Not doing anything about the future guilt tonight
Exhibit of The Ornery #471

Oh THAT third baby

Phillip told me that I made it sound like I was pregnant. Hence his throat-clearing the other night. Oops. In case anyone is wondering: NOT PREGNANT. Which doesn't mean I can't talk about it, right? But before I get started I have a little bit of business with my husband. Okay? Just a sec.

Phillip DARLING. You should probably just skip this one. There won't be anything new for you, and since putting the words "third" and "baby" next to each other in a sentence makes you all jittery-like, it's probably best you just skip this one. Be thankful I'm doing my venting elsewhere and that I won't need to rant your ear off for another, oh, couple of weeks.

All right. So. Back whenever Phillip and I had the How Many Kids Do You Want conversation my answer was, "At least three" and Phillip's answer was "No more than three." Which means: Three. (At least.) (Heh.)

SEE PHILLIP?! I'm just trying to be FUNNY. RELAX. I'm SORRY. Just go back to your queries or your reports or whatever it is you're doing today. BYE.

Anyway. Large chunks of my grad school neuroses revolve around the fact that we're more or less putting our lives on hold for two years. I am, at least. Phillip gets to go to school and earn a degree and I WANT THIS FOR HIM, but I feel, essentially, that I will just be at home waiting for him to finish. And two of the big things I'm thinking about can't happen during the grad school years: moving to a bigger house and having our third child. "Can't" of course is probably the wrong word, but 1) those things seem unwise, for various reasons and 2) Phillip doesn't want to. Especially the third baby. He will have enough going on, thank you very much. 

The house thing is another post for another day (and wouldn't you know, I'm already plotting the alternatives.) But the baby thing is requiring a lot of Perspective Shuffling. A lot of Paradigm Shifting.

To be super perfectly absolutely honest, I am not ready for a third baby. This has mostly everything to do with pregnancy. I had a ridiculously breezy first pregnancy and I remember feeling like I could SO handle a second when Jack was only 5 or 6 months old. I could TOTALLY do that again. But my second pregnancy was really hard. I was sicker and more uncomfortable, I was in way more pain, and the near-constant anxiety I experienced during that pregnancy laid the authoritative smackdown on any anxiety I've had in the last handful of years. Not enough time has elapsed to make the memory softer around the edges. I'm not sure how much time that will require, to be honest. It was worth it, and I'm willing to do it again, but I'm also really happy NOT being pregnant. Or nursing. Or anxious. Or trying to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I haven't been this happy in my own body... EVER, and I'm not ready to mess it all up again. 

But I hate - HATE - this sort of insta-decision about the size and shape of our family. It means waiting and there is nothing I am worse at than WAITING. It automatically means there is a three-year age difference, at least, between Molly and Third Baby. I don't like that. It feels huge. It makes me think I'll have to have a FOURTH baby, just to make up for Third Baby's lack of close-in-age sibling. You can only imagine what Phillip thinks about THAT! Or poor Potential Fourth Baby, whose only reason for existence is to make things up to Third Baby. GAH. BE THANKFUL YOU ARE NOT INSIDE MY WARPED AND STUNTED BRAIN.

Now, before you all start lining up to slap me, I am FULLY AWARE that in the Grand Scheme of Things, three years is NOT a super huge age difference. That plenty of people want to wait that long or longer. That plenty of people don't even WANT a third baby. And then there's another group of you who want to call me out on my Catholic cred and demand to know why I think I can "plan" this at all (or the fact that I even WANT to, and if you are one of those people I am thinking you should find yourself another website to read for I am going to DISAPPOINT.) Oh, and then LOTS of you, I'm sure, have three-year or more age gaps between your kids, or between you and your siblings, and it's perfect and why would I think it WOULDN'T be perfect and obviously I need to get over myself. Oh! And! The people who are all, "DUDE. She already has TWO and her husband is going to work full time AND go to school AND she wants to sell her house and she's talking about WHAT NOW?"

Have I left anyone out?

