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How Do You Know You Are Finished Having Children?

This post was originally published on my family blog, Suiresphere, in May 2011. It is one of my favorite posts about motherhood and addresses the struggle that all mothers have when it comes to deciding if they want to have more children…

Our church had baby dedication on Mother’s Day this year, making the day a little “extra” special for those new moms who proudly held their squirming infants and toddlers in front of the congregation. Tears blurred my vision as I looked down the row of little girls covered in bows and ribbons, and little boys dressed in their Sunday best. On two separate occasions I have stood at the front of our church to dedicate my children to God and I know how proud and exciting that moment can be for both parents.

Watching those beautiful babies that Sunday morning, I waited for the feeling of longing to enter my heart, that gentle tug to have another baby. It is a feeling that I usually get every time I hear that a friend is having a baby or when I get the chance to hold and breathe in the intoxicating scent of a newborn child. To my surprise, that feeling never came…

I was about 25 years old when my older sister had her second child (another boy). Although I lived almost 1,000 miles away from her and was not there when the baby was born, as I listened to her voice as she told me about her new baby I felt the tug of motherhood for the first time. I experienced this feeling, the longing to be a mom multiple times over the next 5 years but due to timing and circumstances, motherhood was put on hold for me.

By the time Trey and I decided that we wanted to start a family, I was 31 years old. Sophia was born nine months later and the minute that the nurse put her in my arms, I knew that I wanted to have more babies. Blame it on the hormones, but the rush of love, amazement, and wonder that you experience those first few hours, days, weeks after your baby is born… is indescribable.

family photos

mom with kids on the beach

Thankfully, the lack of sleep from caring for a newborn wore us down and we decided to wait awhile before having more babies. I say babies because we always talked about having three kids when we first got married. We actually were not set on a certain number, but we both agreed that we wanted more than one. Trey was an only child and has always felt like he missed out on having brothers and sisters.

Around the time that Sophia turned one, we started seriously talking about having another baby. Although I liked the idea of having another baby, I did not enjoy the actual pregnancy the first time and I was not looking forward to it again. I was fast approaching 34 and knew that my time was limited before I became “advanced maternal age”, which is any pregnancy after the age of 35. Surprisingly, my body needed some encouragement to get pregnant the second time and we visited a fertility specialist for several months before I found out I was pregnant with Tallen.

This time, I kept telling myself to enjoy every moment of the pregnancy because it might be my last. Tallen was born at on May 24th at 11:19 PM (during a game of the NBA playoffs, which was playing on the TV in my hospital room) about 10 minutes after Trey bet me that the baby would not be born until after midnight.

Over the next two months, Tallen did his best to ensure his lifelong status as the baby of the family. Colic, reflux, screaming eight to ten hours a day… By the time I went back to work when he was 9 weeks old, I swore that I did not want any more children. I was finished having babies.

cute family picture idea

family of four on the beach

But then I would visit a friend in the hospital who just had a baby, or hold a newborn and marvel at those ten little fingers and ten little toes. The longing began to creep up on me again. When my OB-Gyn asked if I was ready for permanent birth control options, I could NOT say yes. When Tallen grew out of the infant seat, I moved all the baby gear out to the garage so I could load it up and take it to the resale shop. The swing, bouncy seats, and baby clothes have been there for over three months. I loved holding my babies, rocking them to sleep, kissing their sweet little cheeks. But my babies are now 4 ½ and (almost) 2 years old so they don’t really qualify as babies anymore.

However over the past month, I have noticed some changes. We invited some friends and their kids over for a cookout. As I watched my friend with her 9 month old, I did not feel the longing to have another baby. In fact, watching her struggle to feed the baby while fighting off her exhaustion – I actually thought “I’m glad I am not in her shoes.” I held another friend’s baby a few weeks ago and was happy to hand her over to her mom when she woke up and burst into tears.

Our babies have grown up. Our kids can play in the backyard now without me hovering over their every step. They can sleep all night in their own beds. Sophia can go to the bathroom, get herself dressed and brush her own hair in the morning. Tallen can tell me what he wants (or doesn’t want) to eat at dinner. We have started to enjoy traveling with the kids instead of dreading it, so we have planned a few short vacations this summer.

So when I teared up looking at those new moms at the front of the church on Mother’s Day, I was also shedding a tear for me too. Babies are no longer in my future and I have come to the end of my journey to motherhood. But my motherhood journey is still rolling ahead full steam. And I love it more every day.

crazy family picture

**Update on 5/10/2017 – My “babies “are now 10 1/2 and 7 1/2 years old. The baby swing and car seats are no longer in the garage, we donated them years ago.  We love being a family of four and have no regrets about not having more kids. Our family feels complete. But I still love holding babies for new moms, kissing their sweet cheeks and checking out their ten little toes.  – Stephanie