There was a time when my husband and I believed three kids were enough for our family. Our first three children were all born within three and a half years and I am the first to admit that the third child, often sick in her first six months of life with some kind of respitory illness or another, just about sent me over the edge a few times. It is during those moments when decisions born of fatigue and frustration rear their ugly heads: I will never have another baby. NEVER!
During those ten months of pain and recovery, I began to look at life a little differently. My car accident had a sobering affect on me. Up until then I was so busy trying to reconcile being a young, vibrant woman of the world with being a mother to three small, needy children, that I was often making decisions that were convenient for me, rather than what was best for them. I had good intentions, but my selfishness was continually getting in the way. I began to see life as being a precious gift, and because I had not died in the accident I was being given another chance to get it right. I know it sounds trite, but that doesn't make it any less true. Fortunately, I am married to a loving, faithful, patient man. When I asked him later how he put up with me during that time before the accident he said, "I was just waiting for you to make your way through it, as I knew you would."
It was so good to be running again, and I began piling on the mileage. I looked forward to signing up for the Comox Valley half marathon and was invited to join a trail running group in Campbell River. I was strong and a little too thin, but life was rich and I was happy with my children who were now seven, six, and four. Everything was going smoothly, and manageably, but I began to secretly yearn for a baby. I suppose I am a little like the mother in the Steve Martin film Parenthood: "I LIKE the rollercoaster!" When asked if I would ever have another baby, I would say with a laugh: "In a heartbeat, if it could be a girl - a sister for Emma." My husband was not convinced we needed any more children, however. "Isn't three enough? Besides, we are finally starting to be able to do things with them like go for hikes, and they are getting more independent now." He was busy with work, playing on a soccer team, and coaching our childrens' teams in town. Theoretically I agreed with him, but I still looked at other people's babies with longing in my heart.
One Sunday in March I joined the trail running group for a long run. About half way into it I had to stop. One of the women came back to me and asked me what was wrong. "I'm just really hungry for some reason." I had already consumed an energy packet, but was feeling overheated and ravenous. She shared an energy bar with me and I finished the run strongly. My next run was on a cold spring day and I had several layers of clothing on. I had begun to suspect I was pregnant but was in stage two of 'Rebecca's Five Stages of Dealing with It':
Stage one: suspicion
Stage two: denial
Stage three: conviction and slight panic
Stage four: acceptance and plenty of throwing up of breakfast into the toilet
Stage five: sense of well-being and glowing excitement
I soon became so overheated I had to stop and shed several layers. Early the next morning, before the kids were awake, I knew it was time to tell my husband about the baby. I went downstairs where he was making the fire and gave him the news. He took me in his arms and held me close while I smiled with something like joy through my tears. We both knew the challenges of having an infant, but we were in this together.
By Mother's Day in May I was over morningsickness (misery times ten), and when asked I said I knew my baby would be another girl. Several people joked that I just said that because I wanted her to be a girl, but I just knew. On October 17 at 7:50 p.m. Katherine was born after only 50 minutes of labour - hers was what they call a precipitous birth. She exploded onto the scene of our family life and has never let up. From almost her first days she has been trying to keep up to her older siblings. To them, she was a the best present I could give them and they took to looking after her from the start. They all helped so much that she became, in every sense, 'our' baby. Katie began talking at nine months, and has always expressed herself in a manner beyond her years; ie. when she was two and a half and attending the second of her brothers' spring music recitals, Katie looked at me and said, "When is it going to be my turn to go up there?" She is keenly interested in music and plays the piano, and loves performing in plays. As the youngest, she has a deep, deep love for her family members. It is like she has put us all in her pocket and carries us around with her. Whenever any of us is sad, she is sad. When we are happy, she is happy for us. When her dad is tired after work, she climbs on his lap and strokes his cheek. When I am busy cooking or working she says things like, "You take such good care of us, Mommy." And I say back, "I'm so glad we still have a little one."
But she is not so little anymore. Yesterday, Katie turned nine. She had a small, manageable party ("I don't like big parties, Mom, because it's too hard to make sure everyone is having a good time.") at the swimming pool followed by a favourite supper of Fettucini Alfredo and Caesar salad. Her birthday was a relaxed affair and when I asked her how she enjoyed it when I was kissing her goodnight, she said, "It was good, and I'm so glad Daddy didn't have to work and could come swimming."