Okay. So. You all know that I am the oldest of five kids, that we're all about one year apart and that family holidays are a rocking good time at my house. You may also know that Phillip is the youngest of two, that there is an EIGHT-year age difference between him and his brother and that family holidays at his house are of a quieter more laid back variety. (Although it gives me opportunities to be The Youngest and 10-year-old me was right: being the youngest IS a free trip to Awesomeville.) Add in expectations and cultures and plain old personalities and you just sort of end up with your own picture of how things will work out. I don't think either of us set out to or wants to or intends to mimic our own families, but it DEFINITELY plays into our visions of our future family. Phillip cannot fathom the kind of life I had growing up. I cannot fathom his. To me, a three-year age difference seems lonely and separate. To him it's nothing.

I know it sounds kinda weird being all Morose over something I don't even WANT, but I just don't want it YET. What if I want it in three months? Or six? Or when Molly is two, which even Phillip thinks is an acceptable time to start negotiating the next baby? It's not like it COULDN'T happen, but between The Circumstances and My Husband, it probably won't. SIGH.

The smart thing to do is wait until he's done with school and we're in a bigger house. We will allow for surprises and, you know, life happening, but that's the plan. "Plan". And little by little I am wrapping my brain around the idea. Waiting so long for Third Baby is not half as bummer-worthy as it was even a week ago. And I keep seeing families with two older children and one little one in a carrier or a stroller. I know it's because I'm keeping my eyes open, but I can't help but feel like God is trying to tell me it will be fine. THOSE families look happy! Mine will be happy too!

I also don't want to sound like Third Baby will just easily and cheerfully appear, or that everything will go according to plan. I know enough of your stories to know that's not always the case. But I have no reason to feel anything about Annoyingly Optimistic, the way I am about pretty much everything else.

I have that nagging blogger feeling, where you've written a whole bunch about a topic that's important, to you at least, and you haven't quite got it right. Like you've left something out. And people are going to comment on the thing you've left out and you're going to be all DARNIT. I MEANT TO SAY THAT. But oh well. It's almost ten and I've had two people instant message me so far to inform me that if I don't get my powdery mildew zucchini away from my tomatoes I shall have no caprese salad this summer AT ALL. So. Must start Googling!

Comments

Jen

Last night, I just saw a little girl who I used to teach. She's now in seventh grade, her little sister is in fifth grade, and her brand new baby brother is three months old. It made me think about age gaps too.

Christina

I'm very much the same way - I want to make the plans and I want the freedom to change the plans whenever I see fit. I do not like PARAMETERS being set on my plans. Of course then I went and adopted my 2nd two which was just an entire universe of parameters that I had no control over. Wow was that a time of character growth. (Though honestly? I still want to have all the say. Apparently it's something of a personality thing with me.)

Maggie

PARAMETERS! That is the word I was looking for! Parameters = HATE.

Jen

are you reading my mind this week? I would like to have a third (kids are 5,7). At first I thought I wanted them close together until I had the second child. I felt like the second one got the shaft. Plus the oldest wasn't old enough to appreciate having a baby sibling. Now that they are old enough to understand what it means to have a baby in the house its so sweet how they talk about wanting a baby. Now that they will both be in school ALL DAY this year I will have the time to devote myself to a baby all day and not be totally exhausted for the other 2. Though my husband will take some coaxing to agree to have another child right now. I work part time nights (though I could cut back to per diem), he works 12 hours+ a day and we are both going to grad school part time... so who knows?? I may have to throw caution and sperm to the wind.

Christiana

See, and I thought I'd go crazy if my kids were less than 2 years apart. Obviously everyone has a very different viewpoint on sibling spacing.
(Case in point, a friend of mine comes from a family where there parents had 2 kids approx 2 years apart. 14 years later they had an "oops" pregnancy and decided that since they were doing it all over again, why not 2 young ones? My friend is 19, 17 and 3 years younger than her siblings. She had nieces and nephews who were only a few years younger than she is).

I had this thought that I'd just remain off any form of birth control after baby #2 is born and trust that God knew how much I could handle, etc. But every once in awhile I flash back to those desperate months of infant-hood, combined with these difficult ones of toddlerhood and I run screaming from the room.

Heidi

I know what you mean about 3 years feeling like forever! My husband is in grad school and we're wondering if we might have to wait for our second due to financial and space issues. We both would love for our children to be closer in age.

Carolyn

I grew up as the oldest of three kids- 18 months between me and my sister, then 3 years between my sister and my brother. And it was great for all of us!

