Thursday, August 23, 2012

2/3, 4/5

and now we are...
It's always the post I'm needing most to write that is somehow the hardest to write.  For months - for most of this year - I've been telling myself that this post has to be written.  For a week I've had a draft open.  Today I'm going to write it.  Today, right now, here we go...

Evie suddenly and almost miraculously and definitely surprisingly potty trained last week.  What?  All that introduction for this post and I'm talking about potty training?  Yes.  Yes I am.  Because I knew potty training Evie was something we needed to do, but I kept putting it off.  And I really did not believe or even dream that it would happen in a matter of two or three days, that one day we would give it a go and she would just be ready.  And here I am, a week later, with a closet full of diapers which we no longer need.  We had just recently received a new diaper delivery, too, so I'm guessing there are about 250 of them crammed into the girls' already stuffed-to-the-brim closet next to eight packs of baby wipes and one brand new pack of swimmie diapers.  We also have one stack of gorgeous, natural, re-useable diapers and covers that I never could quite get the hang of, and I know that three or four half-used tubes of diaper creams are stashed all over the house, too, including the two tucked into the little first-aid kit in the diaper bag I no longer need.

Jimmy moved the Diaper Genie out to the garage over the weekend, which reminds me, I just bought a refill for that thing on my last trip to the store.  That sucker was nearly eight bucks, too.  And I know I should try to return it, I should donate the diapers, and I should throw out most of the diaper cream.  Those wipes will absolutely get used on ice-cream-smeared faces and finger-smudged laptop screens, but in a 710 square foot house, who has room to keep the rest of it?

To make matters worse, we spent last weekend shopping for bunk beds for the girls.  Lena is a little thing, but we do have to go in and tuck her arms and legs back into her toddler bed every night after she falls asleep.  And Evie, oh, she's been able to climb in and out of her crib for months, now, which is an embarrassing state of affairs.  I KNOW I was supposed to move her out of a crib the second she could do that.  But I didn't.  Partly because she really only climbs into the crib, for some unknown reason that I will never complain about, so she always has a soft landing ahead if she were to happen to fall.  And partly because I've been putting off the decision of what to move her into next.  The room is just too small for two twin beds, though, and after looking at all of our options I think we're going to have to spring for bunk beds.  The girls are ecstatic.

And I am dreading it body and soul.  The bunk beds will go in, the crib will go out, the crib bedding I hunted down for months when I was pregnant with Lena will go out, the rocking chair my parents bought for our babies will go out, the toddler bed will go out.  And we don't have room to store all of those things.  At least, not in a garage that is already crammed full of baby clothes and blankets and bottles and a high chair and an exersaucer.  Baby toys.  Baby shoes.  The monkey mirror we used in the car that Lena and Evie both absolutely adored when they were babies. All of it is sitting in there, taking up space, collecting dust.

I am not a packrat by any means - in fact I really love to get rid of anything I can whenever I can - but that big pile of baby gear out in the garage has been screaming at me for over a year, now.  I absolutely cannot decide what to do with it.  It should probably go, but if it goes, we're saying we won't need it anymore, and that breaks my heart.  So maybe we should keep it, but keeping it means we're saying we'll use it again, and that terrifies me.  So I've spent the last year just trying to ignore it.

I've never had such a difficult time with a big decision.  Choosing a college was hard, but in the end, the right doors just opened and the other doors closed.  Moving to Los Angeles was chasing a dream, and so I chased without too much thought, because I could and there really wasn't anything else for me to do at the time.  Making the decision to marry Jimmy was cake.  Deciding to have our first baby was more of an imperative than it was a decision (for me, anyway).  A second baby took a little thought, but it seemed natural.  And now, for some reason, suddenly, trying to decide whether we should stop where we are or go for a third baby feels I don't know what.  Like choosing whether or not we should move to Mars, maybe.  I mean, Mars, wow.  It would be totally different than life as we know it, and it might be hard forever, but it's Mars!  It's a life-changing opportunity!  Who would regret that??

