In a couple of months, my youngest child will turn 2, and it’s really starting to hit me. This is it. I’m not having any more babies.
I knew this even as I was pregnant with my baby boy. It was the plan for him to be our last all along. My husband and I had to work hard to get this kid. The stress of trying to conceive was forgotten, though, as I struggled with a difficult pregnancy and delivery. Those things slipped my mind as I dealt with the pain of recovery after a rough c-section, and worked through the challenges of breastfeeding. Between all of that, I was taking care of my oldest child, being a wife, and working.
Nearly two years later, things are finally slowing down a bit, and I have time to reflect on the fact that this is it. My family is complete. In some ways, I feel like I can start to plan the rest of our lives. In other ways, and now more than ever, I feel empty.
This is really it.
I’m done having babies.
Both of my pregnancies were incredibly challenging. You name an issue a pregnant woman has, physically or emotionally, and I likely had it. Even still, I cherish the time I spent growing my children. They were the safest they’ve ever been when they were in my womb, and I felt like I had some control over their wellbeing. I did everything I could to make sure they were healthy. I sang to them to make sure they were happy. Carrying them brought me a sense of purpose and joy.
The same goes for breastfeeding, and caring for them as babies. My daughter is 9, and I’m still grateful for the opportunity to do things for her, to be of service to her. It makes me feel important. It makes me feel like my life has meaning. Even on hard days when I would want to hide under the covers if it was just me, my babies give me a reason to push through.
That’s why it’s so hard to watch them grow up and to know that no other baby will ever need me the way they needed me. I’ll never experience breastfeeding again. Or be caught up with emotion by watching my baby smile a real smile for the first time. There will never be another chance to experience the ripples of a tiny human inside of me.
It makes me feel sad.
Now I’m trying to figure out what’s next. What do I do now that I’m done having babies?
Well, for one thing, I’m trying to stay present with my children. I mean, longing for a baby that I’m not going to have doesn’t make a lot of sense if I’m not cherishing the time I have with my babies that are here. I’ve started taking a lot more pictures and actually doing something with them. I’m creating photo books, and collages, and putting some of them together to make video slide shows. For me, having actual physical activities is helping me to deal with some of the sadness that’s still there even as I push through it.
Looking forward to the positives of having children who are older and not babies has been helping, too. My husband planned an overseas trip for our family for the spring, and I have to admit that travel is a lot easier with only two kids than if I had even one more. We have savings accounts for the kids and are able to start planning for them to go to college. It’s rarely difficult to find a babysitter for our two because they’re somewhat self-sufficient at this point.
Between the two of my children, they can keep themselves entertained, eat on their own, and let me know if they need anything. I won’t know what to do with all of the free time I’ll have once my son gets potty-trained! Now, that my son is more independent, I’m starting to see the benefits of stopping at two and honestly, looking forward to a little bit more freedom. I guess that’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. The silver lining around the cloud.
I’m really trying to focus on the positives of not having any more babies. To be honest, though, a year ago, I didn’t care about the ease of travel, or what it would mean financially, or mentally, or anything to add another baby to our brood. I just wanted a baby. You know the main reason that it’s so hard to know that I’m done having babies? Because everything goes so fast when the babies are born.
There were so many things that I missed with my first child because I didn’t know to look out for them. No one warned me that the last month of pregnancy would be like a whirlwind and I should take pictures, or that all of the baby’s firsts are easy to keep up with in the beginning, but then they come super fast and it’s hard to remember if you don’t write it down right now. There’s so much that I captured during my second pregnancy and the first year’s of my son’s life because I was able to slow things down and be in the moment. It helped that I had experience and knew what to look out for. I wonder what else I missed that I would discover or get to experience with one more baby?
But, that’s not happening. I’m done having babies. It’s been decided, and it’s a choice that’s good for my family and me, and I’m really good with it.
At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself until this empty feeling goes away.