Guest Post: Jen

I am happy to host Jen of Momalom today! I remember when I first met her (and her sister).  Another blog I follow mentioned these two and I clicked over.  It was blog love at first site.  Since then I have been a loyal follower and can happily call these two my friends.  Please enjoy Jen’s words here and hop on over to her blog for more fun!

Perfection in Three

By Jen

When I was pregnant with my first baby, the excitement I felt from others—friends, family, strangers––was palpable. People told me I was in for “the adventure of a lifetime,” that my life “would never be the same again,” that I should get as much of my life in order as possible, hinting that “once the baby comes” there wouldn’t be much time for anything else. People asked how I was feeling, if I knew if I was having a boy or a girl, if I’d be moving out of my small apartment, how my mother had reacted to the news of a second grandchild. They asked if I’d keep working, if I was eating tuna, if I had bought a crib yet. I was bombarded with personal questions, received loads of unsolicited opinions and advice and was left feeling like finally I was going to belong to a club worth its salt.

When I was pregnant with my second baby—only eight months after my son was born—I was greeted with (now) amusing reactions such as, “You know how this happens, right?” and “Well, YOU didn’t waste any time!” I was asked again “Is it a boy or a girl?” And was met with absolute approval upon declaring that, indeed, it was a girl. (Our first was a son.) I was assured that my partner and I were on our way to creating the perfect family. Two parents. A son. A daughter. (Even in the correct order––an older brother being the guiding light of his younger sister.) There were fewer questions overall, and a lot less advice given. People, for the most part, expressed general happiness for me and my soon-to-be-perfect family.

When I was pregnant with my third baby, and toting around two children already, the oldest of whom was just barely 4, I often was met with a blank stare, even a look of pure befuddlement. Implied: Why would you have another baby? Clearly you already are overwhelmed. You knew you’d likely have “morning sickness” that lasts for months and sends you to the hospital. Why subject yourself—and your family—to such misery? Don’t you know you have arrived? You already have the “perfect family.” More than one person actually asked if I had considered getting a dog instead of having another baby.

It’s true. That third time around, I already was busy with two young children. I “looked” pregnant early on, and I was sicker than I had been in either of my previous two pregnancies. I also was exhausted enough from life in general not to be able to react emotionally to such ridiculous judgments. I let them slide off of me simply because my energies were needed elsewhere. But, here’s what I would have said: I wanted this baby. Our “perfect” is not neat. It’s not orderly. It’s not organized. A boy and a girl are not enough. Almost immediately after I gave birth to my second child I knew I wanted another. My family wasn’t yet complete. THIS baby will complete our family. I knew that in my gut. In my psyche. In my womb.

And so we had another. And now. Now I look into the dark eyes of my baby girl, who is really no longer a baby but will always be the baby of our family, and I can barely remember our life without her presence, her gestation, without the very idea of her. She always has been a part of us. And now, she is with us. And we ARE perfect. And even though I allow myself to wonder sometimes about what it would be like to have another baby, a fourth, I know that the family I have is truly complete now. A family that is the ideal size for me. For all of us. Two parents. Three kids. Just as it was meant to be.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Guest Post: Jen

  1. I had the same response when I had a girl and boy. People were flabbergasted that I would want more, since I already had the perfect family. Well, it wasn’t perfect for us, yet.

    Like you, I knew that my family was complete after our last child. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have more, but it is more idle curiosity than longing. The longing for another child no longer exists.

  2. Isn’t it amazing how other people fling their judgements and *their* idea of perfect onto others? For some, one is enough. For others, five. Some are just happy with a dog. Why can’t it just all be good, you know?

  3. Being an only child, I’m adamant that my little girl will have a sibling and while I haven’t even started “working on that” I’ve lately been toying with the idea of having three kids. Alas, my clock is a-ticking and my partner is none too thrilled.

    So two it is. For now.

    • jen

      What is interesting to me is how often women cite their own sibling–or non-sibling–experiences when thinking about how many kids they want. I am from a family of three kids, and each of us have three kids. Coincidence? IDK. Good luck with “working on that!”

  4. I am always surprised at how judgmental people are about child-bearing choices of others. Some choose to have no children. Why should they feel guilty about that?

    Others are comfortable with one. And for those who have only one, or more than two, there are often unrelenting questions and remarks – unsolicited.

