Kev always says this to me. “What is now, will not always be, Mel.” “But Kev, I’m serious,” I say, “I’m never moving from this house.” I hate it when he says it. It’s like he knows me better than I know myself, like he sees something I can’t see yet. It’s like he’s trying the shake the unsteady ground I built for myself with a pile of permanent claims that might not be so permanent. The longer I’ve lived with Kev, the more space I’ve given myself to be unsure about it, sometimes, about it all.
The hard part about being unsure, especially about things people are generally very sure of, is that look of brokenness after disclosing. I felt it at church when my finger poked a hole through something and the hole was too big to ignore. I felt it a long time ago from a best friend when I was thinking about casting my vote in the other box. And since becoming a mother, I’ve felt it every time someone asked when, if, we’d be adding on to our family. “I don’t know. I’m not sure.” She must be broken. I saw it in their eyes and felt it, too. Maybe I was broken, but I couldn’t be certain.
Whenever I approach a new recipe, I ask why. Why, why, why? Why do we need to soak the beans? Why do we need to reduce the sauce? And I begin replacing the whys with the what-ifs. What if we start cooking the beans right away? What if we skip creaming the butter? What if, what if, what if? It’s the process of reconstruction. And the only way to reconstruct is to deconstruct first. And that’s what I did with my belief system and our family system, too.
I won’t go into detail about my belief system. It’s too personal for the internet. And I’m also absolutely terrified to tell you about our family system because it’s too personal for the internet. But with a little nudge from Kev, I’m doing it. Because there’s good news at the end. Though, I don’t want the good news to cloud the process that came before it. I am certain of this—reconstruction after the mess of deconstruction is a beautiful thing. It’s a story I’m proud to tell, especially after living through a storm of shame, as a new parent unsure of whether we’d have more kids.
Becoming a parent was the absolute hardest recipe I ever chose to tackle. Parts of our experience were really hard because of who I was. Parts of our experience were really hard because of who Hal was. And other parts of our experience were really hard because of who Kev was. Kev and I, we’d never parented together before becoming parents. There was no practice run for this tiny, precious human we were holding in our arms, each holding her differently, each trying to get it right. We approached so many things so differently, all out of the same place of deep love. And sometimes different can feel wrong. It definitely can create conflict.
When I started to add up all the hard parts, I almost broke. Well, maybe I did. Like the MCL in my knee that tore so many times, it lost its elasticity, its ability to self heal, ultimately needing surgery for repair, I wondered if I’d need surgery, too. Would I ever be the same again? Would my stretched out rubber band get its elasticity back? (I’m not referencing my waistline here, though that change was hard to watch, too.) Would I ever be enough for her, for him, for myself, much less another human being? Would it take a deep scar and lots of healing to repair me? Yes. To all of it.
By telling you how hard it all was, you might wonder if it was good. Oh yes, of course it was. It is. Isn’t life always both/and? It’s both euphoric and tragic all at the same time, on the same line of music, within the same capsule of a day. The good parts, those are the really easy parts to talk about. No one looks at you with broken eyes when you play those melodic notes. The hard parts, the sharp notes, well, they’re harder to hear. So we build a pile of nevers and always and black and white permanent claims to make our shaky ground feel more secure. It feels good to feel secure.
Mine started to feel so good, I didn’t want to rock the boat. As the years went on, our every day’s slowly got better. Why would I willingly hike down the road that almost broke us again? So we didn’t. What if we kept it just the three of us? So we did. We didn’t completely count out adding on to our family, but I was incredibly uncertain for a lot of years. Kev always left the answer to the question of more up to me.
I am grateful for the years (years!) of space he gave me to be unsure, to be unsure about it all (and a tiny handful of close friends, too). What a gift. I am grateful for the years to reconstruct by way of deconstruction, by way of a big ole mess. I can’t help the flood of tears and the wave of gratitude I feel as I write this. Earlier this year, 6 years after becoming a first-time parent, I decided I was ready to try again, much later than most, despite all the hard parts. If it worked, what a gift that would be. If not, I was grateful for everything we had, for all three of us. I surprised Kev with a funny little homemade card to let him know I’d made up my mind. I’ll keep that moment just to the two of us.
Maybe the swell of my stomach gave it all away. It worked. We are having another little girl early April! A friend who knew this story said, “Wow, you changed your mind.” I did, or maybe I made up my mind. I’m finding a lot of comfort in what Kev says—what is now, will not always be. There’s always space to change your mind or make up your mind, even if it takes years.
