One of my favorite doula memories was after the birth of a very special little boy. During the course of his mom’s pregnancy, we talked many times about this little boy’s place among a family of soon-to-be five. After her birth, when the bustle of nurses and doctors had cleared the room, my client looked up from her golden-headed child and said, “Now, we are complete.” This was particularly poignant to me because of how often I had spoken with couples or even how often my husband and I had spoken about the expansion of a family. What is it that completes a family or spurs it to grow? Is there really ever a good time to add another person to the already complicated mix?
Deciding to start a family, in my opinion, is a slightly easier decision than expanding it simply because you don’t know what you are in for. The first child has the important task of teaching his or her parents what true exhaustion feels like. That first child is so precious in his or her responsibility of educating his humble caretakers of the ways of the completely dependent infant and intensely contrary toddler. How on earth does any child have a sibling?
For some people, the decision to expand is easy. They have a clear number or no number at all but no intention of slowing down (Duggar style). For others, their first child was a complete delight and never gave them a reason to doubt the pure joy of procreation (if this is you, I don’t believe you one bit). Then there are those whose decision is made for them in the form of a “whoopsi daisy.” However, there is a large portion of couples who fall in the space that wrestles with the question of expansion. This group of people weigh the pros and cons; they analyze the age viability of other siblings in the assimilation of a new member; they look at budgets and careers; they remember fondly and not-so-fondly the many joys and obstacles a new being can bring.
Rationally, under the weight of pros and cons, is there really ever a good time to have a baby? Sure there are social expectations of the appropriate procreation window, but truthfully, is a baby ever a really good idea? The expense, time, responsibility--well, there are just not that many pros. Children do bring sublime joy. They bring imagination and play and unfiltered conversations about things that don’t even exist. They breathe life into the routine of adulthood. However, you don’t have to expand your family in order to experience the wonder of children.
So then, what is it that drives us analytical types to expand? I don’t think that the answer is universal, but I think that the answer for many lies in the epiphany of my client. A child has the ability to complete a family unit. There is a little puzzle piece in your life that is missing, and only another very specific person can fill it. No puzzle piece has anything tangible to add to a puzzle other than it completes the whole picture. Everyone’s picture looks different and is completed with a variation of puzzle pieces, but for you perhaps, the puzzle piece you are missing is another or multiple children whether it is through adoption, fostering, or biological parenting.
Even though the timing wasn’t perfect--our house not exactly the way we wanted it to be, our finances not in perfect order, our careers in full force and needing every ounce of extra energy to sustain--our hearts, our hearts were ready. Our little puzzle is not yet complete. For us, the puzzle piece we were missing is named Matilda Beatrice. In August of this year, the Schepper clan will grow by one more, and we could not be more thrilled. I have dreamed of this little girl for years just as I dreamed of my first, Atticus. Atticus continues to bless us each day with his love of all things big and small (mostly small critters though), his gentle spirit that craves human connection, and his perception of emotion that is well beyond his little 3-year-old self. I cannot wait to see what this little one brings to our family. This pregnancy has held its challenges similar, yet different from Atticus's, and I am sure that the delivery and parenting experience will follow suit. Stay tuned in the coming months for many updates on this pregnancy, the obstacles I have encountered, and hopefully a joyous birth photographed by none other than one of my birth besties, Cassie Ringl at New Light Birth Photography. I am so excited to share this journey with you from this moment on.
Blessings and completed puzzles to you all,
A note about the Lego people: This is actually how I revealed my pregnancy to my husband. He and I love to build Legos together and had been completing our annual Lego Christmas Village. I thought it would be a fun, unconventional way to reveal to you all our happy news.