Life In Between Chapters
When I was in my early twenties, I told everyone who asked that I did not want any kids. Now I’m 33, I have 4 kids, and I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m done having children. I never really anticipated this moment, but once Ben transitioned from babyhood to toddlerhood, it’s been on my mind a lot. I think about things like his babbling or stumbling around trying to run, and I’m trying to savor it because it could be the last time he does it.
It’s weird because when I watch videos of Henry at Ben’s age, I don’t remember exactly when babbling became talking or stumbling became running, but it did. When Ben was born, all the foggy memories of Henry’s babyhood kinda came back, and it was really fun to see all the milestones again. Then Jon and I talked about how perfect Ben is, and how maybe we should have just one more. Just one more, why not?
Let me back up to my four kids. I started with Henry as a single mom in 2008. I met Jon in 2010, and he had Chase, who is a year older than Henry, and Rylee, who is 3 weeks younger than Henry. Henry’s birth father was simply not present, and Jon was a young widower. His first wife died young of breast cancer, and her illness necessitated Jon getting a vasectomy to try and reduce the risk of the cancer returning. It did return, and she passed, and Jon and I met, we dated, and we married in 2011. After about a year of marriage we decided to try and have his surgery reversed (it’s not something military doctors regularly do, but under these circumstances, he was put on a waitlist). Two years after that, he gets the reversal, and exactly a year later, we’re expecting. It was all pretty amazing. Our stories fit together like a puzzle, and not only did the reversal surgery work, but we became pregnant pretty quickly after.
I feel really lucky. Both my pregnancies were really easy compared to stories I’ve heard. Of course I was emotional and hot and hungry, but that’s just pregnancy. When I think back to 10-15 years ago, though, how did I go from never wanting kids to being bummed that I “only” have 4?
I am happy with our family, and logically I know five is a lot. After Jon and I decided to try and have a fifth, we went furniture shopping a few weeks later (not for baby furniture, but other stuff). We took Ben with us, and Ben had the best time running through all the “rooms.” He saw the store as one big adventure! It’s exactly how a 16-month-old should see a furniture store.
As we were shopping around, it hit me: As adorable as Ben is, and as much as I love him, I do not want to do this again with another baby. I nudged Jon in the store and told him I needed to talk to him about something once we got in the car. In the car, I told him, “I think our family is perfect the way it is, and I think you should get the vasectomy.” We had been using a less permanent method between my having Ben and now. Jon said he agreed and has felt that way for a while, but was nervous to bring it up. What a relief! So that’s that. We are done.
This was just a few days ago, but now all I can think about is I am done having children. It’s the first time since I became pregnant with Henry almost 9 years ago, that I know I am done. Ben’s pregnancy was my last pregnancy. Ben as a newborn was the last time I will ever have a newborn of my own to hold. It makes me sad to think about this, and I’m not at all a sappy person. But now I’m looking at all of them and trying to savor the moment they’re in. When did Henry stop babbling and start talking? When is Ben going to? I don’t want to rush anything.
With Ben, I said I’d stop nursing at a year. Now at 16 months, he’s still nursing. And especially since we’ve made our final decision, I don’t want to rush him. As long as he wants to nurse, I will let him.
It feels like mourning, a little bit of sadness. Even though I’m still relatively young, I feel a chapter of my life closing. I was reading another blog about this last night, trying to find someone who feels like I do. Someone else said that this phase is murky because it’s not so cut and dry. With other phases of life, once chapter closes, and another opens: high school to college; dating to married; non-parent to parent. The childbearing years and when we decide we are done are not cut and dry. Technically I could have another child; I’m only 33. But I know I’m done, and it makes me a little bit sad.