I was already going to write about this, but Noemi has nudged me to do so today.
Before we got married, we talked about how many kids we wanted to have. M wanted 4; I agreed to 2 with an option for a third depending on how the first two went. And then … we couldn’t have kids at all. Rather than starting our family when I was 25 (and M was 30), I was 29 and he was 34 when Mini was born. Smaller came along 2 years later, then Finale 3 years after that.
I was induced with Finale, and when I walked into the hospital that morning at 6:00 am, she was going to be our last child. To the point where I had pre-signed the consent forms to have my tubes tied if I ended up with a C-section. But after she was born, I wanted another one. We agreed that we would wait until she was 2 to give ourselves enough time to decide what we really wanted to do. And for six months, she was sweet and perfect and easy-going and she slept with no problem and I REALLY wanted a fourth kid. Then the hormones wore off and she started teething and crawling and picking up on the big kids’ bad habits and I started wondering what in the hell I was thinking about with this whole “fourth kid” nonsense. It didn’t help that one of my friends DID have a fourth at the same time thinking that it would be no big deal to add another to their family — but it ended up being WAY more than she was prepared for.
When I went back from maternity leave, everyone wanted to know if we were going to have another. My stock answer was that my heart wanted one, but that the rest of me was unconvinced. Which was quite true – each of my pregnancies was successively harder on me. The pelvic instability that presented with Mini recurred and worsened with Small and Fin. My insomnia was compounded by toddlers waking up in the night. And with Fin, my metabolism/blood sugar/nausea kept me from gaining any weight until I was in the 3rd tri. Add another 3 years, push me into the “advanced maternal age” risk category, and I don’t see any of that getting any better.
At this point, Fin is 18 months old and we’re still 6 months out from our self-imposed decision deadline. But for the past few months, when we’ve been asked about having another, we look at each other, shake our heads, and answer – No. We’re done. M is 40 and can’t see himself starting over with another infant in a few years. And while I wouldn’t mind being pregnant (I loved it that much, that I WOULD do it again despite the previous paragraph), and I wouldn’t mind having a squishy new newborn, I don’t really want to add another big kid into our crazy bunch. I’m ready to move on out of the baby phase. I’m tired of diapers and scheduling around naptimes and teething (dear god, am I done with teething) and screaming toddlers angry at my inability to read minds and their inability to speak.
It still feels so very strange, after all this time, to be avoiding another pregnancy. I have a paragard IUD, so I don’t have to make a decision for another 8 years or so. By that point I will be in my 40s and I’ll probably get my tubes tied for the peace of mind that I will never have to worry about being pregnant again. I keep thinking about what it would be like to get pregnant right now. I would not be happy. I would be stressed out, worried about my health, worried about finances, worried about how the new baby would integrate into our family, and most likely miserable physically. That’s enough to tell me that it’s not for us.
I’m not sure if I will ever be at peace with the fact that infertility dictated our family size to us. Because if we had gotten pregnant immediately, rather than taking 4 years to get to baby, it’s very likely that we would have had a fourth child. Even now, when we tell people we are done, in the back of my mind, a little voice wistfully asks me if it’s true, if I’m sure. But I think I know myself well enough to know that the longing I have is not necessarily for another child — it’s for a sense of control over my own destiny that I’ll never get back.