August 7, 2011

Knowing When You Are Done Having Babies

My third and final baby, Juliette

My third baby is now ten months old.  Hard to believe, as it seems like yesterday I was blogging about my beautiful home birth! As the months have gone by, and she's grown and flourished in our love and with my milk, I have spent a lot of time thinking about  whether I am "done" having children.  I grew up hearing my mom tell me that after she had my brother (I only have the one sibling) - she just knew she was done.  In fact, she knew so clearly that she got her tubes tied and never looked back.

I think I've been hoping for that feeling.  That feeling would make things a whole lot easier.  Me though, I don't know.  I mean, I have had three blissful pregnancies where I felt like the most loved and beautiful woman on earth.  I have had three beautiful home birth experiences that I can remember with love, gratitude and fondness for the rest of my life.  And my babies, oh, I so freaking love loving on and nursing my babies.  On a daily basis - as this little baby gets bigger - I am reflecting inside - am I really done with all that juicy loveliness??

I guess the answer I've arrived at is a wistful and melancholy "I guess so."  I realize that pregnancy and babies are very short lived - and after that - the real and very hard work of parenting begins.  I realize that three children is a whole lot of work and that parenting four would kick my ass.  Moreover, I realize I could not meet the needs of four children at the level they deserve to have their needs met.  I realize I'll be 40 years old next year and that (as my father told me last year), I'm not a spring chicken.  (Not that that, by the way, reflects on my ability to actually bear children because I think calling age a risk factor in pregnancy is BS).  Moreso, it's the realization that I'd be quite old when the baby would become an adult and they may not have much time with me in their lives.  And if I'm really honest with myself - our family - with three children - feels complete.

I think I was thinking there would be more glee in coming to this realization - kind of like graduation or something.  But there's not.  There's quite a bit of sadness in fact.   So - I'm making it okay to feel grief about the ending of this phase of my life. I'm going to cry about it, because in my book, endings suck.

But I'm also going to focus on gratitude - for the amazing decade of  baby making, birthing, beginnings.. for my amazing and powerful birthing and breastfeeding body.. and for the three amazing spirits God gave me to parent.  Because gratitude feels a whole lot better than sadness :)

Tell me, how did YOU know you were done?

3 comments:

  1. This is such a hard topic for me. We weren't done, but my body just didn't cooperate. After major birth defects in my first two children, and then having a preemie, and then an earlier preemie, we decided we just didn't want to risk any more. (My water broke earlier and earlier with each one, with the last one being at 29 weeks.)

    My husband got a vasectomy when our 4th was a few months old. We knew it was the right thing to do, but we couldn't even look at each other when we walked out of that place.

    Our youngest is now 5. I still wish I could have another baby. It still hurts, but each year the pain is becoming less. I think I took it harder because I felt like it wasn't really our choice, like it was taken from us. My stepmom went through a similar situation and she promises that eventually I will feel at peace with everything. (I'm beginning to believe her as the children get older and I am having to deal with more than one preteen at a time, lol!)

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  2. I loved Mason's suggestion to me to do something to mark the end of childbearing. For me it was a ceremony with an intimate group of women (and I am still grateful for your participation). I chose to time it when my husband got the vasectomy.

    Even though we had mutually chosen to stop having children and the decision to use a permanent form of birth control was also mutual, it was still hard. For about a year after the vasectomy, I mourned each period as though it were an early miscarriage.

    Every once in a while I still wish we would have another, but truly, I am satisfied with my family as it is. I think it's normal to miss the sweetness of a newborn, the miracle of growing a new human being with only half a cell as an outside contribution, the high of breastfeeding, the power of birth. (It's also normal to not miss any or all of those.) And then to come back to reality and realize we don't get to do relive those without getting another mouth to feed.

    I will unabashedly cry when I hit menopause - I will, after likely 20-30 years of not bearing children, still mourn the end of my fertility.

    And then I'll have a gigantic party to mark my cronehood. Wanna come?

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  3. I do not feel done with my 2, but so many things would have to happen for us to have a 3rd. More money (different car, bigger home), less husband travel, less weight on my body. And most of all, a husband who wants a 3rd.However, we aren't making any permanent decision, yet.

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