Champagne

And Just Like That, I’m Done

15

Just the other day, I published a blog post expressing my second thoughts over following through with Tim’s vasectomy in January.  (I know that it’s not my vasectomy to follow through with, yet it is still a procedure that affects my reproductive life in a radical and permanent way.  Hence, I think, my capacity to have second thoughts about it.)

The post itself seemed to resonate with many people.  It made them feel everything from dismay (you mean that desire to have another baby is NEVER going to go away?!) to excitement (YES YES YES another baby YES!) to generosity-based-on-a-total-ruse-I-promise-you (you and Tim are such wonderful parents and delightful people that another person would be lucky to be a part of your family!).

And people shared really extraordinary advice and perspective too.  It was one of those times when I felt completely humbled by how thoughtful and supportive my readers are.

Seriously.  You guys are amazing.

 

So in the wee hours of that evening, Tim and I discussed the possibility of postponing his vasectomy.  We talked about what it would be like to have a fourth child–how wonderful it would be, how much time it would take away yet again from my work, how nice it would be to give Eric a sibling closer to his age, how much adding another family member would postpone so many of the dreams and goals that we have for ourselves and for our entire family.

We weighed the pros and cons.  We plumbed the depths of the decision.  We explored the excitement and the fear.  And we marveled at the fact that we were even considering having another baby because this possibility wasn’t even remotely on our radar these past few months.

Make no mistake: neither of us takes this decision lightly.  Choosing to become a parent again is not only a privilege–it’s an Enormous Responsibility.  A Life Changer.  A Big Effing Deal.

And it’s also a decision that is often accompanied by varying degrees of uncertainty.  I mean, as far as I can tell, there is no “Should You Have Another Baby?” calculator out there.  And even if there were, there’s always this thing called the human heart that is wont to shout out, “CALCULATORS LIE!  PUT ANOTHER BUN IN THE OVEN AND COOK US UP A BABY!”

So I decided to pray on the matter.

 

Allow me to explain what prayer looks like in my head.

I don’t pray to send my problems up to an invisible guy in the sky.  (If there is a God(s), I’m sure that they are busy with far more important issues than my little quandary over whether to have another baby.)  In a very Iris Murdoch-ian sort of way, I pray to focus my attention on both the inward and outward factors that are relevant to the topic of my prayer.  I pray to make salient the emotions and circumstances and facts-of-the-matter that will help me to go forward with whatever decision I end up making.

It’s kind of like altering the lens through which I view the world, if only so that I can see the solutions to my problems more clearly–or if not more clearly, at least differently.

And so I prayed.

“Lord/Universe/Creator/Narcissistic Desire to Have a Mightier Force Looking After Wee Little Me: Please help me to figure out which way to go from here. I don’t know if we should have another baby or if we should just close up the shop for good, so I’m just throwing this whole thing out to the prayer pasture.  Amen.”

And just like that, I was viewing my world through a differently nuanced, differently textured, differently colored lens.

 

That night, as I lay next to Alec before he fell asleep, I tried on the idea of being pregnant again.  I toyed with this idea, an idea which I never thought I’d ever entertain after Eric was born.  I let it wash over me, just to see how it would make me feel.

And I felt nothing but dread.

Maybe not dread, exactly.  More like emptiness.  Joylessness.

This was all following an afternoon where I had imagined when it might be best to try for another baby.  I had thought through the excitement of it all, replayed in my mind the highlight reels from all three kids’ first years on earth.  And these thoughts had left me feeling positively giddy.

“We can have another baby!  Yes!  Another baby!  Another squishy baby!  How glorious!  A family with four bouncing children!”

But this was only the whipped cream.  I had only gotten so far as the candy-coated, sugary, saccharine-sweet moments of all things pregnancy and baby.

Because when I peered at the realness of the possibility of having another baby, the realness peered back at me and said, “Really?  Really?  You want to do this all over again?”