Despite a whole lot of uncertainties, I’m certain that I’m not who I was before becoming a parent. And I’ll probably be different after becoming a parent to another human. I’m certain that I’m more resilient than I thought I was, especially standing next to someone who is even more resilient than me, Kev. (We have this print hanging in our room as a reminder of the last 6 years and a good posture to keep moving forward.) I’m certain that Hallie is going to be an amazing big sister. I’m certain that it will be hard and good all at the same time. And I’m certain that I wouldn’t trade all the hard parts for the easier parts. We’re built out of that rubble, and that’s a beautiful thing. Now to turn The Fauxtel into a cozy little sleeping room where baby girl will inevitably fight sleep (if she’s anything like her big sister). I’m excited to get to know her and get to know us all over again.
I don’t really know how to wrap this all up, so I’ll borrow the title of our favorite show. This is us (for now).
Thank you for sharing your journey., I’m a FTM to an 8 week old and really struggling through this phase. I keep hearing “it gets better” and “you’ll miss this stage” but rarely “it’s hard” so thank you for your honesty.
All the best to you and your family.
Thank you so much for sharing this. After pregnancy losses and difficult marriage/relational situations in the last 4 years… ok, who am I kidding, the last 8 years, it does feel like trying again would flood me and destroy what my spouse and I so carefully rebuilt. I’ve never seen anyone else publicly express that before. Thank you. Sending you all the love and light.
Thank you for writing this. I have a 3 year old, and get questions about another, and feel my own questions and…..I’m still unsure. It’s comforting to know others have felt this way, and been ok with it, and then been ok to change too. <3 Congratulations!
What a beautiful way to explain such beautiful news. Congratulations!
SO well written, so real. Beautiful.
If it is any help, we found that life wasn’t SO hard when child #2 arrived–hard, yes, especially dealing with the first child’s emotions, but overall much easier. Our lives and selves are so changed with the first child, with the giving up of so much of our freedom and the enormous changes in our self-image, compounded with complete exhaustion! It WILL be easier. Our kids are now 27, 25, and 18 (and I’m fearing the empty nest but will try to apply your wisdom to that coming stage).
Congratulations on doing your family the “right” way – the way that works for you. I clicked on the link to the print, and have ordered one, because It fits us perfectly. It will hang over our bed, on a wall that has been empty for our entire marriage of 11 years. The print really resonates with both of us. Also must say that I love what you said in one of your comments: “when you know, you know.” That’s what got us married and has brought us so much joy for our old age. Thank you for a great post. I really appreciate getting to see others think deeply about life.
You may be surprised how different your daughters will be. Our two boys are opposites; the older one slept only two hours at a time, the younger one had to be woken up (!), something I never thought would happen. Their personalities are different too. Good luck and I think you were smart to wait. I know families with two children farther apart in age, and they are doing great! Good luck.
Congratulations, Melissa! I’m so happy for you and your family. I love how thoughtful, insightful and purposeful you are in everything you do—they’re not easy qualities to possess. Thank you for sharing your challenges and decision making process in such a real way. Can’t wait to meet baby sister some day! xo
How exciting! Uncertainty about seasons is so hard. We are unsure of whether or not we are finished, and it’s difficult to be in limbo. For reassurance, we found baby #2 to be easier in so many ways.
Congratulations! My girls are 6 years apart, and I’ve always felt people wondering why that is, as if it’s something so strange. For us, it was not a struggle with fertility, but with decision. We could not be happier with our family now, and our kids are very different, but very close. One thing we were surprised by, just to warn you, was how tough the transition was for our older daughter at first. I sort of assumed that being old enough to understand what was happening might make it easier on her, but I think it was quite the opposite. After about six months of jealousy, it was pure love and joy.
Congratulations! Thanks for your honesty! It took us a long time to figure out if our family was complete and after 5 years we are having our third in February.
Such beautiful introspection and rawness. Congratulations on your newest adventure! Be ready for your heart to swell even more.
I did the same thing. Mine are 27 and 20 now. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Congratulations!
But like…can you write or WHAT! Stunning.
This was so beautiful. I needed to read this today; for me it’s a season of waiting and I need to try to be patient and accept that this is my now but not for always. I also love the poster – my husband and I text each other this exact phrase throughout the day.
Congratulations to you and your family! Sisters are the best.
