I always wanted three children.
In my twenties, I laughingly shared with friends my desire to have two boys and a girl. My husband and I married quite young, so although I was nowhere near ready to have this futuristic family, it was fun to imagine what our children would be like in the years to come.
Of course, that was before my thirties; before the miscarriages and fertility struggles that I’ve chronicled here on Motherly; before I had the wherewithal to understand that baby making isn’t always easy and sometimes doesn’t turn out quite the way you expect or imagine.
After everything I had been through to get my sons here on earth with me, I felt selfish even considering having another baby.
But when I found out I was having my second child, and he was another little boy, I confess for a whole week, I looked at little girls in the park and would tear up.
While I was grateful to have been given the gift of my son growing inside me and already loved him entirely, I also wanted a daughter and I felt this wish from the depth of my body and soul.
I realized that part of this intense longing developed because I lost a baby girl during my second miscarriage. I grieved for her, the daughter I never had, and intuitively understood given my complicated fertility struggles that this would likely be my last pregnancy.
After my son was born prematurely and in the NICU for forty eight days, I felt embarrassed for even having any gender disappointment at all.
He was most certainly all that I wanted and I was madly in love with him the second I held him. It was yet another reminder that babies are pure magic.
In the blink of an eye, I had two toddlers running around my New York apartment and life was blissful. Yet the thought of her, the daughter I never had, remained with me. I shared this feeling with other mothers; some who felt a yearning desire for another baby, others who knew with absolute certainty they were done having kids, and still others who weren’t sure yet, like myself.
I asked my fertility doctor if it would even be safe for me to try and conceive again. His response was that it would be “extremely dicey, but doable” since I had a very fragile situation with my last pregnancy. My doctors’ sentiments did not make me feel optimistic and I thought of the two beautiful children that I already had at home. My husband listened and comforted me as we contemplated this choice.
After time spent speaking together, he emotionally recounted the moments during my last labor when he watched me almost die and painfully told me that he could not go through that again.
I understood rationally that my fertility history indicated I would probably never have another baby. There was however a part of me that kept coming back to the heart felt question... as mothers, how do you really know when you’re “done” having babies?
I think a lot of women struggle with this. For the lucky ones, it seems instinctual; you just know when your family is complete. For others, it seems that maybe this is a question which will never be answered but life moves forward and circumstances change so there is one day an acceptance that your family is complete.
The latter is what has happened to me. I have researched other avenues like surrogacy and adoption but we have decided (for now) that our family is four.
Yes, there is very real grieving that has occurred: I will never ever again hold my baby in the ergo, smell his beautiful newborn scent, watch him smile for the first time, give him a first bath.
So many wondrous “firsts.” On the flip side, I will never again have the sleepless nights, deal with an annoying breast pump, or go through the very real and challenging terrible twos. The hardest parts about having toddlers is almost behind me, and from what I hear from other mothers, life with two school aged children is purely joyful and easier in comparison.
When do we come to the conclusion that we are done having babies?
The answer is that for some of us, we never really know. As mothers, all we can do is hold on tightly to the little blessings we created and let life take it’s course. We can continue to have gratitude for all that we have in these beautiful creations of love as time inevitably moves forward and life invariably moves on.