Building a family.

IMG_5715I’m always interested in hearing how couples decided (or didn’t decide) on the size of their family. Family dynamic, whether it’s small versus big families, single child families, or blended families is so fun to dissect. I also love reading things about how gender and age differences effect families.

I’m the oldest of five, although my family is a bit complicated. I’m the only child of my mother and father together but have two half brothers and two half sisters. Their ages range from three years younger than me to eight years younger than me. Being the oldest, I always took on more of a mothering role and still to this day, I have pretty much nothing in common with my siblings. I’m married with kids while my brothers and sisters are still living at home and working, in college, in the Air Force, and traveling the world. I’ve always wished for closer sibling relationships but I feel that this is reserved for people with sibs closer in age whom actually grew up in the same house.

Josh is the youngest of three. He only has brothers and is a mere 18 months younger than his middle brother. But even so, he claims that he had different interests than his siblings growing up.

When Josh and I used to discuss our future plans for having a family, he always said he wanted to be a young parent while I was adamant that your 20’s are not for parenting. Of course plans don’t always work out and after living together for only three months (though we had been dating for five years) we found out we were pregnant despite the fact that I had been taking the pill for a year. Though becoming a mother at 20 was not my plan, it was a game changer in my life and ended up being the best thing that has ever happened to me. It turns out that being a mama is what I was meant to do and I have loved nothing more before or since.

I remember a few months after Parker was born, our aunt asked us when we were planning our next baby (she is the youngest of four by 13 years so I’m sure birth order and age difference are equally as interesting to her). Josh and I laughed and I said, “In 10 years” because of course, I hadn’t planned to become a mother until my 30’s. But I couldn’t fathom the idea of such a huge age difference between Parker and his siblings. I knew from the time I was little that I wanted my kids to be close in age. I also knew that I wanted more than just one child.

About a year and a half after we had Parker, Josh and I started to talk about trying for another baby. Looking back we were absolutely crazy because we were in no position financially for two kids. We actually tried one month but then decided to try but not try wait since Josh was joining the Coast Guard and we were temporarily moving in with my mom. A few weeks after Josh left for bootcamp I discovered that I was pregnant again and two and half years (almost to the day) after Parker’s birth, sweet baby Theo joined our family.

Their age difference, along with fact that they’re both boys, has been perfect. They are absolute best friends and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Of course, they’re also typical brothers – they fight, wrestle, tease, etc. but they always look out for each other. They’re close enough in age that they have a lot in common but they’re also far enough apart that they can separate themselves from being too similar or competing with each other. Because of our compact little family and the fact that the boys were so close from the beginning, Josh and I waffled on whether we wanted any more kids. And then about a year and a half after Theo’s birth I started to get baby fever again.

For the next year and a half after that, Josh and I both went back and forth. At first Josh felt like he was done and then the older the boys got, the more he wanted another baby and the less I did. Finally, right before Theo’s third birthday, I knew we had to have a serious conversation about it. Josh and I talked and he was totally in. He wanted another baby badly. I was still unsure and went through a typical Morganesque over analyzation weighing of the pros and cons. I remember talking to a friend about it and she said something along the lines of, “I have never heard of someone even thinking about these things let alone putting so much consideration into them but I guess that’s what you should do before making such a big decision.” Adding a baby is a huge decision and you can do all of the calculating and planning that you want but it basically just comes down to what’s in your heart. Josh really wanted another baby (especially a baby girl) and I thought one day I may regret not having another baby but I will never regret having one, so we decided to try for our third.

Planning a pregnancy was fun! ha! I had my IUD removed in April and figured I’d be pregnant by the end of May. Another baby became something that I wanted with desperation (a desperation that Josh misses and talks about often. 😉 ) but it took longer than that and those couple of months were hard on me. If you don’t know, I’m a serious control freak so having something so big be out of my hands was driving me nuts. It’s all I thought about and talked about and by the time I found out I was pregnant, I was ready to quit trying just so I’d have some control back. During that time, I found out that one of my friends was unexpectedly pregnant and I remember feeling so angry and jealous. It was awful but in hindsight I’m embarrassed to even admit these feelings because I know that I didn’t experience even an iota of what women with real reproductive issues go through.

The story of how I found out about Ruby is fun. It was July and we were leaving for a two week vacation to spend some time back home in Ohio and then surprise the boys with our first family trip to Disney. I had been taking pregnancy tests like vitamins so I packed a few with the intentions of taking them throughout the trip, specifically because Josh and I had planned a night away from the boys and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t pregnant, before I drank. The morning that the two of us were leaving, I took a pregnancy test and it came back negative. We said goodbye to the boys and headed to Pittsburgh for a day in the city and a night at the Kenny Chesney summer concert. We went to Primanti Brothers for lunch and I kept saying to Josh, as we waited in line outside, that it smelled so good! He agreed but wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. After we were seated, he pointed and said, “Oh, you must have been able to smell the food because the kitchen is right there.” But what I heard was that he hadn’t smelled the food outside when I did. Immediately I knew. A sniffer the likes of a werewolf’s is always the first sign for me that I’m pregnant. A few days later we left for Disney and arrived on the day that I was technically due to test positive if I was actually pregnant. After we checked in, the first thing I did in our Disney World resort was take a pregnancy test. And this time, two lines appeared.

Though I sometimes wish we would have had Ruby a year sooner, the fact that she’s 4 and 6 years younger than the boys doesn’t seem to have a major effect on their relationship so far. Maybe it would be different if she were a boy but I think big brothers always take on the same kind of role to baby sisters despite age difference. I am so absolutely in love with our family dynamic and after Ruby, Josh and I agree that we feel complete. So wholly complete that we made the decision for Josh to have a vasectomy. Ruby’s 18 month birthday is coming up but I still feel settled – no year and a half baby fever this time. But if we once again beat the odds, and somehow we’re one of the 15 out of 10,000 couples that experience a vasectomy failure, I wouldn’t be upset at all (unless it happens 15 years from now – that’s a different story). And since two weeks ago Josh mentioned adopting another baby, I have a feeling he wouldn’t be upset either.

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