The Baby Question

I think I made an important discovery this weekend: no matter how I proceed with this baby business, at some point, I am going to have to deal with the feelings that come up around the prospect of being done making babies.  Early predictions are that the chief feeling will be sadness.

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This weekend, I spent time with dear friends who are in various stages of working on their third babies.  I was thrilled to hear friends who had proclaimed, “WE ARE DONE,” had changed their minds and plan to go for one more baby.  This whole “making a baby” enterprise always excites and delights me.  Also, it calls the question on my baby fever.

When the weekend’s festivities finally died down and I was still enough to hear my inner voice, I heard it say, “you can’t side step the sadness.”  I was awake enough to put up a fight.  I am not sad about being done having babies because of these great reasons:

  • I’m old
  • I’m tired
  • I am ready to get on with my life
  • I’m not sure I have enough energy for three children
  • Moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney
  • I have two beautiful, healthy children of each gender– don’t be greedy

That still, inner voice doesn’t care about logic, though.  She wants me to know that there is no path without mourning.  Also, she suggests being sad about it doesn’t mean I should run out and get an ovulation kit.  It simply means that there are intense feelings around the question of whether I will procreate one more time.

Last night, I felt like the answer was definitely “yes,” we are done.  I think that’s why I was crying so hard.  It’s also ok that it’s over, and it’s sweet that I liked it all enough to cry when it’s time to move on.  It’s ok that little Smile or Sand or Skyler will probably be a goldfish and not an heir to the Outlaw Mama throne.

What was weird about last night was the message I found inside myself that having babies made me worthy in a special way, so not having any more babies means the end of a certain kind of specialness that I am scared to let go of.  I had no idea that message was in there.   Seems like I would have seen that coming, but I didn’t.

What feels scary about following this whisper that I am done with procreating is that I am not sure what’s next.  My kids will go to school, and I will have the opportunity to find new directions, pursuits, and work.  I feel tremendous excitement about that, but I’d be lying if I said I had a clue about what it will look like. Will my ankles swell and will strangers give me their seats on the train?

I am looking forward to finding out there are lots of ways to be beloved and precious besides carrying a baby in my womb.  I simply can’t imagine anything I would do would match that, but I am willing to find out.


34 thoughts on “The Baby Question

  1. Next up – you should write a book. Consider this comment a sign from God. (You know, if you believe in that sort of thing.) Aren’t you glad we just sorted that out and you no longer need to stress about what to do with yourself when the kids are in school?

  2. I agree with Laura. Time to get yor book on. And just because you’re done making babies in your womb, doesn’t mean that your amazing journey of being a mom is over. More beautiful phases await you, as your children will continue to need you in more amazing ways that you could ever imagine. So now can I be your other blogger crush?

    • You’re my blogger big sis, so it’s awkward to put you in the crush category. It’s weird how it’s hard to picture being more vital than I am as a mom. But you’ve done this longer, so you know more than I do.

  3. My hubby is going to get a vasectomy next month. We’ll be officially done — one of each gender.

    I’m with the other comments though — you should write a book! Go for it. 🙂

  4. I identify with this post, only not coming from the same direction. I am, ahem, not young anymore, but I’ve never had kids. I’ve always really wanted them, but life circumstances haven’t lead me down that path, yet. It’s not too late for me, but it almost is. I’ve thought about doing foster care and/or adopting and I think that will be a good option for me, but after I went to the initial foster care classes, I found myself grieving the idea that I probably won’t ever have kids of my own. You are definitely right, it’s a mourning. I haven’t given up hope completely, but knowing it probably won’t happen was enough to make me have to start dealing with the idea, like you.

    I agree with everyone else…a book is in your future. You are one of my favorite writers, I love your style. Next step, birthing a book instead of a baby 🙂

    • Wow, that’s a wonderful affirmation. And a dear friend just pointed out that I will have to grieve at the end of this whether it’s today or three kids later. Just like i grieved not being in high school or making partner at a law firm.

      It feels so good to name it and let the sadness just be. And if the next birth is a book…. Well that makes me cry too.

  5. I agree with you that birthing babies is pretty amazing stuff and I remember being so sad in the weeks after my last childbirth – partly because of the crazy hormones, but mostly because I knew that I would never experience it again. It’s been almost ten years since that time. When I see a baby I still have that little ache – for a few minutes. Now I parent two teenagers (and one heading that direction) and, when I do it well, I feel almost as much like a superhero as I did when I gave birth to them. Hang on tight. There is so much more to come.

