A few weeks ago, a few friends and I were walking in downtown Chicago, enjoying a night out together for the first time in almost a year. As we were walking one of them said something along the lines of, “Isn’t it great that we’re all done having babies.”
We had a very brief conversation about it, especially for us. Really though we all sort of let the comment drift over us and didn’t address it again, even though there was plenty of kid-less time available for grown-up conversations. The fact that I can’t remember exactly what she said shows how little attention we really gave to this comment.
The idea of being “done” having children is something I’ve been good with for a long time. After seven pregnancies – four miscarriages, one stillborn and my two living children – I was done.
The idea of not needing to get pregnant – and after a loss there is always a need that comes from deep down inside you – I felt like a weight that had been lifted off my shoulders. I was finally able to live the life I wanted with my family versus dreaming about the life I was missing out on.
I was done having baby-making sex on specific days, at specific times, holding my legs up in the air (Yes, I did that.) and peeing on sticks. I was done having blood drawn to see if my numbers were doubling, rushing an hour away to a specialist on a weekly basis, having treatments to keep my immune system in check and giving myself shots in the stomach. My pregnancies were difficult, risky and challenging even for the doctors.
I was done with worrying if my children would live or die – if I’d plan a nursery or another funeral. I was unequivocally done and I was at peace with that decision.
Or so I thought.
With all the freedom I’ve gained from this decision, here I am, weeks later still thinking about her comment.
We had spent the bulk of our 30’s trying to, and individually needing to, get pregnant. Somehow in the middle of all this, the three of us had aged, life had settled in and we let go of the idea of needing another child.
Somehow, we realized that this is it – whether we were really okay with that or not.
The truth is, we’re all in our upper 30’s now and we all struggled to have children for the better part of a decade. Looking back on what was supposed to always be a joyous time I feel nostalgic for what it should have been. More babies, less hardship, more joy, fewer tears. I honestly feel a little robbed.
However, I hadn’t let it sit within me until this comment. For some reason, it doesn’t feel like freedom to me anymore. When I think about it, it almost feels as heavy as the need did all along.
The reality is I don’t know that I would be done if it hadn’t been so difficult for me. Or, maybe I would still be done, knowing that I would have had more children through the baby-making years.
Being almost seven years out from giving birth to my son and saying goodbye to him, he’s still constantly on my mind. Sometimes I can talk about him and the experience matter-of-factly, which I do as a coping mechanism. Other times, almost always when I’m alone, the damn breaks and I still sob.
As older and older women continue to have babies, part of me wonders why we have to be done now. Physically speaking, we could all probably do it again. The other part of me knows it’s true though. We are all finally done.
My friends and I have known each other since we’ve been teenagers. It amounts to about 25 years of time spent living, learning and growing together – and sometimes separately.
We’ve kissed other stages of life good-bye with glee – puberty, high school, college, the dating scene, renting, bad hair styles, etc. But this feels different.
This is the one stage of life I believe we will all look back on with a little bit of sadness. While I know we all feel very grateful for the children we have, we will all always miss the ones that could have been.
Maybe the need to have another child never really goes away. Maybe, like I do with the memory of my son, you just push it aside and bury it under homework, soccer practice, vacations, cleaning the house, dirty diapers, laundry and going to work. Instead you wrap it up and lock it away, replacing it with the idea of being “done” and the finality of that conscious decision.
Perhaps though, it always stays with you, just behind the flood gates – whether you talk about it or not. You just keep it in place.
You realize that no matter what you may need, it’s time to move on.
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Thanks for sharing your personal and touching story. My sister was 42 and decided that she was done trying as she could no longer bear the disappointments of in vitro, miscarriage. Suddenly, she became the mother of a beautiful girl thru adoption. Ther’s always something to be hopeful for.
Wow. This was so heartfelt and honest. I have always loved that about your blog. Experiencing a miscarriage myself, I know that feeling. One moment talking about it in the past, and in another breathe, crying on the floor about it. It’s a tricky place to be. Thankful for where you are and how far you’ve come, yet still in a way grieving about your experience. This will be helpful to so many women. Thank you for sharing your story.
This was so sad and hard and but relatable to read today. I’m about to turn 30, so I know I technically have some more years, but I have four living children and have lost three to miscarriage. and have had a few years of infertility. I’m totally in that “need” stage. I’m sorry so many women have to experience this! You expressed these feelings so well.
So true! I have a post about this very thought and I had easy pregnancies. It’s a weird realization but also freeing.
Coming from someone who had relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries, there still comes the certain wave of uncertainty. We have 3 beautiful girls, and I know that we are done. But you captured the feeling very well within your post. Well done!
Thank you so much for sharing your story! I can not imagine what you and your family went through! And can completely understand why you would choose to shut that door! Being pregnant through a non complicated pregnancy is draining! I can not imagine the fear of something happening all the way up until you got to hold them at a day old, drifting over your head. You are amazing for everything you have done for you and your family!!
I’m so sorry for your loses! I couldn’t imagine losing a child. I’m so glad you have 2 beautiful healthy children! Hope your family continues being blessed!
I haven’t started having kids yet, so I’m not quite here yet!
I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t have any kids but I do have friends that want kids and they always talk about having children and some want more and some don’t
I am so sorry for your loss. I really don’t know how it feels like. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.
Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post – I can’t imagine how difficult it was to write this, but I’m glad you shared this wisdom with us.
Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story. It is so important for women to support and share with each other on this life journey.
This was a heartfelt post, I am really sorry to read about your losses. I can’t imagine how it must feel for you but thank you for sharing your story with us.
I appreciate your brutal honesty. Thanks for sharing your story. It affirms to me that it’s ok to not be ok. The emotions and thoughts we have during motherhood are real and raw and we need time to allow ourselves to process, heal and move forward.
We’ve decided to be done too, after my last pregnancy I had a major health scare and the thought of that happening again (or worse) is too much to bear.
Thank you for being raw, honest and sharing your story. I can’t imagine the pain that you went through x
Thanks for sharing your personal story of love and loss with pregnancy. I’m only on my first child, and hope to have another soon enough. Being in my mid thirties I can definitely relate.
This is such a heartfelt story. Sorry to hear about your losses. I’ can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you.
I love the raw honesty of this post. You can really feel the heartfelt emotion behind it.
Oh…this one is tough. I teeter back and forth between being done and having just. one. more.
Amazing post! It’s such an emotional decision: I’m definitely done having kids though lol
It’s great that you were able to come to this realization. I really appreciate reading about your personal stories about the loss of your child after losing mine. It helped me to get through those first beginning stages <3.
I’m not even a mom yet and I just couldn’t imagine what it’s like for you.
Just loved the honesty in your post. Your emotions or I would say emotions of all moms who cannot express it well are penned here. Just loved it
the honesty in this post is so moving. thank you for sharing such a raw experience.
Wow, I admire how strong you truly are, having been through all that. Moving on is difficult, but I think you can get through it and you will find strength to carry on. You are awesome
We are currently trying to conceive our third baby – it will be our last. I will be getting my tubes tied, and it makes me terribly sad, but I don’t think my body will be able to handle anymore pregnancies. I totally get where you’re coming from with this article <3
Thanks, “Rachel” for your emotional and touching story.I think every parent has a touching story about their babies and some memories will never die.