Let Me Know When I Am Done

January 8, 2009

I think that, maybe, I am done having children.

I think.

Maybe.

Very possibly almost certainly.

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. I’ve been thinking about the fact that our family of four comprises a tidy little unit. I’ve been thinking about the fact that my daughter and my son make such a lovely pair, and about the fact that even though he is still so small they are becoming fast friends and about the fact – the fact – that this is just so lovely. I’ve been thinking that our happy little foursome is so balanced. There is something about us, it seems – it seems – that is complete.

And that completeness is bittersweet. Bittersweet because, I don’t know, who’s to say that we wouldn’t be even more complete with another member to love? I can imagine – albeit in only the vaguest, fuzziest outlines – a future that includes someone else, another girl or another boy who would throw her or his weight into our tidy little apple cart and knock our happy unit delightfully off-kilter, out of balance, wonderfully, joyfully askew.

But then I look at my boy and my girl and my husband – I look at us – and feel something that I imagine is a feeling of completeness and I ask myself, isn’t this enough?

Of course it is enough. Of course.

I don’t want to go through pregnancy and childbirth again. That is, at least, I think that I don’t. Bringing Jasper into the world scarred me, literally and figuratively. You don’t want to go through that again, says my mother when I say – ill-advisedly – that I’m not one-hundred percent sure that we’re done. You can’t go through that again. You just can’t. But she’s wrong, in part. I could go through that again. I don’t want to, but I could. If you’d told me before Jasper came along that his gestation and birth would be so difficult, so emotionally and physically difficult, I would certainly have said that I didn’t want to do it. But were I then to grasp Jasper in my arms and press his soft, chunky self against my chest and feel his little hands explore my hair, my neck, my cheeks, feel his breath on my face, hear his giggle, his coos, I would say to you, I would do it all again. I would not hesitate to do it all again.

And I would not. Hesitate, that is.

But I wonder: do I lie to myself, when I tell myself that I do not want to close off the possibility of a different future, a future with a third? Do I lie to myself when I concoct stories of some hypothetical child, some ghost child, some spirit waiting to be given life and welcomed into our family in a future that I cannot yet comprehend but am loathe to disavow? Do I hold out the possibility of that third child as a means of forestalling my own future, a future that I’ve lost touch with in this, my tenure as a new mom times two? Am I stuck in this identity – this identity that I both love and resent – as a mommy, to the extent that I am compelled to suggest to myself, over and over and over again, that this is who I am, all that I am, all that I can do? By which I mean: am I holding out for the possibility of a third child for the simple reason that there is some part of me – some deep and vital part of me – that is afraid to let go of the mantle of Mommy and march forward in life as me first, Mommy second?

Obviously, I haven’t lost my sense of myself as Catherine – I do identify myself beyond ‘Mommy;’ I do have (fragments) of a life that is not defined by my care of and love for two small children – but my ‘mommyness’ has been a lodestone for me. It has been the thing that directs the compass of my life, that which points here, there, hither, yon and tells me where I am and where I should be headed (building a life with and for my children; building a future with and for my children; changing a diaper; looking for diapers; shopping for diapers). What will I do when I am no longer essential in meeting the minute-by-minute needs of these creatures? What will I be?

There are things that I want to do, versions of myself that I want be, all of which have little or nothing to do with being a mom. It is possible that I am afraid of leaping headlong toward these things, unencumbered by diaper bags and swaddle blankets and slings. It is possible that I am afraid of trying. It is possible that these diaper bags and swaddles blankets and slings are so much security for me: I cannot jump, see, because my hands are full. I would jump, but I can’t. Oh well. C’est la vie.

(It is possible that this is what happens when you go without sleep for over half a year. You start to believe that there are no other worlds beyond this one. You start to fear that you could not not survive in any world outside of this one. You start to go a little – what’s the word? – crazy, and you become attached to your own craziness. Maybe.)

I have a seven and a half month old baby and a three year old girl. I’m going to be ‘Mommy’ for a while yet. It is silly to be nostalgic for this stage of my life, this stage of their lives, when we are still so very much in it. And it is, very possibly, sillier still to fetishize the idea of more children as a means of clinging to this stage. I will, we will, have to be done with it sometime. I can’t be Mommy forever.

So, am I done? I think so. I don’t know.


How do you ever know?

