Z2 weighed 38 lbs. last time I weighed him. Only 2 more pounds, and he would be at the upper height limit for his car seats. I had always thought that when the time came and I needed to replace his car seats, I'd go with the Sunshine Kids Radian 65 seat. It's a super narrow seat and is the one Z1 has. The idea was that with two of the super slim seats, I could fit a third seat (specifically a Graco SnugRide) in the back seat of my '05 Subaru Outback. I actually researched it because I had read that many folks had difficulty getting three seats in the back of my particular car. This configuration of the two Radian 65s on the outboards seats and the Graco SnugRide in the center was supposed to work, i.e. you could get a tight fit for all three car seats.
Then on Thursday of last week, I received a flyer from Toys R Us. In it, the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car seat was on sale for $129.99. On top of that, they were having a trade in event where you could get 25% off another item for each item you bring in. I already have a Nautilus for Z1 which is in his dad's car. It's an awesome seat because it's 3-in-1: harnesses up to 65 lbs., belt positioning high back booster up 100, and then a backless booster. Theoretically, it's the last car seat you'd ever have to buy which is great and with the coupon I'd get for trading in both of Z2's car seats, they would cost me about $105 each. Sweet deal. But it's a pretty wide seat--nowhere near as narrow as the Radian 65. Now way at all to fit a third seat in the middle.
And that's when I started to feel really, really sad. And like I had to make a decision quickly. The sale would not last forever and the question that I've been grappling with for months needed to be answered now.
As you may or may not know, the hubby definitely does not want any more children. I, on the other hand, do (or did). I'd always envisioned myself with a big family of four kids. I thought I'd drive a mini-van and even knew the one I wanted (the Nissan Quest). But the reality of it was that I was alone in this desire. I know now that this is a serious issue that we should probably have talked more about (even though things and people do change so there's no guarantees we would have been able to avoid this issue). I was under the impression that the hubby would be okay with 3 kids. He wanted 2. I wanted 4. 3 was a good compromise. But is there such a thing as compromise when it comes to another living being? Well, we had many long discussions. There were tears and anger and frustration. Eventually, the hubby relented and we started to try for a third. But by the time this happened, I was super ambivalent about it. I felt like I had forced the hubby's hand, yes, but more than that, I realized a few important things. Firstly, from a financial standpoint, we are not totally in the position to have another child. Sure, we could make it work but in all honesty, our small apartment and cars accommodate 2 children perfectly. With careful planning and budgeting, we are living comfortably, can give our kids things like swim and piano lessons, can go on modest vacations and even put some money aside.. Yes, we would adjust to a third child and it would be joyful and awesome to meet another one of our creations but it would stress us. It would stress the hubby because he would feel like he'd have to work and it would stress me because when he's out of the house working, I'm at home working. And the kind of mothering I want to do is super intense--co-sleeping, exclusively nursing, baby-wearing, cloth diapering--it takes energy. Which brings me to the next point, from a resource standpoint, I am still struggling. The children are either under my care or the hubby's care 99% of the time. We cannot afford a nanny or consistent babysitters. And I'm struggling to find a homeschool community for support. We simple don't have the social resources/capital to have another child at this time. But every day that passes, as my kids age, I gain a little freedom to do those things that I've been putting on the back burner. I can focus on my fitness which I really enjoy. I get longer clips of time to write. It always boils down to time (just wait and the kids will grow and you can do more things) or money (make more so you can do more things). Time, I hope, I have. Money, not so much. Yet despite all this, if the hubby showed some enthusiasm about having another, I could comfortably put all these concerns aside and keep trying. Without his unyielding support, though, it feels selfish and stupid and the doubts are loud enough for me to say, no, I shouldn't keep pushing.
So I've been pretty broke up these past couple of days accepting that Z2 is my last baby. I feel pangs of jealousy and sadness when I see moms with their three or four children. It feels like yet another dream that I just have to let go. But I am and you know what? It's helping me appreciate what I already have. At least, I no longer drive around with mini-van envy.
I pulled the trigger and went on ahead and bought the two Nautilus car seats. The purchase of these two seats feels like the closing of a wonderful chapter in my life. For now and perhaps forever, my baby days are over.