Around this time last year I was sorting out the massive pile of laundry on our bed, when my Beloved (the med-student) got home for a brief break in the day before heading back into the hospital for the evening shift.He'd been doing his placement on the obstetrics ward for the previous three weeks and, being interested in all matters related to birth and birthing, I was keen to grill him as much as privacy laws allowed.
He looked solemn as he entered the room, and I was immediately on guard.
"I've got something to say. I don't think you're going to like it," were his first, cheery, words.
I backed up a pace. I might have even lifted up a pillowcase in defence.
Was he going to be away most of the night again? Work all weekend? The hours he'd been doing on the obstetrics rotation were massive.
"Okay, what is it?"
"I think we should have another baby."
Of everything I vaguely expected, this wasn't on the list.
"Huh. What? But we've tallked about this. We will, later." I grinned. "Have all the gorgeous little babies made you go all clucky? That's so cute!"
He shook his head. "Nah. I mean, if we're going to have a third kid, I think we should have one now, rather than later."
I looked at him in shock, then started laughing, slightly hysterically, looking at the huge pile of laundry, the general chaos. "You're kidding, right?"
He didn't say anything.
"But. But we discussed it. We'll start trying once you finish studying, when we're closer to family, after our big trip, when we have a bit more money, a bit more space. When the kids are both at school. Not now."
"I know we discussed it, but I know a bit more about it now, and I'm not comfortable waiting. If we're going to have a third, I want us to have it now. At your age every month counts. Waiting an extra year or two makes a huge difference for your health and the baby's health. It's crazy to add extra risk we don't need to because of little things."*
The things I've listed do not seem like little things to me.
It's hard enough with two kids being so far from family and support. Our house is small, crammed and falling down, and money is tight, although that's got a lot to do with our lack of budgeting, as our families help out massively.
I ignore his comment about my advanced age. I don't feel that old. And I'm fairly healthy.
But... It takes me a couple of weeks to be able to think through my Beloved's comments rationally. I'd always wanted more than two kids.
It just felt like there was someone missing.
But right at that moment? The timing seemed almost ludicrous.
Should mental health be put on the balance with physical health?
If we waited another year or two, things would become immeasurably much easier...
But more weeks on the obstetrics ward only confirmed my Beloved's thoughts. So much can go wrong and the health costs of waiting just aren't worth it.
"Besides, you're so much older now, it'll probably take ages to conceive. We better start trying as soon as possible. It could take a couple of years. You'd be devastated if we waited and then couldn't conceive."
Again, the reference to my advanced age. I was only just thirty-five, so I didn't feel that old. But... The more I thought about it, the more what my Beloved said made sense. And what if we waited and then something did go wrong?
And the more I thought baby thoughts the cluckier I got... ooo... baby... In the end a compromise was reached - not until our firstborn was safely at school when the baby arrived... but not the full two years we'd been planning on waiting, either.
I started taking folate tablets, and a few months later, comfortable in the fact it'd probably take us at least a year to conceive, we started trying. Two months later, halfway through a morning from hell after six weeks of sickness in which we'd barely looked at each other over our hankys and painkillers, let alone worked on making a baby, I took a pregnancy test. I really really wanted a half-glass of wine that night.
I stared at the stick suspiciously, as there was just the slightest hint of a second line. Six tests later, there was definitely a second line.
My beloved's first words on being told were "I've been gypped." I believe they were also his first words with our previous baby. He'd been looking forward to months and months of intensive trying. Instead morning sickness and moodiness were in his immediate future.
Now, with our last little one due to arrive soon, I think we made the right choice. For starters, I hate to think how much harder pregnancy would be in a few years.
As it is this pregnancy has been so much more tiring than the last two, my body run down with the previous years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, of not looking after myself as I run after little ones.
Yes, the next few months will be crazy, chaotic and hard, but we're also so looking forward to meeting our littlest one.
And if we'd waited we wouldn't have got this baby, and already she seems so known, so much a part of our family.
I think most babies bring crazy-chaos... we'll just have to learn to roll with a little more of it. With almost-three now, it seems right.
My Beloved is making murmurs that four is a nice even number and I am making murmurs that he needs to hie himself off to the hospital and get the snip - pronto. I am very content that these are the children we were meant to have.
It's always such a big decision, whether and when to have a baby, or another baby. There are so many things to consider, and while one time might be right for some reasons, another might be right for other reasons. It would have made practical, logistical, financial sense to wait.
We decided health trumped all of those.
But maybe (probably?) we were just crazy.
I'd love to hear how other people made their decisions.
*My Beloved claims (indignantly, and stridently, in capitals) that he did not use the words as quoted. Which is very true - it was a year ago and I can hardly remember what happened yesterday. This is just my take on what was said. I'm sure he was everything that was tactful and supportive. But this is my memories summing up.
"I never said that!"
"But that's what you meant, yeah?"
"Well of course! But I didn't say it like that!"