A few weeks ago, Justine wrote about coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy.
I’m coming to terms too, but I’m not pregnant. Instead, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be having any more babies.
There’s nothing wrong with me, nothing wrong with my husband, nothing wrong with my fertility. We have two children, a boy and a girl, and we have decided that those two will be it.
Sometimes it’s an easy choice to come to terms with. Like when we’ve spent an exhausting day with two cranky children and bedtime didn’t go as planned and tempers are flaring and we’re burnt out and the idea of one more kid is just too crazy.
Or when we packed up practically half the house for a four day trip to the beach and my husband surveyed the mound of sand toys and clothes and gear and food that needed to be packed into our minivan and commented, “Good thing we’ve only got two kids.”
Or when costs for everything from gas to groceries to fees for preschool are soaring and we’re constantly watching the bottom line to make sure we’re not overextended financially. A third baby would mean we’d definitely have to move to a larger house, as the two kids we already have share a room, and there would be doctor’s fees and food and clothes and everything else to pay for.
Other times, we wonder if we’re making the right choice.
Like the rainy day when we spent the afternoon watching home videos and the babies in those films seemed so long gone.
Or when I see my brother and sister-in-law experience all those wonderful firsts with their one-year-old son, who is walking, starting to talk and learning and changing every day.
Or when I realize that in one short year, my oldest child will go off to full day kindergarten and I’ll only have one child at home with me, and that in three short years, both of them will be in school full time and I’ll need to make some decisions about what to do with myself.
When we weigh the pros and the cons, most often, we decide that our family feels complete with two kids and that adding more would upset the balance we’ve so carefully worked for. By stopping at two, we can fully focus our energies on nurturing and loving them and meeting their needs without feeling parental burnout, or sacrificing our marriage or our health.
And so, we’re proceeding as if these two will be our only two, and that means that I have some personal feelings to wrestle with. While I’m happy with my two, it’s a little sad to think that I’ll never feel a baby move inside my belly again, never breastfeed a fiercely hungry newborn again, never witness first steps or hear first words again. I look at my breast pump, shoved way in the back of my closet, and wonder if I’m really ready to give it away or if we should hang onto the changing table just in case.
It’s a process. The last time I babysat for my nephew, I dearly loved having him around, but while my almost five-year-old loved him, my two-year-old was decidedly jealous. Plus, the effort it took to get three kids into jackets and shoes and out the door was exhausting, and trying to feed all three of them at once meant I didn’t get to eat at all.
But while my breast pump is still in my closet and I still have my maternity clothes, I gave away all the infant toys and passed along my daughter’s highchair to my brother.
Perhaps the changing table will be next.