Three's a Crowd
Updated: Oct 31, 2018
Since before I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. My husband and I tried to have children for many years, but were unsuccessful. After being married for four years, I got pregnant! I was so excited. But when we went in for our first ultrasound at 12 weeks, the doctors couldn't find a heartbeat. I had lost the baby and had a DNC a week later to help my body with the miscarriage. I was devastated and wondered if I would ever have the chance to carry a child in my belly.
After one more year of trying on our own, we decided to seek help. We saw infertility doctors, did tons of testing, tried different medications, but nothing was working. We were getting ready to move again so we put trying to have a baby on hold and focused on our upcoming move. Two days before we left Virginia for our new home in Florida, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I couldn't believe it! The flood gates had opened and I got pregnant back to back with three babies, 15 months apart and then 20 months apart. Awe and wonder! Miracle after miracle after miracle! I had three babies in less than three years and I was in over my head.
The year my daughter was born in 2015 was one of the hardest years. We had just moved to Rhode Island for my husband to attend the Navy War College. I was seven months pregnant with my third baby. When I had my daughter, my boys were 20 months old and almost 3 years old. The boys were adventurers! They could not be contained by fences, gates or locks on the house. They loved playing outside, running, riding bikes, climbing, jumping and swinging on everything. My daughter was pretty easy going, but had a tough time nursing and suffered from acid reflux, making some days longer than others. Little sleep, high energy boys, record amounts of snow for Rhode Island and two very exhausted parents.
There were many lonely days during her first year. I was continuously tired and beat down by the everyday tasks of life. It was difficult to go anywhere with all three kids, though I did it anyway, knowing there would be potty accidents, toddler meltdowns and three children to carry back to the car once our outings were over. Grocery store trips were near impossible. Just when I had started to clean up one activity or meal, another disaster was happening in another room. My husband and I had to adjust how we did the weekly family tasks because it was too difficult for me to do them with all of the kids.
I lost myself. My energy and resources were zapped. I had little left to give and often wondered what was meaningful in my life. I want to forget the lonely, tired, maxed out days when I only had energy to make sure the kids were fed and alive; when I defaulted to the "TV babysitter" so I could squeeze in a few minutes of crying alone in my room. I want to forget when I wished I was doing something other than being a stay at home parent. I started seeing a therapist and took Wellbutrin to help cope with the anxiety and depression I faced each day.
But if I try and erase that year, I'd miss the moments that made life sweet. I'd miss my daughter's giggles and coo's while sitting in her high chair eating peas and cheerios or her singing and blowing bubbles in the bathtub. I'd miss the time we went to get ice cream cones on the sea wall with the boys, laughing together and telling them to eat faster because the ice cream was melting all over their sweet hands and faces. I'd miss our family walks on Newport Beach and digging in the sand. And when we stayed a few minutes after church on Sundays for the boys to run in the grass and climb the cherry trees with the other kids outside while looking over a beautiful lake. Friday night pizza at the park with our family would be erased. Date nights with my husband at Olive Garden and the recliner movie theater.The gorgeous fall trees. The boys shoveling snow with their dad in the driveway. The opportunity I had to serve on the worship team at our church. Moments where God's goodness showered joy and love in the midst of loneliness and exhaustion.
I sometimes think I'm doing something wrong when life is hard. I think if I can just get some control over my life and my kids, living would be easier and more enjoyable. But the longer I'm a mom, I realize that life is going to be hard no matter what I do or try to control. Life is lonely and difficult and there isn't always an answer for life's hardships.
In the midst of the difficult seasons, there are glimmers of hope found in the world around me, in the precious smiles of my children, in the commiserating with friends or the random lady I talked with at the park, in the slow steady walks exploring outside with the kids. There is reason to keep showing up each day, pouring into ourselves, our family, our friends and our community. We need each other. We help each other know we are not alone. God is building something in each of us that we may not be able to see until the other side of this life.
Leah Wood Harrell is a singer, songwriter and stay-at-home mom for three boisterous children: ages three, five and six. She loves to go for long walks and visit different parks with her kids. She has been married to her loving husband who serves in the United States Marine Corps for 14 years. You can download her album “Broken Person” by Leah Wood on iTunes or Spotify.