Growing up as an only child, I always dreamed of having a big family. I could imagine family reunions and holidays filled with lots of people, lots of food, and lots of fun. When I got married, my husband was completely on board with my dream, so we set about growing our family.
When we recently found out we were pregnant with number three, I was so excited … for about a week. Then the doubt began to creep in. I can honestly say it was the most anxious period of my life, as I wondered how would we have enough time for three kids? Enough patience? Enough energy? Enough love?
And it wasn’t just the big things that made me anxious; I started getting worried about the everyday details of life too. We have a square kitchen table, perfect for four people, but where will this fifth person sit? Or, if we go to a hotel and have two double beds, where will the fifth person sleep? Or, when we read books at night, and the boys snuggle in on either side of me, how will we make room for the baby?
My doubts eventually led to guilt. I felt so selfish, panicking about having three kids, when I have other friends who have struggled to have one. I felt guilty questioning such a wonderful blessing, when I know people who pray every night for a miracle. I didn’t feel like I could share my feelings with anyone else, sometimes not even my husband. I mean, how do you ask someone to pray for you to be more excited about your pregnancy? Wasn’t I supposed to be thrilled?
It seems like during pregnancy, everybody focuses on the excitement and anticipation, on the joy that comes with having a new baby. And deep down, that joy is there. I know as soon as the nurse puts that squishy little newborn on my chest, my heart will explode, just like it did the first two times.
But we also need to remember that whether a woman is having her first baby or her fifth, it can be an anxious time too. There’s no doubt about it—having a baby changes your way of life, even if it is your third boy and you’ve “done it all before.” During times of change, fear, doubt, and hesitation are all normal emotions to go through.
I’ve found the best way to beat a fear is to be honest and name it. To speak it out loud and bring it out of the shadows. To look it head on and say, “Not today, Doubt, not today.”
Luckily, I can look around and see plenty of examples of phenomenal moms who have three (or more!) kids. They make it to birthday parties and school events and Wednesday night church suppers. They buy bigger tables and upgrade to minivans and they make it work. I have to remind myself that I’m not the first person to do this, and thankfully, I’m not alone.
The good news is, there are a lot of things a family of five can do that a family of four can’t. We can always start our own basketball team, the Bryant Ballers. And when we go on Family Feud, we won’t have to recruit crazy Cousin Eddie to round out our team. Plus, we’ll always have a tie-breaking vote when it comes to family decisions.
The best part of expanding our family is that it gives us the opportunity to have another round of firsts: first smiles, first steps, first “I love yous.”
I think my best friend, who just had her third in January, said it best: Life with three is FULL. Sure, it’s full of laundry, full of noise, and even full of a little crazy, but it’s also full of love and laughter and family, and that’s what I’ve always dreamed of.