Monday, January 24, 2011

Knowing When to Say Enough is Enough

I've been reading quite a few blogs lately of larger families and it's left me feeling a little sad.  Now I have three and most days I am quite happy with my three and there are the rare days I wish I had none.  Still, there is this little part of me that wishes we had at least one more.  I miss my babies. 

I know it's completely crazy, although not according to my girlfriend, because we are past so many of those difficult stages like breastfeeding, diapers, bottles, naps, sleepless nights, the terrible twos.  My youngest will be four this April and in another year he'll be going to full day kindergarten and I'll finally manage to get some free time. We've managed to scrape through the last 7 years financially but reached the point where we really need an income from me again.

When I was in my teens there was this lady at church whom I admired.  She had four children and every Sunday, she would arrive (usually by bike) at Church with her four children in tow.  She wore dresses and was lovely.  My mother never wore dresses. Not that that is a negative reflection on my mom, but I loved dresses as a child and for some reason mother's who wore dresses and didn't work awed me.  I'm not sure why I thought this woman was the epitome of motherhood but I always swore that I was going to have four children when I grew up. 

Well, life doesn't happen the way we plan because I also planned to be married and have those babies by the time I was 24.  Not an unreasonable plan I suppose except that Mr. Right didn't show up until later.  I was 28 when I got married, we decided to wait 2 years before getting pregnant only two years turned into 4 due to a bout of infertility.   My first baby was at 32. 

Fast forward 8 years. My baby will be 8 this summer and I'm turning 40 in September.

Not a significant reason in and of itself to stop having children. I'm know lots of women do have babies later in life. I don't judge those women.  If I hadn't had children already I'd wouldn't even bat an eye at my age.  I'm just not sure if it'd be the right choice for me now.   I'm heavier than I have ever been, I have diabetes, high blood pressure and truth be told, I'm not enjoying motherhood as much as I thought I was going to. 

I love my kids, I love the creativity of them, their joy and their exuberance and yet... I hate the mess, the noise, the cleaning, the whining, the crying, the constant demand for things, the monotony of it all.  One moment I'm cross and impatient with them, the next moment I'm in awe at how adorable they are and most days I yell like a banshee.  It's disheartening to realize that you're not the mother you'd hoped to be no matter how hard you try.

Granted the last 4 years have been extremely stressful for us and that doesn't help my outlook.  My last baby was a very difficult birth, we almost lost him and me.  So no wonder I'd be reluctant never mind the naysayers in my family.  My husband looks at it like our family life is finally coming together for us to be able to do things.  Just think of the money we save on diapers.  My mother was less than thrilled when we got pregnant with our third and has made more than one comment about hubs getting fixed.  She loves her grandchildren but being a wise woman, knows how hard it is physically and financially draining it would be for us to have more children.  I think she wants me to have a well rounded life.  I'm not sure.  The other part of me thinks that she sees my stress and thinks I'm not coping well. 

Most of the time I'm okay with the thought of not having any more babies.  Just every once in a while, I get this little ache for a baby.  As crazy as it is, if my period is irregular, I secretly hope that I'm pregnant and can imagine all sorts of little scenarios of telling hubs and family. 

I'm envious of those friends I know that are absolutely adamant about only wanting two. When I was struggling with infertility, my friend once told me very firmly that two was enough for them and all I could say to her that for me at that moment not having had one yet, I couldn't imagine not wanting to have more.  

So I wonder when it's going to change.  At 40, 45 or will I hit 50 and wish we'd risked it after all?

How did you decide when to stop having babies?

3 comments:

  1. You just wrote almost everything I feel. We almost lost our 2nd and were told to not try again. That is what kills me. The fact that is wasn't our choice. Like you, most of the time I feel like we are set, our family is the way it is supposed to be, but other times I ache for another. Then other days I say, oh thank goodness we are all done. There is no way I could deal with one more.

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  2. Honey - there are no easy answers to this. It took me a long time to get over baby lust. By the time I had my last, my oldest was 19 and my body was very clearly saying "Are you COMPLETELY NUTS?"

    I'm still aching for grandchildren. Some of us are just made this way I think. I always wanted to be one of the Waltons, which seemed like a much more fun family than the one I grew up in! Hah!

    And go easy on yourself about the kind of mother you are. It's one of the hardest jobs there is, and if you didn't get frustrated, you wouldn't be real (or I'd want to know what meds you're on . . . which is OK too). I'd bet you're a great mother. When we look at others and compare ourselve, we aren't seeing the whole picture.

    (((hugs)))

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  3. I know the feeling. Some days I'm content with my future secuity detail. Some days I want one little baby girl. Some days I can't wait until I stop nursing, and then I think I'm being selfish. Other days I just want to freeze them all just like this. When will we be happy with what we have?

    P.S. I totally called myself a banshee today.

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