I’m done having babies.
Much of my life, I’ve entertained the romantic notion that I’d have at least three children. I grew up the oldest of four kids in a home that was never quiet and you rarely had a moment to yourself. I imagined having my own full house, busy holidays with plenty of people in our home, constantly needing to chauffeur somebody somewhere.
Now that I’m actually a mother and have two daughters, I think that our family is complete. My husband was ready to call it days after our second was born, after watching me go through two c-sections along with difficult recovery times. It took me a while longer to come to this decision that I was done having babies. I’m not even sure how long it took me, but I will never forget the day I really knew.
While shopping at Costco, I noticed a very pregnant woman pushing a cart around. I thought to myself, “Thank God that’s not me,” and I meant it with everything inside of me.
Until I was pregnant, I felt so envious whenever I’d spot an expectant mother. I wanted to experience the glow everyone talks about. I couldn’t wait for my own baby bump, to feel those little feet move inside me. What I really wanted though was that perfect little baby. (That little baby wasn’t perfect. She was and is amazing! So is her little sister.) I wanted another perfect little baby about a year after my first was born. My longing for a baby was part of my inner identity for so long that I was caught off guard. If I didn’t want another baby, why not?
I experienced postpartum depression months after my second daughter was born. Is that it? Possibly the fact that my husband works more hours now than he did after my oldest was born? Or maybe it’s because I just turned 35. It’s a combination of all of those reasons and more.
Babies are less romantic than often portrayed. It’s not just a few days or weeks of interruptions all night long. It’s learning how to care for a new life– an entire person– while you try to hold on to yourself and what makes you you. Having a baby is learning to take care of yourself when the only thought going through your head is “Don’t make the baby cry. Don’t make the baby cry.”
There’s not much that’s easy about making this decision to be done having babies, and the factors are different for every family.
Life is not romantic notions. Not most of it, anyway. I’m ready for the days of little babies to fade away, even if I do not feel ready.
My youngest will likely wean herself very soon, and I’m going to be okay even if it makes me sad. My oldest will learn to tie her shoes and, little by little, need me less. We’ll say goodbye to baby snuggles but experience new things like bicycles and learning to read.
We’ll have meaningful conversations with our girls. They won’t all be easy, but it will be beautiful to watch our children learn to articulate their feelings and beliefs. I want to support their passions, teach them how to be true to themselves, and help them make hard decisions.
Maybe I’m done having babies. And maybe this baby season is behind me. But a new one awaits.
Originally published September 2017.