It’s been four months since I’ve added a part to this history.
I appreciate you being the most patient readers of all time. I also apologize. It’s been uncomfortable and sad, and I’ve decided to lean into that feeling instead of avoiding it.
(If you are just joining us, start at part one here. They are a quick read.)
Ryder’s teeth continued to worsen.
I spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on any conceivable treatment, remaining ever hopeful. Acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, vitamins, supplements and herbs and tinctures – all to no avail. His smile was brilliant, and beautiful, and devoid of teeth.
Ronan was getting hours of speech an occupational therapy each week, and Ruby was my ever-present side-kick. It’s hard for me to remember much about Ruby… not in a bad way – in the incredibly sweet, minimally needy and wonderfully Ruby way. When I think back on it, I have hardly any concrete memories of her needs and wants. In those moments, I am so thankful for my instagram and my desire to record everything; she has been well documented and was as kind and magical as could be imagined.
We spent several months back at the lake living with my in-laws. It was much better, much more comfortable than the first go round. I was still working weekend nights at the hospital, and Brock was still working his new and much loved job. He was brilliantly excited about his projects, his co-workers and his time. It showed. He received promotion after promotion and his confidence soared. With both of us working full time hours, and living with his parents, our bank account balance began to grow. We quickly began talking about purchasing our “forever” home.
Around the same time-frame, Brock’s younger brother had moved back to the area from a prolonged military deployment. He was a single father, and Brock wanted to help him transition from his military retirement back into civilian life. Rather than focus on purchasing a home, he requested that we look for a big rental place, and allow his brother and nephew to move in with us – it would give them a leg-up, and we would have an extra adult in the house to help with the children.
The flat-out-honest-truth was that I was a “hard no”. I told Brock I was 100% NOT on board with that plan, and that I thought it would be a disaster. I outlined all of my reasons why to him, and (as we had been learning in our continued marriage counseling) I had to sit and listen to his side of the argument. It was compelling – the most salient point being that I never give his ideas a try, and that this was one REALLY kind and wonderful thing we could do for his brother. So, with as much grace as I could muster, I agreed to the mutual move, and began house-hunting.
It took me several months, but I wasn’t really in that much of a hurry. I found a home close to our Kung Fu school that was on an acre and a half of wooded land, at the end of a cul-de-sac drive and surrounded by neighbors that we couldn’t see. There were five bedrooms, two living rooms, and the tiniest kitchen I had ever seen. I knew it was going to be a huge compromise to make it work, but I was willing to do it for my husband, and he and his brother agreed to work just as hard. We moved in, and my brother in law and his son moved in shortly after us. We divided up the house in a manner that made sense to everyone, and began living.
My life became yet another round of “same shit, different day,” and I felt it. I continued to stress, worry and obsess over our diet and what food my family ingested. I continued to watch Ryder’s teeth disintegrate. I continued to drag all of my children to Ronan’s multiple therapy appointments, and to play dates, and the park. I continued to try to be the calmest, most peaceful, loving mother that I could be, while also working on being an adequate wife and a respectful house-mate. Things between Brock and I were strained – we were still learning how to communicate, especially surrounding our intimate life. That was compounded by the fact that all three of our children were sleeping in the bedroom with us, and we had two extra family members. Despite all of that, one evening not long after my cycle had FINALLY returned (22 months after Ryder was born!) I knew that I was ovulating.
I sat down on the couch with my husband and initiated what would be a very important conversation. “Brock… do you want to have any more kids?”
Brock looked away from me and allowed his focus to fall off into the distance. “I don’t think so,” he slowly replied. “I really love our life right now. I love our kids. I feel complete.” His eyes snapped back into the present and he pointed them at me. “Mandy?? Why are you crying?”
I had silently and immediately burst into tears. “I can’t be done, Brock. I can’t be. The idea of not ever having another baby is just impossible to survive. We can’t say we’re done forever,” I sobbed. “We can’t.”
Brock chuckled deeply and pulled me into a hug. “I didn’t say we couldn’t talk about it again in the future, Mandy. I just said I’m done right now.”
Soothed by his words, I took a deep breath and told him, “Oh. Ok. GOOD. Well. In that case, if you aren’t ready for another baby, we probably shouldn’t have sex tonight. I’m ovulating.”
Apparently what Brock heard when I spoke those words was, “Womp womp WOMP womp sex tonight womp WOMP womp.”
Three weeks later, I peed on a pregnancy test that turned positive.
I’m going to gloss over the majority of the next details here, as they are not particularly flattering and (as has been the case in the past) much of it isn’t solely my story to tell. You might have been able to guess, but our two-family living situation started out well and slowly/predictably deteriorated from uncomfortable to unlivable. Over the course of several months, it became apparent that co-habitating couldn’t be workably continued, and Brock’s brother moved out abruptly.
So, pregnant with our fourth child, still working weekend nights, living in a large home that cost more than we could comfortably afford, Brock and I started planning our next steps. Purchase a house? Return to our townhome? Rent somewhere else? We were tired of moving, but also tired of being uncomfortable. We had no idea what the next right thing was.
To be continued.