everyone was stressed and tired and fat (me) and hormonal (also me)? Did I want to lose the playroom I had just completed to perfection? Would they share rooms? What about saving for another college fund? What if this third had medical issues? What if I had the same anxieties again? What happens if, God forbid, one of them gets really sick, or hurt badly again and I have to juggle school with that and a new baby? Not to mention without help (aside from my husband who has to work).
I know shit happens in a lot of families. Lots of people deal with a lot worse and life moves on. But as I began tending to Cori’s leg problems during the holidays I would watch Diem playing alone. Cori never played alone as a baby. And when I did try to spend time with her and sing/rock her before bed, Cori would be watching from a distance, wanting the alone time she’d known to be hers for over a year. Which, again, all balanced out with time and they adore one another now… but…
I’m only one mom. One mom with one book, one blog, 2 kids, 1 house, 1 dog, 1 husband, 3 meals a day, 2 naps, sometimes none, 4 loads of laundry, 2 loads of dishes, 3456 grocery trips and doctor visits, sometimes no wine.
Just one mom.
So I thought about it… another baby? Because, right now I’m a good mom. I’m a great mom, I think? I mean, my kids are alive and no longer broken or sick (today). My husband and I are finding ways to connect more and more often. But I kept getting flashes of the look in Diem’s face when Cori needed attention and she had to wait and was too little to understand. I thought about the difficulty of grocery trips and bedtime stories and viruses and stress arguments and somewhere in all of that, still getting to be Aimee and not mom or wife.
Could I still be a great mom? Because that’s the reason I quit my job… to be a better mother and wife. And the answer was clear. No. I couldn’t be the type of mom I wanted to be. I would neglect something, someone. And it would probably be me. My desires. My projects. My passions outside of our family. I’m not ashamed of this. I’m not embarrassed. It’s not being selfish because we are happy.
I’m completely – wholly fulfilled with our life. There are people who can’t have one child. And I have two healthy, happy, funny, intelligent and considerate girls. I don’t need to be greedy. I don’t need to meet a quota or prove anything. I just need to be the best for my family.
I’m just one mom – and this one mom does a LOT. But I’m the best mom for my one family because I know my limits. If it happens by happy accident, fine. I will adjust. But I don’t have that itch. I don’t see babies and feel my ovaries throb with want. I see my children throwing their toys and spreading yogurt on the freshly cleaned floor and I’m happy. Truly happy because they’re mine.
Just the 2 of them.