I don’t know if I’m ready to be done having babies. Just to give you a visual, my husband is currently reading this and shaking his head (because it’s the first he’s heard it and I believe it’s perfectly healthy to passively bring things up over one’s blog). Also, he’s likely cursing. Here’s the overview, I have had five pregnancies – three “full-term” (the Twinstroms were just short), one lasting 8 weeks, and one lasting 20 weeks. Between July of 2004 and December 2009, I was pregnant 1,013 days out of 2,007 days. In other words, I spent 2 ¾ of those 5 years pregnant. I have three living children as a result of this hard work who I could not possibly love more.
My point, aside from showing you that I have mad math skillz, is to say that I have plenty. I have more than I ever planned on. I should know in my soul (as I am so quick to say when I am asked) that we’re DONE. Closing up shop. Hanging up the maternity pants. Settling into my new size 8 shoes, and vowing to never again deliberately grow a shoe size. All that said I have a really tough time accepting that I’ll never be pregnant again. I am not afraid to admit that aside from all the things that people usually tout about pregnancy (the bonding, the spiritual experience of creating and sustaining life, etc. etc.) there are a couple of unconventional reasons that I love pregnancy. First of all, the swelling of the mama’s belly is celebrated. I have tested this, and when my ass grows from doing a couple lines of thin mints, nobody cheers for me. So, there’s that. Then, there’s the fact that when you’re pregnant, it’s the closest to royalty you’ll ever feel. Even when you really feel up to doing all sorts of things (like cleaning, lawn work, cooking, really anything that requires you to be in an upright position) nobody will let you. It’s phenomenal. I wish I’d have taken more advantage of it (back to my husband, who is shaking his head and cursing for an entirely different reason right now).
I have a couple of friends who just had babies, and I am not too proud to say that I am completely jealous of them right now. The early days are so focused on that mom and baby bond. There’s this coziness of that period of time in the early days when your only job as a parent is to feed them, dote on them, and respond to their needs. It’s so romantic in my memory (despite the lack of sleep), and I know that I’ll never have time like that again in my life with my children. We have responsibilities, places to go, people to see, things to learn, we are far out of that isolated, cozy, get to know ya time - not to mention the fact that they are on the move... big time, so 8-12 hours of uninterrupted cuddling really isn't in the cards. Am I really ready to NEVER do that again???
I also have a difficult time accepting that my babies are growing so quickly, and every stage we pass through is the last time we’ll pass through that stage. I am not unique in any of this. I know that this is part of becoming a parent, and if we decide in life to become parents, this is what we’re signing up for. I am just in a period of self-examination regarding how to be completely sure that “this is it.” I have always said that I am one box away from becoming a hoarder. Now, if you were a guest in my house, you would assume that is an exaggeration. I may have a flare for the drama when it comes to exaggerating. What I mean is that one box could just tip me over the edge, and I’d be happily on my way to the point of no return (or at least, a starring role on the hit A&E reality show, “Hoarders.”) I manage to keep myself in check, and separate the emotional from the logical with a routine purge, and that prevents me from finding myself on that road. As someone who is very guided by my heart, I fear that the emotional pull to make babies and raise them may over-ride the logic that tells me that we are at capacity. Really, that is all that stands between me right now, and becoming Octomom. (Another exaggeration?) And yes, I am actually equating hoarding stuff to having more children than one woman can financially, emotionally, and psychologically manage. I feel like I should apologize for this, but I won’t, because in the same way that I see hoarding as evidence of a psychological disorder, I see the Octomom’s inability or unwillingness to call it a day in the reproducing department evidence of a psychological disorder. I have given myself a Doctorate in armchair psychology from the University of My Opinion.
I have the most admiration for people who decide not to be parents. I think often about how people develop the ability to shut out the noise of our culture which begs people to be fruitful and multiply, and doesn’t see, “when are you going to have babies?” as the rude and intrusive question I believe it is. What I admire the most is the self-knowledge it takes to make that decision. The amazing self-trust and inner-knowing that it takes to put up with the commentary and stand strong in their desire to enjoy the children of others, but not have any of their own. I like to honor that decision, because I think it is equally brave to the decision to become a parent. I wish I could say with such self-trust and inner knowing that I am done having children.
To be clear, I really am done. I tearfully gave away my maternity clothes, regularly sort, sell, and give away baby clothes, and have taken measures (though not entirely permanent) to be sure that I won’t have any stow-aways in this uterus again, but coming to terms with it is a real process. I know I am not alone, I suspect that every mother goes through this process as they watch their babies grow. Like grief (because, it basically is a form of grief), we probably go through it over and over and over again in some form. So, Mr. Lindstrom, you can stop banging your head against the nearest brick wall, and planning your escape plan. I know that this baker is retired. But friends, I can’t promise you that if you let me hold your babies that I won’t close my eyes and pretend just for a second that they are my own. Just for a second. I promise I’ll give them back (after 8-12 hours of uninterrupted cuddling).