******

Still hoping for contributions to this. It won’t save my nephew, but it will, someday, save some other child, some other nephew, some other mother’s son, and that will make all the difference.

Also, if you’re so inclined, I wouldn’t – as I explained here – object to nominations for one of these. If you’re so inclined.

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    { 118 comments }

    Catherine January 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I *know* we’re done. But the thing I struggle with is that I will no longer be a mommy to babies. For the longest time I was the pregnant one, or the one with the red-headed baby or whatever. And now? Now I have KIDS (not big kids mind you, but kids). And it’s different. I don’t want to weather pregnancy or childbirth again. But oh! to have a chubby baby to call my own? That would be wonderful. However, something tells me that baby would grow up too and then I’d be back to where I am now.

    Liz January 9, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Don’t be so offended by Anonymous. It sounded like she made a connection with you and is frustrated with your difficult situation. It wasn’t a flame. She isn’t an asshat. And she’ll probably keep reading you, because she LIKES you.

    It wasn’t me, BTW.

    Loralee Choate January 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

    C- Sorry to rile the feathers of some. The tired bit particularly rankled me on your behalf as I’ve been up all night with a sick child and well…it seemed asshatish to me.

    I’m also fed up with people who criticize but will not put a name to it and stand by it. It’s cowardly and it pisses me off.

    Sorry again.

    Her Bad Mother January 9, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Liz – I know. And I’m not so much offended as suddenly self-conscious (oh, god, I’m repetitive! I’m a downer! I SUCK) because, yeah, I got that she was frustrated because she made a connection and I LET HER DOWN.

    Also, am so fucking tired that I don’t have any nerves left, so.

    Amo January 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Seriously.

    Give me a damn break, Anonymous.

    First, have the courage to identify yourself if you are going to bash another.

    Second, simply unsubscribe if you are ‘bored’ and move on.

    Ahem.

    I’m in the exact same place and truly appreciate the insight as I’m trying to decide as well. My second (both boys) was much more difficult on my body than I had anticipated. I had decided that there was no way I was going to have another. Then, in the children’s hospital waiting room my husband decided to go get snipped. I blurted out, much to my dismay, “IDon’tKnowThatI’mDoneYet!” Totally didn’t expect that. (Neither did he.) We’re now in a ‘wait and see and discuss it every few days’ stage. I’m 29, so having another isn’t an issue age-wise. My husband just turned 40 and is concerned about ‘being almost 60 when they graduate’…

    So thank you for admitting that it is okay to be on the fence and bringing to light (so eloquently) the happy disruption it could bring.

    (And you are a kind soul for not bashing the asshat. Much more kind than I…)

    Her Bad Mother January 9, 2009 at 11:51 am

    NO APOLOGIES Loralee!

    Your white knightery made me feel better.

    Amanda Petite Mommy January 9, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Like the last 50 or so comments I struggle with being done or not. My husband wants another child. Last year I was for sure done and got rid of every baby thing we owned. Some days I think our family of 4 is enough and some days I think about the possibility of another beautiful little child.

    fidget January 9, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I’m not one to ask this of, I dont know that I will ever feel done. I mostly feel that way b/c after 4, a typical person expects to have felt done.. and I dont and I cant say I have some number in mind that feels round and full and done.

    Scattered Mom January 9, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I’m done. Done, done, DONE.

    I have one, and when he reached two I thought I would die if I didn’t have another. What? Baby stage? Done NOW? Are you freaking kidding me?

    Thing is, Hubs didn’t want more.

    I held it in, resented him, and went through hell until finally I blew when Jake was 4, and we sat down and had a heart to heart. I finally understood his reasons, and accepted that yes, I’m having an only child.

    As Jake grew and we found out that he has dyspraxia, learning disabilities, etc and fought tooth and nail with schools, I decided that I would never consciously put another child through that.

    So, we’re done. He’s 13. I’ve never wondered about another one except to say, “omg you’re joking, right?” Hubs and I have genes that produce wonderful, fantastic, but seriously EXHAUSTING kids.

    I don’t think that I could survive more of that.

    abbyjess January 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I get what anonymous is saying, but I think the whole point of this mommy blogging community is to support each other through the repetitive, tiredness, etc. Just because it is written doesn’t make it any different than any gathering of mommies out there. Come to our playgroup and we are all complaining orally about the same things and that doesn’t change from meeting to meeting.