Sure, my brother didn't have a built-in best friend on family vacations like we girls did, but we doted on him, dressed him up, played with him, bossed him around, etc. enough that I don't think he feels he missed out on having a sibling really close in age. It worked really, really well for our family, and I bet it would for yours, too.

Jess

My sister and I are three years apart, so I fall into Phillip's camp of no big deal. But I can totally understand why it IS a big deal to you. Because I have trouble seeing things more than one way. I had one sibling and I want two kids myself. So much so that I just ASSUMED that you were done now that you have Jack and Molly, and was initially astounded when you started talking about the Third Baby. Everyone has different feelings about how many kids and how far apart and so on, and just because something feels normal to one person doesn't mean it won't feel wildy uncomfortable to someone else.

Also, I am the younger child and it was almost always great. I would definitely choose this position in the birth order if it were up to me. So much so, in fact, that I wonder how I will get along with my own first child, because he/she will end up being the older child.

C @ Kid Things

One thing: 3 kids is HARD! Mine are about 2 years apart (not planned that way, just happened) and I think that's about perfect. Because it's still INSANE in this house most days.

One more: My brother and I are 7 years apart. According to my mother, this was the perfect age gap. She actually brings this up constantly when I tell her of a particularly rough day I've had. To me, though, this was too far apart. While my brother and I got along, we didn't do much together, we had nothing in common, I was always the little kid tagging along, etc. etc.

In other words, I hold no wise words of wisdom.

Rosemary

oh how bout the people who are subfertile and would love to have kids who are only 3 years apart? ;)

Just kidding, Maggie. It's all a matter of perspective and as my mom always said "Comparisons are odious!"

I only chimed in b/c you asked if you were leaving anyone out!

Rosemary

oh man I don't want to sound obnoxious - sorry if that was - for what it's worth if I were in your situation I would feel just the same. I come from a big (huge? 12 kids) family and we're really close in age so 3 years does seem really long to me.

BUT the biggest gap between kids in my huge family is the 3 years between me and my little sister and we are thick as thieves.

lindsay

I loved the italicized text re Phillip at the top of the post hilarious! I've seen some great sibling relationships among the three yrs apart crowd among so many families. And my huz who is the baby and three years younger than the first two who are like 13 months apart, is 100% spoiled and doted upon by all. So. I think baby 3 if he he or she does arrive on a 3 yr time table is set for life. I too have to preface baby conversation with my husband with a great big assurance I'm not talking about NOW, just generally and can a girl just talk? Boys are so jumpy and paranoid. Gawd.

Emily

My brother and I are three years apart. It was ok growing up - we weren't in competition with each other, but then again, he was a boy and I was a girl, so once we were past a certain age, we didn't do much together.

Now Dave is the middle child. He is 18 months younger than his older brother, and four years older than the younger brother. The thing about it is that he and his older brother were tight growing up, and then when the baby was born, he didn't have the super close sibling, but since he was the "last" baby, he got extra attention from mom. I kind of like that idea. So if we have a third, we're definitely waiting until L is at least two, possibly 3.

The Sojourner

I'm the younger of 2. My sister's 2.5 years older and after years of fighting like cats we did end up best friends.

My boyfriend's the 3rd of 7, with most of the gaps being almost exactly 2.5 years, but with one funny 9-year gap between 2 and 3 (long story). They all get along as well as a bunch of Italians can expect to get along.

So, in general I've noticed that sibling closeness doesn't depend too much on age; and the older you get the less it matters. Just my two cents.

(P.S. And I want hordes of kids; obviously I'm the exception to the rule of people thinking their family of origin is the way to go.)

Ellen W

My boys are 3 1/2 yr old and 2 months and I am happy with the age gap (and I am not planning on having any other children). The older one is relatively self-sufficient which makes dealing with an infant somewhat more managable. I admire you and others who have done 2 in 2 years, but I would not have handled it well.

I am 5 and 7 years older than my sisters. It has only been in the past few years that we've gotten closer but it really didn't bother me that much growing up. It was always "Ellen and the girls". My sisters are 20 months apart - parents adopted and then my mom got pregnant. They are fairly close friends.

Lisa

I can't believe it...you are ME! Oldest of five, close in age, married to a guy with a totally different family. Wanting to give your kids a similar experience and trying to plan how that will work. Infertility and adoption have altered my plans A LOT, but I still hope that my kids will be close-ish in age. And I secretly hope for more than two, though we may have to win the lottery to make that happen.

