By JoAnne Clifford, author of the blog Life with the Triplets Plus One
All I remember is that it was hot. It was August in Florida and I was just struggling to stay cool while it was 95 degrees outside. I was also waist deep in laundry, diapers, and bottles – the by-products of eight months of caring for my recently born triplets. I was happy, but exhausted. With the triplets being eight months old, I finally felt like I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I was exiting the baby haze brought on by newborns and was starting to finally feel confident and sure about my family’s future and what it would hold. I was starting to feel normal again and then …
That’s right, I’m that woman who got pregnant when her triplets were not even a year old. My world was turned upside down when I learned that I was pregnant once again. I remember feeling such a large range of emotions when that pee-stained stick registered a plus sign. Denial. Fear. Foolishness. How could this have happened? We weren’t ready for another baby, yet there we were. The triplets would only be 16 months old when this “oops” baby would be brought into the world and change our lives forever.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, a large portion of babies born each year are “oops” babies. They’re born to teenagers, single mothers, and married mothers. They’re the babies who weren’t planned or scheduled. I remember being scared not knowing what this baby’s future would hold or how he would affect the dynamics of our family. But slowly, slowly, I remember coming to an amazing realization: Unplanned does not mean unwanted. My husband and I had thought we would like a fourth child, just not right then. But there we were, unexpectedly pregnant and left with a choice. We could choose to embrace our new normal or we could wallow in what might have been. I am so, so glad that we chose the former of those two options.
Today, I have four beautiful, healthy children that I could not imagine my life without. That “oops” baby’s first word was (fittingly) “uh-oh!” and he is now his older brother’s sidekick. I am so happy that they both have a brother so very close in age to grow up with. His presence has taught me to let go and let life happen, to stop trying to control everything in my path. Ultimately, we cannot control what happens to us, but we CAN control our reaction to what happens. I have happily chosen to embrace it. Hopefully my little “oops” baby will continue to grow into a confident, happy, and well-adjusted man … and when he finally leaves the house and starts a life of his own, I’ll remember that it was no mistake.