I’ve made no secret that, all being well, we weren’t going to be stopping at two children.
I am so happy with the dynamics of our family of four right now – for the first time in AGES, things are easier, sleep is a little more predictable, and I have so loved having a bit more financial flexibility and lots of good times with friends this year. Despite all of this, being a family of four was never the plan.
Sam and I both come from families of four children. Coincidentally, we both hold the exact same position within our sibling sets – second eldest. Our family normality growing up was coming home to a full house, always something going on, in-built entertainment, never being short of company. A ready-formed gang which grew easily to accommodate siblings’ friends. Always someone to play mutli-player SNES or Monopoly with. Always someone to argue with.
Even now that partners have been welcomed and we are all grown up, when we go home, it is still the same. Busy, lively, fun. Still scrabbling to be heard in family conversations round the table. Still always something going on. With a big family (ours now encompasses six siblings, plus partners, parents, and not forgetting the all-important grandchildren – Arlo and Rory are still the only ones in that category), there’s a family event at least every month. Family occasions are big and busy, and certainly never dull.
So, when I envisage my own future family, there has never been just four people sat around our family table.
A separate point, that I feel very strongly about, is providing my children with sibling support. Going from two to three children automatically doubles the amount of people my children will have to turn to later in life. Perhaps that could make them feel more free to make certain life decisions – if one child decides they’d like to relocate abroad, it’s not just sticking the ‘burden’ of looking after us parents in our old age onto just one remaining child. This is just one example, but the basic premise is that a problem shared is a problem halved, and family support becomes so much more important as you get older.
For a long time, I used to think my ideal number of children was four. Just like my family. But over the years since becoming a parent myself, I might be changing my mind on that. For one thing, you have to be incredibly fortunate to live in London and have the room to house four children. And for another, I’m just not sure I have it in me to split myself four ways, to make sure four individual people are getting the attention they need. The downside to coming from a large, busy family is that you do need to shout out if you need help, and there is invariably more than one of you shouting at the same time.
Never say never, but three feels just about perfect right now.
For the past year, the plan was always to start trying for baby number three in September. Because I am still breastfeeding Rory, and because the frequency of his feeding, especially at night, meant I was having cycles, but without luteal competency, my preparation to conceive started around six months before September. Bit by bit, I cut down Rory’s day feeds, and then we embarked on total night weaning. With a little boost to my cycle from some hormome balancing supplements, things were looking pretty good for September. Although having been in this place before when trying to conceive Rory, with several failed pregnancies along the way, I was realistic that it could take longer and wasn’t banking on anything.
To our complete surprise, our September pregnancy has gone without a hitch so far, and here we are at almost 14 weeks.
I am feeling so so privileged to be making our dream of three children become a reality. There are all things that we would love to happen, in an ideal world, that aren’t so simple in actuality. With our impending house move and our June baby on the way, there honestly isn’t anything more I would ask for out of life. It’s taken these changes for the better, changes we’ve made on our own terms that we’ve been wanting to make for such a long time, to realise that I haven’t felt this happy and positive in years.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past five years fixating on the things I couldn’t change or control. I guess I just never felt like we’d get to this stage where we were financially comfortable, able to afford a house with room for us all, and at peace with our new lives as parents. It just seemed impossible. But the reality is that, although we had a bump start to parenthood, we have been incredibly lucky, and it’s time to start focussing on this new emotion I’m feeling: grateful.
Rory’s face in this photo – classic