Beautiful. Such exquisite storytelling. Such raw truth that applies to really, everything. Even my “what is now” that just so happens to be at the other end of new additions. Trying to settle into a strange & quiet empty nest void of every day distractions. I feel like my beloved dog Oakley who would always spin and spin in circles that morphed into digging and adjusting before plopping down to rest. Thank you for the sweet inspiration you’ve given. I do know in my heart that this part “will not always be” (Kev is wise) but it sure is soothing to be reminded. Blessings to you & your sweet growing family. xo
Thank you. I feel this so much. I’m in what I feel is the middle of, “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” while heavily leaning towards no. But so many feelings and thoughts still swirling. I just recently felt this reassuring wave of completeness with our family. I also (personally) have a cutoff age of when I wouldn’t want to have another babe. It took SO long before I felt it was the “right” time to have #1, even though I did know I always wanted kid(s). I JUST DON’T KNOW about #2. (insert shruggie emoji) BUT, so thrilled for you. And your process of waiting. And Kev allowing you time and space. And your openness and vulnerability with this post. Love you big time, girl. xo!
I feel all of those feelings. I like that you used the word “middle.” A friend casually asked a group one time during happy hour, “What are you in the middle of?” And for whatever reason, it stuck. I think it also gave me permission to be in the middle of something, for however long. It was freeing. People often said, “When you know, you’ll know.” Or your wont. Deciding yes wasn’t all that clear, nor was deciding no. Long story short, solidarity, friend ❤️
Beyond thrilled for you. Loved reading about your path to where you are now. I loved the concept of deconstruction and reconstruction you described, bc you’re right! That is such a beautiful way to describe life! Euphoric and tragic at the same time. Was nodding my head the entire time.
Sending all my love! Thank you for sharing part of your story. Totally resonated with me. ✨ AND! Hope you are hanging in there! Pregnancy is the best and worst of times. ♥️♥️♥️ So happy for your family!
Thank you for reading and nodding and being here and inspiring me all the time ❤️
I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. I’m currently 6 months into this parenting journey and have so many of the same feelings. Sometimes I feel guilty that I can’t even fathom choosing to do this again. Everyone says it’s too soon to know, which I understand… but still. It took 5 years to get this little bundle that I love so much, despite how hard babies can be, but who knows what the future brings.
So happy for your little family! I hope you have a smooth pregnancy and it’s a time you can cherish!
It’s the hardest hard and the goodest good, which is so confusing. I feel you. The phrase that stuck out for me about adding on was, “You’ll forget, and then do it all over again.” But I just never forgot.
I’m not sure if this will be helpful to you, but I never realized how seasonal life was before becoming a parent. And how long some seasons last, especially the hard ones. I got stuck in the thought pattern that life would always be so tiresome and hard. But eventually, the seasons change.
Congratulations. Thank you for sharing with us. I feel you! I waited 3 years between mine because I just couldn’t do that baby thing again. It’s hard! Meanwhile, friends were having 3rd, 4th and 5th babies! But this is your family, perfectly made for you.
Mine are 9 and 5 now, and it’s such a glorious age.
Oh, thank you for sharing. It’s good to hear that so many of us are in the same boat. I often felt like I was the only one. Maybe the boat should be bigger.
Just wanted to say I’ve felt the exact same things. It’s so very hard. My husband and I when discussing another child have often said, but we’ve just righted the ship! Are we really going to capsize it again? It’s completely terrifying and hard, but yes, maybe will also be ok in the end?
I feel you so much. I didn’t know life was seasonal before parenthood, and that some hard seasons run long.
This reminds of what my husband’s colleague said to him, which I think originated with Jim Gaffigan. “Imagine you’re drowning and someone throws you a baby—that’s having a 2nd child.” ?
Thank you for sharing in such a personal way, while also giving us all permission to withhold the most personal and special moments in life. This made me tear up and feel thankful to know you. So happy for you all!
Thank you, friend. Have I ever told you the images you post of the landscape in PNW often enter my dreams? Kind of strange, but they are so vivid in my mind. Thank you for sharing your life via those images with the rest of us!
Melissa, you express yourself beautifully in your writing, and I wish you all the blessings parenthood brings. I know your Mom and Dad (aka Chris and Elizabeth to me) are so very happy for you and will eagerly welcome another precious grandchild! Wishing your sweet family all the best!