    I hope you do keep going on and on about how tired you are, how undecided about children you are, etc b/c that’s where most of us mommy bloggers are. That’s what helps us to not feel like were alone, going insane, etc.

    Your writing is something you should be proud of. The fact that you write so often and have so many readers is something you should be proud of b/c how many other mommies out there can’t even manage that?

    Dory January 9, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I have two boys, 9 and 12, and I KNOW that we’re done. But I still dream about that baby girl. I know I won’t have her, but I still think about her. Oh, and sex life after a vasectomy is SAHWEET.

    Dory

    paper napkin January 9, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    We have 3 and I’m done.

    I’m SO done.

    I’m not done because I’m 42. I’m not done because I don’t want any more kids. I’m done because I wouldn’t go through that first year again for a million zillion dollars.

    OK, maybe for a million zillion dollars, because then I could hire some help. But barring that? I’m SO D-O-N-E.

    imogen howson January 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I’m 35, with two kids–12 and 10. I was so ill during and after the second pregnancy that we decided we *had* to be done. So we are, and given that my partner’s had a vasectomy, we have to stay done.

    But I still grieve for the non-existent third child we didn’t–and can’t, now–have.

    This is only my experience, and shouldn’t be taken as a comment on yours, or as advice. But I think sometimes people have to be done even when they don’t feel it.

    And carry on repeating yourself as much as you like. If people don’t like it…well, you haven’t chained them to your blog, after all.

    motherbumper January 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Methinks you are correct in thinking it’s probably you gentle reader, aka Anonymous 9:58, and not her.

    Blogs like this are an excellent forum to generate discussion and if you think each post topic needs to be unique, then tied up in a pretty bow and declared resolved in one posting, well than methinks you need to get out and visit the blogosphere more.

    And perhaps learn to keep snarky comments like “I don’t think I could handle your blog if you had a third child…” to yourself, especially under the cloak of anonymous. That’s just a wussy way to operate.

    Anonymous January 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Anonymous had some good points. Why is that if one voice dissents, everyone attacks? Isn’t a blog a public forum for debate? To express different opinions? Why is one person with an honest criticism called an ASSHAT? This happens so much with mommy blogs and frankly I’m sick of it. Commenters should really let other voices be heard.

    P.S. I’m not a troll or an asshat. I’m not linking to a blog because I honestly don’t have one.

    kateypie35 January 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    That Anon comment was kinda nasty, huh?

    I do NOT think you are repetitive, you are working through issues in your head that we all have…and it takes time. I love reading your blog, and never ever think “oh here we go again”. Pfft.

    I also do NOT think you have some “responsibility” to follow all the assvice you get in your comments…what? That’s just silly.

    I am posting NON anonymously, so I really hope I don’t get flamed for saying this next bit…

    I think you are done. You do seem to be constantly exhausted and mentally overwhelmed. Not that those two things aren’t entirely normal as a Momma – but – why not just enjoy the two you have as fully as you can? Be happy in the now. Accept your blessings. Look forward to being able to sleep again. Adding a third – oy. No. Yikes. Aaak! Maybe I am just projecting my own thoughts on you though. I have one, I am fried. Completely fried. I’m not sure if we will even have two – but three? Oh hells no.

    Elizabeth January 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    We’re done after #3, but only because I had my tubes tied. If I hadn’t been 38 at the time, I would have thought about #4. If you’re hearing that “little voice” whispering about another baby, in my experience? You might not be done.

    That being said, with your pregnancy and delivery having been so difficult, you’ll really have to think about whether you want to go through that again. If, however, you want to write another post (or two, or TWELVE) about this topic, I for one will be here to read. And try to help :)

    Her Bad Mother January 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Most Recent Anonymous – not everybody called her an asshat. A few people said exactly what you did. *I* said that I didn’t think she was an asshat, just that the comment stung, and that I thought it maybe missed the point of the post, but that on the whole, it stung because it DID make some valid points.

