Dear Non-Existent Third Child,
I hate that I am writing you this letter and I hate that you do not exist. I could elaborate on all the things that I would love to share with you, or my dream birth (ha!…you don’t even know…), but I’ll save that for another letter.
For now, I want to write about all the things I’ve felt these last 11 months wanting to have you – to get pregnant. It’s honestly been quite the emotional roller coaster because you represent a lot at this stage in my life. This now, almost 30-year-old body, that won’t have half her kids in her 20’s – according to my original Family Plans of six (now you know, Universe). Oh man, did I confuse biology and reality – I thought one right after the other each of you would come.
As with most of my Mom letters, I like to compare my kids – because it says a little about what makes them a Bennett and what makes them uniquely individual. Marin was and is my Golden Girl – off without a hitch we went! From finding out we were going to try for our August girl to the positive pregnancy test two weeks later, the surprise announcements to Daddy and family turned out beautifully, and the inevitable call to Grandpa Bennett to tell him the Bennett predisposition to having only boys had come to a screeching halt – well, that was just plain fun and games.
Enter a conversation with our ped at Marin’s 1-year Well Care visit, and her perchance comment to say “So when are you trying for a second?” with a confident grin and my hip feeling just about back to speed it seemed so obvious to go for #2. The combination of being in love with your Daddy, having the sweetest daughter to share, and being foolishly naive about the fact that children do indeed cost money – well, there we were. And we stayed there. Longer. 6 months longer than with Marin. And I carefully added the months between those two, and when he didn’t come in June, I was ok with breaking that tradition. And when their age gap went past two years, I thought it’s ok I can’t say “#twoundertwo” or some stamp that my motherhood was *hard* – but you know, I’m like, crushing it because I put it on Instagram.
But as the story goes, he came…wait, A HE CAME?! Not a girl? Ok, well, that’s cool because he’s healthy and awesome and like probably the most goofy 2-year-old on the planet today. But that took a little getting used to. I just imagined a sister for Marin and kinda went with it despite everyone telling me otherwise (even probably my own intuition).
I did get used to the he-bit. But the one thing I didn’t get over? That the second he came out (I don’t think there was any time separation here), I immediately thought and felt “I CANNOT WAIT TO DO THAT AGAIN”. Oh man, Isaac, really, really paved the way for you – that longing, man, it just stuck. And when I forget what I want, I come back to it. Nowadays, often.
And I have seen baby, after baby, after baby be born since (because I teach childbirth education and attend births as a doula currently). And I have seen the friends who we said we’d coordinate our pregnancies get pregnant and have their babies. And I have had the friends ask if everything’s ok and I’ve felt the wonder if maybe it’s me and Mike? Or maybe it’s me? Or should someone ask? Or will it just make me sad? And I have been asked probably the worst-feeling question of them all – “Don’t you have enough with two?”
So, I’ll make it perfectly clear – yes, I do. I do have enough with two. I kiss them and I hug them with the love I have left over from not having you (yet). And when I tell them I love them, I tell them I love them with the love I have for you too. And I have not felt empty – I do not want you out of emptiness or need. I want you because I want you. Because there is space in my heart still for you. A nook and cranny unseen, unheard, unnoticed – silently hoping you’ll come home to it. And maybe that’s why I’m in such a weird predicament.
I always thought I’d have babies because I just couldn’t live without having another one. But now, I see my two, and I see that after each of them, my heart has been filled beyond its former capacity. To a point I can’t imagine increasing. The space has grown, the chasm widened. Because now it’s not just my heart that wants you, it’s the hearts I’ve created with Daddy wanting you too. It’s some odd form of unprecedented multiplication – the way they love you, and the way you love them back, and the ways you grow without me with them. It’s exponential. Incalculable, really. And it’s the stuff that puts a Hallmark card to shame.
I see the less adorable realities at face value too. That once unbelievable and now laughably obvious fact, that children do cost money, or that having a house is worth saving for. I see the benefit of swim lessons or ordering a pizza on a Friday night. I see the summer road trips and the weekends away with Daddy (not necessarily now, but in the window of the not-so-distant future). I feel the rest of a full night’s sleep and how nice it is to rarely pump. I see the orderly schedules and the gym routines. I see the limited space on my lap, and feel the joy of reading “one more book” without a crying baby to rush to bed. And I see the kids’ room with his and hers bunk beds (laid out in my mind, anyways) taking up only one bedroom of Boston real estate.
So now my heart and my logic duke it out. They go tit for tat and they don’t play nice. Am I foolish? Am I selfish? Am I crazy? How can you put a price tag on a baby? A sibling? Who wants to go back to drowning when you’ve just gotten up for air? Often, the questions silently plague my mind because I’m too scared to ask them out loud. Not because I can’t ask them outright to myself, but because someone else could hear them too. And I’m afraid to create a foothold for the nonchalant “helpful” advice or a casual remark. Who has space to be sad, confused and vulnerable with an open invitation for a tourist’s two cents of your life?
It’s worth noting that this process has likely stalled from still breastfeeding Isaac. And it’s likely that my workload and Daddy’s hasn’t helped either. But what are we going to do? Do I wean him? Do we have Daddy work more, and me work less? Or the other way around? And I keep coming back to this one real dilemma – how do I put life on hold for my Non-Existent Third Child if that’s what it takes to have an Existent Third Child? I keep waiting for my nights to slow down – to not be an opportunity for me and Daddy to catch up on work or household tasks. I keep waiting for Isaac to not want to nurse anymore. Or never wake up at night. I keep waiting for life to come together in such a way that it says “it’s time”. And while that’s not happening, I know in my heart that I don’t want for things to change to make more room for you. I want you to make room by existing and demanding we do something about it.
Now I realize that I want having a third to be as easy as having a first. Or at least a second kid. But now, it’s more like having my cake and eating it too. I didn’t have to make this decision with Marin, and with Isaac, it didn’t end up coming down to this. Now, it’s reading about my adrenals glands and reducing stress. It’s charting cycles and having sex when you’re tired. It’s making romance in the form of Saturday pancakes and in a random text to say you’ll be home on time. It looks so, so different – way different than I thought – but my dream of and for you has not left.
Our nest still has room for you in it. We’ll do our best to get ready for you – even before you exist – but in the meantime, know we hope to meet you soon. If we’re lucky, you’ll be a Christmas baby – and don’t you doubt for a second that I won’t have a tree wrapped in lights for your debut. And if not, we’ll still be lucky whenever we meet you in 2018 or beyond. But hurry up, I want to meet you, and know you, and hold you and kiss every little inch of you. And this time, I don’t care at all whether you’re a boy or a girl because you’ll be my Existent Third Child and I love you no matter what.