The other night, while out with several friends, I was asked the same question over and over. How did you know you wanted another baby or how do you know when you are done having babies?
Obviously I cannot answer for everyone, but I can tell you what my experience has been.
With each of our pregnancies, I would wonder, "Is this my last pregnancy?" Then I would be cuddling those sweet little newborns, with their soft skin and fresh smell and I would wonder "Is this the last time I will have a newborn of my own?"
People had told me over the years, "Trust me you will know when you are done having babies." But it was such vague answer, it was something they couldn't describe, just a knowing sense.
That was frustrating.
This is my fourth pregnancy, we have three wonderful little girls. In discussing whether or not to try for another baby, we asked ourselves; Would we be trying just to have a chance at a boy? Can we afford another baby? Am I emotionally prepared to take care of another baby? How will this impact our lives? How will this impact our girls' lives?
There were so many questions, but for us, it came down to this: We weren't sure if having another baby was the right decision. We only knew that we would never regret having another baby, but we might regret not having one.
So we went for it. We threw caution and pro's and con's and rational out the window and we decided to try to have another baby.
And here's the thing. We tried, one month, then I panicked.
Maybe I wasn't ready for this, maybe my days of babies were done and I was ready for older kids, maybe the timing was all wrong. I was terrified we had committed to something I wasn't prepared to take on. So I prayed. I prayed really hard, all the time.
I told God that I wasn't sure we had made the right decision. I was scared.
And God answered.
I was pregnant, right away.
The night I told my husband we were pregnant, our three year old walked out of her room at 9 pm and threw up on the floor. Then came the morning (all day) sickness, exhaustion reared its ugly head, our baby girl quit sleeping through the night, we headed into flu season and the holiday season.
I was trying to accomplish everyday tasks, like laundry, dishes, and cleaning house, and I would find myself collapsed on the couch crying from the sheer amount of effort the smallest task took. It hit me one day, early on, in the most overwhelming clear realization, this was my last pregnancy. I just KNEW.
Since finding out we were pregnant, I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have looked at my husband and said, "This is our last time." He has been extremely helpful and supportive. He has picked up more household chores than ever before, and I could not be more grateful. But after dealing with my exhaustion, emotions, and hormones, he feels it just as strongly as I do. My body, my mind and my heart have said to me, this is it, this is the last pregnancy.
Sure, we have questioned whether or not its partly hormonal me talking, and I could change my mind later on. I could, yes, but just as surely as I know I love the children I have, and the baby I am carrying, I also know this is the last time I plan on going through this stage of life.
There is a peace in that knowledge. I soak in every last moment with this pregnancy, knowing it is probably my last. I savor each milestone with a certain finality. It makes the hard days a little easier knowing that this is the last time I will go through these phases. Even though each day is getting easier, there is a freedom in the knowledge that I have made my decision.
I don't know what the future will hold, and I don't even pretend to know what God has planned. I cannot imagine what I will feel when friends and family continue having babies, I'm sure I will feel desire and trepidation.
As for me, and my plans, I am done trying to have more babies after this pregnancy. I do not want to put my body through this again, I don't want to take away from my other kids and the time I have for them. I don't want to be tired, and emotional, and exhausted and to feel defeated again. I just KNOW. I don't take this lightly, but I want to be honest for those that have asked, to perhaps ease the frustration for other women who are treading those uncertain waters.
I don't think it is the same for everyone. There are a million different perspectives and considerations for each individual faced with this decision. I can only speak for myself and hope that helps make it a little easier for someone else!
P.S. Great article on How many kids do you hope to have?