    But it had an edge to it, and some people reacted (it didn’t just dissent; it accused me of whining.) so, you know, reactions happen. It’s not necessarily a mommy thing.

    habanerogal January 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    There is not a single thing wrong with revisiting such a life altering decision as having another child.the end. As for me I had my second at the tail end of my marriage and I was 33 at the time. I knew I had to do what was best for me and get the tubes tied in the delivery room so that in the future some man would NOT be able to sweep me off my feet and convince me that it would be SO AWESOME for us to have a baby together. Never regretted the decision and now am with a fabulous man who was relieved that he would NEVER have to hear me beg him to give him another child Worked out really great for us. I feel lucky.

    LAVANDULA January 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    oh catherine i don’t think you are done but you are so exhausted right now.seriously you will know when you are done…my husband and i were in the car the other day and he said to me you know we are usually having another baby about now…and he told his co-worker that is getting married next weekend that him and his soon-to-be-wife better get started on their honeymoon making a baby before we beat them to it lol.if my darling beloved thinks i am popping out another one hes nuts! i am done.and i knew when i was done.as for anonymous i didnt think badly of her until she made that hurtful comment about not reading you if you had number 3…

    Ali January 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I am DONE. I have one, he’s three. To be honest the baby thing really didn’t bother me. He was awesome as a baby, slept through the night at 7 weeks and was never the teeniest bit of trouble. Three though. Wow. Three. If I’d been in a relationship a year ago, maybe we’d have had number 2. Maybe, there’d have been a number 3. Wo knows?

    Right now, as a single woman with a terrible three year old never again. I’ve even pretty much decided that I don’t want to get in a relationship just in case they’d want a kid ‘cos me? DONE. Now he’s 3 I’m getting my life in some kind of order, doing a degree, showering and eating on an at least alternate daily basis!! It’s fantastic, but to go through this again? I couldn’t.

    I agree with everyone who says when you’re done you know. If you can see number three somewhere on the sidelines maybe you aren’t done. There’s 20 years between me and my sister so, ya know, it’s never too late to change your mind. But when you are done, you will know.

    Adelas January 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I wanted another one. DH was ready to be done. After all, he is 10 years older than I am and has gone through the baby thing three times to my one.

    My biggest concern against was how any new child would take away from the attention I can give my son. My biggest concern for was that I didn’t want him to miss out on the siblings (since his stepsisters are 10 years older than he is and live in another state).

    Last Friday, I finally decided I would rather have him be an “only child” so to speak, so that no one else will ever steal away any of the time and love that I want to give him.

    Last Saturday, I peed on a stick and it said +.

    Now, when I think about the statistically high chance of losing what I’m gestating currently, I think I’ll be so devastated I’ll need to try again to replace it. But why? Why can’t I just revert back to my other decision?

    And for that matter, why do I have such an overactive imagination, worrying about things like that as if they’re sure enough that I need to make plans in case they happen?

    Why can’t I just make up my mind?

    Kelly January 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    This does seem to be on a lot of minds, lately. I thought I was done after #2, too. The past few months, though, I’ve started wondering. I was willing to ignore that as my own emotional baggage until Hubby confessed that he’d been wondering a bit, too. So now we’re in a big, confused, conundrum. We’re going to wait a few months – as long as I can stand this damned Mirena (horrible!!) – and decide if we’re done or not. I’d love LOVE to add a little girl to my family of boys. So would hubby. If we could guarantee that I’d be pregnant in a heartbeat. But then, the thought keeps creeping in how much I adore boys, and how much *more* fun another would be. My 3 boys. “Whew!” but also “Wow!”

    Craftastrophe January 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I’m sorry that you’re fighting this internal battle. I say get the IUD until you’re rested and ready to make that decision with a clear head!

    That’s what I did. I knew I wasn’t ready to say no, and so I got the IUD because I go back and forth daily – no HOURLY – about whether or not I want another child.

    *hugs*

    Martie January 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    When you all sit down to eat dinner at night–if you feel like someone is missing–you aren’t done. I thought I was done too–then I married a man with four kids as well… Now I have eight kids eating dinner at our table some nights. And EVERYONE is accounted for. We are DONE.

    I really think, if you ask yourself this–you may not be done. Cause when you know you’re done–you are.

    Sarah S/C January 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I’m a big reader, not a big commenter (sorry), but I thought that giving Anonymous 9:58 the finger was worth coming out of my shell for.

