Immediately after my second baby was born, I was in this honeymoon-like euphoria of motherhood. My daughter who had just turned three was a potty-trained ninja, sweeter than pie, constantly giggling, happy kind of girl wrapped in pink bows and pig tails. My newborn little boy had this perfect olive skin and thick dark brown hair with huge brown eyes. He was a perfect breastfeeder, a wonderful sleeper, he never cried, and he gave me the fastest and most pain-free labor and delivery a woman could ask for (thank God for epidurals, ladies!). I was nailing the motherhood thing. I felt on top of the world. Two babies? EASY! Three? Why not, I thought.
My husband, however, was less enthused.
“A third baby!?!”
“It will be great! We can just have one more back to back and then we can be done. The sooner we’re out of the baby stage, the sooner we can get back to having more US time!”
“But a THIRD one?”
“Well we have some time to think about it. I’m not even having periods. We can just practice for now.” (The magic words every husband wants to hear.)
“When can we start?”
The first few months after having our baby boy, everything was going so smoothly. I really couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. My husband remained on the fence about adding another little one to our crew but I stayed steadfast on my gut instinct to expand our family. Until one unforgettable day. The day started off like any other day and my youngest woke up to nurse early in the morning. But unlike his usual zest for his morning milk, that day he turned away from me and cried. And he didn’t stop there. He began not eating at all. He was starving himself, and at just 5 months old he was exclusively breastfed so this was a big problem. We tried giving him a bottle. That didn’t work. He was starting to lose weight. Our doctor sent us to an allergist to see if he was struggling with something I was eating. Nope, not that, all clear. We couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t eat. After several weeks of trying different formulas and bottles and temperatures of milk, and many many tears from baby and me, he finally started eating again. But my days of nursing him were over. I felt like a failure. I quickly slipped off my high horse and decided maybe I’m not so great of a mother after all. My own baby didn’t even want me anymore. I was crushed. After some deep reflection, I decided that I was no longer willing to try for a third baby. This decision wasn’t made lightly. My husband, probably relieved, comforted me and agreed that he thought our family was complete.
For several weeks, I couldn’t get past my failure to breastfeed. I felt like a lesser mother. I felt like I failed my little boy. What had caused the change, I wondered. Could it be me? Was it my diet? My exercise routine? My weight loss? Maybe my hormones have changed? Wait… could I be…? No! Not possible.
I had this crazy thought to buy a pregnancy test. I mean, the chances of me being pregnant were close to nil. I hadn’t had a period in several, several months. We had only been “not careful” once. Pregnant? No! But I guess there was a chance. So what was one pregnancy test? No big deal, really. Until it came back positive.
No. Freaking. Way.
I had just made up my mind that I was NOT going to have another baby. I knew my husband was not going to be thrilled. Let alone, I already accepted that my body was done making babies. Uterus: CLOSED! Heart: FULL! No more room! Plus, we had just received word that his military orders were getting cancelled and we didn’t know where our future was headed financially. I was terrified to tell my husband. To tell anyone really. I felt embarrassed. I went to bed that night silent, holding my secret within, not even telling my husband. The next morning, he went to work and I prepped myself the entire day to have the conversation with him when he arrived home. He was going to be upset, shocked, disappointed, stressed. And I had to be the one to tell him.
As soon as he walked in the door, I asked him to sit down.
“No! What’s wrong? Tell me!”
(Tears flowing down my cheeks.)
“I figured out why Hudson stopped nursing. I know why he didn’t like my milk anymore.”
“Ash, whats wrong?”
“I’m 8 weeks pregnant”
(Just don't make eye contact. Look down.)
As I prepared myself for my husband to be scared, anxious, or even disappointed, he had quite the opposite reaction. He just walked over to me, put his arms around me and held me. He smiled. He told me I was wonderful, beautiful, and that he was happy there was a little baby growing inside of me again. If he felt stressed out, he didn’t show it. If he felt scared, I couldn’t tell. He just loved on me. He almost seemed. . . excited.
Over the next several weeks, I remained silent and didn't share the news with anyone else. I pretended like it wasn’t really happening and went along my business. I didn’t embrace the pregnancy with warm and fuzzy feelings. I’m a terrible person and mother, I thought. I shifted my focus on trying to find acceptance. Trying to connect with the alien taking over my body when all I wanted to do was cuddle up to my baby the way things once were.
We decided to tell our families when I finally felt ready. No time really felt right, but we would find ourselves all on vacation together at Disneyland and I needed to tell them eventually. I was 13 weeks and I wasn’t going to be able to participate in everything and go on many of the rides that I usually would be first in line for. I decided I would tell everyone over breakfast on the first day. So there, in no fancy way, I just blurted it out, “we’re having another baby. Surprise!” No cheering ensued. No clapping. No smiles. Someone even said, “NO!” I guess they felt the same way I had felt the past few weeks. Terrified. After the initial shock played itself out, my family accepted that ready-or-not baby #3 was on the way. The timing certainly wasn't ideal, but the deed was done and it was time to be happy.
Over the next several weeks, I would finally come to terms with this pregnancy. I decided to do things differently. I decided not to find out the sex of the baby to give myself something to look forward to. I decided I would do my best to bring the baby into the world with a natural, epidural-free delivery (if you caught my post on my first delivery, you will know this was going to be quite a challenge). I channeled my inner hippie and binged watched every documentary I could find on natural labor, delivery, and midwifery. I youtubed the most calm and natural live births that women so openly shared with the world. I came across some pretty strange ones, too! I researched doulas and considered getting my own certification to become one. I meditated with the baby and tried to connect with her (because I was a convinced I was having a little girl who I would name Georgia). And over time, my heart changed. I began to really love this little person growing inside me. I couldn't imagine our life without this little guy or girl. I grew more and more connected and excited to meet this new person that would make our home a house of five.
Before I knew it, 39 weeks passed. I went in for my weekly check up and my doctor was startled by my high blood pressure and didn’t feel it was safe for me to continue with the pregnancy much longer. I would need to be induced the next morning. There went my hopes and dreams for a completely natural birth but I could still go in with no pain medication. I was prepared for this. I had done all my research. I was ready! It was game time.
As my husband and I drove to the hospital early in the morning before the sun was even up, I reflected on all that had happened. This new baby, who I was once very afraid to allow into my life, was about to enter this world and I couldn't have been more excited. I had experienced so many different emotions over the past nine months: shock, frustration, acceptance, and finally real happiness.
After 6 hours of all-out, no room for wimps, someone-get-me-a-gold-medal-because-I-freaking-earned-it NATURAL labor, I welcomed my third baby. A big, long and lean baby boy. Wait, excuse me? Can you repeat that? Yes, boy! He cried more than my other two babies did when they were born and he really hasn't stopped wanting to be heard ever since. He definitely lives up to being the baby of the family and life has changed dramatically since he entered this world.
Something I hear many moms say when they are about to have their second baby is, "I love my first child so much, will I have room in my heart for my second child?" The answer is no. You won't have room in your heart. Your heart has to double with the second one, triple with the third, and so on in order to completely contain all the love you will have for your children. So here I am, with a triple-sized heart and trusting that my plans are not always what is best for me and my family. Plans change. Surprise pregnancies happen. And I wouldn't trade this little guy for anything!
Check these out!