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Closing the Door :: The Mourning of No More Children

My child-bearing years are over.

It has taken me months to begin to process this realization. Longer than that to even write about it. If I ramble, forgive.

We.are.done.

Right before the twins turned three, the blanket of exhaustion fog began to lift, and I saw we could actually do life – like go places {happily}, do normal things like hit up the grocery, and be on our own for extended periods of time. And in that moment, it also brought the question of “Well, one more?

And I thought through that. Like all the time. And came to the conclusion that these two sweet ones were enough for me.

I was asked all the time, “So, are you going to have another?” And honestly, I had default answers like, “No, I really don’t want to go through the infertility process again”, or “Ha! No, we have a boy and a girl, I’m set!”, or “It scares me to think of having another child with a Congenital Heart Defect“, or “No, I cannot imagine another pregnancy and more time in the NICU.”

All true statements. For me at least.

Yet, not really THE reason we are done.

In all honesty and transparency, another baby is just not cemented into my heart of hearts. I’ve had a difficult time accepting that. See, when we were trying to have babies, it was ALL I thought about. I wanted a baby more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted my husband to be a dad.

I was willing to do ANYTHING to have the opportunity – because I believe God put that desire on my heart. I was going to jump through any hoops, take a million shots, go to a zillion doctor’s appointments, and yes, be okay {more than okay – ecstatic} to welcome a child with a heart defect, no matter how many surgeries, how many NICU or CVICU stays. Because I had that burning desire to be a mom.

That desire isn’t there now. 

And part of me is profoundly sad about that. Almost like I want it to be there so it would be clear cut the direction to run in. But I don’t think just because I feel sadness means that my decision about being “done” is wrong.

We can be sad about a multitude of things – even when we know it’s the right decision. You may leave a job but you know it leads to a better opportunity. Or a move out of state takes you away from your family and friends, but it’s the best thing for your family.

The mourning is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s healthy.

Last March, after years of dealing with pain and a variety of reproductive issues, I permanently cemented the decision that I would never again carry a baby. The Big H, if you will. I was desperate to be out of pain. There was no point in my children having a mother who couldn’t properly “mother” if I was doubled over all the time. In a span of 4 hours, I lost my ability to reproduce forever.

Whew. It’s tough to even type that.

But even as I do, I am 100% convinced that it was right – FOR US. Hear me when I say that. We prayed for a year before making such a drastic decision at just 34 years of age. And in the end, it didn’t even come down to the pain because quite frankly, I suppose I could have started the infertility journey again and put the Big H on the backburner for another couple of years.

Yet I didn’t want to.

When I removed everything – the fears of a difficult pregnancy, the risks of abnormalities, having one of each sex… the underlying fact remained :: I still didn’t have the desire. I liked the idea of another baby, but I questioned my own sanity in being able to raise it without heading to a padded room, glass of wine in hand. I like where our life is right now. It works for us. At this point, I think we were meant to be a two child family. Just as my fellow contributor Michelle is meant to be a one child family.

And that’s okay – for us.

Yet, going back to the mourning :: I think even if you have one baby and stop or you stop after 3, 4, or 7 children, you are always going to question. “Should we have had one more?” or “Are we really truly done?” I think it’s only natural and normal.

I have pangs of “ohhh, just one more” all the time. When I hold a friend’s newborn daughter. When I see pregnancy announcements. When I hear of my formerly 2 child friend families adding a third. Something rises into my throat, and I swallow the tears. Because it’s a finality. It’s done. For now. And I mourn. Which is a unique word to use in the situation. Because I haven’t exactly lost anything per se. Or I should say “lost something without intention.” It is a conscious and well thought out decision on our part. So why am I sad? Why do I mourn?

It’s a loss of a part of me. I will never again be pregnant and feel the first flutters of little feet. I will never again cook an entire pork chop meal, decide pork is disgusting, and opt for Subway again. I will never again ask Pot Belly to run my sandwich through the heating machine twice so that the meat is up to temperature. I will never again rub my swollen belly and marvel at the miracles inside. {On the flip side, I will never again feel the breathlessness of not being able to sleep at 35 weeks pregnant, while measuring 42, and hating that. Don’t judge. I did NOT like losing my sleep. Or my breath.} I will never have that moment of absolute awe of holding a minutes old creation and hardly believing that we got to keep them. Or that we are trusted with them.

However, there is also huge freedom in our decision. We are now opening the door to our new chapters. One where I am leaving behind binkies and infant swaddlers and trading those for soccer cleats and leotards. Moving past charting babies’ growth and rolling into preschool homework. Retiring appliqued onesies and heading into the territory of everything Disney shirts and precious dresses. And let’s not forget diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I imagine I will always have those “pangs” of the “what-ifs”. And it’s alright. If those pangs turn into the overwhelming desire to bring another child into the crazy C family world, then we’ll perhaps head that direction. Adoption, surrogacy, or fostering is not off the table. But my ability to carry my own is. And today, that’s okay. Tomorrow when another friend posts about pregnancy, I know what I will feel. Then I will scoop up my 4 year olds, make them snuggle with me, and know that life is just right for our family.

Clanahan Family

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4 Responses to Closing the Door :: The Mourning of No More Children

  1. Chelsea
    Chelsea November 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Such a beautiful, honest and well-written post Meagan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your family is so beautiful and perfect just as it is.

  2. Amanda J. May 6, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    I can so totally relate to this post and feel like I could have written much of it myself! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Amanda L May 9, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Wonderf article. I am mourning our decision of no more children. We have two beauties, boy and girl, and know we are done. I couldn’t have put it into better words myself “padded room with a glass of wine” but still having that “idea of another baby”. Thanks for this article. I know I’m not alone in this feeling and decision.

  4. Jazmine July 16, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful, authentic and comforting to know others relate.

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