    After all, are we HUMANS expected to be perfect? People doubt, second guess, make decisions and change their minds, and ultimately life is composed of millions of these sorts of things. I cannot fathom a blog that didn’t discuss things, that didn’t have moments of introspection (even on a repeated topic), because it really wouldn’t be, well, normal and human, would it?

    Ami January 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Just to put in my two cents, the part I don’t like about anonymous’ comment was the line “I wonder what you do all day besides take care of two small children.” I do think working moms have it crazy hard: working all day and mommying all evening and night. However, there is something mentally exhausting about being the caretaker of small children, especially when it is 24/7. It is a continual job with few breaks, interruptions, or “off” time. You can never say “oh when I’m off work I’m going….” because you are never off work. Stay at home mothering is a fantastic, fabulous thing (usually) but the benefits suck, the pay is non-existent, and from anonymous’ comment you can see the respect for the job is nil.

    HBM-I think you are a great writer and completely nonrepetitive. You are justifiablely exhausted. I look forward to all the posts.

    Anonymous January 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    HBM, I apologize for the edge and sting of my first comment. Yes, I HAVE made a connection with you. I WANT you to be happy and to sleep, dammit, because I’ve been there and I know how awful it is to be so tired. (Yes Loralee, I’ve been up with sick kids all night too. Try doing that and getting up for work the next day and having to actually perform because you’re on a deadline…) And that’s probably why I’ll keep reading your blog…to rejoice with you on the day that you do sleep, and to see how your nephew is doing because a friend of mine has a son with the same disease. That’s why I continued to read when your other nephew was hospitalized and why I PRAYED for him even though I’ve never met him. And lastly, for what attracted me to you in the first place…your sense of humor. (Remember Phallic Lovey? I do.) I feel bad that I’ve made you feel bad, because I had no right to do that. But I’m only apologizing to you. Because YOU mean something to me.

    To second Anonymous, thanks for the support. I do find it curious that when you dissent, you really do get dragged through the mud. Gretchen over at The Happiness Project wrote a great post the other day about deleting dissenting comments. Perhaps some of the bloggers here should take a look. Sorry I can’t provide a link as I don’t know how to do that.

    To all of you who ranted about hiding under the cloak of “Anonymous,” I have my reasons. First, the name I use is part of my e-mail address, and I’m looking for another job, and if a future employer decides to google my e-mail name, then every comment I’ve ever left would come up. I need my privacy right now. Second, I don’t have a blog, and as a commenter, I sometimes get the feeling that the perception among bloggers is if you DON’T blog, then you couldn’t possibly understand the whole world/concept of blogging. If I can’t link to my own blog, then my comments aren’t quite as relevent, except when I write something that you don’t like. My question to you is this: If I identified myself like I always do, what would it matter? I don’t blog, you know absolutely NOTHING about me, so you couldn’t bash me on your own blogs (which, really, isn’t that what MOST of you would do? Be honest.)and link it to mine because I don’t have one. You don’t have my e-mail so you can’t flood my inbox, so what’s the point?

    Redneck Mommy: As for it being Cat’s blog and she can say what she wants…TRUE, TRUE, TRUE. I know I can stop reading. But are you really saying that bloggers don’t want readers? I wonder what Dooce would say to that considering her income is based on the fact that she does have readers. I HAVE gotten out into the blogosphere, just not as a blogger. Does that mean then that I am irrelevant? That I have no right to comment or give my true thoughts because I don’t blog? I can’t believe that bloggers don’t want readers. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t put their blog links EVERYWHERE.

    I applaud Catherine for not deleting my comment. I will show myself only to her, but like I said, she probably won’t know me from Adam anyway, except to be able to go back and see my previous comments. Also–and this is a testament to Catherine’s writing–my kids are older and, quite frankly, I could give a shit about the trials and tribulations of mothering young children, but I’ve been reading her blog for two years now. I’ll stick with her for so many reasons, not the least of which is to see if she ever gets any sleep.

    HBM, I don’t expect you to address EVERY comment or suggestion made, but I just wanted an update as to whether Jasper was making any progress in the sleep department. That’s really all.

    As for the use of the word “whine,” I myself have been guilty of the same, but you wouldn’t know that because I’m anonymous. I tell my friends all the time to stop their whining, and they can say it to me without my taking offense, but I overstepped my familiarity boundary here. My apologies.