    • Thank you. It’s weird. I never pictured life past nursing. Then I got so immersed in preschool that I can’t imagine anything after that. So intellectually, I get that there will be more richness and connection and mind blowing parenting. I just can’t get it in my heart.

      And teenagers? Hold me. I’m so scared.

  6. It’s so interesting that I read your post today. My kids are 22 and 19, one of each. My hubby and I relaxing on the couch relaxing and I asked him if he wished we’d had another. I was adamant NOT to have one (I’m 1 of 2) but he was always questioning because he was that third. He said, in hindsight, it worked out perfectly because we had an adult for each child. While it sounded alluring to him at the time, we are both thankful now for lots of reason…Ummm, two college tuitions (out-of-state) currently the big reason. But I totally understand because you enter a new phase but it’s kind of liberating to know you are moving on. Exciting. Hope you’re okay!

    • I just said to myself I need more connection to people who have grown kids and already resolved this! So your email is perfect– both the timing and the message. And tuition for preschool is scary enough… College? Swoon.

      Thank you for sharing your experience!

  7. This is so normal but we all do it in such different ways. For me it was forced. I had cancer and my second was delayed until I was 40. Another after 40? Too much. But maybe if I’d been younger… You will have an awesome career as a writer. Enjoy the kids you have, and blossom!

  8. A very good friend of mine, who had four children, said it is always better to have an even number, because with an odd number of kids, one is always left out. So unless you’re willing to hop on the train two more times, maybe better to get off now!

    Don’t put off writing your book. It may have a shorter gestation period than either of your children, or it may be endless if you don’t seize the opportunity (that wisdom comes from sad experience and disappointment in self).

  9. My desire to have another baby has never waned. I love kids.
    As for the rest of your life, the kids will give you plenty to write a book about. Trust me on this.

    • Oh, I know you know what you are talking about. “Never waned”? I hadn’t considered that I woudl have it forever. I love your take on this. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Oh, I hear you loud and clear. The special-ness, almost sacred-ness, of bearing a child and being a mother to young children does have it seductive qualities. At one point I thought we might try for four, but now I know I’m sticking at three. And that does bring up questions in my prattling monkey mind about my status and what’s next: the kids are all still so little, but as they get bigger, do I need to do something bigger too?

    • I think your first blog post I read was about putting away the little onsies of your youngest knowing you are done. It was very poignant. I can’t stand how many feelings this is all bringing up. The good news is that I just talked to my sister about her newborn baby (her third)– she says all third babies sleep through the night so I should go for it.


  11. We are done, done, done and hubby has the vasectomy scar to prove it. I adore my children, truly I do. But life has been had in every way imaginable since the twins were born. I don’t regret them — most of the time. And I know that once they are a little older and more self-sufficient, I’ll feel tremendously guilty for the split-seconds that I did regret them. But right now? Drowning in the hardness of the last couple of years. Waiting for a life raft….

  12. Relating to the sadness – for me it comes in waves. I agree that whenever it comes, there will be grief. I always thought having my last so late would mitigate the sadness. Nope. But it does pass/is passing. Now, let me be the 731st person to second that book!

  13. Hey Mama,

    You’ve been a mother since you gave birth the first time. You will be a mother until you die. You will be a mother if you have 100 more, or no more. You are just as much a mother as mine, who had 10.

    But, that isn’t who you are. It is one of the many things you do. Who you are is so much bigger a question to be answered. Your dilemma, like mine today is, what next? How do I choose to express who I actually am. I am not what I do. I am how I live.

    Interestingly I mistyped live with love. Maybe that’s a better reality.

  14. I’ve had your post sitting in my inbox for days, I just keep reading it over and over. It hits so many nails on the head that it’s like watching a home improvement show. I have been having this same internal debate for years – every once in awhile believeing I have found “the right answer” only to keep wondering if it really was so “right” after all. I tried to put it into words in a post I wrote called “I’m done (I think)” and reading your words made me happy to know I’m not the only one spending too much time debating with myself.

    As my husband said to me one time as I sat with my head in my hands, crying over having the conversation AGAIN, once you come to what truly is your right answer, you will stop asking the question.

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