Three years, three babies. Sometimes I cannot believe that myself.
I have been pregnant or nursing since March of 2012, and I can say with confidence that I was totally done having babies four months and two weeks ago. Done and done. I was too sick in the first trimester, and my varicose veins were too puffy in the third. I was exhausted and irritable, sleep was elusive, toddlers were needy, and I just knew that being pregnant again was off the table.
This third baby of mine is as sweet as they come, and he has been since the day he was born. In fact, I hardly remember life without him.
(I hardly remember anything these days, but that is a whole other thing.)
I think for every mama, there is “before and after” with every baby. I was one person before Harper, and another after. And I was one kind of mother as a mom to one baby and a different one when Cannon joined us. And now there are three, and I have never had to dig to such deep places of resolve in my life.
Three babies has meant a lot of things to me, the first and most obvious is learning to cope with the absence of sleep (amen, mamas?). I’m guessing the amount of times all three children have slept consecutively more than six hours since Jordi was born would be around five. Five nights in four months where no one in the house woke up for six straight hours. Sometimes I sure miss my college days.
And besides learning to operate with limited shut-eye, three babies has meant a minivan, and the most attractive display of me crawling over, through, and around seats to buckle the three-year-old in the back. It has meant a lot of time at home, because taking a chance that the big carts will be unavailable at the grocery is just too uncertain. It has meant we eat a lot of Panera and even more quesadillas, because the odds of all three children not needing something for thirty solid minutes between 3:30 and 5:00pm are slim to none.
Three babies has meant I do a lot of things I “never” thought I would as a mom: you want a third fruit snack? Fine. You’ve had your diaper on all day? Well it was only pee so you’re ok. Cannon has a sharp object in his hand? Well, I’m nursing a fussy baby so ‘hey three-year-old, will you just grab it from him and carefully bring it to mommy?’ (Kidding on that last one. It wasn’t that sharp of an object.)
Three kids has felt like a lot more than two kids. No more man-to-man defense. Sometimes more than one babysitter necessary.
Every time I pick this boy up I am reminded of joy: no small thing in our world these days. Jordi teaches me again about the unmerited blessing that a baby truly is, and of the sweet praise I want to sing to Jesus for each moment I have to be a mama. His chubby cheeks are gloriously kissable. He wakes up with a smile on his face, and loves to be tickled underneath his double chin. And when I sing to him, he purses his lips with the softest, sweetest coo, almost like he knows that melody is just for him in that moment and he’s telling me how much he loves it.
This fleeting season of motherhood is one in which I am stretched thin in different ways by each child. It’s hard sometimes, because anxiety and fear and the worry that I am failing are unwelcome friends of mine. But the good far outweighs the hard. I just love this job. I can’t do it alone, but Jesus is teaching me every day that I can do it with him. And my third baby, he has been everything I needed and more to truly learn that.
Maybe we are done having kids. I’ll answer that next year. Or maybe I won’t. I cannot imagine only having three, and I cannot imagine having four—so there’s that for clarity. But I know this for sure: my hands are full but my heart is fuller.
And I don’t even care that I’m ending on a cliché.