I blame the Target baby section.

They get me every time, those tiny little sleepers with adorable animals on the feet or (be still my ovaries) on the butt. I’ve tried avoiding the section completely but even a tiny glimpse from aisles away and I’m consumed with longing. Then, as if Target weren’t bad enough, Facebook starts chiming in. With every glimpse of a sleepy-eyed, milk drunk baby on my feed my breath catches and my throat constricts around the lump that suddenly appeared there. Staring at the tiny, perfect faces I can almost feel their little body nestled perfectly in my arms—such a stark contrast to the way my own children’s bodies have grown long and lanky, stretching from my shoulders to my knees as we snuggle on the couch.

Baby fever. It’s hit me hard. Very hard.

Like any other fever, this will just have to run its course. For our family, a third baby is simply not to be. Yes, it would make me happy. Absolutely. I look at our kitchen table with everyone crowded around it and can picture that extra place. Like ghosts I see the bulky high chair, the bottles, the piles of rejected baby food, the stained bibs . . . it’s perfection. So why wouldn’t we add to our family? For one, because when I blink and the ghosts vanish, my little family of four sitting there, napkins folded in laps, drinking from big kid glasses and eating more or less neatly from real dinner plates . . . that is also perfection and I am happy. So, very happy. But the real, deep down, honest truth is we will not be adding to our family because I cannot sit back and let my gorgeous, amazing, incredibly patient husband wait for me—for us—any longer.

Because my husband has been waiting for a very, long time.

When we started dating and I was skittish and non-committal, still healing from the heartbreak of a broken relationship, he waited.

When I fell head first down the rabbit hole of bulimia, he waited and when I found myself at the bottom I looked up and there he was, hand extended. Waiting.

When I raged at my body and hurled insults and accusations, he waited.

When I told him he was a liar and no one could love something so broken, he shook his head sadly and he waited.

In the doctor’s office when they told us there was no heartbeat and he knew I couldn’t bear the weight of his pain, too, he bottled his tears and he waited.

When looking at him hurt too much and I talked about my feelings to everyone but him, he waited.

When the surgery worked and our rainbow was on the way, he held my hand and his breath and he waited.

Through the stench of morning sickness and the zombie-like exhaustion, he waited.

When anxiety clutched me tight in its fists and I spent days crying that we were going to lose this baby, too, he wrapped me in his arms and he waited.

When the baby came and I couldn’t touch or be touched by anyone but her, he waited.

Through the long nights and the raging hormones, he waited.

When depression settled in to stay and I left for hours, too scared and overwhelmed to come home, he kept our daughter safe and he waited.

He waited through therapists and antidepressants and side effects and withdrawal.

And when those two pink lines appeared, he waited through it all again.

My husband has never complained about the wait and he would never complain about waiting a little longer. In fact, he’d probably laugh and tell me he’d wait as long as I needed because I am worth it. Because we are worth it. But now that our children are growing older and the season of young parenthood is at its autumn, I’ve come back to myself. I’m dancing in the kitchen again and singing to corny country songs and I laugh now. A lot, and with a reckless abandon that leaves me giddy and breathless.

I’ve come out of the haze and as the mist clears, I look out and see him. My husband. Waiting for me to come back to myself and back to him. I see his love and his patience and his sacrifice and I can’t make him wait any longer. Do I want another baby? Yes, but what I want more is to give him this gift . . . the gift of us. The gift of me, coming wholeheartedly home to he man who’s been waiting for me all this time.

Emily Stelter

I am a relatively new blogger, though not a new writer, and a mom to two deliciously strange kids. This fall I quit my full time 9-5 to pursue full time momming and writing. I blog about parenting, authenticity and vulnerability at An Awkwardly Magnificent Life. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.