And in the deepest parts of my gut, I felt that the answer was a resounding “no.”

No.  I really don’t want to be pregnant again.

Before all four of my pregnancies, I wanted to be pregnant.  I wanted to be pregnant, and I leaped with eyes wide open into the possibility of each new pregnancy.  I was, and am, so lucky in this respect.

Now, however, I recoil at the thought of being pregnant again.  When I give myself a quiet moment to reflect on being pregnant again, I recoil.

This, I think, is a feeling that I cannot, and should not, ignore.

 

Miles said to me the other night, “Mommy?  I think we have an awesome family.”

It was, I thought, a perfectly accurate statement.  We do have an awesome family.

But he wasn’t finished.

“But I really want another baby,” he added.

“Oh?” I asked.  “Why is that?”

“Because I really want a sister.”

Oh.  Because that.

“Miles?  Miles, what do you think would be all that different about having a baby brother as opposed to having a baby sister?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t think there’s that much of a difference.  I just want one.”

As if he needed just one more action figure–a sister, sized baby–to complete his set.

“But you know we couldn’t control that, right?  If we had another baby, there’s no way we could guarantee that you’d get a little sister.  Would you still be happy if we had another baby boy?”

He contemplated the possibility for a moment and then responded, “Yeah.  I really want a sister, but I’d still be happy with a baby brother.”

It was so sweet.  Really, truly a sweet moment.  A wonderful, darling, sweet moment with my wonderful, darling, sweet firstborn baby.

Yet even as I lay immersed in all of that sweetness, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that my days of baby-making were done.  That I was done.

Sweetness be damned.  I’m done.

 

Over the weekend, I had the chance to wade through my bursting-at-the-seams email accounts.  Hundreds of unread Google Alerts.  Dozens of long-expired special offers and coupon codes.  And then a smattering of months-old personal messages to which I had never responded.

For a moment, I wondered how I had ever let all of these messages fall by the wayside.  And then I remembered: I had a baby.  This whole year, I’ve been parenting a baby, and two older children too.  And even when you stack this up against everything else in my life (and trust me, this life is full and just as bursting-at-the-seems as my email accounts are), the whole parenting-of-the-baby thing is what loomed largest over the entire year.

This is what babies do.  This is how they change your life.  They loom large, they take up space, they demand so much from you.

But they’re also cute.  And they’re cuddly.  And they get your ovaries drunk on some sort of secret potion that makes you want to reproduce yet again even as you can barely grasp hold of your life.  Or your email inbox.

It’s the thought of what it would be like to have another person loom so large in my life again for an entire year that sobers me up, and fast.

Even if it means saying goodbye to all that I’m currently loving about parenting my baby, my Eric.

I can love this and be done with it too.

 

From what my mom tells me, my good old ladyparts probably won’t stop getting drunk on the aforementioned secret potion until I’m well into my forties.

It’s biology.  It’s nature.  It’s having ovaries with a low tolerance for secret potion.  (The drunkards!)

But I–I–am done.  Just like that.  I’m done.

And if I could gather the ladyparts around–that’s you, uterus, and you, ovaries, and the fallopian tubes, the vagina, and all the hormones that course through my body–I’d like to toast them all for being so good to me through my childbearing years.  I’d like to raise a glass of champagne to them and say, “Girls?  That was fun.  It was a whole hell of a lot of fun.  But now?  Now, we’re done.”

We’re done.

I prayed on it, I viewed the world through a different lens, many lenses even, and I know now that I am done.

 

A toast to us, and to what comes next.

image credit nImAdestiny on flickr, under a creative commons 2.0 license

image credit nImAdestiny on flickr, used under a creative commons 2.0 license



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15 Comments

  1. TheFeministBreeder
    TheFeministBreeder01-01-2013

    We’re 8 months post op (and 6 months post being told there are absolutely no swimmers left of any kind) and I still have those momentary pangs of “awwww, I WANNANOTHERONE!!!” But no man, I really do not want another kid. And I do not EVER EVER want to be pregnant again (fuuuuu I hated being pregnant. I was really good at it in that I was the super healthy in pregnancy but MENTALLY I was a mess, so no way man, NO. WAY.)

