You Just Know When You’re Done.

We were sure we didn’t want another child. I sat outside with our neighbours in Canada, baby monitor in one hand, glass of wine in the other and declared “We’re done, three is our limit”. Everyone agreed, one of the neighbours said “you just know when you’re done, don’t you” it was a statement, not a question. And I did. I was done.

For about six more months.

And then I wasn’t so sure.

As I looked through the camera lens at the three little travelers, snapping away as the third traveler was being dressed in a tutu by his two older sisters, there was a feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Later that night as I loaded the photos on to my computer I stared at the pictures again. Something didn’t look right. And then I realized, there was someone missing.

It made no sense when I ran through the logistics. We had three perfectly healthy children, four would surely be pushing our luck that little bit too far. We were exhausted and living on a very tight budget, having a baby meant less sleep and a couple of extra items on the shopping list each week. I wanted to go back to work while I was living in a country that I could. I’d worked in recruitment for years and was yet to see a job description that included “candidate must be pregnant, about to give birth and in need of maternity leave and modified hours”.

So why was my mind in a state of constant silent debate with itself over the pros and cons of another baby?

I was living in a world where I complained on a daily basis about being sleep deprived, about having little people pull at my shirt mid sentence demanding “now” and “want”. How could it be that I was considering adding to the chaos?

We were sitting in the park watching the three of them run up and down a hill, when I decided I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer “Do you ever feel like there’s someone missing?” I asked. As G tends to do, he thought for a moment, looked towards the hill, and back to me. He knew the question was loaded. It was a question that would begin a chain of events that would gain momentum and have us once again sitting in front of that bloody excel spreadsheet, trying to budget for four flights to Australia instead of three. It was another car seat, another school uniform, another doctors appointment, another set of teeth to be cleaned.

“Yeah, I do…” his voiced trailed off “but there are some days that I’m so exhausted and so scared to mess with what we have that I’m just not sure”. I felt exactly the same way.

And that’s how it began.

For a month I would ask the same question at the end of each day. “Is today a day you could have another baby?” G would give a definite yes or a definite no (or a definite corny ‘today’s the day I’d like to start practicing’). At the end of the month, we tallied our responses. It was a definite yes.

We were back outside with the neighbours, once again there was wine and a baby monitor. A family that lived a few doors down had three older children than ours, they were ten years further into their story than we were. They were talking about when their children were younger, they’d had a death in the family right at the time that they would have considered a fourth child. The overwhelming grief over the loss of a parent meant that a piece of time had slipped by, they felt they’d missed their chance. With the benefit of time and hindsight, our neighbour said something to us both that cemented the decision.

“You may regret not having another baby – but you’ll never regret the baby that you had”.

We decided to complete the picture.

And of course, now we can’t imagine a picture without him.

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