Our family is now complete. Tim had the definitive procedure (all went very, very well if you were wondering). The lead up to this procedure has been lengthy and thought-provoking and soul-searching. And I have often wondered, just why is it so hard to let go of having babies?
I have had numerous conversations with close friends on this issue. Some were very clear about when their family was complete. They either “just knew” that this was the right number of children or they didn’t feel “finished” but were deciding they were “finished” having children for any number of reasons. And they made these decisions so easily!
But then there was a group like me. The group that knows they should probably not have any more children. The families who lives are full to overflowing that adding one more child, would really have to change lifestyle, career, future plans, etc. I have been in this group for about 3 years. Since Kirby was about 6 months old I have been examining whether or not I wanted to have another baby. My family would be horrified to know this. In many ways, our current life teeters on the unmanageable. Tim is very busy and challenged at work, and my work has gradually becoming more and more involved in administrative and academic levels as well as my clinical role. The children are getting older and involved in more activities and interests of their own. Scheduling of on call duties, extracurricular activities, and childcare has become arduous. Not to mention keep track of school papers, making sure homework is done, eating vegetables once a week at least, and finding some plain old down time! Yes, this is reality of our lives and I know it is of so many families.
So why couldn’t I just let go and accept that we had reached out number? Three healthy children – so lucky, why couldn’t it be enough?
I know it is enough. My brain knows it is enough. Truthfully, it is probably one more child than we could really handle, but hey, we were always going to have more than one child and all of our lives have been enriched by #3. But it seems knowing that 3 children is a blessing and I should be content with that, was not enough for me to make the decision. I had to work through my extensive reasoning about why we should have another: we are happily married, financially stable, we could afford it, etc. But mainly: creating a baby is really the most magical thing you can do in life. It really is the amazing cliché of one of life’s miracles. And if it is a miracle, who am I to come up with practical reasons like needing a bigger car, to stop us from doing it again?! Yes, this is where my brain would go.
But then I would have so many other thoughts like, I am getting older, it would be harder to be pregnant, to be up with a baby. There are no guarantees another baby would be healthy. And what would it take away from our family if we added another member? Micah is turning 9! His childhood is almost over, he is no longer a little boy. He is a big boy now. And although I know I didn’t, I often feel like I missed it because I was so busy with the 2 other little people. I want to have time to know him as a big boy and to have time to just “be around” when adolescence arrives. I want us to go on family adventures – all 5 of us. Heck, I want all 5 of us to go to the movies! It is time to not leave Kirby behind with a sitter. I want to indulge Ariel in her love of ballet and take her to performances and be at her classes. And of course, I won’t even go down the path of talking about how much of my time I know devote to Suzuki violin. It has taken me a long time to realize that although my children do not “need” those things, I do. It is how I want to mother and how I want to live my life.
And so as difficult as it has been to make this decision, I know it is the right one. It is time to let go of the baby things and maternity clothes and move into the next phase of life. It is the right thing for me and for our family. I also know that the little emotional pang I feel when I see families with 4 children, or hear about someone having a 4th baby will likely never go away.
But I plan to practice gratitude for the 3 children I have and to think of all I get to experience with them as the years continue.