Backstory: my second daughter, Annabelle, was a very, very hard baby. She screamed for the first four months of her life. Literally. If her eyes were open, so was her mouth. Her howls could be used on sound tracks for horror movies - not for the victim, but for whatever was chasing the would-be victim. Straight up otherworldly. At one point, my older daughter asked if we could "put her back inside Mommy until she's done."
Around six months she started to... well, not mellow. I'm not sure what the right word is, but she stopped screaming every red second. She still wasn't easy, but she actually had moments of maybe-this-is-a-human-baby-after-all.
Then she started walking - at around 8 months old. I was teaching horseback riding full time, which I wasn't worried about juggling, because I'd brought my oldest daughter, Marin, with me to lessons starting when she was about a year. She'd play at my feet in the sand, get her energy out, and then pass out on the way home. Win-win.
When I first brought Annabelle to lessons, she would scream most of the way through, and all I could think was: this will be easier/worth it/doable/not hellish once she's mobile. She'd be happier once she could run around the riding ring. Pacified. Quiet. Then she became mobile. And in thirty seconds flat, she'd toddled out of the ring, across a driveway, and into a horse pasture, which was mercifully empty. So I ran after her and scooped her up, and she screamed from my arms for the rest of the lesson.
I tell you all that to tell you this: my husband and I decided on no uncertain terms that we were done, DONE, with having more kids. He'd made an appointment, he'd done the pre-op class of we-just-want-to-make-sure-you-know-what-you're-doing-before-you-do-it. In jest, I quipped that if he knocked me up again in the window between the stupid class and the actual procedure, he would have to buy me a farm. The next morning, I opened the trash can, and then ran to the sink and nearly threw up because of the smell.
What the hell was in that trash..... Shit.
I rummaged under the sink until I found an EPT. For some reason, I was still shocked when that second line appeared. Check the box, check the stick. Check the box. Check the stick. This is kid #3, you'd think I'd have this down cold. Anyway, I was letting my husband sleep in, and I decided to keep on letting him sleep, mostly because I wasn't sure what to say, and I needed to sit on the news a minute. Annabelle was ten months old. How was I pregnant with a ten month old? It didn't even seen possible. If I'd had a second EPT, I probably would've peed on that one, too.
Patrick came down the stairs about an hour later. and said: "thanks for letting me sleep in. I feel like a whole new person." I crossed my arms, mad and scared and excited and overwhelmed, and said: "good. because today, we're going to go look at farms."
He was confused. And then he was really confused. And then he got it. And we stared at each other. And neither of us had any idea what to say.
Looking back, I think that's when the ball-o-change started rolling. That's when I realized the life we'd built was a house of cards. It's funny. That tiny pink line was a starting line. I just didn't know it yet. I've heard countless times how the third baby (and beyond) just rolls with it, and is wholly flexible because they have to be. Our third baby set a hundred changes in motion before he was ever born, a hundred changes I didn't see coming, and wouldn't believed if you'd told me, a hundred changes I wouldn't take back for a single second. I promise I'll get to them as I sort them out. It's like untangling knots in a fishing line. There's a stick on one end and a hook on the other, and somehow, in the middle of those, a single, straight thread goes a million directions, and that's life.