I didn't think it would be this hard.  Having babies has been flat-out the most amazing thing to ever happen to me.  I loved loved loved their baby kissy mouths and baby nibbly toes and baby squeaky grunty napping noises which more often than not kept me from getting much sleep myself, but it was so. darn. cute.  Nursing, when we got it to work, gave me purpose and meaning like nothing else ever has.  Even labor, as holy crap painful as it was, was maybe the closest thing to meeting God that I'll ever experience.  I mean that.  In the hour after Evie was born I remember saying that I wished I could give birth every weekend.  And I wasn't even medicated.  Delirious, maybe, yes, but that's kind of the point:  I'd give almost anything to experience that again.

What I'm not sure of is if I'm willing to give a third go at the toddler years in exchange for that experience.  Let's just say the toddler years are not my strong suit, and leave it at that, okay?  After three years of full-on all-toddler all-the-time action, I am tired, and worn out, and struggling for patience on a daily basis.  I'm hoping I'll be better at the kid years, but there's really no guarantee, and even if I am, could I handle three of them?  At once?  I just don't know.  I also don't know if we'll ever be able to afford the space for three kids, as right now we can barely afford space for two.  We would HAVE to get a bigger car.  And five plane tickets home for Christmas with my family - is that even a possibility?  One more airfare, one more admission ticket, one more college education, one more bed.  We don't even have room for a bassinet in this house, anymore.

I also like sleeping all night through, even if that is still only an occasional experience.  I like leaving the house without diapers.  I like that we're down to one nap a day, that life is getting more portable, that we're just now beginning to see the light that one day maybe maybe if we try really hard we might maybe possibly be able to go on a vacation.  To a new place.  For FUN.  Crazy!  The idea of travel is slowly becoming a little less elusive, and even just that possibility is practically mouth-watering.  TravelWow.

I don't know what to do.  I so equally want both things.  I want to be pregnant, I want to have another baby, I want to see my girls meet a new little sibling and watch them all grow up together.  I want to have three grown children one day.  I want two of them to call each other when the third is having a hard time so they can rally together and help, or plan surprise parties for each other's birthdays, or work out arguments, or remember exactly whose turn it was to call mom that week my gosh she's such a mom always needing us to check in, GEEZ.

But I dread going through the sleepless nights again, the endless toddler years again, the never-being-able-to-leave-the-house-or-even-shower-for-months-on-end again.  I'm afraid to quit taking my medication during the two years of pregnancy and nursing.  I'm afraid of not being able to afford another one, of not having enough time to give to the two we already have, of not being able to travel just for us, not to mention traveling to see our extended family.  I'm afraid of throwing a wrench into what is right now very very good.  We are not missing anything right now.  There is nothing wrong.  We could certainly all be happy and content as a family of four.  Why roll the dice again?

This is where I am right now.  I feel I need to make this decision, and I cannot make it.  I've thought it through and talked it out, I've had advice from everyone close to me.  (Some say the fact that I can't let it go means I should do it, and some say the fact that I have reservations is a sure sign I shouldn't.  Some say I'm crazy to consider another baby, some say I'm crazy to consider stopping.)  I've seen my therapist, I've talked to my psychiatrist, I've made the decision one way, then the other, then back and forth again.  I've tried putting it all away for a while, hoping an answer would come when I wasn't looking.  I've prayed.  I've read.  I've prayed.  I've meditated.  I've prayed.  I've waited.  I've prayed.  I've tried to will myself into having revelatory dreams, but really, nothing comes.  Nothing comes.  Jimmy has graciously left the decision up to me, and I have no answers.

No answers.

Last winter, at a party, a lady I didn't know told me that she could see a little boy - my future son - standing next to me.  She said he had straight, dark hair, and that he hid behind my leg when she looked at him.  She cried.  She is an actress.  It was a baby shower.  We were all drinking wine.  Was that real?  Or was that an actress, at a baby shower, after three glasses of chardonnay? 

I would set everything I own on fire if I knew it would give me an answer.

