I am at that stage in my life where you are on one side of the fence or the other. You’re either in the “I’m pretty sure we’re done having babies” camp or hanging out in the “I think we want more” camp. Most of my friends, it seems, are quite decidedly in the latter camp. Some have even set up temporary housing, announcing their impending arrival of baby number 2, 3, 4, or 5 (holy, I can’t even!).
And then there’s me.
I have two healthy, happy kiddos:
A four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy. They are perfect, albeit challenging (what toddler isn’t?). For me, pregnancy was hard. I had gestational diabetes with my first and debilitating back pain with my second. Labor was as painful as you expected it to be. And postpartum is always a nightmare for me with postpartum depression and issues nursing. So, as you would imagine, I am not a huge fan of the whole pregnancy and birth part of having kids. And I don’t hide it; I am a pretty open book. I think my friends would be shocked if I didn’t have a visceral reaction to the thought of having more babies.
Case in point:
A few days before Christmas, a friend told me that she and her husband had decided to try for their fourth baby (she already has twin daughters and a son). Without thinking, my immediate response was a sharp intake of breath, followed by a whispered, “NOOOOO!” This was inappropriate, and I wouldn’t recommend reacting this way. (To clarify, I am truly happy for her and all my other pregnant friends). Lucky for me, she is a good friend and knows my lack of desire for more kids. So she and I both had a good laugh at my awkwardness.
As embarrassing as my reaction was, it made me realize how VERY DONE I am regarding baby-making. And by VERY DONE, I mean I have no regrets about that decision. Evidently, this is an odd way to feel. Just about every article I’ve read on this subject is always titled something like, “Why I’m Sad About Being Done Having Kids,” or “How to Survive the Void (or The Ache or The Pain or The Sadness) of Deciding You’re Done Having Babies.” When I talk to women about the topic, I sometimes find another mama who has also decided she’s done having babies. But at some point in the conversation, she inevitably comments on how sad it makes her or how depressing the decision was for her.
On the other hand, I feel relief.
I know that our family is complete. Also, I feel a sense of wholeness. When I imagine going through the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn months again, it makes me break into hives and hyperventilate. My lack of even the slightest feelings of sadness compared to what seems like every other woman’s grief over the decision makes me wonder if something is wrong with me. Am I a bad mom? A bad woman? A bad human being?
Am I the only one who feels no sadness in “closing up shop”?
Maybe. But I don’t think I am. Maybe there’s a third camp out there with a handful of women too embarrassed to admit that they’re relieved to be done.
Is that you? If so, welcome! I’m Cheyenne, self-proclaimed president of Camp Glory HALLELIUIA. This Shop is CLOSED. I am here to tell you that it is okay to feel complete and not sad about being done having babies! Do not let women in the other two camps make you feel like you’re a terrible person for not wanting more kids. If they want three or four or twelve more babies, more power to them (and more coffee). I greatly admire women who have the mental and physical ability to have many children. Patience is not a gift I was blessed with, so I look up to those who have it. Bless you, multiple baby mamas!
And don’t get me wrong. For those mamas who do feel sadness after choosing to stop having babies, that’s okay too. I think you are in the majority here. You have every right to mourn that an extraordinary season in your life is over. I get it. I do. But please understand that not all mamas feel that way. Yes, we love our babies more than life itself. Yes, we know we are blessed. Also, we will miss the sweet moments that only come with pregnancies and birth and newborns. But it is possible for us to know all these things and still be relieved that we don’t ever have to do it again.
I am looking forward to watching my kids grow up.
I’m actively trying to be present in the age and stage they are now because I know I won’t be experiencing it again. (At least not until I’m a grandmother, and then I can feed them sugar and send them home). I want to focus now on watching the wonder and joy in my children’s eyes as they discover new things and explore the world around them.
Also, I want to channel my mothering efforts into teaching them how to be decent and honest human beings—full of empathy, courage, bravery, and all things good. Also, I want to enjoy the little years where these tiny humans want to snuggle with me on the couch. I want to fully enjoy them before they start rolling their eyes and slamming bedroom doors. I’m okay with letting the baby-making season of my life go so that I can focus entirely on the child-rearing season.
So, maybe I am in the minority of moms who aren’t sad to close the baby chapter of their book.
Maybe there aren’t a lot of other mamas in my Camp Glory HALLELIUIA. This Shop is CLOSED. But, for those of us who are, I want you to know that I don’t think it makes us bad mamas. We can rejoice with our dear friends and fellow mamas still in the baby-making camp.
We can show love and support to those mamas who have decided to close up shop but feel a sense of loss or grief about it. But we don’t have to pretend to feel “The Ache.” Or hide our relief of being done like it’s some dirty secret. We can stand comfortably in our decision that our families are the way they were meant to be. And that we’re not sad about it one bit.