“Oh my god, it’s a boy! Honey, its a boy!” I exclaimed loudly as my husband and I sat across from each other at a diner, our hands shaking as we pulled out the ultrasound pictures the technician had carefully sealed in a white envelope to reveal the sex of our third baby. The smile on my husband’s face, the pride and excitement I felt radiating across the table, his eyes filling with tears. “I thought for sure it was another girl,” he whispered.
A little boy. Momma’s little boy, I thought to myself as I sat quietly beaming in my living room, my hands caressing my ever-growing stomach in small circles. Our excitement was palpable. After two baby girls in three years, we were suddenly walking a path into unfamiliar territory. Our brains rapidly started shifting gears; it was time to sell the baby girl clothes in boxes in the basement, time to paint over the light purple room with butterflies on the wall, time to buy clothes from the little boys section I had admired from afar, afraid to get too close should my dream of shopping there never come true.
A few months later, with a closet full of little boy clothes and a gray and navy nursery complete, we brought home our perfect little man, and I knew deep in my heart that this was the last baby we would ever bring home from the hospital. The labor pains I felt days prior were the last contractions my body would produce as it prepared to bring another life into this world. The emptiness I felt in my stomach after nine months of being filled with a growing baby was now permanent. The sweet, powerful harmony I heard as my son cried out and took his first breaths was the last that would fill my ears.
It took a few months before I felt strong enough to say the words aloud, still fearful I might regret them as soon as they crossed my lips, but I knew it was a necessary conversation. From the moment we opened that white envelope, I had known our family was complete, that this chapter of our lives was coming to a close. But saying the words, starting the conversation, took a strength I had to dig deep in my heart to find.
What I finally realized is that I don’t want more babies. What I want more than anything is more time with the babies I already have. I don’t want to become a mom again. I want to be transported back to the moment I first became a mom and held my beautiful baby girl in my arms for the first time.
I have no desire to comfort another crying baby in the middle of the night; I want to go back in time to the nights my middle child screamed with colic, hold her tight, and rock her calmly through the night instead of feeling frustrated and annoyed and desperate for sleep. I don’t need to hear another toddler say his or her first words, but I would give anything to spend another day just sitting and listening to my 2-year-old babble, in the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard, as she made sense of the world around her. I don’t want to nurse another baby; I want to go back to the last time I nursed my baby boy and savor the moment, hold him a little closer, breathe in his sweet scent, and enjoy every last second of our yearlong nursing journey.
I remember thinking, on the days that were so long and so hard and when I felt I had failed in every single way imaginable, they are young, they wont remember this day. But what I failed to realize was that just as quickly as they forgot the mundane, boring days watching me do laundry and scrub bathrooms, the memories of those ordinary, quiet, beautiful moments of cuddling a baby and a toddler and reading endless stories to them on the couch would begin to fade from my memory as well.
The realization that our family is complete is so bittersweet. Holding my nieces and nephews as newborn babies will forever leave my arms aching and my heart flip-flopping as I breathe in their sweet newborn smell and caress their soft cheeks. Attending my close friends’ baby showers will always remind me of the excitement and joy I once felt counting down the days until my due dates as I anticipated the unknown. Watching a small toddler stumble around the park on shaky, uncoordinated legs will continue to take my breath away as I remember the first time my babies walked into my outstretched arms.
Babies have the power to heal, to give your life purpose, to force you to grow up, to transform you into a better version of yourself, and to create joy like you’ve never felt before. But I know, with every cell in my body, that another baby would only leave me wanting the one thing I can never get back — more time.