How Do You Know When You’re Done Having Kids?
How Do You Know When You’re Done Having Kids?
The thought of having kids was never one I entertained much. Three months after our wedding, over a pitcher of beer and some chicken wings, my husband and I clinked glasses and said, “Ok, let’s do it! Let’s have a baby!“ Naively we ventured into this new territory, thinking it could be months (even years) before we welcomed a baby into our lives. At our one-year anniversary dinner, I carried our daughter’s car bucket seat into the restaurant to celebrate with us.
I loved being pregnant. I loved every single moment of the entire process, even the pain of gaining over 70 pounds, going 13 days “overdue” and having a less-than-smooth induction. I loved being a mom, and I immediately loved our daughter so much, I felt my heart could burst.
Time moved on, and we casually discussed having a second baby. As only children, the idea of adding a sibling to Story’s life was scary, foreign and exciting. Once again, discussions were short and I was soon expecting again. From the start, that second pregnancy felt so different. To make a long story short, it ended about half-way through in a devastating way.
Story was nearly two when I lost the baby, and she chose to name it Marshmallow. We’ve always kept the name and speak of that baby often, despite not knowing whether it was a boy or girl.
Six months after our loss, I was terrified, depressed, unhealthy, and pregnant again. Where my first pregnancy had been filled with hope, excitement, and love, this one was filled with worry, tears and anxiety. Not a day went by when I didn’t replay the events of the day we lost Marshmallow.
Why was I doing this again? I couldn’t live with my last birth experience being a death.
What if something happened to this baby? I would lose myself.
Was it the right decision for our family? We would never really know, I thought.
How do I give my grief meaning?
The baby who became my little dude Mason was far more abstract while I was pregnant. When we found out we were expecting a boy, I cried. I’m not even sure why, but it didn’t feel like happy tears. Even when he was born healthy and strong and they presented him to me, I was hesitant. Would he be ok? Should I get attached to something that’s not guaranteed? It’s amazing just how twisted and tangled a mind can become after a loss.
Looking back I can see that the only way to the light was through that darkness. I don’t know who Marshmallow would have been, but I know that if that baby had survived, we wouldn’t have had Mason, and to not have him is unfathomable.
I often have conversations with my friends about their desires for more children, some children, a child. I have many friends who suffer infertility struggles, and it absolutely breaks my heart that they must endure such pain. Similarly, I sympathize with my friends who so badly wish to add to their broods, but for various reasons cannot. That ache is like an unreachable itch, forever eating away at a soul.
When they pose the question to me: How do you know you’re done? I just know. Flippantly, I say I know that I don’t want to be outnumbered, that I don’t want to drive a bigger vehicle, that I need that guest bedroom to be for guests only. All those points are true, but the deeper truth is that my biggest fear is being pregnant ever again.
When friends asked when number three is coming along, I thought to myself, “I’ve already done this three times”, and a laugh escaped my lips and I say, “Never!“, as my heart crumbles into pieces and I recall the shell of a person I was after my loss.
This is how I knew I was finished having kids, when I was never really ready to have them to begin with.
Sometimes, we just know things.
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