    Sadie January 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I just spent an hour composing my thoughts and writing my own little story about my decision to have my tubes tied after my fourth girl. It was nice I was quite proud of my ability to organize my thoughts and throw my opinion in the circle…It was an hour interrupted by breastfeeding, owie kissing, snuggling, snack getting and shooting myself in the face with cherry flavored antibiotics. I then deleted the comment while trying to post it (smacks self in head). All I wanted to say was that after number 3 I knew I was not finished. Now with 4 beautiful girls aged 8 months to 7 years…after 6 pregnancies, 2 not-so-early miscarriages, 4 c sections and seven years of not sleeping, I am most certainly done…and despite the pain and suffering, I would keep having them if I thought I could handle it. I am simply at my absolute limit. You know what you can handle…you will know. Wait a bit and trust your self.

    Anonymous January 9, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    3 is the new 2.

    Anonymous January 9, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Faithful childless reader weighing in with the only perspective I have–that of a sibling. I’m the oldest of 3. I think all 3 of us wish my mom had stopped at 2. Not because the youngest isn’t cool–he’s great–but because the poor middle brother got a truly raw deal. He’s learning disabled and wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood, partly because his disability wasn’t major enough to really stick out amid the constant noise of a 3-kid family.

    I’m posting anonymously because I would hate for my parents or brothers to read this. I’ve read the stats and it’s pretty clear: middle kids often get shafted, and end up less happy and less successful by most measures. I know there are tons of exceptions and statistics can be pretty misleading, but this one was important to me because our family isn’t one of the exceptions and our middle sibling would have done so much better as a younger. I have my own share of guilt about being a squeaky wheel in the family, believe me, but I know my mom’s guilt is most substantial as she was the one pushing for a third kid.

    Whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll do it with the thoughtfulness and grace you demonstrate every day.

    sashalyn January 9, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    i love sadie. can i say that here? she’s a dear, dear friend and i applaud her ability to mother those four beautiful girls. she amazes me. every day.

    with that being said- some of us DO get to mother as long as we, or our child, are alive. redneckmommy will get me here- as the mother of a child with a relatively severe, lifelong disability, i know that i will be a mommy, in the very real sense of the word, for as long as we both shall live.

    i struggle with the issue of another child. we had planned for two… but didn’t plan for the challenges of an unhealthy child. i am at my max with just this one special, silly girlie, and when folks say, “oh, next time…”, i just shrug. knowing that i will never just be myself again (and i was really a strong self once) makes me think that i can’t take on any more. there is something amazing and special and miraculous about being trusted by the universe with such a fragile package, and i wonder if i wouldn’t somehow be diminishing that experience by trying for another, likely healthy, child.

    then again- i wonder at the wonder of a healthy child. cuh-razy, i know you well.

    it is just such a difficult issue. only you will know your truth.

    petite gourmand January 9, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Every time I think..”okay I guess we are good with just one” I read something like this and my heart skips a beat and I start to rethink everything.
    Just look at these two…so so sweet.

    Makes me really want to do it all over again.

    Haley-O January 9, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I totally relate to what you said about your mother! My mother tells me she’ll “throw herself out the window” if I get pregnant again because my pregnancies were so awful — prenatal depression. The people at motherisk, who were angels to me, couldn’t believe I was willing to do pregnancy a second time after what I went through the first time…. But, I knew what I had to do to get the family I wanted.

    Beyond what she says, though, I know I’m done. I always knew I wanted 2 children. I come from a family of 3 kids. I’ve always felt like the 3rd wheel, the black sheep. I didn’t want that for my children. I wanted them to feel accepted in our family — it’s hard enough to be accepted by your peers growing up, and even into adulthood. Family should be a place of acceptance, nonjudgement. And, for me, a “balanced,” as you put it, family of four really fosters that.

    Booba Juice January 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I know what you mean. While my husband and I always have said that we want a large family…and we hope that will include adopting…I almost can’t imagin what it will be like to give birth for the last time. It makes me sad. I have been incredibly blessed with awesome and wonderful experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, each one unique and wonderful in its own way. And I can’t imagin what it will be like when I don’t have that to look forward to again. :) And yet, I think about how many things my husband and I are going to get to do together once we don’t have young children in the house. :) Another very pleasing thought. But please, please, please, don’t make any perminate desisions right now. I firmly believe that you can’t really make that desion, until you at least have made it past the two to three year mark with you youngest…and even then, I don’t know that I am a big supporter of perminate…there are just so many things, so many variables.

