Before my pregnancy with Simon, Eric and I wanted to have “two or three children.” We were going to see how we felt a few years after baby #2 was born (since we’ve never had any desire to have children close together in age) and then make a decision.
And then I had an
unpleasant crushingly awful pregnancy.
By the third trimester, it was clear that we’d never choose to risk another pregnancy like that one: we’d just have to be done. (I know other people have much harder and more medically scary pregnancies than mine and then go on to have more children, but that’s so not the right thing for me or for my family.) I was angry and sad that it felt like my body was making the decision for us, rather than allowing us to take our time and make the decision on our own terms. I was frustrated that I’d have to experience this second child’s birth and infancy as “my last baby” rather than in the indeterminacy we’d anticipated: it seemed to impose an unnecessarily bittersweet tone on the proceedings, at a time when fatigue and hormones and wild baby love eat that sort of melancholy up anyway. But I knew I’d never want to be pregnant again.
The birth was perfect. I don’t need a do-over.
Breastfeeding has been perfect. It’s so much like my experience with Noah, the one I wanted to have again, with all the little quirks of a relationship with a different baby at a different moment in my life.
The baby himself is unbelievably delightful. Really, truly, the happiest little person you can imagine.
And we’re done.
It would appear that I’m odd in my absolute doneness–especially given my love of birth and breastfeeding, my birth-nerd ways, and the fact that we hadn’t simply ‘always pictured’ two-children-and-that’s-it. It seems like everybody in my little corner of the internet has been writing beautifully about her ambivalence over being done (or not being so done after all): Kristen having second thoughts and then resolving them, Laura finding she’s not so sure after all and then leaving “Team Two and Through,” Molly working thoughtfully through the “one more?” question.
I’m still a little pissed that the pregnancy sucked so much as to leave us without a decision-making process. But Eric and I are also really enjoying knowing the shape of our family. We know how many rooms we might want in a longer-term home. We know we’ll never have to figure out how to avoid buying a minivan. We can picture how old our children–our two children–will be at various points in the future. We can envision being able to sleep uninterrupted, do stuff around the house without being on constant safety alert, have privacy, and rediscover the delights of free time at various concrete points in the future (I can almost feel the sleep! almost …).
I can take a deep breath, too. Somehow, by great good luck, I have never had to live through the miscarriage of a deeply-wanted pregnancy, hold my breath through a single real scare with regard to a fetus’s or newborn’s well-being, deal with fertility problems, recover from a cesarean birth, or even process a birth that just didn’t go how we’d hoped. Nausea aside, I have had an awesome reproductive run, and I’m ready to take all those worries off the table for good.
Thinking of Simon losing his babyhood makes me sad sometimes, certainly. (When he turned eleven months old already, for instance, and I saw a year barreling toward us.) But that’s because I love Simon‘s babyness, his particular way of batting his soft hands against my chest while he laughs, all that good stuff. I felt this way about Noah, too, and not because I thought we wouldn’t have another baby. I don’t long for another baby, some future baby: I suppose I long, in advance, for Noah and Simon as babies. It probably helps that I’m actually not that whipped up about babies: why, I ask, would I want some hypothetical stranger baby? (I have this weird thing about “stranger babies.” Don’t ask.) But one way or another, this is our path, and I shall set out upon it joyfully.
For the rest of you who’ve settled definitely on 0, 1, 2, 3, or … however many … children as what you’re havin’, how has that process worked and felt for you? Lyrical or matter-of-fact? Easy or hard? Your choice, or not so much?