by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
Sometimes (all the time) when I look at my life I can’t believe I have three kids. When I run from room to room prying dried Play-Doh from the coffee table, removing colored chalk from little mouths and cleaning poop off of the carpet (you read that right and those so-called miracle carpet cleaners? Not so much) it seems unfathomable that I did this on purpose - well, not exactly on purpose, the twins thing falls under the umbrella of me planning and God laughing (note to God: not that funny). More than two years ago I had it so good with one mild mannered, yet plenty energetic toddler daughter and was quite content with the status quo, so why, did I suddenly see the need to rock the boat? Why does anybody?
Immediately after having Elby, I truly thought I firmly fell into the “one and done” camp. Even though plenty of my new mommy buddies were of the “two and through” variety, I had not been totally convinced to even have one let alone more and I thought that one baby was challenging enough. As time wore on though I became less certain of my stance and not a little jealous of the women who seemed so clear about the number of children they wanted.
When Elby was about eighteen-months old, I started unofficially polling women on how they knew they wanted another baby. A few of these women already had two kids, some were newly knocked up and one, my friend Lara, was ready to pop. I met Lara when our babies were seven-months and she was always pretty decisive. We shopped daycares together back in the day and while I would have stayed for the entire tour at each and every place, one withering glance from Lara told me all I needed to know and saved me quite a bit of time. She was the perfect person to quiz on the whole “how did you know you wanted another” thing.
“It’s just something I always knew. Kids should have a sibling,” she said, in a completely Lara-esque way as if telling me you don’t serve soup with a fork. My husband thought this too but it didn’t seem so obvious and simple to me. For one, new babies are a lot of work, no sleep, messy, requiring bottle cleaning and baths and diapers. Plus, there are no guarantees that siblings will even get along. On the other hand, I was so in love with Elbs, it was starting to seem a little sad to only get to do it once. I was stuck which wasn’t surprising given that I have trouble deciding which type of peanut butter to buy at the grocery store; crunchy or creamy, salted or unsalted, Jesus do I even need peanut butter at all? It’s a wonder I managed to decide to have the first kid.
Another friend of mine had made the decision to stop at one child and seemed quite content. “It really came down to money and freedom,” she said breezily. “We realized that starting over with another baby would make it extremely difficult to travel, plus we’d need another bedroom and we don’t have the space.” We didn’t have the space either but it didn’t stop me from obsessing. I Googled “having one child” and then scrolled through message boards and websites extolling the benefits of having one kid. But doing that also made me more aware of the many people who pined for another baby and couldn’t have one which made me realize that at forty, it was downright cocky to think that I could just “decide” either way. It was highly likely that my uterus would have other plans – like retirement.
A couple of weeks after my conversation with Lara, she gave birth to her son, Daniel. I came over to her house when he was only days old, took one whiff of that delightful baby head and went into immediate hormonal overdrive. All thoughts of stinky diapers were replaced by the visceral smell of new baby and I wanted one for myself - yesterday!
It was during a wine fueled conversation with Jon that night that we semi-decided to try for another baby. “You need to be sure,” Jon said, clearly worried about my fickle nature, which I found ridiculous. “I would never have another baby on a whim. Give me a little credit here.” Jon looked at me doubtfully. “Well, let’s agree not to do any kind of fertility treatments if I don’t get knocked up” I added, just to give myself a loophole. “If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.” And that’s approximately the moment that God had his obnoxious attack of the giggles. What a dick.
We all pretty much know what happened after that: eight months of a twin pregnancy from hell, followed by a lengthy NICU stay, months of colic, a ton of medical bills, post partum depression and the expense of adding a new room to our house. But, and I know how cliché this sounds, when Matilda holds out her arms to me and says in her tiny girl voice, “I want up” and when Sadie leans in to give me a kiss right smack on the lips, I know how insanely lucky I am and that I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, God, sorry I called you a dick, I know you had my best interests at heart. But, FYI, I had my tubes tied just in case. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some vomit to scrub out of the crib bumpers.