    :)

    momranoutscreaming January 9, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I think when your littlest is around a year you’ll know. Life’s full of surprises though. I was done at two and what do you know. Along came a third. I can’t imagine life without her just as much as I couldn’t imagine life with her. If it’s not a decision you have to make now why press the issue?

    katesaid January 10, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I have a philosophy about parenthood, graduate school and certain other major life decisions: You should only do it if you cannot imagine NOT doing so.

    If you can imagine a future without a third child, a happy and fulfilling future, then aim for it, because it’s a lot more certain and controllable than another round on the Fertility Roller Coaster. It’s OK to be done. And if you can’t imagine life without another, that’s OK, too. It really is OK to need more even when having two is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

    Now, an important caveat: that philosophy’s second word is “should.” Which means, in an ideal world. Which means, does not always apply.

    But framing it that way has helped me make a few major decisions in recent years, so I thought it worth sharing.

    Anonymous January 10, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I have two teenage boys. When they were young I thought I would like a 3rd, a girl maybe? My husband said two was it – 2 boys, 2 girsl, 2 chickens – it didn’t matter to him because 2 was the limit. I was disappointed even though I had difficult pregnancies and a 3rd was not recommended for me. I still had that glimmer of hope for a 3rd, a girl. What I did not know back then is that they are not babies or young children for long. Teenagers come with a whole lot of worry! Today I am very thankful my husband put his foot down at 2 because 3 teenagers (probably all boys?) would be wild and I don’t know if would survive all the worrying and stress? It takes every ounce of energy to support these two boys as they grow into men. For me the baby, childhood years were easy compared to this. The stakes are much higher now that they are older and there is so much more to think about as their world expands beyond me. Two is good for us. Thank goodness one of us knew that 15 years ago!

    Meg January 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I think modern technology has made it more confusing than ever. You can made the decision to surgically remove any possibility of getting pregnant, but then you have to actually make that decision. It must have been easier a hundred years ago: oh shit, pregnant again…oh well.

    I’ve always thought two kids would be the perfect number. Now I’m staring down the fact that it very possibly will only be one unless we adopt and I’m still mourning that fact.

    Once you start sleeping, you’ll decide it wasn’t that bad and want another one. That is the benefit to your insomnia: you know the truth!

    Her Bad Mother January 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Anonymous (anonymous who got called an asshat but isn’t one really) – thank you so much for weighing back in. I get where you’re coming from – I mostly got it the first time, but was just a bit stung, as I said. Because, yes, I AM tired and super-sensitive to the possibility that I just might be a rambling mess. Touched a nerve. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Anyhoo. Am glad you came back, and hope you keep reading, even if it seems that I lose my mind (and narrative thread) from time to time.

    Her Bad Mother January 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Also, katesaid? That’s great advice. Thought-provoking.

    Whirlwind January 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Four years ago, just after Moe was born, Husband and I decided we were done. It was more his decision than mine. Never in a million years, did I dream I'd have three kids in under three years. And honestly, I always wanted a son. But we're done.

    Lately though, I've been thinking of babies. Probably because everyone is having one. And probably because, Moe starts kindergarten in September. And while I've been there before, it scares me. Scares me because my girls are growing up. But then I think back on the years of diapers and sleep deprivation and walking around in a fog (a fog that when I can out of it, I was like wholy shit, how did I function???) and I know I don't want to go there. Not only is it freaking expensive I often feel I don't have time anymore. Time because they have their own activities (and I limit it to one each – I'm not that crazy) but school and home work takes up alot of time.

    That being said, Moe was a surprise. A great surprise, but one that took alot of time to get used to. I mean I had a six month old and just two year old and I freaked. I was still in denial when I walked into L&D. But it's worked out, and I couldn't imagine life without her.

    Now I'm rambling, but if your unsure, don't do anything permanent. Follow your gut. And if you do decide this is it, know that you have a beautiful family and don't let any doubt affect how you live. Cherish what you have and love them everyday.

    Kate January 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    As someone who’s read your blog for a long time and doesn’t comment enough, I wonder if one post of yours has caused so much controversy. The whole business of the amount of children someone has touches nerves as sensitive as religion (and I’m sure they are closely related). Comments like “they only have ‘one’ child” or “they procreate like rabbits” are common. Someone always has an opinion.

