Will The Next Phase Of Life Be As Fulfilling As The Baby-Making Phase?

This Is My Biggest Fear Now That I’m Done Having Babies

Stacy Reiber

I just finished up a minimalist challenge with some friends. The premise was to get rid of the amount of items corresponding to what number day it was. So on day one, we each got rid of one item. On day 28 we had to toss (or donate, etc.) 28 items. Pretty simple and very effective. We sent pictures daily for accountability. But on day 31, the image sent by my friend sparked quite a bit of conversation. She was planning on getting rid of her copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

I was first introduced to this book — a bible really — long before I ever thought about getting pregnant. I was newly married and two women at a one year old’s birthday party were discussing how the book was a miracle. Being a book nerd, I immediately burned the title into memory. According to one of the women, she only needed to buy the book, not even read it, to get pregnant.

At our two year anniversary, we were ready to have a baby and I consulted the book. A miracle it was. But mostly because I learned about the inner workings of my body — literally. It was all new to me. Why the hell had we not learned this in high school health class? Hello egg whites! Each little twitch and day of the month now felt like it made sense.

I read every single page in that book, multiple times. I now own a basal thermometer that reads to the 1/10th of a degree. I know how to chart and I know the stories of all the couples in that book. I loved that book. My copy was given away to a friend wanting to have kids. I never got it back and for that I’m a little glad. I don’t have to make the decision to keep it or not. I will tell you that I convinced my friend to hold on to it. She has a little girl and I think it should be passed on to her one day.

But the texts going back and forth seemed to say without saying that we no longer have to take charge of our fertility. In fact, I feel like we are saying goodbye to it. And that sucks.

It sucks because it seems like the next thing we have to take charge of is old age. I turned 40 last year. I felt great in the birthday celebration moments, but now, like my fertility, I feel I’m on the downward trend. What the hell is there to look forward to next? I need a book that tells me how to take charge of the part of your life where you’re getting old. And I’m praying that there will be wisdom galore much like there is for new moms.

We need the old village back SO BAD. When you are a new mom and you find your pseudo village, it’s great. I found mine at a baby boot camp when my now 11-year-old was born. These women are still my lifeline. With each baby I met more incredible women who are all still my saviors. How am I going to meet new friends now?

With kid #3, I joined a baby meditation class. It was life changing — I learned ideas and topics that have really helped me navigate life. Is there an “old moms club?” Are there childless playgroups? Plus I get a little nervous in new social situations, so for me having a child alongside the last 11 years has served that anxiety well. I can tend to their needs, or pretend to tend to their needs, while really just pacifying my dislike of small talk. I can arrive late, leave early, all with good reason! Pretty soon I’ll be going into social situations totally unarmed.

I just don’t know what I supposed to take charge of next. My career? My sagging breasts? My marriage? My retirement planning? Everything was so cut and dry in that book. Take your temperature, chart your fluid, do the deed, and get ready for babies. I need someone to write the next guide — “Taking Charge of Your Middle Age Life.”

I guess what I’m most worried about is if the next phase of my life will be as fulfilling as the baby making phase. And let’s be clear — I’m not there yet. I have a 3-year-old, a 9-year-old, and an 11-year-old. I have LOTS of baby raising to still do. But I am also done having kids. My lifelong dream to have babies is fulfilled. I watch my daughter play with her dolls and I see how early that dream starts. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, but don’t know what is next in the dream vessel. I’m a little scared — a lot actually. What if the next phase is not as magical as the having kids phase?

From what I gather my other “done having kids” mom friends are worried too. Our conversations have changed quite a bit. Last time we got together someone pointed out the topics of our conversations were pathetic. All we talked about was what medical test to have when. Who were we and when did we get old?

All these ladies in my life — I’m going to hang on to them for dear life as we take charge of the next phase — whatever it may be. And please God let there be a book to guide me as easily as my fertility.