When asked if Amber and I will have a fourth child, my typical response has been, “Doubt it. Not unless God and the IUD surprise us!” But recently she’s had baby nostalgia. Example: Our almost 4-year-old wanted to hold our dog. “I wanna pick up her,” he groaned. I corrected him, but not in a mean way, like I do when debating peasants on Facebook. “So you wanna pick her up?” Amber, who’s an English teacher and cracks up when I say “I gotta me’in” instead of “I have a meeTing,” slapped at me and said, “Shhh! That’s the last baby thing he does.” Then she grabbed Larke and held him to her bosom, as if he was a…baby.
We’ve mentioned having another child in passing, but never seriously talked about it. Actually we never talked about having any kids. After our first I said things like “Let’s just see what happens,” and later, after we found out our third was on his way, “Dammit!” But for the most part, they sort of just showed up.
Now they’re in school (at least part-time) and they’re growing up and becoming independent and no longer pee on themselves. Soon they’ll be out the house almost the entire day, watched over by underpaid, often frustrated teachers who are de facto second parents. Considering I work from home and Amber’s here most of the day, we’re about to have a quasi-empty nest.
Plus we’d like to have a girl. And not just because my mom always says, “When somebody gonna give me a baby girl!” I’ve been told that daughters are closest to their fathers. I’m going to need this in the event my boys and I have that supposedly unavoidable “man of the house” conflict that ends with me choking them against the wall while yelling, “You don’t run s**t around here, mutha****a!”
Amber feels the same about wanting a girl. She alludes to being outnumbered and is unaccustomed to the testosterone and physicality that comes with having three boys and one man-child in the house. The boy brawls bring her to tears, and I’m like, “Well, that’s pretty much what we do. Must be innate.”
Still, taking on a fourth kid is a big task. We plan to spend a couple years abroad within the next few years and herding somewhat rational kids while in unfamiliar spaces is a lot easier than herding a toddler. Finances are also a concern. Kids come with unexpected expenses like earaches and weird rashes and parents are price-gouged for co-pays and medicine. Then you add in whatever Amazon Prime is selling (everything!) and next thing you know you can’t afford to buy anything for yourself. And you end up like me, wearing the same ol’ outfit you bought from Banana Republic’s sales rack two tax returns ago.
Then there’s the pregnancy itself. Amber was pregnant for about three straight years. I can’t completely empathize, but I imagine it felt like having to take a mean dump and only being about to do so once every nine months. The pregnancies were normal, though she almost salsa danced our first out the womb a few months early and our third was considered high risk because he had “markers” that indicated risk for developmental disabilities. Everything turned out OK with the kids, and even Amber somehow managed to escape without a single stretch mark or bout of postpartum depression.
One of the worst things about the experience was, as I recently learned, my smell. Like many pregnant women, Amber’s olfactory sense became canine-like. The excessive liquor that seeped out of my pores and mixed with deodorant, cologne, Negro hair product, and funk wasn’t doing it for her. For almost three years! (But I guess it wasn’t that bad if her ass kept getting pregnant.)
As of now it looks like a solid “No!” on number four. I asked internet friends with more than three kids what they thought and heard responses like: “It’s a trap!” and “Don’t do it!” I also did some research into tax policy and learned that once you have more than three kids you’ve exhausted the most lucrative refundable credits. Most importantly, we’re not sure we want to start “the process” all over again. It’s human propensity to look fondly upon the “good ol’ days,” but delivering and caring for an infant is heavy, no matter how fondly you remember it.
I looked into freezing my creation juice in case we change our minds, but I learned you can’t just put it on ice at home. You have to pay monthly. And freezing eggs is even more costly, up to $10,000. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be foster parents. I guess you can even get paid to cover the kids’ expenses, or buy yourself some new clothes from Banana Republic.
But as far as having kids goes, we’re done, and lucky-blessed to have three. They’ll always be babies to Amber. And well, maybe to me, too.