Elaine

Neem oil for powdery mildew, but you've probably already figured that out. There are 3.5 years between my second and my third. When they were younger it wasn't so much of a big deal, but now that number one is almost 12, number two is almost 10, and number three is six? There is a Great Divide between little kids and big kids, and number 3 falls in the little kid category. Not that she suffers terribly from it, but there is a number 4 and a number 5 to keep her company.

Sarah in Ottawa

This family size stuff isn't for the faint of heart, huh? I am an only, my husband the youngest of 2. I think three would be awesome; he's not totally onboard, but not against. Of course, we'll have to see how we survive two first.

Sibling relationships are a bit mysterious to me (being an outside observer) so I can't provide any (likely crappy) advice. I'm a compulsive planner, too, but I'm trying to chill. It's working - I just figure that no matter what it looks like, our family will be full of love and support.

Elsha

Sometimes I wonder how I got lucky enough to marry a guy who also wants a big family. I'm the middle of 5, and he's one of 7 (oldest of his mom's but somewhere in the middle of the blended family) and we both love the big family dynamic.

Also, I've experienced both sides of the age difference thing. I came 4 years after my brother but only 14 months before my sister. 4 years is kind of a lot when you're young, but once you hit 18 or so it stops being such a big difference.

Sonetka

Being rather subfertile myself I was thrilled to end up with a 3.5 year age difference with my two, and so far it's going pretty well, for the most part. My son does like to push the baby's buttons, but he also loves "reading" to her and showing her how he does things so she can "do them when get bigger!" He also taught her to blow raspberries. Really, I think any age difference can work, and if Third Baby ends up being the last, and with the biggest age gap, it could end up like my youngest brother (18 years younger than me, 9 years younger than my next-youngest sibling) and get lots of perks associated with being the official baby of the family.

As for Third Baby and a potential Fourth Baby, the obvious solution is to have twins :).

annie

Christopher was 20 months old when Jake was born. Jake will be 18 months old when #3 is arrives in November. When we got pregnant with #3, I was anticipating a pregnancy "within the next couple of months"...like, you know, after Jake's 1st b-day, the way it happened the first time. (well, the 2nd, I guess.) The issue? Tim didn't have a job. And HADN'T had a job in a long time. (Long story.) The second issue? I wasn't ready to be pregnant again. Have a baby? Yes! GROW a baby? Uh, not really. And, MAGGIE! It was so hard because Tim was SO EXCITED and I was so stressed out and anxious. Anxious about telling people - esp. those who knew our Job Status Situation. Anxious about the Job Status. Anxious about another pregnancy. Anxious about the fact that we clearly have NO HANDLE WHATSOEVER on the NFP thing and what is going to happen after #3 arrives and we're "done" (as much as faithful Catholics can be "done")??!?!?!?

Tim was quick to remind me that God's plan for our family was bigger than our current situation and bigger than my anxiety over the whole thing. That we had been blessed with another child, another LIFE. That he was answering our prayers and our desire to grow our family. And, you know, all of that "God's timing is not your timing" STUFF that no one ever likes to hear.

We take our Catholic Faith quite seriously, and I really felt like postponing pregnancy #3 was the appropriate course of action. Turns out that God and #3 had different plans. Now, three months away from #3's arrival, I'm cool with it. (Didn't take too long for that to happen, actually). I'm still scared to death about what happens AFTER - we'd have more if we could, but certain health issues (as you know) make us think that three is our limit. Anyway - ramble ramble ramble. Just wanted to share with you that I know your anxiety - on both sides of the coin. Baby #3, when he or she is blessed to join your family will be happy and perfect because he will be loved by the four of you. That single factor is more important than any amount of timing.

Kelly Hardin

We're debating #3 as well. Its difficult because I don't want too much space between the kids. My first two are 20 months apart and I feel like I'm counting down the months now (as of right now #3 would be 21 months apart from #2, next month #3 would be 22 months apart etc). I personally would be fine being in an uncomfortable living situation for a SHORT TIME if I knew we were moving soon. (we'd have to move - we're in such a small space) I just get nervous because my husband is "just fine" with 2. I was an only child and I would like a bigger family - more people around etc. Its all very difficult to sort through.

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