In a few weeks (possibly sooner) a friend will deliver baby #4. Her second daughter. When Will was born, her second child was nearing his first birthday and she had joked, “race you to 4!” Now she and many others I was pregnant with Will at the same time as have hit and passed 4.
And still we wait. I described it as a “holding pattern.” For a while we weren’t trying actively to get pregnant, but we weren’t trying not to either. Then we started trying. Jeff had hoped that by his landmark birthday this summer, we would be at 4. Not even close. We are officially now considered to have “secondary infertility.” I knew this could happen, I prepared myself mentally as much as I could, but it still hurts. It hurts when the boys see friends with new babies in their home and ask when they will get a new brother or sister. It hurts when I feel PMDD (for which I cannot take any medication because of my blood clotting disorder and refusal to take anti-depressants) rear it’s ugly head each and every month. It hurts when people ask we are done. Worse when they assume it (“Well, now that you are out of the baby stage for good…”).
Every now and then I get a little reprieve. The dentist tells me the damage from Will’s thumb sucking is minimal and since we are trying to potty train now, not to push him too hard to give up the thumb sucking too quickly. A last little reminder of the tiny baby he once was. We called him “the little baby” when he was born because we’ve always had trouble calling our kids by their names right away and Joey was still 20 months old. But he grew up so much more quickly than our first two did. He knew he had older siblings, he walked earlier, talked earlier, and initiated potty training on his own. I wasn’t ready for a mature third child. Even less so as time wore on and it appeared he could very well be our last baby.
Four. It was a number we both came from. One that felt comfortable. One we hoped for even when it looked like one might not happen. Now, while I don’t give up hope, I am turning my mind to three. A number we didn’t know if we would get to. A number we are thankful for. There are still difficult days. Sometimes I look at the pile of maternity clothes in my closet and think, I should just stop kidding myself and give them to Goodwill, God’s given us His answer, it was three. Then this nagging feeling crops up that maybe we aren’t done and it’s just God’s way of giving us a short reprieve so we can be better parents the fourth time around. Infertility is a mine-field. Every step you take could potentially be lethal to your happiness or your sense of expectation. I try so hard to focus on what is here and now. On the blessings of our family as it is. To think just one day at a time. But as time passes and families around us continue to expand, it’s hard not to be sucked into the vacuum of knowing it just is unknown and worrying and wondering.