A funny thing happened sometime in the last few months as my third child morphed from a sleepy, snuggly newborn into a mobile, into everything, LOUD 8-month-old… I sincerely mean it when I say that we. are. DONE.
I say sincerely because I’ve said the phrase “We are done!” many times in the past three years. I said it when my second child turned one, and I sold a huge lot of her baby clothes on a Facebook trading site. That night, I had a $20 bill in my wallet and a pit in my stomach. I realized then that my heart wasn’t finished building our family.
I said it when, almost a year after selling those baby clothes, I began a very long, exhausting nine months where I threw up nearly every day and was constantly nauseated and exhausted. But I wondered, is this really the last time I will do this? Despite the daily struggle that was my third pregnancy, I still maintain that I adore being pregnant and the whole birth process.
I said it when, after checking me out to go home from the hospital with my third, my doctor jokingly said, “So when you have number 4…” and I rolled my eyes at her and emphatically said, “Nope. Not gonna happen. We are done, done, done.” But did I mean it?
Turns out, I did. And no one is more surprised by this than me.
My husband and I made the decision with our heads, for practical, logistical reasons, that our family is now complete . I knew the decision was responsible and correct for our family’s unique situation, but I fully expected that my heart would now forever ache for just one more newborn. Mercifully, that hasn’t happened. For once, my brain and my heart are in total agreement. Logistically, a fourth child would be totally impractical, and also? I just don’t want another child. At all.
Our hearts are full, but so are our house and our car. There’s certainly no shortage of love around here, but we definitely have a finite amount of money and patience for these little people who need so much. As an introvert, I crave time alone to recharge, and with three small children, there are exactly zero minutes during the day I can devote to self-care. By bedtime, most days I am worn-out, touched-out, and I have to work really hard to muster any ounce of enthusiasm to read Fancy Nancy for the forty-third night in a row. I worry, a lot, that I’m not enough for all of them. No way would I be enough for any more.
And that littlest one? My sweet last baby whose newborn days were over in a blink is growing and changing faster than my heart can handle. My attempts to slow down and soak in the details of his babyhood are often interrupted by his big brother and sister who are also competing for their mama’s devotion and attention. There’s not as much time to lovingly gaze into his eyes or linger in his bedroom while rocking him to sleep. But really, I’m okay with that. I’ve been a mom long enough now to know that while the baby stage is sweet, and can be magical at times, it’s also really hard and really short. I’m looking forward to the Big Kid stage, because I know it will have its own magic.
Whether you’re done at one, two, or you’re at nineteen and counting, there are so many factors that determine how many children complete a family, and all of them are personal. I feel abundantly blessed with my three, but I’m also thankful to close the family-building chapter of my life. I’m sure there will be days where I snuggle a friend’s newborn and feel wistful and miss all things baby, but I hope the contentment I feel in knowing we are DONE remains.