I know that the number and frequency of children you have can only be truly decided between you and your spouse and Lord. Still, what is blogging for if not to solicit random tidbits of advice from friends and strangers alike?
I am at a major crossroads in my child-bearing life. Some weeks back my mother and I were talking and I asked her why "4" seems to be such a magic number of children for people that I know. Before four kids, it seems like all kinds of random people will ask, "Do you think you'll have any more?" (Maybe this is this the case after four children as well?) She said that in her generation she felt that the magic number was 5. There are four children in my family, and mom felt like my youngest brother started school before people quit asking her if she was done.
It took 20 weeks for me to adjust to the idea of having a third son. By the time Captain Tootypants was born, I was okay with it. And now, I've accepted that I have to be careful to not end up in the middle of non-stop wrestling match at my house. I've accepted that my youngest is both the meanest and the sweetest of the three. I've accepted endless hand-me-down piles of brown and blue and green clothes that are nearly always muddy by days' end. I've even accepted the boy smell that permeates my bedroom and my kids' bedroom every morning. Some days I look at my life and think, "How did I get so lucky to have a houseful of exceptionally handsome men who each think I'm the center of their universe?" Other days I think, "Where is the daughter I have long-dreamed of?" There are days when mothering is so easy and I know that four would be nothing, and then there are other days when I want nothing more than to escape the drudgery of housework and diapers and referee-ing and, well, you get the picture.
I've had all my children for very different reasons--the first was obligation, the second was desire, the third was an act of faith. But if there is to be a #4 . . . .
This baby would have to be called "sacrifice," inasmuch as one baby can be seen as more of a sacrifice than another. We would be exceptionally crowded in our small house. We would have to think of some way to afford a payment on a bigger car. My additional schooling (and therefore earning power) would have to be put off a few more years. Even after a year of being here, I don't feel like I've really built the support system that I've had in other places--so necessary when you are hundreds of miles from any family members.
When I felt the powerful prompting to get pregnant with #3, despite Plantboy's schooling not being finished and no job on the horizon, and certainly no knowledge of where would be the following year, I took the biggest leap of faith I've ever made. I gave Plantboy about four days notice on the "I need to get pregnant now!" though we had discussed such a thing as being at least a year into the future. He prayed and he trusted me, dear man. I think I always knew there would be a great blessing attached to that decision; I hoped that blessing meant a baby daughter. The Lord knew my heart. If Captain Tootypants had been a girl instead, it would have probably taken a bolt of lightning for me to have had a fourth baby, and then my sweet baby would have never been a part of my life. My 20 weeks of adjustment over his birth was not just getting ready for a third boy; I think in my heart I was coming to terms with a fourth pregnancy.
I checked the blog of a friend today who just had her fourth baby: one of several friends in the last year to make this leap. Ever since my baby was about two months old, this battle within myself emerges about once a month. Jana's newborn has triggered these thoughts today. For "ideal" spacing, if I have a baby #4, I should get pregnant in about six months. The decision I keep telling myself can wait, cannot wait much longer.
Or maybe I've already made the decision--maybe it was made a long time ago--and my practical side cannot stop thinking about the awful logistics of such a decision. I'm struggling to do the will of the Father, knowing my heart is not in the right place. If I knew a girl was coming to us, I'd get pregnant tomorrow, logistics be damned. But the thought of a fourth boy makes me feel faintly naseous. Would I be able to love a fourth boy enough so that he never wondered if I had him just because I was hoping for a girl? Is a fourth child, for me, a total act of unselfishness since on paper it is pure insanity; or is my decision based on some completely selfish desire to have a daughter on the off-chance that she'll be the best friend I've ever had?