We all have different journeys and naturally, our definitions of what makes our families ‘complete’ varies wildly, too. Some mamas are quite content with one child while others surround themselves with large families.
There is no right or wrong answer in this scenario.
Regardless of whether you are able to control when you deem your family to be complete or not—declaring ‘no more babies’ is a bittersweet decision even for the strongest mother.
It’s quite possible that you will feel confident and sad about your decision. I know I did.
Thing is, it’s okay and perfectly normal to feel conflicted. You’re only human.
I am speaking from experience as someone who is 110% positive they don’t want any more children. I have all I want and need. And probably all that I can handle as far as my sanity is concerned. (If I had any more children, you’d probably find me wandering around aimlessly in fuzzy pink slippers in Target…?).
Yet there are days when I look at a new mom and all those familiar brand-new-baby feelings wash over me. I hold a friend’s newborn and that baby scent transports me to a magical land far, far away. A land I will only be able to visit and never experience first-hand again.
My mind wanders to what it would be like to have a third child. Maybe I’d have a boy? Would I be a good ‘boy mom’? Would he be tall and into sports like his daddy? And so on. I call these hypotheticals a case of the ‘what ifs’—except I don’t have the option to change course and explore a different path.
I am faced with the finality of my decision and that can be a little sad sometimes. A door has closed for good. That chapter of my life is over.
Though I know in my heart and mind that our family is complete, sometimes the realization that my ‘babies’ are no longer babies hits me like a speeding freight train. They are growing up so fast, and there won’t be another baby to divert my focus away from that fact.
There is a tinge of sadness that bubbles up at the most unexpected times. Like when a memory shows up in my Facebook feed from eight years ago or when I sort through my kids’ clothing or when they get out of the car without demanding hugs and kisses like they used to.
Sometimes I find a baby picture in a random spot—my beaming, chubby little girl performing at her first dance recital—and the sweet memory is followed by the inevitable realization...I won’t have another chubby little toddler running around. That little girl has transformed into a waif-like ballerina in what seems like the blink of an eye.
And then a lazy Sunday rolls around and I find myself sleeping in until past 9 a.m. (gasp!) after a late night. The girls have gotten themselves breakfast, let out the dog and now are happily taking advantage of their weekend TV privileges cuddling with their pajama-clad dad by their side. Life. Is. Wonderful.
I gratefully accept that days like these would be a distant dream if we had another tiny human in the house. I am reminded of the many, many, many sleepless nights that come with babies and congratulate myself on making the best decision for me and our family.
So as you can see, mama, it is possible to feel both confident and sad about the “no more babies” path.
I will always miss the special moments like breastfeeding, my babies falling asleep on my chest or flashing me their first smiles. But I also celebrate the freedom that comes with older kids. I watch them grow and marvel at the people they’re becoming.
It’s a whole new chapter in our story together.
So, when you’re feeling sad...see the joy in the family you have now—the family that’s around you. (Oh, and those lazy Sunday mornings and uninterrupted nights of sleep. ?)
When you’re feeling guilty...feel confident in your decision. You know in your heart what’s best for you and your family.
When you’re feeling relief...don’t feel bad about that. Think back to those newborn days and appreciate how far you’ve come.
When you’re feeling conflicted...be gentle with yourself. It’s not always easy knowing you won’t feel the warm newborn cuddles again from your own child. Allow yourself to feel any real pain in the confliction—and remember to show yourself grace.
When you’re feeling grateful...know that it’s okay to feel good with what you’ve got.
And when those rare sad feelings do bubble up, I remind myself that my girls will always be my ‘babies’—whether they like it or not.