There are people close to me trying desperately to have children now, and so I realize that having this sort of crisis is an embarrassment of riches - or an assumption of future wealth -  I know.  And if only I could tell you how much I've tried to set it all aside.  Don't think about it, don't worry about it, just enjoy what we have right now.  And then one day my baby girl is potty-trained, and I have a closet full of diapers on hand, and I'm a mess of tears because I don't have babies anymore, and I don't know what to do.  And I love my growing-up girls, and I love my growing freedom, and I love the possibilities.  And I miss my babies.  And with Jimmy and I growing older, and our girls growing older, and the pile of baby things in the garage growing larger, I don't want to wait.  I want to move on.  I want to do it now.

I just don't know which way to move.


kittymclewin said...

I must say I have been there and have spent night laying terrified on my bed of just the idea of being pregnant again. It took awhile to realize that the uncertainty of the future wasn't the problem, but fear was. Useless old fear that is so loud that you can't hear your own heart tell you what you want to do...those desires God gives us. I did alot of conversing with God on this and He worked on me. Showed me not to listen to just push it out of the way so I can hear my heart and Him. It took time but changed my nights for sure.

And I think it's okay to get to your heart and still not know. "I don't know" is okay because it eventually works itself out into an answer through time. Patience is more the key...and sometime it takes only a day, an hour...sometimes it only takes the amount of time that it takes to stop thinking about for 5 minutes to know the answer.

Have you ever done this: When Chad asks me where I want to go on a date very often I can't decide...they don't happen as often as I'd like so I want to make a decision that will make me super happy- I don't want to waste it. So he'll flip a coin and say heads is this place and tails is the other place. When the coin hits the ground the decision is made- and when I see the decision made in front of me very often that is exactly when I KNOW I DON'T want to go to the place decided we go the other way...but sometimes it takes moving toward a solid decision to know what you really want. I don't know if that helps, but here's one more nugget that inspires me...Joshua 1:9- "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”...not only the "right" places but "wherever you go". :) It's hard to lose either go ahead and go your way with joy and peace.

melanie said...

Thank you, thank you so much for that, kittymclewin. <3 I appreciate your reading, your understanding, and your responding here. And you've given me some things to think about, too. *New* things, which is most helpful. It's going to take me some time to roll them all around in my head, but I will definitely be considering your words. THANK YOU.

MikeK said...

Yo. I have to agree a bunch with kittymclewin. I think the responsibility we feel in controlling our own destiny weighs heavy upon us. I think the control we have to NOT have kids maybe wasn't a decision we were meant to have. Isn't sex a natural act in the marriage when we want to feel as one? Since when did we become breeding stock? We see in the Bible ALL the time about God opening and closing the don't get me wrong, I'm not one who preaches against birth control, but you DID raise the questions....
It would be awesome in life if I could just go to the mailbox and open a letter from God and it told me what to do with every large decision I needed to make. Ultimately God is supreme and no matter what decision I make, he will still be God, and not put out or suprised by any decision I make. My life and the world will go on. Melanie, I pray God grants you "the peace that surpasses all understanding" when you rest in Him. When Lauren is fearful, and logic is not working to soothe her fears, I sometimes just need to ask her who I am. She says "Daddy." I ask her if I love her more than anything else. She says "yes" and giggles. I ask her if I know "just about everything." She smiles and says "yes." I then ask her if I would allow her to be anywhere where she might be hurt by a monster. She sighs, and says with a smile, "No!" :-) God, too, is trying to have us let go of our fears....

Beyond that, I've never heard anyone wish they never had their children. Sure, some look a bit haggard, but I know a family of 10 that homeschools and has an amazing household--mostly girls--well educated, mature, critical thinkers that will bless their parents until their dying day. Personally, I've come to see that we all serve someone. Either we serve our children, others that are in need, or ourselves. As long as we're not in that last batch, God can be glorified by our lives. Thank you, kittymclewin, for your last line. Well said! I wish I was as eloquent instead of my rambling!

melanie said...

MikeK - you weren't rambling, and I so appreciate your comment. Especially your story about soothing Lauren. Thank you. I am going to remember this.