One morning, after a rousing rendition of up-every-two-hours-with-a-teething-baby, bleary eyed yet caffeinated, I texted my best friend:
I am 100% done having children. I can’t do this anymore.
She came through with some sympathetic words, mood-lightening emojis and a gentle reminder that this is temporary. It’s the fatigue talking, she suggested.
But no. That morning sitting like a zombie in my office cube, I meant it. The night before as I rocked my youngest and stroked her wispy baby curls I knew I was done. She chewed on her fingers and looked up at me with wide eyes and a tear-stained face. We locked eyes and while I didn’t resent her in that moment (how could I?) I did feel a sense of finality with this stage of motherhood. I realized I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to watch her grow into a person and move beyond the baby years.
Eventually life moved beyond that evil emerging molar, and we settled back into our routine. I returned to a functioning member of my team at work. And at home I’d catch myself smiling, looking at my two girls as they played together with my husband. This is what our family is meant to look like. Life is loud and full and happy. I don’t need anything else.
Then one night as we were getting ready for bed, after a visit with some friends who are expecting their first baby, my husband said it.
I miss when you were pregnant.
My heart raced a little— surely he didn’t mean it. After seeing our friends he must be having a weak moment. HE had been the one adamant that two children is enough. HE had been the one to quickly shut down any “what ifs” that I’d raised. How does he say this right after I declare that we’re finished and I really, really mean it?
So, I reminded him. No, you don’t. You don’t miss my cankles and carpal tunnel syndrome. My complaining and flopping around as I’d try to get comfortable with no less than six pillows each night. My anxiety at each doctor’s appointment as I waited to hear if my blood pressure was rising again. Really, you don’t miss it.
Oh, but he did. He claimed it was the other stuff. The magic of it all. Feeling the baby move, wondering if it was a boy or a girl and what our family dynamic would be like when the baby arrived. Relax, he’d said. He was just being wistful. No more babies are in our future.
As he rolled over that night and went to sleep (easily, might I add) I lay awake reliving his words. I knew what he meant. Growing a family is a special time as a couple and it was filled with awe. After this conversation I was now 75% sure we were good with the two we have.
Life settled back in again, but this time my four-year-old threw me. She climbed up on the couch into my lap and put her arms around my neck.
“Mommy,” she sighed and paused dramatically as though a big proclamation was looming. She pulled back and looked me in the eyes. “I’d like a brother.”
I laughed her comment off and explained she had a sister, which was great. I only had a sister, Daddy only had a sister and we are all very happy. She brushed me off in a couple of minutes and ran off to play.
But then I found myself thinking. What’s one more kid really. We know what we’re doing. We’d be so much more relaxed. We already have a minivan for cryin’ out loud!
In my heart of hearts I believe we are done. I’m grateful for what I have and I love our family, but there are small moments where I catch myself wondering if a little boy would round us out. If we just waited until our youngest was a little older…
It’s little moments of second guessing, wondering and daydreaming. But it’s big moments of practicality (hello, daycare costs) and reason that reel me back in. We’re doing fine just the way we are.
So, like I said…
That’s how I know I’m 50% sure we’re done having children.