    Personally, I would’ve been delighted to have three or four (and married a European with many siblings and from a large family, believing he wanted the same). It was a personal choice, a deep belief in the importance of family, and the fact that my own family was very small – all driving my desire to have three or four children. While I believe things worked out for the best, I am still wistful about the other children I might have had – my husband (after two) not wanting any more.

    In my opinion, part of reproductive freedom is respecting each couple’s desire to have the number of children they choose, or none at all, if that’s their decision.

    • jen

      Yeah, because really? What’s it to you if I have a dozen kids. Or none. As long as I’m responsible and loving, isn’t it all good?

  5. I love this. We do just KNOW. The completion of our family is ours to know. I’m so glad you let the judgments slide off of you. You’re not crazy, you were simply following your journey.

    • jen

      And WHAT a journey it is. Some days, like today, I think, MAN, life was EASY with two kids. What have I done??? (As my youngest climbs on to the table and empties the vase of forsythia. Or pulls the mint plant out by the roots. Or screams so loud in the backyard I’m sure someone is going to call 911. Or.) But, then, they are lovey, these kids. And very cute. Especially when they’re asleep. (Like now.)

  6. I’m with one child and it feels great but I wish I could tell the difference between idle curiosity v. feeling complete. Perhaps the clue here for me is that I don’t seem to feel much longing for a second.

    Thought-provoking post. Thanks.

    • jen

      Belinda, I think you’d know if you felt longing. For me, at least, it’s an undeniable, all-consuming feeling. And now, my instinctual response when asked if I’m going to have another is a resounding “NO.” Even though I’m curious about life with more. So, trust your gut. Your instincts. One may just be perfect for you and your family!

  7. Eva

    Beautiful. Your family just as it’s supposed to be.

  8. Thank you so much for this thought provoking guest post, Jen!

    I have learned that people’s opinions are just that–an opinion. They have no insight into your life and your family. It is not my place to tell you, Jen, or anyone else if they should or shouldn’t have any more children. It is also not another person’s place to tell me I shouldn’t keep adding to my family. The reactions I received when I was pregnant with Andrew were very similar to the responses you had when pregnant with your second. I am sure that when I do get pregnant again, people will make sure to express how they feel. Like you, I get horribly sick. It is rough.

    Yet, those people don’t feel the longing that I feel. I will know when my family is complete. Right now, it isn’t.

    • jen

      Thanks for the opportunity, Amber! Don’t you love those people who calculate in their heads (not so subtly) when your second baby was conceived as they stare at your first in his stroller and your growing belly. Tsk tsk. I actually had a co-worker say to me, “Well, we know what YOU’VE been doing.” What, exactly, am I supposed to say to THAT?

  9. I’m kind of at the other end, but I know exactly what you mean. I only have one, and people are always asking when I’ll have another. But, for me, one is right. One is perfect.

    • jen

      Yes! I hear this from friends of mine who have one child. They seem constantly to have to defend their decision to have “only” one. Thank you for bringing this perspective.

  10. Beautiful Jen. “Perfect” is so subjective. I can’t imagine my family with any more or less. And wouldn’t dream of judging anyone else for their choice either. What a perfect reflection of your world.

  11. unabridgedgirl

    I really enjoyed this guest post! And I am glad that you had three kids. Yay you for following your heart!

  12. ck

    My “perfect family” is not organized, either. Like you, I love myself a good mess.

    Awesome post, Jen! (Thanks for hosting her, Amber.)

  13. I had this pressure when I decided that Javi would be our only child. No one — including my doctors — would accept that I’d choose to never carry a child at all. Apparently a woman with an unused uterus is crazy and scary.

    I did wind up having a child and got the pat response: A boy + a girl = magic and the pressure fell away. However, through this, I’ve learned to keep my damn mouth shut about other people’s reproductive choices!

  14. Boy, did I need to read this today, as I’ve spent the day questioning my own reproductive choices. Three kids, for real? Why did I think I could do this when the two I already have are pushing Every Single Button?? The pregnancy hormones of doubt are a’ragin’, that’s for sure, but somewhere in that brain of mine, I know three is right for us … and I will remember why very soon, I hope. (Thanks for the reminder/unintentional pep talk!)