The eternal question: How do you know when your family is complete? Google produces few helpful answers. The most common response seems to be "you just know." I've asked moms who have declared their families complete how they knew they were done. Evidently, they "just did."
Phil and I always talked in terms of three kids. Scratch that. When we started dating we talked numbers right away. He said two. I said three or four. I knew my family line up while they were just a twinkle in the sky. Boy, boy, girl...
I miscarried my first pregnancy at 7 weeks 5 days. Upon seeing those glorious pink lines I began shopping right away for gender neutral baby apparel. It seemed a real possibility to have either a son or a daughter. Speculation ran wild for those three short weeks.
The pregnancy ended in a blighted ovum--the earliest of stages of a baby that was not meant to be. My only pregnancy during which I never had any gut feelings about the baby's gender.
When I became pregnant with our son, I wasn't more than eight weeks along before I purchased the bedding for his bedroom: antique police cars from Pottery Barn Kids, in honor of his dad. It would be months before the baby's gender would be revealed in an ultrasound but, in my heart, I knew the child growing inside of me was my son. My baby boy. The firstborn I had always imagined. It wasn't even a true surprise during my 20 week ultrasound when my suspicions were confirmed. I had known all along.
As my pregnancy with baby number two bumped along, my heart told me from the beginning that this child was our second boy; Philip's baby brother. But this time I let doubt creep in a bit more as the anatomy scan drew near. Maybe it could be a girl? So many strangers, upon seeing me pregnant and out and about with my one year old son, even went so far as to ask "is it a girl?" before they even knew how far along I was. Possibly this could be our daughter? Maybe we would have one of each and be done? But I knew better. And when the tech confirmed that Andrew was a boy, I thought to myself, of course he is. I always knew that.
Now I had two sons and well-meaning family assumed (sometimes even decided) we were done. Statistics even told me a third child after two children of the same gender was more likely to be the same gender as its siblings than the opposite gender. But my heart longed, nay ached for a daughter (a subject for another post). Of course, I knew I wanted three children, be the third boy or girl, and expanding our family was a decision made on our desire to add another member to it rather than to "try for a girl." I didn't feel complete after my second child was born, at least I know that for sure. I knew that, God willing, I'd be back on that maternity floor delivering our third child. It was just a matter of when.
I got pregnant with our third child in April of 2012 and the desire to know what we were having was all consuming. So much so that I couldn't wait for the anatomy scan this time to find out. Instead I went at 16 weeks and paid to have a gender reveal scan done. I'm not ashamed to say that I wanted to know if we were expecting a boy or a girl before everyone else would also expect to know. If we were having our third boy, I wanted to deal with any feelings I may have had over not having the girl I was hoping for in private. My sister-in-law had a baby girl in 2011. My sister found out she was expecting a girl in 2012. It was a club I was so hoping to become a member of. And when the tech typed the words It's a... GIRL up on that screen my heart seemed to both stop and explode at the same time. How lucky was I to have the family I had always imagined? Three beautiful, healthy children. Two boys and a girl. My dreams made into my reality in four and a half short years' time.
Now our family would feel complete. Right? Surely I would leave that hospital the following January with the feeling that everyone was present and accounted for and my husband could finally breathe a sigh of relief. ;) But almost nine months later I still don't have that contentedness I was hoping to have. While I know that if we were to be done having children right now I'd feel more peace than I would have felt had we stopped after Andrew was born, I know I would not feel total peace. And as much as the idea of another nine months of sickness and agony makes me want to call up my O.B. and ask for that birth control prescription he keeps reminding me is available, my thoughts of one empty seat at the kitchen table, one open seat in the back of the minivan, continue to creep into my mind on a daily basis. Maybe someone is still missing after all?
Thankfully my husband continues to be open to the possibility of just one more. Neither of us has made up our mind either way; only time will tell. In the meantime, I'm not parting with the baby clothes until I too "just know."