    As for your apparent “whiny” behavior, I would be whiny, too (but you really aren’t) if I were up all the time with a baby that doesn’t sleep. There is nothing worse. Nothing.

    As for being “done”? I knew I was after my 2nd boy. I never envisioned myself a mother to a daughter, and that’s ok. And after the terrible bout with carpal tunnel syndrome with the last pregnancy I was totally sworn off being pregnant again. And now that he’s 3 and my oldest is 7, I’m ready to explore being me again and regain some personal identity other than just mom.

    Elizabeth January 10, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    You don’t ever know. And you don’t ever stop being a mommy, no matter how old they get and you are. Your identity as “a woman without children” is largely gone. PART of your new identity is “woman with children” but that’s not all you are or will be. Your comments about balance were so interesting to me because those of us who had intentional third children didn’t feel that balance and when we had our third felt completion. So there’s my two cents.

    Betty January 11, 2009 at 5:33 am

    sorry to break it to you but
    if you aren’t sure then you are NOT done

    Scott January 11, 2009 at 5:58 am

    I am 42, and the last of four children–two girls, two boys. Both parents are still living. The first child, Cathy, is a typical first-born–take charge, make decisions for the youngest, etc. The second-born, Mike, was homosexual, and died of AIDS at age 33. The third-born, Elaine, is very apathetic, and the least intelligent. And I suffer from mental illness, and have to take medication for it.

    Mental illness is inherent, and it is clear that both our parents have it, also. In fact, the only one of us who didn’t have mental illness was Mike, but he had a psychosexual disorder that ultimately killed him. I am the most intelligent child, but also the one most mentally-ill. My parents claim that I was a pleasant surprise–though my dad got a vasectomy right after I was born.

    Maybe I was a pleasant surprise, but that didn’t last. My dad beat me, mercilessly, with the support of my mom. I am the only child who was abused (to my knowledge). My mom and dad abused me physically until I had grown bigger and stronger than either of them. But they still abuse me emotionally. And the older they get (he is 75, she is 74), the more emotionally-abusive they get.

    Furthermore, my parents have always favored the daughters over the sons. As one of my past psychiatrists pointed out to me–it was never okay to be male, in my family. My mom, in particular, constantly talks on the phone with my sisters (who each live in another city, just as I do). She has call-waiting, but will not answer when I call. But if I’m talking to her, and one of my sisters calls, she hangs up on me and takes Elaine’s or Cathy’s call.

    I have never been married (although definitely heterosexual, I’ve always been very unlucky with the opposite sex), and have sired no children.

    I cannot advise you as to whether or not to have a third child. But coming from a family of four children, and knowing the possible consequences–especially how the last-born can inadvertently bring out the worst in his/her parents–I would definitely consider this paradigm, if I were you.

    Amanda January 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    We made it surgically official that we were/are done. Funny, I still get butterflies every time we do that thing that before might have gotten me pregnant. Even though the decision has been made, a part of me will always long.

    carrie January 11, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Oh Catherine…

    I get this too, on so many different levels. With three, the youngest being 5, I long for those newborn days, the smell of baby hair and the feeling of life growing inside of me. But I am done, physically, and even though the years fade the birth of my daughter, my last, and quite a traumatic birth it was, I still would do it all again, if you asked me, and put my health at risk because no pull has ever been greater in my life than the pull to be a mom.

    Sigh.

    Thank you for this.

    Her Bad Mother January 11, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Scott – um, whoa.

    Meagan Francis January 11, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    So, Scott, should I tell my fourth child the bad news now or wait until my fifth is born in March? I just can’t tell, based on your logic.

    Catherine, I was unsure if I was done at 2, and #3 was a most ill-timed surprise. But he ended up being the best thing for our little family…SUCH an easy transition, and he actually opened me up to the idea of having even more kids because I realized that you really do start to get the hang of it after two (or else maybe you lose the part of yourself that cares that you don’t have the hang of it?)

    I would never tell somebody to have another child unless they really wanted to, but if you don’t feel done, I’d tell you that you just can’t know how much you can handle, what a great mom you really can be to three (even if going from 1-2 was hard–as it was for me), and how much it might enrich your life.

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