At my wedding shower, we played a type of Newlywed Game. Dan was asked questions about me prior to the shower, and I had to guess what his answers were (not what mine would be). One of the questions was how many kids I wanted, and Dan and I both accurately answered "four to five." Some people weren't surprised, but I think the majority reaction was "Say what?!"
When I got pregnant with Lucas, I was pumped to be getting started on number one of four to five. I actually really liked being pregnant and had an easy pregnancy (even though my poor body is still reeling from the experience 3.5 months later).
Then Lucas was born. Mothers of older children fawned all over him, telling me how much they missed the newborn stage. And I sat in my hospital bed (and on my couch, once we were sent home), shell shocked and wondering what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks they could possibly miss about the newborn stage.
If you had asked me in the first two weeks (ok, month) when we were going to have our next baby, I would have straight-up laughed in your face. "NEVER," I would have shrieked. And then I would have started crying. In those first long weeks (the longest of my life), I wondered in all sincerity how and why anyone would have more than one kid.
And I'm not even concerned about the physical birthing of the child. I got lucky and had a pretty wonderful birth experience. Except the actual pushing part. At that point, I was so tired and in so much pain that all I could think was "Never mind! I take it back. I don't want to have this baby, I'll just be pregnant for the rest of my life." But by then, the only way out of it was to push through it (haha get it? push?).
No, the physical labor and delivery is not what put me off kids in the first few weeks. It was the actual motions of parenting that did it for me. And if I'm being honest, perhaps off-the-wall hormones had something to do with it as well. That first month is grueling when it's your first baby. It's probably hard when it's your second or third too, but when it's your first you have absolutely no idea what to expect or how long each phase will last.
That was what was hardest for me. The simple fact of having absolutely no idea what to do or what to expect. I worried that everything I was doing was wrong. I worried that I would neglect to do something that would ruin my baby forever. I didn't know that you were supposed to do "tummy time" until Lucas was about a month and a half. After learning that, I had visions of Lucas as a 21 year old, his head flopping all over the place because he had never learned proper neck control as a result of my neglecting to do tummy time when he was 3 weeks old.
After the first four weeks, I turned some sort of a corner. The baby blues began to dissipate, and I fell into a semi-routine (as much of a routine as you can when you have a newborn, anyway). Then when Lucas was 8 weeks old, I stopped nursing (well, pumping, since we never got the hang of actual nursing), and I started to feel more like myself. It was easier to take Lucas places, and I could be away from the house for long periods of time without having to either a) rush home to pump or b) haul my pump along with me and find some place private to pump.
Then Lucas starting growing and developing, and he began to flash smiles that melted my heart. And then one day he actually giggled. I thought I was going to die from happiness. There is no way to describe how thrilled I was with that first baby giggle. My heart felt so full that I never knew it could hold so much love. I was actually relieved, because I did not experience the immediate falling in love that so many women describe when they first meet their baby. With that giggle, I knew what it was like to fall in love with my baby.
By that point, I had already decided that it wouldn't be so bad to have one or two more. I figured I'd just power through the newborn stage, and that it would pay off when my kids were older. And then a few weeks ago, I was browsing through some pictures of when Lucas was first born and I realized that I was turning into a mushy pile of love, reminiscing about how little he was, how he used to fit perfectly on my chest, how he used to fall asleep on my shoulder. And then I "accidentally" stumbled onto the maternity section of Gap.com, just so I could see what cute new maternity fashions they had. And then my uterus began to ache a little.
And then Dan and I did our budget and we saw how much Lucas was costing us and decided to wait a couple years for another one.