    But I’ve found myself at births recently wishing that I could be the one giving birth. How twisted is that?!?! I just loved my waterbirth SO. MUCH. that I really want to do that part again. I would love to do that part every few months. I just don’t want the 9 months leading up to it, or the sleep deprivation after it. But I felt like I had finally started to get the hang of birthing, had one perfect experience, and never get to do it again.

    But those are all memories now. Now we get to just enjoy our kids growing up, along with some of the new-found freedom that involves. All 3 kids are spending the night at grandma’s tonight, and they couldn’t do that when they were teeny nursing babies. Being able to spend time ALONE with my husband is nice. And it’s nice being able to go places with the kids like a waterpark that we can all really enjoy together. Babies are cute, but they really slow ya down!
    TheFeministBreeder´s last blog post ..Get Off My Internets: My New Favorite Place on the Web

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-02-2013

      I get it–there are still parts of me that want to give birth again. And then there are other parts that say, “Well, you’ve been so lucky…would you want to chance a BAD experience with a fourth?” As if I’ve someone jinxed myself with the two great VBACs or something.

      In any case, I’m sitting here drooling thinking of the day when all three kids can go to their grandparents’ for the night. OH MY GOD. MAKE IT HAPPEN SOON.

      Hope you enjoyed your night with HH. :)

  2. katie
    katie01-01-2013

    I’ve gone through these same feelings myself, and I came to the same conclusion. A part of me will always long for the excitement of pregnancy and the feeling of holding a fresh new baby, but the the rest of me – the logical part- knows that adding another person to our family would not be the best thing for any of us who are already in it. So we moved on, and it forced me to deal with the question of what it means that I am a woman done having children, past that time in my life, and facing aging head-on. I know this is the right direction, though, and that it is time to put my energy in raising the children I have and discovering what life has in store for all of us. Best wishes.

  3. Rachael
    Rachael01-01-2013

    I am so so so so so so done (I mean goodness, I feel too old even for the children I already have!), but yes I feel those pangs, too.

    So I thank you for this: I can love this and be done with it too.

    Happy new year!
    Rachael´s last blog post ..2013: Here We Are!

  4. Tanya Senne-Smith
    Tanya Senne-Smith01-01-2013

    You are a beautiful person and indeed a wonderful mother. It is sooo good that your being is answering this question for you. I am also secretly happy to know someone else is going through this as well. W/ all that has gone on in the last 4 months I feel like I have missed so much. I take heart knowing that when I am feeling sad over the last first you will understand. Love to you friend. And The Feminist Breeder I feel you girl! I would love to give birth at home in a birth tub over and over again. My daughters birth was amazing and all too quick esp. knowing it was my last time.

  5. Mama Mo
    Mama Mo01-01-2013

    Thank you for sharing your thought process. I’ve been struggling with being “done”, too. We have twins– surprise, there’s two in there!– and while I think I’d like three kids I definitely don’t want four, and I most definitively don’t ever want infant twins again. My pregnancy ended badly (preterm labor, then an unwanted c-section, and a NICU stay) and while I’d love a “redo” I don’t think I want to chance it. Do I want another baby more than I don’t want another c-section? There’s also the money part of it… we don’t have enough for me to stay home for another three years with a new baby. So I have to ask myself if I want another baby only to put him/her in daycare. Nope, I don’t want that either.

    Sheesh. Looking at it in writing makes it seem like my mind is actually made up.

    *raising a glass* Here’s to you, ladyparts!

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-02-2013

      “Do I want another baby more than I don’t want another c-section?”

      Wow. Powerful question there, and I’m sure you aren’t the only woman who has asked it of herself.

      Raise that glass high if you are indeed raising it!