Thank you Mrs. Ackerman! I really appreciate your support of my family and my parents!
Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story of uncertainty. I think stories like these are missing from much of the discourse around child-bearing and parenthood.
If it’s any consolation, I’ll say that in my experience, baby #2 was much easier, in many ways. Wishing you and your family well.
Thank you! And I feel your sentiment. There were so many times when I was afraid to name the hard things, because, would that make me a worse mom? And then when I did start naming it, there were some people that could hold the hard stuff and some that didn’t want any part of it, which I get. When I’m on the other side of those conversations, I can easily turn to fix-it mode. I’m going way off on a tangent now. But a friend casually asked a group one time, “What are you in the middle of?” And for whatever reason, I think that gave me permission to be in the middle, for however long, for myself and others. Thank you for being here and for your encouragement. Means a lot!
Thank you for sharing this! As a first time mom who had a difficult pregnancy, delivery and recovery, it’s always so comforting to hear the “it’s hard” side of things; too many only share the “it’s beautiful” side. PS: What has gotten me through some really, really hard stuff the last few years is the Buddhist concept of the “broken open heart”–that having your heart broken open during difficult times allows you to truly connect and help others who are also going through difficult times. It’s so true!
Wow, I’m writing that down. Such good wisdom there. I was thinking about my posture towards the hard stuff. I tend to wall up and hope it all gets better on its own. But to stay open, even in the midst, because isn’t it always in our midst, that’s where the good stuff happens. I had a conversation with a family who was about to get married. And we talked about all the good stuff and tried to acknowledge all the hard losses that come with marriage too. It was a really refreshing conversation to have. Thank you for being here and sharing. I’m holding on to this.
Thanks so much for sharing this! I relate to so much. This motherhood journey is a wild one. After deciding we wanted a third we had a miscarriage in January and it threw my whole brain into sadness and doubt thinking we weren’t meant to expand our family. Now I’m expecting again and I’m due in March. I look forward to following along for baby girl #2. By the way my son is 5.5 and was 3 when his sister was born and he appreciated it then, but he appreciates this one in a whole new way because he understands so much more. I’m sure Hal will be the best big sister!
Hi Nicole! I’m so sorry for your loss and excited for this new little lump growing inside. I’m sure it’s a tangle of emotions—loss and excitment and probably a lot of other things all wrapped into one. Thanks for your note and for being here!
I shared all those mixed emotions when we welcomed home a house full of boys many years ago. So grateful we took the plunge….and happy for you all that your relationship is so tenderly sweet that Kevin gave you much space to be ready. Looking forward to the story ahead for you.
He’s a good one. Wish we still worked together and could walk up the hill and get coffee so I could glean from your motherhood experience. Hope you are well, Linda!
This is thrilling news, my friend. I’m so glad you’ve decided to take the leap and I cannot wait to watch as you grow into a family of four. Sending love.
Thank you, friend. Stockpiling all that love.
I cried my eyes out reading this. Not because I shared your uncertainty about growing our family, but because the hard parts were so hard the first time around that I carried an immense fear of what going through it all again would do to me, to our family of three. Choosing to set my focus on the good parts led us down this path again. I am also due with our second in April, another boy. And I also chose to announce it to the world today, friends and family exhaling with relief. I too exhaled, with acceptance, remembering the good parts and all of the wonderful light at the end of each dark tunnel. I’m looking forward to having this old/new experience with someone I admire from afar. Good luck to us!
CONGRATS Melissa! So excited for you and your family!
Thank you friend!
Cried my eyes out reading this. Not because I shared your uncertainty about growing our family, but because, the hard parts of becoming a first-time parent were so hard that I was afraid of what it would do to me, to our own family of three. I knew I wanted the good parts, which ultimately nudged us down this path again. I’m also due with our second in April, another boy. And I also announced it to the world today – friends and family exhaled with relief. I exhaled too, with acceptance, choosing to focus on those good parts. I am looking forward to sharing this old/new experience with someone I admire from afar. Good luck to us!
Hi Michelle! Congratulations to you guys ❤️ It’s so good and hard all at the same time. As Hal says from what she learned on Daniel Tiger, “I’m having mixed up feelings, Mom.” Me too, Hal. All the time.
Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Your post was beautiful and really spoke to me. Take care of yourself. Your babies are so lucky to have you.
YES!!! I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU, FOR KEV, FOR HAL! I am crying happy tears for your family!
Thank you, Mel!