One morning, after a rousing rendition of up-every-two-hours-with-a-teething-baby, bleary-eyed and fully-caffeinated, I texted my best friend:
I am 100% done having children. I can't do this again.
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, it wasn't just the fatigue talking. 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 at that moment (how could I?), I did feel a sense of finality with this stage of motherhood.
I realized that 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 being 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, I thought. 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. He must just be having a weak moment after seeing our friends with their baby. HE had been the one who was adamant that two children was enough for us. HE had been the one to quickly shut down any "what ifs" that I'd raised. How could he be saying this right after I told myself we were done?
So, I reminded him. "No, you don't. You don't miss my cankles or carpal tunnel syndrome or my high blood pressure. Or my complaining and flopping around trying to get comfortable in bed with no less than six pillows. Really, you don't."
But he missed the other stuff, he said. 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. He assured me that there were 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 together is a special time, one filled with awe. After this particular conversation, I was 75% sure we were done having kids.
Life settled back in again, but this time my 4-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 it off and explained that she had a sister, which was so great. I only had a sister, Daddy only had a sister and we are all very happy people. She brushed me off after 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 these moments of second guessing myself—the wondering, the daydreaming—that get me. But it's also the big moments of practicality and reason (hello, day care costs) that then 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.