  6. Lindsey
    Lindsey01-02-2013

    A friend directed me here when I mentioned the other day that I want another. Well, I’ve never stopped wanting another, but my husband is d.o.n.e. We have three boys, too (also CHOICE babies). I want more! I don’t think I’ll ever feel done, I don’t think I’ll ever be happy about being done, and it sucks. I DO want to be pregnant again. Want to give birth again. Want to be up all night with a newborn again. Waahhh. We don’t have a vasectomy deadline looming over our heads, which helps. I have time to work on him. :/

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-02-2013

      ***waves*** Hello, fellow CHOICE mom! And mom of three boys! (Seems like the universe is telling us we should meet in person. :) )

      In any case, I should add that there was a time when Alec and Miles were 2 and 4 where they were both going through very challenging phases simultaneously, and Tim and I seriously considered not having a third. But we knew not to make a life-altering decision based on circumstances that were so impermanent. (I mean, they are ALWAYS challenging, but this was one of those hell-on-earth phases.) Things got easier, and in our heart, we both got to a place where we wanted another baby. Then came Eric.

      I think it is a big difference in your case in that YOU really do want to be pregnant again. Maybe time is the thing that you both need? And I will say, my mom (who had three kids of her own) really wanted another baby, but my dad (who also had two kids from a previous marriage) really did NOT. She said that it took her a while, but she eventually got to a place where she was grateful that they stopped at three/five. So it would be possible to want another yet still get to a point where the ones you have feel “just right.”

      In any case, I wish you lots of peace in whatever decision you both end up making!

  7. Martha
    Martha01-02-2013

    Ah… how you turn these life decisions into wonderfully shared stories for the rest of us…THAT…is beautiful…I leave laughing and nearly crying all at the same time. What a gift! I mean….there should definitely be more toasting to lady parts!

  8. psychsarah
    psychsarah01-02-2013

    Thank you for, as always, being so frank and sharing your process. I have to bookmark this after I (hopefully) have my second someday. I have always pictured myself as a mom of two, and DH took a bit of convincing to entertain a second, and now wants to sign up for his vasectomy the day after I give birth to the second! I know I should stop at two, but have a feeling I’ll get the feeling I want more some day, and will need a reminder of why it’s ok to want it but not follow through with it!

  9. VasecTimy: Throwing Tim under the Bus (And the Knife)
    VasecTimy: Throwing Tim under the Bus (And the Knife)01-11-2013

    [...] In just a few short hours, Tim and I will have closed our family’s baby-making factory for good.  He’s going in for the snip-snip, the Big V, the good ol’ vasectomy.  And I’ve gotten to a place where I’m thrilled about it. [...]

  10. Quiet You Mothers
    Quiet You Mothers01-23-2013

    At 2 months pregnant with my second, I said to myself, there's no way I'm doing this again. Then my morning sickness cleared up, we found out it's another boy, and I started to think, Maybe someday, we'll try for a girl; I could have three kids. Then the third trimester hit and the switch flipped again. Almost immediately at hitting 28 weeks, I was back to thinking, Yup, never doing this again. We'll wait to make any permanent decisions, but I'm pretty sure a family of four is where it's at for us.

  11. What a Vas Deferens a Day Makes
    What a Vas Deferens a Day Makes01-23-2013

    [...] previous posts, Kristen described her deliberation and eventual decision not to have any more children and to opt for a more permanent birth control solution. I asked my [...]

  12. Domini Packer
    Domini Packer04-16-2013

    I did the same introspective thing too! Walking around the grocery store looking at the moms with 1 more kid than me and trying to feel a camaraderie with them…….but nothing. I felt nothing but "oooh heeelllls nooo!" So even when my ovaries scream at me to make use of them, I just remember the feeling of panic when I imagine getting a BFP. You can love giving birth, and you can love baby snuggles and breastfeeding and all that good stuff………..and still never EVER want to do it again.

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